Archives for October 2014

Route du Rhum. Ultime : Banque Populaire VII connait déjà bien la route

Dans la catégorie Ultime de la Route du Rhum, il y a le petit groupe des 100 pieds. Dont Banque Populaire VII, tenant du titre quand il s’appelait encore Groupama 3.

Aux côtés de l’immense Spindrift 2 et des Multi70, autres membres de la très select catégorie Ultime à prendre le départ de la Route du Rhum, il y a le petit groupe des 100 pieds. Banque Populaire VII est l’un de ceux-là.

Banque Populaire VII est le plus long de ce groupe. Il s’agit de l’ancien Groupama 3 tenant du titre avec Franck Cammas. Il devait être mené par Armel le Cléac’h. mais le Finistérien s’est gravement blessé à une main l’été dernier et a dû passer le manche. Qui échoit donc à… Loïck Peyron, décidément joker de luxe pour l’armateur.

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2014 ANNAPOLIS BOAT SHOW: Jimmy’s New Boat

Not surprisingly, one of the big draws at this year’s U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis has been the new Garcia Exploration 45, developed by French builder Garcia Yachts in cooperation with bluewater sailing guru, author, and ARC founder Jimmy Cornell. I’m a big fan of Garcia, which has been building boats for 40 years now, both because they build in aluminum and because they do it exceedingly well. In the last several years most of their boats have been large stratoshperic custom jobs, well beyond the reach of mere mortals with less than a couple of million to spend, so it’s heartening to see them again building something a bit more accessible.

Jimmy and I have some history, as I first met him crewing around in his America 500 cruising rally way back in 1992, so he was happy to show me around the boat this past Thursday shortly after the show opened. After retiring from the rally racket some years ago, he took to roaming the planet in aluminum centerboard Alubats and spent some time cruising in high latitudes. So he had some pretty specific ideas about what he wanted when he approached Garcia about building his next boat.

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Preparing for the Indian Ocean

Jamie and I co-author the cruising column for 48° North, a Pacific Northwest regional boating magazine. He lead on this piece for their for October issue, with ruminations about what lies ahead for us with a big year coming. The complete magazine is free on newstands around the Salish Sea, and available online wherever you are.

Transition then Monsoon

Southwest monsoon season is active here in the Malacca Straits. Intense squalls with cold, biting rain, and streaks of lightning that are always too close divide the day’s oppressive heat. It is extreme weather – eerily calm, blindingly bright or catastrophically loud. Local fishermen live the pattern of these conditions, in rickety open boats.

Transitions between monsoon seasons are less predictable. Last year in southern Phuket Thailand a strong southeasterly surprised many sailors, leaving 40 boats firmly planted on the beach. Wind from the southeast, outrageous! What’s next- westerly winds?

It’s easy to fall into patterns that fit the season. Whether calm anchorages with good Thai food just a dinghy ride away or squally nights with a mug of strong coffee, cruising sailors adapt then settle, transition then monsoon. Sailing between regions confuses the pattern. We’re in monsoon season now, but on board Totem it’s all about transition as we gear-up to cross the Indian Ocean.

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Understanding engine overheating problems

Why is the engine overheating? Our Yanmar engine’s shrill alarm was the jarring start to some stressful hours during the last five months, and we asked that question many times. The answer was not one root cause, but more likely a series of related events, as a domino effect of different issues cascaded. I’ve written about the painful side of this before, but less so the final diagnosis and fix, so this is for cruisers like Mark, Lynn & Rick, Gary, and others who reached out and asked to learn from our experience.

It all started when tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. We’ve had great performance from our Yanmar 4JH3/TE, and want to maintain it properly so it continues to serve Totem well. In April, it had a major service (5,000 hour) done while we spent time on Langkawi island, a pretty spot at the far north of Malaysia’s west coast. This was a big line item on the pre-Indian Ocean checklist we’ve been working through as our budget allows.

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