Spring Reading & Atlantic Cup Fun

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

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

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

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

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

- Dave

Approaching an Exciting 2018

Hello Everyone, and Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

So, onto some exciting events coming up this year…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year,

- Dave Rearick

Hope’s Voyage Concludes!

Hope’s Voyage is now at an end. After leaving St. John’s, Newfoundland in early August, we crossed the North Atlantic to Ireland, sailed up the Irish Sea to Scotland and across northern Scotland via the Caledonia Canal before finally arriving here in Sweden after crossing the North Sea.

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Bruce Carter, our onboard documenter, has been making updates to the Facebook page… Check them out HERE

The goal of our journey aboard Hope, has been to sail the old Viking Routes. For Michael Leland, the owner of Hope, this has been his lifelong dream. I am grateful to have been a part of it and to have helped him live his dream, just as I was fortunate to have help living mine aboard Bodacious Dream.

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A quick recap: We left St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada on August 4th and had a pretty quick and fair crossing, arriving in Dingle, Ireland, 13 days and 1800 miles later. We encountered three frontal passages, the last being fairly significant, which helped push us the last few hundred miles.

I took a break to fly back to the U.S. for a week and then rejoined Hope in Dublin. From Dublin, we continued north to Port Ellen on Scotland’s Isle of Islay, and then up to Fort William at the western entrance to the Caledonia Canal. The passage to Port Ellen provided light winds, until more sporting conditions pushed us onto Port William. Sailing among the islands many narrow passages, tidal rapids and strong currents were very common. At times, we were only able to make 3 knots to the good while sporting full sails and a 23-knot wind. This may have been one of the few times I’ve ever said, “Thank God it’s blowing 23 knots!”

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While the scenery in the North Atlantic was fairly typical – water and sky – we were blessed with numerous sightings of whales and dolphins. Bioluminescence followed us at times and as always, the sea birds kept track of us, constantly weaving back and forth across our wake. During the coastal routes through Ireland and Scotland, the days were predominately rainy with low hanging clouds in the Highlands. This weather provided us with endless stunning moments as each turn unveiled another moody but spectacular vista. The video below shows of the conditions we encountered approaching Mandal, Norway.  A bit edgy as we approach a lee shore with shallowing water; the waves continued to build!

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The one disappointment for of us was Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. She never showed herself while we sailed the 20-mile length of Loch Ness, and we weren’t shy about making ourselves known, flying the green spinnaker most of the length of the Loch. It was special to sail this Loch as sailors who had sailed their boat across the Atlantic. Congrats Michael for accomplishing your dream and goal!

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From Inverness, Scotland, we made our last two passages. We crossed the North Sea with winds as high as 30 knots building seas to 20 feet as we approached Mandal on the southern tip of Norway. After a couple of days to allow the weather to calm down, we sailed the additional 160 miles to Henan, Sweden, the birth place of the vessel Hope. We took a few days in Sweden to visit the shipyard where Hope was built and Gothenburg before heading for home.

We hope you’ve enjoyed following along.

All the best and we hope you have a great Fall season before the boats get put away for the winter. Our thoughts go out to all those impacted by the hurricanes and earthquakes. The forces of nature on land or at sea are awe inspiring and often frightening.

- Dave and the crew of Hope (Michael Leland, skipper, Moose DeBone, first mate, and Bruce Carter, documenter)

The Chicago-Mac and on to Ireland

What a great couple of Mac Races that we wrapped up a few weeks ago. We had some very good and highly competitive sailing on Defiance though our results don’t express quite the same enthusiasm.

The Chicago-Mac turned tough once the forecasted cold front arrived Saturday night about midnight. Just prior to the north wind shift, a squall hit with 40 knots of wind. Sunday was spent beating upwind to the north end of the lake in 20 knots of gusts. While the conditions were challenging, the lake was as majestic as ever. A number of boats dropped out of the race and a few of our toughest competitors were among them. We were fortunate to work through the challenges, only parting (breaking) two halyards (the rope that pull the sails up the mast) in the process.

Here is a video from our onboard media genius, Maciek Wszelaki.
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The Port Huron-Mac had its own challenges. From the start to Cove Island was a 150-mile upwind battle between Natalie J, Heartbreaker and Defiance. Our crew worked extremely hard and consistently to best our competitors to the turn at Cove Island. Unfortunately, the following leg was downwind, which isn’t our strong suit. However, the fun of it all was the last 60 miles as the winds built to a hard 25-30 knots and the sailing was extremely exhilarating. We had Defiance surfing at 20 knots at one point. During the peak winds, it was too edgy to allow Maciek to video, but as it eased off some, he got his chance. Here is a video from a bit later as the winds eased down to 18-20. Still fun to watch.

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I want to thank the crew of Defiance for giving it their best as regard’s 11th Hour Racing‘s efforts for sustainability. The crew joined in the effort with gusto, though not quite so enthusiastic about boringly pumping filtered water, but everyone made the effort and were rewarded with less than half a bag of garbage once we reached the island. Hats off to you guys! The lake thanks you too!

HOPE3_300So, what’s next? Well, August 1st, I will join the vessel Hope along with her owner Dr. Michael Leland, along with Bruce Carter and Mike (Moose) DeBone in St, John’s Newfoundland, Canada. We will continue Hope’s voyage across the Atlantic, following in the wake of the Vikings legendary passage to Dingle, Ireland. From Dingle, we will hop around Ireland, traverse Scotland’s Caledonia Canal and then cross the North Sea to end up in Hanan, Sweden for the winter. Next summer, Dr. Leland plans to return along the Viking’s western route via Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

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Hope, a Najad 32, is a strong boat and we expect to have a great time. Please join us and follow along at the link. I will probably do some updates along the way, but the majority of the Blog will be available at http://www.mcyc.com/hopes-voyage/. And here is a Facebook page… https://www.facebook.com/Hopes-Vikingland-Voyage-342408386187676/. And here is the FindMeSpot App link… http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=02RIijtnZrpEuhBfyJ1dKfjIoITgBrlUO

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It’s been a busy summer trying to keep all my irons in the fire, but for the next few weeks, sailing will take precedence. To my clients and creditors, I hope you can survive till I get back! More than that, I hope you’re all having a great summer as well, and I look forward to sharing Hope’s stories as they develop.

For everyone who has asked about “the book,” the final edits are in and we’re now looking for a publisher! Hope to have it in your hands soon.

Enjoy!

- Dave

The Mackinac & Other Adventures

I apologize that news of my wanderings and adventures has been so sparse of late. These past few months have been filled with the simple adventure of working at a feverish pace to build things and make a living.

Sailing remains my favorite escape of course, and I do it whenever I can – recently, as part of the crew of Defiance, a J/V 67-footer out of Chicago. We had a great time and posted some impressive wins. This weekend, July 15 and 16, we’ll take on the Great Lakes in the Chicago to Mackinac Race.

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You can follow us in Division One on the tracker through the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac website. http://cf.yb.tl/chicagomack2017# Click on the Tracker tab at the top of the page.

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Defiance is a powerful boat capable of great sailing and runs with a crew of 14. My challenge this year is to help them become sustainable with recycling and garbage. We will be using reusable water bottles and filtering our own water out of the lake to keep the recycling bag of garbage to a minimum. This not only helps the environment, but also better syncs life onboard with the wonderful world we sail in. Furthermore, it helps Mackinac Island, which has had a recycling and composting program for as long as I can remember. We hope to arrive at the island in 11th Hour Racing style with one bag of garbage and a good finish for Defiance.

Defiance(This awesome photo by Maciek Wszelaki, looking aft from Defiance)

For now, it’s a busy day getting packed up and to the boat to finish prep for the Race. I’ll follow up next week with more about August and a wonderful trip scheduled from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Dingle, Ireland, Scotland and ending in Sweden! I’m really looking forward to that!

Good luck to all my friends sailing in the Chicago Mac. After 30 some years, there are quite a few of them now!

And all the best to each of you for a great outdoor summer!

- Dave

Looking Back & Signing off on 2016!

Here on the shores of Lake Michigan, we’ve experienced our first snows, which put an end to the suspense as to when the mild fall would move over so that winter could get on with it. I’m usually fine with snow, at least up to half an inch, but 3 inches forces you to reconsider and put aside the flip-flops and boat shoes. My winter chukkas now sit prominently near the front door.

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It was a great summer season, but like most of them, it passed too quickly. With that in mind, there are a few things I’d like to catch you up on.

As most of you know, The Atlantic Cup Race and the Atlantic Cup Kids Program took up much of the first half of my year. It was an amazing experience for me and for the many kids who came down to the docks. I’d like to share with you a new great pro-looking  Atlantic Cup Kids program video up now on YouTube. You may notice an older, white-bearded guy rolling the cart and hoarsely singing – that would be me. Forward it or share it and help spread the word!

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My personal thank yous go out to the many people who helped with the program, who gave time and energy to the kids, and those of you who supported it financially. We are very grateful for all your support.

This fall, we also learned the Atlantic Cup had accomplished something quite amazing that you won’t read about on the front page of the newspaper; so this time, I’m going to loudly ring our own bell! Owing to the hard work of the entire race staff, led by our sustainability expert, Brian Funke, and with the inspired support of 11th Hour Racing, The Atlantic Cup became the FIRST sporting event in the USA to receive an ISO 20121 certification for sustainability. Let me explain just what this means. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) develops and oversees an international certification process, which many companies go through to meet or exceed certain performance standards to become ISO accredited companies. It’s a very rigorous certification process and I find it just way cool that The Atlantic Cup, and no other event - not the US Open or Wimbledon, not even Major League Baseball with the Cub’s “green” Wrigley Field, has EVER received this certification.

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This is a result of the hard work, commitment and leadership of Julianna Barbieri and Hugh Piggin at Manuka Sports Event Management who run the Atlantic Cup Race as well as the entire staff and all the competitors who each believed in our collective responsibility to serve and maintain our environment. As a proud member of that team, I want to extend my congratulations to everyone associated with the Atlantic Cup. Here’s a link to the whole story: http://www.atlanticcup.org/sustainability

And, if that bar isn’t high enough for you, The Atlantic Cup is also the only regatta world wide to achieve platinum level status in sustainability from Sailors for the Sea - a leading conservation organization that engages with sailing and boating communities toward healing the ocean. 

A couple other notable events took place this summer. We had another great Mackinac Race (my 30th) – spending 30 hours sailing from one storm cell to another. I don’t recall seeing so many thunder and rain squalls and rapid wind shifts in any of those previous years. Here’s a video I shot after a night of getting knocked around big time!

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Lake Michigan continues to be a seductive and unpredictable demiurge. Today however she looks calm and relaxed, her edges white with the froth of toppling wavelets as she absorbs the spinning snowflakes.

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Back in August, I played the role of Official Observer for Scott Wolford’s world record marathon swim attempt. This young man…(51 years old – Ha!) was planning to set an unassisted, world record of 120 miles by swimming from Chicago to Michigan and back. I was proud to be invited to help with his efforts and record the event for official review.

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Unfortunately, the weather stopped Scott after about 19 miles, but with the energy he exhibited climbing back on the boat, I’m certain his efforts next summer will produce a new world record.

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Besides being a crazy good swimmer, Scott is dedicated and committed to teaching children about the environment and clean water. His children’s book, Gino the Minnow is legendary. Check out Gino’s or Scott’s sites on Facebook. Gino the Minnow or Scott Weston Wolford. Now there’s a good Christmas present idea for your kids.

The rest of the summer here on the Great Lakes included a few other races and some very pleasurable sails with friends. My days of late have been filled with various types of work; an article I penned for Sailing Magazine - a kind of beginner’s guide to shorthanded (or single-handed) sailing is right HERE in November’s issue.

Out of the water, a custom-made kitchen cabinet package I designed and built was just  installed in a special use residence in Evanston, IL. And then there was Thanksgiving… where as each year for the past 20 or so, my house becomes full of family and friends. It was an especially great year to be together and to be thankful for each other.

We look forward to the coming New Year with great hopes for the completion and publication of my book Spirit of the Dream, which is undergoing final edits. We also hold our hopes high that we will stand up and dedicate our collective energies to tackling the many challenges that our world, our environment, our kids and our families must face.

May your holidays be grand and may our light shine bright in the New Year!

And as the French say, Au Revoir (meaning “until later”)

- Dave and Franklin

Atlantic Cup Kids Wrap-Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlantic Cup Update – Curious Kids & Racing Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until later…
- Capt. Dave

Casco Bay Estuary/ Portland, Maine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ocean Learning Unbound!

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

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

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Carolina Dreamer Project on Display at the Science Fair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come! Heading to Charleston early next week!

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