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

BoDream News/ The Solo Crossing in Photos & Videos

I returned last week from a quick road trip back to Charleston, to attend to some details with Bodacious Dream’s winter stay. Traveling back through the wintery Midwest was a little voyage in itself. Along the way, I had a few speaking engagements as well, which were great fun … more on those later. After that, I returned to catching up on months of undone chores, and reconnecting with friends and family. Leaving things as best I could, I boarded a plane yesterday in Chicago, and today I’m settling in … as best I can, to the warm Southern California sunshine.

I came here to San Diego to help the captain of Bodacious IV, crewmate Tim Eades, put the boat together, after it was shipped from Chicago to San Diego. Bo “IV” will be participating in two races on the West Coast this summer. The first will be from Los Angeles down to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico, and the second will be the Trans-Pac, from SoCal to Hawaii. For those of you that followed the last Trans-Pac, we hope to finish it this year!

I won’t be sailing in the Cabo race, but will be helping to bring the boat back up to San Diego, where we will use the opportunity to try out some new and better video and satellite gear and also to initiate some educational adventures for kids. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I took the same route a few years back, and we saw all sorts of incredible wildlife and interesting sea conditions.

As most of you know, BoDream and I landed in Charleston back on January 12th, after a little more than a month-long solo-crossing from Cascais, Portugal. In the time since then, I’ve downloaded a bunch of photos and a few videos from the trip, and I wanted to share some of those with you, in case you cared to see some of what I saw along the way.

Though, I’ve included a handful of photos here, there is also a complete set of direct links below, so you can see everything there is to see at this point – with more still to come!

Atlantic Sunrise After nights moving around with only a few lights to keep me from stepping off into the watery deep, the arrival of the sun each morning was always a source of joy.

Dave all Decked Out!This is what you might call … functional fashion for my times; a cap, a fleece, a headlamp and a personal floatation device.

Watching the Waves
On a long voyage, especially a solo one, you spend a lot of time watching waves, getting to know their little idiosyncrasies, and trying to second-guess whatever it is you think they might be telling you about what’s coming just over the horizon.

Next is one of the videos from the trip – this one shot just north of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a few days past New Year’s and after leaving Antigua.Near Turks and Caicos Islands

There’s another video which along with this one, I’ve uploaded to our Bodacious Dream YouTube Channel, and also posted on our Bodacious Dream Facebook page.

Mysterial Moonlight Trail
It truly is  a magical world out there on the open water, full of wonder and no small share of danger. These photos were taken while things were mostly calm and I had time to gaze upon how amazing things were. What I have no photos of are the times I was being tossed around like a sock puppet or getting my face and body pummeled by relentless jets of seawater. But that’s the way it should be. Heck, I wouldn’t want to put a dent in anyone’s idyllic reveries of life on the water – not even my own! And the fact is that no matter HOW beautiful you (or I) might imagine the ocean to be, the truth is that it’s even more beautiful than that.

So, if you want to check out the complete set of photos and videos, here are the links …

:: PHOTOS :: 
FACEBOOK - Atlantic Crossing Photo Album (Part One)
FACEBOOK - Atlantic Crossing Photo Album (Part Two)

These are “public” albums, so you should be able to see these albums, even if you have not joined Facebook.

If you prefer though, all the photos have also been put into a set on the photo site, Flickr.

FLICKR - BoDream Atlantic Crossing (Complete Set) 
(If you view in slideshow mode, click “show info” to see the captions.)

:: VIDEOS ::  
And once again, here are all of our 7 Videos …

YOUTUBE - Bodacious Dream YouTube Channel.

While you’re there, check out the new preview video trailer for the 2013 Atlantic Cup Race, where during the top montage, you’ll hear Matt Scharl’s voice, after which, I’m the first talking head you’ll see.

And that’s it for now. We’ll be back before long with news of some exciting plans for 2013 … but until them, thank you as always for your stellar support, and onward into a healthy and peaceful new year.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

BoDream News/ Home Again!

At 4:00 am on Saturday morning, wrapped in a very dense fog, I tied up in Charleston Harbor, and so completed what has been for me a lifelong dream – a dream that began on December 7th, when Bodacious Dream and I departed Cascais, Portugal. Usually, there would have been a lot of shipping traffic present in Charleston, but I suppose because of the fog and the hour, it was eerily quiet when I stepped onto the dock.

Charleston Harbor

The two days prior to that however, had been more challenging than I anticipated, with some very intense seas.

I arrived in West Palm Beach on Wednesday for a quick pit-stop, where I washed off the salt, took a nap, did some refueling and got a real American cheeseburger and fries with a friend. Thursday morning, I began the 365-mile last leg of the trip to Charleston, and quickly ran into difficulties with twisty and unpredictable Gulf Stream currents that at the start gave us a solid knocking about.

The Gulf Stream, as you may know, is like a river in the coastal ocean that runs northbound at 3 knots. I got to “jib reaching” along at a pretty good pace with its help … but the wave pattern was also temperamental, to say the least … so the 3-knot boost was in this case, something of a mixed blessing.

Gulf Stream Currents

When you have a strong current like the Gulf Stream (the darkest red in the photo,) if the winds blow “with” the current, the seas are pretty steady. If however, the winds blow “against” the current, then the waves can get very steep and choppy … with the friction of the wind against the current making for very chaotic motion. I spent a good part of Thursday day and night with the wind mostly against the current, with one wave coming across another one that is going at a right angle to it … which yanks the boat into a corkscrew-like motion. Let me tell you, even a few hours of this can be pretty rough on the stomach!

For the rest of the time, the sailing was pretty fast, until the end, when the winds slowed and the waters grew glassy still (it reminded me of Lake Michigan sailing,) and I had to kick over the motor for the final approach to Charleston.

So, after tucking Bodacious into her Charleston berth, and saying my farewells, I left yesterday on a flight back to the Midwest. Now that I’m back home again in Indiana, I wanted to take a moment to express my deep gratitude to all of you for your ongoing interest and support of our adventurous dream.

We chose Charleston for the late winter and early spring so that we might make some modifications to Bodacious, and add some new equipment that will make her better suited for the longer races we have planned. One thing we’re looking to do is to upgrade our satellite communications, which will allow us to send photos (and videos!) directly from the boat – so that we can really spice up these updates!

Back now on a real Internet connection, I am starting to upload photos and videos, the best of which I think you’ll enjoy. I recall one video I took sailing down a mid-ocean highway of shimmering moonlight. All along the way, I kept wishing I could show you what I was seeing. Sharing such memories and experiences is always a special part of the experience for me.

We have other aspects of the Bodacious Dream “Project” that we’ll be advancing as well in the coming months, including initiating some collaborations with our friends at the Earthwatch Institute who are engaged in some very exciting ocean science programs.

And don’t forget, the first race of the summer begins on May 11th, right in Charleston – The Class 40 Atlantic Cup Race! (Charleston to NYC to Newport.) We’re looking forward to an exciting race and to defending our second place overall finish of last year. Check out this new video trailer for the 2013 Atlantic Cup Race. (I’m the first guy you “see” talking in it, alongside my BD crewmate, Matt Scharl. BoDream (#118) is identifiable in the action by the name “Fish” on the mainsail.)

As we move forward, we’ll be keeping you informed of all these developments through emails, but also on Facebook where we happily gained many new fans over the past month. That Bodacious Dream Facebook Page link, as always, is here.

And thank you again for your tremendous show of support this past season. It has made the trip SO much more rewarding knowing that you were there, following our progress and rooting us on.

I’ll be returning to Charleston before too long, so if you happen to be down there – come look us up. There’s always a chance you can reach out and touch BoDream’s bowsprit and gain yourself some of her Bodacious Luck!

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

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

It’s another quiet and starry night at sea. While it may be beautifully serene, it is quieter than I’d like it to be. The wind has dropped down below 10 knots, and I’ve 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’t 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’s 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 – and it did not disappoint – delivering 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’s 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 – 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 – one 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’m 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 “close the loop.” 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 – all 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

BD Atlantic Crossing / A Tussle from the Deep – Day 6

At present, I’m only a few hundred miles off the coast of Africa and the Western Sahara Desert. The time is just past 01:00 UTC and the skies are clear, full of stars and the temperature is mild … an enchanting night on the water.

Today made for a beautiful day of sailing. I finally met up with the trade winds this morning, and have been continuing to work my way south to get into the best part of them. With the A3 (that would be the “asymmetrical spinnaker”) up and full, the boat has been lively with a lot of lift. It’s great to finally have enough wind to “fly the chute” and overpower the waves. I could use everyone’s energies though to help petition the gods of the wind to keep pushing us forward and across the Atlantic. Right now, the forecasts are for them to peter out about halfway, which would mean a lot more time to make it to the States!

Though part of me feels reluctant to recount it, here’s something of a funny story from last night.

As the sailing was pretty steady, I tried to get in some extra napping. Fatigue is something you must stay in front of, as you never know when a problem might arise that needs all your energy. So, following a regular routine, that I explained in my Day 2 “kitchen timer” post, I scan the horizon for shipping traffic, set myself up with the timer in 15-minute intervals and lay down. When the timer goes off, I repeat the process.

One thing about BoDream’s sleek racing design, is that there aren’t many creature comforts onboard. One that I’ve discovered is a nice spot to lie down on the floor (bilge) – right up against the engine box – especially nice after the batteries have been charged and the box is warm. It takes a few minutes, but much like heated seats in newer cars, the warmth radiates through the outer layers of clothing, and into my back where it even helps ease up some of my tightened muscles. I know this is not exactly what people look for in a heated back massage – but I’m grateful for it.

Anyway … part of the routine is to take off some of the excess equipment, in particular the auto-inflating life jacket. They call these things “Personal Flotation Devices” or PFD’s now, as I suppose that’s less scary sounding than life jacket. Whatever you call them, they don’t save your life, they just help keep you floating. Anyway, so I take that off, and set it on top of the engine box and then lay myself down to nap.

A PFDThese PFD’s have an ingenious automatic inflation system that kicks in if you go under water, but they also have thigh straps which dangle around and get in the way all the time, as well as a built-in harness that I clip to a tether which is then attached to something solid on deck to prevent me from falling too far away from the center of the boat. Though these new PFD’s aren’t as bulky as the old hazmat orange ones, they are also a lot like an octopus with all the various appendages, straps and such attached.)

So, I’m sleeping deeply in my idyllic 15-minute window. Now anybody that knows me well, can attest that attempting to wake Dave Rearick up from sleep, is akin to taking your life in your hands. Tim Kent remembers I’m sure. I come out of sleep with only one intention … to “neutralize” the situation and rid myself of all threats and adversaries.

Octopus Dream

So, as I’m sleeping, the boat rises up and rolls a bit and this science-fiction octopus slides off the engine cover, and lands with a smack on my face and chest. Instantly, I jump up and fling this “thing” across the cabin, intent upon neutralizing it. With great courage and ferocity, I almost have it neatly skinned and filleted before I’m awake enough to even realize what is happening. Fortunately, the cabin is somewhat enclosed or I’d have sent the monster back to the evil deep from where I was certain it had come. It took me a while, but I finally climbed back into my own skin and finished out the night – though I can’t say much more rest was had.

I’m grateful that Matt Scharl or one of the other BoDream crew members wasn’t onboard. I can shelter myself from the embarrassment of various details, that I know they would be hard-pressed not to divulge.

Anyway, that’s what we do for fun out here. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Hope you’re all doing well.

- Dave (+26.3100 – 19.4900)

BoDream News/ It’s Regatta Time!

Well, here we go! Class 40 Worlds about to begin!

The boat’s as ready as she has ever been. We’ve got some new sails, and even a special new one – a light-wind Code Zero, at the encouragement of Matt Scharl and the guys at North Sails! We’ve got a great crew with a great attitude, so we’re really looking forward to some mighty good fun racing against some of the best sailors in the Class 40 world!

Today was another one filled with last minute scrambles, as we worked our way through the “scrutinizer’s” list and the sail declarations. (All sails must be approved for the Class.) We worked right up to the end of the day when the Skipper’s meeting was held – and of course, it was all in French, so we were a bit unmoored – but thanks to some English-speaking French folks and our old’ buddy, Google Translate, we got the basic info we need to be competitive out there.

 Dave wondering what they’re talking about.

I’m off for a quick night of sleep here, and at the same time I’m thinking how different this event is from our last few races. This one is a real “Regatta” – a multi-day series of races all pretty formally structured. There will likely be 10 races over 4 days, and it is the cumulation of all the scores that will determine the winners. This is very different than say the Normandy Channel Race, where there is one start and one finish and the winner takes all. In this regatta, you can conceivably win the entire event without winning a single individual race; consistency is what counts!

The other interesting difference is that it’s late at night; I’m tired and looking towards a 6:45 am start.. not unlike the other events.. but this one is different, in that we’ll be off the water by 6 in the evening, and so able to enjoy some fine French cuisine and a good night’s sleep before the next day’s races. This is in sharp contrast to the long distance races where meals are freeze-dried filler and rest is taken in an alternating combination of catnaps and Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses!!

So, we plan on keeping you as informed as possible. Hard to say how well our communications will function until we’re on the water – but we’ll do our best to keep the BD website, as well as Facebook and Twitter updated. Hopefully, there will be lots of fun news to share over the next four days.

And thanks so much for rooting for us, and for following along with our racing!

- Dave and the whole Bodacious Dream Crew