How Boats Sail!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Interview with Merf Owen, Naval Architect

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

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

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

DR: Where is your home office?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DR: Are the boats considered light for their size?

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

DR: How fast can the Class 40’s go?

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

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

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

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

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

DR: Thanks so much Merf!

 

Earth’s Oceans – Learnings & Celebrations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

franklin_16 - Cap’n Dave
with trusty Franklin by my side! (For those of you who’ve been asking where he’s been.)

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

Atlantic Cup… Big News & Views…

red_sailIt’s been quite a while now since I last updated you. Winter arrived, the holidays passed and soon the snows will pass too and behind them, spring, along with that ol’ sailing spirit, will rise again!

Going back in my own memory, the spring of 2012 and 2013 were marked for me by the excitement of the Atlantic Cup Race… and this year will be no different! The Atlantic Cup is coming up soon (May 23rd – June11th) but this year with a few notable changes. Starting again in Charleston S.C., the first leg will still end in New York City, but the second leg instead of ending in Newport RI will conclude in Portland, ME, where the inshore leg will happen. This course change will add a whole new challenge for the race competitors as they negotiate the coastal waters of Cape Cod on their way to Portland.

dave_acThe other change, and a very exciting one for me, is that this year I’m heading up the Atlantic Cup Kids Program. I won’t be racing the Atlantic Cup this year. Instead I will be getting kids, students, parents and teachers up-to-speed and excited about all that’s happening. We want them of course to follow the race, to get to know teams and to come visit the Race Villages, but in addition we are also going to expand the broad educational agenda that began while we were sailing around the world. We hope to help inspire kids to embark upon their own journey to learn about the sport of sailing, but also about oceans, the environment and how they might live a more sustainable lifestyle as they grow into young adults and the leaders of tomorrow.

new_logo_300We’re all grateful at the Atlantic Cup for our friends at 11th Hour Racing who once again are the presenting sponsors. I’ve had an amazing time being one of the “Ambassadors” for this insightful and inspiring organization.

So, here are some things to watch for and some actions you might take to help me share the Atlantic Cup Kids Program with young people everywhere and specifically with the young people in your life.

1. We’ve started a new Atlantic Cup Kids Facebook page - so please go there and “like” the page. Liking it is a helpful pat on the back for us and will also keep you informed with updates to your Facebook timeline.

1182. Check out the enhanced Atlantic Cup Kids Page on the Atlantic Cup website. There you will find a fine of set of Education Guides in place and new ones like the just published Wind and Weather guide, which in the time leading up to the race will be followed by other new guides. In addition, from the AC Kids page you can also find information on the sailing teams, and vote for your favorite team! Also, you will find a link to sign up for the AtC Kids mailing list which will get you news and updates in your email inbox.

3. Reach out and help the kids in your life navigate the guides and contents of the AC Kids Page and the Facebook page, so that they can learn and follow the race on their own.

4. If you know of teachers, adult mentors, scout leaders or other kids groups, please spread the word and point them to our pages. We want to make this information fun, valuable and available to kids everywhere, especially to those living inland and out of sight of the oceans.

5. If you’re in Charleston, New York City or Portland or will be during the Atlantic Cup stopovers, please come on down and visit the race village. If you know of schools in those areas, contact them here by email so that they can visit and take part in the great activities we have planned for visitors and kids.

 Here’s a video of kids visiting in Charleston, SC in 2014.

Thank you for lending whatever support you can to our efforts. 

So then, let’s get on and talk about the race itself!

Many of you have told me how exciting Atlantic Cup Class 40 racing is and how much fun it was to watch Bodacious Dream come to life on the race tracker. I fondly remember getting calls in the middle of the night from friends telling me they couldn’t get off the computer watching us eek out another close win. This year, we expect the racing to be just as exciting.

123There are a couple of brand new boats which will challenge each other to showcase their designer’s talents, along with our old friends on their proven  rides. Some of the boats to watch for are Longbow 143, a brand new boat from Merf Owen and the Owen Clark Design Team. Tales II 123, a brand new boat from Botin Design in Spain and Campagne de France, a brand new design from the Anglo-Franco team of Halvard and Miranda. I’m excited to see these new designs sail but will also be rooting for old friends on equally fast boats… Pleiad Racing 39 and Dragon 54Toothface II 128 and Ahmas 127, both third generation Akilaria’s will be battling for a podium place alongside the full field of nine boats. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, my favorite, ol’ #118 will be back, skippered this time by sailors from Oakcliff Sailing. It’s going to be a great year on the water.

39I know I’m going to miss the racing, but I’m going to have more than my hands full with energized kids hungry to learn more about the ocean, weather, sea life as well as the many real dangers the ocean faces and that threaten its future sustainability. 

Helping the oceans back to better health is a mission we can and should all embrace.

So, please take a minute to like the kids Facebook page and to sign up for email updates from the Atlantic Cup Kids Page… and let’s take the kids sailing, racing and learning together.

Thanks to everyone!
- Dave

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P.S. For those of you who have wondered, I have been working steadily on the book about my solo circumnavigation sailing adventure, and I’m happy to say it’s almost done! Stay tuned!

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!

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• 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.)

Springing Forward

I know it’s been a while now since I’ve been in contact! Sorry for the absence. Back home on the shores of Lake Michigan, winter was a cold one, but I have to admit, I didn’t really mind the cold and snow… well, not too much! Spring is moving right along and summer is almost upon us!

So… the news! There are a number of exciting things going on as the spirit of Bodacious Dream continues into the future. Let me catch you up!

• Remember our good friend Tegan Mortimer? Tegan is an ocean scientist who provided us with a number of amazingly interesting and well-researched “Science Notes” on many of the unique experiences we encountered while sailing Bodacious Dream around the world. Well, Tegan was recently selected to join an all-women’s crew sailing from the Ivory Coast of Africa to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic and then onto Brazil. Along the way, they will study marine debris in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. In my opinion, the expedition leadership made a perfect choice in selecting Tegan. Her enthusiasm and spirit are only matched by her passion to share her knowledge and experience. http://exxpedition.com/crew/ascension2015/

As the spirit of Bodacious Dream ventures into the future, my hope has been to seek out others who share our love and passion for this earth and the oceans and to bring their stories to light. Tegan is a perfect example of such a brilliant an concerned person. We  look forward to her sharing a few stories with us in the coming months. Tegan is also looking for sponsors and supporters and would welcome your comments and interest as well

capt_dave_ac_125• Next up, The Atlantic Cup 2016 has pulled me in… (though, it should be said, I went quite willingly) into their circle! Through my earlier involvement with the Atlantic Cup Kids pages and the cartoon character of me, their offer to have me take on the Atlantic Cup Kids Educational Outreach Program was something I couldn’t refuse. I am presently signing up schools, kid’s organizations and others to take advantage of the program offered in the harbors.

Over the years, The Atlantic Cup has made the competing boats and their crews accessible to kids and students and encouraging them to more closely touch, listen, learn and feel the environment around them. The young girl in this video says it all to me when she exclaims… ”This does not belong in the ocean!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ee2mdGbQEY

The Atlantic Cup moved the race to an every other year format last year and 2016 promises to be an even bigger event with more international competitors. My plan is to continue and increase the number of visitors to the boats and to develop an online presence for schools and students who are unable to access the physical harbors, so that remotely, they might experience the race, learn about the ocean and share in the experience. We’ll be adding more online learning materials and Tegan has promised to do a few more science notes as well! If you’d like to involve your kids, students or young people, please let us know… you can contact me at dave@atlanticcup.org.

gryphon_solo2• As for sailing news, I’ll be competing with my friend Joe Harris onboard his Class 40, Gryphon Solo 2 in the Marblehead to Halifax Race in early July….and with my old friends on Geronimo in the Chicago to Mackinac race in the middle of July. I’ll update you more on those races as the time comes near.

• As for myself, to pay the bills, I’ve been doing some work both around the house and around town. Though you know me as a sailor, I also spent many years as a carpenter. I’ve been building some custom windows and furniture and helping on some boat projects. I’ve also been taking a few hours out of each day to write up the story of the solo-circumnavigation aboard Bodacious Dream. The book, with the working title, The Spirit of the Dream, is coming along quite well. Hopefully, before next winter, the entire book will be available!

In fact, if you’d like to read an excerpt of the book, you’re in luck, because I have a chunk of it RIGHT HERE!

• One other very exciting thing to tell you! Last month, 11th Hour Racing announced their Ambassador Program for 2015. It was a great honor for me to be included alongside such notable sailors as Charlie Enright, skipper of Team Alvimedica and the Rolex Yacht Women of the year 2014, Stephanie Roble. Altogether, there are 14 of us who will share their passion and stories with 11th Hour Racing; Tom Burnham, Brock Callen, Andy Green, Jamie Haines, Erika Heineken, Peter C. Henderson, Andy Horton, Anthony Kotoun, John Mollicone and Anderson Reggio.

The 11th Hour Racing Ambassador Program is a community of professional sailors committed to ocean health. The Ambassadors represent varying boat classes but all are respected leaders in the sailing industry. These high-profile athletes are committed to the adoption of sustainable practices in their daily lives, at their personal sailing events and regattas, and to inspire others in their spheres of influence, including the next generation of sailors.

11th Hour Racing works closely with the ambassadors to drive change within the sport by creating dialogue, leading by example, and ensuring youth sailors are educated and energized to protect and care for our oceans. You can meet all 14 of us here: http://11thhourracing.org/ambassadors

So, whew! I guess that’s enough for now, isn’t it? I hope your summer plans are for a great one.

- Dave, Franklin & Bo (in abstentia!)

Dave’s Upcoming Talks in the Midwest…

Greetings to all from the frozen Midwest!

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

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

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

knots_550 Knot Tying station courtesy of The Atlantic Cup Kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Dave 

Walking to the End of the Year

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time, I was sailing in the Southern Indian Ocean having left Cape Town, South Africa bound for Wellington, New Zealand – alone aboard Bodacious Dream on the desolate sea at Christmas time, but fully alive and living my dream. Maybe some of you remember those Christmas posts. The year before that, found me in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean bringing Bodacious Dream home to the U.S. from Portugal. While holidays at sea often bring up emotions of sadness and loneliness, being away from family and friends – for me, it’s also an occasion for gratitude, and a chance to focus on the surrounding natural beauty and so by-pass the distractions of our crazy world.

Dave_Franklin_550Dave, Franklin and Christmas Dinner 2013!

This year I’m home in Indiana enjoying the holiday season closer to family and friends. I will admit though that on occasion, and most often late at night, my thoughts wander back to the dark wide-open ocean under the grand canopy of stars. There is always that essential beauty and power in nature which if you allow it to work its magic, can reconnect you to life in all its splendor.

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A Southern Ocean Sunset

Enjoying Christmas as I do, I find myself re-playing a few favorite tunes from one of my favorite holiday albums, Christmas Goes to Sea by Lee Murdock. I especially like the song about the Christmas Ship – which tells the tale of the schooner Rouse Simmons that brought Christmas trees down from the northern end of Lake Michigan to Chicago in the early 1900’s.

lee_murdock_200Another favorite, Blessed Christmas Morn, is about leaving harbor on Christmas morning … and the feelings of the departing sailor who was leaving behind his folks who were growing old. (The link to the sing is here!) …

(Click on the “listen” box to the right and then close the popup windows - click “leave the page” and you should be able to listen to the music. :)

Those of you that followed Oakcliff Racing, (Class 40 #118 formerly named Bodacious Dream) know the young men from Oakcliff did an amazing job, winning their section and placing second overall in the first running of the RORC Trans-Atlantic Race! Congrats goes out to that crew for such a great performance. As I shared with them, Bo knows where she’s going. Get her going in the right direction and she will make her way. Bodacious Dream always showed me her spirit and her urge to lead—not just on the racecourse and across oceans, but in life as well. She has done so once again, leading these young men on the great adventure of their first trans-oceanic crossing … and taking a top prize at the same time!

In keeping with the spirit of Bodacious Dream and leading forward, we are starting to ramp up our future. The book that everyone keeps asking me about is coming along, slowly, but coming. I now understand why it takes so long to get books written! I hope to have it done this spring. In the meantime, Franklin and I along with a 4’ inflatable globe have been asked to do a number of talks. Some of these are specifically for kids of all ages and Franklin and I agree, these are the most important talks. Once again, it’s kids we need to help lead forward. I’ll send out another note soon with upcoming dates should you be nearby and care to attend.

Atlantic CupAdvancing our interest in sharing with kids, and carrying on the Bodacious Dream, we will this year be  expanding our involvement with The Atlantic Cup, by collaborating with 11th Hour Racing on their their Kids Pages and their educational outreach program. This is going to be great fun as Manuka Sports Management seeks to expand the reach of the learning programs tied to the Atlantic Cup.

So, there’s a lot going on for us in this coming new year, but what I’m looking forward to most now is what has become a tradition for me over the past 25 years – that of taking a midnight walk on Christmas Eve wherever I am.

bd_winter_225This year, I’ll be at home and will walk the chilly shores of Lake Michigan where my learning of the natural world began some 50 years ago. This walk will be different than the past few years when I walked laps around Bodacious Dream’s deck – but no less significant. Regardless of where on the globe Christmas finds me, if you are near, you’ll most likely hear me humming Silent Night. (Lee Murdock does an especially nice version of this on his CD as well. The link to that song is here!)

So, I’ll leave it at that … and close by wishing you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays … and to one and all, an especially full and wonderful New Year! May it be healthy and full of wonder!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and the snow-lovin’ Franklin

The Dream Carries On …

Well, another long delay between communications, but it’s been a very busy month and a half.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.49.31 PMTo bring you up-to-date with Bodacious Dream, she has been generously donated to Oakcliff Sailing Center, a non-profit organization from Long Island, NY. Oakcliff was launched in 2005 with a mission to raise the bar for young American sailors through extensive race training programs. Bodacious Dream will sail under the new name of Oakcliff Racing and it will give Oakcliff the ability to safely take on longer offshore races with their students.

So, I’ve just returned from the UK where we finished handing Bodacious Dream over to Oakcliff Racing’s able crew: Hobie Ponting, Andrew O’Donnell, Dan Flanigan, Chris Kennedy and Jeffrey MacFarlane

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So, I spent about ten days showing them the systems on Bo after which we took the boat to Guernsey for a bit of an on-the-water orientation. After we’d covered all their many questions, I headed back to the U.S. to some other commitments as the guys continued to prep the boat for leaving. I heard from them that they left Guernsey last Friday, heading south to the Canary Islands where they hope to make the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race. You can follow these young enthusiastic men as they embark on their own dream on Facebook at Oakcliff Racing.

dave_sailingOn another note, many of you got the news that I had an article published in the November issue of Sailing Magazine. I struggled to find a hard copy of the magazine as I traveled about… and for those of you that searched high and low as well, you can now find the article online here on Sailing Magazine’s site. I can’t remember how far back it was that I found my first Sailing Magazine and read it cover to cover! Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the article and the many other great articles and photos on sailing in this classic magazine that does so much to provide great news and fantastic photos of the beauty of sailing.

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I’ll be heading home to chilly Lake Michigan here soon and am very much looking forward to once again being at home for Thanksgiving – and gathering with dear friends and family to express our gratitude for the many wonders we’ve had the chance to experience. I’ve certainly had a few years of them and having celebrated Thanksgiving last year in the Southern Atlantic Ocean with freeze-dried lasagna, I’m really looking forward to sharing a bountiful table of roast turkey with all the trimmings! I sincerely hope you too will have the chance to gather with your family and friends and consider the grace of our lives.

Many thanks to all of you…

- Dave Rearick

Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral

Back again after another long delay. As promised, I want to share my visit to Stonehenge, but before that, I want to let you know about a few new published pieces. First off, Sailing Magazine has published my article on Bodacious Dream and the circumnavigation in their new November issue.

sailingmagSailing Magazine has its home in Port Washington, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan, my home waters. It’s a well-respected magazine that shares the beauty of sailing and racing through photos and stories, along with a lot of great information and advice on equipment as well as boat reviews. We’ll let you know if and when they publish it online, but if you come across a copy of the magazine, check it out!

Hurrican Island Outward Bound SchoolAlso, this month the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) Blog has posted an interview with me where I talk about the circumnavigation, but also about how the time I spent at HIOBS in my teens prepared me for facing the various mental and physical challenges that attend to ocean racing and distance sailing. The new interview on their blog is right HERE! And if you’d like to dip back into the archive, an earlier post from March describes my whole Outward Bound Story.

So now, onto Stonehenge!

When last we left it, Matt Scharl and I had sailed Bodacious Dream to Hamble, England where we finished taking care of her, preparing her for her stay. With a spare day before my return to the US, I drove to Stonehenge, about 45 miles from Hamble. I punched the coordinates into the GPS and followed the gentle, British-accented female voice, turn by turn through the beautiful countryside, trying hard to stay on the “wrong” side of the road! Fortunately, many of the roads are less than two lanes wide, making it much easier to stay in your lane!

stonehenge2

Late in the afternoon, I came over a rise on the motorway and off to the side of the road you could see that great and iconic circle of stones we instantly recognize as Stonehenge. A few more miles drive to the visitor’s center gave me time to reflect on the amazing history I was about to witness.

stonehenge5

The history of Stonehenge has fascinated me since I first learned of it, at some point in my youth and likely through National Geographic magazine. On this day, the broken overcast, grey blue skies and late afternoon light against the bright green rolling hills cast a perfect backdrop for me to explore up-close the mystery of Stonehenge. It was easy to imagine ancient peoples gathering here to commemorate and celebrate events in their community’s lives.

stonehenge1

The building of Stonehenge began some 5000 years ago and evolved over the course of the next few thousand years. The original layout of upright wooden logs was eventually replaced with the large stones moved some 250 miles to the present location. At various times in history, stones were moved or rearranged and additional stones brought in, which modern historians believe provided “healing” inspiration for the people at Stonehenge. The surrounding countryside is dotted with burial mounds and depressions indicating roads or avenues connecting the river to Stonehenge. All these mysterious ruins give sustenance to imaginative debates on what actually happened there… and unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the mysteries remain largely unanswered.

Pictures tell more of the story and in the presence of the intimidating intentions of these ancient people, my staying quiet, listening and feeling the earth seemed the wiser course than going off on wild speculating. The greatest things in life are often not very loud!

DR_stonehengeFinishing my walk around the perimeter of Stonehenge, I drove off again across the English countryside, past the various burial mounds that seem nonchalantly placed in no particular pattern. What had taken place here? Why here? Was there something more significant to this particular plot of land? Was this a place of worship or celebration? There are so many wonders in the world… isn’t it fascinating that we get the chance to exercise such questions and feelings?

winchester2I awoke early the next morning with a plan to return to London and Heathrow Airport for my flight home, but had one more stop to make. Winchester Cathedral is an amazing building and the location of the grave of the famous English author, Jane Austen.

As a builder, I remain forever amazed at the ingenious engineering and workmanship that went into building the great Gothic-era cathedrals of Europe. These astonishing buildings, some over a thousand years old, were built over the course of generations by villages of craftsmen as a testament to their communities, their religion and their skills.

Here are some more photographs of majestic Winchester Cathedral.

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westminster3As I drove off to catch my flight, it occurred to me that perhaps both Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral stood as monuments to people’s faith and belief in providence. Though each was so entirely different in  design, they felt to me equal in how they spoke to mankind impulse to challenge itself in extraordinary ways. Though Stonehenge stands small in comparison to Winchester, it felt equally grand when you consider the technology and engineering of its time.

So, I will leave you with this last question that still haunts me. We know the history of Winchester Cathedral. Is the historical speculation around Stonehenge similar to it, or might there be something much more intriguing (and still unknown) going on in earth’s history to which we are no longer aware?

For now,

- Dave