Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Once again, a few little items have rolled over my screen that seem worthy of sharing and/or commenting on. Please share with sailors who you think might be interested.



Last weekend we in Seattle braced for “stormageddon,” but fortunately it largely passed us by. Bruce Hedrick did a great job with his first, second and third updates. In that last update, he “unwarned” us about the storm. “By 5 pm you could see it was heading more offshore,” he said. “I wish I had a good explanation, but I don’t. That’s why the National Weather sends people the Pacific Northwest for training. It teaches humility.” Cliff Mass discusses the challenge of forecasting this storm and Northwest storms in general in this blog post.

Jeanne Socrates is set to sail around the world nonstop again, this time at age 74. Once again, she'll start and finish in Victoria.
Jeanne Socrates is set to sail around the world nonstop again, this time at age 74. Once again, she’ll start and finish in Victoria.

Jeanne Socrates Heading to Sea Again

Have you heard that Jeanne Socrates is planning yet another solo, nonstop circumnavigation! At age 74! (She finished her first one in 2013, setting the record for the oldest woman to do so.) The Northwest connection? She’s starting and finishing from Victoria, BC. I hope to have a conversation with her in the coming weeks.



The kids from Stevens Middle School got a ride across Lake Crescent when the road was blocked.
The kids from Stevens Middle School got a ride across Lake Crescent when the road was blocked.

USCG on Lake Crescent

What do you do when 40 kids and 6 adults are stuck in the sticks at Lake Crescent, the road’s blocked and bad weather is coming? If there’s water involved, call the US Coast Guard! It took half a dozen trips across Lake Crescent and more than 7 hours, but everyone was ferried from Camp David to the Marymere trailhead. Here’s the USCG press release.



120 sailors were at the skipper's meeting. Adults may not be racing as much, but the kids sure are!
120 sailors were at the skipper’s meeting. Adults may not be racing as much, but the kids sure are!

Youth Season Fall Wrapup

The Pacific Northwest youth sailing programs have absolutely exploded, both in numbers and in enthusiasm, in recent years. And Sail Sand Point has been a big part of that. Their Communications Director Jeanne Currie wrote a nice piece in 48 North about the final regatta of the Northwest Youth Racing Circuit that reveals just how big these events have become, something I find a lot of people are unaware of.

The plan is for men and women to share grinding opportunities. How great is that?!
The plan is for men and women to share grinding opportunities. How great is that?!

Volvo Ocean Race Makes Bold Changes

No, this doesn’t have any particular relevance to the Northwest, but it’s just fun to talk about. The Volvo Ocean Race has a new Director in Mark Turner, and is nearing the end of ten major announcements. My favorite change this year is the new system of gender makeup on the boat, intended to have mixed crews in addition to the all-men, all women crews we’ve seen for the last few editions. Mixed crews are, for the most part, how we race. It’s certainly how I prefer racing. The options are: (men/women) 7 men/0 women, 7 men/1 or 2 women, 1 or 2 men/7 women, 5 men/5 women, 0 men/11 women. In addition to creating more diverse crews, the change was made so that women can tap into the experience of long-time Volvo Ocean Race racers on the race course. Of course there’s a clear incentive for mixed crew. Other changes include a new scoring system that incentivizes tactical risk-taking, and the construction of an eighth boat, team to be named later. Long live the Volvo Ocean Race.



Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Like a lot of other people, I find the Internet can be the best of times and the worst. I can sit in front of my computer and in five minutes find some gem of information that truly improves my life. At other times, I get sucked into site after site and an hour later have to extract myself to realize I learned absolutely nothing. So, this “Smartest Sailor” post is simply me plucking out a few stories that I found interesting and that you might too. To qualify they have to be sailing related, Salish related and pass my completely subjective relevant/interesting/amusing/useful filter. If others find it worthwhile, I’ll keep doing it.


John Harrison Doucet

Sailor Electrocuted, A Warning to Us All

20-year-old sailor John Harrison Doucet of Gulfport, Mississippi was electrocuted when his J/22’s mast hit an overhead wire and his hand was on the trailer hitch. Story here. He had both legs amputated and is fighting for his life. This happened in Gulfport, but could easily have happened here in the Northwest. Next time down at your dry storage area, check for dangerous power lines. If there are any, make sure the yard operators are aware of the problem and do something about it.


Photo: Alethea Leddy, Port Angeles Whale Watch Co.

Humpback Rescue Team

Humpbacks save sea lion from orcas. In fact, they have quite a reputation for intervention. Chris Dunagan has the story here of a recent rescue in BC waters. Yes, that’s right, boatloads of whale watchers got to see a pod of humpbacks come to the rescue of a sea lion from a pod of transient orcas. While that’d be a great scene to see play out, it’s not something we’d want to be in the middle of!




Unguided Transatlantic

Everybody seems to want to send automated, high tech boats across the pond these days. Kaitlyn Dow, a high school junior in Waterford, Connecticut succeeded with a low-tech approach. She sent a 3′ essentially unguided boat with a dubious sailplan across pond to Ireland. Young Irish girl Méabh Ní Ghionnáin (don’t you just love that name even if you haven’t the foggiest how to pronounce it) of Galway, got word through the coasts Pubnet (my name for Ireland’s pub network, which, by the way, is far more efficient than the Internet) that the boat was coming and was on the lookout when it arrived. I think it’s remarkable that an unmanned, essentially unguided, boat can do a transatlantic. I also wonder what my feelings would be if I ran into it while taking my own boat transatlantic. Regardless, congratulations to Kaitlyn and Méabh for sending and receiving that little boat.


Suhaili during reconsctruction, it wasn’t all pretty.

Suhaili Relaunched, Ready to Race without Sextant

A couple weeks ago Sir Robin Knox-Johnston relaunched Suhaili, the 32-footer he sailed around the world nonstop in 1968. She’s in great shape, and by the sounds of it Knox-Johnston did much of the work with his own hands. His 312-day voyage to win the Golden Globe Challenge was the first nonstop trip of the kind and marks the beginning of what has culminated to this point in the Vendee Globe Race. A couple interesting things here. First, Sir Robin restored Suhaili to sail in the recreation of that Golden Globe Race. This new race requires 32-36′ full keel boats that were designed before 1988 and displace at least 6200 kg. Furthermore, while they’ll have electronic navigation tools onboard in case of emergency, they won’t be using them. Yes, Virginia, back to sextants. And there are 26 provisional entrants. One of those entrants is none other than Sir Robin, who at age 79 will be sailing Suhaili. If this ironman finishes, he’s a god. If he wins with that boat, he’s a god’s god. The idea of the race is just so out there it might draw a lot of attention.


Overdue Saltspring Sailor

Finally, Saltspring Island sailor Paul Lim is way overdue from Hawaii. He left Hilo August 1 with his Spencer 35 Watercolour bound for Victoria, BC, and had not been heard from as of September 30. The US Coast Guard searched an area between Hilo and Victoria with a C-130 aircraft to no avail. The USCG continues to search and asks that  anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Lim or the Sailing Vessel Watercolour is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard at 510-437-3701. USCG press release here, Vancouver Sun article here.