Off to the Arctic Circle

…I got it !!!  I’m off to the north slope of Alaska to captain a jet powered 45ft vessel for a French geo-science company from June to Sept 15th!  How ironic I came to France to race and also got a job ‘in the US’ with the French…?!



Tuna Carried Fukushima Radioactivity to U.S. Coast

“We need to get our ENERGY needs sorted and find a habitable back-up (liferaft) planet for our ‘celestial-yacht’ – Earth in the not distant future…WHY are we not not ‘exploring’ Mars yet if we went to the moon in 1969 ?! Everything at the highest levels of humankind’s government needs to be a competitive political race to get anywhere fast!  At least there was the first successful fusion experiment at Lawerance Livermore National Laboratory in California last year – there is hope after all!  The Fukushima disaster is a warning of much larger future calamity if we don’t get our s*%t together & work ‘TOGETHER’ irrespective of private national interests…we need to realize and accept we re all on on this yacht (Earth) together!”  – BJ

…Forwarded to me from a friend that read an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  You might have seen the radioactive seawater map pic from NOAA in my previous blog entry a few below this current post.  It was not something I wanted to wake up and read this morning…I guess I might not be eating sashimi anymore on my yacht deliveries from Hawaii going north…unreal and sad. – BJ

Scientists: “Absolutely every one” of bluefin tunas tested from S. California was contaminated with Fukushima radiation — “We were definitely surprised to see it at all – and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured

Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2012, 6:36 p.m. ET

Pacific bluefin tuna migrating last year from coastal Japan to the waters off Southern California contained radioactive cesium isotopes from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, scientists reported Monday.


“The tuna packaged it up and brought it across the world’s largest ocean,” said marine ecologist Daniel Madigan at Stanford University, who led the study team. “We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.”


“We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium-134 and cesium-137,” said marine biologist Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York state, who was part of the study group.


FR Mini Fastnet / Talk is cheap

Two weeks till what could be my 5th Mini Fastnet – the FR edition from France.  However, a potential job offer in Alaska driving a survey vessel for good money and starting mid-June till September has hampered the plan to launch my own boat 433 as there would be too little time to put her away or do this 2nd summer Fastnet…as the job is slated to start June 15th.

…If this happens, the long-term plan with my own Manuard proto #433 would be to get a DCQ for next year and complete the mandatory 1,000-miles in racing and qualification for the Transat 2013 next year.  Unless my boat sells in the meantime, then it would be to work a few years to top up the war chest and come back in a series boat format for multiple potential transats between practice Fastnets on other boats to stay on ‘form’…Ten Mini Fastnets is a beautiful objective 😉

So I’m on stand-bye to know if I get the job and if I might be able to still manage to fit in the race somehow on what would either be a new prototype or another series Tip-Top…

The proto is called “Ticket to Heaven” and is a new Sam Manuard design number #784 with all the recent innovations such as a rotating wing-mast. Could be pretty interesting as a sistership sailed by Czech friend Milan aboard “Gaben” is cleaning up (other than the races 747 is taking off the bouffet plate!

…However, the skipper of “Ticket to Heaven” speaks NO ENGLISH OR FRENCH – ONLY POLISH !!!  If you can believe that this might be the 2nd Mini Fastnet I’ve done with a Polish skipper in the last few years (’08 series) that I have to communicate with sigh language and grunts on a super radical mini proto – imagine !!!  I really must be crazy 😉

However, as you can see from the photo below she is a bit of a weapon and a good result is within reach even if we are silent like Tibetien monks for the duration of the 700-mile course!  …The saying goes that talk is cheap 😉  I hope this might truly be a ticket to Heaven with a top five or podium result as the name suggests 😉

Meanwhile good luck to Linda Pasquariello who is on a 2nd back to back yacht delivery with Jon Sanders, this time aboard a Nauticat cruising yacht from Bali to Fremantle!

Jon Sanders & Linda Pasquariello Update

 “Cg” 44ft motor sailor on route bali to fremantle via carnarvon. All well. We are nm from bali & nm to caqnarvon. Our eta cvn 10am sun 3 june: subject weather. We are not using main engine because of frequent fuel contamination. We are changing filters as we gn. But all is good. We are sailing with smalled jib and mainsail. Not fast but safe & comfortable. Nothing more pleasant than to watch a movie at dusk on the flat screen in mild conditions. After this & and while linda’s boy friend (hi bj) is in france, probably eating frog legs linda prepares delicious supper on “cg” often paster or curry dishes cooked in olive oil with garlic. This is done in the kitchen. Is so. The elderly from established yacht clubs might cry calling the galley a kitchen. (they are a bit like that). But linda says if it is a galley then it should be chock a block full of hansome bare chested slaves cluching on to oars. (sh ¡ t i better buy some oars). See ya”

– Jon Sanders

Beautiful French Make-up Sex

UK Mini Fastnet 2012

This return to all things French and my mistress (this far eastern front, minis and the world capital of performance sailing) was a wonderful re-introduction to this ex-girlfriend after such a long absence…

It was a very cold and long upwind climb to the summit (Fastnet rock) for me and my Hungarian co-skipper Aron Medor (above).  One skipper suffered hypothermia and withdrew and the rest of us that hadn’t retired from the course tacked hundreds of times in the blustery 25-30-knot winds on the 2nd and 3rd day of the race.

What started as a sunny and beautiful day out of Plymouth thus quickly transitioned to the meaning of what defines the northern equivalent of the Sydney Hobart race – racing to windward.

Crossing tacks with other minis day and night saw gains and losses on each board and the constant attention to find which tack gave the best VMG up the track was balanced with prudence to avoid breaking the boat in the short and confused waves in the relatively shallow Irish Sea.

The series TipTop performed well in these conditions and we were often ahead or very close behind the prototypes including my old proto #348.

One thing I can say is the series boats seem simple, grunty and tough.  And I also enjoyed the high level of competition in this class where tactics and seamanship pay higher dividends than a revolutionary technical innovation that is often eclipsed by something newer and often times more expensive just the following year.

However, we can’t forget the series gained their nice attributes from the long work of innovation in the proto field just like the MOD 70 one design trimarans did from their ORMA 60 predecessors.  So there will always be a place for the amazing advancement and innovation that comes from the experimental proto class.

Especially when something that is a big step beyond evolutionary and stands for revolution such as David Raison’s 2011 Mini Transat winning scow blunt nosed ‘Magnum’ #747!

…What looks highly unusual in photos is a remarkable sight to behold in person and by far the fastest mini that exists.  She is often over one-knot faster than any other mini and truly a work of art.

Her skipper and designer David Raison is also humble and an amazingly nice person without any ego and completely lacking a big head as all the top sailors in the world resemble – so I’ve found…I’m truly in awe of his creation!

…Otherwise, after the long long ascent – the wind died to a whisper passing Fastnet and went aft allowing us to pass the rock with the spinnaker and in sunshine.  The deck was soon completely covered with all our clothes as everything in the boat was soaking wet and near frozen!

(Below a view of us from astern – a good place for people to take our picture!)

It was then off to the next waypoint down the coast of Ireland to the light-ship at the countries southeast corner which I’ve rounded before as it serves as the 1,000-nm solo qualification mark for the Mini Transat.

We were always within a mile or two of the newer series Naccira minis and measured our gains and losses on the AIS and whether or not we could determine the identity of the mini near us by either their sail graphics or number.  The wind at this point was a close reach and we scorched along under code zero at 6-knots in 10-knots of wind toward our turning mark and waypoint 120-nautical miles away.

Rounding the waypoint the next morning we had two mini in sight behind us, one of which was another Tiptop and what was another close reach in increasing wind quickly turned into a duel to see who could hold onto the code zero the longest before crashing, blowing it out or breaking something!

We won this battle with the other Tiptop as they lost control of the sail and bore away down-wind and instantly disappeared from sight as we crashed along at 6-8-knots speed in 15-knots true wind at our limits for the sail and hull stability.

Switching to the jib we spent the rest of the night on this descent from Ireland back toward Land’s End in now on a close reach of 22-24-knots of true wind, dueling with a series Zero off our stern port quarter which took a solid day to dispose of in a later split tack along the English coast.

Rounding Land’s end at first light we had another upwind run to the finish but this time in light 12-knot winds before the wind turned 360-degrees 25-miles before the finish when we promptly launched the kite and began a marathon jibing duel with a vast assortment of other series minis including a few Nacciras.

In the end, we beat one of these new Naccira’s by a mile across the finish line in front of the Royal Western Yacht Club at 1130 at night.  We got into the club, enjoyed the award ceremony which had been delayed because the whole fleet was late due to so much upwind work and the mini racers either drank a few pints or crashed out to sleep on the yacht club floor in sleeping bags like one giant hostel 😉  You got to love the motley mini gang 😉

Looking back it was VERY cold and hard but I loved it and can’t wait until I’ve completed my 10th Mini Fastnet.  I now understand the formula separate of budget to make it easier and fun to come from afar to do this class and look forward to implementing these many logistical lessons on the ground in the years to come hopefully.

Below: rounding Fastnet in under 5-knots of wind, David Raison’s ‘Magnum’, a series Naccira and oh – a Contessa 32 of all things moored right next to a sister-ship of my S&S34 at the club in Plymouth!

Aloha, BJ

Jon Sanders Update

Update from team-mates Jon Sanders and Linda Pasquariello about their yacht delivery to Sydney (they just arrived).  Always entertaining writing from Jon 😉

“Liberine” the yacht Brian McMasters, Jonathan Clough and co. raced to Bali, and which Andrew and I sailed to MacKay. Since Brian, Jonathan and co. have used Libertine off the Queensland coast.

They, now, have given me the job of sailing her to Sydney from Mackay Queensland.  Aprox 1000  NM.  Wow.

Despite the fact I am a life member or Qantas Club (which they would not know), they put me in Virgin Australia.  I suppose given the choice of Aeroflot or Virgin, one would have to go Virgin.

Anyway the thing took off.  So it did.  

They have TV sets in the back of all the chairs.  And you don’t have to swipe the visa cards any more.  Its a Boeing 737 (I nearly wrote DC3).

It picks up the satellites and one can have National Geographic, History Channel, Sky News etc.  All the things I like to watch.  Good if it works.

But my TV remained blank.  I tried the visa card. But to no avail.  Bugger.   Maybe something wrong with the visa card.  You get that.

Meantime the lady sitting next to me was having different trouble with her TV.  (Virgin).  Hers was going bright then dull, the contrast every which way. She tells me the volume was going up and down and it kept changing channels.>

Oh dear me.  Guess who was pushing her buttons instead of mine!  

Meantime the 737 flew out across the desert, all the way to Brisbane.  With me in it.

I was picked up at Brisbane air port by Maree Stainton and off we set for Bundaberg 100s of kilometers away. It got dark and it Rained  Heavy.  Must be in Queensland.  One of the fuses did’nt like the rain &  shorted.  Turned the car lights out. Bit dark outside, so it was.  After ringing a mechanic neighbor Maree fixed it.

We decided to stop in a motel.  Better than night driving in the rain.  Which ended up being a two bedroom sweet with a spar bath in the middle on the 8th floor of the Mantra  Mooloolaba.  Room cost $150 which was good.

Next day was a 31\2 hour drive to Maree and Richards home at Bagara a seaside suberb of Bundaberg.  There is a bedroom always there for me.

An important part of being in Bagara was to meet up with Linda Pasquariello. (Australian born). A slim attractive 30 year old who had just single handed her own yacht from San fransisco to Bundaberg.  She and I have sailed before together south coast of Australia.  Her boy friend partner Brian Caldwell was doing the compulsory 1000 nm non stop in his mini Trans required to do the French mini Fastnet race.  That race has a cut off of 80 yachts.  Brian has had two 5ths in that event.  His other yacht is an  S&S34 currently in Seattle US.  He has also done a Hobart and the Cape to Rio plus across the Bight etc on my Perie Banou 11. 

Any way arrangements made with Linda.   Slight delay Mum is coming to Bundaberg for a visit. 

I now go to MacKay on the Tilt Train.  It is over night this section. All business class sit ups. Each car two seats on one side, single on the other and some single either side, at rear of car.  So if your travelling solo one will get a single seat.  Spacious,  TV sets fold out from arm rest and there is an all night buffet car.  

At the back of the train is a sleek zappy looking diesel engine pointing the wrong way. It wants to drag the train back to Brisbane.  Strangely there is another engine at the front.

Alternate days the Sunlander runs Brisbane Cairns   It is a sleeper train with economy sit ups at the back.  Because of timing Linda was on this train.  St up.  Jagged sitting next to a male creep.  Any way he gave up trying to make useless conversation with Linda and went down the car to pick on another female.

We set sail in libertine (a Beneteau first 44.7)  the same morning Linda arrived.  Because it was Anzac Day we we could not top up fully with diesel fuel.  So we sailed to Burnett Heads for refueling.  Strong south east head winds.  We motor sailed most with two reefs main and engine at 1800 rpm  and tacked the last section with two reefs and storm jib.

We wait for strong fronts and depressions to go by.  As we hoped to anchor 1st off the lee side north end of Fraser Island and the next night the south end.  In other words we transited the great Sandy Strait.  A place with Islands, sand banks that come out of water at low tide,  a labyrinth of little channels.  Cannot pass thru a low tide.  So we set out to reach the most shallow part at low tide. A previous tactic.  When the echo sounder started to get down to 0.5  Beneath the yacht we put the yacht at idle forward until we touched, then dropped anchor.  We waited 2 hours until the yacht had sufficient water and continued.  The last thing needed is to go aground at high tide.  The Sandy Strait was flat water, with strong tidal currents.  The other side of Fraser Island would have been, horrible.

To depart the Great Sandy Strait is to pass over the wide Bay Bar,  a zig zag in a washing machine.  Tin Can Bay rescue gave us the three way points to cross the bar.  It would be daft not to have those way points.  One must report when  approaching the 1st way point and report at the 3rd.  They also ask for a report on the bar as we were the 1 st thru that day.

We sailed for South Port Gold coast.  Despite weather warnings.  We had a good run.  We were aheadof the weather at each cape.  Had some heavy rain, and could see the yukky pitch black clouds and lightening behind.

 Now at South Port Gold Coast to avoid fresh south wind and today we shall leave and hopefully have  a good run to sydney before the next winter gale, a southerly fore cast.”

So there we go.
Regards to all  Jon