Orcas at the Te Pahi Islands on Christmas Eve

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On Christmas Eve, as we were sipping our margaritas in the cockpit, we received a fine Christmas gift of a pod of Orcas swimming along the shore nearby, then right past ADAGIO. It looked as if the Orcas were catching sting rays, which is their favorite food. We had both of our SLR digital cameras at the ready by the cockpit door, one fitted with 17-85mm and the other with 70-300mm lenses. Between the two of us we managed to get a few photos of actual Orcas – not just “where the Orca used to be” or “what is that blurry splash?”.
These Orcas were not as large as the ones we have seen in the San Juan Islands and in British Columbia.  There was at least one baby, swimming close to its mom.  I think they were females except possibly one young male.  Theirs is a matriarchal society, and the family stays together for many years.  One of the photos shows the tail flukes in the air of a very young Orca next to its mom.  You will also see that one of the Orcas has a golden-brown patch on its dorsal fin.  
After the Orcas had swum away, I telephoned Ingrid Visser, New Zealand’s (and the world’s) Orca expert on her Orca sighting hotline (0800SEE ORCA).  Ingrid answered the phone and I described our sighting. She has photo identified all of the Orcas in New Zealand, and studied Orcas in Antarctica and elsewhere.  She said that she and her team of Orca researchers will try to come up to this area soon, to follow up on our sighting and to try to find the Orcas again. We will send her all of our best Orca photos so that Ingrid can send us the names of the Orcas.  
Ingrid’s web site is orcaresearch.org, and her work was featured in a very interesting BBC documentary last year. Having read her book “Swimming with Orca” twice it was time to send to our granddaughter to enjoy.

2013 Holiday Newsletter

ADAGIO had a break from passage making this year while we took a bit of a holiday from boat maintenance. Only a three month break, but a healthy work-play balance we think.

January and February we spent aboard ADAGIO, continuing her 13 year refit at the Town Basin in Whangarei, New Zealand. With the help of Dave Berg, we applied new coats of varnish to our interior bright work. Steve Eichler worked his magic repairing and improving refrigeration to deck hatches to galley functions. Palmer Canvas replaced most of ADAGIO’s exterior canvas. We had our anchor chain re-galvanized. We replaced our 13-year-old Mastervolt inverter and one of our Mastervolt chargers. And rebuilt our Spectra water maker.

Doyle Sails built a new reacher-screecher and Solent jib, and repaired some manufacturing defects in our almost-new mainsail. Steve redesigned and rebuilt the drive mechanism in our mainsail boom furler. Town Basin is an excellent refitting location: almost everything we needed was within a bicycle ride, and a pleasant riverside location in the CBD of Whangarei.

Our social lives were filled with new friends from many different countries, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Estonia, England, France, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and more.

On 10 March we departed Whangarei for the Bay of Islands, and sailed in light breeze to our first anchorage in Assassination Cove just east of Ururupukapuka Island. In the morning we sailed to Te Puna Inlet to anchor with MAGIC DRAGON. Wine and nibbles with Jane and Shelly DeRidder in ADAGIO’s cockpit brought us back to what is best about the cruising life — time spent with good friends.

Beautiful, still mornings interspersed with bouts of wind and rain, with outbreaks of sunshine. Welcome swallows on our lifelines. Terns and Australasian Gannets diving around the boat. Oystercatchers flying busily across the bay, crying out their distinctive calls and a honey bee or two drinking from the dew drops on ADAGIO’s coach roof. Cormorants popping their heads out of the water occasionally, coming up for a breath of fresh air, and fish leaping free of the water to escape the hungry Cormorants. The little Morepork Owls hooting to each other across the inlet, and Shining Cuckoos serenading us from the hills. We sit in ADAGIO’s cockpit, enjoying the sunsets, occasionally taking a photo as the colors develop then fade. All the while, the local racing boats are silhouetted against the far shoreline, or gliding past where we are at anchor.

Our friends Adrian and Josephine came aboard for a four day cruise. We had joined them aboard Adrian’s Dutch barge in France two years previously, and this was the first time Adrian had sailed aboard ADAGIO. Visits to Urupukapuka Island and the Te Pahi Islands were very popular with the crew. It was fortuitous to have Adrian aboard when the lower mainsail batten popped out the aft end of its improperly stitched batten pocket. Adrian’s height, as he stood on our low stool, placed on the bow of the dinghy, enabled him to reach the batten and pull it safely out of the sail.

We had last seen our friend Commodore Tompkins in Mooloolaba, Australia. Following the great fun we enjoyed together in Town Basin, Commodore  invited us for a visit to the Craig Partridge yard in Waipapa where Commodore is undertaking a major refit of his unique Tom Wylie designed FLASHGIRL. Commodore is doing most of the work, while Craig takes on the jobs that require his specialized skills and equipment. Adjacent to C Partridge Yachts is Ian Stewart’s yachting painting operation – which has contributed to FLASHGIRL’s flash appearance.

We secured ADAGIO between pile moorings in June and flew to the US to visit family and friends. A quick trip to Texas for a family get together. Then we stayed with friends and with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in California. Such a busy family, and we joined in all their activities. Dorothy’s sister and her husband arrived to visit their new granddaughter. We rode our bicycles all around the area of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Stanford campus. Dorothy joined Kim for Zumba classes. The new Exploratorium in San Francisco was an extraordinary experience. Our grandson turned sixteen years of age, and performed on his cello for us. Our granddaughter turned thirteen and invited us to watch her riding lessons, her lacrosse games and her violin playing. We shared with our family many music concerts in Menlo Park and on the Stanford campus.

In July, the precursor to the Americas Cup races, the Louis Vuitton Cup, began on San Francisco Bay. From the beach at Chrissy Field, we had easy access to watching the catamarans zipping past, while our granddaughter and her golden retriever cavorted on the beach in the foreground.

In August our grandson played cello in the orchestra and in an ensemble with violin and piano at the music concert at Cazadero Music Camp.

It was time for us to begin taking the Americas Cup racing seriously, so from Menlo Park, we took Caltrain to San Francisco and walked to the AC Park. We watched one of the Louis Vuitton races between ETNZ and PRADA, mostly on the big screen, sipping NESPRESSO coffees, then live at the finish line. The Kiwis won again, as we enthusiastically waved our New Zealand flags.

As clients of the New Zealand marine industry we were invited to a special event at the Emirates Team New Zealand AC72 base. We watched the racing at the America’s Cup Park, then scampered on foot down to the ETNZ base just as the AOTEAROA was being hoisted out of the water by crane, the wing sail lifted off, and the hulls and wing being rolled into their “hangers”. Beautifully and calmly executed – the team made this complex and risky operation look easy.

This was followed by a seminar including talks by the NZ Consul, the lawyer for the team, one of the team’s technical gurus, and more. We learned a lot about what it takes to organize and execute a challenge for the Americas Cup.

Commodore and Nancy Tompkins invited us to join them for AC34 racing at the home of old friend from Reed College, overlooking San Francisco Bay from Pacific Heights. Live viewing plus television coverage plus viewing the AC app on our iPads, gave us all the coverage we could have wished for. With lunch on the tables nearby. What a life!

Our daughter organized a visit to the open house at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. We saw impressive remotely operated vehicles, and had access to the engineers who designed and built them, and to the operators who drive them. Kim took us to art galleries, parks, events, music performances, and more. Such fun!

The Americas Cup Finals began on 7 September. We watched every race, until we flew to New Zealand on 14 September. In New Zealand the Emirates Team New Zealand efforts were the focus of intense discussions in the sailing circles. Every race day we joined our Town Basin sailors for a tight-knit group that were all on the empathy frequency with ETNZ. Without ETNZ, Oracle’s efforts to bring the cup to San Francisco would have been much less of a spectacle. New Zealand made the entire series a big success by providing real competition, displaying admirable sportsmanship and by showing all of the other teams how to foil the AC72′s.

From the New Zealand Herald, “Despite the loss by Emirates Team New Zealand at the 34th Match to Oracle Team USA, Auckland City gave them a phenomenal welcome home on October 4. Over 11,000 amazing fans lined the wharves of downtown Auckland and filled Shed 10 and the cloud on Queens Wharf.”

After another six weeks of boat projects at the marina in Whangarei, we enjoyed a lively and fun sail north to the Bay of Islands. We shifted from one anchorage to another, depending upon the forecast wind direction in the blustery spring weather. When near our old hometown of Russell we made daily dinghy rides to the dock at the friendly Russell Boating Club. From there we walked and bicycled into town for mocha coffees and free WiFi, grocery shopping and visiting with friends.

Click the thumbnail for complete gallery of the newsletter photos!

Cruising with friends among the Bay of Islands and exploring ashore in the mornings or afternoons. We climbed to the ridge tops to enjoy the expansive vistas across the bays and beaches to the shores and “mountains” in the distance, with white sails dotting the waters. The trails were well sign-posted and quite civilized under foot. Away from the mainland, the water was crystal clear. Billowing Pohutukawa trees graced the shoreline, covered with buds, ready to form bright red blossoms at Christmas. The beaches slope gradually up the shore, making landing and launching a dinghy an easy job. It is wonderful to be enjoying cruising again.

We plan to continue to sea trial all of ADAGIO’s systems over the next few months. Departure for our second passage to Alaska is planned for April or May. Our trusty crew mates have already signed on for the adventure.

Wishing you Very Happy Holidays, Safe Travels, Many Adventures,
and Lots of Love,

Dorothy and Steve

ADAGIO’s long range wifi configuration: options for antennas, routers and local wifi

This post is for cruisers who are interested in a very convenient and easy to operate way to translate land-based wifi into your yacht’s local wifi zone. We are very happy with this configuration – this is “generation 3″ for us – technology has improved since our first-generation rig installed in 2000. The first section is on antennas, the second section on routing and our local wifi bubble.

 Antenna options:

External antenna: historically we bought our antennas from L-COM. But recently we’ve bought omnidirectional antennas for for both cellular and WiFi from RF Industries (Australian company, often abbreviated as RFI). An excellent New Zealand source for RFI is Paul McKnight +649 537 2683, rfi@xtra.co.nz. Paul may have difficulty advising you what will satisfy your needs – it isn’t just distance, it depends very much on what gear the WiFi base station is using (the router, the antenna directionality, quality and gain).

We are using the RFI COL2410 which is their highest gain omnidirectional. Note there are 3 smaller (cheaper!) versions. I’m not an antenna guy so I won’t speculate whether you would be happy with less gain. Maybe ask Paul McKnight for advice? See pricing of the range of RFI sizes. The 2 dBi is $99, 6dBi is $120, the 10dBi like ours is $170. Telco Antennas is an Aussie company.


Router options:

For your external WiFi router (to communicate with land-based wifi access point), the options have improved very dramatically in recent years. All of the expense and trouble we endured to install low-loss microwave cable from wet to dry is no longer needed. The reason is outdoor routers that convert the analog signal to digital – so we only need ethernet cable from wet to dry. And we use POE (Power Over Ethernet) to supply power to the little router. We did a good bit of research amongst contacts in the communications biz – the consensus recommendation for our needs was the Ubiquiti Bullet M-2 running AirOS on linux.

Because the WiFi connectivity is often so important to us, we now have 2 Bullets – live and backup. The live/active Bullet was bought from Amazon for about $75. Later I discovered this first Amazon unit was the N. America version which locks out the international channels 12 to 15 where the best wifi is in places like Noumea. You may not care about the extra channels as the cost is slighty higher. If you do care, I ordered the second one from HD Communications for USD $78.50.

To bring the ethernet from the wet to dry we are using the L-COM ruggedized flange mount (when we go to sea we remove the cable and close the gasketed cover).

I also bought an L-COM POE injector that allows us to feed regulated 13.8V into the cable instead of using the AC wall wart that ships with Bullet. If you haven’t dealt with L-COM before, they are my go-to place for anything communications (high quality, low price).

Once you get the ethernet cable inside, one option is to connect your computer’s ethernet port directly. Then have the PC create a WiFi zone inside the boat for your other devices. Another option is to spend another $30 – $40 for the convenience of our setup. For the in-boat WiFi we repurposed our old external WiFi router, an Engenius ECB3500,  configured as Operation Mode = Access Point, fixed IP (Note the other fixed IP addresses must be carefully chosen – ours are Bullet IP and Bullet-router DHCP range – 99).

The ECB 3500 has no auto collision avoidance AFAIK, only fixed IP or DHCP. So I used the Bullet’s site survey to assess channel collisions, then assigned the 3500 to CH4. I adjusted the ECB 3500 transmit power to minimum 9dbm and removed one of its 2 antennas. That got the 3500 down to about 7 dbm below our wifi ISP as seen by the Bullet site survey. Speed tests using an iPad to sample various areas around the boat are OK at around 2Mbs.

Kimball Livingston: sailing aboard USCGC Eagle

Recently Kimball posted a moving and fascinating personal log of sailing aboard the US Coast Guard 295-ft sail training ship EAGLE. 

(…) Throughout our three-day passage from Portland to the Golden Gate, the ship received visits from service helicopters and cutters, all eyes out to see the Eagle. Their Eagle. I began to get it. What’s hard to put into words. Eagle is magic.

On our last day out the wind piped up and the old girl was hauling the mail . . .

EagleLookingForward © Kimball Livingston

We greatly enjoy Kimball’s writing. This piece is a wonderful example, which Kimball has annotated with a number of his original photos. 

(…) Through the Coast Guard Foundation, I met remarkable people. One of them was Lieutenant Commander (soon to be promoted) Alda Seabrands. She was called in for the shouting at a Foundation fundraiser.

Alda had been flying a pollution patrol over Puget Sound (meaning, no rescue jumper), when her helicopter was diverted to SAR. A fishing skiff had capsized, spilling two people into white water. The chopper made the scene quickly, dropped a basket, and one man climbed in. He was hauled aboard and the basket lowered again. The second man put one arm over the edge of the basket, then rolled unconscious. Alda told her copilot, “It’s all yours, Binky.”

And jumped.

OK, she didn’t exactly say that, and I’m sure the events, however dire and hurried, were more complicated. But Alda Seabrands was flying as Pilot In Command when she, in full awareness, left her post. As a certain Admiral put it to me, “We had to decide whether it was a court-martial or a medal. We decided it was a medal.”

 Just don’t miss it – get on over there.

AC34: CHASE ONE, the Morrelli & Melvin designed high speed chase boat for ETNZ

Chris Salthouse is in charge of M/V CHASE ONE. This is a 58-knot tender that can support the AC72 for 14-hour days without a return-to-base. And, perish the thought, right the AC72 should they capsize.

In the Diane Swintal interview “Chasing the Big Cats: ETNZ’s Chris Salthouse and 1200 Horses” Chris tells the story of the design of CHASE ONE and how this remarkable boat does her job. Excerpt:

Salthouse has carved out another niche with the team, putting him in charge of a pretty cool new toy – he worked with Pete Melvin of Melvin & Morelli Design & Engineering, one of ETNZ’s AC72 designers, to come up with a state-of-the-art catamaran chase boat that meets the daunting task of keeping up with the team’s America’s Cup boat.

“We started with a blank piece of paper, and a budget,” explains Salthouse. “The old Protector boats were great for working with Version 5 boats; they could go all day at 12 or 13 knots. With these big boats, it’s one thing to be able to go fast, but you’ve got to be able to go fast for long periods of time. With the 30-day rule between now and February, the days on the water are going to be long, 12 or 14 hours. If you’re doing 30 knots all the time, you have to have something that’s efficient and fast, with a range capable of being out there all day to support the boat.

“You’ve also got to have a boat big enough to carry all the spares to keep the boat on the water. We can’t keep coming back to the dock, so we have to carry sailmakers, hydraulic guys, winch guys, engineers, designers – all these guys and all the spare parts, like boatbuilding parts, sailmaking parts, wing repair parts, rigging, all that stuff. That’s what drove us to design a catamaran, the need for something fuel efficient and light, something that would go quicker than what we had and could carry more gear.

CHASE ONE was naturally built by the famous Salthouse family yard: Salthouse Boat Builders

AC34: Atemis Racing Navigator Kevin Hall

Michelle Slade interviews Kevin Hall – the head of the Artemis performance-instrumentation team. This excerpt illuminates some of the complexities and tradeoffs associated with the ongoing hydrofoil experiments. There is no free lunch.

(…) You guys don’t seem to be putting much emphasis on foiling – what’s your thinking on that?
KH: I remember being in one of the very early design team meetings and one of the assignments for the performance team was to make sure we were on top of all the things we would want to measure, maybe occasionally have some sailor input. Adam (May) and I are both Moth sailors. At that meeting, [designer] Juan [Kuoyoumdjian] and his team came in and announced that it was clear that if you could get a boat foiling and going straight and fast, there was a little bit less drag so it went faster. We had that discussion a long time ago, but it’s correct. We’re not pursuing it to the same extent that the other teams have because there’s always been the question of control. It’s one thing to get something to fly in a model and it’s another to get it to fly in the real world. Hats off to ETNZ for doing that – really!

Then there are trade-offs after that. You pay a price for generating the lift to be able to fly—that price is the drag—then you pay another price for generating that lift in a way that also gives not active control like we have in the Moth but a form like that you can control as the height/lift/leeway changes. They’ve done a good job of making that fairly self-regulating. For us, we’re not sure that all those penalties are worth it. So while you’ll probably sure you’ll see our boat out of the water a bit, I’m not sure how much.

There’s rumor that foils may be abandoned because of the size of the course.
KH: Even on a really good day on a Moth, you do have to bear away and get up on the foils before get going fast. For that brief time you’re slower than a boat that’s designed to sail through the water traditionally. They may already have worked out that all those little times where you have to heat up after a jibe or bear away [after a tack], maybe that’s too costly. We can kind of tell a little bit what they’re doing when they’re going straight but it’s very hard to have a feel for all the dynamic stuff from faraway. Certainly they [ETNZ] know that.

So far Oracle, Emirates Team NZ and Prada have all been testing foiling. ETNZ has been testing for some time on the SL33 surrogate cats (very effective for learning!) The SL33 is another Morrelli & Melvin design: 

Merry Christmas 2012 from Dorothy and Steve aboard ADAGIO

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Four months in Hobart, Tasmania, six months in New Caledonia and two months in New Zealand is where we spent our time in year 2012.  Please click on the photo to see photos of our year.

Visiting with friends, attending festivals and working on ADAGIO in Hobart was punctuated by the arrival of a special guest, Jeanne Socrates of the sailing vessel NEREIDA, http://www.svnereida.com.  Jeanne found time in her schedule preparing NEREIDA for a single-handed passage rounding her fifth and final of the five great capes and proceeding to Canada, to make a presentation to the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania.

As we sailed ADAGIO from Hobart to New Caledonia in May, we were challenged by messy weather as we crossed Bass Strait, where we also encountered the most photogenic Albatross of our journey.    We experienced mostly rough, following seas and stunning rainbows as we crossed the Tasman Sea from Sydney to New Caledonia in seven days.

Weather windows developed every month or so, enabling us to sail to the Isle of Pines several times, and we were especially pleased that we were able to sail from Noumea to Isle of Pines with Dorothy’s sister and brother-in-law aboard in October.  A young humpback whale breached several times not far from ADAGIO, the first that our guests had ever seen.  Another first for them was snorkeling in tropical waters.

In November, our dear friend Eva joined us in New Caledonia for cruising, snorkeling, exploring and culinary exploits.  She crewed for us on the passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand where we experienced the nearly total solar eclipse and celebrated Steve’s 70th birthday.

Our wishes for you in the New Year are for fair winds in your sails and a friendly following sea helping you along on your journey.  Take care of yourselves and please contact us from time to time with news of your adventures.  We love hearing from you.

Dorothy and Steve Darden
Whangarei, New Zealand
December, 2012