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30 September 2013

I Stole This From My Sister

My sister works at the library and during her spare time at work she did a search on sailing novels and found some great options to add to my reading list. She emailed me through a summary of each book along with her own thoughts on why I should rush out and read them immediately. I have too much to do this week (like watch old movies in my DVD collection), so rather than put any of my own effort into writing my own post, I thought why not steal what my sister wrote. I feel no shame or guilt whatsoever about stealing from my sister. I blame my mother. She obviously didn't raise me right.

When I was little, I snuck into my sister's room and stole money from her piggy bank, snuck out of the house to the corner store, bought candy, snuck back into the house, hid in my room and ate all of the candy. Yum. My sister, the tattle tell, found her empty piggy bank and ran crying to my mother telling her that I stole her money. No one likes a tattle tale by the way. My mother came marching into my room and accused me of stealing from my sister. I, of course, denied it. That is the first rule of stealing. Deny everything. For some reason, she didn't believe me. It might have had something to do with all of the crumpled candy wrappers in a pile around me and the chocolate smeared on my face. She got mad. My sister gloated. I got grounded for the entire weekend and wasn't allowed to go see the 4th of July fireworks. Thanks tattle tell. But clearly, my mother is pretty bad at punishment, because I just read books all weekend in my room. It turns out it wasn't really a punishment. I was supposed to be learning a lesson. I learned that you can get free candy and be left alone so that you can catch up on your reading if you steal from your sister. So obviously it is my mother's fault that I don't feel guilty about stealing from my sister again. She obviously wasn't very good at the whole punishment and learning lessons thing.

So here is the sailing novel reading list I stole from my sister. It is full of variety. Some of them neither of us would read unless we were grounded in our rooms and had nothing else to do and they were the only books we had. By the way, Sis, go ahead and tattle to mom if you want. By the time she flies all the way to New Zealand to ground me, she'll have forgotten why she came and we'll just have a nice visit instead. And eat chocolate. Hah! Victory again!

My Sister's Sailing Reading List

Swept Up by the Sea
By Tracy & Laura Hickman
Determined to seek his fortune, Percival Taylor leaves behind his sleepy hometown and sets out to become a legendary pirate only no one at the roguish seaport of Blackshore will allow him anywhere near a ship Percival must find other means to win the heart of the beautiful Tuppence Magrathia-Paddock, who has mistaken him for a pirate rogue out of one of her romantic tales. She is entirely willing to swoon into his arms if he can prove his buccaneer soul and she is willing to arrange her own kidnapping to prove it. Percival eventually finds himself captain of a broken-down ship, complete with a crew of pirates.

(After reading this book description, my sister asked me, "Has Scott proven his buccaneer soul? Does it make you want to just swoon into his arms?")

Midshipwizard
By James M. Ward
Halcyon Blithe, being a young man of good breeding and lineage as well as endowed with those qualities and abilities of a sorcerous nature and wishing to fulfill his full potential, is ready to assume his proper place in the world. He aims to seek his fortune among those who tend and sail the awesome nautical juggernauts-the dragonships. With this is mind, Blithe gladly accepts his rank as Midshipwizard and becomes a member of the crew who man the dragonships-vessels which harness the bodies and strength of living dragons with seafaring technology. Combining elements of Hornblower with Harry Potter, and Robert Louis Stevenson with Robin Hobb, Midshipwizard Halcyon Blithe is a nautical tale rich in magic and intrigue. A tale set against a panorama of fantastic naval battle as we follow the career of a young midshipwizard as he moves up through the ranks of His Majesty's Navy. 

(Do you think Halcyon Blithe borrowed Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility so that they could avoid the pirates and sail safely through the Gulf of Aden? Actually, maybe the answer to the pirate problem is dragons. Dragons would scare the crap out of the pirates.)

Sabbatical: A Romance
By John Barth
Subtitled "a romance," Sabbatical is the story of Susan Rachel Allan Seckler, a sharp young associate professor of early American literature - part Jewish, part Gypsy, and possibly descended from Edgar Allen Poe - and her husband Fenwick Scott Key Turner, a 50-year-old ex-CIA officer currently between careers, a direct descendant of the author of "The Star Spangled Banner" and himself the author of a troublemaking book about his former employer. Seven years into their marriage, they decide to take a sabbatical, a sailboat journey on which they sum up their years together and try to make important decisions about the years ahead. True to its subtitle, the novel combines the mysterious and marvelous (unexplained disappearances; a fabled sea monster in Chesapeake Bay) with romantic love and daring adventure.

(Sea monsters, romance and daring adventure – what more could you want. Sounds like the kind of promises Scott makes.)

The Toilers of the Sea
By Victor Hugo
This paperback original is a new translation of Hugo's great novel of the sea and includes comprehensive endnotes and Hugo's illustrations, which have never been reproduced in any edition of this monumental work.

(You’re not allowed to work in a library unless you’ve read at least one Victor Hugo novel. Or you can cheat and watch the film version of Les Miserables instead. Your boss will never know the difference. They probably did the same thing too.)

Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy
Ed. W.H. Horner
Mermaids. Pirates. Flying ships. Creatures from the deep. Magic beyond your wildest dreams. The sea is a dangerous and wonderful realm. It calls to many, promising riches, adventure, or freedom. But just as there are beautiful and remarkable treasures to be found upon and below the waves, do not underestimate the dangers hidden within its depths. So polish your cutlass and prepare your spells for what awaits. Embark upon a journey across leagues of unimaginable adventure. Ride the waves to mystery and magic. Featuring 28 stories and 42 illustrations, including tales by New York Times best-seller Elaine Cunningham, Paul S. Kemp, Patrick Thomas, and James M. Ward with an all-new story featuring Halcyon Blithe.

(Do not underestimate the sea! Respect her power! Or she will hurt you and leave big bruises on your legs.)

Ghosting
By David Poyer
Jack, a hotshot neurosurgeon, is at the peak of his career-- and his family's showing the strain. Jack's solution to all their problems is a family cruise to Bermuda aboard a luxurious new sailboat. He's never sailed on the open sea before-- and they begin to fear for their safety. How much would each one be willing to sacrifice in order to buy the others a chance to survive?

("He's never sailed on the open sea before..."  What could possibly go wrong?)

Sail Away: Stories of Escaping to Sea
Something happens when men and women put a plank between themselves and the water and set out on a voyage, whether for a day or a lifetime. Now Sail Away brings together the very finest writing about travel on water by a stellar crew of writers. Among those to be included are Joseph Conrad, Jacques Cousteau, Roald Dahl, Lawrence Durrell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, E.M. Forster, Ernest Hemingway, Thor Heyerdahl, Jonathan Raban, Paul Theroux, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, David Foster Wallace, and Evelyn Waugh. Packaged as the perfect companion to Beach, with atmospheric photos by Beach photographer Mittie Hellmich, Sail Away will be an important addition to the tradition of best-selling books about ships and the sea.

(This one is definitely on my sister's reading list. You'll have to wait your turn to check it out of the library.)

Black Swan
By Chris Knopf
A sudden storm drives Sam, Amanda, and their sailboat into harbor at Fishers Island. The owner of the Black Swan, a small hotel, reluctantly gives them lodging. When a fellow lodger dies in circumstances that suggest a killer in their midst, Sam must ferret out the corporate secrets behind the murder.

(Oooooh..."corporate secrets"!)
 
We, the Drowned
By Carsten Jensen
Follows a century in the port town of Marstal on an island off the coast of Denmark, whose citizens' lives are indelibly shaped by forces ranging from wars and shipwrecks to taboo survival practices and forbidden passions.

(Yeah, please don't drown.)

Sail
By James Patterson
The Dunnes have set off on a ten day boat trip, a trip that hopefully will bring them closer together, despite the fact that the father, Stuart is staying behind on land. But only an hour into the trip they're already falling apart. The teenage daughter plans to drown herself, and the teenage boy is high on drugs. Ten-year-old Ernie is near catatonic. But their mother Anne, with the help of her brother-in-law Jeff, is insistent on pulling everyone together, once and for all. Just when things start to take a turn for the better, disaster strikes. Stuart is left to pick up the pieces and find his family--but he is eager to start a brand new life. Maybe he's a little too eager.
(The description had me at, "But only an hour into their trip they're already falling apart. The teenage daughter plans to drown herself, and the teenage boy is high on drugs."  If this is what they devolve to on a sailing vacation, I can only imagine what Christmas at their house is like!)
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Any suggestions on other books I should add to my reading list very welcome.
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27 September 2013

It's a Girl!

It's a girl! Or is it? Sometimes it is hard to tell. Image via the Graphics Fairy.
I am so sorry mom! I just realized that you might have read the title of the post and assumed we were surprising you with the news of a new grandchild. I'm really sorry to disappoint, but we haven't adopted a baby girl of either the human or feline variety. Fortunately, your other daughter has already given you beautiful grandchildren and will forever be on the top of the "Best Daughter" league tables for eternity because of that. But the good news is that we now know the sex of our boat and it's a girl!

You know how sometimes it is hard to sex certain animals like birds and snakes? Remember when we had that bird that was called Gertrude and then suddenly we had to change her his name to Sir Gertrude after a trip to the vet? It was all so confusing at the time. I remember that even the cats were confused and one of them tried to jump up at the cage just to double check whether he was a she or vice versa and broke his leg. I mean the cat broke his own leg. He didn't break the bird's leg. Although he probably wanted to. And eat him. He definitely wanted to eat him. Well I find boats to be a bit confusing too - is it a boy boat or a girl boat? The names don't always help either. And it doesn't seem like a good idea to turn your boat over so you can look underneath to see if it is a boy or a girl. You get water inside your boat and stuff falls all over the place. So in my confusion, I found that I kept using "it" every time I talked about our boat and other boats. Because I just didn't know. I was constantly worried about offending the other boat parents by telling them what a cute boy boat they have only to find out it is a girl. That is so embarrassing.

Well, it turns out I shouldn't have worried because all boats are girls! I'm not really sure how they make new boats if there are only girl boats but they're making incredible advances in science these days. The good news is that from now on I don't have to worry about whether to use "he" or "she", I can just use "she". But it is peculiar in the English language to use gender for an inanimate object such as a boat. Yes, I know some people think their boats are very animated and alive. However, I'm not one of them. So I did some research and here is what I found out.

English used to be a gendered language. There are lots of languages out there that are gendered. For example, in French a table is feminine (la table) and a hat is masculine (le chapeau). Might seem strange to think about girl tables and boy hats but it seems perfectly natural to the French, as does eating snails. And if you think about objects being boys or girls, that affects how you view them or so the theory goes. There was a new bridge built in the south of France in 2004. When the French newspapers described the bridge they talked about how it was "immense" and a "concrete giant". When the German newspapers described the bridge, they talked about how it had "breathtaking" beauty and "floated above the clouds" with "elegance and lightness". The French descriptions might be seen as more masculine, whereas the German descriptions might be seen as more feminine. And guess what - the word for bridge in German, "Brucke", is feminine and the word in French, "pont", is masculine. So perhaps when Germans look as bridges they perceive them differently than the French.

But why do English speakers think about boats as feminine objects? And do we think about them differently because they are girls? Today, we use neutral articles ("the" and "a"), but until the 1200s, English had masculine and feminine articles ("se" for boy objects and "seo" for girl objects). For example, the sun was considered to be feminine and was called "seo sunne" and talked about as "she". Somewhere back in the murkiness of history this all stopped. And it might have had something to do with the Vikings invading Britain. There was a lot of speaking of Old English and Old Norse going on at the same time and although both were gendered, the genders they assigned to different objects were sometimes contradictory. It may have been so confusing to all concerned and in order to make things simpler people just dropped gendered nouns over time.

But not completely, boats are still girls in English. Well for many people. The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press and New Times style books now recommend using "it" to refer to boats. Even the Brits are on board as the London-based shipping newspaper, Lloyd's List, only refers to boats using "it". Language is nothing if not adaptable and changeable. So you can decide to have a girl boat. Or you can decide to neuter your boat and start talking about it as "it". You can even give your boat a sex change operation and starting calling it "him". Your choice. Don't you just love freedom of choice?

Want to know more?

If you want to learn more about language and gender, check out Lexicon Valley. They have some great podcasts on the subject including "When Nouns Grew Genitals", "How English Lost Its Genders" and "For He/She's A Jolly Bad Pronoun". The guys at Lexicon Valley also inspired this article on English and gender over at Hotword. And Grammarphobia has chimed into the conversation as well. Lera Boroditsky (a psych professor at Stanford) writes popular science articles on how language shapes the way we think (expanding on the original Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for all you nerds out there). You could check out her article in the Feb 2011 edition of Scientific America if you have a copy lying around your boat. Of course, if you're feeling geeky, she also writes scholarly articles but coverage of her in social media and popular science outlets will do for the rest of us. And then there is this slightly bizarre debate in Wikipedia Talk about boats and gender that you can check out. The discussion ranges from John McCain to Germany having a sex change operation.



Are they girl birds or boy birds? Hard to tell. Image via the Graphics Fairy

26 September 2013

What A Bugger

Yesterday was absolutely heartbreaking for New Zealanders. To have come so close to winning the America's Cup only to have it snatched away by Oracle Team USA, in one of the most remarkable comebacks ever, was quite simply a bugger. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key even tweeted "bugger" after the race yesterday so its official.

Scott got some emails from his racing buddies in Scotland congratulating him on Oracle Team USA's win yesterday. They thought that because he is American he would be chuffed that a team with USA in its name won. They couldn't have been more wrong. We were rooting for Emirates Team New Zealand from the get go and when the New Zealand skipper, Dean Barker, got a little teary eyed yesterday, I did too. We've been permanent residents of New Zealand for five years now and have developed an affinity for all things Kiwi. (Well most things anyway. I still am on the fence about pineapple lumps, marmite and the need to put beetroot on anything that doesn't move.) But it isn't just the fact that we live in New Zealand that had us backing the Kiwis. What got me was the classic story of the humble underdog taking on the big arrogant beast bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison. And the fact that Oracle Team USA cheated was the icing on the cake. Plus there is only one American sailor on their crew so they don't even have a patriotism card to play.

The America's Cup is a truly bizarre sporting event. I'm not really into sport (well not at all), so I probably don't know what I'm talking about, but I'm not sure where the "sport" comes into it when a large factor in determining who wins is based upon who has the most money to spend on their boat. In some ways it really is a game for billionaires and less about sailing. I think Josh Levin describes it well in his article in Slate:


"The America’s Cup is the perfect contest for plutocrats. Rich people like to own sports teams, but are often frustrated that they can’t reshape the games they dabble in...In the world of big-time sailing, though, the rules are made to be rewritten. “When you win the America's Cup, you get to decide pretty much all the details about how, where, and when you get to defend the trophy,” explained Grantland’s Katie Baker. When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison won the Cup in 2010, he decided that the sport needed to be faster and more exciting. He conjured a new kind of vessel that was outrageously expensive to construct, limiting the competition to whoever’s richer than the people who own private islands. (Because of course the biggest problem with sailing is that it’s too accessible to outsiders.) Imagine the owner of the Miami Heat decreeing, after his team hoisted the championship trophy, that basketball should be played on a diamond-studded trampoline with a ball shaped like a starfish. To the victor go the spoils, and the spoils are really weird and cost so much that almost nobody else can afford to play."

One of the things that I love about New Zealand is their understated and self-effacing nature. But underneath that they have an incredible determination and self-belief which allows them to punch above their weight. They are the classic underdog. Who could imagine a small island nation of 4-1/2 million people taking on Oracle Team USA with all of its money and resources and get to match point. But they did and they did so with their trademark humility. Kiwis at home and around the world are proud of them. And we are too. Hopefully they'll be back to take on the billionaires again next time around.

25 September 2013

Boat Buying Tips Without Too Much Salt (Pt 6) - Cats vs. Monos

Be warned - I am an unseasoned and not very salty sailor. Any tips I share about boat buying are of the low sodium variety.

With some trepidation, it is time to tackle the subject of catamarans vs. monohulls. Anyone who is anyone, plus lots and lots of regular folks have plenty to say on the subject. Given I know nothing about sailboats, I thought I would do what I do best which is do some haphazard internet research and regurgitate what others have to say, offering no original thought on my part. This seems like a very sensible approach, especially with such a controversial topic like cats vs. monos. I’m pretty sure whatever I might think on the subject would be wrong. So sit back and read what others have to say. And take notes as there will be a pop quiz later. It will be open book so your notes will come in handy.
I decided to start off with the Bumfuzzles as they have owned both a cat and a monohull. This would seem to give them the credentials to offer an opinion on the subject. And as luck would have it, Mr. Bumfuzzle is an expert in this, as he points out:

 
“I am talking solely of my experience on my two boats. That’s it. Though I must also say that I consider myself a leading expert in all fields, sailboats included. So don’t even try to disagree with me. Thank you.”
 
Phew. He knows what he is talking about so I don’t have to think too much about what he says. I can just accept it as true. That is unless I don’t like his answer. Then I will organize a coup d’├ętat, overthrow Mr. Bumfuzzle and declare myself expert in all things sailing. And all things chocolate too. Yum.

Mr. Bumfuzzle covers a lot of ground in his two posts on this subject so here are the Cliff Notes highlights:

Cost – No doubt about it, catamarans are more expensive. Their catamaran cost them $157,000, whereas their current monohull cost them $48,000. Key Point - $157k minus $48k = $109k. For $109k, you could buy over 20,000 Big Macs if you like that kind of thing. Or another couple of monohulls.

Ease of Sailing – The Bumfuzzles found their cat really easy to sail. Their mono, not so much. Too many winches and the lines aren’t run to the cockpit. Key Point – Sailing should be easy. Buy a boat that is easy to sail.

Heeling – This is a big one when it comes down to cats vs. monos. Cat’s don’t really heel (i.e., tip over on their side), monohulls do. The Bumfuzzles like not having to worry about drinks spilling and stuff flying everywhere. However, in the rare event that a cat does heel too far and rolls over, it is over. Cats can't right themselves, monos can. Key Point – Drinks are important. They shouldn’t spill all over your clothes and the boat. Another critical key point - Make sure you can hold your breath under the water in case your boat rolls over. Better yet, make sure your boat doesn't roll over. Also, don't ever go out on an AC72 - this could happen.

Engines & Maintenance – Like Siamese twins, cats have two hulls and two engines fused together with one mast. Freakish, yes, but having two of something is great when one breaks down. The Bumfuzzles liked the redundancy of their cat. However, Mr. Bumfuzzle did find the engines on his cat underpowered compared to his monohull. Many people argue that “double the hull, double the maintenance” and an associated increase in costs but Mr. Bumfuzzle hasn’t found this to be the case. There are no key points. Engines are boring. It is unfair to test people on boring facts. If only my high school teachers had followed this rule. My grades would have been so much better.

Livability – This one is pretty straightforward for the Bumfuzzles. Their monohull wins hands down in terms of aesthetics, space and comfort, whereas their cat felt sterile and hotel-like. Note this down – if you’re going to live on your boat, make sure you find it homey. It will likely be far smaller than any house you’ve ever lived in so make sure you’re happy in it. Even if that means decorating the inside with pictures of Narwhals and My Little Ponies. Who wouldn’t find that aesthetically pleasing.

Build Quality – This is scary. On his cat, when Mr. Bumfuzzle dropped a screwdriver, a hole was created in the hull. A hole he didn’t want. His mono is much more robust and it takes considerable effort to put holes in it. Key Point – Unintentional holes in your boat are not a good thing. I’m not so sure about intentional holes either.

Weighing it all up, Mr. Bumufzzle comes down on the side of cats. But I thought it only fair to see what Lin and Larry Pardey have to say on the matter as they know a thing or two about monohulls. They have the books to prove it too.

My sister thinks I write too much about Lin and Larry and is a bit worried about my tendency to stalk them. Lin and Larry might also be a bit worried about this too. But let’s face it - they are rock stars in the sailing world and who doesn’t want to stalk a rock star? You know how you bury those little statues of St. Joseph when you’re selling your house so that it will sell quickly and for a fabulous prices (which totally doesn’t work by the way)? Well I want to get little statues of Lin and Larry made and attach them to our boat so that we have smooth sailing. That’s how cool I think they are.

Even though the Pardeys are big fans of monohulls, they are nothing if not fair. So they turned to some people who have sailed both cats and monohulls to get their take on the pros/cons. And here is some of what they had to say:


Catamaran Pros
  • Provides a stable platform (they don’t roll like monohulls and you won’t spill your drinks)
  • Living quarters are above the waterline (you avoid the cave-like feel of a monohull)
  • Shallow draft (you can get up close and anchor)
  • You can go fast! (in certain conditions)
  • Given the two narrow hulls, cats tend to sail in a straight line (and are easier for an auto-pilot to steer)

Catamaran Cons
  • Unpredictable rhythm (with two keels, each one can respond differently to the water bashing against it)
  • If a cat heels too much it will turn over and never right itself
  • The size of a cat can limit mooring and haul-out options
  • Cats are more expensive than monohulls

Even given the pros of catamarans, I imagine the Pardeys still prefer monohulls. One of the things they enjoy most is short-tacking into a harbor, something that isn’t easy to do on a catamaran.

Taking all of that into consideration, I don't think we’ll end up going with a catamaran. It really comes down to cost and on our budget a cat just isn’t an option. But who knows, maybe someday we’ll win the lottery and make the switch.

If you're interested in other slightly eccentric posts on how to buy a sailboat when you know nothing about sailing or boats, check out this page.

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23 September 2013

I'm Not a Bad Wife, Really!

I’ve been getting some comments about what a bad wife I am. How could I possibly write such horrible and sarcastic things about my husband? I thought I should set the record straight. I mistakenly gave Scott the password to the Blogger tool which means he goes into the backend of the system and changes what I write. He is the one responsible for all of those sarcastic comments about himself. Scott is one very sarcastic guy. He is so sarcastic that he loves nothing more than being sarcastic about himself. When he first started working in Scotland, one of the guys he was working with was very impressed with Scott’s sarcastic prowess. He said that he didn’t think Americans got sarcasm but that Scott had proven him wrong. Scott glowed for days as a result of that compliment. You just couldn't get him to stop smiling. I've never seen him smile that much before. It was disturbing.

I thought I would share with you a few examples of what I originally wrote and what Scott changed it to. By the way, Scott is also responsible for any spelling and grammatical mistakes you find in this blog.

The first example is from our post about needing to hold your breath for two minutes should your sailboat roll over unexpectedly.

Scott’ Sarcastic Version


“A couple of years ago, Scott gave me a copy of a glossy brochure entitled “Cruising into the Sunset with Your Partner.” I read it very carefully especially the small print. Scott is very crafty and twists words and phrases with the polish of a politician so it is really important to read the small print carefully. I read the brochure multiple times including the small print. It described walks on moonlit beaches, tropical drinks served in coconuts, relaxing with a good book in the cockpit and had lots of pictures of dolphins and Narwhals frolicking in the ocean. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, did it say anything about boats rolling over and needing to hold your breath underwater for two minutes. If I wasn’t married to him, I would report him to NZ Commerce Commission for violations of the Fair Trading Act. (Note: If Scott ever hands you a glossy brochure with a mischievous smile on his face, I implore you to read the small print very closely. Then read it again. Then consult your attorney and have him/her read it too.)”


Ellen’s Original Version

 
“A couple of years ago, Scott gave me a copy of a glossy brochure entitled, 'Cruising into the Sunset with Your Partner.' He is just the sweetest guy ever! I am so lucky to be married to him! I can’t wait to go sailing with him! I trust him so much that I don’t even need to bother to read the brochure. I know that he’ll be a terrific skipper and nothing bad will ever happen to us out on the big, blue ocean. Hands off girls, he is all mine!”
 
And here is an example from our post on sailing in the Hauraki Gulf last summer.
 
Scott’s Sarcastic Version
 
“After Kawau we headed back to Gulf Harbor for a night and I took a much needed shower at the marina. When I got back Scott said he was going to the "shower block" but, because of my aforementioned watchful eye resolution, I became suspicious when I noticed he didn't take a towel with him. This was coupled with Scott's curious use of the phrase "shower block" rather than "take a shower" as Scott likes to twist words and sentences to his own devices. I was on to him. No matter what he was going to take a shower! I don't care if he doesn't like to immerse himself in water! Not one more minute of that odious, odorous body on this boat! So I marched right up the pontoon, grabbed the nearest male marina staff and had him go into the showers and deliver a towel to Scott. When Scott got back he said he must have dropped his towel because some guy handed it to him in the shower. I just rolled my eyes and gave him a big whiff test. He passed.”
 
Ellen’s Original Version

“After Kawau we headed back to Gulf Harbor for a night and I took a much needed shower at the marina. Scott didn’t need to take a shower as he is so pure of heart that he always smells of fresh-cut flowers. When he burps and farts (rarely done and always in the most gentlemanly-like fashion), there isn't any nasty smell whatsoever and you can see tiny unicorns and rainbows floating in the air.”

This next example is from our post about how surprised I was to find that I was telling people that I love our boat when we were anchored up in Kawau.

Scott's Sarcastic Version

"So maybe being anchored in Kawau on a lovely summer day was what caused me to be so lovey-dovey towards our boat. Or is it because Scott is secretly drugging me? I'm convinced that he puts valium in my drinking water to keep me sedated especially during gale force winds and when the boat is heeled over quite a bit. I am now wondering if he also puts some sort of 'happy' drug in my drinking water."

Ellen's Original Version

"So maybe being anchored in Kawau on a lovely summer day was what caused me to be so lovey-dovey towards our boat. Or more likely, it is because I am married to the most super man in the whole wide world. He is just so darn super. It is almost like being married to Superman himself, but better. With a husband like Scott, who needs drugs? Being married to him is like being on the best drug ever. Without any unpleasant side effects whatsoever."

Moral of the story, lesson to be learned...don't trust a cynical and sarcastic sailor. Unless he puts drugs in your drinking water of course. Then, by all means, buy a sailboat and agree to live on it and cruise around the world. 

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21 September 2013

If It's Not One Problem With The Wind, It's Another

Seriously? More America's Cup racing canceled. Yes, again. And why? It's the wind. This whole regatta has been an endless story about the wind - it is either blowing too much, too little or, like today, from the wrong direction. I'm sure there is some cosmic lesson in this for me about learning to be flexible if I want to live the life of a full-time cruiser on a sailboat. The wind is often unpredictable and you can't always be sure where it will take you. In this case, the wind is coming too far from the south to use the race course that has been set up. Both Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA would have had to agree to setting up an alternate race course suitable for these winds. They declined, which is fair enough as these final races are so crucial. (Hopefully, just one final race.) The US Coast Guard probably breathed a sigh of relief at their decision as it would have impacted on shipping in the San Francisco Bay. Plus it probably would have been a big hassle.

So we stand at 8-3 with Emirates Team New Zealand needing just one more win to bring the cup back home. Oh well, as the saying goes, "Keep calm and carry on." And that is what New Zealand is going to have to do for one more day.


20 September 2013

Registering Your Boat (Pt 3) - USA


The American Flag
The 50 stars represent each of the states and the 13 stripes
represent the original British colonies that declared independence

In preparation for buying our next boat in the States, I've been researching our boat registration options given we're dual citizens (Ireland and USA) and permanent residents of New Zealand. I've had a look at New Zealand and Ireland so far and now it is time to check out how it works in the States.

There seems to be a lot of information out there about boat registration in the States. However, it all seems to be rather confusing especially as it gets tied up with a whole host of other issues such as taxation, cruising permits, customs, residency, state registration etc. So to make it simple (at least for now), I'm just going to look at the process for documenting your boat nationally through the US Coast Guard. There will probably be another post(s) required to look at all those other issues which quite frankly are giving me a headache just now. Avoidance and denial are a sure fire way to cure a headache, so we'll pretend it is a straightforward process to register your boat in the States.

The first step is to go to the US Coast Guard website. Their URL ends in "mil" which of course means "military" and there is even a handy indicator on the home page telling you the current maritime security threat level. Today it is at Level 1 which means that "minimum appropriate security measures shall be maintained at all times." Until I looked up the definition of Level 1, I had assumed it wasn't good news as the number 1 usually is the highest you can go. Fortunately, they do things a bit topsy turvy and Level 1 is the lowest. Level 3 is the highest. Phew, we can rest easy - today is a Level 1 day. This all just goes to remind you that the US Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security. Kind of takes the pleasure out of pleasure vessel if you spend too much time thinking about it. So we won't. We'll just thank the men and women of the US Coast Guard for protecting our waters and move on to the bureaucratic process of registering your boat.

The process of nationally registering your boat is called "vessel documentation" and is actually one of the oldest functions of the government going back to the 11th Act of the First Congress. If I had paid more attention in American History class I might have known this already. Instead I read it on the website. It is possibly the most interesting thing on there.

The first step is to check whether of not we can register a boat we buy in the States with the US Coast Guard. The two requirements to document your vessel are that it is at least five net tons and that the owners are American citizens. Check and check. So far so good. You have to get your Certificate of Documentation endorsed for fishery, coastwise, registry or recreation. I assume they mean commercial fishery and I don't know what they mean by coastwise or registry, so we'll go with a recreational endorsement. Easy so far. You have to prove you own the boat, prove you are an American citizen and be eligible for the type of endorsement you want. All sounds straightforward.

The next step is to get a copy of Form CG-1258 which is three pages long and asks you for all sorts of information including your name, your US address, social security number (to prove you are a US citizen), your hailing port (which must be a US city), what type of boat it is and what kind of horsepower you have. There are a lot of other sections which don't apply to us which can be easily bypassed. US citizenship is mentioned a few more times in the application. They want to make really sure that you realize that you must be an American to fill out this form. And they also remind you that the penalties are severe if you lie to them about this. Unless our parents lied to us and forged our birth certificates, we're okay as I was born in Florida and Scott was born in North Dakota.

If you have more than one owner of the boat then you have to pick a "managing owner" as the US government only wants to deal with one person. I nominate me. I like to be in charge. Scott can attest to my bossy qualities. And of course, you also get to pick your boat name provided that it:


  • Is 33 characters or less
  • Doesn't sound or look like any word(s) used to solicit assistance at sea
  • Doesn't sound or look like any word(s) that are obscene, indecent, use profane language or are racial or ethnic epithets
While the form is not very aesthetically pleasing, it seems pretty straightforward for a boat that has been previously registered. You can even email it in along with your credit card details so that they can charge you US$84 to transfer the boat into your name. You have to renew your documentation annually but it doesn't look like they charge you to do so.

Once you get your official certificate of documentation and number you then have to put it in the interior of your boat hull preceded by "NO." in numbers at least three inches high. You also have to put the name and hailing port (city and state) on the exterior of your hull ensuring it is at least four inches high. I wonder if anyone ever comes out with a ruler to check your measurements?

So in comparison to registering your boat in New Zealand, documenting your boat in the States seems relatively similar from a bureaucracy point of view, but far cheaper. Of course, given tax issues, cruising permits, state registration, residency issues etc. it probably isn't as straightforward as all that so we'll have to have to do some more research before we make a final determination as to where it makes the most sense to register our boat.

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19 September 2013

Kia Kaha New Zealand (Stay Strong)

Well, Oracle Team USA took the first race of the America's Cup today and the second race was postponed due to those pesky winds. The score now stands at Emirates Team New Zealand with 8 points to Oracle Team USA's 2 points. The Kiwis need just one more win to bring the cup back to New Zealand. 

I imagine a lot of people will be saying "Kia Kaha" today in New Zealand, which is Maori for "stay [be] strong". The phrase is commonly used in New Zealand and became an iconic phrase used to show support to those impacted by the devastating Christchurch earthquake. It is also well known as a verse from the marching song of the 28th Maori Battalion during World War II who fought in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy:

          Maori Battalion march to victory
          Maori Battalion staunch and true
          Maori Battalion march to glory
          Take the honour of the people with you
          We will march, march, march to the enemy
          And we'll fight right to the end
          For God! For King! And for Country!
          Au - E! Ake, ake, kia kaha e!

So one more day to wait New Zealand - Kia Kaha. You can find out more about the Maori language (Te Reo) here.

18 September 2013

One More To Go

The nail biting in New Zealand continues for one more day as the second race of the America's Cup has been called off due to excessive wind. It reminds me of that Willie Wonka quote, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last." Emirates Team New Zealand took the first race of the day and the score is now 8-1 with 9 points needed to win the cup. Oracle Team USA has actually won 3 races, but because they cheated, they were penalized and started out at negative 2 points. Nobody likes a cheater.

You can see red socks everywhere as New Zealand gets closer and closer to bringing the America's Cup back home. The red socks are in remembrance of the late Sir Peter Blake who led New Zealand to victory in successive America's Cup campaigns. For each campaign, Sir Peter's wife Pippa gave him a different pair of socks for good luck. His good luck socks for the 1995 America's Cup in San Diego were red. The one time he didn't wear them during the campaign, Sir Peter was injured and they lost the race. After that the entire team started to wear red socks for the rest of the races, along with Kiwis throughout New Zealand. And it must have helped as New Zealand won the America's Cup that year. Maybe it is helping again this time around as you can find red socks on the feet of almost every Kiwi both at home and abroad. So put your socks on and cross your fingers - one more race to win.


Registering Your Boat (Pt 2) - Ireland (UPDATED)


The Irish Flag
Green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland,
orange represents the followers of William of Orange and
white represents aspiration of peace between them
When Scott and I buy our next sailboat in the States, we'll need to register her as we'll be taking her offshore. As we have dual citizenship (USA and Ireland) and are permanent residents of New Zealand, we have choices about where to register our boat. I've already had a look at what's involved in registering a boat in New Zealand and now it's time to check out the process for Ireland.

If you're just using your boat in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom and associated territorial waters, then you don't need to bother with registration. However, like in New Zealand, if you want to race your boat locally then you do need to apply to the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) and get an Irish sail number. You can also choose to register your boat with the ISA Small Craft Register which gives you an identification mark. The good news is that it will cost you just €15 if you are an ISA member. Some people cruising abroad choose to go with just the Small Craft Register. However, the good folk at the ISA are at great pains to point out that this does not provide proof of ownership or substitute for being nationally registered. So while the fee of €15 sounds good, it just won't cut it if you're going offshore.
Instead, you have to head over to the Mercantile Marine Office in the Department of Transport and prove you own the boat, confirm your tax status and provide a survey. And this is where it gets tricky as it is very difficult to find information online about the details about what you need to do and how you have to do it. It seems to be a bit like when I renewed my Irish passport. You can't download an application directly from the embassy's website in New Zealand. No, no, no. That would be too easy. Instead you have to email or phone and request that an application be posted out to you. Assuming that this process works something like that, I sent off an email to the Mercantile Marine Office. And I waited for a response. And I waited some more. And then I lost interest and gave up.

While I was waiting, I did some more internet searching and found someone had asked the same question on the Cruisers Forum a few years ago and the response they got back was to "Forget Ireland as a country of registration, it's a very difficult process specifically designed for large merchant ships and very unsuitable to pleasure craft. It also requires the craft to be physically present in Ireland." It is about the only information I have been able to easily find on the process. I'm looking for a hassle-free (and cheap) way to register our boat. Ireland doesn't look like it will be the answer. That's okay because they are the answer to so many other things like shamrocks, Irish coffee, friendly people in the pubs, friendly sheep in the fields and best of all the ancient tomb and temple at Newgrange. It is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. You should visit. It is really cool.


UPDATE

I’ve now heard from the Mercantile Marine Office at the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport regarding the process for registering your boat. Here is what you need to do:
  • Choose a port of registration – you can pick from Arklow, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick, Skibbereen, Sligo, Tralee, Waterford, Westport or Wexford.
  • Get your boat name approved – it has to be unique so check first with the Mercantile Marine Office to see if anyone else has it.
  • Then it is time to fill out a bunch of forms and get documents together: (1) Form GR342 – to apply to use your proposed boat name. Provide your details, the boat name, builder’s details, type of boat, what trade the boat will be used for and tonnage. (2) Survey 6 – to make arrangement with the Marine Survey Office to get a Tonnage Survey and get your boat officially measured. (3) Survey 118 - provides a Certificate of Particulars of Engines. Builders Certificate – if your boat has never been registered. (4) Certificate of Deletion – if your boat has been registered outside of Ireland. (5) Bill of Sale showing the transfer of sale from the previous owners to you.
  • And then of course you have to hand over some money. The Tonnage Survey fee for boats based in Ireland is €165 for pleasure craft less than 15m and €272 if greater than 15m. For boats not in Ireland, I’m not sure what arrangement would need to be made and what fees apply.
  • You then have to pay a registration fee which is based upon your gross tonnage. I can’t seem to find any details of what the fee structure is and if it is a one-off payment or needs to renewed periodically.
  • It all seems a little complicated and looks like you need to have your boat in Ireland, so it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll register our boat in Ireland.
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The Kiwi Flag Ninjas

The Kiwi Flag Ninjas are what New Zealand is all about - three guys not afraid to have a bit of fun and take the mickey out of Larry Ellison. Larry is the guy who is bankrolling Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup. In the early hours of the morning, the trio decorated one of Larry's properties in San Francisco with New Zealand flags. Just a wee reminder to Larry to not underestimate the Kiwi spirit. Just two more wins and the Kiwis bring the cup back to New Zealand. There will be plenty of flags flying then.

17 September 2013

It's Just Too Darn Windy

The America's Cup is all that Kiwis seem to be talking about these days, which is understandable as Emirates Team New Zealand is only two wins away from taking the cup. With today's racing being postponed due to the wind, we'll have to wait nervously for another day to see if the Kiwis will bring the America's Cup back to New Zealand.

It does seems strange to cancel racing due to the wind when the whole point of sailing is to have the wind power your boat forward. But sometimes it is just too darn windy to sail safely. British sailor Andrew (Bart) Simpson lost his life after being trapped underwater when the Swedish Artemis boat capsized during training in May. Following this tragic event, new safety recommendations, including wind limits, were put in place. The upper wind limit is 23 knots, however this is adjusted based upon other conditions. Due to the strong ebb tide today, the upper wind limit was set for 20.1 knots for the first race and 20.3 for the second. Unfortunately, the winds kicked up too high today and the racing was called off. Here's hoping the racing goes ahead tomorrow.

16 September 2013

Registering Your Boat (Pt 1) - New Zealand


New Zealand Flag
 It has the British Union Jack in the upper left corner and
the four stars represent the Southern Cross constellation (the Crux)
Our current sailboat in New Zealand isn't registered, but that's okay because we don't have any plans to take her offshore or race her locally. She looks to have been registered at one time with Yachting New Zealand as her sails have a number on them. If you want race your boat in New Zealand then you have to register her with Yachting New Zealand otherwise you can't participate in any official races. It will cost you NZ$55 to change the ownership or boat name if the boat was previously registered. For a new boat or a boat that hasn't been previously registered, it will cost you NZ$105 which includes allocation of a sail number. It is a one off fee and you don't have to re-register annually. Not that much money in the scheme of things but not something we plan on investing in. Sorry Scott, racing on our boat just isn't going to happen. 

However, when we upgrade next year and buy a new boat in the States, we will need to register her as she will be sailed offshore. Registration basically confers nationality on your boat and makes her subject to the laws of the country under which she is flagged. We're Americans by birth, hold dual citizenship with Ireland and are permanent residents of New Zealand so we'll have some choices about where we register our new boat. So here is the scoop on what you need to do if you want to register your boat in New Zealand.

First off, don't bother with Yachting New Zealand. If you plan on taking your boat offshore, it is Maritime New Zealand (or "No Te Rere Moana Aotearoa" as it is known in Maori) that you need to deal with to get your boat on the New Zealand Register of Ships. Some people have to register their boats and some people are entitled to register their boats. There are two types of registration - Part A and Part B. Part A is aimed principally at large commercial vessels and provides nationality to your boat and proves ownership. It is also used if you have a mortgage on your boat. Part B only provides nationality to your boat and generally applies to pleasure vessels. If you plan on taking your pleasure boat overseas and it is New Zealand owned, then you must register her under either Part A or Part B. Because we aren't New Zealand citizens, our boat would not be "New Zealand owned" so we aren't obliged to register her under either Part A or Part B. But we are entitled to register our boat under Part B because we are permanent residents. Basically, they can't make us register our boat, but we can if we want to. As I don't like being told what to do, this is the perfect scenario.

So if we do want to register our boat, here is what we would need to do. First, you get a copy of the handy "Guide to Ship Registration" from Maritime New Zealand. Then you read the section where it says that "registration entails a certain amount of paperwork and the payment of fees" and you decide to set up a competition to see which government bureaucracy (New Zealand, Ireland and USA) will require the most amount of paperwork and who charges the most. It will be interesting to see who wins this one. My bets are on the American government based solely on how many pages of guidelines the IRS prints every year to "help" you complete your tax return. Personally, I never find the guidelines helpful, only confusing.

Okay, to register a boat under Part B, you need the following:
  • Form SR3 (the registration application)
  • Fee of NZ$720
  • Evidence that any registration in another country has been closed

Form SR3 is only one page long. Writing neatly in BLOCK LETTERS, you have to tell them what type of boat it is, if she has previously been registered, how many hulls she has, how long she is and the owners' details including name(s), address, number of shares of the boat owned and nationality. You also get to include your top three choices for the name of your boat making sure that your proposed name isn't:
  • offensive
  • the name of members of the Royal family
  • the name "New Zealand" without a prefix or suffix
  • a name that falsely suggests a connection with the Royal family, international, national or local government bodies
So I guess the Prince George of New Zealand is off the table. We'll have to come up with an alternative!

If your application is successful, your boat will be registered for a period of five years after which you need to renew it and pay Maritime New Zealand more money. Within one month of being registered you have to paint the registration number along with the words "New Zealand" on the stern or on each side of the hull. And then you get to fly the New Zealand flag - you have a choice of the official flag (see above) or the New Zealand marine flag (see below).

So far, it is looking good for New Zealand in terms of paperwork - one page application. Not so good in terms of money - NZ$720 every five years but we'll wait and see how Ireland and USA pan out as options.


New Zealand Marine Flag
The "red ensign" or "red duster" which became the official flag for merchant vessels
in NZ in 1901. It can also be flown on Maori land or during Maori events. 
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15 September 2013

Two More To Go

Emirates Team New Zealand only needs to win two more races to take the America's Cup. It has been a real nail biter the past couple of days with a near capsize yesterday by the Kiwis and with Oracle Team USA taking the first race today. 

I understand that, outside of San Francisco, there hasn't been much news coverage in the States. Which is odd as it is called the America's Cup, it is being raced in America and the defender is an American team. The Super Bowl is quite big here in New Zealand and they don't even play in it, so I'm not quite sure why the premier sailing event in the world wouldn't get more news coverage in the States. But hey, until a year ago when we bought a sailboat, I really wouldn't have paid attention either.

Fingers crossed for Race 11 and Race 12. If you're in the States, tune in on Tuesday to watch. For those of us in New Zealand, through the magic of time travel and the international dateline, we'll actually watch it the next day on Wednesday.

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