BoDream News/ Closing the Loop – A Year on the Water

It‚Äôs another quiet and starry night at sea. While it may be beautifully serene, it¬†is quieter than I‚Äôd like it to be. The wind has dropped down below 10 knots,¬†and I‚Äôve had to start the engine and motor sail in order to stay on a pace that¬†keeps me content. You can lose days and even weeks at sea waiting for the¬†wind, which is just fine by sailors, so long as they haven‚Äôt made plans and¬†have commitments on land that cannot wait indefinitely.While in a bit of a trance staring into the deep darkness of the moonless night,¬†I cannot help but reflect on what an amazing year this has been, and how it‚Äôs¬†coming to a close … like a countdown clock, with each tenth of a mile clicking¬†off on the GPS.
It was just a year ago that I had returned to New Zealand to continue sea trials of Bodacious Dream, after her successful launch in December 2012. Through January, we sailed her around Wellington Harbor; testing electronics, sails, equipment and other various functions, so that any problems could be addressed there. We even entered a local race of 140 miles from Wellington to Nelson on the South Island. That course had us sailing through the famous Cook Strait that separates the North and South Islands. Cook Strait is famous for its crazy winds Рand it did not disappoint Рdelivering a fat 50-knot blow in the dark of night as we were returning to harbor. As we had hoped, BoDream easily withstood that test.
As January 2012 came to a close, we prepared Bodacious Dream for the trip to her home North Atlantic Ocean waters. With great flair and fun, we floated her over to a Dockwise yacht transport ship where she was secured along with other boats making the trip across the Pacific Ocean to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She fit in nicely under the watchful eye of the 130-foot long Endeavor, one of the grand dames of sailing yachts! These unique Dockwise ships (pictured here) flood themselves and then float the boats into the center of the ship. Once divers secure each of them in place with blocking and cables, the water is pumped out and the boats all sit high and dry, secured and ready for the long distance crossing.It was March when Bodacious Dream arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, where with the help of close friends Tom McDermott, Laurie Sampson and Tim McKenna, we sailed her the short 40 miles to West Palm Beach where we took a slip at the Rybovich Marina, where I commenced preparations for our summer of racing and travel.The Rybovich Marina is like a southern home to us, and our starting point for what has been a most remarkable season of sailing and racing encircling the Atlantic Ocean. As I write this, I am about 400 miles from the Rybovich Marina, where I will be closing the loop to our year on the water. Sailors have a special fondness for the notion of closing loops. On this watery round planet, circumnavigations are what it’s all about … whether we are talking small lakes, bigger lakes, islands, oceans or even the great globe itself.In May of last year, I sailed Bodacious Dream up to Charleston, South Carolina to compete in the Atlantic Cup Race with my fellow sailor Matt Scharl. Matt and I did the two offshore legs, taking a third in the first leg from Charleston to New York City, and a first in the second leg from New York City to Newport, RI, which put us well above our own expectations, and I think everyone else’s too! Solid racing in Newport with a team of local friends and sailors enabled us to finish second overall for the Atlantic Cup Race!

In late June, my good friend¬†Kevin Finnegan¬†joined me for the 1200-mile trip¬†from Newport, up to Nova Scotia and back down the St. Lawrence River to¬†Quebec City. Matt joined me there, along with¬†Mark Zaransky¬†and¬†Emma¬†Creighton. The four of us made up Bodacious Dream‚Äôs crew in the¬†Transat¬†Quebec – St. Malo¬†Race¬†- that took us from Quebec City back out the St.¬†Lawrence River and across the North Atlantic, finishing in St. Malo, France!¬†There were many great memories from that time – the pearlescent luster of¬†Beluga whales, a windless night surrounded by playful whales sounding and¬†breathing and the six days of endless¬†jib reaching¬†at near 20-knot speeds. We¬†finished respectably ‚Äď in the middle of the fleet – not bad considering our¬†relative lack of experience with both our boat and Class 40 racing.

From St. Malo, I sailed on to Cherbourg with my French friend, Pierre. I stayed there a couple of weeks before moving on to Caen, on the Normandy Coast, for the start of the Normandy Channel Race. In my spare time, I had a chance to explore the French countryside and witness some of the World War II history that is such a significant part of this region’s heritage.

Jument LighthouseThe Normandy Channel Race proved a rather frustrating experience, as Matt and I were unable to stay competitive due to issues with our jib in the lighter than expected airs of the race. With that holding us back, we retired early from the race after having sailed across the English Channel, around the Isle of Wight, along the southern coast of the UK and out to Lands’ End Рone of the great historical markers in the sailing world. Once on our own, we sailed down the western coast of France, past the famous Jument Lighthouse (pictured here in this well-known photo,) and made our way to Lorient, the center of short-handed and large trimaran sailing in France. Matt and I were like wide-eyed kids in a candy store pulling into Lorient in the wee hours of the morning, to tie up alongside these majestic sailing yachts.

From Lorient, I sailed on to La Rochelle and met up with a crew of friends from New Zealand to compete in the Mondial World Championships. For four days we raced hard all day long. We had our good races and won one of them from start to finish, but we had some not-so-good ones too. In the end, we finished a respectable 9th in the world. Naturally, we’d have loved to have finished in the top three, but the sailing was exceptional and many new friendships were made. After all, how unimaginably lucky were we in the first place; nine months out of the boatyard and finishing in the top ten of a World Championship Race?

With our racing schedule concluded, it was time for Bodacious Dream and I to head for home waters on the other side of the Atlantic. I had just finished preparing her for the long trip, when we were forced to change our plans because of Hurricane Sandy. So instead, we set sail for the wonderful port of Cascais, Portugal where Bodacious Dream waited for me to return from a jaunt back home for Thanksgiving.

On December 7th, just about a month ago, we departed from Cascais heading for North America. Our only stop was a brief one on the island of Madeira for more fuel and provisions. At that point, we could see from weather and wind forecasts, that this was going to be a longer than anticipated trip across the Atlantic.

22 days later, we slipped into the island harbor of Antigua at 2 AM in the morning. Finally coming to rest under a bright and full Caribbean moon seemed an appropriate and fitting finish to the big leg of our trip.

Dave & BoDream in AntiguaDave & BoDream in Antigua (Thank you Kevin Johnson!)

I‚Äôm now more than half way through the last leg of the trip, on my way back¬†to where we started this journey. There remains less than 400 miles to go¬†before I cross my tracks and ‚Äúclose the loop.‚ÄĚ With the end of the voyage¬†almost in sight, it feels very much like time to thank the many wonderful¬†people who have been such an important part of this whole journey. Rather¬†than name you all individually, I am simply going to salute and thank you all¬†collectively for your part in all of this – whether you sailed, helped out or just¬†followed along with our story. Whatever role you played, I deeply appreciate¬†your support.

Once we close the loop, Bodacious Dream’s navigation system will show a bit more than 14,600 miles of sailing, since she was launched a year ago. In sailor’s years, that’s around about FIVE seasons of sailing Рall completed in TEN months!

So now … just a little more wind and we’ll be heading back to Charleston for the next phase of the Bodacious Dream! After all, come May, we’ve got to return to defend our success in the Atlantic Cup Race!

Rollin’ along towards home, and wishing you all the best!

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

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