Summer 2018 Update!

Wow, this summer has been so busy, I’ve been unable to keep you up on all the happenings. I hope yours has had its share of fun too. Before I fill you in on the Atlantic Cup, the two Mac Races and my new involvement with The Chicago Maritime Arts Center, let me catch you up on the progress of my book, Spirit of a Dream.

spirit_195The road to publication takes a lot of patience, but the wait is nearly over. The first proofs have arrived, and after a few tweaks, we are quite happy with them. Now we are awaiting the arrival of our Library of Congress catalog number. Once we get it, Seaworthy Publishing will push the button, and Spirit of a Dream will be available on Amazon! That could be a week or two, but hopefully no more than a month!

I’m obviously excited about the book’s publication and can’t wait to share the stories with you. Hopefully, the extra time and hard work have been worthwhile, and will provide you with an excellent read. While we await the arrival of Spirit of a Dream, let me fill you in on other great adventures from this summer.

First off, the biennial Atlantic Cup ran in its usual late May, early June time frame. With 11 boats competing from Brazil, France, Norway, South Africa, USA and sailors from other countries far and wide, the racing was exceptional, very competitive and as challenging as offshore racing can get. Through it all, Earendil, sailed by Catherine Pourre and Pietro Luciani held their consistency to take top honors and win the cup. Catherine was the first winning female in the history of the race.

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Photo @BillyBlack

Earendil was followed by Toothface sailed by Mike Dreese and Tristan Mouligne and then by Amhas with the venerable Rob Windsor and Micha Davis trimming to a close third. Oakcliff Racing, my old boat Bodacious Dream, on which we won the Atlantic Cup in 2013 and with which I then circumnavigated the globe in 2014, had a great final race. They pressed the whole way for a top position, showing that Bo is still one fast boat!

For the past two Atlantic Cups, my involvement has chiefly been with managing the AC Kids Education Program. This year, our crew put on the best event so far, sharing the program, the excitement and the wisdom of the sailors and the ocean with over 2000 kids of all ages and backgrounds! While 9-12-year-olds make up the bulk of the students, we were inspired by the inquisitiveness of first and second graders too and by the determination of high school students who were studying marine biology.

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Photo @BillyBlack

As always, we learn as much from the kids as they do from us. One student spoke out in class by saying, “If plastics last 100 years or longer, then all the plastic we’ve ever made is still here on the earth!” That one really gave me pause. Even I had never looked at it quite that way. No matter where or how you disposed of the plastic you’ve used in your life, it continues to live somewhere. Always give plastic a chance to live a new, recycled life.

Here’s the video from the Atlantic Cup Kids Program. Watch it to the end to hear the final, fantastic statement from the young girl. Her sincerity says it all… ”It’s our earth darn it!”

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Next up, 11th Hour Racing gave us, its panel of ambassadors. the opportunity to designate a non-profit organization that we felt most closely aligned with and could help expand each of our own interests and efforts. I chose the Chicago Maritime Arts Center,  after being introduced to them by my close friends, Phil Pollard and Grant Crowley over at Crowley’s Yacht Yard, on East 95th Street in Chicago.

Screen Shot 18The CMAC consists of a group of passionate boaters inspired by the founder, Capt. Toby Lindo, who launched the program which works with school-age kids to build and operate small boats and so hopefully stimulate some tangible changes in those kid’s life experience. Through the process of building a simple skiff and launching it on the Chicago River, these kids get the chance to do something not easily available in their inner-city neighborhoods.

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I was lucky enough to attend the second session this summer and wow, what a kick! Kids were using drills, handsaws, measuring tapes, paintbrushes and other tools to build a 10-foot-long Bevin’s Skiff. On launch day, they carried the boats to the water’s edge and with a few words of dedication, quickly slipped them into the water, hopped in and took to the oars. The first few uncoordinated swipes with the oars soon turned into proficient sweeps as these strong young kids took charge of the day and hopefully set a new course for their lives.

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The leadership of the CMAC is focused on building out their program to provide this opportunity citywide. Gaining valuable wisdom and insights from other programs throughout the country and leveraging local expertise, they have made a great start, and I have every confidence that within a few years, CMAC will be impacting many young adult lives that will ripple positively across their communities. Check them out on Facebook too - they are definitely worthy of your attention and any spare change you might be able to share with them.

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Lastly, the Mac Races! These races are the main event in a Great Lakes sailor’s summer. First up this year was the Bayview Mac Race, which began at the southern tip of Lake Huron and ran the length of Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. I raced the 280 some miles with my good friends on Defiance, a JV 67. Light or mostly non-existent winds actually covered the entire racecourse, except for the last 20 miles when a fresh northerly provided beautiful, clear, upwind sail to the finish. We were excited to be the third boat across the finish line, behind Windquest and Wizard, although the handicap correction dropped us further down the rankings. If anyone ever tells you big winds make for hard sailing, tell them that light or no wind is equally as taxing for competitive-minded sailors.

The following weekend, under rainy, grey skies, and a building northerly wind that would stay through the entire race, aboard the good ship Tango in Blue, we started the Chicago Mac Race. This year I got the unique chance to sail with a crew that included my godson, Harry Barrows who, at 18 was getting the chance to sail his first Mac race! If you’ve heard any stories of this year’s Chicago Mac, they’re probably accurate. We pounded along into 20-25 knot upwind conditions for two continuous days until the winds eased a bit and the skies lightened up. Hour after hour of being doused by waves, while hanging on the rail, as the boat heaved and bashed its way into the next wave. Nights of endless blackness, fatigue and shivering in our cold wet skivvies unleashed an endless stream of stories once we reached Mackinac Island.

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This story ended happily though with a tired, elated crew as we topped our section in first place. Without that extra boost of adrenaline at the finish line, that first glass of champagne migh have left me horizontal on the dock.

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If that wasn’t enough for one summer, on June 30th, I was honored with induction into the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation Hall of Fame. Many friends and family gathered for the ceremony at the Michigan City Yacht Club, the place I call my home harbor, to celebrate. After 45 years of sailing, I have quite a collection of plaques and awards, but none of them are as precious as the ones like this one, that come with the respect of my peers. This honor is especially precious.

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So, that’s been the summer, and for it, I am one lucky sailor. I hope yours summer has been full of good memories too. With the coming of fall, look for Spirit of a Dream.

A smooth sail to you into whatever adventures fall and winter might bring you.

Regards to all,

- Dave Rearick

Spring Reading & Atlantic Cup Fun

Hello everyone! … Spring is on the calendar even if it’s not in the air yet. Amazing it’s April 6th and it’s too cold to work on boats in the Midwest. I have to say in my earlier years, I recall sailing Geronimo down the coast with a beard of ice hanging off the bow pulpit.

crw_225x300So, while avoiding boat work this weekend, you might enjoy reading the April issue of Cruising World. There’s a familiar face on the front cover and an article by the very same writer on the inside. The article tells the story of last fall’s sail across the pond (the Atlantic Ocean) aboard he 33-foot sailboat Hope to Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Sweden. It’s fun, and I think you’ll enjoy it and the photos. Bruce Carter took most the images, and there are some great shots. I bought a few copies of the magazine at the local Barnes and Noble, so I know you can find it there if someone hasn’t bought them all up yet!! You can also find them at some West Marine Stores and get it online at this link.

I hope reading that article will tide you over until the much-anticipated release of my book, Spirit of a Dream. Spirit of a Dream is in the process of being published at the moment, and we hope it hits the shelves by the end of summer. Stay tuned for continuing updates on the release date.

Also, stay tuned for Atlantic Cup Kids updates. I’m presently talking with multiple classrooms in Portland, Maine. It is so much fun inspiring the imagination of students. Today I learned about Needle Fish from the students at Hall Elementary School.

Stay the course – spring is coming. I’ll fill you in on what’s happening in the next update. If you can’t wait, you can always follow us at www.atlanticcup.org

- Dave

Approaching an Exciting 2018

Hello Everyone, and Happy New Year!

I hope this note finds you well and warm on the first few days of the new year. I have a lot to share with you, but first, as you may know, it has been seriously cold here on the shores of Lake Michigan. Shortly after Christmas, a polar vortex blanketed much of North America. Old-timers have shared with me that Lake Michigan has to “smoke” for three days before she freezes over.

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After the requisite three days of smoking, the ice began to form. It started along the shore and patches of floating ice began to collect out on the open water as the winds blew them into rows.

The temps have been mostly in the teens, but on the 30th, they dropped into the low single digits. Winds built from the north gusting to 30 mph creating huge waves and making life challenging here on the lake. On New Year’s Eve morning, there was ice all the way to the horizon. While it may not be summer sailing weather, it’s nature caught in another beautiful movement.

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Some more interesting information about the lake – the lake level has been high the past year causing a good deal of beach erosion and threatening the dunes. While the early ice brings relief for the lakefront, forming a natural sea wall, it also creates a counter issue. Nature, always brings with it pros and cons. An early ice and a cold winter create a significant coverage of ice on the lake, greatly affecting the evaporation rate, which then allows the overall lake levels to rise. If the polar vortex continues this year with significant ice on the lake, lake levels will likely reach near record levels next summer, at which point beach erosion will become an even bigger issue.

So, onto some exciting events coming up this year…

To answer everyone who has asked, “How’s the book coming?” I have good news! The manuscript is finished and we are engaged with a publisher! We expect that by summer, you’ll be reading about the exploits of Bodacious Dream and our sail around the world. I know many of you read our trip reports with great excitement. In the book, you’ll get the chance to read the untold stories. Accounts of the physical and emotional challenges, the stormy weather and mechanical failures, not to mention the deeper and more reflective moments I couldn’t share at the time. We look forward to getting Spirit of a Dream out to you soon. Put this book on your summer reading list, and we’ll let you know when we can receive pre-orders.

May 2018 will be the next running of the Atlantic Cup – the great Class 40 race up the Atlantic Coast. Again, this year, I’ll be helping with the Atlantic Cup Kid’s program. In 2016, we hit the limits of our capacity to share the program with kids. Somehow, we’ll have to expand that capacity, as we know there will be more kids wanting to join us this year. These kids are our future and providing them with this experience is vitally important.

I hope you’ll join us again and follow along. And as a blatant request, if you or your company would like to be aligned with the program and the future of these amazing kids, we are still looking for sponsors to help us cover the cost of the program. Almost 100% of the human effort is donated time, but there are still many expenses involved in reaching out to teachers, visiting classrooms during the winter, arranging transportation for kids, setting up the race villages and providing all the amenities that make the Atlantic Cup the premier ISO 2-person sustainability sporting event in North America.

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To capture your imagination and satiate your sailing appetite, the Volvo Ocean Race is going on right now and 11th Hour Racing has a boat in the race. Skippers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, two of my fellow 11th Hour Racing friends teamed with Vestas Wind and 11th Hour Racing to enter the race. If you’ve seen those big windmill turbines generating renewable electricity, you’ve seen Vestas products. They make the windmill blades and turbines. 11th Hour, as you’ve probably read from my blogs and emails, has a long commitment to promoting sustainability throughout the sailing community. The Vestas 11th Hour Team is a great advocate for our ocean… and the crew is doing a great job. Follow all the action at https://vestas11thhourracing.com/. Here’s to the crew! Good Luck in the next leg from Melbourne, Australia to Hong Kong.

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The Volvo Ocean Race also has an educational component like the Atlantic Cup. Share it with your kids! https://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/sustainability/education.html

2018 promises to be a great year for me, I hope it’s a great year for you as well. Please stay in touch, follow along and remember, “Life is a grand adventure, live it all, live it always.”

Happy New Year,

- Dave Rearick

Atlantic Cup Kids Wrap-Up!

new_logo_300The Atlantic Cup! What a great way to start off the summer! The race was a great event, the competition was fierce and the camaraderie as always, the best. You can learn more about the race, review the results and see great photos and videos on The Atlantic Cup website. And while racing was the main event, my focus was on the Atlantic Cup Kids Program - and what a great time we had! While it was my first time coordinating the program and much of my days were spent pondering variables and fretting over possible disasters, when the actual events happened, they were just amazing. As one visitor remarked to me, “This is ‘epic!’ – and it was!

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I spent the beginning of the year making arrangements, contacting teachers in our three cities to explain our program and visiting classes of kids to talk about the ocean, sustainability and to excite them about the Atlantic Cup and our Kids Program. When it came time for the first actual Kids Day event in Charleston, SC, I was grateful that we had strong plans in place, because that morning, there were nearly 600 students from over 10 schools who came to visit us! It was tremendous sharing the various learning activities and watching the kids take their first steps onto a boat – many of them for the first time ever! John Miller did an amazing job of coordinating and arranging for the students from the Charleston School System to attend – exceeding our limit of 400 students by 50 percent! John explained that no sooner did he open it up for attendance, then he had 600 students sign up… and he had to close down enrollment.

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Many thanks to our great staff and our volunteers and the support from 11th Hour Racing,  all of whom rose to the occasion. We had five learning stations— 1) “Whale Blubber and Plankton” run by Sailors for the Seas, 2) “Sustainability” with Brian Funke, 3) “How Boats Float” by Meredith “Megatron” Caroll, 4) “Knot Tying” and 5) “The Ultimate Adventure” - where kids were able to visit one of the boats and talk with the skippers.

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When the day was over and we paused to consider the level of success, it became clear to me that no matter how anxious I was about getting everything right, the sight of so many laughing, inquisitive kids was all the proof I was looking for. Check out our Photo Albums on our Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook Page Photos Page.

As the boats raced into the Brooklyn Marina, so did the Kids program. Brooklyn presented us with something of a challenge. The Marina we had expected to be operating out of was not yet finished with construction, and so we had to move into facilities that prevented us from allowing kids to actually get on the boats. But in spite of that disappointment, the great Atlantic Cup staff, 11th Hour Racing, the skippers and our volunteers once again put together a great program. Hundreds of fourth graders showed up, even recognizing me as Captain Dave and peppering me with questions. We finished the day giving a group of high school students a better understanding about the inner workings of the marine industry, and where within it, they might pursue vocational opportunities.

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Portland, Maine was the last stop of the Atlantic Cup Race and where we had another few hundred kids attend the program. One of the most inspiring parts of the Portland event, were the third grade students from Ocean Avenue School who after spending a semester in an “Expeditionary Learning” program studying lobsters, created an entire station of their own to share their acquired knowledge with us and all the other students. It was very inspiring to watch students teaching other students! 

On Day 2 and Day 3 in Portland, while the boats competed on the inshore courses of beautiful Casco Bay, we set up an entire area of the race village dedicated to kids and learning. Here we saw many kids, along with their parents, taking advantage of the interactive learning opportunities, trying their own hand at knot tying, picking up whalebones, learning about sea mammals and the ocean. When all was said and done, over 1000 students took advantage of the 2016 Atlantic Cup Kids Program. And at the end of the race at the Awards Ceremony aboard the replica old Spanish Galleon named El Galeon, we presented the Kids Favorite award to the crew of Talanta.

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We were all inspired by these amazing students and by their energetic teachers who helped us to make all this happen. Many of the students we talked with had never been on or even seen a boat before, and only knew about the ocean from school. We’re happy to say we’ve now touched the lives of over 1000 young people and likely helped change the way they will in the future regard their relationship to the oceans that sustain all our lives. 

knotty_300For me, I was most inspired by a young girl who I found looking sad and frustrated at the knot tying station. When I asked her how she was doing, she said she couldn’t tie knots. I asked her if she had tried and she shook her head and looking down said, “I can’t do it.” Together we started with the figure-eight knot. After she accomplished that, we tried the clove hitch and then moved onto the bowline. Each time she tied a knot, her smile grew bigger and more confident. When she finally pulled off the hardest one, the fisherman’s bend, we jubilantly high-fived each other… and I watched her walk away, ready to take on the world! I suspect one day she’ll be one of those who will patiently do the same thing for some other young kid. 

rope_pull_300Thanks to all of you who followed along and supported our adventures with the Atlantic Cup Kids Program. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. As the season progresses here, we’ll find some new avenues to channel our energies and to showcase our educational programs. Stay tuned for more updates on that.

As always, our learning guides are available on BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com under the drop-down menu called “You Explore.” They are also available (in a slightly different format) on the http://atlanticcup.org/Kids page.

And if you haven’t done so already, please like our Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook page. This is useful for attracting sponsors, who can help us to advance our efforts. Who knows, one of those sponsors might be you! Besides that, you’ll see some really cool pics of kids (of all ages) having the time of their lives!

atckids_250And a special thank you to all who helped out… especially Sam, Anthony (AT), Meredith (Megatron), Julianna, Hugh, Jen, Brittany, Sarah, Jen, Billy, Susan, Michelle and Steve as well as all the skippers, teachers, administrators and the many volunteers who showed up and pitched in with such great enthusiasm. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone … so, thank you too! And big thanks to 11th Hour Racing for their help and support with The Atlantic Cup and our Atlantic Cup Kids Program.
Until later,
- Dave

P.S. If you know of a school which might enjoy a presentation by Captain Dave about his circumnavigation, the ocean, sustainability, sail-craft and other fun things, please contact me directly at… dave@atlanticcup.org

Atlantic Cup Update – Curious Kids & Racing Ships

I’m writing this from one of my favorite places in the world, the State of Maine! We had beautiful weather this week after a rainy weekend. Hey, it is June in Maine and it is just beautiful out here! And on top of that, today June 9th is our third and final Atlantic Cup Kids Day here in Portland. What a ride it’s been!

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The Atlantic Cup once again presented by 11th Hour Racing has been going great! The racing from Charleston ended with a very challenging finish in the light winds and strong currents of New York Harbor. The Spanish entrant, #123 Tales won the leg in a record-beating 72:48:03 finishing 90 minutes ahead of #145 Eärendil (74:21:43), followed 30 minutes later by the all-female team of #118 Oakcliff Racing, with Liz Shaw and Libby Greenhalgh racing my old boat, previously named Bodacious Dream. What a great showing for their first time sailing together!

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The race up from New York City (from the Brooklyn Marina more specifically,) to Portland gave the sailors a real workout. After rounding a virtual mark off Nantucket, they sailed downwind in heavy air – 25-30 knots reaching speeds of over 20 knots before the winds eased. Once again Tales II, followed by Eärendil crossed the finish line first.

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Equally exciting was watching the finish line from our makeshift race offices as three boats, #95 Talanta, #118 Oakcliff Racing and #128 Toothface entered the inner harbor and jockeyed for third place. In the final few yards, Toothface edged out the others to take third place. Now that was great racing!

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Over on Facebook on the Atlantic Cup Kids page, there is a live feed with me commentating on the finish, though our view was distant from the action. We’re not at the professional level yet, but hopefully we’re good enough for you to follow the closing action.

The inshore series begins this Friday the 10th. As far as Kids Days goes, we had a great success in Charleston with nearly 600 kids, Brooklyn brought us well over 100 kids and in Portland, we’re expecting at least 200 kids today – with many more expected for the Inshore Leg on Friday and Saturday at the race village in Ft. Allen Park.

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Among the exciting things in store for Kids Day will from Presumscott School’s 3rd grade students, who have been studying lobsters this semester and will be presenting their resulting program for us. I’ll have more on that soon. One interesting thing I just learned from these students is the Gulf of Maine is warming up faster than any other body of water in these latitudes.

el_galeon1Our office here on the Maine Wharf is in the middle of the working waterfront of Portland, Maine right next to a beautiful tall ship named El Galeón from Spain.

The waters surrounding us here are those of Casco Bay, and its estuary where the fresh rivers waters meet the ocean and its tides. The great interaction between the two bodies of water creates a rich and nutritious environment for sea life.

portland-head-lightI’ve prepared a work sheet on the Casco Bay region based on some great information from the very knowledgeable Abby Doane over at Friends of Casco Bay. It’s amazing how important the unique environments of each of the harbors we’ve sailed from are to the overall health of the ocean. Read my Education Guide about Casco Bay - which you can find RIGHT HERE!

So, as we move into the last phase of the Atlantic Cup, for which I’m a proud ambassador for 11th Hour Racing, I very much appreciate so many of you following along with us, learning with us and helping us move our activity-based learning agenda forward into the future. I only wish I could share with each of you the enthusiastic laughter and great questions from the kids who toured our race villages.

fan_fav1Stay tuned for another update after the end of racing on Saturday. It promises to be an exciting final leg. In the meantime, please take a minute to visit the Atlantic Cup Kids page and vote for your favorite team! We have a great trophy for the “Fan Favorite” to present at the awards presentation on Saturday.

And then head on over to our Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook page… and catch up on the posts and photos since the start of the race on May 28th. And while you’re there, LIKE us if you like … so you can stay in the loop moving forward!

Until later…
- Capt. Dave

Casco Bay Estuary/ Portland, Maine

heron casco bayPortland, Maine is surrounded by legendary Casco Bay, which marks both the finish line of the second leg of the Atlantic Cup Sailing Race which began in Brooklyn, NY – and also the site the final two days of inshore course racing.

Portland is Maine’s largest metropolitan area and home to 25% of the state’s population. Casco Bay, the water around Portland is an estuary, defined as the tidal mouth of a river where fresh water streams of rivers mix with tidal waters of the ocean. Three major rivers, the Fore River, Royal River and Presumscott River along with many smaller streams are the sources which feed fresh water into the Casco Bay Estuary.

casco2Bound by Cape Elizabeth, Cape Small and Half Way Rock, the entire watershed embraces 42 different local communities and is designated as one of 28 “Estuaries of National Significance.”

In 1631, the first English settlers arrived on the Portland Peninsula, which was called Machigonne by the indigenous peoples. 150 years later, George Washington commissioned the building of the Portland Lighthouse. To this day, the oldest lighthouse in Maine shines seaward 24 miles and guides sailors from all corners of the world, not the least of whom are the 2016 Atlantic Cup competitors who hail from Spain, Sweden, France, England and the United States.

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casco_est1Atlantic Cup sailors know intimately how important ocean health is and the Casco Bay region is a prime example of an amazing, healthy cycle of diversity that coexists with the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to over 850 species of marine life from microscopic plants and animals to migrating birds, seals and pilot whales.

Because of this, these waters are known as the “Nursery of the Sea” – where baby marine animals can find shelter and food in the nutrient rich waters. In the spring, over 50 islands in Casco Bay provide shelter to over 150 species of water birds and their newly hatched young. Is it any wonder that I love it so.

For most of the 1800’s and 1900’s, there have been environmental pressures on the Casco Bay Region. Industries found the flowing rivers convenient for disposing their waste. Chemicals used for tanning horse hides to make leather, lead used in the canneries and metal foundries and the spillage of coal and gasoline all found their way into the water and still remain to this day in the soils of the river beds. Today, nitrates from farm fertilizers, storm water runoff, sewage and ocean acidification continue to pose threats to the health of the estuary.

Casco_300x78Fortunately, effective education initiatives and conscientious citizenship such as that practiced by the “BayKeepers” – who are part of an incredible group called “The Friends of Casco Bay.” Check out their site to learn more how they are working to tackle these challenges and help us all be better stewards of our environment.

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The beautiful Maine coast with its deep forests of spruce, pine, fir and many deciduous trees has long been a haven for summer visitors. The many island and granite shorelines provide beautiful landscapes for lobster dinners and clam bakes. Swift tides ranging from 12 feet to 30 feet constantly flush and wear away at the granite shoreline, cleansing the waters, and yet the ever-present pressure imposed by mankind continues to challenge the ocean’s natural ability to renew itself.

The Atlantic Cup Race, presented by 11th Hour Racing expends a significant effort to maintain a carbon neutral footprint through its recycling and sustainability practices, making it second to no one in the world of yacht racing and professional sports. Check out this video from 2013, when the whole sustainability issue in racing was first introduced.

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We hope if you are there for the inshore leg of the race, that you will take notice of the powerful and beautiful Casco Bay that surrounds you.

Ocean Learning Unbound!

dave_acWe’re in the thick of it now! With so much to do for the Atlantic Cup Kids program, time has really been flying by quickly. The start of The Atlantic Cup Race is less than 10 days away and our first group of students will be visiting the race village in Charleston, SC a week from now! In Charleston alone, we have scheduled over 500 students to visit the race village and boats! That’s an epic leap forward!

In early May, I visited six schools in Charleston to inspire and to be inspired by hundreds of kids. I talked to 15 different classes over two days! It was great to see how much they already knew about weather, oceans and science - and how insightful their questions for me were.

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Carolina Dreamer Project on Display at the Science Fair

One class in particular, Amy McMahon’s, had done something extraordinary. On May 17, 2015, they launched a small unmanned boat named Carolina Dreamer (to the right in the above photo) out across the Atlantic. Each day along the way, the students tracked its progress on satellites, checked the weather along the course and did many of the same calculations I did while sailing Bodacious Dream around the world. At a certain point, they lost contact with the boat, until it was spotted on February 10, 2016 off the coast of Wales, retrieved and sent back to Charleston. Now that was an inspiring tale, which you can read about right HERE!

In response to the enthusiasm and curiosity I’ve encountered around the ocean and boats, I’ve pulled together some thoughts on what is required on the design and budding side that enables racing boats to sail the way they do… with a focus on the physics, chemistry, math and engineering that goes into getting a boat into competitive shape for a race like the Atlantic Cup.

merf_owen3To help me with this, I engaged my friend Merf Owena noted naval architect and the designer of two of the boats in the Atlantic Cup to talk about his life and how he came to be a racing yacht designer.

:: Check out the story called “How Boats Sail” as well as “An Interview with Merf Owen – Naval Architect” at their respective links.

A number of the high school students who will visit us in the race village in Brooklyn/NYC and Portland, ME have already expressed their interest in pursuing careers in the marine industry. It’s really an eye-opener when you realize just how many different disciplines are involved in the design, building, maintaining and sailing of modern boats – from engineers and builders to shippers, accountants, business managers and computer specialists. Reading Merf’s interview you’ll see the interesting path he took to becoming one of the best. He also shares what subjects he feels students who want to ready themselves for marine careers should pay closest attention to in school.

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So, stay tuned. It will be a busy month ahead! And if you haven’t done so yet, please LIKE our Atlantic Cup Kid’s Page on Facebook. Also check out Carolina Dreamer’s (Educational Passages) Facebook Page and LIKE it for those amazing kids.

Also if you go to the Atlantic Cup Kid’s Page, you can VOTE for your favorite boat and team in this year’s race, where The Atlantic Cup Kids will be presenting the trophy for the Fan Favorite!

More to come! Heading to Charleston early next week!

- Dave (along with a host of friends & students!)

How Boats Sail!

There are few things more beautiful than the sight of a sleek boat full sail skimming across the water. But how does it all work? How do nature, science and human design come together to enable a sailboat to move in so fluid a way?

greek_boat_300From ancient times onward, using wind power to move boats required being tuned into the ways of nature and how its many forces might be harnessed to serve human purposes. To that end, boat builders have always relied on observation and calculation, tradition, testing and passed down refinements to build their boats.

Today though, with all the incredible advances in physics, engineering, computing technology and material science, boat building (and especially racing yacht building) has become a most exciting and cutting edge industry.

Merf_200To help us get up to speed on boat building today, I asked an old friend of mine, one of the world’s top racing boat naval architects, Merf Owen of Owen Clarke Designs to field some questions about his life designing boats.

You can find my whole interview with Merf RIGHT HERE, but for now, let’s imagine that I asked Merf to design a new Class 40 racer – to say, compete in the Atlantic Cup – a vessel much like the Class40 I sailed around the world a few years ago.

weatherMerf would first want to know how I intend to race the boat and where in the world I plan on sailing it? My answers to these questions help provide him with guidelines for particular factors he will need to consider in designing my boat. When he learns where I want to sail the boat, he will ask a meteorologist (a weather scientist,) to study the weather patterns in those areas and so provide him with weather data (percentages of light, medium or heavier winds and the general wave patterns resulting from them.) Merf will use this information to optimize the design for those regions of the world and for the type of sailing and racing I want to do.

Once Merf has gathered the information he needs, he designs the shape of the hull and the “sail plan.” The hull of course is the “body” of the boat, and the sail plan is the combination of mast and sails and rigging that “power” the boat. He must align his design to the laws of physical science laws in arriving at the best shape for the hull, so that it will move through the water and waves with the least amount of “drag,” to avoid anything that slows a boat down – (like dragging your feet while riding your bike.)

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One hundred years ago, a boat designer would carve the model of a boat from a wooden block – using their experience and creative instincts to determine the best shape of the hull. This model would then be converted into hand-drawn blueprints. Today, computers automate much of this process, but Merf still must exercise his intuitions and creativity to course-correct the computer output he receives.

iom_cfdAs Merf progresses with his design of the hull shape and sail plan, he can test his work using powerful computer simulation software, which shows him where modifications might help to improve performance. When he’s happy with the design, Merf emails his digital designs to the builder and the fun of boat building can commence!

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Once the builder reviews the design drawings, there’s much that needs to happen. You can just imagine the many things they have to figure out, and how many of them require a solid understanding of mathematics.

How much space do they need in their shop to build the boat and parts? How many layers of fiberglass cloth will be needed? How many gallons of epoxy resin? How many screws? How many people will they need to hire? How long will it take? How much is it going to cost? All of this is must be carefully figured out in order to develop a solid project plan that includes realistic cost estimates.

boat_moldOnce the build plan is in place, more advanced math or “engineering” phase comes into play. First the builders have to build molds in which the boat parts are cast. These molds have to be engineered strong enough to withstand people moving them around and walking on them as the boat is being built. While science, math and engineering are requirements for getting all of this correct, seasoned builders also rely on practical or “seat of the pants” engineering to build the best and strongest molds.

Once building begins, technical engineering drives the process. Structural engineers and designers figure out the details of the composite structure – the number of layers of fiberglass cloth that offer the strength to handle the “loads” (weight and forces) that various parts of the boat must support.

pulleyHere again, an understanding of physics is necessary. A rope or “line” turning through a block is a good example. The line pulls a lot of weight and when it turns around a pulley, it changes the direction of the load. The pulley has to withstand these loads and not break loose from its mounting. All these loads and attendant forces have to be calculated so that the size of the block, bolts and composite materials can withstand these always changing loads.

halyard_200An even more complex set of calculations is necessary when it comes to the mast, which must support the power of the sails through the supporting cables called “shrouds.” There are many calculations to consider in how the shrouds spread the loads across the entire hull. All this has to be worked out so the boat and mast won’t fail in a powerful storm, yet still remain light enough to be competitive on the racecourse. There are always trade-offs to consider between strength and weight when making these important calculations and decisions.

Once construction of the hull begins, workers lay the layers of fiberglass cloth in the mold and then a lightweight core of balsa wood followed by additional layers of cloth to meet the stated engineering requirements. A layer of plastic is then laid over the mold and the edges sealed, at which point a vacuum pump sucks all the air out of the mold. This forces the materials together tightly as an injection system pumps epoxy resin into the mold, filling in the voids and soaking the cloth.

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In a few hours, the chemical reaction of the liquid epoxy hardens, creating the strong, hard shell of the boat. To further strengthen the epoxy, the whole boat is put into a large oven and “cooked” at a specific temperature for a period of time. Chemical engineers figure out the specific formulations of the epoxy resins, the temperatures they work at and the time it takes them to harden.

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The mast and sails require similar engineering and science know-how. Sails are designed to work like the wings of an airplane – only vertically instead of horizontally. Most people think the wind just blows a boat along, but this isn’t exactly correct. It is the shape of the sails that produces power by allowing the wind to flow along the cloth thus creating pressure differences, which actually “pull” the boat toward the wind. Nowadays, the sails are made from composite plastics and the engineering of their strength and flexibility so that they can bend with the forces of the wind and sails and not break. The mast itself is made in a similar way as the hull of the boat, with cloth and epoxy resins.

Bodacious DreamWhen the body of the boat is complete, the real fun can begin. The mast and boom, the sails and the rigging are mounted and the boat is launched. Finally, it’s time to take it test sailing to see how the sailplan and the rest of the boat work together.

Once on the water, powerful onboard computers receive signals from multiple sensor devices that monitor everything from the angle and speed of the wind to the shape of the sails and the speed of the boat. These numbers are compared with computer-generated models to determine how well the boat is performing. Even with all this technical help though, the human sailor still must make the strategic refinements necessary for the boat to outpace its competitors and win a race.

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An experienced sailor today must master many skills. They must be conversant in many subjects before they can compete in a race like the Atlantic Cup. They need to have learned meteorology and how to anticipate changes in wind directions and speeds. They need enough knowledge of oceanography so that they can track currents and tides and how they dynamically shift and flow around a harbor or coast. They must have also learned how to work with computers so they can program, interpret and manage all the information the computers are capable of providing. And of course they must know their math and engineering, so they can keep the boat moving safely. Some good handyperson skills come in real handy too when called upon to fix things that break in the middle of a race (or when far from land.)

Bringing a boat into existence takes the work of many people with many different skills. Designers like Merf lead teams of skilled engineers, scientists and builders who all take pride in the building of fast and beautiful boats. And finally, there are the sailors, who use their wide range of technological skills and sailing instincts to help them win races like the Atlantic Cup.

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ragon, which Merf designed and will be co-skippering in the Atlantic Cup

Next time you hear your teachers (or parents) talk about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education – you will be able to relate that to how it applies to the artful science of boat building.

SCIENCE: Weather science, chemical science, computer science, human physiology science
TECHNOLOGY: Computers, monitoring instruments, sail designs and shapes
ENGINERERING: Computers, composites, hardware, pulleys, loads, masts, sails and building
MATHEMATICS Lots and lots of math. Numbers, computer calculations, engineering load calculations, speed calculations, parts and construction time calculations, cost and business calculations. Endless Math! (The more math you’re able to do in your head, the easier it will be to make these decisions.)

An Interview with Merf Owen, Naval Architect

Dave Rearick of Atlantic Cup Kids interviews Merf Owen, Sailor, Naval Architect and Yacht Designer and principal of Owen/Clark Design, LLC.

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Dave Rearick (DR): How old are you now Owen, and when did you get interested in sailing?

Merf Owen (MO): I’m 53 and I first started sailing with a sail training organization called the Ocean Youth Club, when I was 16. I was brought up in the middle of England, far from the sea, but before I left school I had decided I would join the Navy, but I’d never been to sea really. So, I thought I had better do some sailing. My first few days at sea were spent in a very famous storm (in Europe) during the Fastnet Race of 1979.

DR: Where is your home office?

MO: I live in Hamble in England, but my company’s office is three hours away in Dartmouth and we also have an office in New Zealand. The Internet is what helps us to all be able to work together and share a working environment and communicate over thousands of miles and many different time zones.

DR: Your work has you travelling and sailing all around the world, how much do you travel?

MO: I spend a lot of time on the West Coast and East Coast of the United States for business and pleasure. In one year I am only in Hamble perhaps 6 months maximum. The rest of the time I’m in the US, Europe and Australia meeting clients, sailing or going to boatyards/conferences etc.

DR: Do you remember a moment in your life where you got your first big sailing break? The first chance to crew on a hot racer, a meeting with a famous sailor or something like that? Can you tell just a bit about how it inspired you?

MO: The first break was sailing with the Ocean Youth Club… it changed my life. My first big break racing was sailing as navigator on the 85’ catamaran Novell Network with an English skipper called Peter Phillips. We took part in the Round Europe Race in 1985. I was twenty two… and inspired by sailing alongside some of the greatest sailors of their generation… Robin Knox Johnston, Phillip Poupon, Serge Madec, Tony Bullimore…. also Peter Phillips himself, who almost won (but came third in the end) in the 1980 Single-handed Transatlantic Race from Plymouth England to Newport RI. He was beaten by Frenchman Phillip Poupon. It was very special to be around these guys on the dock. I thought after this I would be a professional sailor… but I had to make a choice between careers and I chose design and engineering.

DR: I know you sailed the predecessor to the Volvo Ocean Race…

MO: No, I was a skipper on the BT Global Challenge 1996/97, at the time called the Whitbread Race.

DR: What boat did you sail and how did you get the chance to compete in the Whitbread?

MO: My boat was Global Teamwork. I got the chance by applying for the position of skipper with race organiser Sir Chay Blyth, who I knew from my days multihull sailing. Chay had won the double-handed transatlantic race and was the first man to row the Atlantic Ocean. I applied for the job by an email using satellite communication, the same day as I rounded Cape Horn for the first time with another old friend of mine I met racing multihulls. Alan Wyn Thomas. I’m a strong believer that a sailing life and life in general is about meeting people, being stroked by them and stroking others in return. I am from the middle of England, far from the sea, no one in my family sailed and my father was a train driver. I was lucky with the people I met, but I also made the effort to go out and meet people. I think this is important for young people to know: There are a lot of good people out there who will and can help, but you need to go out and not be afraid to ask, get dirty, start at the bottom, and work hard for what you want… that’s the American way too isn’t it?

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DR: When did you get interested in Yacht Design and what course of study did you pursue to become a yacht designer?

MO: I left the Navy and put myself through college… to study naval architecture (submarine design actually) with Royal Corps Naval Constructors at University College London. It was during this time, sailing and racing other people’s boats that I began to gain confidence and begin to think that I could design something better than the boats I was sailing.

DR: Are there particular classes a young student should pay particular attention to if they want to pursue yacht design and engineering?

MO: Maths, Physics, computer studies… but you need to get out on the water too. I would never employ a designer/engineer who either does not sail or has not worked as a boat-builder. Yacht design is not just a theoretical engineering subject. One needs passion and the two most passionate types of people I know are boat builders and sailors. Even if you’re not a great engineer/mathematician, there can be a place for you in a yacht design office if you’ve other skills.

DR: In the years you’ve been designing, can you talk us through a simple history of the changes you’ve seen?

MO:I think the students will find it interesting how far technology has come in the 30 years since I started designing boats at the beginning of the commercial computer age. Although my business partner has ‘drawn’ boats I never have. I used an early Apple computer…an SE to produce the geometry, the line drawings, using an early version of the MaxSurf software that we still use.

Engineering was undertaken with Lamanal Software using a Sirius computer I bought from a company called SP. It was very advanced at the time and cost a lot of money. It used actual Floppy discs – 5.25 inch which could hold 600 KB of information. Amazing eh? Jumping forward thirty years and my laptop is many times more powerful than the Cray super-computer I used at University to develop software in Fortran 77. Nowadays the performance orientated yacht designer’s armory of hardware and software on our laptops is comprehensive. We have the ability to model using computational fluid dynamics, weather, performance analysis and engineering that only an America’s Cup team would have had even ten years ago.

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DR: How many Class 40 designs have you done and how many of your designs are in the Atlantic Cup this year?

MO: We have just signed a contract on our sixteenth Class 40 that will be built in South Africa. In the Atlantic Cup this year we have two of our boats racing… Dragon, one of our oldest boats, built in 2008 and Longbow, which is a new boat built last year in Rhode Island.

DR: Longbow is your most recent Class 40 design. You designed it specifically for the Atlantic Cup. In simple terms a person without detailed knowledge would notice, what makes it different?

MO: Class 40 began in Europe where the target races are mainly Trans-Atlantic from East to West. Racing sailboats rely on wind to power them. How fast they go, depends on how they perform changes with the different speeds and angles to the wind that they sail. If you sail across the Atlantic from West to East, instead of from West to East, then it’s possible to design a different kind of boat, one that is faster in those winds. Also, on average in the ocean, in the middle of the Atlantic the wind is stronger than it is on the east coast of the United States. Since all the Class 40s designed and built in Europe were designed for the Atlantic Races, we thought it would be a good idea to design Longbow just for the races it will do on the East coast of the USA. The owner of Longbow just wants to race in America, not across the Atlantic… so the boat is specifically designed for the local conditions. It is faster in the light winds that are a feature of sailing in the summer along the Eastern Seaboard between Charleston and Portland.

DR: What do you think makes a boat a good design?

MO: All good sailing boats are easy to sail, hold their direction when sailing with the minimum of input from the sailor/helmsman. We also like our boats to be “pretty”, although beauty is different in the eye of different people. We often use the following phrases when talking with clients/boat builders/journalists. These are phrases that are well-known to describe design, and we are not the first to use them:

“Function follows form…. which means if it looks right, it ‘probably’ is right.”

At the same time as the above, we’re engineers/technicians as well so we also believe that those who fall in love with practice but without science are like a sailor who steers a ship without a helm or compass, and who never can be certain whither they are going. And the great Nat Hereshoff invented a word when he urged designers to: “Simplicate and add lightness.”

DR: Why do the Class 40’s have two rudders when other boats only have one?

MO: Class 40s are so wide that when they heel over in the wind, if they had only one rudder in the middle it would come out of the water and make the boat impossible to steer.

DR: Most people will notice these boats are very wide, what is the reason for this?

MO: Most racing sailboats historically have been designed to a rule that limits the width of the boat and also the performance. Class 40 comes from a genre of design which has a history of unrestricted rule… it’s called “Open Class.” Wider, in general, is faster… so long as there’s enough wind to match the sailplan of the boat and keep it ‘powering along.’

DR: Are the boats considered light for their size?

MO: Yes, they are… not super light because the rule limits their construction to glass fibre… to save cost. They could be lighter if they were built from carbon fibre… nevertheless, compared to your average sailboat, they are light.

DR: How fast can the Class 40’s go?

MO: I have sailed at 22 knots, but I know boats in certain conditions have sailed at 25 knots and even 30 knots… which is 29-35 mph.

DR: What has been the most exciting project you have worked on designing boats?

MO: So many exciting projects and not all of them racing boats… it’s hard to pick one because they’re all exciting and often for different reasons. People you work with also add excitement, as well as the kind of boat. At the moment, we’re working on a high -latitude cruising boat that will visit the Antarctic and the Arctic and it’s built out of aluminium, not carbon fibre. It’s a very exciting project. Of course, my first boat… a 35’ racing trimaran was an amazing project. I’m still best of friends with the three people who helped me build that boat and one of them is my business partner. Kingfisher, our first Open 60 was designed and built in New Zealand for a young girl… Dame Ellen MacArthur (from the middle of England, much like myself). That was an amazing project, both because of the technology and the people. Our eight and most recent Open 60, Acciona was the first racing boat of its type to circumnavigate the Globe without having any carbon/fossil fuels onboard… just solar and water-generated energy… a cool project. And let’s not forget Longbow… a great project, working with good people and a great owner to create a very special and innovative sailboat. It was fun too building her right here in the United States.

DR: I’m sure the computer and CAD drawing has changed your work… what exciting technologies do you hope these young students watching the Atlantic Cup will develop to make the job of yacht designing even easier and boats even better?

MO: 3D printing is beginning to make a difference in how we present projects to a client. Five years ago we were able to use it, at great cost, to show a client what a 40m cruising boat would look like. Today a workable size printer sells for $3000, and we’re just about to buy one for the office. In the future I’m sure we’ll be able to walk clients though a holographic image of a design, either in our office, at the boatyard or at their home. I hope this happens before I retire!

DR: Thanks so much Merf!

 

Earth’s Oceans – Learnings & Celebrations

AC_logo_200Well, it’s down to the last month before the beginning of the Atlantic Cup Race! Things are heating up as the organizers of the race are excitedly putting all the pieces in place for the start of the competition in Charleston, South Carolina on May 28th.

There are some exciting new entrants that have been added since my last update, including Liz Shaw and Libby Greenhalgh – the first all-female team – which is a super exciting first for this race. Also, I have it on good source that there are even a few more competitors to be announced soon! So, stayed tuned for that or follow the Atlantic Cup on their Facebook page, as well as following us on our newly launched Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook page.

The quality and the size of this year’s field, is going to make it very difficult to pick which boat I want to vote for as my favorite. Once you review the entrants, I hope you’ll consider casting a vote for your favorite. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it’s a big boost to the sailors to have folks rooting for them in that way. You can easily cast your vote on the Atlantic Cup Kids Page.

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I’ll break down the competition more in my next update. In this one, I want to share a bit more about our live learning events that will take place at all three of the race harbors.

Charleston, South Carolina, where the race begins is providing us with a huge warm welcome for their Kid’s Day, which will be May 26th. We’ve got over 500 kids scheduled to visit us so far. This really charges me up – the idea of having 500 unique opportunities to engage young, growing minds to learn more about the ocean and how we co-exist with it more sustainably. After all, the ocean covers 75% of the surface of our planet. We are connected to it (and a part of it) at the most fundamental of levels.

So, in early May, I’ll be visiting John Miller, who is helping us round up the kids and classes through the Charleston School District. At that time, I will have a chance to visit and talk with some of the classes prior to the Kid’s Day event at the harbor.

Casco_300x78A couple of weeks ago, I made a similar visit to Portland, Maine and received a very enthusiastic response to our presentation and program. I met with a great group of dedicated local folks who call themselves “BayKeepers” and who are part of a wonderful group called “The Friends of Casco Bay.” Check out their site to learn more.

While in Portland, I also visited three schools. It’s not easy to keep your presentation on track when the kids are peppering you with more questions than you have time to answer! Many thanks to the teachers and students at Bayview, Ocean Avenue and Hall Schools for allowing me to spend time with them. With Kid’s Day 1 in Portland full to capacity, we’re looking for more local schools and kids programs to join us on Kids Day 2 where the highlight will be watching the inshore racing from Ft. Allen Park. Of all the places I’ve sailed and raced, this location promises to be one of the best ever for watching boats race. So, let me know if you are familiar with schools in any of the three cities that might want to come down to the harbor and join the fun.

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Our stay in New York City at the end of Leg One is going to be great too. We’ve got a lot of high school kids visiting us there which is challenging me to find more advanced math, science and engineering learning points with which to engage them. Fortunately, sailing is filled with so many opportunities to expand your knowledge and understanding. Anyone care to explain the trigonometry involved in celestial navigation? Or how about determining the working loads of various winches, blocks and lines? The list of things to learn is endless.

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Since much of our program is about the oceans, we’ve also uploaded a NEW Education Guide to the Atlantic Cup Kids Page – an updated version from Bodacious Dream Expeditions that we call “Ocean World.” There’s a wealth of information there about the amazing world of the ocean. It’s a great and fun read and we encourage you to share it (along with the other Guides on that same page) with the kids in your world.

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When I’m on the water, I have this wondrous experience of feeling more directly connected to points all around the world. A few bags of groceries and I can go anywhere I want. From Charleston to France is a couple weeks. From there to South Africa a month. Then there’s New Zealand, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, Germany, India, Indonesia, Alaska, Peru… and on and on you go. Where would you like to go if you were setting sail on an ocean adventure? Drop me a note at Dave@AtlanticCup.org and tell me your dream port-of-call.

So, that’s it for now. Come visit us at the Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook page. I recently posted a cool visual explanation of one of my favorite things… bioluminescence. And while you’re there, give us a LIKE if you haven’t already done so, so that as we move forward, we can keep you in the loop. … More exciting stuff coming soon.

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with trusty Franklin by my side! (For those of you who’ve been asking where he’s been.)

P.S. And you can sign up for Kid-specific Mailings at the newsletter signup and by selecting AtCup KiDS News! We’ll start sending those closer to the race.