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Ginny Osterholt Filiatraut wasn’t just a friend, she was a pioneer and a mentor, who helped me steer a course through often times murky waters. Ginny lost her battle with aggressive ovarian cancer at the age of 78, after a courageous fight. Her husband Jacques was at her side always as was their dog Buddy at their home in Punta Gorda, Florida.

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Ginny in her home SSCA office back in 1977. Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault

I got to know Ginny when I was Editor of the Commodore’s Bulletin for the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). I had recently landed in Fort Lauderdale after my husband and I had cruised from California, taking four years to cruise. It was my first job as an editor and since Ginny had held the very same position (as well as Office Manager, Treasurer, Secretary and Director of the Board!), and she always had both words of encouragement as well as direction for me.

Moving on to cruising magazines after my three-year stint, I kept in touch with Ginny via email and  tried to offer her the same support she gave me when she would run up against push-back with a new Board of Directors or expressed her opinions about how the organization should be run.

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Ginny and Jacques aboard Jonathan, Jacques 42-foot custom ketch. Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault.

 

Ginny became Editor in 1975, helping to move the fledgeling organization from California to South Florida. SSCA went with her when ever she moved and her enthusiasm for the group never wavered. Born on October 3, 1936, she was an only child who started sailing early, at the age of 9. She helped her dad build a sailing dinghy to sail around in Santa Monica, California and later, at age 12 she lived aboard a 34′ Seagoer yawl with her dad. By the age of 15, she bought her own 12′ lap-strake sailing dinghy to rebuild. She met the founders of the SSCA who lived aboard in Coronado and joined in 1955 when she was living aboard her 37′ Hanna Carol, Bojac (a requirement back then!) and just 18 years old. Over the 55 years that she was involved with SSCA, she contributed immensely. In her own words, Ginny described her first experiences as a live aboard in San Diego…

We were a very close knit family and shared the dream of cruising and living aboard! Camaradarie was strong as we caringly helped each other in so many ways as were the SSCA traditions formed by our Founders in 1952!” (SSCA Commodore’s Bulletin, November 2007).

Ginny with SSCA Director Steve Leeds at the 2007 Gam in Melbourne, Florida.

Ginny with SSCA Director Steve Leeds at the 2007 Gam in Melbourne, Florida.

She spent the last six months of her life working tirelessly again for SSCA, gathering all of her photos of her time with the organization, some 90 albums, for scanning, and was finally honored recently with the title of SSCA Historian. She would have celebrated 60 years as an SSCA Commodore this June.

It was her tenacity, talent and trust that made her a lifetime sailor and often times a thorn in the side of SSCA’s directors and managers. She always had an opinion and wasn’t shy about sharing it, often in the form of long-winded emails to everyone on her list. Though there were times when she was “off-base” with regard to a given topic, Ginny usually had something to say that needed to be heard. She was truly the glue that kept this important organization together. Her truth will be missed.

88’s Dear One…

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Ginny holds a photo of herself with another Lifetime Commodore, Babe Baldwin.

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Ginny, Jacques and Buddy. Photo courtesy of Ginny Filiatrault.

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Photo courtesy Ginny Filiatrault.

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Global Piracy Report Released

Both the commercial maritime world and the yachting cruiser are on high alert for piracy in the Indian Ocean after the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report  was released last week.

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Map showing the location of the Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen and Somalia. Nearby bodies of water include the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. By Norman Einstein

No Surprise

The report revealed that there has been a sharp rise in piracy world-wide, driven by a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia, where 97 attacks were recorded in the first quarter of 2011, up from 35 in the same period last year. Violence has also increased worldwide in the first quarter of 2011; 18 vessels were hijacked, 344 crew members were taken hostage, and six were kidnapped, IMB reported. A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.

‘Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year,’ said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991.

Still, only five of that total have involved yachts or other cruising vessels, up from two during the same time frame in 2008. However, Cyrus Mody, the organization’s manager, says the figures for yachts are incomplete, and are simply too small to make reliable comparisons. The group maintains a piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre is the only manned centre to receive reports of pirate attacks 24 hours a day from across the globe. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

Immediate Action Needed to Stop Piracy Off Somalia

May 26, 2011. In a call for immediate action on piracy, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) urged governments to take action against the increasing number of pirate attacks occurring off the Somali coast. The Call for Action was launched at the annual International Transport Forum taking place in Leipzig, Germany from 25-27 May.

Despite measures taken by the United Nations Security Council and the presence of naval units in the area of the Gulf of Aden, pirates continue to strike. More and more commercial shipowners have had to resort to using private security firms to protect their seafarers and ships.

In 2010, the One Earth Foundation estimated the economic cost of piracy on the supply chain to be between US$7-12 billion.

“This is of great concern to any industry having to navigate through the Gulf of Aden to deliver goods by water,” ICC said.

Prepared by the ICC Commission on Transport and Logistics, the call for action said: “As the World Business Organization, ICC urges governments to recognize that piracy, in addition to its effect on the safety of seafarers, has an important financial impact on global trade and shipping, and furthermore poses increased threat on the stability and security of energy supply lines not only for major industrial nations.”

ICC called on governments to improve the rules of engagement given to the navies present in the area, and refocus the efforts of the UN and other international bodies to ensure that pirates are brought to justice and that required institutions in central Somalia are established to maintain economic and social standards.

Together with shipowners and trade associations around the world, over 20 CEOs from key shipping and trading companies have endorsed the ICC Call for Action on Piracy.

Help is coming – but slowly

International organizations are urging governments to enforce maritime laws more aggressively. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have been training some third world maritime forces in how to deal with attacks against yachts. And companies are adapting new technology – such as drone aircraft – that might someday help.

Cruisers Have SSCA In Their Corner

In the wake of the murder of four Americans aboard the sailing vessel Quest, the Seven Seas Cruising Association has released a statement pushing for a “Call to Action” by the U.S. and other world leaders to stop piracy on the seas.

The statement outlines a number of steps that should be taken to stop the growth of piracy in both Somalia and other dangerous areas of the world. Perhaps the most controversial is the recommendation that nations of the world execute an agreement “to immediately stop all current and future payment of ransoms to pirates for the release of individuals or vessels, and publish this fact far and wide.”

The rationale:

This is a particularly painful, yet absolutely vital step. It is highly likely that ruthless and desperate pirates will test our will and resolve in this matter, and they have stated that they will kill hostages if rescue attempts are made or ransoms are not paid. While we deeply regret any loss of life, more ransom money paid means that even more lives will be lost, and the pirates will grow ever stronger. It is absolutely necessary to break the current business model where piracy provides a fast path to great wealth. Ransom money equals increased piracy, escalating costs, more hostages and greater loss of life.

Other recommendations include:

  1. Implement a policy to quickly and aggressively rescue hostages from pirate control.
  2. Immediately take whatever actions are necessary to protect the lives and vessels, both commercial and private, which are currently vulnerable to pirate attacks as they attempt to reach the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
  3. Work through the United Nations to establish a multi-national naval quarantine of the Somali coast that forbids armaments aboard Somali vessels, authorizes the boarding and search of any vessel operating in the quarantined area and authorizes the seizure of any armaments found on Somali vessels.
  4. Focus anti-piracy efforts on the sources of piracy.

We strongly recommend you read and share this statement: http://ssca.org/downloads/SSCA_Call_to_Action_2_Mar_11.pdf. Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

What You Can Do

The IMB’s Mody and other experts point to several precautions that boaters can take to minimize the risks that they’ll encounter pirates on a circumnavigation or extended passage. Even little precautions can make a big difference.

1. Route your cruise carefully to avoid the most pirate-infested waters whenever possible. The IMB and several other groups list specific areas where piracy occurs most often. Besides Somalia, the waters off Venezuela top the list, along with Colombia, much of Central America, parts of the Caribbean, the Cape Verde islands, the Philippines, Eastern Malaysia and the reef-laden Malacca Strait, which links the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The State Department’s website also contains a list of warnings. about piracy.

2. Do your research! Learn as much as you can about pirates and how they operate. Check out the list below for a list of websites on Piracy expressly for cruisers.

3. Before you start out, make sure that you and your crew have a plan on how to deal with piracy attacks so that no one makes a rash move that could endanger lives. This includes knowing where emergency equipment is, how to get help and how to respond if you’re boarded. (Most experts advise crews to go along with attackers rather than fight.)

4. File a Float Plan with friends and relatives. Some “experts” recommend filing that with local governments, but in my experience local governments can be corrupt, especially in poorer countries. I’ve personally known cruisers who were set up by local officials in Columbia, Mexico and Central America.

5. Compile a list of telephone numbers and radio channels you’ll need to contact local authorities and, in some cases, let them know in advance when you’ll be transiting and what route you plan to take.

6. And Most Importantly, try to arrange to go in convoys with other boats when you sail through pirate-infested waters, and develop a plan for communicating with one another, getting help and what to do when your convoy is attacked. To make a convoy work, you’ll have to team up with boats that can make the same speed that your boat can, so you can all stick together. Use AIS to call one another rather than hailing over the VHF where everyone can hear you.

7. Sail at night. Many authorities suggest that you sail through pirate-infested waters at night – preferably when it’s cloudy and there’s no moon to make you easily visible. Turn off all lights – both interior lights and running lights – so it’s harder for pirate crews to see you (and keep a careful watch for traffic). Keep your engine noise to a minimum. And shut down unnecessary electronic devices.

Set a lookout at all times – even when you’re at anchor – and assign someone to monitor VHF-FM and single-sideband radios for warnings of pirate activity. Pirates usually use speedboats and frequently attack in early morning or late afternoon when they can use the sun to their advantage. If you have a sailboat or a vessel with low freeboard, you’re an especially inviting target.

Pirates don’t wear distinguishing clothing, but there are some signs and characteristics that should make you wary. Attacking vessels are usually small skiffs or speedboats, carrying two or three crew members.

Rule of Thumb: If you don’t see nets in or around the boat and sea birds aren’t flying around, they aren’t fishermen.

live-piracy-map_icc-ccs-org

Image courtesy of icc-ccs.org

Piracy Resources:

Seven Seas Cruising Association
www.ssca.org

Noonsite – Piracy
www.noonsite.com

Caribbean Safety & Security Net (CSSN)

http://www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/

Yacht Piracy (Klaus Hympendahl)
http://www.yachtpiracy.org/en/dangerous_regions.htm

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) – Piracy Reports
http://www.sailing.org/1382.php

Live Piracy Map from ICC
Live Piracy Map Link

Note: The main aim of the PRC is to raise awareness within the shipping industry, which includes the shipmaster, ship-owner, insurance companies, traders, etc, of the areas of high risk associated with piratical attacks or specific ports and anchorages associated with armed robberies on board ships. This site is not directed towards piracy against private yachts.

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

If you wish to report an piratical incident or armed robbery please contact the 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre:

Tel: + 60 3 2078 5763
Fax: + 60 3 2078 5769
Telex:  MA34199 IMBPCI
E-mail: imbk l@ icc-ccs.org /attrpiracy @ icc-ccs.org
24 Hours Anti Piracy HELPLINE Tel: + 60 3 2031 0014

Please Stay Safe Out There and Fairwinds!

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catamaran_anchored_off_beachYou’ve seen the enticing glossy ads in the sailing mags — “Charter a boat in the islands and enter paradise!” or something to that effect. If you’ve ever considered taking a different sort of vacation and learning a new skill or perhaps adding to your current repertoire of boating skills, then it’s time to invest in your education.

If you want to start sailing big boats on your own or charter, but aren’t ready for a larger yacht, you can take any number of cruising courses offered around the globe, some right in your backyard. Imagine taking the ultimate learning vacation somewhere warm, in crystal clear azure water, with palm trees swaying in the gentle breezes. Now, the choices are almost endless. Stuck at home for the summer? No worries, there are plenty of online courses available to satisfy your inner yearnings for new information and skills.

On the Horizon

cruisers-university-logoThis Weekend! May 12-15 – Cruisers University Programs and Classes – Baltimore Marine Center at Inner Harbor

Boating education will be the topic of Cruisers University, a combination education/boat show geared toward an international audience.

The show is hosted by the United States Yacht Shows. Classes are set to run May 12–15 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and will also include a yacht show. Cruisers from Australia, British Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and sixteen states are currently registered.

The event will feature nearly 100 hours of general cruising lifestyle seminars to technical coursework. Topics ranging from Diesel Maintenance, Weather Forecasting, On-board Electrical, Navigation, Medical, and Electronics to Cruising the Great Loop and Crossing the Gulf Stream will be featured.

General admission tickets will be sold for those wanting to attend the consumer show portion of the event.

Two ways to register for classes: Call us at 410-263-7802 or Download the Registration Form and fax to 410-280-3903. Hurry though, this course is almost sold-out!

kids-in-lifevests_oakharbor

Photo courtesy of Oakharbor.com

Educational offerings include the following options:

A. & B. Master Certification Program $450
Designed to transfer in-depth knowledge on selected subject matter, this two-day class will provide the participant with certification competency in one of the following subject areas:
A. Diesel Maintenance – Limit 20 SOLD OUT!
B. Weather Forecasting – Limit 30

C. Three-day Cruisers Preparedness Series $380 . The Cruisers Preparedness Series allows you to fully customize your class schedule over three days by selecting the classes of your choice.
D. One-Day Educational Package $180
A customized day of training – pick one day and take any or all classes of your choice.

Other Events: Round out your weekend experience with your choice of the following options:
Thursday Keynote Speaker and Opening Evening Reception $45
Saturday Evening BBQ on the Boardwalk $60

Don’t miss Women & Cruising’s Seminar Sat. May 14, 9:15-10:15 and again at 15:30-16:30
Parking facilities adjacent to the event site with free shuttle service available.

Distance Learning – Yes, even for boaters!

SSCA_crossburgee

Cruisers can also take advantage of excellent Distance Learning opportunities via Seven Seas U, the educational branch of the Seven Seas Cruising Association. If you’re not already a member (and remember, you don’t have to be actively cruising to join!), you should sign up now. Every one who dreams someday of letting go those docklines and voyaging far & wide or just down the Bay, should take full advantage of what SSCA can offer. Attend a live webinar or listen to the pre-recorded program by well-known names in the field – Marine Meteorologist Lee Chesneau, Beth Leonard on Voyage Planning, Cruising the Abacos with Pam Wall or Women and Cruising with Kathy Parsons, Gwen Hamlin and Pam Wall. Go to http://sevenseasu.com/7seasu/index.php to see a long list of topics in the works.

For general sailing or boating education there are tons of great programs ranging from basic keelboat training with a US Sailing certified course to a State Approved, NASBLA recognized course for recreational boaters.

osssailing

Offshore Sailing School (OSS)

Here’s a list of online resources to help you get what you need:boaterexam-female-banner

Boat-Ed.com

BoaterExam.com

BoatSafe.com

BoatUS Online Learning Center

NauticEd – Use the Promo code “Cruisingcode” and get 15% off any course

Offshore Sailing School (OSS)

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

United States Power Squadrons

US Sailing Certification

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BEYC's Women on the Water Course (WOW)

Women & Cruising – Fun & Informative and geared just for us cruising gals! Next webinar at SSU – Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Women on the Water at the Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI. Next WOW – October 22 – 29, 2011!

For a comprehensive list of Sailing Courses, visit Discover Boating – http://www.discoverboating.com/boating/sailing/schools.aspx

Don’t forget to show your love & support of sailing by participating in the 11th annual Summer Sailstice sailing event will take place on June 18 on waters worldwide. The goal is to set out the sails on as many boats as possible.

Last year saw the largest celebration to date, with sailors in 50 U.S. states and 47 countries participating. With

events already in the planning for this year, Summer Sailstice organizers are anticipating more sailors everywhere will dedicate the first summer weekend of sailing to the global Sailstice festivities. For 2011, Summer Sailstice once again will raise money for the environmental education organization Sailors For The Sea . Prizes will also be given to registered participants.

Go! Get on a Boat this Summer and Have Fun! And be SAFE out there!

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With the tragic loss of life this past week in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin, the discussion has turned once again to the question of whether cruising sailors can depend on the U.S. Navy for protection in hopes of preventing another tragedy. Perhaps cruising sailors will unite in support of one another to urge the Military to be more pro-active.

Recapping the Story:

On Friday, February 18th, Jean Adam, a retired dentist, and Scott Adam, 68, a retired filmmaker from California, as well as crewmates Phyllis Mackay, from San Francisco, and Bob Riggle, 67, a retired veterinarian from Seattle, were seized by Somali pirates while sailing on the vessel The Quest. The Adams, Mackay and Riggle had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday on the event’s website. The group, which organizes long-distance group cruises, said the Quest broke off on February 15 after leaving Mumbai, India, to continue on their circumnavigation alone.

The couple, along with their crew, were all found dead from gunshot wounds aboard the Quest by U.S. forces early Tuesday morning. (Read prior post).

The yacht was being shadowed by the military after pirates took the ship off the coast of Oman on Friday.

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BWR at the new Kochi International Marina. From BWR.com

A statement from Blue Water Rallies on Tuesday called the four “brave adventurers. “We at Blue Water Rallies are stunned and devastated by the news of the loss of four friends who have had their innocent lives taken away from them by the pirate menace which is plaguing the Indian Ocean,” it said.

U.S. President Barack Obama was notified early Tuesday of the deaths, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Obama had a briefing on the situation over the weekend and authorized the use of force against the pirates in the event of an imminent threat to the Americans’ safety, he said.

The United States “strongly condemns the murder of four U.S. citizens,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement, adding, “This deplorable act firmly underscores the need for continued international progress toward confronting the shared security challenge posed by piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa.”

What can be done:

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Somali Pirates being towed.UPI

One must look into the justification for sailors choosing to sail across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea instead of other options.

Blue Water Rallies responded with this statement:

‘Although yachtsmen have been discouraged from sailing through this area for some time, it is a hard decision when the only other choices are to sail around the stormy, dangerous seas off South Africa, leave the yacht in the Far East, put it on an expensive cargo ship, or to sail back across the Pacific which presents more weather challenges and difficulties. When one has set one’s heart on a circumnavigation, these choices are very difficult to make.’

To load a yacht like the SY QUEST on a cargo ship and to bring it to the Mediterranean from the Maldives – whereby such cargo vessel then could be protected by the navies – would have costed the owner e.g. of SY QUEST exactly US$37,700  – an amount most yacht-owners simply can not afford, because the majority of them are not the rich. But that wrong picture is then believed by the readers of glossy magazines as well as Somali sea-bandits. The only other alternative for a safe transit would be to hire a private security escort – an undertaking, which could prove to be even more costly.”

Serious questions have come up and it hast been asked, if the navies do work in cohorts with business interests of the shipping industry or private security companies and just how much is the United States willing to do in order to protect it’s citizens who sail into these most troubled waters?

An article that recently appeared on the online news site International.to wrote:

“Currently many yachts are waiting for a safe opportunity to do the passage from the Indian Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Aden, termed now the “pirate alley”, because the navies have persistently refused to safeguard or escort these ships.

Rene Tiemessen, leader of one of the convoys consisting mostly of American and European yachts attempting to reach their home countries from Asia hopes the latest hijacking will cause ‘all politicians to wake up and see what has become of their doing nothing to protect us.’ After his words had been proven true, he told Sail-World.Com by satellite: ‘Although very very sad, this is what we have been warning about all the time.’ He added that ‘people felt abandoned’, since the yachting community, as opposed to merchant seamen, ‘have been neglected.’

Rene and Edith Tiemessen, sailing with their two-year-old child on Alondra, are leading a convoy of around 30 yachts from Thailand to Turkey. For months the Tiemessens have begged the UK Navy to give an escort for approximately 250 sailors travelling on about 100 yachts, while they sail the last part of the journey across the Indian Ocean to Salalah in Oman.  They were caught by the developing piracy situation while being on the other side of the Indian Ocean and their simple request to safeguard their voyage home has been consistently refused.

ecoterra-piracy-map

ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine fully support the rights of free sailors to cross the international oceans and to visit countries and peoples, who welcome them with natural hospitality. It is a shame for all Somalis that criminal gangs now prey on private sailors in non-Somali waters and it is a shame for the so-called international community to not be able to provide protection for convoys of these yachts twice or three times per year.

For further details and regional information see the Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor and the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011). See the archive at www.australia.to and news on www.international.to

EMERGENCY HELPLINES: sms or call: +254-719-603-176 / +254-714-747-090

East Africa ILLEGAL FISHING AND WASTE DUMPING HOTLINE:  +254-714-747-090 (confidentiality guaranteed) – email:  office. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [at]ecoterra.net. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MEDIAL ASSISTANCE RADIO (MAR) network on 14,332.0 USB every day from 07h30 UTC to 08h00 UTC

ECOTERRA Intl. is an international nature protection and human rights organization, whose Africa offices in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania also monitor the marine and maritime situation along the East African Indian Ocean coasts as well as the Gulf of Aden. ECOTERRA is working in Somalia since 1986 and does focus in its work against piracy mainly on coastal development, marine protection and pacification. ECOP-marine (www.ecop.info) is an ECOTERRA group committed to fight against all forms of crime on the waters. Both stand firm against illegal fishing as well as against marine overexploitation and pollution.” From http://international.to/.

In a post today to the one of the many world cruising groups online, a member made the following contribution:

“The NATO Shipping Centre has this latest advice for yachts:

‘The danger of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin is high and continues to increase. Naval forces strongly recommend that yachts do not transit this area. Merchant ships use Best Management Practices (BMP) to win time for the naval forces to assist them. With a low freeboard and slow speed, yachts are particularly vulnerable to pirate attack. Any direct response from naval assets will depend on the proximity to the incident and may not occur. ‘BMP3 and the self protection measures described in them were not designed for cruising yachts nor will they be sufficient to prevent boardings by Somali pirates. ‘

This statement was issued 2 Feb 2011. As one can see, the experts also do not believe that yachts are less likely to be targeted by these pirates. It is just chance on a big ocean. Run into the pirates and they will try to capture any vessel.”

Perhaps groups like the Seven Seas Cruising Association, (SSCA) whose members are comprised mostly of cruising sailors, will take up the task and begin using their strength in numbers to lobby the U.S. Government for more protection.

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SevenSeas_map_SSCA.org“What Are The Seven Seas?”

You would think that with such powerful search tools like Google, that question would be relatively easy to answer. Try it. If your search was anything like mine, you found a confusing collection of partial answers, none of them correct!

Take the Library of Congress’ Science facts page entitled “Everyday Mysteries.”

“Not all geographers agree on this list of seven, believing that the seven seas reference will be different depending upon the part of the world and the time period in question.

Some geographers point to the Age of Discovery and suggest that the seven seas represent the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.” [1]

Now if we’re worth our salt, we know the difference between an Ocean and a Sea, right?

The Seven Seas are referred to in the literature of the ancient Hindus, Chinese, Persians, Romans and other nations. In each case, the term simply referred to different bodies of water. Sometimes it even referred to mythical seas. To the Persians, the Seven Seas were the streams forming the Oxus River; the Hindus used the term for the bodies of water in the Punjab. There is a group of salt-water lagoons that separated Venice, Italy from the open sea, that the Romans called septem maria, the Latin phrase for Seven Seas.

Still the debate continues. Even the renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution got it wrong, as I found on their website,[2]

“To the ancients, ‘seven’ often meant ‘many,’ and before the fifteenth century, the many seas of the world were:

  1. the Red Sea
  2. the Mediterranean Sea
  3. the Persian Gulf
  4. the Black Sea
  5. the Adriatic Sea
  6. the Caspian Sea
  7. the Indian Ocean

Historical Fact:

The Portuguese were actually the first European power to come into contact with India when Vasco de Gama sailed into Calcutta in 1498. After that date, Portuguese ships would frequently return to Europe laden with spices and commodities that would fetch fabulous prices. Other European powers looked enviously at this stream of exotica coming from the Orient. Portugal managed to hold on to its preeminent position largely in part to the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. This treaty had been created to divide the New Worlds between the Catholic countries of Portugal and Spain. In effect they had carved up these New Worlds with Spain receiving a monopoly of power in most of South America and Portugal in the Indies. Working together, the two Catholic countries were able to maintain an effective blockade of these new markets for the majority of the sixteenth century.

Ships would always prove to be a more economically viable way of trading with India. And, as the English could not directly trade with India, its sailors resorted to buccaneering and piracy of the Portuguese ships as they headed to Europe with their valuable cargoes. It was with the era of Drake and Cavendish looting and shooting their way around the world that the first cracks appeared in the Catholic monopoly. In fact, it was Drake’s victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 that really opened the floodgates. The Navies of the Catholic countries were no longer strong enough to ensure an effective blockade of their New Worlds. English and Dutch ships began to pass the Cape of Good Hope in increasing numbers. Both nations quickly established Chartered companies to exploit the commercial possibilities presented to them. The English East India Company was established in 1600. The EIC would lead the vanguard for British political power in India. The EIC sent many a clipper ship across the “Tea Route” to China and back.

According to Peter Freuchen, in Book of the Seven Seas, “The Seven Seas” is a very old phrase and a very new one, too. In between nobody tried to count. The Ancients of the Mediterranean world knew seven large bodies of water, so they thought these were all the seas of the world. For a long time people were content with this, but when the age of exploration began, they learned that the Ancients had made a little mistake. There was not only a lot more water than they believed, but men were going out and finding great new seas all the time, and giving them names. So the expression “Seven Seas” dropped out of use for many centuries.

It came back in 1896. That year Rudyard Kipling was looking for a title for a new volumn of his poems. He selected The Seven Seas, and because he was a great man, and a popular man, the world had to make his words good.  So the geographers figured out a way to divide the ocean into seven parts. It isn’t a very good way, but we get along with it even if few of us can remember what the seven are. The whole thing is a triumph of poetry over reality.[3]

The Seven Seas

In Antiquity Today

Mediterranean                               Arctic

Red                                                 Antarctic

China                                             North Atlantic

West African                                    South Atlantic

East African                                     North Pacific

Indian Ocean                                   South Pacific

Persian Gulf                                     Indian

So the phrase was popularized by Rudyard Kipling who used it as the title of a volume of poems first published in 1896. Kipling himself said the term might be regarded as referring to the seven oceans (named above) even though it was a very old figurative name for all the waters of the world.

It follows then, that the notion of an “Old Salt” is one who “has survived the Seven Seas” was coined to describe just such a sailor: One who sailed with the East India Company for more than a few voyages.

So, to settle this debate, I put forth that The Seven Seas are, and always have been…
1. The South China Sea
2. The Celebes Sea
3. The Timor Sea
4. The Banda Sea
5. The Flores Sea
6. The Java Sea
7. The Sulu Sea

Any old salt who had “sailed the Seven Seas” proved he had been on the old “Clipper Ship” tea route from, China to England, which was the longest trade route under sail and which took the Clippers through any or all of those Seven Seas.

Now, aren’t you glad that we straightened that out?

Of course, it is of no real consequence these days. Take The Seven Seas Cruising Association… one can join even if you’re not sailing an old clipper ship. For over 50 years, SSCA has recognized the major sailing accomplishments of regular folk like you and me and reward such. Members who cross major bodies of water (oceans) may receive the “Trans-Ocean Award.” Those who complete one, may receive the “Circumnavigation Award.” The SSCA is the oldest Association of its kind in the world, and still the largest. Its’ members are from all over the globe. All are welcome!

Just like in the days of yore, SSCA recognizes that becoming an accomplished sailor has its merit. So, whether you’ve sailed the Seven Seas, have just cruised the Caribbean for a few seasons or are planning to someday, you will be among the proud, if not salty, group of time-honored sailors when you join the Seven Seas Cruising Association. For more information about membership and to join, visit www.ssca.org or call: 954/771-5660.

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[3] Book of the Seven Seas by Peter Freuchen, with David Loth

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Sunrise on Melbourne Beach

I just returned from the Seven Seas Cruising Association‘s 35th Annual Melbourne Gam where it was breezy and cool and the North anchorage off the Eau Gallie Causeway was full with almost 30 boats. It was great to see lots of old friends as well as many “newbies” who have either just set out or will begin their cruising soon.

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Kathy Parson, Pam Wall & Gwen Hamlin lead the Women & Cruising Seminar at the Gam

The Gam is still the best place to learn from the pros. So many of the participants have done some serious world cruising and that’s not even touching on the incredible experience of the speakers. This year’s seminars included regulars like Women & Cruising with Pam Wall, Kathy Parsons and Gwen Hamlin; Weather Forecasting with Lee Chesneau; Coping with Emergencies by Author/Sailor Ed Mapes; Rigging with Colin Mack of Mack Sails; Marine First Aid with Ralph Beyhl, R.N.; Yoga with Kim Hess and much more!

I made sure to catch the learning roundtables since they’re always entertaining as well as educational. There was a table where you could practice giving injections on a grapefruit, or removing a hook from a pigs’ foot. These are real-life situations that occur all the time on cruising boats, so it’s best to have some practice before you are called on to perform such tasks. I also sat in on a very informative round table on Mobile Apps for Mariners hosted by our friend Mark Doyle (Managing the Waterway Guides). It’s also a topic close to my heart now that I have started a new App Development company – iTapTouch. It was interesting to see how many sailors have iPhones. I saw many with Droids as well, and there are still quite a few holdouts who are less tech savvy and still want whatever free phone the provider is offering! Here’s something I thought I’d never see: Gordon Groves with an iPad! Wow! Now I’ve seen it all! Way to Go Gordon!

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Mark Doyle mesmerize the audience

The Gam has come a long way since I helped put them on. I must give credit where credit is due… the current BOD. What a terrific bunch of dedicated folks. This years AGM was one for the record books – not just in the crowd that attended but because it was so well done. Who knew you could make the Annual Meeting about the Members? Well, they did. VP Chad Carvey introduced a bunch of members who had website links in their bios online. Board Members welcomed the Newbies who were at the Gam, and Treasurer David told the crowd how SSCA has come back from the brink of insolvency to “in the Black” thanks to lots of new members and the Seven Seas “U” where you can join a webinar and learn almost anything about the lifestyle. BIG thanks to outgoing Board President – Craig Briggs who did more for the organization than most of his predecessors! (Check out his cruising blog!)

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Practicing injections

Trinidad Cruising Station Hosts and friend to all cruisers, Jessie James (Members’ Only) and his adorable wife Sharon Rose were back along with Leroy Quildon, industry specialists for the yachting community in Trinidad was also attending in order to share all the great things that the Trinis offer us cruisers.

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Your Cruising Editor shares SodaStream

The vendor area was full again with the great big family of cruising specialists, authors and services. I even gave out tastes of all natural sodas that you can make yourself with regular drinking water and the SodaStream. What a great invention! Now available at The Yachting Gourmet Store!

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Preparing for the worse!

If you on the lucky few who are planning your escape, do yourself a favor and don’t miss the next Gam. Same place, same time, next year.

See ya there!

 

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Passing on some important info from the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA)

ssca_logoWe Need Your Help!

“This is our 7th year and SSCA Humanitarian Effort “Operation Bahamas Project” needs your help to provide each child in the Out Islands of the Bahamas with a retired Math Book. We have completed packing retired text books, workbooks, etc. for the schools in the Bahamas. This year we have 60% more retired text books to pack. Our partner, The Charlotte County Public Schools were very generous in donating twelve (12) huge pallets of retired Math and Science Books, Workbooks, Dictionaries, etc. The supplies range from Grades K thru 9th.

We will be distributing to the follow schools in the Exumas: Staniel Cay, Black Point, Little Farmers, Georgetown (3 Elementary Schools and 1 Middle School), Ragged Island and we have added two (2) Primary Schools in the Acklins. The majority of the boxes will be going to Georgetown (350 boxes) and Staniel Cay and Black Point (110 boxes).

The boxes are small (11”L X 9”W X 7”D) or (14”L X 9”W X 7”D) and can be easily placed in a dinghy. The average weight is 8 to 12 lbs. Boxes can be picked up in October thru January in Ft. Pierce, Florida; Vero Beach Municipal Marina, Vero Beach, Florida; Punta Gorda, Florida; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; St. Petersburg, Florida and at the Melbourne Convention.

If you are able to participate (SSCA Members or Non Members / Sail – Power ), please contact Bruce & Marilyn Conklin (Reflection) at goldconk@yahoo.com. Cell: 772-559-1235.

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Let us know your boat length and your choice of islands and approximately how many boxes you might be able to take comfortably. We will need 40 boats for Georgetown.

This past year, we visited with the Principals of the Schools and students who expressed sincere gratitude for the donations. As Sharon Bethel, Assistant to the District Superintendent of Schools in Georgetown stated “The materials will assist us in helping to improve the students’ literacy and numeracy level.”

If you are not able to help this year, please pass the word on to other boaters who will be traveling to the Exumas this winter. Together we can touch the lives of more than 800 Bahamian Children.

Bruce and Marilyn Conklin – “Reflection”

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