It is finally done (and we mean it this time)! In the post that follows we will detail the logic that lead us to to this new paradigm for navigation stations, and the details that evolved.
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.
FPB 64-6 has just completed a winter crossing of the North Atlantic, which at one point featured hurricane strength compression storms in east and west regions. She did so in classic fashion, taking advantage of the weather when possible, but always with a bailout option if the forecasts turned negative. There are a number of lessons for us in this passage. Read the rest »
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.
Fifteen years ago, when we were just starting to build the FPB Series prototype Wind Horse, we put together a video on the design cycle that lead to this new design. There was detailed information on her drag and motion analysis, including tank testing, as well as the historical foundation from which her design was developed. Read the rest »
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.
FPB 97 Iceberg has been up in North Carolina, where Cory McMahon and his Triton Marine team have been fine-tuning the Wicked 97’s steering and stabilizer systems. Steve has been there as well working on FPB 78-1 Cochise, and joined in on the fun. Read the rest »
When we started cruising, in the olden days, most cruisers – ourselves included – sold their home to help pay for their new life afloat. This was before GPS, which meant considerable navigation risks, and insurance, if available, was way too expensive for most. Considering that in those days roughly one out of ten yachts crossing the tropical Pacific ended up permanently parked on a reef, you can see where the experience, even when successful, would color your outlook. Read the rest »
“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.
There has been a lot of hype about the new Sony A7RIII body. Some folks are going so far as to say the tech leap is on a par with the Canon pro line upgrade ten years ago, which introduced their L-series lenses and the 1DX/5DII bodies (which we experienced). You can easily judge for yourself with one example, this first photo.
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 »
SetSail is in the midst of re-vamping and switching servers, so as to speed up performance and generally anchor firmly in the harbor of modern-day internet technology. While this is happening, there is a delay on new content. The transition should be complete next week, with faster load times and lots of new posts.
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.
It is blowing a steady 20, gusting higher. There is a sea state commensurate with the breeze, and the boats within the Newport anchorage are tugging at their moorings. The yachts offshore, following the J class racers, are plunging through the waves trying to keep up on the wind. And on the race committee boat…
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 »
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 »
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 »