BoDream News/ Edge, Excitement and Fanfare!

4:00 AM – Dark of night still and it’s kee-razy out here! I just came flying into the western entrance to the Providence Passage – the route that slices the Northern Bahamas and Southern Bahamas. With the A5 (the small spinnaker) up and the wind building … 18 … 20 … 23 … 25 … we’re flying along doing 15 knots and under control with Otto (the auto-pilot) driving, but with me getting a bit edgy. For boats, 8 to 10 knots is considered pretty fast. For most boats that is. For a boat like Bodacious Dream, 8 to 10 might be like doing 75-80 in your car … not so wild … but up it to 12 and then 15 and the whole experience amps up big-time. You feel the immense force of wind and water power as it lifts the boat right out of the water and up on a plane. Your body can’t help but get tense, as the ocean begins to throw waves at the boat, which spray back towards the cockpit … like a firehose in your face.

Check out the video here – shot during sea trials down in New Zealand (for a BIT of the feel) …

BoDream in Early Sea Trials

So, I’m in this altered state – and then 3 ships show up almost at the same time. I’m sure their radar and AIS (Automated Identification System) were wondering what the hell is going on here … this boat is flying past us and can’t hold a steady course. Around that point, with the wind shifting 10 degrees back and forth, I finally called “Chicken!” – and decided I’d best roll up the A5.

I’m not sure where the upper limits are with these chutes yet, and whether the limit is the boat or me, but they are buggers to roll at 20 knots. But, I made the argument to myself, “Hey, you’re tired, it’s blowing 25, you’re sailing at 15 knots, there’s 3 ships after you, two more on the radar and three light blips on the horizon … and you don’t know if you can get this thing rolled up? Good time, I’d say to give it a try! And if you can’t, well, we can figure out how to bail out of here, because hitting a freighter is NOT on the bucket list!”

Well, I got it rolled up all fine, and commenced sailing under the mainsail alone at 9-10 knots – until I got past those freighters.

65 miles to West Palm. Right now, I’m seeing 8 freighters around me. I’ve figured out that this is a staging area, and they’re all just sitting here … moving a couple of knots in one direction or another … so even more important NOT to hit one. My friend Alan would never let me live that down … “You hit a freighter that wasn’t moving!?”

So … half a can of coke and two cookies to get me through the next few miles and into clearer water. Really … how much fun can one guy have?!

A DAY LATER – As I write this, I’m mid-way through the Providence Passage that separates the Northern and Southern Bahamas. This is a highly trafficked area, as commercial ships and private vessels travel through it to open ocean and down to where I came from or across the Atlantic. After the excitement of last night, the day passed fairly uneventfully except for a couple of cruise liners passing. At night and close to port, they generally aren’t moving much as the distance between ports of call for them is short, and so what they typically do is to leave the port around sunset and arrive in the morning, which means finding a calm place to basically “float” for the night.

I was sailing through and keeping a pretty good pace, and the ship in front of me seemed to be doing about the same speed. For a few hours, I wasn’t catching up, so I stopped worrying about him. Then things changed, and I began gaining on him quickly. I knew what that meant. They were a cruise ship that had stopped for the night.

As I got closer, I could see the colored lights and soon enough my AIS (Automated Identification System) showed their symbol, and identified the ship as the gigantic “Disney Dream.”

Within a half hour or so, I was sailing past them when all of a sudden, the sky lit up with fireworks!! The explosives shooting up from the upper decks of the Disney Dream only lasted five minutes or so, but I thought … “How thoughtful of them to recognize my passing, and to give me such a grand salute for sailing across the Atlantic alone!”

Disney Dream

Laughing inside, I picked up the radio mic and called over to the Disney Dream and thanked them for such a great salute, and how nice it was of them to do that in honor of my long voyage. A few moments later, they replied…“You’re welcome Captain! Glad you enjoyed it!”

So there you have it … as ships … or dreamers … pass in the night … always a touch of respect! I’ll have to send the captain a note and a Bodacious Dream hat!

DAWN – Down to the last few hours of fast sailing here. Crossing from the Bahamas to the Florida coast and then up to West Palm Beach and the Rybovich Marina. I’m right in the Gulf Stream now, which is like a river in the coastal ocean that runs northbound at 3 knots. Because of the wind angle, I have to sail slightly west towards the coast of Florida before I can gybe towards West Palm Beach. If I were to gybe now, at about 20 miles out of Ft. Lauderdale, the current would push me past West Palm Beach. Imagine walking across a treadmill “sideways” … you go forward and sideways at the same time.

Gulfstreaming it!

Right now, I’m sailing at 15 knots of boat speed with the small A5 chute up. It’s rather exciting, but once I gybe, this will be the clearest indication of the difference between boat speed and speed over the ground. At that time, I’ll be sailing with the current, so 15 knots of boat speed plus the 3 knots of current and my speed over the ground (not through the water, that’s still 15) will be 18 knots! Some fun!

@(+26.1700 -79.3700)
Wind speed: 22 knots
Wind Direction: 105 degrees/ south of east
Boat Speed: 11-15
Excitement Level: 12.5
Edginess: 15
Boredom: 0
Cookies: All Gone

As always, many thanks for hanging in with me this whole time. We’re back in home waters now!

– 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 / What Really Happens #2 (Nighttime)

I am sitting in the boat’s cockpit on a dark clear night with the moon not up yet. I watch a vessel slowly passing on my port side, a couple of miles away. We’re going in the same direction on this Saturday night, and I begin to wonder about them. Are they a freighter, a private yacht or perhaps something more exotic … maybe a research vessel? There is little indication on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) – so, it’s up to me to imagine … which soon leads me to wondering what you are all doing on this Saturday night … this the “Twelfth Night” of Christmas.

Over the years, I’ve had the fun of attending a few memorable Twelfth Night dinner parties, and even hosting a few myself. I’ve always regarded the date as the end of the holiday season, and a time to take down the lights and dismantle the decorated tree. I guess this year, I will have to leave it to someone else to pull the plug for me, as I am alone again tonight with the ocean.

Night Sea

Life onboard turns into something of a routine when the weather is as steady as it is, especially so when the course is a direct line for 500 miles. It always takes a day or two to settle in, and to slow yourself to the pace of the boat, but once that’s done, you find yourself addressing many of the same tasks you did the day before and at about the same time. Tonight for instance, at about 5:00 pm, with the sun sinking and the heat dissipating, I grabbed my book and my nightly treats of cheese, apple and crackers and I read a few quick pages. The particular book I’m reading now is about building the “Maltese Falcon,” one of the largest private sailing yachts in the world. Routinely, about this time, I mark the time of day and make an entry in the ship’s log. The sun set a bit earlier today than yesterday, indicating I’m moving north at a fair clip. I notice too it’s a bit cooler tonight as well and I’m sure, within a day or so, I’ll be wearing a jacket at night and maybe even digging out my stocking cap. Presently, I’m close to 500 miles north of Antigua where I had marked the New Year.

I always wait until it’s sufficiently dark out before I allow myself to think about my evening meal. Tonight, about 8:30 I scrounged through the freeze-dried selection, and pulled out a Mexican chicken and rice selection. For some reason, that choice proved inedible to my taste, and so I reluctantly chose another, sweet and sour pork. I’m almost out of propane to heat up water, so I have to convince myself I’m hungry enough to tap the little that remains. Oftentimes, you’re not really hungry, but you know you need to fuel the body. Still, forcing yourself to consume such a meager meal while recalling fabulous Twelfth Night feasts of the past, takes a bit of mental persuasion!

I generally follow dinner with a walk around the boat to look over the fittings – then a review of the latest navigation reports, and some calculations as to how far away the destination is, and when I might likely arrive. I finish up with another entry in the logbook on the day’s happenings – 5 ships spotted today … 2 rather close.

Back up on deck, I scan the horizon for the twinkle of a light that would indicate another ship. I don’t see any. You can’t look directly at the horizon, as some of you know; you have to use your peripheral vision, which is more sensitive to low light, to pick up the faint lights away on the horizon. If you look directly at the lights, you’ll miss them. Only if you look above the horizon, will you notice them. Try it next time you’re out at night.

As it’s a quiet night, I soon turn to working on my nap routine. I’ve had to shorten my naps to 10 minutes duration since leaving Antigua. At the speed I’m traveling and with more ships nearby, they can come up quickly and surprise you. So, through the rest of the night, until the morning comes, I’ll be taking my mini-naps, reading a little, starting the engine to charge batteries, nibbling at leftover dinner, followed by my midnight cookie … and another nap. When the sun clears the horizon, I’ll make note of that in the log and check the distance to the destination again … and so begins another day on the water.

So, what are you doing tonight I wonder? Hopefully something fun.

– Dave and Bodacious Dream

Antigua to the Bahamas
@ (+22.2000 -70.3500)
Boat speed: 9.5 knots
Wind Speed: 14 -20  From 110 South of East
COG (Course over ground):  318-325 degrees
Bearing to way point at Northwest Passage Bahamas:  318 degrees
Distance to way point:  376 miles