Atlantic Cup/ Day Three & Nearing the Big Apple!

A brisk Tuesday afternoon out here off the New Jersey Coast … a sunny rebound from last night’s temperature drop. At the moment, we’re about 40 miles from New York City! It looks like we’ve been leading the fleet for a while now, though the winds have started to turn light and fluky … and as any sailor knows, anything can happen. A five-mile lead can disappear in a wind shift. In any case, it’s going to be exciting going from here on in, and we’re awaiting our first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline.

We hear we are being closely pursued by Lecoq Cuisine (#121) and 40 Degrees (#90) – two great boats with smart skippers. According to the Atlantic Cup Race Tracker, here’s how things are looking at present.

Atlantic Cup Race Tracker - 5.14.13 - 4:20 EDT
Atlantic Cup Race Tracker – 5.14.13 – 4:20 EDT

Overall, the weather has been challenging for the past 36 hours – some lighter winds, which forced us into mellow sailing, alternating with some pretty complicated and challenging conditions. We had to do some involved maneuvering about the race course Monday, trying to hang onto the goal of a podium finish. We worked ourselves over to where Icarus and 40 Degrees were, and then worked our way out in front of them. The winds have been into the mid-to-high teens, with a good sea state, making for some serious sailing. And did I mention it was cold out here too? Well, it was … nice and cold.


Dave’s Atlantic Cup – Day 2 Recap …

So, while we think we are about 5 miles ahead of the other boats at this point, anything can happen in the approach to NYC. (For you Expedition fans, check out the “Geography/History Explorer Guide” for questions about New York City.)

The winds are scheduled to lighten up and push toward the South, which could well favor the other boats. For our part, we’ll keep sailing as fast as possible … to NYC! But you never know … the tide influence as we approach the harbor may throw us an unexpected turn. Low tide is around 6pm EDT this evening, and it is often very tough to get up river on an outgoing tide and in light winds.

Atlantic Cup - Day 2 (off Cape Hatteras, NC)
Yesterday, Off Cape Hatteras …

We had a few equipment complications onboard Monday, but I think we’ll be ok with the way things are … at least through to the first leg finish.

Co-Skipper Matt Scharl‘s fully recovered from his bout of food poisoning … which we’re both grateful for. Here’s an audio interview the Atlantic Cup folks did just now w/ Matt.

Atlantic Cup – Matt’s Day 2 Audio Recap …

So, let us see what develops then. And thanks, as always … for following along.

- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream

Atlantic Cup/ Day Two & Whew!

It’s just after midnight on Sunday night, as I write this. A few hours back, we passed Cape Hatteras, the legendary “Graveyard of the Atlantic” … but to no ill effect. Right now, we’re on a nice jib reach sail through the night. A “jib reach” is when you are sailing towards the center of the wind, but not as closely as is possible, which we call sailing to windward or on a beat. So, our sails are slightly eased now, making for a nice somewhat easier sail. As we moved, a fingernail sliver of a moon and one planet to the right lit the early night sky, leaving a dusty trail of moonlight on the water. As those celestial visitors passed below the western horizon, we were left with a canopy of beautiful stars, some phosphorescence … and the disappointing realization that I had forgotten to buy cookies before we set sail, leaving me now with mighty slim pickens for my midnight snack.

Matt and Dave in Charleston
Matt & Dave at the start of the race …

The first day of the race offered us some great sailing. My last short update was after exiting Charleston Harbor. Through last night, we sailed with our A3 spinnaker and though it was often difficult sailing, we made pretty solid gains and some time on the boats near us. After that, the fleet split up … taking one of two different strategies. One group stayed closer to the shoreline, choosing not to seek out the Gulf Stream. The other group, which included us, headed straight east to meet up with the Gulf Stream, before turning more northerly towards Cape Hatteras.

BoDream leaving Charleston Harbor Things were moving along quite well … with one exception; Matt had eaten something bad, and underwent a pretty nasty bout of stomach nausea and weakness. We’re not sure the cause, but we think it was some year-old French peanut butter.

Once we made it out to the Gulf Stream, we attempted a gybe – changing course where the back of the boat turns through the wind rather than over the bow … which in strong winds is a complicated enough maneuver with a crew of 8 … and all the more edgy with just two of us. We then furled (rolled) up the A3, which gave us problems when the furl snarled up, leaving us unable to unfurl the sail. After much hard work, we were able to lower the sail and stuff it below decks, and sail on with our jib. This left us in a compromised situation for speed, not to mention that both of us at that point, and Matt with his stomach problem, were pretty exhausted. By about 04:30 hours, we had to make the decision to throttle back and attempt a recover – physically. Not long after that, the winds increased and the jib proved to be a fortunate choice of sail.

So, I guess when I say it was some great sailing, that’s what I mean – not easy, but still great. We eventually got the A3 unrolled below decks and reset it about 08:00 hours and sailed with it most of the day. Lots of sail changes followed and just a little sleep. With Matt partly compromised and mostly staying in the cockpit steering, we both wore ourselves down. As the winds eased up some this afternoon, we were able to regain our energies, and Matt has been able to eat once again. Thank goodness for such tender mercies.

All in all, all is well – it’s just a day in the life of shorthanded sailors pressing to race on to New York. It appears on the last position schedule we saw, that we are still in contention, which we think has been because we were able to use the 2-knot assist of the current from the Gulf Stream to make up the miles we lost with the sail problems. I just learned that we are out front of the fleet at the moment. Well, what do you know? We’ll just have to stick around and see how the rest of the race plays out, won’t we?

Atlantic Cup TrackingBoDream in Leader Position as of 04:35 EDT … (See AC Race Tracker here!)

As it turned out, the Gulf Stream was a bit further off-shore than we anticipated, and it took us a while to get there, but once we were there, it was pretty obvious. Our speed over the ground was greater than our speed through the water, not to mention the warmth of the water spraying in our face as well as the warmth of the air. We saw sargasso grass along the western edge and numerous flying fish playing about. These are all traditional signs that you’re getting close to or into the amazing Gulf Stream. (To learn more the Gulf Stream, check out this Environment Explorer Guide on our Bodacious Dream Expeditions website.)

Cape Hatteras, which we just passed, is one of the most significant barrier island areas on the Eastern Coastline. While we were quite a few miles offshore and so didn’t actually see the barrier islands, we know they are there from other trips when we passed very close to them. The ever-changing edges of the barrier islands were a big problem for the builders of the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse who had to find a way to build it so that it didn’t get washed into the sea. (More on Cape Hatteras at the History Explorer Guide and the Environment one too.)

So, on we go into the dark of night – straight onto morning. As I write this, there’s about 275 miles left to NYC, and we figure that will take us about 2 more days. This leaves us with lots of opportunities to catch up and pull ahead, or to make some tactical mistakes and fall behind. The Atlantic Cup is a very tactical race – one where you have to take into consideration a confluence of natural events surrounding prevailing weather and currents to find the quickest route to the finish line. That’s one of the interesting and amazing things about sailboat racing. While it requires that you be a good athlete, it’s not just about one’s physical abilities either. As boats derive their power and speed from the wind and course they take through the water, a big part of the game is to harness Ol’ Mother Nature to your advantage, so that you can get you to our destination, quickly and safely. I guess that’s the Mother’s Day message we’ll leave you with; pass gracefully through the world, and be careful to leave no trace in your wake. Try as best you can to maximize your life, and minimize your impact!

So, for now … back to business for us … and a good new week to you all!

- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream


Race Day is Here!

Well, here it is start day … only it’s 1:00 AM, and both my brain and body tell me it’s time to rest. Matt Scharl, my co-skipper and I spent a long day getting the last items on the worklist done to prepare Bodacious Dream for the start of the race at 2:00 PM (EDT.)

We put the mainsail on and got that all set up, made a trip to the top of the mast to mount the wind instruments, moved the last of the unnecessary equipment from the boat into storage, packed away all the necessary equipment and spent some time studying weather strategies. This is going to be a very interesting race, for which I’m sure each boat will have their own strategies for how to get up the coast through what look to be a series of complex weather changes. A cold front that passed through the Midwest will be reaching us sometime on Sunday, which will force us to make a decision as to which side of the course to take. While we can do some planning in advance, we really can’t make a committed decision until later tomorrow when we see just how the racing sets up.


Point a camera at me, and watch me go …

Sailboat racing isn’t just about going fast; there is so much more to it than that. While you might be going fast, a competitor might be sailing a shorter distance … or, while you are going fast, you suddenly find yourself in a spot where the wind drops off, while your competitor who is sailing more moderately keeps pace with the wind for a longer period of time. Your brain is in constant calculation mode, running all sorts of scenarios, each with their unique set of time, distance and speed variables. Then throw in the predictably unpredictable weather, and you’ll typically find the winner has made the right decision about 55% of the time. As we often say, the boat that wins the race usually made the second-to-last mistake on the race course! Once we get on the water, I will try to share explain our thinking and decision-making process as we go along.

Here’s a passing look at our competition …

All the competitors look ready and strong, and as today turned to evening, everyone gathered over at Icarus, the Class 40 sailed by locals Ben Poucher and Tim Fetsch – two very talented young men who have brought their boat, Icarus back to life, after she was lost and washed ashore a few years ago. They stand to do very well in this year’s race. Anyway, we all shared some laughs before going our separate ways to do our last bits of work and planning for tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning will come quickly, so I’m going to keep this update short. We will hopefully have more to share with you by late tomorrow afternoon.

:: Here’s the link to RACE TRACKERhttp://atlanticcup.org/race-day/leg-one-tracking/

So, stay tuned, watch the tracker, follow the race and enjoy. I hope our efforts bring as much excitement to your living room as it does to us out there sailing. Without you guys watching and following us, it most certainly wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!

Map of the Atlantic Cup Race
Once again, a Map of the Race … 

Be back soon with more … On to New York City then!

- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream

BoDream Does the Pre-Race Charleston!

The Atlantic Cup Race is coming up like a rocket! Bodacious Dream is almost ready. Matt Scharl, my co-skipper is finished planting his fields and is joining me here in Charleston today where we’ll spend the next few days before the start of the race on Saturday finishing our preparations and mapping our strategy to match the weather forecasts. The boats are all gathered now at the Charleston City Marina. I was one of the last to arrive, having been up the Wando River at the City Boat Yard where Bodacious Dream was cozied up for the winter. Thanks to the great crew there and at High and Dry Boat Works for all their hard work getting through the routine maintenance list on Bodacious Dream. If you are in Charleston and need boat work done, these are the people to see!

BoDream Out of the Water
Like a FiSH out of water …

With the maintenance completed, Bodacious Dream and I left the boat yard Wednesday morning and headed down the Wando River to Charleston. It’s a great trip – about two and a half hours – along the winding river with beautiful salt marshes and some nice homes mixed in with ocean-going shipping facilities.

Along the Wando River
Along the Wando …

As you get close to Charleston, you come upon the famous Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This bridge brings a smile to my face every time I drive over it, cross under it, or jog up it. On each occasion, depending on the light, it changes personalities with all sorts of shifting angles, reflections and shadows. Last week I crossed over it at sunset and the entire right side was burning bright pink in the fading light.

Arthur J. Ravenal Bridge
A pretty darn bodacious bridge …

Had my hand at a bit of photo fun as I passed under it, framing the bridge’s suspension wires with the rigging of the boat.

Arthur J. Ravenal Bridge

Once beyond the bridge, we went by the Charleston Maritime Center, which is where the Atlantic Cup Race will start at 2pm Saturday afternoon. From there, we glided around the corner to the City Marina where the other competitors are docked – flags flying and all! And right in the middle of them, the flag of our sponsor … Newport’s own, FiSH!

Flags Flying

I had a chance to meet some of the new competitors this year and reconnect with old friends and fellow-sailors. The great thing about this bunch of competitors is the incredible camaraderie. End of the day is typically time to figure out where everyone’s meeting up for dinner … but last night, I headed back to my hotel to take a nap, and try to bank up on some rest.

I hope you’re looking forward to this race and our next “expedition” as much as we are. We’ve got a whole new Atlantic “Cup” Coast expedition in place over on BodaciousDreamExpeditions.com … with new “Explorer Study Guides” for you (and the kids) to check out. Actually, everyone can learn something on this trip … the Atlantic Seaboard is such a treasure of natural and historical wonders … and we tried to cram a bunch of that info into the Guides, which I’ll also be referencing in my daily updates.

BDX Explorer Guides
A sample section from our “Environment” Explorer Guide …

Also, this past week, we outfitted Bodacious Dream with fast onboard satellite Internet (whoot!) … so expect more photos and videos along with insightful race commentary from the now well-seasoned duo of Matt & Dave!

You can expect three to four days of exciting racing on the way to New York City. Once the race starts, you’ll be able to track the competitors and check out the standings via the race tracker at www.AtlanticCup.org. And we’ll be keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening with us onboard Bodacious Dream on both of our Bodacious Dream websites as well as on our BDX & BD Facebook pages. On our BDX YouTube Channel and on Twitter too @BodaciousDream. Lots of ways to find us!

And of course, if you haven’t already, check out the polling page on the Atlantic Cup website where you can vote for your favorite team (hint … hint – you don’t even have to register – just click on BoDream!)

And thank you again for your ever-steady support.

- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream

Approaching the Atlantic Cup Race!

Well, it’s just about time now; the start of the Atlantic Cup Race is less than two weeks away! Bodacious Dream is in Charleston, SC getting the finishing touches of maintenance she needs to be as quick as ever, while my co-skipper, Matt Scharl gets the last of his corn and soybean crops in so he can join me in Charleston for the final preparations.

Atlantic Cup Trailer 2013 …

Just as we did last year, Matt and I will team up again against some of the best sailors in the world in this great American race up the Atlantic Coast. Our first leg, starting on May 11th, will be the 648-mile long run from Charleston, SC to New York City. Once on the water, we’ll have to make tactical decisions on whether to venture out to the Gulf Stream and gain additional speed from the fast moving currents, or stay closer inshore where there might be more wind; this is always a tough decision. We’ll cross Cape Hatteras, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of its epic history of forceful weather and unpredictable currents before determining our final strategies for approaching New York City. Last year’s race found us in pursuit almost all the way before settling into third position, finishing in New York City under the glow of city lights, the Statue of Liberty and the famous re-building of the World Trade Center.

Map of the Atlantic Cup Race
A Map of the Race …

We’ll then spend a few days in New York City relaxing, doing a fun Pro-Am race and attending an interesting conference called Living on the Edge: The Atlantic Cup Presents Coastal Communities and Climate Change. Then on May 18th, we start the second leg which takes us out to a turn buoy off the coast of Virginia before heading north up along the coast and into Newport, Rhode Island. Those of you who stayed up late to follow last year’s finish on the tracker know what a nail biter that one was. We rounded the buoy in fourth place, and went with a clever strategy of Matt’s that took us out to where we were the furthest east boat of the fleet. The course and wind shifts put us into the lead going into Narragansett Bay where the winds and tide turned against us as we struggled to sail to the finish, while our two closest competitors made up time and ground on us. The best part though was that we still finished ahead of them and everyone else on that leg!

Sailing under the FiSH Sail...
Bodacious Dream under the FiSH sail … (photo from Atlanticcup.org)

Again this year we will be sponsored by our friends at a great restaurant in Jamestown, Rhode Island named Jamestown FiSH. If you ever get the chance, go – complete comfort and style … with incredible seafood, great burgers and a knockout wine list. We thank them for their great support not only to us, but also to the Atlantic Cup which this year will name the finish line in Newport … “The Jamestown FiSH Finish Line!”

Bodacious Dream ExpeditionsAlso, this time around and concurrent to our race up the coast, we’ll also be conducting the second in our series of Bodacious Dream Expeditions! On our BDX website at bodaciousdreamexpeditions.com, you can track the race while at the same time augmenting the racing experience by discovering and learning more about the many wondrous natural and historical elements that make this particular course so legendary: the incredible Barrier Islands, the powerful force that is the Gulf Stream, the untamed weather of Cape Hatteras and the rapidly changing urban coastal environment around big cities like New York City.

For this voyage, we’ll have a whole new set of engaging and subject-specific Explorer Guides (for you to share with the younger folks in your world,) which are full of fun facts and interesting questions and problems to work out. Here’s how to Get Involved! So, set your compass and your calendar for May 11th and the Atlantic Cup … and join the expeditionary force!

(Oh … and don’t forget to go to www.AtlanticCup.org/poll/ and vote for your favorite team … we’re hoping it’s us again this year!)

Thank you, as always for your support!

- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream