Dave’s Upcoming Talks in the Midwest…

Greetings to all from the frozen Midwest!

I’ve just returned from a road trip to and from California in a cargo van and wound up arriving home in the middle of a blizzard brought on by Winter Storm Linus! Even at the slow pace of 40 mph in the deep snow, covering the 5000-mile round trip in 6 days of driving time was quite a contrast to ocean-traveling the same distance which would have taken five weeks! On the open road, I sure missed Otto and Franklin!

So, I’ve been having a lot of fun recently speaking in public and talking about exploring the world with kids and tying it in with our ongoing relationship with The Atlantic Cup Kids Page … and their work with my tales of the ocean. Here are some photos from recent events.

room_seminar_550 Ready for the Kids Exploring the World seminar at Strictly Sail in Chicago.

knots_550 Knot Tying station courtesy of The Atlantic Cup Kids

alex_seminar_550Alex points out South Africa on the large globe at the Chicago Seminar

In my last update, I promise a list of my upcoming talks. So here goes!

Saturday, February 14, 2015: Michigan City, IN @ 1:00pm
I will be talking at the Michigan City Yacht Club. This is my home club for the past 30 years or so. I spoke to my friends there in the spring of 2013 after returning from crossing the Atlantic singlehanded. The story will continue with the circumnavigation, bringing everyone up to date with the journey! The talk is scheduled in the afternoon at 1:00 pm so we’ll be finished in time to spend the evening with your valentine. Contact coop@mcyc.com for more information and reservations.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015: Chicago, IL @ 6:00 pm 

(From their Website) Chicago Sailing, Inc. is proud to invite you to an evening of sailing adventure with our close friend, Dave Rearick. Dave will present an in-depth recap of his recently completed 25,000-mile solo circumnavigation aboard ‘Bodacious Dream’, a high performance 40-foot sailboat. Join us the evening of February 17 to meet Dave and learn just exactly how large this planet is and what it takes to traverse it successfully. Dave’s passion for sailing is infectious and his story is captivating. Reserve today by calling 773-871-7245.

(By the way, if you’re in the Chicago area and you’re interested in getting in on the fun of sailing and don’t know where to turn, Chicago Sailing is a great option. Come to the talk on the 17th and meet the staff and other sailors who have learned or enhanced their skills on Chicago Sailing’s fleet of charter boats.They offer introduction to sailing courses as well as advanced classes and charters. More at http://www.chicagosailing.com)

Saturday, March 14, 2015: Racine, WI @ 12:30 pm
The United States Power Squadron District 20 will be holding their spring conference in Racine, Wisconsin. If you’re a member of the Power Squadron, I’m sure you would enjoy this event. For more information, contact admiralbill@sbcglobal.net

Friday, April 17, 2014: Chicago, IL
The Cruising Fleet of the Chicago Yacht Club will be having their Meet the Fleet event at the Monroe Street Station in Chicago. I will be regaling them with stories of sailing the open ocean and the wonders of cruising the destinations l visited when circumnavigating. This event is open to Chicago Yacht Club members and their guests. For more information Contact: info@chicagoyachtclub.org

There are a few other events in the planning at this stage; I’ll let you know when they are firmed up. If your organization or school would be interested in having me come speak to them, please contact me.

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And here’s a photo of the Eilberg Award, presented by the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society for seamanship. It’s an honor to be included with such notable names in Singlehanded Sailing as Steve Pettengil, Tim Kent and many others. Thanks friends!

So, for now, back to the snow shovels! More soon! Information that is, not snow!

- Dave 

Sailing through Summer

I apologize for the long lapse in communication. There were quite a lot of things that needed tending to in my absence. But that said, the last few weeks back home on the shores of Lake Michigan, have been most relaxing. Though I can’t help but keep bouncing things off him, Franklin’s been enjoying his time off too. Lake Michigan, in case you’ve never seen it up close is over 300 miles long and up to 90 miles wide and all of it is fresh water. It’s much like the ocean with its waves and storms, but without the salt and tides. The wildlife may be a lot less diversified, but the water is drinkable!

franklin_INFranklin’s swinging into summer…

As I work through the piles of photos and videos, I’m also looking at opportunities developing - some writing projects for sure. There will likely be some talks scheduled soon too, so I will keep you posted. One interesting item out now; our friends at North Sails, who provided the great sails for Bodacious Dream, have published a story about the sails and the boat. You can find it here at this link.

:: http://www.na.northsails.com/tabid/1945/default.aspx?news_id=5557

Reading the North Sails story got me thinking a little more deeply about saiIs. I haven’t waxed much about sails before… so let me take a moment to do that now.

sails_NSPhotos taken of a sail check in Wellington, NZ after 30,000 miles

Sails are the engine for sailboats, just as wings are for airplanes. The proper shape for a sail is very important in producing the speed to race the boat fast, but the shape is also necessary to keep the boat under control in various sorts of weather conditions. Advancing sail technologies and materials is a constant and ever-evolving craft, and North Sails always does a fantastic job of delivering the best. I understand their new generation of sails for the boat is even better than the last one! Way to go North Sails!

Now that I’ve pulled the sail out of the bag, so to speak, let me carry on just a bit. Many people think that sails just catch the wind and you get blown along. That’s partly so, but not the whole truth. Sails work with the air flowing across their surfaces… just like airplane wings do. If you take a closer look at sails, you’ll see the sail has a curve to it; as wind approaches it, the wind splits in two. One current flows across the front from the mast to the back of the sail, which is pretty much a straight line, while the other flows across the back of the sail. Since the sail is curved outward, the wind is forced to flow the longer route across the curved cloth of the sail.

Lift_560Wind flows over a cambered section of sail…

The two winds meet up at the back edge of the sail… and since the wind on the outside has to travel a longer distance over the same time period… (even though it may be just inches longer,) it has to flow faster to catch up to the wind flowing across the shorter distance of the front of the sails. Faster flowing wind creates low pressure; slower flowing wind means higher pressure. So what happens then is that the high pressure on the flatter side of the sail (or wing) pushes up to fill in the lower pressure on the other side. You could also say that the lower pressure on the backside of the sail (or the “top” of an airplane wing) sucks the other side up… or as we say in sailing, it “lifts,” (also a term from airplanes,) the sailboat forward, which is essentially how we sail (or fly.)

It is working with the science of these constant but dynamic factors that has led to all the many refinements we have seen in both sailing and flying over the last 60 or 70 years, always leading to ever sleeker, ever faster models. This exemplifies the great cycle of discovery that draws on observation, experience and experimentation to arrive at new learnings and designs … one of the enduring principals of the Bodacious Dream.

Ok, I’ll end it there. Hope your summer goes well. More coming soon. Stay tuned!

- Dave & Franklin

A Fun Jaunt & some FAQs

Greetings from onboard Bodacious IV, where at the moment, a stellar delivery crew and I are sailing on a beautiful cracked open reach at 9 knots! We’re returning Bodacious IV back to her home in Jamestown, RI post her competing in the Newport to Bermuda race last week. Our team here includes the likes of Captain Tim Eades, Jonathon Pond, Rob Plotke, Dave Brayman, Bruce Dickinson and “Chef” Pierce Johnson. It’s great fun to be with these guys again and sharing the sailing, the comradery and the gentle warm winds off Bermuda. We hope to arrive in Jamestown in a few days, in enough time to catch the July 4 fireworks over the Newport Harbor!

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L to R … Dave, Pierce and Bruce… as Dave and Bruce fish for our dinner.

This last week before flying to Bermuda, I visited with friends over the course of making my way back home to the Midwest for a couple of days. Now while Franklin was a great listener, his conversation and range of opinions was well, limited. Fortunately, most people I meet are full of questions. Of the many questions I get asked about the circumnavigation, there seem to be a group of more common ones that I expect might be of interest to some of you as well. So, what I thought I’d do here is answer three of those frequently asked questions, and then answer three more a few days from now, in the next update. OK?

:: Most frequently, I get asked about sleep. What’s the longest time you got to sleep on the trip?

Dave's Alarm ClockAs I’ve explained before, I try to sleep in 15-minute increments. That’s the length of time it would take for another vessel that is beyond my field of vision and just over the horizon, to get to me. So, the vast majority of the time, I sleep in 15-minute intervals (with the help of my egg-timer) and in areas like the coast of Florida, I might even cut that back to 10-minute naps. I know that doesn’t seem like much time to sleep, (and it isn’t) … but you do get used to sleeping in sets of 4 to 5 of these naps with just a few moments awake in between to check the boat and horizon. In our day-to-day lives, we sleep 8 hours, so we can be up for 16 hours. I take these naps so I can be up for an hour or two during which I’m constantly looking for any opportunity to take additional naps, so that I’m most able to function if something important comes up and requires my time. I do think there were times in the deep Southern Ocean where I might have slept for as long as 45 minutes, but such periods were few and far between. I’m sure I never slept more than the 45 minutes at any one time during the entire voyage.

:: What was the longest time you went without seeing another ship?

ocean_odyssey_300The trip between Cape Town, South Africa and Wellington, New Zealand was 52 days, and I remember I saw one long tanker about three days out of Cape Town and then didn’t see another ship until I met up with the friendly fishermen of the Ocean Odyssey who lent us a hand off the South Island of New Zealand. The Southern Ocean is considered some of the most remote waters in the world and you often hear the remark, which is true, that the closest humans to us in those waters are the folks on the Space Station maybe 50 miles above our heads! From New Zealand to the Galapagos would have been the next longest time at 35 days and the last ship I saw out of New Zealand was that first night after I left NZ!

:: What’s it like to be back among so many people having been alone for so long?

dave_300Of course, coming back into Jamestown and being greeted by so many family and friends was a wonderful experience… but the hum of activities that followed and that kept me moving continuously the last couple of weeks has kept my mind from wandering much or encountering too many emotions of the sort that typically arise for people who have gone through long and challenging experiences. From adventurers who have thrown their all into achieving arduous goals to veterans of wars who have fought intensely for their comrades and their own safety, once the extraordinary conditions disappear and life returns to a more everyday pace, it sometimes happens that an energy “hole” appears… one which can sometimes suck you into some type of depression.

So far, I’ve had little time to ponder or integrate the full scope of what happened to me or what it might mean for me in the months ahead. I do know there have been times where I felt an increased sensitivity to things back on land, not yet having built up the usual calluses that help insulate you in the course of living day-to-day life. I have found myself having to manage urges to leave crowded situations, while at the same time, wanting to move closer to people and group situations. It’s pretty interesting and so far, I think I’m doing pretty well. I will stay on the lookout for interesting or challenging shifts as I move further away in time from the completion of the adventure.

So, back to the present… as we sail along listening to great music, eating Chef Pierce’s amazing cooking, telling stories and waiting for Dave and Bruce to catch us a main course for dinner tonight, I will write up another set of answers to more questions I’ve been asked. So, stay tuned for that, and I promise I will answer the one question everyone seems to ask me… “What was your scariest time out there?” But for now, I’ll leave you in suspense on that one.

From about 570 miles southeast of Newport, RI.

- Dave, among the great crew of Bodacious IV led by Captain Tim Eades

Where We Love is Home

Hello from Terra Firma, Indiana! It’s over a week now since Bodacious Dream and I arrived back in Jamestown, RI. That was Saturday the 14th, and what an incredible day it was!

arriving_550

I pulled into the dock just after noon to a great welcome from a special gathering of friends and family, including my wonderful 83-year-old mother who made the trip all the way from San Diego, CA!

mom_400We celebrated the completion of the circumnavigation right there on the dock and then after a toast (or two) and more hugs than I can count, we wandered up the road for a bite to eat at the Ganny, more officially known as the Narragansett Café.

It was a great time… so many happy faces… but now even a week later, I find myself waking up and not sure of where I am.

The next day, Sunday was a perfect New England coast day, and with some friends and family we sailed Bodacious Dream up the Bay to the Hinckley Boatyard. The sail was a perfect reach in 10 knots of breeze. Bodacious Dream sailed as smooth as can be, and my Mom even got a chance to steer her and enjoy the wind and sun.

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Monday morning came early, and it was time to start the maintenance on the boat. I began to take her apart and by noon, we had the rig down, the keel off and had her sitting up in her cradle. She will be on the hard for the month of July for some much needed rest and rejuvenation! When lunchtime came around and my good friends at Hinckley, who had helped me to prep Bo last fall, honored me with a boatyard cookout! Thanks guys!

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With Bodacious Dream securely at rest, I jumped back to the Midwest for a few days to mow the lawn and catch up with all those things that come a little undone when you’re gone for so long. But, I’ll be back end of the week to hit the worklist on Bodacious Dream and to get her ready for returning to the water at the end of July.

franklin_250In the meantime, we’ve got four Leg 4 photo albums up that you can view… (1) The Galapagos to Panama, 2) Crossing the Panama Canal, 3) Panama to West Palm Beach and 4) The Arrival.

Also our friends over at The Jamestown Press ran a great story you can view HERE!

In addition to all that, we’ve begun putting up pretty comprehensive “RECAPS” on each one of the four legs of the trip. Start with Leg 1 right HERE if you like. And I will keep going through the folders of photos and videos I captured to find the more exciting stuff to post.

newportbermudaIn the meantime, if you’re interested in following along on some good racing, my friends of Bodacious Racing are racing Bodacious IV in the Newport to Bermuda Race. They’ve had some good sailing, but there has been some really calm conditions with not  much wind. I understand too that they had some electronic wiring situations and that has slowed them down some. The leaders are starting to cross the finish line on this one, but you can check into race tracking by following this link right HERE! (Note: Bodacious IV is in “Class 8” and our friends in the Class 40’s are sailing double handed in “Class 14.”)

glss-logo-2aBack in my home waters of Lake Michigan, many of my solo sailing friends are competing in the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society’s Solo Mackinac Race.  About 28 boats started on Saturday and they are struggling upwind along the Michigan coast as of early Monday morning.  My good friend Joe Turns on Renaissance seems to have beaten the winds and taken a commanding lead in that race, I also follow closely Geronimo, my old boat and good friend Herb Philbrick….best of luck to all the guys in both these world class races. The link for that is right HERE!

OK, I’ll leave it at that, got some errands to run … but I’ll be back with more soon.

And one more time, thanks again for all your incredible support!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (lost to the World Cup) Franklin

:: BDX Website :: Email List Sign-Up :: Explorer Guides :: BDX Facebook

Closing the Circle/ Home at Last!

arr_triptychBy the time you read this, I will be docked in Jamestown Harbor and my single-handed circumnavigation will be complete. (To the right and below are a few cellphone photos of this morning’s approach.)

It is hard to believe that this voyage is at a close. It truly does seems like only last month that I slipped the docks in Jamestown, and now – I am working my way back into the very same docks, and bringing to a close this around the world chapter of my life. What a time, what an adventure… what a journey it has been!

arr_4
Arrival Day … June 14, 2013

Last night as I was going along, I suddenly realized I was being escorted by a dozen or so dolphins. They stayed with me for over two hours and just swam alongside… occasionally breaking the surface as they danced around. Perhaps they thought of me as a mother ship of some kind… or maybe they were just there under the light of the full moon to make sure I got home safely. Either way, the experience was amazing and quite moving for me.

I’ve been kept busy the past few days with numerous sail changes, in response to a series of active weather fronts through which I had make my way.

5352_darkhorizon
A recent weather front

In quieter moments, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the completion of this voyage. Quite the range of feelings for me to navigate there… from elation and excitement at nearing the end to restlessness and uncertainty when gazing into the future.

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Several of my sailing friends have emailed to ask if I understand any better what was going through the mind of the great Bernard Moitessier as he approached the end of his circumnavigation. The story if you don’t know it is a good one, and goes like this. There was a British-sponsored solo around the world race in 1968 that was ultimately won by the great Robin Knox-Johnston. In the final return to the Atlantic leg of the race, the Frenchman Moitessier, who after 7 months at sea was running very close to Knox-Johnston, and had a good chance of winning the race and the prize money – suddenly changed course and set sail for Tahiti! It’s a crazy story, with many even more unpredictable twists involving the other participants. (If you’re interested, there is a good documentary film about it all called Deep Water… and this very well-written magazine piece from Lapham’s Quarterly.)

Anyway, my long-story-short answer to the question posed by my sailor friends is yes, I most certainly have sometimes felt that way… I think this much time alone at sea changes you in ways that are not immediately apparent … and yes, I can now better understand why one might want to do such a thing… but as for me, it is time to go home!

It’s been nearly 9 months (256 days) since I left Newport on October 2nd of last year, outward bound around the world. Now, it’s time to allow family and friends help me celebrate this accomplishment that has taken me the better part of a lifetime to reach. I guess it just goes to show, if you really want to do something bad enough, you will find a way to get it done! Don’t let your dreams fade away.

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Nose forward and steer …

So, for now, with that last quarter mile sailed and the journey around the world completed, a new journey begins – a more reflective inward journey to translate some of my thoughts and feelings about this miraculous world and its unfathomable oceans… as seen from the deck of a sailing ship. I will finally have time too to review all the many updates and stories that we told, all the science notes that we published and all the guides and tools to learning and discovery that were also such a big part of the expedition.

lil_daveSo stay tuned! After I rest some, I will get round to downloading more photos and videos, and I’m sure I’ll have a few of those fresh perspectives to share with you as well.

Thank you again one and all for your great kindness and unflagging support all along the course of this journey.

In gratefulness, I step back onto the shore of a new dream.


- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin
(who is off looking for a TV to watch the World Cup)

:: BDX Website :: Email List Sign-Up :: Explorer Guides :: BDX Facebook

Tegan’s Science Notes #11: Voyages of Discovery

citizenscienceThe ocean is one of the last unexplored frontiers on earth. We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the bottom of the ocean. For thousands of years, humans have been undertaking voyages of discovery. Whether the goal has been to find land beyond the horizon, to map the ocean currents or to find new animals unknown to science, the ocean has always been and will continue to be a deep source of knowledge which will always change the way we view and understand the world around us.

Today, science is moving in many new directions at once, and a great civic awakening is happening as everyday people armed only with some time and a passion to explore begin to help shape the future of scientific discovery. I have spoken many times in my previous “Science Notes” about what’s happening in the area of “Citizen Science,” but in this post, in recognition of Dave’s incredible feat of single handedly circumnavigating the globe, I’d like to look back at the relatively brief history of oceanic exploration.

The Great Voyages

Until quite recently scientific knowledge of the oceans was very limited. During the 1700s and 1800s, the British Royal Navy dominated the world’s oceans, which made surveying coastlines and mapping the oceans a practical priority for both the navy and for commerce. It was during this period that accurate navigation (and mapmaking) became gradually more dependable in locating precise positions on the earth, using a combination of latitude and longitude, celestial readings and chronometers. Many of these survey voyages carried additional passengers who acted as naturalists collecting botanical, biological, and geological samples which greatly expanded European scientific knowledge of the natural world.

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The most famous of these ‘gentlemen naturalists’ was Charles Darwin. I referenced him before in my science note on glaciers, as he was first and foremost a geologist. Over the course of the five years from 1831-1836 that the HMS Beagle surveyed the coastlines of the southern part of South America and tested the accuracy of 22 chronometers at pre-determined points, Darwin was collecting copious observations and samples of geological, biological and botanical nature in these far-fling regions. It was Darwin’s unique ability to weave his observations together into a theoretical whole that so challenged the accepted thought of the day and elevated the Beagle’s second voyage into one of the most famous scientific voyages made in history.

darwin_200Nearly 40 years after Darwin sailed on the Beagle, a dedicated scientific expedition set off on board the HMS Challenger with the aim “to learn everything about the sea,” – a lofty goal indeed! Findings from this Challenger Expedition laid the groundwork for what would become the science of oceanography. Over the course of five years, Challenger traveled over 70,000 nautical miles conducting scientific exploration with freshly designed equipment and discovering over 4,000 new species of plants and animals.

Mapping the Ocean

captain_cook_200No one person has explored and mapped more of the ocean than James Cook. Captain Cook came from humble origins but his skill at mapmaking and navigation led him in 1769 to be put in command of the HMS Endeavour on an expedition to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. Cook’s mapmaking skills were so accurate that an early map of Newfoundland was used for more than 200 years after he drew it and differs little from modern satellite images.

cookmap_300After visiting Tahiti, the Endeavour continued west to locate the famed “Terra Australis.” There Cook mapped the entire coastline of New Zealand before continuing east to Australia as the first European to land there. Over the next 12 years, Cook would make three voyages on board the HMS Endeavour and HMS Resolution, which explored and mapped previously uncharted areas of the world. As well as providing accurate charts for navigation, Cook’s expeditions also carried scientists who made important observations, especially related to botanical discoveries.

newport_300There is a second special connection of Captain Cook’s expeditions to Bodacious Dream. Both his ships, the HMS Endeavour and HMS Resolution are fairly certainly believed to lie as wrecks at the bottom of Narragansett Bay! The Endeavour, after coming out of Cook’s service, was renamed the Lord Sandwich and is one of several vessels which were sunk to blockade Newport Harbor during the American Revolutionary War. The HMS Resolution was sold and rechristened La Liberté, a French whaling vessel, which was damaged in Newport Harbor in the 1790s and left on the shore. Efforts are ongoing by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) to map and locate not only the Endeavour but also other shipwrecks in Rhode Island waters. You can visit their very informative website, and learn about RIMAP’s work right here, or go to the page on the sunken ships here.

Marshall Island Stick Charts

stick_chart_300Not all voyages of discoveries (that we know about) were made by Europeans. The Polynesians and Pacific Islanders had been navigating the South Pacific for thousands of years and likely explored the entire region, an area of over 10 million square miles, well before the period of written history. Along the way, they developed a complex system of navigation, which used stars, the sun, the moon, planets, weather, winds, currents, tides, and natural phenomena like bird migration to help them to travel between the many islands.

An important addition to the history of ocean mapping was the discovery of “stick charts” used by seafarers from the Marshall Islands. These are deceptively simple grids made from small sticks and coconut fronds, which represent the major ocean swells in the South Pacific, with small shells showing the location of islands. The charts showed how the swells interacted with the island shores, the undersea slopes, and currents coming from different directions. While the stick maps were easy to construct, it took many years of study to be able to accurately interpret the real ocean dynamics which they represented.

Mapping the Gulf Stream

As you are well aware from Dave’s journey, the Gulf Stream is a major current in the North Atlantic, which carries warm water from the Caribbean north to the northeast Atlantic and is the strongest surface current in the Atlantic. The impact that the Gulf Stream can have on the length of voyages is tremendous. The first reference to the Gulf Stream is found in a written account of Ponce de Leon’s voyage from Puerto Rico in 1513. American fishermen and whalers plying the waters off the American colonies knew of the current in the late 1600s.

franklin_300It actually took the insights of none other than Benjamin Franklin, the colonial deputy Postmaster General to make clear the existence of the Gulf Stream when in 1769 he published a chart that showed the direction of the flows. His chart of that time is still remarkably accurate. You can read more of Franklin’s very interesting writing about the Gulf Stream and other marine topics in NOAA’s historical archive right here.

Pathfinder of the Seas

Before the late 1800s, there were few comprehensive charts that showed wind and currents across the whole globe. This changed owing to the efforts of one man, Matthew Fontaine Maury.

maury_200Maury joined the US Navy as a young man in 1825 and was posted to the Naval Observatory in 1842, where he began to study ocean currents. By studying and compiling thousands of ships logs he was able to map and calculate the speed of ocean currents based on the deflection of ships from their intended path. He was able to produce maps of average ocean speeds for much of the ocean, which allowed vessels to dramatically reduce the length of their voyages. Maury was nicknamed the “Pathfinder of the Seas” and was integral to the creation of international cooperation in producing accurate hydrological charts for all mariners. He is also referred to as the father of the modern oceanography as well, and his book, The Physical Geography of the Sea, published in 1855, is one of the first books on oceanography.

Modern ocean mapping: Satellites, robots and sonar

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Even today, we have only begun to map the ocean. Fortunately, today we have technologies that help us to see below the waves, to scan the ocean floor, to analyze the composition of the water, and to observe how the currents work in real-time. Satellites use the reflectivity of the ocean surface to measure chlorophyll content and sea surface temperature changes. Unmanned robots explore the depth of the ocean collecting readings of temperature, pressure, and salinity. Sonar is used to create high-definition maps of the sea floor. Computers are used to model the movement of currents, the future conditions under changes to currents, temperature and sea level.

Check out these cool websites: Perpetual Ocean and Ocean Motion.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants”

Modern science knows so much more and can do some much more than our predecessors could ever have imagined, but our greater knowledge is only possible because of the amazing feats of those ‘giants’ who set off to explore the world and to challenge the commonly held beliefs and superstitions of their day.

Darwin and the rest, they figured out how the world worked in a more complete sense. Today we are finding out how in flux the natural world is, and how delicate is the balance necessary to sustain life. We now can see with factual accuracy just how fast the natural world is changing.

Every observation Dave logged on iNaturalist (click to see all his sightings listed) or eBird is an important scientific finding, which adds to the wealth of scientific knowledge, now being collected by citizen scientists all over the world. Collecting the type of data needed to understand the broad scale patterns of change occurring all over the globe is increasingly difficult for individual scientists to collect on their own, but by relying on citizens (like you!) to help collect this vital information, it becomes easier to approach important questions.

No matter who or where you are, YOU too can be a scientist!

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Join an Earthwatch Expedition. Join iNaturalist or eBird yourself and start tracking what you see around you.

LOGOS2Build a Secchi Disk and use the Secchi App to record your data. Download the mPing App and record your weather. Join Zooniverse and be a scientist from the comfort of your couch. The possibilities are endless!

Explore, discover, and most importantly… have fun!!

For myself, I would like to say that I have had a great time sharing my enthusiasm for the natural world with all of you over the past nine months. Thank you to those of you who reached out and contacted me with thoughts or questions. Keep the Bodacious Dream going and get out and discover!

Wishing you fair winds and following seas,

- Tegan Mortimer 
teg.mortimer(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Oceans of Gratitude

Well, we’ve come a long way. We are well past the halfway point of this last part of the last leg, having left behind the most notable landmark, Cape Hatteras! With a bit less than 250 miles to go, we still have some weak weather fronts approaching and some light air to manage, but all in all, we’re gaining on it.

6827_storm2Edge of the Storm

Both of the last couple of days have handed me rather exciting weather systems. Each day delivered a strong thunder and lightning storm mid-morning – and I mean strong. Terrific rain, though not so much wind, only to about 35 knots – but tons of thunder and lightning! It’s incredible and beautiful to watch. At the same time it clearly humbles you in the face of Mother Nature’s potential for fury! In such moments, it’s easy to imagine how such turbulent forces have over eons reshaped mountains, rivers and landscapes.

6826_storm3_550Storm on the Radar … 

We’ve had a great run here with the help of the Gulf Stream. While I am constantly under-sailed because of the threat of storms, the Gulf Stream current here along the coast, adds a couple of knots of speed to my average. I could fly larger sails, but considering the density of storms in the area, I see no need to test my luck any further.

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Looking away from the storm

As the final miles roll on, it won’t be long before I make my approach to Narragansett Bay. Right now, I’m hoping to arrive around noontime on Saturday.

Before that happens though, I would like to send out some thank yous to all those that have worked so hard to make this incredible event and journey happen for me.

From the many friends at various ports where I stopped and harbored, to old shipmates like Tim Eades and Jonathan Pond who helped me prepare Bodacious Dream. There was also the steady encouragement from friends like Alan Veenstra and Lynn Duttlinger and the ever-present support of my sister Nancy, my Mom and my whole family.

Of course, the voyage would have been far less rich and well-researched had it not been for the insights and efforts of Tegan Mortimer, our ocean scientist colleague who contributed her many wonderful Science Notes. (Look for a final one tomorrow!)

Seldom mentioned but always behind the scenes with editing, media and web work, bringing you all my stories is Mark Petrakis at Firm Solutions in California.

No doubt there are many I am forgetting to mention here, but for sure, the Bodacious Racing family and its creative leadership are without a doubt the most gracious sponsors once could ever hope to have. I will be forever indebted to them for these wonderful memories. Thank you one and all!

So, leaving my computer below decks, I’m venturing back up top now to sail some and to watch the end of the day pass.

6544_selfie_550Sun of Selfie

This is a special time of day for me… something more than another sunset photo op. On one hand, it gives me a chance to gaze into the skies in search of some telltale indicators of the weather for the night ahead. But it also provides me another opportunity to see and appreciate just where in this world I am and to reflect on the many people who have helped to bring me here.

Soon enough, the journey will be over, but the memories will continue. Thanks to all of you for following along.

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the equally grateful) Franklin

Lightning & Hors d’Oeuvres

End of day on Sunday here… over 24 hours now since departing West Palm Beach, heading up the east coast on the last leg of this circumnavigation. The sun has dropped from its scorching height and I’ve come out of my cave – my cave being below decks and out of the sun!

6671_stillwater_55029.593344N, 79.373209W

6673_grounding-wireThere is little breeze today because of a couple of troughs of low-pressure systems. The one coming up should pass through later this evening, as I get a bit further north through the latitudes of Georgia. The one that passed last night though was intense… and delivered a beautiful display of natural fireworks – lightning!

I worry about the damage that lightning can do to a boat, especially one like Bodacious Dream, so yesterday, I invented some lightning grounding leads (the red line in the photo) that may help a little bit – perhaps not with a direct hit, but with any static electricity in the air that might infiltrate the electronics and cause damage. Some expert out there will likely have better advice for me!

I am excited as we head north, and at the same time, a bit sad too at the approaching end of this journey. It’s been kind of like summer vacation from school. You want to see all your friends again, but you don’t want summer to end! Fortunately, summer is just beginning and I will arrive in Jamestown and the U.S. with plenty of great weather to look forward to.

With this being another short leg, I was able to bring along some extra fresh food, keeping it chilled in a cooler left over from the passage through the Panama Canal. Specifically, I’m talking some apples and cheese! I developed a tradition when crossing the Atlantic about a year and a half ago that near sundown, I would slice up an apple, some cheese with some crackers and have myself a bit of a sunset hors d’oeuvres celebration. I am able to do that once again, at least for a couple of days. With the weather this hot, my ice is melting quickly!

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As posh as it gets out here … 

I have a few new people to thank for helping to make this great experience happen. I’d like to thank my friends at Rybovich Marina once again made my stay there a pleasure while helping me to get some important repairs done to make this last leg a great passage. Thanks to everyone at Rybovich Marina!

And a thank you to Jeff Mootz of Horizon True, who makes the camera mounts that make steady photographing easier. I had lost an important part earlier in the trip and Jeff forwarded me a replacement. And for those of you looking for a great camera mount for your boat or moving platform, Jeff, an eye doctor by trade, has developed a great one!

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So, as I sail north on a gentle Sunday sunset, I continue to be excited as each mile passes, bringing the end to this circumnavigation closer every minute. Stay tuned for some additional reflections in the coming days.

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (unperturbed by lightning) Franklin
32.49445N , 77.74487W 

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.29.35 AMP.S. One of the tracking devices we use on our trip is the one provided by the folks at SPOT Adventures. If you like, you can use it to track our up-to-the-minute position on this final leg by going to the link above.

Dave Interviews the Experts

During my time here in Florida, I’ve been able to get some important repairs done to the boat’s mast. I also caught up with some old friends that live down this way and I delved into the endless well of photos and videos I’ve accumulated in the last 25,000 miles. But now it’s time to depart and to sail the last 1000 miles home to Jamestown, RI.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 1.52.46 PMLast week, just after arriving here in U.S. waters, I met up with an old friend Tim Kent. Back in 2002, Tim competed with his Open 50 in the “Around Alone” race, sailing the world singlehanded. Part of our discussion centered on the tools and technologies that I used to make a journey similar to the one he made 12 years earlier. He told me that from his boat at that time, he was able to send off daily email reports, which was fairly recent technology back then. Now – depending of course on the connectivity (which is pretty darn spotty in the more remote parts of the ocean) – I was able to send videos and photos off the boat. One day before long, it will no doubt be possible for sailors like Tim or myself to stream HD color video and high-quality audio from anywhere in the world. Imagine the windows on the world that will open!

Changes in technology always bring with them very interesting shifts in how we carry on with our daily  routines. How I use electronic navigation hardware and software today is quite different than it was for Tim in 2002. The types of rigging we use on today’s boats are a world away from the heavier and more quickly worn lines that were around in the last century. Perhaps most dramatically, how boats today are constructed and of what type of new materials… is pure progress in action.

capt_dave_ac_215Why not I thought, for the sake of our BDX Learning and Discovery agenda, interview some of my friends who are more knowledgeable than I in specific areas of new sailing-related technologies. So, that’s what I did … and I must say I was knocked out by the results. I would like to share with you here all three of the interviews that I conducted recently with a group of the most skilled folks I know, in the areas of Navigation, Rigging and Composite Technology.

I asked each of them to share with us how recent changes in technology are being applied to and altering ancient methods.

If you are at all interested in the finer points of sailing, I highly encourage you to check out these interviews. Here’s who and what we have.

1) John Hoskins and Matt Scharl each tell us about advancements in sailing navigation systems

JH: “The GPS of course is tied into a host of things… a chart plotter, (this is a computer-like monitor with nautical charts imbedded in it), the wind instruments, sea temperatures, an automatic identification system (AIS), expedition navigation software, and the uplink Sailor 250 satellite for access to the Internet for GRIB files, that store tide and weather information.”

JohnH_150MattS_150

2) Alan Veenstra catches us up on new rigging technology, and how the principles of old are being modified by new lighter and stronger fibers and materials.

AV: “Modern cordage is so strong that it has made traditional hardware nearly obsolete on high-performance sailboats. The current technological revolution is in creating strong, light hardware from composites of carbon, ceramics, and epoxy.”

Alan Veenstra

3) Finally, and in the longest interview, my good friend and chief builder of Bodacious Dream, Lapo Ancillotti takes us on a journey through composite materials technology, from the early days and how advances in that field have brought us to a world where “carbon fiber” is a commonly used term for anything light, strong and amazing.

LA: “3D printing is a suitable technology for light articles and prototype production only, at least until new material like “printed carbon fiber” become available – which might be happening soon… as experiments are already under way!”

lapo_150

So, as I take off here on Saturday, sailing the last 1000 mile up the Eastern Seaboard to Jamestown, RI, I’ll have a lot to think about and reflect upon.

I will follow up here soon with some interesting perspectives of my own. In the mean time, here’s one more video clip of a pod of False Killer Whales that came across my path just north of Cuba. Quite graciously, (though it may be hard for you to see) one of them flaps their tail a bit in what I understood to be a gesture of good luck for these final miles of my journey.


False Killer Whales

More soon,

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the compositely constructed) Franklin

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Tegan’s Science Notes #10 – Protecting Marine Biodiversity

This is the tenth in a series of “Science Notes” from from our ocean scientist colleague, Tegan Mortimer, who works with Earthwatch Institute. These postings follow from encounters with nature that I have on the water. Links to all her Science Notes can be on our Citizen-Science Resource Page. - DR

Tegan MortimerLike gigantic conveyor belts, the tropical oceans span the areas closer to the equator where water temperatures are over 75°. These warm and clear waters tend to have low levels of oxygen and nutrients, the opposite of the cold, nutrient rich waters I’ve written about in earlier Science Notes. This means that though tropical areas in general have low productivity, there are distinct ecosystems in tropical areas like coral reefs and mangroves that have very high productivity and are in fact, some of the most bio-diverse habitats on earth.

:: Coral Reefs: Gardens Under Siege

coral_reef_600

Despite the lack of nutrients and oxygen present in these warm waters, tropical areas play host to one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth: coral reefs.

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.59.50 AMA coral reef is made up of many colonies of coral polyps which build the reef structure out of calcium carbonate. Tropical corals contain zooxanthellae, which is tiny algae that lives inside the coral where it photosynthesizes, creating food from sunlight. These algae are also what gives coral its brilliant and diverse colors. This means that coral can only occur in the “photic” zone, where sunlight penetrates the water. Corals polyps feed by extending stinging tentacles outwards to capture small prey and particles in the water column. Corals are related to other stinging animals including sea anemones and jellyfish.

The complex physical structure of a coral reef, some of which are thousands of years old, creates an ideal habitat of many other animals to thrive – from small invertebrates to large animals like sea turtles and sharks. The productivity of many tropical marine areas as well as the related economic activities that center around fishing and tourism are highly dependent on the health of coral reefs.

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In today’s changing ocean, coral reefs are under siege. Sea surface temperatures are increasing, atmospheric carbon dioxide is driving up ocean acidity, and overfishing is removing critical fish and invertebrate species at the same time that coastal land development is increasing in many coral reef areas. All of these pressures are contributing to the unprecedented and rapid collapse of coral reefs along with the loss of the unique ecosystem that goes with them. Scientists are racing to learn more about how these ecosystems are functioning under speedily changing conditions and how we might increase the resilience of corals, and help them cope better under a variety of different stressors.

Dr. Carrie Manfrino is an Earthwatch scientist studying just this area, but with an exciting twist called “coral gardening.” A great obstacle to coral resilience is that when large areas of corals disappear, it greatly reduces the ability of larvae to successfully settle in to form new baby corals in new areas. Staghorn and Elkhorn corals are branching corals which are a critical part of the coral ecosystem, but in the Caribbean these corals have decreased by as much as 90% in some areas, due to climate change and development pressures.

two-corals

In the Cayman Islands, where Dr. Manfrino works, these corals are showing some very promising recovery, and her team is working to find out what characterizes sites where these corals are doing well. Once new sites are identified that match these characteristics, scientists and volunteers transfer baby corals that have been grown in a special coral “nursery” to these new sites. The idea behind this method is to both increase coral cover as well as to maintain islands of coral that are better connected with each other which help increase the production of new coral naturally. This is super exciting science, which is using a variety of new technologies to better understand and manage our impacts on the natural environment. (Here’s a video w/ Dr. Manfrino and her colleagues.)

:: Protecting Special Places

Just like anywhere on earth, special places need special protection. The unique biodiversities supported in tropical areas means that there are many special places in need of protection. This process is usually achieved through the creation of multi-nationally supported Marine Protected Areas or MPA. An MPA usually has one of two purposes, to protect an area that supports rare or important species, or to provide a refuge for animals from fishing. MPAs can vary in size from very small local protected areas to vast areas like those in the map below. The most important thing is that an MPA is large enough to matter and located in the right place so that it can provide the most benefit and achieve its purpose. The idea of designating marine areas to be protected is a relatively new one (2000) when compared to the creation of national parks, which started as early as 1872 with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.

Currently just 1% of the ocean is fully protected.
mpa_600

So that the right places can be protected, scientists are studying how different animals use their habitat. It is important to be able to know what places are used for feeding, breeding, and resting so that these important functions can be maintained.

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 12.54.31 PM

On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in an area called Gulfo Dulche, Lenin Oviedo, an Earthwatch scientist, is conducting a research project to study how this pristine area is important to resident and migratory species of dolphins and whales. Bottlenose dolphins, Pantropical spotted dolphins, and humpback whales use this area either as their permanent home or as a way stop during larger migrations. Along with mapping how these different species use the gulf, the research team is interested in how boat traffic and boat noise overlaps with important whale and dolphin areas.

It is common that special places for animals are usually special places for humans too. Healthier ecosystems support the wildlife, which also benefits economic activities like fishing and tourism. It is important to understand how these activities impact the environment to see how they might be better managed.

sea_turtle_505

Farther east in the Bahamas, Annabelle Brooks is another Earthwatch scientist whose research is in studying the spatial movements of juvenile green and hawksbill sea turtles. All species of sea turtle are endangered, so it is very important to protect areas, which are crucial for feeding. This research also allows the team to understand naturally occurring cycles of abundance and movement. As impacts from human activities and climate change become more widespread, this research allows scientists to spot disruptions, which are outside the naturally occurring changes in populations.

Researchers like Oviedo and Brooks use the power of computer modeling to better understand natural change and movement in populations. By combining observations of animals with data about the environment, they create a computer model that tells them which areas are important for specific animals or animal activities based on the environmental characteristics. Then the research team goes back into the field and collects more data which is used to validate the models, to see how good the models are at predicting observations in real life. This technique is very useful for pinpointing large areas that are important for specific animals. The aim of both these projects and many others like them is to better understand essential habitats for these important species so that we can better protect them in a changing ocean.

- Tegan Mortimer <teg.mortimerATgmailDOTcom>