2011 ARC: Dock Walk

ARC fleet at St. Lucia

I'm hitting the rally beat hard these days. After recently not sailing in the Caribbean 1500, I'm now down in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, checking out the end of this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. To get a feel for things, I took a long stroll yesterday around the docks. I don't know about you, but walking around a marina or boatyard ogling boats is something I never get tired of.

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GUNDALOW LAUNCH: Piscataqua Goes For A Swim

Gundalow launch ceremony

I'd never actually seen this before--the christening and launching of a new vessel. This was on Saturday, here in Portsmouth, NH, just down the street from where I live. After a bit of speechifying by my good friend and neighbor Molly Bolster, a bottle was busted and the good ship Piscataqua, the first new gundalow launched in 30 years, was pushed with some ceremony into the briny.

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2011 HURRICANE SEASON: Gone in 270 Seconds

This is very cool, IMHO. An accelerated four and a half minute animation, courtesy of NOAA, that depicts the entire 2011 hurricane season as viewed by one of NASA's GOES satellites.

One thing that strikes me as I watch this is how beautiful and striking the Bahamas are when viewed from space. They also look great from airplanes. Every time I fly over on a clear day, I'm blown away. Note to self: I really must spend more time there before I depart this luscious planet of ours.

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REID STOWE: Sailing to Guyana

Crew of Schooner Anne

I haven't been able to confirm it, but at this point I have no reason to believe that Reid Stowe has not set out for the jungles of Guyana aboard his 70-foot schooner Anne. He announced via press release early last week that he would be leaving last Friday, and later advised me by e-mail that he in fact expected to depart Hoboken, New Jersey, for Guyana on Thursday.

Things have not turned out the way Reid hoped since he returned from his record-breaking non-stop 1,152-day voyage back in June 2010. He enjoyed a brief blaze of publicity, but was unable to secure a book deal and has otherwise failed to capitalize on his great adventure. He has been living aboard in the New York area with his partner Soanya Ahmad and their young son Darshen, working to refit Anne, and now plans to complete the work while cruising the Esequibo River in Guyana, where there is a ready supply of tropical hardwood. Also aboard now as crew are six young volunteers (two women, four men, all ranging in age from 21 to 28), none of whom have any significant sailing experience.

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CARIBBEAN 1500: The Fate of the Fleet

Caribbean 1500 fleet in Hampton

Having been left behind on the dock, I've been obsessively following the progress of this year's Caribbean 1500 via the rally's online tracking page. For much of the fleet it has been slow going. After prudently waiting the better part of a week for Tropical Storm Sean to go away and then for a cold front to pass through, the rally organizers launched their ducklings the Friday before last (Nov. 11) into the heart of a big high-pressure cell. The fleet enjoyed one good day of wind, but then burned much diesel fuel as it worked its way south looking for more breeze.

Most boats are now safely in Nanny Cay on Tortola, though there are still a few stragglers, including one, Defiant, a Wauquiez Centurion out of Maryland, that somehow lost its steering and is now proceeding south under emergency tiller. Most boats did not, however, reach the finish line before it closed this past Sunday (Nov. 20), so the official results look a bit comical. The vast majority of the fleet has been marked down as DNF, including the rally's original founder, Steve Black, an inveterate racing man, who is reportedly a bit grumpy about the results. Unofficial results, with corrected times for all those who were late across the line, will be published later today and announced at a second "unofficial" prizegiving.

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BELUGA BOOGIE: Whales Dig Naked Lady?

Swimming with beluga whales

We've already discussed how beluga whales like to groove to mariachi music, so I'm not too surprised to learn that they might also enjoy swimming with naked ladies. The lady in question here is Natalia Avseenko, a yoga expert capable of free-diving for extended periods in sub-zero water temperatures. The goal of this exercise is to "tame" the whales.

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