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Image courtesy of worldcruising.com.

The news came today from the team at World Cruising Club of the death of Steve Black, founder of the Caribbean 1500 rally,  following a long personal battle against cancer. We are all saddened by his passing and our thoughts are with his family.

The WCC Blog wrote. “Steve was an inspiration to very many sailors through his long and varied career in sailing, including numerous offshore races, many of which were single-handed, and a three-year stint as executive director of the U.S. Sailing Association, based in Newport, Rhode Island. However, there is no doubt that his biggest legacy will be the Caribbean 1500 cruising rally, which first set sail in 1990, with a fleet of 50 cruising boats to make landfall in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

The impetus for the rally started when Steve saw that cruising sailors outnumbered offshore racing sailors, but there were virtually no organized events for cruisers. The Caribbean 1500 rally offered the chance to sail in company, combined with preparatory seminars taught by sailing experts, an SSB radio safety net at sea, and of course a great deal of fun and socializing. Always leading from the front, Steve sailed with the rally, helping to inspire and trouble-shoot the fleet at sea.

He always found time to foster personal connections, spending hours matching crew to boats, allowing those new to sailing to take experienced crew along, or placing novices onto boats with veteran skippers for mile-building. His calm manner and easygoing personality led to many firm friendships being formed over the years.”

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Black moved to Michigan where he ran an educational publishing company. He started sailing recreationally in his mid-30s in regattas hosted by the Grand Haven Sailing Club. Black learned the sport from single-handers and has always preferred this aspect of sailing.

Steve is the reason I’m doing what I’m doing today,” says Andy Schell, event manager for the ARC Caribbean 1500 and offshore delivery skipper. “He put me on a 1500 boat back in 2006, which was my first offshore passage, and helped me make connections in the ocean sailing world. Steve was a huge inspiration. It’s an honor to be managing the 25th Caribbean 1500 this year and carry his legacy into the future.”

After helping make offshore cruising more accessible to countless cruisers since the early 1990s, Steve Black, sold out to the World Cruising Club (organizers of the popular Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, among others) in 2011.

When Steve announced his decision to retire in 2010, he was determined that “the 1500″ would continue and develop into the future. It was his firm belief that after 21 years of his leadership, combining the Caribbean 1500 with World Cruising Club’s world-wide portfolio of rallies would see it continue to inspire sailors for many years to come.

“The most satisfying aspects of starting the Caribbean 1500 Rally and other rallies such as the Atlantic Cup and now the Bahamas Cruising Rally, said Black in a 2010 interview with All at Sea, “are the friendships formed. “We had 235 past ralliers meet at a reunion at the Annapolis Boat Show this year.”

The 2014 Caribbean 1500 rally will be the 25th edition and a fitting memorial to a man who encouraged so many cruisers to discover the delights offshore sailing.

From: Boat US News:

It’s over 70 years old, a thin magenta-colored line appearing on over 50 different navigational charts covering the Atlantic Coast and Gulf, snaking along the route of the Intracoastal Waterway. Now, thanks to NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey and a public-private partnership with Active Captain, an interactive cruising guidebook, NOAA will be updating the “magenta line” on all of its newly-issued navigational charts to help keep boaters in safe waters. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) submitted comments on the proposal to NOAA, who had initially proposed removing the line entirely. However, responding to BoatUS’ and other boaters’ comments, NOAA will tap into users of Active Captain to update the route in an on-going effort that will benefit the boating community.

magenta-line-chart

The thin magenta colored line marking the Intracoastal Waterway is like a yellow brick road for boaters transiting the East and Gulf Coasts. Credit: Boat US

“Some boaters had assumed the magenta line, which was last updated in 1935, was a precise route through safe waters,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Coordinator David Kennedy. “However, over time the forces of nature made the line inaccurate as shoals shifted and underwater topography changed, leading some boats into shallows, over dangerous obstructions, or even into land. We thank NOAA for a change of course in keeping the magenta line, listening to boaters and coming up with a creative public-private partnership that recognizes the value of this important guide to navigation.”
The magenta line appears in charts covering all Intracoastal waters, and is essentially two distinct routes along the eastern US and Gulf Coasts totaling about 3,000 miles in length. Said Captain Shep Smith, chief of NOAA’s Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division, “Today’s decision to reinstate the magenta line is not a quick fix. It will take at least three years to fix problems that were 70 years in the making.”

Boaters may contribute to the updating effort by joining Active Captain at www.activecaptain.com.

Jeffrey Siegel, owner of ActiveCaptain said in his recent newsletter, “In September 2013, US/NOAA began asking boaters for feedback on the “magenta line” – the magenta colored overlay on US charts showing the recommended route of travel for the various US intracoastal waterways: New Jersey, Atlantic, Dismal Swamp, Florida West Coast, Gulf West, Gulf East, Okeechobee Lake, and Okeechobee Rim. The line first appeared in 1912, saw a major update in 1935, with only rare updates since then. This has caused many tense moments as the real channel has shifted away from the marked channel leaving boaters confused about the correct path. ActiveCaptain hazard markers have helped with those, “what do I do here?” moments.

The feedback from boaters was heard loud and clear by NOAA. They claim that 99.9% requested that NOAA maintain the magenta line rather than remove it.

How will they go about fixing the magenta line?

That was part 2 of the NOAA Coast Survey announcement. They have added ActiveCaptain to their “cartographic toolkit in the chart evaluation system.” Last year NOAA licensed the ActiveCaptain data for internal use. We wrote some custom software to make it easier for the cartographers to use the hazard data you provide to help update charts and fix the magenta line. The first part of the software has been delivered to NOAA for their use.

NOAA approached us because they were already using the hazard data to locate problems but had to manually search on areas of interest to see what needed attention. Now hazard changes are automatically presented to them so they can quickly go through the changes and determine whether additional surveys or chart changes are needed.”

 

Choosing the right navigation app is no easy feat. Some cost a few precious boat bucks just to download, and “free” doesn’t necessarily mean activecapt-screenshot“less” when it comes to features. With the recent news that NOAA will stop printing paper charts this April, iPads are fast replacing chart plotters on the bridge or in the cockpit.

As a former cruiser, I often relied on print cruising guides to learn about a new port or cruising area. As we all know, this kind of information is always in flux. And there’s the rub: How do we get the latest information, preferably from other cruisers? The answer: AC.

For the past few years ActiveCaptain (AC) has grown and expanded to include over 100,000 boaters who write reviews and updates on anchorages, ports, hazards, facilities and more, all around the world.

Sail with confidence with any of the five navigation apps below. They all include ActiveCaptain data as an overlay for members. (AC membership is free).

SKIPPER (Ver 1.2)
Trailerbehind, Inc. – Free

skipper-app-iconThe newest offering in the Apps Store is Skipper and the free version isn’t just a trial; it includes a handy NOAA online chart viewer for onshore planning and satellite imagery on shore. For the Pro version you pay an annual fee of $12/year and you don’t have to pay extra for the charts you’ve already paid the Government for in taxes. NOAA Charts are auto-updated (or choose Google Earth or Topo maps, including historic topos. What fun!). All is cached and displayed offline very seamlessly, except weather and Google Earth requires an online connection. It also does routes/waypoints and real-time navigation (which Garmin’s app doesn’t do). Your subscription syncs your personal data and routes, waypoints, tracks, etc. between your multiple devices. Raster charts (the best!) load fast and look great since they are mosaic-ed together and are only 1.8GB each for the smallest possible download size. Skipper’s creator, Andrew Johnson says that Inland Rivers Charts including all NOAA vector charts will be added soon and he is working on ways to integrate Open Street Map technology. Perhaps my dream of having one app that shows both Charts and Maps may soon become real!

garmin-iconGarmin BlueChart Mobile (Ver 1.4)
Garmin International – Free (Charts are available via in-app purchase and range from $30 -$70).

BlueChart uses vector charts with features such as search, routes, waypoints, weather stations (choose conditions overlay showing dew points, temperatures, wind direction and speed, water temp, visibility) GRIB weather with wave heights and period, celestial data, measuring feature, real-time tracking. Each icon gives great details when tapped. Lots of overlay features can clutter up the chart but choosing which ones to view is easy using the cool “radial chart object menu”.

charts-n-tides_icon

Charts & Tides (Ver 4.7)
Navimatics  – $19.99 *

The first full resolution, seamless charting iPad app. Charts&Tides uses NOAA and CHS vector cartography. Covers all of U.S. and Canada and cost $20-$40. New features include AIS support, Closest Point of Approach (CPA) computations and alerts, more connectivity options for GPS (WiFi, GPSD), new Dead Reckoning Mode and interface improvements.

*This just in… Now you don’t have to open a different app to chart a new area of the world. Navimatics has just added a newly developed chart engine to Charts & Tides for iOS and for Mac computers. Now the app is free and you can add  these two options:
- The entire US NOAA collection of charts: $19.99
- The entire US NOAA collection + CHS Canadian charts: $39.99

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PolarView MX (Ver 1.2.4)
PolarNavy – $3.99

From the folks who brought you affordable PC and MacOS charting. Their PolarView MX app for iPhone or iPad offers both vector and raster chart viewing combined with extensive instrument support that many mariners are seeking. Chart coverage includes U.S. and U.K. and world-wide charts are available.

SEAiq (Ver 3.4.0)
Sakhalin, LLC – $9.99

SEAiq-Open_iconDeveloped by software engineer/live aboard world cruiser, Mark Hayden. SEAiq uses free NOAA vector charts. Try SEAiq Free first, then upgrade to SEAiq USA or Open for $9.99 with in app purchase to enable all features. SEAiq Open allows you to use your own vector charts. (S-57, S-63, CM93, iENC, BSB, and KAP) or you can purchase charts for anywhere in the world from ChartWorld. Also, with Inland ENC support, you can download hundreds for free charts for many rivers in Europe. Other features: Import/export waypoints and routes. NMEA data, AIS, Track recording, GRIB weather downloads, anchor alarm, instrument data, TCP/IP WiFi NEMA data.

Star Clippers to Feature Overnight Call at 2014 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez International Regatta in the French Riviera

My favorite Tall ship cruise line Star Clippers is offering an exciting opportunity for yacht and nautical aficionados in 2014. Star Flyer’s Sept. 27 sailing will feature an overnight call at St. Tropez, France, during the annual Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez international regatta.

starflyer-undersail

Star Flyer undersail. Photo: N. BIrnbaum ©2014

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, which began in 1981 as La Nioulargue, attracts modern and classic yachts from across the globe that race for the coveted Rolex Trophy. In 2013 more than 300 boats representing 150 years of naval architecture and aesthetic participated in the event.

“We’re always looking for exclusive events, and the chance to attend Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is an exciting opportunity for our guests who are largely yachting enthusiasts,” said Mark Carlson, director of marketing for Star Clippers Americas. “This international sailing regatta offers a unique blend of glamour, relaxation and adventure that we strive to provide on all of our itineraries.”

starclipper-capt-class

There’s always something to learn aboard a Star Clipper Cruise.
Photo: N Birnbaum©2014

In 2014 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez will run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5. Star Flyer will call at St. Tropez Oct. 2-3 during the event. Guests will have two days to enjoy the race and explore the most famous port on the French Riviera. Other calls on the seven-day, roundtrip Monte Carlo, Monaco, itinerary include L’Ile Rousse/St. Florent and Bastia, Corsica; Portoferraio, Elba, and Rapallo, Italy. Fares for the cruise start at $1,986 per person, double occupancy, including port charges.

Star Clippers combines the pampered lifestyle of mega-yacht cruising with the exhilarating thrill of sailing aboard an authentic clipper ship. Guests rediscover what sailing was like during the glorious age of tall ships while visiting intimate ports of call untouched by larger ships.

Star Clippers recently was named among the Top Small-Ship Lines in Condé Nast Traveler 2013 Reader’s Choice Awards as well as Top Small-Ship Cruise Lines in Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2013 World’s Best Awards. 

To request a brochure, call toll-free 800-442-0556 or email brochures@starclippers.com.

For information, call Star Clippers at 800-442-0551, email info@starclippers.com or visit www.starclippers.com to view a video about the line or take a virtual tour of the Star Clippers ships.

old-navigation

Out with the old?

In a press release issued yesterday, October 22, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation’s suite of thousands of nautical charts, announced that it will no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts. The release went on to say that NOAA will continue to provide other forms of nautical charts, including print on demand (POD) and for electronic charting systems.

“Like most other mariners, I grew up on NOAA lithographic charts and have used them for years,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “We know that changing chart formats and availability will be a difficult change for some mariners who love their traditional paper charts, but we’re still going to provide other forms of our official charts.”

plotting-on-paper-chart

Plotting on paper

Since 1862, those lithographic nautical charts — available in marine shops and other stores — have been printed by the U.S. government and sold to the public by commercial vendors. The decision to stop production is based on several factors, including the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities.

“With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.”

tablet-vs-paper

Is it best to have both?

NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including the increasingly popularPrint on Demand (POD) charts, updated paper charts available from NOAA-certified printers. NOAAelectronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) and raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®), used in a variety of electronic charting systems, are also updated weekly and are available for free download from the Coast Survey website.

The world of navigation is benefiting from advances in technology, Smith explained. He said that NOAA will consult with chart users and private businesses about the future of U.S. navigation, especially exploring the use of NOAA charts as the basis for new products.

The Bottom Line

e-nav_in_cockpit

Electronic navigation is increasingly popular with recreational boaters.

It seems clear that NOAA isn’t making enough income off of paper. So they are moving towards more lucrative delivery systems.

This is good news for trailblazers like ActiveCaptain, the first to market with a crowd-sourced, electronic navigation product and the only Interactive Cruising Guidebook online. Since then, ActiveCaptain has been integrated with top e-nav systems across all platforms, like Garmin’s BlueChart Mobile, Navimatics Charts & Tides, Polarview, SEAiq, Jeppesen’s C-MAP, MaxSea, Nobeltec, and more.

Stop the Presses!

With all these choices available to everyone’s price-range, it’s no wonder NOAA has made the decision to stop the presses.

Paper charts will ultimately go the way of the Newspaper. As the developer of ActiveCaptain put it, ” I think that’s a big announcement and is just one more of a series of nails in the coffin of paper charts. It acknowledges what has happened in every other industry which has experienced similar technology changes. In this case, it’s the chart image, not the media, that’s important.”

It probably bodes well for cruising guide publishers like On The Water ChartGuides. Publisher Mark Doyle learned early on that if you’re going to compete in the digital navigation market, you’ll need to update often. His Intracoastal Waterway CruiseGuide and other guides come with free daily updates and alerts via Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and even text or email. As people find it too expensive to purchase charts Printed On Demand, they will want to turn to these comfortable chart books for detailed information and charts of US waterways.

sf-bay-chart-noaa

PDF Chart of San Francisco Bay from NOAA.

FREE CHARTS! (For a Limited Time)

For a limited time, NOAA is offering its entire suite of charts in PDF file format. For the three-month trial period, you can download about a thousand high-resolution printable nautical charts – almost the entire suite of charts. These PDFs are exact images of the traditional charts we have come to love, currently printed by lithography. They are available now! Go to: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pdfcharts/ for info and to download the PDF charts. You’ll need to have their Chart Viewer to choose which numbers you want.

So whether you decide to give up your paper charts and go solely digital or hold out for another year, keep in mind that if you are using paper, you’ll have to check Local Notice to Mariners for updates – a time-consuming job, for sure!

Check out the discussion (it’s a lively one!) on ActiveCaptains eBoatCards Discussion Group. It’s free to join.

http://www.eboatcards.com/the2ndmostdangerousthing

Lastly, if you’re thinking about tossing your paper charts, consider giving them a second life by donating them to a local sailing group. Or send them to me and I will up cycle them into something very cool!

-Nancy

“This is it! Work your arses off!” –Ben Ainsle

ORACLE TEAM USA won the 34th America’s Cup in a winner-take-all 19th race, defeating challenger Emirates Team New Zealand by 44 seconds in today’s clincher. Led by 35-year-old skipper Jimmy Spithill, ORACLE TEAM USA won by the score of 9-8.

OTUSA-wins

OTUSA Wins! © ACEA / PHOTO GILLES MARTIN-RAGET

This is the second America’s Cup win for ORACLE TEAM USA and Spithill, which won the 162-year-old trophy in Valencia, Spain, in February 2010. Then 30 years of age, Spithill became the youngest to ever skipper a Cup winning team.

In the past week ORACLE TEAM USA has steadily improved its boatspeed to the point where it could hydrofoil upwind at 30-32 knots, incredible performance never seen before in the America’s Cup.

“It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Spithill, the two-time Cup winner. “We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart. On your own you’re nothing, but a team like this can make you look great… We were facing the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn’t even flinch.

“Thanks to San Francisco, this is one hell of a day,” Spithill said.

spithill-speaks

Jimmy’s cup runneth over.

ORACLE TEAM USA’s victory marks one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of sport. The team won 11 races to score the 9 points required for victory due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury. Just last Wednesday, Sept. 18, ORACLE TEAM USA trailed the series 8-1. With the challenger on match point, the defender closed out the series with eight consecutive victories.

This was the third time in the history of the America’s Cup with a winner-take-all final race. Previously, the defender won in 1920 and the challenger won in 1983. Both times the winner rallied from a multi-race deficit, but never anything amounting to eight straight wins.

“This was a wonderful match of teams,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray, who’s been involved with the America’s Cup since 1983. “In the case of a boat coming from behind, 3-1 down as was the case with Australia II in 83, the shoe is on a different foot this time around. Then it was the challenger behind and this time it was the defender. But in the end we had great competition between two great teams, evenly matched, battling it out to the end.”

One million fans visited the official America’s Cup venues at Piers 27/29 and Marina Green since they opened on July 4, and hundreds of thousands more lined the shores of San Francisco Bay to catch a glimpse of the flying, foiling AC72.

victory-lap-around-bay

Oracle TeamUSA takes their victory lab around San Francisco Bay.

34th America’s Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins)

  • ORACLE TEAM USA – 9 (11 wins; ORACLE TEAM USA was penalized its first two victories by the International Jury)
  • Emirates Team New Zealand – 8

Race 19 Performance Data

  • Course: 5 Legs/10.07 nautical miles
  • Elapsed Time: OTUSA – 23:24, ETNZ – 24:08
  • Delta: OTUSA +:44
  • Total distance sailed: OTUSA – 11.9 NM, ETNZ – 12.2 NM
  • Average Speed: OTUSA – 30.55 knots (35 mph), ETNZ – 30.55 knots (35 mph)
  • Top Speed: OTUSA – 44.33 knots (51 mph), ETNZ – 45.72 knots (53 mph)
  • Windspeed: Average – 18.2 knots, Peak – 21.3 knots
  • Number of Tacks/Jibes: OTUSA – 9/7, ETNZ – 9/7

From AmericasCup.com

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Start of Race 1. Photo N. Birnbaum, ©2013

“We still have to look at the boat and what we can do to improve it. There’s a long way to go in my mind.” — James Spithill, after today’s loss to Barker and Team New Zealand.

America’s Cup defender ORACLE TEAM USA grabbed headlines this morning when the day’s crew lists were released. The defender had changed tacticians, inserting four-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie in place of past America’s Cup champion John Kostecki.

Later in the day on the racecourse, it was Emirates Team New Zealand that stole Races 6 and 7 from the defender and now stands two-thirds of the way to winning the oldest trophy in international sport.

Emirates Team New Zealand leads the series 6-0 after winning Race 6 by 47 seconds and Race 7 by1:06. The winner of the 34th America’s Cup will be the first team to win 9 points. For the Kiwis that means three additional race wins and for ORACLE TEAM USA it means 10, due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury.

“We’re very satisfied with the day; it’s nice to get two more points, but there’s still a long way to go,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “It’s only two-thirds of the way to actually winning the Cup. You have to win 9 points. Three more races is a lot of hard work, and we know that it’s far from over. One bad day out there and momentum changes and things can be quite different. We’re under no illusion, there’s still a very hard road ahead.”

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Ellison making his presence known. Pre-start, race 1. Photo: NBirnbaum,©2013

In Race 6 Barker said he was asleep all through the pre-start of the race, which put the team on the back foot. But in a similar scenario to Race 5, the team fought from behind on the upwind leg and passed the defender to gain the lead and then extend.

The win in Race 7 was a wire-to-wire performance. The Kiwis started to windward of ORACLE TEAM USA and crossed onto the racecourse riding on their hydrofoils and doing approximately 38 knots. They rounded the first turning mark in the lead and were never threatened the rest of the race.

Emirates Team New Zealand was untouchable on the two upwind legs. In Race 6 the Kiwis gained 55 seconds on the 3-nautical-mile leg and 50 seconds in Race 7.

Upwind, downwind? It’s still a tacking war.

“We didn’t know about the designs before the match started,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Both teams spent a lot of time and energy focused on each other and where we stood. I think it’s a shock they have the edge upwind and potentially we have an edge downwind.”

That upwind speed edge rendered moot ORACLE TEAM USA’s decision to change its decision maker. Kostecki, who guided Spithill to victory in the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010, opened the match in the back of the boat, but after five races came under fire for some of his decisions.

Spithill decided yesterday to insert four-time Olympic gold medalist Ainslie in his place. Ainslie has been the team’s B boat helmsman and is widely considered a skipper, but the team felt change was needed for the sake of change.

“Sure we made a change in the back of the boat. Both John and Ben are fantastic sailors, two of the best sailors in the world. We’re very fortunate that we can rotate guys like that. But we’ll have to study the data and see what we can do to change up the boat.

“We still haven’t seen some conditions. Those guys have an edge upwind and tacking, but we still haven’t seen the light-air end of the spectrum and we haven’t seen the Code 0s,” Spithill said. “We still have to look at the boat and what we can do to improve it. There’s a long way to go in my mind.”

As it was my day to be out on the bay following the action from one of the Defender speed boats, I was hoping that Oracle Team USA would have at least one win. It’s my Birthday for goodness sakes! Just one win… that’s not too much to ask for, right?

Spithill and crew had a great start to race 1 but as we watched them heading for the finish, I saw Oracle jibe left toward the Marina Green, leaving New Zealand headed straight for the gates. Whaaa? I was dumbfounded. What were they thinking?

It was exciting to finally get out there and watch the racing “up close & personal” and I did get some great shots of both yachts as well as some of the cheering fans. And so the day wasn’t a complete loss.

…just for Oracle Team USA.

oracle-fans-ac-park-nbinbaum

Oracle Team USA takes a bow for adoring fans. Photo: NBirnbaum,©2013

Racing resumes on Saturday with Races 8 and 9, scheduled for 1:15 pm PT and 2:15 pm PT. In the U.S., the America’s Cup Finals will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network. Replays will be available on the America’s Cup YouTube channel.
Thanks to Americascup.com.

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