Summer’s End … Fall’s Launches!

Two years ago this week, I was filled with anxiety as the clock ticked down to my departure from Jamestown, RI bound around the world. Looking back, what a short ride it was to completion on June 14th of last year! While there are always new things turning up in my world, it’s always fun to look back and see the connecting eddies of life that converge around us.

• If you followed along, perhaps you recall the name of Joe Harris who aboard Gryphon Solo 2 sailed alongside Bodacious Dream as we exited Narragansett Bay that beautiful afternoon. The air was crisp and the spray of the sea tart. What a beautiful day it was!

BoDream and Gryphon SoloPhoto by Billy Black

Well, Joe is feeling his own pre-departure anxiety these days. That’s because he’s into the last month of preparation of Gryphon Solo 2 to depart Newport, RI  November 10th on his own circumnavigation of the globe! But Joe’s journey will be a tougher one than mine. Joe’s going for a record-breaking, non-stop lap around the big blue marble. He’ll be doing this in his own Class 40, affectionately known as “GS2.” No stops, no rest, below the famous capes and hopefully faster than the present record of 137 days and 20 minutes! Amazing and dangerous… but if anyone can do it, Joe can!

Joe HarrisI know many of you have written telling me how much you miss the reports from Bodacious Dream. Well, here’s a chance to get the rush again! Join up for Joe’s updates and follow him. It promises to be action-packed and filled with excitement! Click and sign up @ www.gryphonsolo2.com and get caught up with Joe so you can ride along with him around the world!

And yes, though I won’t have Bodacious Dream to sail alongside GS2 as Joe heads out, I’ll be on the docks in Newport, probably waxing philosophically, and imagining as others have in the past… of the adventures Joe will experience. Good on ya’ Joe!

tegan_200
• In other news, remember Tegan Mortimer? The always-fun scientist who kept us up on the science of the ocean as we spun around the world? Well, on November 3rd, Tegan sets off on a great adventure called “Expedition Ascension 2015” – an all-women scientific expedition to study the ways of the ocean. The voyage departs from the Ivory Coast of Africa and moves across the Atlantic to South America. Tegan will be keeping us posted on her adventure and you can follow along with her on the website @ www.oceantalk.org/.

Dave-Rearick-Trash.jpg-300x180• These are dramatic times as it becomes clearer the impact humans are having on the ocean, and as we begin to raise our voices louder against the destructive winds. Back home on the Great Lakes, as an Ambassador for 11th Hour Racing, we are spreading the word about plastics in the water. This summer, I spent time convincing other sailors to adopt a no disposable water bottle lifestyle. We were instrumental in making progress and in not using thousands of water bottles on this year’s Mac Race alone. Here’s a link to my write up about it… www.11thhourracing.org/press/dear-fellow-sailors/.

I hope you will consider joining us in these efforts, even if you never leave shore. There’s little if any reason to use disposable water bottles. Yes, sometimes we have no choice, but in those situations, we have a responsibility, that if you use it, to recycle it away when you are done!

DR_stonehenge1• Then there’s the bOOk! Most everyone I meet along the way, on the docks, on the streets, in the airports and at the lumberyard want to know how the book is coming. When is it going to be ready? Well, the bulk of the manuscript is written and is now getting edited. I’ve got a few more chapters to write and some things to rewrite – so hopefully in time for the holidays, I will get them printed and into your hands. So, stay tuned!

For now, here’s a book excerpt that relates what it felt like leaving Jamestown two years ago!

“My friend Joe Harris sailed alongside in his boat Gryphon Solo II, a kin to Bodacious Dream. Joe and I harbor the same dream—to sail around the world alone. We’ve carried our dreams for years, setting them aside as changes in life came and went, as flows of finances stalled and inspirations faded. Day after day, battling alone to keep our dream from wearing out like an untended hull in an old wooden boatyard. I was on my way, and I felt for Joe and what he must be feeling. I’d been there before, watching friends start world-girdling races with me left behind, tethered ashore.

We tacked back and forth on the fresh, cool sea breeze flowing towards shore, pulled in under the rising air heated by the warm sun on the dark land a few miles inland. Class 40 sailing boats are quick and responsive. Sailing at 8 knots comes easy for Bodacious Dream, and it wasn’t long before Joe and I cleared the guiding lights of the harbor – Brenton Reef to our port and Beavertail to our starboard… when my radio kicked up with Joe’s voice.

“Bodacious Dream, this is Gryphon Solo II.”

“Go ahead Gryphon Solo, this is Bodacious Dream.” (Standard radio communication between radio operators.)

“How you doing over there Dave?”

“Going along just fine Joe, how about you?”

“Doing great, what a beautiful day to depart on huh?”

“Yup.”

“You should be able to bear off and head towards Bermuda now.”

“Oh, ok… so, what’s the course for Bermuda?”

I was embarrassed to not know this; I hadn’t the time in the previous few days to look up this simple but important fact—the compass heading of my first course around the world! In a frantic, last minute fight with electronics and communications; I added a stop in Bermuda, a 600 mile, 4 day sail away, giving me the chance to make sure the electronic gremlins had been properly exorcised and the communication systems were working properly.

“150 degrees there Admiral!” A nickname Joe occasionally used for me.

With great relief, I adjusted my autopilot Otto’s course down 20 degrees, a bit further off the wind point, allowing me to ease the sheets trimming the sails. Bodacious Dream had been heeling (tipping up) more than necessary, sailing tight on the wind, and needing a reef (shortening the sails). Soon she leveled out and picked up speed to 10 knots, sailing off for Bermuda as graceful and nonchalant as a beautiful, confident woman along the Champs-Élysées. Joe sailed parallel for a while longer, then, with a personal, silent wave of respect, bore off and tacked back toward the bay. My only companions now were the eyes and lens of Billy Black as he continued to take a few final photos.”

As fall comes to my friends in the Northern Hemisphere and spring to those in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you’re all prospering and enjoying the beauty and wonder of your world.

Remember, “Stay connected— keep your toes in the water.”

- Dave, Franklin & Bo (in absentia.)

A Map to the “Treasure”

I know I repeat myself, but thank you once more for following along on our journey around the world. There are so many people without whom this voyage could not have happened in the way that it did.

As I write this, Bodacious Dream is getting some fresh maintenance from the great folks around Narragansett Bay - namely Hall Spars and Rigging, Hinckley Yachts, North Sails and others.

dr_100For now though, I am heading back home to the Midwest to recoup my energies and put back in order the parts of my life that were paused for the circumnavigation.

Before I do that though, I wanted to leave you with a map of where the “treasure” is buried. And by treasure, I mean links to the bounty of sweet fruits and memories of the journey… that were the words we wrote, the photos we took and the videos we shot, as well as the various learning and discovery initiatives that we undertook, and all of which when combined, form an online trove of storied artifacts.

BDX_treasure_map_560

1) LEG RECAPS

First off, all our circumnavigation content resides on BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com

circum_leg_iconBelow are the summary recaps for all four legs of the circumnavigation (plus the pre-circum period) which can be found directly at the following links.


:-: Pre-Circumnavigation 
- Prior to October 2013 – Newport, RI
:-: Leg 1 – 10/02/13 – 12/03/13 – Newport, RI to Cape Town, S.A.
:-: Leg 2 – 12/21/13 – 2/08/14  - Cape Town to  Wellington, New Zealand
:-: Leg 3 – 3/26/14 – 5/1/14 - Wellington, NZ to the Galapagos Islands
:-: Leg 4 – 5/07/14 – 6/14/14 – The Galapagos Islands to Newport, RI 

2) OUR BLOG UPDATES

bdx_logo_70Our many blog posts can all be found in reverse chronological order on the Bodacious Dream Expeditions website at bodaciousdreamexpeditions.com/live-updates/. These posts are are also sub-divided by “categories” of subject matter AND by “date.” Select any category or month to see a list of relevant results.

3) FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

dave80Upon arrival back in Newport, I began to gather and respond to some of the more frequently asked questions that were put to me over the course of the voyage. We consolidated them all together on one page, which can be found right here!


4) 
CIRCUM PHOTOS

facebook-icon_30Links to our many photos can be found here on our Circum Photos page, while our actual 18 Photo Albums, broken down by “Legs,” can be found here, on the Albums page of our Bodacious Dream Expeditions Facebook Page.

flickr-icon_30For larger format photos in one complete set, you can also view a curated 123-photo “best-of” slideshow over on Flickr.


5)
 CIRCUM VIDEOS

Youtube_iconA selection of our videos from the Circumnavigation can be found on our Circum Videos page, but all of the videos we have uploaded so far can be viewed on our Bodacious Dream Expeditions YouTube Channel.

6) TEGAN’S SCIENCE NOTES 

tegan_70Throughout the voyage, our Earthwatch scientist, Tegan Mortimer provided us wonderfully insightful science “notes” in support of wherever in the world we were and whatever we were encountering. There were eleven of these reports in all, on a wide range of subjects and a list of those can be found right here!

7) CITIZEN SCIENCE RESOURCES

citizen_scienceTegan was also responsible for helping us set up a wonderful Citizen Science Resources Page, where folks could learn all about the amazing online resources that presently exist to help lead you into the world of citizen science projects. Our various sightings were also added to the Bodacious Dream Expeditions Projects Page on iNaturalist.

8) CIRCUMNAVIGATION EXPLORER GUIDES

bdX-100Learning and Discovery have always been a primary intention of the voyage. To that end, throughout the expedition, we encouraged those of you who were following our adventure to explore more deeply the wonders and beauty of the natural world that we were traversing by referencing our custom-made Explorer “Study” Guides/ Worksheets. There were eight guides in total and can be found at the links below, where they can also be downloaded in printable form.

:-: Our Watery World
:-: Wind & Weather
:-: Math
:-: Sea Life
:-: Oceanography
:-: Glaciers
:-: Sailboat Glossary
:-: Mentor Guide

9) EXPERT INTERVIEWS

Over the course of the voyage, it was also my pleasure to conducted three sets of interviews with some very knowledgeable friends and sailors, each of whom is an expert in some area of sailing. For true devotees of the art and science of sailing, I think you will find these interviews most enlightening. Thanks to the guys for their participation.

:-: Sailing Navigation - interviews w/ John Hoskins & Matt ScharlJohnH_150MattS_150

:-: Rigging Technology - an interview w/ Alan Veenstra
Alan Veenstra

:-: Composite Materials Technologies - 
an interview w/ Lapo Ancillotti
lapo_150

And I think those are the key links. Feel free to contact us with follow-up questions. And we’ll keep you posted when we add anything new and of note.

And a very happy summer to all!

- Dave Rearick

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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.

5172_ripples_550

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.

6867_starboard_550
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)

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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.

beagle_300

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

oceanographic_550

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!

LOGOS1

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

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!

6677_horsdeoureves_550
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!

6667_sunset_550

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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Dreaming with the Dolphins

Six days now since I left Panama, and the time has just flown by! Bodacious Dream and I are now around the western tip of Cuba, heading through the Gulf of Mexico and towards the Straits of Florida. The winds have gone very light this morning, after a most beautiful sunrise.

6421_sunrise_55022.267439N, 84.488512W

Over the course of the week, we’ve sailed through waters steeped in maritime history. This general region is named the Caribbean Sea, or around here the Western Caribbean. It is where many of the early explorers sailed and claimed new territories for their countries – most notably Spain, Portugal and France. You see that old world Spanish influence in many of the Central American countries, along with the occasional French accent. Actually, construction of the Panama Canal was begun by the French! After Columbus’ initial “discovery” of the new world, his subsequent 4th voyage of 1502-03 came through the same area I have traveled this past week.

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A map drafted for Columbus in 1490. Can you imagine navigating with that?  

The nights out here have been cool, which lets me relax after avoiding dehydration and sunburn during the day. Sitting out on deck at night, I watch the hazy clouds drift across the sky as I wait for the sliver moon to rise and then hours later, just around daybreak, the morning star. I find this time under the stars is the best time for reflection.

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A Sliver of a Moon … 

I find myself drifting back in time and imagining what it was might have been like to be an early explorer in these waters. I have the luxury of modern technology as well as the charts and notes of earlier sailors’ experiences to guide me; they had nothing.

6109_providence_550Providence Island

When they would come upon an island unexpectedly, such as Providence Island, they would have to take great precautions not to end up on shallow reefs or rocks. They would often drop anchor quite a ways out and put a crew in a small boat to explore the area and coastline looking for an acceptable bay or harbor in which to anchor. The dangers were many; the buffers of safety few.

Gulf StreamAnother notable natural phenomenon of this area that adds to its historical significance is the presence of the Gulf Stream. Actually, this area I’m passing through now, is where the Gulf Stream rises back to the surface and begins to drive currents north from the western tip of Cuba, along the Florida coast and up the eastern seaboard to Cape Hatteras before it veers off across the North Atlantic towards Ireland and the British Isles. As it moves eastward, it cools, submerges and then travels, deep in the ocean like a conveyor belt, back to this region where, heated by the tropical sun, the current resurfaces once again.

As Tegan Mortimer has shown us in her excellent Wind & Weather Science Note #2, the effect these powerful currents have on local waters when they converge with them help to create large and active zones for sea life to develop and thrive.

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For the past few days, there were times when I sensed a positive current pushing me along at a knot or more. At other times, there was no current or even an adverse current slowing me down. Stepping back to a more macro-view, we know now that the Gulf Stream waters swirl around erratically as they develop. Depending on where you are, you can have any range of positive or adverse currents. As I move closer to Florida, I will slip more solidly into the current, which will definitely speed my travel. And at night, in those warmer waters, I hope to see eruptions of marvelous bioluminescence!

So, as we travel on towards more familiar home waters, I will leave you with this video of a stampede of dolphins that visited me for a time the other day. What a thrill for me to have them fly alongside of us!

A Dolphin Stampede! (Here’s another shorter clip.)

Watching them leap skyward can’t help but take you back to what life on the seas was like before the arrival of all the whizzy gizmos that we surround ourselves with today. Following their fluid movements reminded me how much has NOT changed in the eons of the gulf stream flowing, the trade winds blowing and great marine mammals swimming – a comforting perspective for sure!

More soon,

- Dave, Bodacious Dream & (the sun-burned) Franklin Screen-Shot-2014-05-28-at-12.39
23.03448N, 84.10796W 

 

Harmonics of the Great Gyres

Approaching the end of a week in Panama that saw Bodacious Dream transiting the Panama Canal… from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean in just 12 hours!

6013_panama_300It’s early morning on Thursday and I’m heading down to the marina to put final provisions and water onto the boat and hopefully, by the time you read this, I will have departed. Our course will take us north towards the Yucatan passage that runs between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and western tip of Cuba. From there, I’ll cross the Gulf Stream and skirt the Florida coast as I head to a stop-over in West Palm Beach.

The time here in Panama City has been fascinating. The city is lively and full of folks from all over the world. There is a great rejuvenation going on in the old part of the city where fine old buildings are being restored and renovated to accommodate stylish shops and fancy restaurants. The feel around here is vibrant. However, as all good journeys must continue, so must this one as well.

I expect the next few thousand miles will unleash a rush of memories that have stored up inside me since I departed Jamestown, RI on October 2nd of last year. I have no doubt that among those thoughts will be some more philosophical in nature … reflections on our amazing oceans and planet Earth. The time left on the voyage will pass quickly, but the memories I am sure will remain with me for many years to come – so I will try to share them with you here as they arise.

:: Marine Debris

One of the questions I get asked often is how much debris I see out on the water. I have to say that for most of the voyage and especially in my crossing of the desolate Southern Ocean, I didn’t see that much debris. Remember though, my course has taken me very far from land … except when arriving or departing from my scheduled stops.

Recently however, as I got to about 150 miles from Panama, I began to see floating debris everywhere. I would no sooner spot a floating piece of plastic and watch it trail off behind me, then I’d see another in front of me. One night on the approach to Panama, I heard the sound of something hard hitting the deck. I was below and suspected a piece of mast hardware had come loose and fallen. With flashlight in hand, I scanned around and found an old plastic cigarette lighter that had somehow been tossed up across the bow. I picked it up, and thought to myself …”This is not supposed to be here.”

As I learned on this trip, there is quite a field of scientific study that has built up around how man-made debris moves around in the ocean. Some special learnings for me came from a book I read called, Flotsometrics, written by Curtis Ebbesmeyers and Eric Scigliano.

Curtis spent his life as an engineer and oceanographer, first working on important issues with oil platforms: wave heights, sewage disposal and things of that nature. But along the way, as he studied the waters of Puget Sound in the northwest corner of the U.S., he became more and more fascinated with the general drift of ocean waters and what are known these days as the great “Gyres.” At present, oceanographers have identified five of these great gyres and 5 more minor ones.

World's GyresClick here to get a larger version.

The book was one of a selection given to me, just before I departed by Tegan Mortimer, our scientist colleague from Earthwatch, who thought I might find it intriguing. The book explains how through the centuries “drifters(items tossed into the sea to see where they would end up, like notes in a bottle, etc.) have been used to satisfy people’s wide-ranging curiosities about the world. From Columbus, who in observing various items floating in the sea and washing up on the shore, took it as evidence that there were other continents not that far away, to ancient peoples who commonly gravitated to specific beaches that collected the flotsam of the ocean. In many cases, these items helped provide these people with some of the necessities to help grow their civilizations. I found this book just fascinating, and especially how it was told in such a wondrous and whimsical way.

rubber duckyAs Curtis’ lifetime unfolded, he became more and more focused on these floating objects, and with the help of another software engineer friend, he began to use computers to model and predict the travels of the “drifters.”

Imagine the fun he had following and logging data on the 80,00 pairs of Nike shoes lost when a container ripped open off the coast of California, or that other famous lost container full of 28,800 actual yellow rubber ducky bath toys! Along the way, he also tries to solving the mystery of those duckies that floated upright, guided more by the wind, as opposed to those that floated upside down, more directed by the water.

This is truly a book that I can see reading and sharing with kids, as it inspires one to think and imagine more grandly the many interesting and serendipitous ways the oceans of the world interact with each other.

FloatsametricsThe part that especially captured my imagination and provoked me to write this came in the final chapter, Harmonics of the Gyres. With the sun setting into the western sea, I squinted to keep reading about how after years of study, he came to see that these gyres spin in predictable revolving patterns – revolutions that could be measured in years, and he saw how each gyre when compared to one another were separated by factors of two.

As he thought about it, it occurred to him that this was also the basis for our typical musical octave – our common scale – do, re, me, fa, so, la, te, do. So he saw that potentially, though far below the audible range of human beings, the earth’s oceans may have a similarly harmonic scale to them; a rhythm by which the watery worlds vibrate and sing to us, even if it is only our subconscious that hears it.

subtropical_gyres_550

It caused me to wonder in new ways about why it is I’ve always been so pulled to the waters of the world. How can I sit on the shore and stare off to the horizon for such long lengths of time? Why am I drawn to do what I’m doing, sailing across the oceans totally immersed in the environment, the boat, the sea and the weather? Perhaps this theory helps explain why some very basic part of me has always been so entranced by the music of the sea.

If you can find the time, grab this book and a map of the world and sit down with your children and explore the world with this whimsical oceanographer as your guide. In fact, I think when I grow up; I want to be an oceanographer too!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin (who really liked the rubber ducky part)

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Our Panama Canal Adventure!

Wow… what a day!! Saturday we watched the sun rise in the Pacific and set in the Atlantic! Across Central America we traveled, from the sea to shining sea all in about 12 hours… via the 48-mile Panama Canal of course!

Rob, Pierce, Joe, Bruce – my crew of trusted old friends who had traveled here to be my required crewmates for the crossing joined me Saturday morning at 5 AM CDT, so that we could pick up our pilot at 6:30 close to the Canal’s Pacific entrance. Tito, a local line handler recommended by our agent, Francis from the Panama Agency, also joined us. Tito had taken a night bus from the Atlantic side of the isthmus and was waiting for us at the boat when we arrived.

pan_am_bridge_550Under the Pan-American bridge on the way to meet our convoy mates …

We were soon loaded and ready-to-go, when we got a delay notice. We’d pick up the pilot at 7:30 instead of 6:30. But then, right at 7:30, the pilot boat approached and Raphael, our pilot, hopped onboard and began giving us our orientation on how we would proceed through the canal.

5954_rafael_300Rafael (pictured to the right getting acquainted with Franklin) informed us we would be traveling through the first two sets of locks as a convoy with two other ships; one was a large (over 500 feet long) cargo ship from Singapore and the second, a smaller 95-foot passenger tour vessel named Islamorada, which by the way, originally belonged to the Chicago gangster Al Capone!

With much anticipation, we proceeded slowly up the channel, en route to meet the “big” ship and Islamorada.

5983_big_ship_550
No question which of us was going to get the big bunk …

The term “lock” refers to these various sub-divisions of the canal through which you must pass. Each lock has chambers, which are like steps. So, the first lock (Miraflores) has two chambers. The big ship entered the chamber first, then Islamorada and then Bodacious Dream came in and tied alongside the Islamorada.

5926_turbulence_550
A bit of turbulence as the water floods in … 

At that point, the gates closed and the chamber filled with 100 million liters (26.4 million gallons) of water, which had the effect of lifting all our vessels up to the level of the next chamber.

pc_map_400

This process was repeated with the second chamber. There are two locks on the Pacific side; each with two chambers, which take you up to at 85 feet above sea level and release you into Lake Gatun – an artificial body of water in the middle of the isthmus. We then motored 21 miles across it. Once across it, we entered the single Pacific-side lock (which has three chambers) – which resulted in our descent to the Atlantic coast.

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Joe keeping an eye on a long ship …

The canal is active 24 hours a day, during which time from 33 to 42 ships pass in both directions… every single day of the year! An astonishing volume of commerce and traffic from all around the world goes through these narrow 110-foot wide canals!

Every moment of the trip had us wide-eyed and excited as kids, as we watched the passing of huge freighters and listened to Raphael and Tito tell stories from some of their past trips. We also saw and heard about the construction for the new expansion of the canal which, when open in 2015, will allow much larger ships to make the passage.

5965_Bruce_550Bruce balancing as we motor across Lake Gatun …

Our crossing of Lake Gatun in the middle of the trip also gave us a beautiful view of the interior of the country of Panama. We even saw a crocodile, though it took me too long to locate it in the camouflage to get a decent photograph of it!

Pushing as hard as we could to keep on schedule against an often strong wind, we were running 30 minutes behind in reaching our appointed time at the Atlantic side locks, but somehow Raphael and our agent Francis worked it out so that the authorities waited for us to arrive. At that point, we passed through and gently down the three chamber steps to where the final gates opened up at the level of the Atlantic Ocean, thus delivering Bodacious Dream back into her home waters, after six months of circumnavigating adventure.

5977_big_ship_550Tonnage before beauty …

There is SO much history in the 100 years of the operation of the canal that it’s hard to know just where you might start to tell the story. The displays at the Visitor’s Center Museum do a fine job of depicting the enormous task of cutting a channel through the country from one ocean to another, all the while being forced to invent new construction machinery and new engineering techniques to make that possible.

Panama_Canal_Construction_550One of the Wonders of the World … I believe it …  

The task at that time was so enormous and so full of unforeseeable challenges, that the greatest obstacle was lack of imagination, which could only be overcome by extending the reach of the builders’ imaginations into new and uncharted territory.

The US took over construction of the canal from France in 1904, and it would be a decade before it opened. From that time on, the U.S. was the administrator of the Canal Zone. In the late 1970’s, during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, a treaty was signed which turned operations of the canal over to the Panamanian government by the end of the century.

Since that time, Panama has operated the canal, maintaining it and making improvements to increase it capacities… including the new larger canal I mentioned, which will make it possible for more and larger ships to traverse the Isthmus. This has also spurred much new development and economic rejuvenation in Panama City and the surrounding areas, making Panama an increasingly attractive and popular travel destination. I was also surprised to learn that the Chinese were planning to construct a new competing canal passage through Nicaragua!

Well, as there’s quite a few more photos, we put together a few slideshows on the page here with photos of our day travelling through the Canal. You can also view it in a bigger format as a photo album on our BDX FACEBOOK page … http://on.fb.me/1lBIbz3

SLIDESHOW #1

#1 - Click arrows to advance! Scroll over to read descriptions.

SLIDESHOW #2

#2 - Click arrows to advance! Scroll over to read descriptions.

Now that we’re through, I’m collecting my thoughts and catching my breath, before I resume the final leg of this amazing circumnavigation later this week.

From all of us on Bodacious DreamJoe, Rob, Pierce, Bruce, Tito, Raphael, and Franklin, who had some great fun rolling with all those new people… thanks for following along.  Back soon with more!

- Dave

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Crossing the Panama Canal Today!

The few days since I arrived in Panama on Wednesday have been pretty non-stop. First, I had to go through the procedures and inspections that are required before you can get clearance to transit the canal. Then I spent all day yesterday and today getting the boat ready, buying provisions and making on-the-fly adjustments to the plan as they came up.

:: We will start our transit of the canal today SATURDAY morning at 6:00 AM CDT!

We’ll have to leave the harbor and motor out to Buoy #6, where we’ll pick up our pilot and then continue northward into the canal and the first set of locks at Miraflores. If all goes according to schedule, we’ll be passing through that lock about 8:30 AM – so if you are up and so inclined, there will be live cameras along the way and you can hopefully spot us as we go through the locks and make our way through the 40-mile passage to the Atlantic Ocean.

:: Here is the Link for the LIVE WEBCAMS… pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html

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Up close and personal  with some of the big boys around here!

I’m lucky to have a great crew of four guys joining me for the passage – old friends who came down just for the passage – Pierce Johnson, Rob Plotke, Joe Yoffa and Bruce Dickinson. So far, we’ve had a great time getting Bodacious Dream ready to make the transit and learning about all the things we’ll need to do to make the transit properly.

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From the viewing deck at the Miraflores Locks

One of the things we’ve done is to visit the Visitor’s Center at the Miraflores Locks and watch a few of the big ships go through the canal. Today, we watched one ship enter and pass through at which point we opted to head to the nearby restaurant for some lunch. During the middle of lunch, we saw an amazing sight – a submarine coming into the locks for transit through the canal! That can’t be something they see everyday!

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A submarine passing through at lunchtime today … 

It’s pretty thrilling really being surrounded by all these gargantuan structures. What a monument to human industry and ingenuity – and uncanny when you realize it’s 100 years old this year! Imagine what it must have taken to conceive, design and construct such a thing. If what I’ve experienced so far is any indication of the things to come, then there should be some great stories coming your way in a day or two.

It’s after midnight now and I have to be up early to start what is sure to be a long day, so off to bed I go. I’ll try to send a few photos and updates while we’re underway. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, Bodacious Dream will be back in the Atlantic Ocean! It’s been about 6 months now since she left her home waters.

Stay tuned for more!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream, “Panama” Franklin & the great crew of Joe, Pierce, Rob and Bruce!