… beautifully filmed, powerful video follows the journey of two FPB 78s as they cruise the remote and challenging Lemaire channel of Antarctica. Read the rest »
Having grown up in Southern California, with a sailing and surfing background, riding the waves a natural part of being in or on the water. Our sailing and FPB designs have reflected this from the beginning. Recently we were surprised to learn that some of our owners are afraid of what is actually. one of the best things you can do with our yachts. Read the rest »
It is late spring in the Bahamas, water temperature is 83/85F and air that or more. Humidity often is in the 80% range. We are making water, staying comfortable with air conditioning in the evening, generally leading a carbon neutral existence. Welcome to the new world of solar panel cruising. What follows is a bit of data and several suggestions that might help on your own vessel.
For those of you who want to experience cruising at its best, if you live in Europe or the East Coast of the US, in your back yards is some of the very best cruising on this planet. We speak of the Exhumas group in the southern Bahama Islands.
Iron Lady and Grey Wolf have been cruising together in Antarctica, what the few truly experienced high latitude sailors will tell you is the toughest place on earth. These waters are more difficult and dangerous than Svalbard; the Northwest Passage is a cakewalk compared to this. And summer 2019 has been even more challenging than the recent past. In Pete Rossin’s post below you will catch a small sense of what it is like when there are simply no good choices. The photo above looks tame enough but think about it in 65 knots of breeze with eight to ten foot seas, and a glacier at your back.
Sue Grant at Berthon is running a series of posts written by the Berthon apprentices who are aboard FPB78-2 Grey Wolf II. They are both informative and entertaining, and cover their experiences right down to the bottom of South America, and eventually to the Antarctic where Grey Wolf II is at this moment. To read about these intrepid apprentices click here.
With all the engineering tools at our disposal we still use gut instinct, based on years of experience, to size ground tackle systems. The wind speed graph above provides a glimpse at one end of the benefit spectrum. Grey Wolf II is cruising in Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of the world, and recently experienced wind gusts in excess of 100 knots, more than 116 mph, at anchor.
With Simrad’s recent update, their forward-looking sonar has become a valuable tool, in particular when used in conjunction with their structure scan. The FLS is giving us an indication of the bottom coming up 350 feet ahead of us.
Many years ago, while researching ultimate storm tactics for our book Surviving the Storm (free download here), it became clear to us that, whether it was Fastnet 79, Queen’s Birthday Storm, or the 1998 Sydney Hobart Race, heading into the waves is often the best tactic in severe weather.
Because our yachts surf downwind under control making quick passages, and since in all but one of the serious storms we have experienced our natural course was downwind, we’ve rarely had the chance to experiment with truly dangerous seas on the bow. And while this most recent experience is far from what we would call a survival storm, the unusual sea state did give us a chance to test several FPB specific steering and throttle techniques, along with gathering a couple of ideas for improving electronics and night lighting layout.
The notes which follow, although aimed specifically at the FPB fleet, may offer some ideas to others who find themselves in difficult seas… Read the rest »
At a point in our lives where we want to concentrate on enjoying ourselves aboard, we just finished a long and costly rework of FPB 78-1 Cochise’s Matrix deck. The original was cut up and carted off. And then we went through a steep learning curve involving dozens of changes. Having just completed a couple of passages and done some local cruising here in Maine, we are now in a position to pass initial judgement.
We have been outspoken in our critique of Simrad’s Halo radar. We felt that its ability to pick targets out of sea clutter was poor, making it dangerous to rely on. We are pleased to report now that after adding Simrad’s Velocity Track software, our Halo is working very well. Read the rest »
We are anchored at Cape Lookout, North Carolina. It has been a very warm humid weekend, the type of weather that typically finds us in cooler climates. We’ve been waiting for the arrival of six new Sunpower 360 watt solar panels, the most efficient available, and very much in demand. Cory and Angela McMahon’s Triton Marine Team have just completed installation, and we are watching as the Outback Mate controller adds up the day’s power creation.
We have been having an internal dialogue about the ever-critical issue of anchoring systems, and the fact is that there is nothing like a real blow with a lee shore off your stern to focus your attention on the subject. It will come as no surprise that we like to sleep well at anchor, and by traditional definition this requires substantial holding power. It’s a given that it takes weight to achieve security at anchor, but beyond this simple postulate there are a plethora of choices. What our experience has led us to evolve into may surprise you.
This dim photo, taken with available light, turns everything we thought about navigation gear layout on its head. We are in the process of revising the Matrix Deck helm on Cochise, throwing out every design approach we have employed over the past 40 years in the process.
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
~ William A. Foster
This is a difficult post for Linda and me to write. But events in the past few weeks together with the urging of many of our friends and clients (often one and the same) have forced the issue, starting with the William Foster quote above sent to us by one of our owners.
The FPBs are designed with drying out in mind, and like all aspects of seamanship, we think testing the process in controlled circumstances before we actually need to use it makes sense. The following comments are based on a lifetime of avoiding experience with the subject at hand. But the old saying – it is not if you will run aground but when – is as true today as it was a couple of generations ago when we made our way without long range nav aids and few, if any, charts. Read the rest »
For some reason this summer, numerous friends asked us if we’d visit Washington, DC with Cochise. Go 170 miles out of our way to see a city that epitomizes waste and inefficiency? Then we thought, why not. We have lots of friends in the area, it would give us a chance to visit some of the buildings that were constructed with our concrete forming equipment (a very long time ago), and we could catch a few museums. And if we were really lucky, maybe the leaves would turn and we could finally snap a photo that has eluded us over many years. To see how this all turned out (and there is even a free lunch!), read on.
We are supposed to be in downtown Annapolis, on the dock for a few days, doing chores and having a few technicians visit. But then we were uncomfortable after a phone dialogue with the marina dock master – he was a shade too casual about handling our lines in a very tight space with a building breeze – and we decided to anchor.
From the glorious J-class sloops, we move on to the even more compelling fishing schooners, such as Columbia (above). This Sterling Burgess design (he is the creator of Ranger, the fastest of the Js) represents a combination of speed, beauty, and purpose matched in our minds only by Donald McKay’s extreme clippers.
Extensive N2K data systems, like we use in the FPBs, are costly, and take a substantial programming effort on our part. Yes, they provide a lot of information (and you need to guard against info overload), but is the cost and complexity worth it?
FPB 97-1 Iceberg running before a stiff breeze during sea trials.
The post that follows this introduction is a chapter excerpted from the FPB 70 and 78 Owner’s Manual. Everyone who goes to sea thinks and/or worries (or should) about heavy weather, and how their vessel will handle different conditions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a 25,000 ton container ship, a moderate-sized sailing yacht, or one of our FPBs. We think it is better to discuss these issues openly, rather than ignore them and hope you never get caught. Read the rest »
FPB 78-2 Matrix deck helm
The current America’s Cup spectacle has us entranced: unbelievable speed, maneuverability, and difficult sailing, the likes of which has never been seen before. The design and engineering required to achieve this level of performance is nothing short of astonishing.
The time to study what’s happening in Bermuda in detail is the result of this correspondent’s photography accident (night sky shooting on a dark dock), which resulted in a shattered kneecap and a forced hiatus from summer cruising… Read the rest »
The Next Generation of FPBs is here, cruising even farther, faster, more comfortably and efficiently than their predecessors. With the first two FPB 78s rapidly racking up sea miles, read on to find out how, in a world full of empty claims, FPBs do what they are supposed to do.
We’ve just received some video of FPB 78-2 running through her paces during sea trials down in New Zealand. The owners and Circa team members aboard were lucky enough to find some light weather to enjoy: 35-45 knots of breeze and 16-18 ft (5-5.5m) waves on the bow… Read the rest »
Returning from Biscayne Bay, Florida a few days ago we were reminded that in this age of electronic navigation, command, control, and monitoring, you still need to maintain a traditional situational awareness.
The sink full of marine weeds is a classic example of why this approach is still beneficial. Read the rest »
*Since we posted this article, we have had several comments from readers. Of particular interest was an email from blogger Peter Hayden (MVTanglewood.com). Scroll down to read Peter’s comments on his Simrad experience. We are curious to know your thoughts if you use Simrad, in particular their radar…Please comment and let us know.*
We’ve now had 11,000 nautical miles of concentrated experience with the Simrad Marine electronics suite aboard FPB 78-1 Cochise, and the time has come for an evaluation.
In the pantheon of situations to avoid when cruising, northers in the Gulf Stream are up towards the top. The wind opposing current kicks up a nasty, short seaway, and the warm water mixing with the cool air from the north increases gusts. Read the rest »