Saturday, February 28, 2009

Katherine Walker and the Rites of Spring

The 2 buoy, a lighted red tower, flashing 2.5 seconds marks the east side of the channel just above the GW Bridge at  W 181 Street.

If you click on the thumbnail and look carefully below a branch, in a straight line below the bow of the light fuel barge seen here on  a January afternoon with my low res waterproof camera, you' ll see the snow and ice encrusted 2 buoy doing icebreaker duty as the river shoves those floes down river at 3.3 knots (not the 2.0 predicted peak in Eldridge's Pilot Guide)  I know because in the still waters of the Morris Canal my North River 2 does 5.2 kts.  And I have spent many hours making 1.9 kts. northbound against the ebb tide.

  The other two shots are the Katherine Walker (CG buoy tender) setting the newly painted replacement buoy, and backing away using both bow and stern thrusters. 

Volvo: Drag Race Mid-way to the Cape

14 days out of Qingdao the fleet is 20 South 179 West. They just split tacks passing Fiji and are about 400 miles above the north Island of New Zealand. They are cruising at 14 knots, at magnetic headings between 179 - 185 to the real wind in the 40's where they'll catch the westerlies and head east to Cape Horn at 54 South.

Only 46 nm separates Ericsson 4 in the lead from Green Dragon in 5th, with the leader 8,105 nm from Rio.

No crises, no broken boats, just great sailing at highway speed.

Here's the 2D map

And an aerial shot of Puma passing Fiji - with the lead.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bowsprite: Sketches and Accents on Marine Channel 13

Bowsprite paints water colors and listens and watches the traffic in New York Harbor.  As the pictures here show and the dialog below demonstates, she has a good eye and ear.  The pictures are the John J. Harvey (heroes of 9/11/2001), the W.O.Decker (So. St. Seaport historic tug), and the Bremerhavn (container ship).  So check out Bowsprite - a New York harbor sketchbook

(Indian accent, proper and polite): “British Lines, to the Dela rosa…British Lines, Dela Rosa.
(American accent): 
“Dela Rosa.”
(Indian accent): “Uh, what are your intentions, sir? are you angry?”
(American): “Yes, we’re anchoring.”
(Indian accent): “Oh, well, could you please give us some room?”
(American): “Will do.”
(Indian): “Thank you, sir…”

Beautiful accents…”dulcet” is how Towmasters describes the lyrical southern and cajun accents.

It’s not just voices one hears. One midnight, a captain announced his plans to go to sea. In the background was a quick whiff of Jimi Hendrix.

Another time, some poor captain shared his wheelhouse with some very noisy machinery, so that whenever he spoke on the radio, he seemed to be accompanied by a bagpipe quartet.

Breaking ice up river

Meanwhile, back on the Hudson river, up north there's plenty of ice.

Here are 12 Bridge's shots, taken from the tug Cornell on icebreaking and other duties.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tugster - NY Harbor man

The Sixth Borough is the harbor, says the blogger who calls himself Tugster. 
I have taken a lot of pictures of tugs and barges - from North River 2 mostly -  but  Tugster has made it an avocation.  

Based in Staten Island he is well situated for his observations.  His interest reminds me of the days when the Times daily showed scheduled sailings and arrivals of steamships, and described their cargo.

The bridge is the Bayonne Bridge,and the Coast Guard ship is the buoy tender Ida Lewis.

The first and last of these shots are mine, the others are Tugster's.  I expect to come back to his site.  It's got lots of good shots - like the salt depot, barges, and cranes that I'll probably do as a post.

So check out TUGSTER

1000 Days - day 658 knockdown - audio

Reid Stowe really is an original.  Behind his airy ruminations is one hell of a sailor and worker.  One could hope that after rounding Cape Horn - in a nightmarish gale - easy street would be right around the corner.  Hope yes. But little ease so far.

Here's the audio discussing his day 658 South Atlantic Knockdown

The picture shows he survived another close call.Here's the homepage for his current ruminations.

Volvo:Qingdao to Rio 6 days out, 30 to go

The fleet (5 of 8 remain) is a few hundred miles north of the Coral Sea angling toward Cape Horn, with an average speed of 16 - 19 knots with 2o knots of wind and six foot swells. Highway speed. Next stop Rio. DTF 9,842 nm for Ericsson 4, the leader.

Here's the data page

And here's the home page.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Vendee: Samantha finishes, Rich struggles

Samantha Davies finished in 95 days (11 after Michel Desjoyeaux).  

The other female sailor - Dee Caffari - finished on February 16 - 99 days round the world, single-handed.

On February 20, day 103, Rich  Wilson has about2,300 miles to go, and is looking at bad weather and relentless pounding into headwinds without end.

Here's the coverage of Samantha's celebration.

Here's the current wrap up.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Monhegan is a magic island.

N.C. Wyeth, Rockwell Kent,and  James Wyeth each made his mark painting it. Monhegan is like a jazz standard.  If you play sax you have to try Body & Soul. 

Landscape painters and photographers have to try Monhegan.  (My day will come.)

Taisy's graduation gift (self-selected) when she finished at Bates was a David Vickery (Cushing, ME) painting of an afternoon summer storm at nearly the same spot and same light as the shot here from Doris Madsen's Flickr set.

She and her husband own a Monhegan skiff built built at Carpenters Boatshop in Pemaquid where I just bought a skiff of the same design.  More on that later.

Above are my favorites from her set and below is the embedded link to her Monhegan set on Flickr

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friendship, Stones Point, Rockland, and Thomaston - Valentine's Day 2009

We went up to Maine for the weekend - to check the work done on the house, buy stuff for when we take posession in May, have dinner with friends.  And, of course, shop for a seaworthy craft for man and dog to explore the Back River, Meduncook River and the other waters of Friendship and Cushing.  Found a Monhegan skiff.  Hope to clinch the deal soon.

So here are some favorite shots - our backyard - the Back River, Stones Point, Rockland, and ice fishing houses on the St. George, Thomaston.

The whole stream is at my picasaweb page

Friday, February 6, 2009

KB Gallery - Bronze in midwinter light

Khachik Bozoghlian works in bronze.  His K.B. Gallery is down the block and around the corner from us on 181 and Riverside Drive.  I stopped by today 30 minutes before sunset, and got some good images using the midwinter light that Andrew Wyeth loved. For the whole sequence go to my picasa webpage .

K.B. Gallery's website is here

New Hudson River School of Painting - Bennett Vadnais

K.B. Gallery at West 181 St. and Riverside Drive features the oil painting of Bennett Vadnais.

Most of this series of realistic oils are painted at the base of the George Washington Bridge - looking north or south.  The first image is looking north from under the Bridge at low tide. The second image is looking south in low winter light from Linden Terrace, Ft. Tryon Park.   Here is the series

Understimulated? Krugman Lays it on the Line

Over the years we have come to tolerate the polite blather of what passes for policy debate on the Lehrer News Hour, putting the appalling up against the ordinary or the modestly challenging.

Finally we have got a guy who can stand up and slug it out.

It is Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.

Check out this debate on MSNBC Morning Joe - Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan against Paul Krugman.  Paul Krugman can take a punch and land a punch. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Canting keels - how they work

Rich Wilson's horrifying knockdown in the Vendee Globe  prompted Shira Arnow to search out some technical information on canting keel systems.

NYT Discovers Rich Wilson & the Vendee

The Times used to cover sailing.  When I was a kid the paper listedthe results for one design racing on Manhasset Bay.  I followed enviously from the South Shore. Until a few years ago Herb McCormick, editor of Cruising World, covered the Whitbread/Volvo and Vendee races.

But now niche sports get the occasional human interest story only. The Vendee is one.

But at least the Times woke up for Rich Wilson, sailing Great American III.  The only American and the oldest sailor in these cans that don't even have a 厕所, just a bucket.

Wilson nearly lost the boat the other night, as Desjoyeaux arrived home - with a 5,000 mile lead over Wilson who is in 10th place, with only 2 behind him. 18 have been forced out.

Finishing this race is a huge accomplishment.  remember the rules: 
One man on a boat (an Open 60)
No outside assistance
Leave Antarctica to starboard
Pass a couple of waypoints in the Indian Ocean to pull you away from the ice
Leave from and return to France, propelled only by the action of wind and waves on sails, hull, spars and rigging

Here's the Times account

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Sunday

Sunday - February 1.  Beautiful day - hit 50 F, wind south at 8-10.

Rowed out a mile to the 46 Nun (opposite Stepping Stones) that marks the shipping channel into the East River.  And ran into plenty of shipping.

A February thaw is necessary to achieve the goal of rowing every month of the year.  Got one in January too.  And December.

Steelers (with Obama on their side) 27.  Arizona (with McCain and Derek on their side) 23.

Vendee: Victory for Desj., Survival for Great America

30 started.  1 finisher.  11 still racing.

"Sailing more than 28,303 miles, averaging around 13.2 knots, French solo skipper Michel Desjoyeaux has shattered the Vendée Globe race record today  by 3 days 7 hours and 39 seconds on his way to becoming the first skipper ever to win the solo non stop around the world race twice. 
Desjoyeaux crossed the finish on Sunday 1st February at 15:11.08 GMT , after 84 days 03 hours 09 minutes of racing. Foncia completed the race in twenty knots of breeze under sunny skies, greeted by a massive armada of spectator boats before being warmly welcomed by huge crowds who gathered along the waterfront and harbour area of Les Sables d’Olonne, where the race departed at 1202 GMT November 9th 2008."

Night from hell - but alive to tell the tale
Rich Wilson, Great America II
Nothing but the full text of his report will do.
If you are not familiar with these boats you need to know that the canting bullet keel is 30 degrees to windward.  In a crash jibe all the ballast is on the wrong side.  The boat is NOT self-righting.  With the boat on its side and the sails in the water you have to get to the controls and bring the keel to midships - and then as the boat lifts you get another crash jibe. 
- gwc

“The past 24 hours have been among the most difficult so far. A huge low, much wider east-west than forecast, has taken its toll. After finally  getting to the west side which had the southerly winds, we took off at high speed with storm jib and 3 reefs in the mainsail in the late afternoon/evening. Into the dark the wind built from 25-30-35-40-45-50 knots. 

It turns out that we had the fastest run for that period in the fleet. It was not intentional. The pilot was doing well, set on its highest response settings, but the wind and boatspeed kept rising. The highest I saw was 24.5 knots, the fastest of the whole race. 

Finally at about 3 am I realized that this could only end in disaster, the wind was not abating, and there was no way to know how much we might get, or how big the seas might get. Already, they were 25' and climbing, just gigantic, breaking in every direction, angry, and huge, gigantic masses of water with no good intentions. Another risk is if the mainsail is down and the boatspeed drops to 4 or 5 knots with just the storm jib, then you are at the mercy of the seas, and could get rolled over. There is dynamic stability in speed. 

Anyway, decided to try, had one arm in the foul weather gear, and the worst happened, the boat veered high, then low as the autopilot tried to correct, I saw the number 40 degrees low, OH NO, then a huge CRASH, and the boat laid over on its side. 

The boat had gybed, and now the wind was on the wrong side of the mainsail, and the keel was canted fully on the wrong side. The boat laid over at about 70 degrees of heel and just sat there, then the autopilot alarm went off, just to add to the fray. 

Got the jacket on, helmet on, gloves on, and went into the cockpit sideways. All old handholds are useless when you turn your world on its side. Waves were washing down the deck, but not too much coming into the cockpit because it was to leeward. The mast was still there. I tried to jam the tiller over, no response. 

Then I remembered, that is not the sequence. This has happened in various conditions 3 times before. OK, got to the keel, walking along the walls below, center the keel with the keel motor winch, was able to do this, and good that the batteries were up. Then go to the cockpit and try the tiller again, to try to gybe back. The boat was now more upright with the keel movement, and I pushed the tiller over hard, nothing, then something, then here it comes, she's turning, oh boy there's going to be a gigantic CRASH when it gybes back, hang on and duck, BAM, the mainsail gybed back again. 

I write this in the late afternoon, the wind is down to 35 knots, the seas are still gigantic, and perhaps I'll try to get the main back up before it gets dark if the wind continues to abate a bit. Anyway, dodged a gigantic bullet there, could have lost the rig, runners, could have gotten hurt trying to get the boat back in its right direction, or in bringing the sail down.”
Rich Wilson (Great America II) in his daily message