The Atlantic Cup Shares the Dream

cyclone_lusi_175Here in Wellington, preparations for our departure are complete. Bodacious Dream is ready and waiting to take off on Leg 3 of our single handed circumnavigation, but as has happened before … weather considerations are conspiring to delay our departure! First there was a cyclone named “Lusi” that dropped down on us from up north and then another storm that also delayed our departure.  (You can view the state of the winds at any place in the world (and in near real-time) on the marvelous EarthWindMap website.)

Once the weather stabilizes, Bo and I will depart this lovely place and head east to a waypoint along Longitude 100 West – about a three-week sail from Wellington. Once there, we’ll carefully weigh all the seasonal weather projections and at that point make a final decision as to the prudency of either heading south and around Cape Horn as planned or instead heading north along the west coast of South America to the Galapagos Islands and from there onto and through the Panama Canal. Whichever way it goes, big decisions and big adventures await us. More on all of this very soon!

dave_iconIn the meantime, and in case you missed it earlier, we want to update you on a SUPER cool education initiative being undertaken by our good friends from the Atlantic Cup Race11th Hour Racing and Manuka Sports Event Management. 

After what I know has been a particularly harsh winter for many, springtime once again approaches … and as it does, thoughts of another sailing season begin to stir.

Atlantic CupFor the past two years, Bodacious Dream has started its season off by racing the Atlantic Cup, a challenging three-leg event up the Atlantic Seaboard, starting in Charleston, SC, with a stopover after reaching New York City before finishing up in Newport, RI for the inshore leg. With Bo and I being in the Southern Hemisphere, we’ll sadly be missing the fun this year.

I have many fond memories of the past two years, especially last year, where after winning the first two legs sailing double handed with Matt Scharl, I along with a stellar inshore crew held off an incredibly competitive fleet of challengers to win the overall event!

ac_bd_2013_550
That’s Bodacious Dream from last year’s AC … with the Jamestown FiSH sail!

Another exciting side of the Atlantic Cup is that the sponsor, 11th Hour Racing along with race organizers Manuka Sports Event Management, run by Julianna Barbieri and Hugh Piggin take a very active interest in providing educational opportunities to youth in the harbors into which the racers sail. We have always enjoyed taking part in these “Education Days,” as you know our abiding interest is to share the Bodacious Dream experience, just as we do now with our own educational aids for kids and teachers through our BDX website and Explorer Guides.

gulf_stream_ac_550Learning by raising questions from nature … 

Sharing our mutual interest in providing learning experiences for people and kids, the Atlantic Cup has chosen this time around to combine our efforts with theirs by utilizing some of our Explorer Guides materials to launch their own new KID’S PAGE this year. So, while Bodacious Dream will greatly miss competing in this year’s Atlantic Cup, (truly one of the top Class 40 regattas worldwide,) we are grateful that our presence will be felt in the content on the Kids Page of the Atlantic Cup Site. This chance to continue to influence and educate people and kids, (not to mention seeing myself represented as a friendly cartoon character) – is almost as big a kick and honor as winning the event itself.

Capt. Dave Education Guide
I guess I DO look like that! What do you know. Open their PDF by clicking on the above image.

This is only the latest turn in the story between the Atlantic Cup and Bodacious Dream. Last year, at the request of 11th Hour Racing, I drafted a blog post wherein I tried to capture some of what I have to know about learning and discovery. I titled it … If I knew then, what I know now … and you can find that by clicking on the link. In it I try to make that case that the true test of what you learn will not be a test score as much as it will be the tangible gifts that a new skill or awareness brings to your life and to your relationships with others. Ultimately, we learn best what we learn from each other. Give it a read if you like (and feel free to drop me a line.)

education_Day_550Matt Scharl and I try to stand up to tough questioning … during NYC “Education Day”

Beyond the youth education outreach of The Atlantic Cup, we also support their sponsor, 11th Hour Racing in their efforts to establish dynamic new platforms for “public” education that emphasize the responsible use of energy and resources in the context of competitive sailing. Through sponsorship of winning sailing teams and regattas, advanced sailing and production practices, they help improve the energy profile and performance of racing boats and increase the personal investment of sailors in the health of our waters.

seas-reg

Since the beginning The Atlantic Cup, sponsored by 11th Hour Racing, and run by Manuka Sports Management has endeavored to present the most environmentally responsible sailing race in the United States – with both racing teams and race management working together to create a fully carbon neutral event event and to continue to play a leadership role in redesigning sailing practices and sailing regattas for the 21st Century.

:: Atlantic Cup Kid’s Page :: 11th Hour Racing :: Manuka Sports

So, as I prepare Bodacious Dream for the final 12,000-mile homeward journey, I hope you will follow this year’s Atlantic Cup as well as check out and share their Kids page with the kids in your world. There will be more great information coming from them once the actual race gets underway, but this is a terrific starting point for our younger followers, and those who care about their futures.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

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

Tegan’s Science Notes #5 – Penguins in Africa?

With Bodacious Dream back in the water in Wellington, a quick update from Dave followed below by an earlier but previously unpublished “science note” on African penguins from our ocean scientist colleague, Tegan Mortimer. 

Dave RearickDave Rearick: Wellington, NZ has a worldwide reputation for windy weather. For the past few days though, it has instead offered up absolutely gorgeous days of clear and sunny skies with winds at less than 15 knots. This has made for perfect conditions to test sail Bodacious Dream after the recent work and refit she just underwent. So far, everything is coming together just fine. Our awesome crew has done a great job getting Bo into shape for Leg 3! (See some pics below in slideshow format.)

Today, we’ll begin the sorting and packing of the boat as forecasts are for wet and windy weather to return this weekend. Our hope after that front passes is to get the go-ahead weather window that we need to depart early next week!

Test sailing … Click the arrows to advance, and scroll over to read the captions.

While we get ready for all that and I head off to do some major provisioning, we wanted to revisit some of Tegan Mortimer’s Science Notes, we didn’t have a chance to publish before now.

We are also readying a wonderfully informative science note on “Seabirds,” which includes a list of all the seabird sightings we’ve identified so far on the voyage. But before we do that, we want to focus in on one particular seabird that holds a special interest for people all over the world – and that’s penguins!

During our post-Leg 1 Cape Town stopover in December, we were treated to the unique experience of visiting a large colony of African penguins that reside near the Cape of Good Hope (the southernmost tip of Africa.) While the overall distance from there to Antarctica is pretty substantial, it is still within the habitat range for penguins, for reasons that Tegan will explain in her excellent report. And I’ll be back soon with more.

- Dave

Tegan MortimerTegan Science Notes #5 – Penguins in Africa?

When Dave and Bodacious Dream reached Cape Town and the end of Leg 1 of his circumnavigation at the beginning of the year, he took time to explore some of the many diverse natural wonders of that region.

One of his first trips was to see the penguins. Yes, you heard that right, penguins in Africa! The African penguin is only found along the west coast of South Africa and Namibia, though it is also one of the most common species kept by zoos and aquariums.

penguins_dave_550Dave’s Photo  …

We usually think of penguins as only occurring in the snow and ice of Antarctica, but there are actually quite a few species that live in more temperate habitats along the coasts of South America, Australia, New Zealand and of course Africa. All species of penguins are native to the Southern Hemisphere, so you would never find penguins interacting with Northern Hemisphere species like polar bears and walruses.

penguins_benguela_550The areas in which penguins are found do have something in common though: cooler water. When we look at charts of surface water temperatures around South Africa, we see that there is colder water around the western coast of South Africa and Namibia, in exactly the area that African penguins are found. This is called the Benguela Current. This current carries cold water northwards and creates an upwelling zone near the coast. The South East trade winds then push the surface waters away from the coast which draws the deep cooler water up to the surface.

Cold water carries more oxygen and nutrients in it because it’s denser than warm water. When phytoplankton undergo photosynthesis, they use up nutrients and oxygen from the surface water; unless this surface water is replenished then photosynthesis will stop due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. This is why upwelling is so important; it continually brings new oxygen and nutrient-rich waters to the surface. High levels of plankton support rich ecosystems of small schooling fish, krill and squid that then help sustain larger predators such as whales, sharks, and sea birds.

penguins_map_550

African penguins feed on small schooling fish, particularly sardines and anchovies which are supported in huge numbers by the Benguela Current ecosystem. Sardines and anchovies are some of the most important commercial fish species and are caught in large numbers throughout the world. In South Africa, penguins compete with fishermen for these precious fish.

Unfortunately African penguins are considered to be endangered. Their population has declined by about 60% in the last 30 years, which is a very rapid rate. It is thought that a lack of food is the major cause of the decline. This lack of fish is due to both the huge numbers that fishermen remove, as well as environmental fluctuations in fish numbers and distribution.

Earthwatch scientists are active in studying the nesting colonies present on Robben Island; trying to understand their rapid decline and formulate strategies, which will increase their chance of survival. One success so far seems to be the addition of artificial nesting boxes to the colony. These birds typically nest in burrows, but many of their nesting sites have had the naturally thick layer of guano removed for use as commercial fertilizer leaving nothing for the penguins to burrow into. Penguins now seem to actually prefer the nesting boxes, which allow them to be more successful at rearing chicks than if they were in a burrow or out in the open.

penguins_arkive_550

It is very easy in this instance to blame fishermen for catching too many fish, which reduces what is left behind for the penguins. It is true that many fishing practices are very destructive, both to fish populations and to the marine ecosystem, but it is also important to remember that the ocean is an ever-changing eco-system. If the lowest levels of the marine food chain (plankton and small school fish) change, we see changes in the higher levels too. Climate change is driving these changes, just as we humans are driving climate change. Everybody has the ability to make a difference by way of the choices we make every day. We all can help to save the African Penguin.

To close things off, here’s a cute internet video that shows the ups and downs of being a penguin.

- Tegan

:: Tegan Mortimer is a scientist with Earthwatch Institute. For more exciting science insights, check out our BDX Explorer Guides or stop by our Citizen Science Resources page, where you can also find all of Tegan’s previous “Science Notes.” We welcome your input or participation on our BDX Learning Discovery efforts. You can always reach us here or @ <oceanexplorer@bodaciousdreamexpeditions.com>

Fox Glacier Excursion

The South Island of New Zealand generously provided a number of amazing experiences over the week I toured it recently, but the one experience that stood out for me was a visit to the Fox Glacier, located near the coast in the Westland Tai Poutini Park near the small town of Fox Glacier.

Fox GlacierFox Glacier in New Zealand’s Westland National Park

We’ve all heard news reports that drum into us how the glaciers of the world are melting away, and what significance this might have. Getting the chance to see a glacier firsthand and up close made clear the pressing reality behind those reports. As you may know, I am a student of the world at large and especially of the natural wonders of the ocean, but nothing in my many wanderings prepared me for the transcendent beauty and force of a glacier.

DSCN2321A sample of the visions to be found. See slideshows below for much more.

The Fox Glacier moves down from a bowl area that sits higher up in the mountains where the snows collect and remain year-round. These snows pile up and compress under the weight of many years of previous snows, which turn into this massive river of ice that works its way down through the rocky passes and towards the ocean. In the case of the Fox Glacier, its terminal face, curiously enough, ends in a rainforest on the coast of the South Island.

crampons_300Upon arriving at Fox Glacier Guiding, we were fitted with boots, crampons (spikey boot attachments for walking on ice), special waterproof coats and pants, gloves and hats, after which we got special instructions and training from our guides. Once ready, the 20 of us boarded a bus for the three-mile drive to the parking area at the base of the glacier.
As we began our hike to the glacier, our guide Jess explained that the barren rock on the walls of the river canyon gave clear indications of where the glacier was as recently as 2008. Just five years ago, the ice was significantly higher up the walls of the canyon – (over 125 feet) and it reached a good deal further down towards the ocean. Maybe “significant” isn’t a powerful enough word … perhaps the photos can tell a better tale.

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

We hiked up to the terminal face and then up into the glacier itself, where for the rest of the afternoon, Jess took us past enormous holes where melting water runoff was eating away at the glacier. We hiked past caves and crevasses, up into ice canyons and through ice tunnels, all of such pristine beauty and stillness that it was hard to keep in mind the stark reality that this glacier was melting away at an alarming rate.

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

As we came down from our last ascent, we looked across about 30% of the glacier that was too dangerous to traverse. Jess explained to us that this area was being eaten away by the river, and the unseen melt below was causing a collapse inward. From where we stood, we could see the unstable cave from which icy water rushed out. Jess further explained that by the end of this season, the entire area might well wash away and that within a couple of years, the entire terminal face of the glacier might be too unstable to access by foot.

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

These monumental forces of nature, not unlike the ocean, do indeed work away at a glacial pace – one drop of water at a time, one blade of grass at a time, one gust of wind at a time, one wave at a time, and as they do, they slowly alter the face of the planet.

Here are some amazing facts I learned about the Fox Glacier:

· There are over 3000 glaciers in New Zealand!
· The Fox Glacier is one of the few in the world that ends in a rainforest before emptying into the ocean.
· The glacier is over 1000 feet thick (300 m) at its deepest point
· The glacier flows at the rate of 600 feet (183 m) per year
· The thickness of the ice near the terminal face is up to 100 feet (30 m) thick
· The river is about 80% melt off from the glacier.
· Measurement of the amount of change in ice thickness is done by placing long pieces of pipe called ablation poles, vertically into the glacier. They start level with the ice surface and gradually become exposed as the glacier melts. At the time we were there, one meter of pipe was showing, indicating about two weeks’ worth of change (melt).
· Estimates are that in about two years’ time, the glacier’s terminal face will no longer be accessible by foot.
· Half the glacier is contained in the upper “bowl” area where the snow collects and compresses into ice.
· The other half is called the “tongue,” which is the mass that flows down to the river area.
· The fissures and crevasses happen perpendicular to the compression stress of the glacier; closing and opening as the great masses of ice move and shift daily.

I feel humble and fortunate to have had the chance to experience these things firsthand and to share them with you. Rather than continue at this point with more words, how about we leave you review the photos of this amazing place in the three slideshows …  or view them as an album on our BDX Facebook Page - and check out this video below that shows that slow moving boulder … more videos to come soon here … and on our BDX YouTube Channel.

And also very soon too, we will have ready for you a new Explorer Guide on the Fox Glacier, so that you can read and learn more about this world landmark.

Big Thanks,

- Dave

P.S. Here are a few Wikipedia links … to Fox Glacier, located near the coast in the Westland Tai Poutini Park near the small town of Fox Glacier.

Great Mother of Wonder

Another run of exceptional days out here in the Southern Ocean – two cold fronts in two days, our first lightning storms … not to mention a kelp attack, close encounters of the “bird” kind and an utterly amazing experience with bioluminescence.

The two back-to-back cold fronts began last Sunday night. The first one arrived in typical fashion, riding in on a northwest wind, but the second came in with a headwind that took forever to switch back over to the northwest, which was fine by me as it put the wind behind us and made the sailing easier. Once it did switch though, it brought along with it lightning and thunderstorms. I had not seen lightning in these squalls before, so it made for an interesting (and dramatic) night. Eventually both cold fronts and their stormy winds passed, leaving us with good winds for racking up some good miles.

45.35797S, 148.83321E1300 Miles to Port - 45.35797S, 148.83321E 

As I write this, I’m just passing under Tasmania at about 45.5 South Latitude and setting my cross-hairs on the southernmost tip of the South Island of New Zealand! That waypoint, at about 155 East Longitude is just about 600 miles away, but there’s still a lot of sailing as the course to Wellington travels up the South Island and then down the Cook Strait. By my estimate, there’s still over 1300 miles left to the end of Leg 2 … but isn’t that cool? I figure, since leaving Jamestown, Rhode Island on October 2nd, I’ve sailed over 15,000 miles! I’m still hoping by the 10th of February to be tied up at Chaffer’s Marina in Wellington, New Zealand, and celebrating my return to Terra Firma.

Now, when I say KELP attack, I probably should have said kelp “attach!” The other morning, just after the second cold front, I began to feel that something was slowing down the boat. That’s the sort of learned intuition one gets around boats. You sometimes sense it before you have any idea what it might be. I finally looked aft and saw a long brown object dragging off the starboard rudder. I hooked up my tether and reached over the side to grab onto it and pulled as hard as I could but got no release. This one was tenacious, but after several attempts, I was finally able to dislodge it. Here’s a picture of it.

kelp
Encrusted kelp - 42.5441046S, 134.5444664E 

For a few moments, I thought that maybe it was a piece of waste rubber, but it was obviously kelp. Upon further inspection, I found it was laced with some sort of crustaceans that were incredibly beautiful in their simplicity and in their subtle color shading. Here’s a picture of them.

42.5441046S, 134.5444664E
Something special, wouldn’t you say? -
 42.5441046S, 134.5444664E

Having never seen anything quite like it before, I could not help but marvel once again at nature’s infinitely fertile ability to manifest life forms of such diverse and inexplicable beauty. Now, I wonder if anyone can tell us more specifically what type of crustaceans these might be? (My best guesses to the questions I pose here are all down below.)

Now as to the BIRDS, for the past week or so, this very interesting group of birds has been regularly circling the boat. I’ve watched them for endless hours, entranced by their curious flight patterns. They aren’t big birds; one would probably fit in the palm of my hand. They have a white band around their mid-section, but what captures your attention is the way in which they fly. Swooping up and over waves, but getting right down to the water and then seeming to dip their right wing in the water, time and time again. Darting up and down in quick motions … it almost looked as if they had a dysfunctional wing.

Now I figured there was some sort of feeding action going on, but I couldn’t tell exactly what, even though I watched for days on end. I did start to notice that they occasionally dipped the left wing too, so maybe it was just a matter of convenience relative to their stalking food. Even after days of watching them, I find it hard to take my eyes off of them. But here’s a picture of one of them about to dip his or her wing. Anyone want to take a guess as to what kind of bird these are?

42.2220238S, 127.330546E
As close to constant companions as I get for now - 42.2220238S, 127.330546E 

So, the other morning, after the last cold front passed, I was up on the foredeck making a sail change and noticed something unusual … tiny fly-like bugs on part of the deck. I wasn’t sure where they could have come from, but after a much closer look, I realized that what I was looking at were like very tiny shrimp, but no longer than a couple of millimeters. I thought these must be what the birds are catching as they swoop and dip into the waves. How about this species … anyone have a clue what they might be?

bioluminescenseAnd as if both these creatures weren’t fantastical enough, the other night, an explosion of bioluminescence proved as spectacular as any I’ve ever seen in all my years at sea. As I typically do, I came up on deck to have a look around. It was pitch dark out and raining with some flashes of lightning off to the north. At first look I panicked … thinking I was seeing the stern light of a ship just in front of me. (In case you’re curious, I haven’t seen another ship for about four or five weeks now.)

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized what I was seeing. The sea was alive! Every wave top, every white cap was glowing whitish green. The wake from the boat was looking like I had a light on under the boat. The trails from the rudders looked like luminous streamers flying from a circus tent flagpole. Most amazing of all were these floating orbs, glowing bright in the water … and not just one orb, there many all around me! At one point, I counted 20 or more behind the boat and you could see them for quite a ways away… constant in their gleaming brightness.

bioluminesenceOn each side of the boat, there was this same density of bioluminescence. Quite the surrealistic event, I can assure you – sailing along at 10 knots, all alone in the black of night, thousands of miles away from anywhere, in the middle of a thunderstorm and rain … with this incredible beauty erupting all around me. I’ve been back out every night since looking for them, but nothing more so far. I suspect that night was so uniquely spectacular because of conditions that followed from the electrical storm and the super-charged air.

On reflection it strikes me that the closer you get to the ocean, the more it reveals, the more you become part of its surface life. It is truly the great mother of wonder. It surrounds us, feeds us and cleanses the earth and the air. It also provides us with pathways to anywhere in the world and along the way, never stops teaching us and showing us sights and sounds even beyond our wildest imaginings. I so wish there was a way I could photograph this bioluminescence to show you all, but perhaps it’s one of those things you just have to see for yourself. I stood there for half an hour observing it all in the pouring rain. I was both soaked and stoked when I finally went back inside again.

:: (SPOILER ALERT! As to the QUESTIONS above, I shared my observations with Tegan Mortimer, our Earthwatch ocean science colleague for the Circumnavigation, and here are our combined best guesses as to what I saw.

  • The creatures that attached to the kelp are called goose barnacles!
  • The birds look to be gray-back storm petrels.
  • The type of flying they do is something called “dynamic soaring,” which Tegan says she will soon be covering in a new science note about pelagic sea birds. (See Tegan’s previous science notes on our Citizen Science Resource Page here!)
  • Strangely enough, if the birds are in fact gray-back storm petrels, they actually concentrate on feeding on the larvae of goose barnacles, so the tiny shrimp I saw on deck were likely that, which is what the petrels were stalking the whole time.

So, if our answers are correct, then all these sightings were actually interrelated, which gives me a special feeling of gratitude to be able to plumb a little deeper into nature’s mysterious and inter-connected cycles. ::

So onward towards New Zealand! Just another 7 to 10 days and I’ll get a chance to take a break, eat some real food, reconnect with old friends, restock the chocolate and cookie supply, as well as everything else, and begin to prepare Bodacious Dream for Leg 3 of this amazing journey.

I do hope you’re enjoying following along with these updates. I also hope you’ve had a chance to share the Explorer Guides with some young people in your lives or to look them over yourselves. There’s so much more to share and explore out here. Give me a few days once I arrive in New Zealand to get some of these amazing photos and videos up for you to see and enjoy! And here’s the link to the Email List Sign-Up.

But for now, it’s back to sailing. “Roll East Young Franklin, Roll East!”

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the well-weathered) Franklin

Conversations with the Otto-Pilot

It’s been about five days now since we exited the storm zone and in that time the weather’s been quite pleasant, which has given me a chance to catch up on sleeping, eating and general boat chores. Although I’m grateful for the nicer weather, I also wouldn’t mind if it were a bit windier.

horizon_550
Finally a real horizon … 41.2911478S, 113.4013266E

I’ve been working to keep a 7-knot average speed through the day, but I’d love to see it move up some. There’s heaps of different wind pockets around, which means there are parts of the day when I have only lower-speed winds to work with and then other times, they’re back kicking up to 14-16 knots. Somewhere in the course of this back and forth, I’ve taken up playing games with the winds, coaxing them … or trying to trick them somehow. How do you trick the wind, Dave? Glad you asked. It’s a routine I developed when we were in the thick of it. You see, as I got increasingly tired, various parts of the boat began to play in my periphery and to gradually take on personalities, which enabled me to carry on conversations with them.

Otto (the auto-pilot) is my primary chat partner. Otto probably knows more about me in sleep-deprived mode than anyone. Together, we often discuss the weather, the course or how the boat is doing. So sometimes, when Otto and I want more wind, I’ll put on my gear and act as if I’m going to change sails. At this point, usually, the wind decides it wants to kick up and so thwart me from changing sails. Then what happens is that the winds will build for a while, long enough for me to go off and do something else … and then once they die off again, I’ll look like I’m heading back out to change sails … at which point, they kick up again!

Dave in Foulie
Dave in full wind distracting apparel … 42.5314166S, 120.1535844E 

I don’t know whether or not I’m acquiring any special wind whispering powers, but sometimes it seems that I can accomplish the same response just by pushing a button or two on the auto-helm control panel. For whatever reasons, when I am about to push buttons to change course, the wind suddenly picks up, causing me to pull back on the buttons. Believe it or not, this kind of nonsense goes on day and night, and while I know it sounds odd, I actually think focusing in on the details of the process has made me better at anticipating just what the capricious overlords of the wind want me to do.

hydro-generator2_300All that aside, the past few days have had us sailing along at a beautiful angle to the wind, which Bo just loves. We call this kind of action “reaching,” where the wind is just behind us and a bit sideways to the boat. When Bo sails in these conditions, it’s like she’s sailing on silk. There’s little if any noise from the wake and she just seems to advance effortlessly. The only noise is from the hydro-generator (pic to the right) which makes a gentle whine that increases in pitch along with the boat speed. I’ve gotten fairly proficient at knowing how fast Bo is moving by the tune the hydro-generator is singing. It’s something that happens when you’re on your boat for a long time; you get to know every little sound and what each of them means. It’s actually quite comforting when I am resting to have that whine informing me that the boat is in tune with the elements.

Since the storm, I’ve gotten the chance to make a few additional hot meals during the day. When the storms are tossing you around, it’s hard enough to boil water for one hot meal during the cold of night, and so you spend the day grazing on candy, chocolate, crackers, cheese and snacks like that. So as the weather eases up, I’m able to blow the lunch whistle and whip up a freeze-dried meal right in the middle of the day, if I want! Today, I figured out how to make a pretty edible version of macaroni and cheese. I never much cared for mac and cheese, but I brought along a dozen pouches as emergency rations, for when everything else runs out. Not that I’m into emergency food mode yet, but I did an inventory and we could be close.

When I first tasted it, the mac and cheese was just as I suspected … well, macaroni and cheese … and once again not much to my liking. So, I starting adding a few things to make it tastier, at the same time I took away a few things. The first thing I did was to dump out about half the mac and cheese. Nobody needs to put that much fake cheese into his or her body! I got this really great pepper grinder in Cape Town, but it’s pretty zippy, so I went light on that. Next I added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. While digging around, I found a can of Cajun spice left over from last year. So, yep, I added a bunch of that to the mix, making it ready for the final special ingredient – a can of tuna fish. Now we’re talking! Add all that and you get a mac and cheese that’s not half bad. After that it was writing time on a laptop that actually stayed on my lap!

Dave Computer
Dave in Scribe Mode … 41.4244916S 115.5533564E 

Moving to the more noteworthy subject of milestones, the day before yesterday, we crossed directly south of the western edge of Australia and are now officially down under the Down Under, approximately 1250 miles from Tasmania! It’s not like I can see Australia, but I know it’s there. As I’ll likely be going under Tasmania as well, I guess I’ll have to wait for another trip to see Australia. The hope for now is that by staying below 42 degrees South, that we can find the winds to keep us going for the next several days. If I stay up north at 41 degree South, it could turn into painfully light sailing.

43.1687S, 122.3372E 43.1687S, 122.3372E 

Well, there you have it … a bit of a recap of some of the more day-to-day things that are going on with us on Bodacious Dream. Though the news isn’t very exciting, it’s also nice not to be in constant alert mode, And on another good note, one of these days, I’m expecting my KVH satellite dome to start picking up an Internet signal, which means I’ll be able to send off some photos and videos of those recent storms!

Until then, thanks for following along. And I encourage you to check out our six new Explorer Guides. They’re really unique, informative and fun too. Share them with students or family members. I learned a lot reviewing them!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream, (finally dried-out) Franklin and Otto (of few words)

And the mailing list sign up, as always, is here!

Stormy Beauty

The past week has been an interesting one out here on the Southern Ocean. Six days ago we crossed the 2000 miles from Cape Town line and just yesterday we made that 3000 miles from Cape Town. Turning around and looking the other way, it’s about 4000 miles yet to New Zealand. So on we go!

Early in the week, a series of cold fronts and low-pressure systems brought prolonged heavy winds and big seas for days at a stretch. Each day was pretty much the same as the one before it … more big winds and more big seas! Bodacious Dream and I handled it well, but we sure could have used a bit of a break. Like them or not, these are the prevailing conditions at the moment, and until I get about 500 miles further east, they will likely continue.

aquamarine_south_55039.5612499S, 70.330989E 

In the meantime, getting to experience storms up close, you begin to appreciate them not only for their great strength, but also for their great beauty; the size and shape of the waves, the rhythmic intensity of the winds, the swirling curtains of rain and the constantly shifting watercolor shades of grey. I try to capture some of these elements in my photographs, but they rarely show the bracing brilliance that you feel moving through the storm-charged air. As I’ve never before been in such extreme conditions for such an extended period of time, I am finding it all just mesmerizing. (I’ve shot quite a bit of video though, and once I’m back in Internet range, I’ll begin to upload some of it for you to see.)

So, what do you do when it’s storming out? Basically, you hunker down! You keep yourself wrapped in your foul weather gear, and at the ready to kick into action to address any situation that arises. In between times, I often sit below in the companionway and watch the storm (and time) go by. Occasionally, I read a bit from one of my books, but it’s a challenge to let your mind relax and drift away when all that’s going on around you is of such pressing importance and so incessant in its demands on your attention.

Not having a new video to send you, here is a video shot in the days before arriving in Cape Town taken in the gray morning after a long night of wet and windy weather.

Dave doing some hunkering down from the end of Leg 1

One of my little tricks to stay focused is to draw up a time schedule for extended storms. On it I mark for each hour the things I need to do; charging batteries, checking for water, navigating, making notes in the log, circling the deck and double-checking my gear. When each hour has passed, I cross it off. I do this on the sidewall of the cabin down below, and I find it helps to pass the time … but more importantly, it’s my way of making sure I don’t forget something very important in the process.

In harsh weather, the simple act of preparing and eating food takes on a new level of difficulty. Boiling water in rough weather is not so easy and can even be dangerous. Fortunately, the freeze-dried packaged foods CAN be eaten with cold water … but they’re certainly a heck of a lot better with hot water! So it is that cookies, crackers, cheese, beef jerky, chocolate and candies become your go-to snacks, though I sometimes have to scold myself to not eat so much of the candy!

When the wind is building up, one of the more difficult tasks is getting the mainsail under control. This is the large sail on the mast. It has a number of what are called “reef” points that allow you to reduce the size of the sail so that there’s less of it there to catch the more bullying winds. When the winds get to 30 knots or more, I pull the mainsail down to the storm “stub,” which is just a small bit of sail material above the boom. Sometimes, I take it down all the way. This can be rather difficult because when you get to that point in the storm, the winds are pushing the sail against the mast and rigging, making for a lot of friction which requires a lot more effort to take control of the sail. I occasionally find myself hanging my entire 210 pounds from the sail and it not moving at all!

BoDream Mainsail
My old pal, the mainsail …

When that happens, I have another system I use. I go up to the mast, climb up on the boom, hook a line over a part of the sail as high up as I can reach, and then bring the line back down to a winch, and then winch down the sail. Then I do the same thing again, and again a third time until I have it all down to the boom! It’s quite the physical feat, especially when you throw in wind, rain and waves, but it’s a necessity too … so you try to do it sooner than later. That’s not always a choice though, as sometimes the wind will just show up unannounced, in which case, it becomes a super handful of a job. But the good thing is that once the sail is down and tied to the boom, the boat becomes a lot easier to control because the small sail on the bow “pulls” the boat along, like it was a trailer behind a car as opposed to what happens when the mainsail is doing the work, where it’s more like a car “pushing” the trailer.

You know, now that I think about it, there are a lot of conversations going on between me and various parts of the boat … and the one I have going with the mainsail is among the most … well, comical I suppose, because it’s a bigger beast to tame.

By the way, in the Explorer Guides that we launched this past week in our previous BDX post, there is one called “Sailboat Glossary” that shows a picture of a single-masted sailboat like BoDream and shows you the names of all the main parts. Check it out, if you like.

Sailboat Glossary
From one of our new Explorer Guides

Well, it’s getting close to dark here, and predictably, the winds are supposed to build up again tonight and then even more tomorrow, so I want to get all my gear and schedules in order so I can keep control of this here boat. I guess sleep will have to wait until another day. I do get some sleep though over the course of the day, but it’s not easy when the winds are up and storms are shaking the house.

I’ve heard a lot of you have had it rough too with the recent and fiercely cold winter storms. I sure hope it’s breaking where you are and that the temperatures are starting to climb up again.

Be back as soon as I can …

- Dave, Bodacious Dream (and the soggy) Franklin

P.S. And you can always sign up for our email list … right here!

38.4578S, 86.5598E 38.4578S, 86.5598E 

An Ocean of Learning

The last three days have been pretty rough and tumble … quite “sporting,” as those understated Brits like to say … but this is what the Southern Ocean is known for. The winds have been gusting steadily in the low 30′s and up to 40 knots, with seas the size of big buildings … but all is well and good. Bodacious Dream and I have been hanging in there without major incident and I sure have learned an awful lot in a very short time about the personality of this boat and handling her in rough weather. Tomorrow another front passes through, but supposedly not as strong as this recent one – or so we hope.

It’s interesting how latitude and longitude boundaries work down here. We avoided headwinds by pulling north of Lat 40S early in the storm, and if I can get to Lon 90E by the weekend, there will be a different weather pattern in place that won’t carry so much of the effect of the cyclones spinning down on us from up north. There’s potentially another cyclone brewing that may slide down this way by mid-next week … but the cautiously bodacious plan is for me to be well east of it by then and in a high pressure pocket that will block its effect on me. It’s all a little like a huge rolling game of Tic-Tac-Toe.

I’ll have a lot more to say on the whole amazing week once I know things have settled down. This has definitely NOT been typing weather. And as I look out the back of the boat right now, I can see a squall about 5 miles to the south, so I’m going to cut this short before the action starts up again.

35.42201S,13.264919EWe’re talking considerably bigger waves than this … 35.42201S,13.264919E 

IN THE MEANTIME, we have something important we want to share with you.

Starting this week, we are launching our new EXPLORER GUIDES for this, our fourth (and obviously biggest) Bodacious Dream Expedition. We’re starting this week with three and will have three more next week.

Explorer Guide/ Watery World
A slice from the “Our Watery World” Explorer Guide

So, what are the Explorer Guides, what do they have to do with sailing around the world and why should you care? 

Those of you who know me, know that I am passionate about learning, and about sharing what we have learned as adults with the kids that we are lucky enough to meet, (and who are lucky enough to meet us.) Almost everything of any practical value I’ve learned in my life, I acquired either by pursuing it myself or through the kindness and patience of someone else who took the time to show me and talk to me and so help bring some new understanding or skill into my life. As I see it, the time to give back is always now. The time to respond and foment a child’s natural (and gargantuan) curiosity is now!

Education DaysMatt Scharl and I in NYC for the Atlantic Cup’s Education Day

Explorer Guides are study guides and worksheets on a variety of subjects, each of which is relevant to some critical aspect of the circumnavigation that a parent, a teacher or a family member can download, print and then share and discuss with the younger people in their world. We’ve also included a MENTOR GUIDE to offer a bit of guidance in how best to use the Guides.

We’ve drafted and shared sets for each of our earlier three 2013 expeditions (Baja, the Atlantic Coast and California to Hawaii.) In the case of this expedition, because the scope of our voyage is global, it’s taken us some extra time to compile these broader focused materials. But they are coming out of the kitchen now, and fully ready to share!

The first of the Guides is all about OUR WATERY WORLD and the second, drafted with the help of our ocean scientist, Tegan Mortimer from Earthwatch, (who also curates our fantastic CITIZEN SCIENCE page) is on WIND and WEATHER. The third is a simplified SAILBOAT GLOSSARY showing and identifying the parts of a single-masted boat like BoDream.

So, check them out and see what we are up to. Next week, we’ll be launching Guides on MATH, SEA LIFE and OCEANOGRAPHY.

Wind Patterns Chart
A slice from the “Wind and Weather” Explorer Guide

We will be using these Guides as touchstones for further discussion as the voyage continues, and as we acquire and share more media. For the moment, even though we have state-of-the-art electronics on board, we only have sporadic Internet connectivity, particularly where we are now in the largely desolate Southern Ocean. But you better believe we are taking photos and shooting videos (I only need one free hand!) … and so will have a whole lot to share once we get closer to New Zealand. So, what we’re saying is that our circumnavigation, when considered as a course of learning and discovery, will only grow deeper and richer with the passage of time.

So far, we have heard from several TEACHERS who are already using our updates and the various study problems we have posed in their classrooms, and we are inspired by that news. If you know of other learning professionals who might make use of the Guides in their classroom, or as part of their alternative learning agendas … please pass the word and let us know as well.

As you review the Guides and as you discuss their contents with your younger folks, know that I am here too and at the ready to respond to any questions that you might have, and to do my best to add the dimension of my own life experience to the subjects that are expressed more abstractly in the Guides. I also invite you to send me a note anytime at oceanexplorer@ bodaciousdreamexpeditions.com … and either I or Tegan or one of our onshore team will get back to you with the best response we can muster just as soon as we can.

In good hands
Hands across the waters (Don’t know who made this image – hopefully, they won’t mind)

One sets out on an adventure like a circumnavigation with all sorts of grand ambitions that you hope to fulfill. The reality of course is that the lion’s share of your days (and nights) are spent addressing the multitude of demanding tasks at hand. But for me, the importance of life-long learning and discovery (and especially when it concerns kids) is something that will remain a big part of my life long after I have returned back to Jamestown Harbor and the end of the voyage.

We invite you to bring your ideas and enthusiasms to our shared learning adventure. If we can be of help to you, out here on this rocking  and rolling “mobile-learning-platform,”  please let us know how, and if you think you can be of help to us in advancing this direction, let us know that too!

To all of you, from the middle of the deep blue sea….

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the mostly seasick) Franklin

38.993366S, 75.144650E38.993366S, 75.144650E as of 20:08:33 UTC
And if you haven’t yet, do sign up for the email list … right here!