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


Changing w/ the Seasons – Big Plans for 2013!

I’ve been back home here in the Midwest on the shore of Lake Michigan for about a week. Late winter here has been on the dismal side – cold grey days with rainy snow and an ice shelf a few hundred yards out into the water. But I know this lake, and I know it won’t be long before the season changes.

Lake Michigan

While Bodacious Dream rested in Charleston, South Carolina after her trip across the Atlantic, I spent a few weeks in San Diego, CA helping my friend, Captain Tim Eades prepare the striking 52’ Bodacious IV (a fellow ship to Bodacious Dream) – for a couple of big ocean races on the West Coast of the U.S. this summer. The first of these races will be the Newport Beach, California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Race – an 800-mile race that begins March 23rd.

You know, when you’ve been sailing for a while, and especially after sailing a boat like Bodacious Dream across the world’s oceans, you learn that sailing isn’t about forcing the environment to adapt to your boat, but rather about staying responsive – about trimming your sails and adjusting your helm to the changing forces of the environment around you. Not much different on land. The change of the date for the Global Ocean Race, that I was entered in this fall, to the fall of 2014 has allowed us to adjust our plans and use this year to take Bodacious Dream in a unexpectedly fantastic direction!

Here’s how this year of living bodaciously is shaping up.

We’ll start the summer racing Bodacious Dream once again in the Atlantic Cup Race on May 11th, that runs from Charleston, SC to New York City and then to Newport, RI. It was such a great event last year, and this year, with even stronger competition, it promises to be even more fun! Our media coverage on this race will be a big step up from last year!

After the finish of The Atlantic Cup, we’ll stay in Newport to begin preparing Bodacious Dream for a trip around the planet! Yes, that’s right … Bodacious Dream and I are going to sail around the world! I will follow the same course that the famous races take, but … without the race, I’ll be doing it in a less formal way. This will allow us to create a dream itinerary, but also to take advantage of all sorts of unexpected opportunities that might arise.

We’ll be outfitting Bodacious Dream with a state of the art satellite communications system, which will allow us to upload photos and videos right from the water! This will enable us to share with the world the full bodacious experience online – both on Facebook and on the web through our Bodacious Dream website, as well as on a new website we are currently building … called Bodacious Dream Expeditions!

From the beginning, one of the cornerstones of Bodacious Dream has been to share that Dream with the wider world … and now, working with our partners at the Earthwatch Institute, we will be able to explore, highlight and capture what we see as we go on our global expeditions, at the same time we allow you a “window” through which to join us, and to share in the discovery of the many oceanic wonders we’ll encounter along the way.

The racing format, as exciting as it is, limits our ability to do much more then concentrate on sailing quickly from one harbor to the next. This new expedition format will give us the chance to follow the winds of our curiosity as we explore the sea around us, and then to share that story with you – wherever in the world either of us might be at that moment.

Bodacious IVOur first expedition is coming up very soon here – at the end of March! While Bodacious Dream remains docked in Charleston, we will take the opportunity to run our first Bodacious Dream Expedition aboard Bodacious Dream’s fellow ship, Bodacious IV, as we sail her back to San Diego, California, after she completes in the race to Cabo San Lucas.

Onboard with me will be a crew of 4 talented and seaworthy friends. We’ll be armed with a couple of video cameras and a full satellite communications system that we’ll use to upload media reports via videos and photos as we move up this gorgeous stretch of Pacific Ocean coast line, teeming with all sorts of marine life. This setting will provide us a great opportunity to experiment with making our “expedition” as rich and full of fun and insights as we can.

A big part of the Bodacious Dream has always been to reach out to young people and to foster new and more experiential ways of learning. Along with these Expeditions, we are developing an engaging set of explorer study guides intended for kids of all ages (and adults too!) – to play with and learn more about the marvels to be found along the coastline and ocean waters of the beautiful Baja Peninsula.

We’re working right now putting the finishing touches on those materials and the Bodacious Dream Expeditions website, and we hope to have it ready before the end of this week. In the meantime, come visit (and “Like” us) at our brand new Bodacious Dream Expeditions Facebook Page. We hope that once you – our adult friends – see what we’re doing, that you’ll want to share this bodacious opportunity with the spirited youngsters around you. After all, happy and involved young kids are the future of any better world we might imagine, and guiding them to an understanding of the amazing wonders of the natural world, we feel, is a responsibility that we all share.

Golden Caribbean Sunset

Bodacious Dream and I look forward to having you onboard with us. So, please send along any questions or thoughts you might have. This new expeditionary direction is far more collaborative than competitive racing might allow for – so we encourage you to jump into the boat with us, right here at the start and help us shape what comes next. If you are a parent or adult friend, a teacher, or sailor, a lover of adventure – or if you know others who share a similar spirit … pass this on and let’s open the idea to the larger world. We all know that’s where the big fun awaits.

Thank you so much.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

BoDream News/ T-Minus 4 Days Til’ Departure!

I’m back in La Rochelle, France after a short holiday in London and Ireland. Had the great opportunity to meet up with the London Office of William Blair, and share some stories. Great folks there, and one fun story to share … a typical Rearick story!

The plan was to meet at HIX Restaurant in the SoHo district, and I arrived a bit late after a couple of twists and turns on the subway (called the “tube” in London.) I explained to the hostess that I was meeting a group for dinner and she, without any hesitation, pointed me to the room down the stairs. I walked down and into a room full of suits and ties, and figured I was in the right place. Though I didn’t recognize anyone, I heard talk in the background of financial market conditions, and so I relaxed, ordered a beer and began to circulate. After a few minutes of conversation with one group of guys … (of course, you can imagine I wasn’t really dressed the part) … I finally thought to ask if this was in fact, the William Blair party. After a good chuckle, we figured out I was at the wrong party, though curiously enough, this firm does business with William Blair – so all was good. I excused myself, thanked them for my beer and went in search of my party. When I arrived at the proper table, beer in hand, they all knew where I’d been, as they had watched me walk in and disappear down the stairs. Well, what good would a sailor be, if he couldn’t walk into a strange party, tell a good story and get a free beer?

In London, I got a chance to take in some of the high points, especially the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. What an interesting place to visit, complete with the famous Cutty Sark heself, outside “on the hard.” The Cutty Sark, a clipper ship of the tea trading days, which long held the speed record of 73 days for its outbound passage from London to Australia back in 1874.

Cutty Sark Clipper Ship 1874

From London, I took a train and then a ferry to Dublin and spent a couple of days drenching myself in Irish culture and music. Way too short a time to spend, but circumstances being what they are, it was all I had, and a bit was a whole lot better than none at all.

So, now I’m back in La Rochelle, where it’s still raining. Bodacious Dream has been drying out and being looked after by good friends Pat and Michelle of the Croix du Sud, who are also planning on competing in the Global Ocean Race as a double-handed team. I’ll be spending the next couple of days doing the last minute preparations necessary before leaving La Rochelle and France, and then sailing for home on Wednesday. Jobs will include provisioning, water, sorting and packing, weather routing and maintenance.

Fellow sailor with Bodacious Racing, John Hosking has been keeping track of the weather and providing routing guidance for the trip back. So far, it looks like a decent start to the trip, but after a week or so, it gets a bit confusing with a few lows building and moving into my desired path. As you may know, low pressure systems are typically the systems that bring stormy wind and rain. Finding a route between them that still sustains good winds is what we call routing. It will be interesting to see how the whole weather systems play out, as the typical Atlantic weather is somewhat mixed up at the moment. There is an old saying—“Sail south until the butter melts, and then head west with the tradewinds.”  The trade winds are steady winds that blow in consistent directions through the tropical zones. These winds blow from the East toward North America in this area of the Atlantic, and so provided good sailing for the old trading vessels like the Cutty Sark … hence the name Trade Winds!

Here’s what our computer routing programs look like to us.Navigation Routing Display

The black line is the course to the Azores, south west of France. The Red line is one route by the computer, the blue line another. They are determined by computer weather models. The various shades of color represent wind strengths … blues being lighter, greens to yellows being heavier. The wind strengths are represented by the “flag” type symbols. You can see that some have one “feather” on them, while others have one and a half or two. Each full feather is 10 knots of wind, a half is 5 knots.  So, a feather and a half is 15 knots, two feathers is 20 knots. If you think of it as the feather on the back of an arrow, that is the direction of the wind.

So, just a few more days here in France. This afternoon, since it’s Sunday and most of France takes Sundays off, I’m going to try to make some time to travel north to the seaside town of Les Sables-d’Olonne, where the Vendée Global Race is scheduled to begin on November 10th.

The Vendée Globe, begun in 1989, is the evolved version of the Golden Globe Race of 1968 when the first person, Robin Knox-Johnston, sailed his boat non-stop around the world in about 312 days. Nowadays, the race is filled with state-of-the-art, carbon fiber Open 60 sailing machines, each still manned by just one person, with the goal of racing around the world nonstop. The winners in this race typically take less than 90 days for the passage. The Vendée Globe, like the Global Ocean Race and the Velux 5 Oceans Race, are the premier solo world circumnavigation events.

There’s always a lot of discussion as to what would be harder … non-stop or stops in a circumnavigation. What would you think? Some say non-stop … some say stopping. With non-stop, once you build your lead, your strategy is just to stay ahead and not break anything. In the stopped version, you restart even at each port. Each leg then is a new race, and so you sail with a different strategy. Interesting question isn’t it? No doubt, 90 to 100 days, constantly racing your 60 foot boat is a great test of human endurance and fortitude. Check out progress on the Vendée Globe at www.vendeeglobe.org.

Well, enjoy your day. I’ll send out one more update before I depart on Wednesday. Then I’ll be relying again on my friends at Firm Solutions to help forward news of my passage to you through these newsletters, the BD website and Facebook. My plan is to send out news along the route through our onboard satellite communication system – hopefully!

- Dave