Season's Greetings 2012
It is already a tradition of our office to promote twelve boats from our designs which accomplished some sort of outstanding achievement, or are exceptionally well-built boats launched along this year. It is a hard task for us to have to choose twelve stories only, and we ask our friends which were not included in this list to excuse us for the omission.
January - Polar 65 Fraternidade - The first boat to be remembered this year is the school ship Fraternidade. The old salt, the Ukrainian sailor Alexis Belov, just completed a round the world trip skippering this authentic expedition yacht, having as crew a team of young sailors, who profited from the captain's experience, since this was his fourth circum-navigation. Honouring Alexis feat we included Fraternidade in the Hall of Fame of boats built from our designs. This photo shows Fraternidade docked in Papeete's Water Front, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
February - The Pantanal 25 Vega is a good example of what can be achieved by an amateur builder. Her owner, the Argentinean geologist Daniel D'Angelo, built this boat in his free time at his home garden in City Bell, Buenos Aires, and now is winning races with her.
March - Kiribati 36 Green Nomad - Our new associate Luis Manuel Pinho co-designed the Kiribati 36 swing keel cruising sailboat, built the first unit of the class and now lives aboard with his wife Marli (the couple is sitting at starboard). They already sailed with their new yacht from Rio Grande, in Southern Brazil, to Parati, State of Rio de Janeiro, and from there they intend to sail north in a trip that will take them back to Australia, the country they have their citizenships. Presently Green Nomad is a floating studio, and Luis collaborates with B & G Yacht Design being connected on line with the main office, no matter where the boat will be stationed.
April - Multichine 41SK Bepaluhê - This retractable keel cruising boat is a successful enterprise. Her owner, the doctor Paulo Ayrosa, ordered the construction of this aluminium yacht in Ilha Sul Yacht Builder, www.ilhasulnauticas.com.br, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, and then made an eight-hundred miles trip to Parati, Rio de Janeiro; the boat having corresponded all the expectations of our client. Paulo, the second from the right, is toasting the inauguration of his boat, having the builder to his left, his wife in the centre, and friends.
May - Samoa 28 Terrius - Bernardo Sampaio's Samoa 28 Terrius was the second boat of the class to be launched, and she is, for sure, a floating witness of how good this boat is. She is very good-looking, sails like a dream, is very spacious and habitable for her size, and is sturdy as a rock. No wonder Bernado is so happy with his new acquisition.
June - Multichine 28 Access - This boat fits the category of dream machines. Her owner, the amateur builder Flavio Bezerra, exchanged a promising career of computer scientist for the one of delivery skipper, having his MC28 Access as his headquarters, most of the time stationed in Falmouth Bay, Antigua. When Flavio isn't enjoying the “dolce vita” of a tramp sailor, he most probably may be found diving, or surfboarding, in any secluded corner of the West Indies.
July - Curruira 42 Agenores - This trawler is a masterpiece built by Flab Boatyards, www.flab.com.br, and belongs to Nico Araujo, a retired doctor who chose to live in one of the most romantic places in the South Atlantic, Camamu Bay, Bahia, Brazil.
August - Andorinha 16 Finalmente - The launching day of this nicely-built high performance centreboard sailboat. Our client Fernando Luis Schreiner, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, chose to build his dinghy using the foam/sandwich method, managing to obtain a very light hull. He is very pleased with the performance of his boat.
September - Cabo Horn 35 Yahgan - This photo is a celebration. Twenty years ago it was launched the Cabo Horn 35 Yahgan. It was the second boat of the class to be inaugurated and the project was doing a roaring trade as a very original cruising sailboat, perhaps the most “expedition” style cruising sailboat designed by our office up to that date. Twenty years later, after a boat of the class having completed a round the world voyage, surviving tsunamis, hurricanes and other ordeals, the class is as prestigious as ever, and now has been boosted by an upgrade, the Cabo Horn 35 MKII version. Our client and friend João Carlos Muniz de Brito, the owner and builder of Yahgan, still lives aboard his boat, which is in as good state as in the day she was launched. This photo was taken in Loreto, Bahia, Brazil.
October - Pop 25 Horus - This photo is a tribute to the competence of our friend Daniel D'Angelo, who we already complimented in this list with his other achievement, of winning races with his home-built Pantanal 25 Vega. This time we are including his latest accomplishment: building the hull of the Pop 25 prototype in three months. Daniel is expecting to launch his third amateur construction this December, the boat being already turned over and with the superstructure already installed.
November - Samoa 34 Luthier - This Samoa 34 is another good example of amateur construction. She was built in her owners' house-garden with the firm intention of departing for an extended cruise. Now the couple Dorival and Catarina Gimenes are completing a circuit of South and the North Atlantic in a flawless adventure. This photo was taken in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. Luthier visited the West Indies, Azores, Portugal, Spain, Madeira, Canary Island, Cape Verde, and now is returning to Santos, her home port.
December - Explorer 39 Caroll. - Our client Raimundo Nascimento is completing a single-handed round the world voyage aboard his extremely well built swing keel yacht. He sent us this photo when Caroll was docked in Port Louis, Mauritius, after passing through the nightmare of being chased by pirates in the Indian Ocean. His luck was that his boat managed to sail faster than his chasers, managing to reach ten knots, far above the bandit's trawler speed. Presently Caroll is nearly completing her circum-navigation, being now in South Africa. Her home-port is Santos, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Antarctic. A tropical sailor visits the frozen seas
Luis Manuel Pinho
Many of B & G Yacht Design projects bear the name Polar on their designations. I have worked on CNC cutting files for two of them, the Polar 65 and Polar 50, but so far Polar was just a word that evoked fascination and far off in the distance appeal.
Snow Blizzard and growlers, a world apart from the coral atolls we love
Now, back from my voluntary period in Sea Shepherd the word Polar brings back memories and not vague speculative thoughts.
We sailed more than 22000 nautical miles during the last Antarctic campaign, almost always below 50 degrees South, and our northern boundaries were Tasmania and New Zealand.
The Antarctic continent on the background, navigating MacMurdo Sound
A heavily iced ship after a severe storm
Most of the time was spent South of 60 degrees South, and in the Ross Sea we roamed between 70 and 79 degrees of latitude, culminating at 78 degrees and 39 minutes South, at Bay of Whales, where Roald Amundsen left his ship Fram to undertake his South Pole conquering expedition in 1911.
We met practically all weather conditions to be expected in this area and unfortunately had to respond to a search and rescue call from New Zealand MRCC, and when going towards the distress signal area we had to sail through conditions that looked unreal, that seemed to belong to a foreign, grey, icy and extreme planet.
Severe weather at 58 degrees south, duration one week, reaching more than 65 knots at times
Definitively the biggest nightmare of Polar navigation in my opinion is to be in charge of steering a ship in waters that have varying concentrations of growlers, ranging in size from a shoe box to a big house, many times almost totally under water, which you can only see by the disturbances they provoke on the surface when waves move them.
No way around this growlers, just break them or push them away
At some stage we had to move at night through these ice fields, and even using searchlights we knew that only luck and a strong hull stood between us and disaster, as snow blizzards would render the lights useless blanketing everything in white.
To sail in these areas you need good panoramic vision from inside a heated cabin or bridge and a hull that you know will hold when the unavoidable encounter with a hidden growler happens.
A solitary penguin on a world of ice
Icebergs bring you more joy then worry, as they are usually easily detectable on radar and not such a problem to avoid by a watchful crew.
Art by nature
Dancing lights: Aurora Australis paints in the atmosphere!
One thing is for sure: a polar boat must have all systems in good order and a polar expedition is beforehand a meticulous planning affair. Help can be very far and slow to come, if not impossible.
Gojira on the Southern Ocean. Later I skippered this 115 ft vessel from Tahiti to southern France
But taken the necessary steps and respecting the proper season there is no reason why this regions cannot be visited and admired.
We can recall that more than a century ago men like Scott, Shackleton or Amundsen were sailing this areas, in conditions so difficult for the technology of their time that we cannot even start to understand in the light of modern vessels and navigational aids.
Bay of Whales, where Roald Amundsen left Fram for his South Pole expedition in 1911
Mount Erebus, Ross Island, the southernmost active volcano in the world
Note: Luis Manuel Pinho is a metallurgic engineer and yacht designer who presently is member of our staff, being responsible for the CNC files for our metallic projects. He is also a collaborator in several of our designs.
Luis built the first Kiribati 36 to be launched, the Green Nomad, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Now he is preparing her to sail in the company of his wife, Marli Werner, to the South Pacific, having Australia as base between cruising trips.
In November 2010 Luis was invited to join the Sea Shepherd expedition to counteract the Japanese whale hunting seasonal activity. Once concluded this operation, he was appointed as skipper aboard the 115 feet trimaran Gojira, one of the vessels involved in the campaign, having sailed her from Tahiti, in French Polynesia, to the Côte D’Azur, in the Mediterranean. After this delivery trip Luis returned to Rio Grande, where his boat is presently stationed.
In the future Luis intends to take part on-line in the B & G Yacht Design team working aboard Green Nomad no matter where she will be.
Click here to know more about the Polar 65
Click here to know more about the Polar 50
Click here to know more about the MC41SK
Click here to know more about the Kiribati 36
A Charter in Phuket
By the time we were finishing the work in South Korea and were preparing our return to Australia we thought we deserved a holiday to recharge batteries after two years of hard work building the drill-ships. We thought we could not leave Asia without visiting Thailand, so we decided to visit Phuket, but also that part of the time would be spent on board a sailboat. We contacted a charter company and booked a boat for one week, the story of this trip we tell below:
We arrived in the Yacht Heaven Marina at 11:00 am were the charter company agents were awaiting us. We left our belongings and the shopping bags onboard and went back to the office to fill the forms. There we received information about the best places to visit, where the anchorages were good to spend the night and the weather forecast for the next week. We would probably have good weather with 15 to 20 knots winds during the first 3 or 4 days and lots of rain and 20 to 25 knots gusty winds for the rest of our stay. We decided to visit first the south part of the bay which is more open to sea and wind, and leave the more protected northern part for the last days.
We set our first stop to the Ko Yau Yai Island, the largest in the bay and approximately 18 miles away from the Marina. More or less in the middle of the west side of the Ko Yau Yai there is a resort where we could use the swimming pool and have our meals in the restaurant instead of cooking on board.
After finishing with the papers we went to the boat to receive the instructions about the boat’s systems and equipments. Our boat was a 36 foot yacht with 3 cabins and one heads. We left at 2:30 pm. The space between piers was so tight that it was necessary to call the Marina's rescue boat to tow the boat by the bow and put it in the right direction to avoid collision. There is a big sand bank at the entrance of the Marina with an old sailboat left stranded in the middle, not a good sight for those who are leaving for a week on board. To avoid the sandbank it is necessary to turn 90 degrees as soon as the last pier is left behind and have a close shave from the luxury yachts moored outside the pier.
Motoring to leave the Yacht Heaven Marina.
We kept motoring for about 30 minutes until reaching the channel entrance, when we raised sails for a good downwind afternoon sailing. We arrived in Ko Yau Yai in the evening but the crew were too tired to go ashore, so we had a quick meal on board and went to bed.
Enjoyng the sailing to Kho Yau Yai.
Arriving at Ko Yau Yai.
The wind blew all night until almost dawn, the boat jerking a lot, but the anchor held well. We woke up early, had a quick breakfast and got ready to leave. When we were about to raise the anchor a small fishing boat came close and offered us the catch of that early morning, some fish and four tiger prawns. Our lunch was guaranteed.
We left Ko Yau Yai to Phi Phi. We motored for one and a half hour in very light winds until we saw a small island in our way. We checked the pilot book and found it was Koh Khai Nai Island, and that the anchorage was ok in good weather, and since the wind had not showed up yet, we decided to stopover there. When getting closer we noticed that quite a few power boats were anchored in the surroundings and that there were some huts ashore, the island not being so empty as we were thinking, but decided to stop there anyway. Later we would discover that it was a popular place used as a tourist boats stopover, taking hundreds of visitors there daily. We went for a stroll on the beach, drank some coconut water, and went back to the boat to resume the trip.
Kho Khai Nai looked as an empty place from the distance...
… but when we arrived we saw that the place was a busy tourist spot.
When reaching the south tip of Kho Yau Yai we changed course to south-east, pointing towards Phi Phi. The wind started blowing and soon we were sailing in a fifteen knots broad reach with some dark clouds approaching. In short time the wind increased to twenty knots with twenty-five knots gusts, and then came heavy rain. It lasted for half an hour, the wind resuming to fifteen knots again.
Heading to Phi Phi.
Phi Phi actually is a group of islands, the main island being Phi Phi Don where there is a village with hotels for the tourists. We arrived late in the afternoon still with enough sunlight to find a good place to drop the hook. The anchorage point is close to the channel where traffic is intense for most of the time with crafts coming to and fro.
Looking for a place to drop the anchor.
We left the boat in the anchorage and bought a day trip to Phi Phi Lay. This is a beautiful island with many secluded bays and lagoons, pristine waters crowded with colourful fish, a perfect place for snorkelling.
Loh Samah Bay at Phi Phi Lay.
Pileh Cove at Phi Phi Lay.
Maya Bay at Phi Phi Lay.
We landed late in the afternoon but still in time to have a walk across the main island and to visit the bay on the other side. After having dinner, we took the dinghy and went back to the boat.
Back to Phi Phi in time for a stroll to the other side of the island.
We left Phi Phi early in the e morning. Our destination for that day was the Koh Doeng Islands, near Krabi, but with a stopover at Koh Yung, or Bamboo Island. We read in the pilot book that there was a restaurant in the island and that it was a good spot for snorkelling.
Bamboo Island is a national park and to disembark there is necessary to pay 200 Brath per person (about AU$7.00), however the park official charged 500 Brath for the family. The restaurant there is very simple and only served fried rice, but the snorkelling on the corals not far from a white sand beach was worth the stop.
The white sand beach and the snorkelling in the corals were worth the stop at Bamboo Island.
We returned to the boat after lunch to resume the trip, leaving for Krabi, the next call. We sailed most the afternoon in perfect conditions, 10 to 15 knots broad reach, but we knew that the weather forecast was not promising, a cold front approaching and heavy clouds coming ahead. Our plan was to anchor for the night at Koh Doeng, but when we were approaching the island a thunderstorm brought 30 knots winds. We realized that the anchorage near the islands would not be safe in that condition, so we decided to go further, to Ao Nang beach on the continent, a haven that offered better shelter.
Our plan was to stop at the Koh Doeng, but there we would not have a good shelter in nasty weather.
We were not the only ones searching shelter at Ao Nang.
The storms kept coming and going during all night and although the anchorage was protected from the wind, the waves were catching us by the side and we rolled all night. We waited for a break between two rains to put the dinghy in the water to visit the village. There are many resorts crowded with tourists in that region, people that go there looking for an "empty and calm" secluded place to relax.
The village at the Ao Nang beach.
Relaxing time before continuing the trip.
Despite being in the continent, the roads to Ao Nang are very bad and the best way for the tourist to arrive and leave is by sea on small local fishing boats that come close to the beach until getting stuck in the mud. At low tide people had to walk about 50 metres on the mud carrying their luggage on their backs to get on and off the boats. We arrived in high tide, so we motored the dinghy up to the beach, but nevertheless we had to carry it stepping in the mud until we went into the water to go back to the boat.
Tourists boarding the boats to leave Ao Nang.
We left just after lunch. Our plan was to sail about eighteen miles towards the east side of Koh Yau Noi and stop close to another resort that also welcomes boaters to use the pool and the restaurant. As soon we left the area protected from the wind we realized that it would not be an easy task sailing against waves, current and the strong winds that still prevailed. The storms kept coming periodically, bringing stronger winds and heavy showers, lasting between 30 minutes to one hour, and to get things worse we discovered that the engine's cooling water was not circulating properly, and every time we put more than 1200 RPM the alarm beeped.
Leaving Ao Nang behind.
We would like to cross through a group of island called Koh Hong Krabi but on those conditions and not having confidence on the engine we decided to leave the islands by the side. By 6:00 pm the normal wind dropped completely leaving only the occasional storms, and we were only half way from our waypoint. We turned the engine on at low RPM and continued going, doing one to two knots on the GPS. We arrived late at the resort bay, gave up the swimming pool and restaurant dreams and went straight to bed.
Some islands of the Koh Hong Krabi archipelago.
We woke up early to try to unblock the cooling water intake. The current was strong, more than one knot, and I had to be tied to the boat with a rope to not be carried away. I couldn't fix the problem, so we decided to leave the place since we would have a long way to go that day.
We left with no wind against the current doing 1.5 knots with crippled engine. By the middle of the morning came a light breeze that didn't changed our speed, but at least allowed us to turn the engine off and start sailing. By lunch time we were at the northern tip of Koh Yau Noi, when the wind changed direction and increased in intensity. We would have more wind again but this time the current were helping us. We sailed on these conditions for two hours until dark heavy clouds started coming over us and the wind got stronger. Our plan was to visit Khao Phing Kan island, better known as James Bond Island because it was a scenery for one of the 007 movies. Being famous and easily accessible by the tourist boats, the island is crowded during the day. We would rather just pass by, take some photos and go to any other island nearby, probably as beautiful as Khao Phing Kan but less popular.
By mid-afternoon the thunderstorms came back bringing 25-30 knots winds and heavy rain that lasted about half an hour, only to begin a few minutes later. We gave up James Bond Island and set our heading to Koh Hong. This area receives lots of sediments that came from many rivers, the draught decreasing suddenly from six meters to two meters, while the tide current might be over 3 knots. We were sailing again against a strong ebbing tide and the wind on the nose. In one tack we were doing two knots on the GPS, but on the other tack the current took the boat drifted sideways and we sailed backwards at the same two knots.
We spent most of the sixtieth day fighting against thunderstorms and tides.
After sunset the thunderstorms got worse, or they seemed so in the dark. We were twelve miles from the Marina and five from the place we intended to stop. The next day we had to return the boat at noon, so we decided to turn on the crippled engine and settled our waypoint direct to the marina, this way we could at least sail in the lee of the island and avoid the stronger currents. Motoring at 1.5 to 2 knots, we entered the canal that leads to the Marina at 10 pm, arriving there after 1:00 am. We anchored outside the marina since at that time we would have no assistance to manoeuvre between the piers and to park the boat on the finger.
We woke up late and had a relaxed breakfast talking and remembering the past week experiences. About 10am we called the marina service by the VHF to inform that we were coming in and asking for the support of the marina boat to guide us between the sand banks. Again we passed very close to a mega-yacht moored outside the pier and had a sharp 90 degrees turn to enter the marina. We caught our things and left the boat, still in time to eat a delicious pad thai in a local restaurant nearby before going to the hotel where we would stay for the next few days.
This was our first experience chartering a boat and we really enjoyed it. It is an interesting option to someone who doesn’t have time to do a long cruising but want to visit different places during a short holiday, but it is definitely not the same as cruising in your own boat. It is more like as staying in a hotel, it is good for a short time but you do not feel as comfortable as in your own house.
About the boat, it was just right fo
r a short cruising in protected waters, for gunk-holing during the day and anchoring for the night. The interior space is compromised by the three cabin layout and the option for having more comfort in the external areas. The galley and heads are tighter than in some smaller cruising boats like the Multichine 28, and our personal clothes and food for one week filled all lockers and shelves. We only sailed in relatively protected waters with no significant waves and maximum wind around 30 knots, and on those conditions she performed well, but if I went for a long offshore passage I would definitely feel safer and happier if I was onboard a Samoa 34, Samoa 36, Multichine 36 or Kiribati 36.
The boat designed and built for the day after
It was revealed a few days ago the speech the Queen had ready to be pronounced about the third world war. This speech was written exactly thirty years ago, the time for state documents considered of strategic importance to turn public. The cold war at that moment was attaining its climax and the planet was within the reach of a finger-tip to be inexorably destroyed by human stupidity. This is history, and fortunately there was a light at the end of the tunnel and the catastrophe didn’t materialize.
Of course such sombre state of spirit had some degree of influence in the life of every citizen of that time. Some built nuclear shelters where they planned to spend extra days after the worst had happened, taking to that place the beloved ones and the things they praised most. Others, on the other hand, preferred to spend all their possessions while there was still time.
My own story, however, had a different focus. I built an offshore cruising sailboat that could sail for months on end without needing to be supplied with fresh provisions, so my family and I could enjoy a few more weeks doing the thing we liked most, sailing in the immensity of the ocean. We lived at the city of Rio de Janeiro, a place that being distant from the hub of the political dispute would probably have a couple of days more of survival. I kept the boat permanently provisioned for six months at sea, and my plan was to sail bound for the Southern Ocean, keeping contact with the rest of the world by means of a short wave receiver and the boat’s SSB. What a terrific plan! We would be enjoying life intensely, when perhaps billions would be dying. When our time would come, if it came by then, we had a sneer in our face, being among the last ones who knew how the story of a blue planet plagued by the prevalence of an arrogant species that put selfish interests above anything else did end. Then why not playing according to the book, if those were the rules of the game?
Somehow we were sort of pioneers in world globalization. I am Brazilian, my wife Eileen is British and my daughter Astrid is Tahitian. She was born there when we were crossing the Pacific aboard a twenty-five foot cruising sailboat with no inboard engine (you can read, or download, this story for free entering our front page, left-side lower corner: Rio to Polynesia. An adventure in the South Pacific). We had tasted the society’s forbidden apple, the feeling of freedom proportioned by our life-style. Being a Carioca (as are called the Rio de Janeiro inhabitants) was already a privilege, I believed. Rio is a place where mountain and sea almost touch each other, forming gorgeous beaches in between, among them Copacabana and Ipanema, renowned for being where the “Bossa Nova” was born and the dental floss bikini was introduced. We didn’t really want to leave, but just imagining such beautiful place being charred by radiation would be unbearable to us.
Maitairoa, the boat designed and built to survive come rain or shine as she looks today, thirty years after her launching. Courtesy: Sandra Sautu
In June, 1983, Maitairoa, the cruising boat built for the day after, was launched in Marina da Gloria, the municipal marina close to Rio’s downtown. My dream had become reality. We wished our concerns about the apocalypse were simply a fantasy, and that the nuclear war would never happen, but we felt we were prepared for the worst. Since the worst didn’t happen, the prize for that effort was to own a doomsday-proof sailboat ready to go anywhere. And Maitairoa never disappoint us.
In February, 1985, when the cold war was not that cold anymore, the family decided to take advantage of such effort in building a sailboat above suspicion. We decided to cross the South Atlantic from Rio to Cape Town and back, this time in much higher spirit. Maitairoa means “things are cool” in Polynesian, a word we learned when we lived there, and she deserved her name. On this crossing we sailed 360° around Inaccessible Island, passed so close to Tristan Island settlement that we could wave to the folks that watched our progress from shore, not stopping there because the boat was doing seven knots bare pole, and after spending two months at Cape Town, returned to Rio, calling at Santa Helena where we spent a whole week, and in the last stretch of the trip, sailing at a stone’s throw from Martin Vaz, a few rocks in the middle of nowhere, and Trinidad Island, such an exotic place, that even though we didn’t stop at that occasion, we promised we would return soon.
Back in Rio, we couldn’t forget the fantastic times we had at sea, and our next vacation was a trip to Trinidad Island, Salvador, in the Northeast of Brazil, and Abrolhos, a marine sanctuary, now a national park. The next adventure was bound for the Southern Ocean, when Maitairoa suffered grounding in a remote corner of the Falkland Islands, surviving unscathed after a salvage operation worth a Jack London novel. (If you would like to know details of this story, you can click in articles in our site, and scrolling the page, you will find at the end: “Maitairoa in the Falklands. An adventure with a happy ending”)
Back to routine, I realized that somebody had to work to bring home de bacon, and it was then that our office was founded, at that time Roberto Barros Yacht Desing. In 2007, when the firm was transferred to Perth, Western Australia was that the name had been changed to B & G Yacht Design.
Calypso, Sandra’s daughter, was conceived in the Greek Island where Ulysses started the Odyssey. Maitairoa is the place she can call her home. Courtesy: Sandra Sautu
The need to be always trying new ideas made me sell Maitairoa to try our luck with a new design, the MC28, which I also intended to build one for the family’s usage, incorporating all the lessons the good old Maitairoa had taught us. Maitairoa was sold to a good friend of ours, the Argentinean physicist Sandra Sautu, who sailed her from Rio de Janeiro to the Mediterranean. Sandra lives aboard since the acquisition, now with her couple of sons, lulled to sleep by the rocking of the waves. The new boat, Fiu, was also a great success, but Maitairoa will be engraved forever in our memorys as the boat for the day after.
A poem for the cruising sailor
As Christmas approaches, poetic remembrances come to mind, especially those reminding us of unforgettable cruising experiences.
To come, after months at sea, at rosy dawn,
And then in the first light to see grow clear,
John Masefield, from Dauber
We chose twelve photos of boats from our design received during 2008 to illustrate this note:
Merry Christmas and a and a happy new year is what B & G yacht design, from Perth, Western Australia, and RBYD, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil wish you all who sail our boats or use to visit our site.
B & G Yacht Design – our office in Australia
Since last year, when I moved to Australia, I am involved in the task of integrating our yacht design office with this new market. The chosen city to establish our office was Perth, the capital of booming Western Australia. The nautical activity is very intense here, be it sailing, motor-boating, fishing or canoeing, either in the sheltered waters of the Swan River, or in the Indian Ocean.
Best known by the sailing community is nearby Fremantle. Distant 15 minutes from Perth downtown but still in its metropolitan area, in the year of 1983 Fremantle hosted the first America's Cup regatta raced outside the United States. The town had been completely remodeled on that occasion and the complex of marinas built for the event is now being used by thousands of boaters and is also an entertainment site, with lots of restaurants and different tourist attractions. A nice place to visit there is The Western Australia Maritime Museum, where it is exposed one of the most famous Australian boats, Australia II, the first yacht to beat the Americans in more than 130 years of the America's Cup competition.
The place I chose to settle the office was Bicton, a suburb of Perth located in the south margin of the Swan River, a stone throw from Fremantle. Roberto Barros, my partner, who remained in Rio de Janeiro, and I, took some time in adapting to work so far apart from each other. We communicate daily by e-mail and skype and during this time we learned to take advantage of the 11 hours time difference. Now it is as if our office is running 24 hours nonstop, since while one of us is ending his daily routine, the other one is just beginning his day.
I spent the first months in the new country trying to learn more about the local market. I visited some boat shows, especially on the west coast, talked to boaters in the marinas and clubs and sailed in new acquaintances' boats. The interest in strong, safe, seaworthy, stable, reliable, easy to build, attractive and low maintenance yachts is the general rule, and in these aspects Australians don't differ from people elsewhere. I soon learned that we are quite at ease regarding these requirements, since we also pursuit these characteristics and they belong to our design philosophy.
Since May, 2008 we have a company officially registered in Australia. It is B & G Yacht Design and in the coming days the new name and logo will be displayed in our website. We are quite motivated with this new challenge. More than just a new beginning, we feel that the B & G Yacht Design is an extension and a step ahead on all the hard work we had done in more than 20 years dedicated to designing yachts.
Green Nomad in the Solomon Islands
At the end of 2004 we were with our first Green Nomad in Vanuatu, where we had sailed to after spending the previous South Pacific cyclone season in Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.
This was our second season in Vanuatu, the first one being in mid 2003, coming from New Caledonia. Apart from Vanuatu being almost as good as it gets for cruising, we had made plans to meet old cruising friends, from the Atlantic and Caribbean times and also some we had been talking to via HF radio but did not know personally.
Green Nomad in Port Vila, Vanuatu
After five months of great cruising and much fun, which will be the subject of another text, the new cyclone season was coming, and to avoid its dangers we decided to take refuge in the Solomon Islands, which even though they lie in the Southern Hemisphere, are situated mostly under 8 degrees south. This close to the equator the tropical depressions start to form, but before they can become real cyclones they tend to travel South and East, making the island group, specially the Western Province, a safe place to spend the southern summer months.
So, by the end of October we were in Sola, Banks Islands, where we cleared out of Vanuatu. The customs officer, who had already cleared us out the previous year, decided to come on board to make sure we had the duty free wine cartoons bought in Port Vila. Luckily we had them untouched, not as the year before. But it is quite easy to refill the plastic bags with water and vinegar anyway…
The year before he had commented that although most boats cleared out of Sola to go to the Solomons or Kiribati, they all seemed to go away southwards around the island, which was the wrong way. Wasn´t this funny? We got the message: if you clear out, go north, even if you want to spend time in the western coast before going away. The way around the northern tip of Sola towards Waterfall bay on the west coast is a lot longer. So he was doing his job well and ours a little tougher.
Marli in Sola, Banks Islands. Our boat in the background.
Leaving Sola we made a stop in the Reef Islands, where we stayed fishing and meeting other boats for a few days, and then sailed to Tegua, in the Torres Islands, which has one of the most scenic anchorages we know, even though it is deep and full of coral heads, if a boat cannot access the small lagoon in front of the village. Now we could get in there with the new Green Nomad, which has a swing keel and only 80 cm draft.
Tegua´s small lagoon, in the Torres Islands
We spent two days there, snorkelling and fishing with Edi and Claudia, from Joceba, and getting to know the locals from the small village.
We had made quite a close group of friends in Vanuatu, and some of these were coming to the Solomons, like Edi and Claudia on Joceba, Majjham and Suffyo on Zazen, Gabriel and Kathy on Tartaruga, Mat and Brad on Nyathi , Maho, Salomé and Fanny on Mektoub and Nick and Anna on Thank Girl. This group became like an extended family, and the six months spent in the Solomons almost could be used as a script for a movie depicting the South Seas vagabonds.
A close group of friends moving to the Solomon Islands
We left in the end of one morning to sail the 330 nautical miles that separated us from the Solomon Islands main group, and after a little less than three days arrived in Uki Ni Masi, a small island off the North coast of San Cristobal.
Joceba on the way from Tegua to the Solomons
There we met Tartaruga, with Gabriel, a spanniard that had his boat named with the portuguese word for Turtle, as he had lived in Rio de Janeiro working for a telecom multinational corporation. The only thing multinational about Gabriel now were his friends.
We had to go to Honiara to check in the country, so this first stop was not entirely within the rules, even though we never intended to go ashore. The island was fringed by a most beautifull coral reef, and the waters were extremely clear, so we had the dingies in the water and spent some time snorkeling and fishing.
As I was having my shower on the stern platform at the end of one day, a small dot in the horizon that started to grow into a more discernible shape made us a little concerned, as it had that gey colour and shape of navy patrol ships.
Navy patrol ship it was, and they were coming to give a lecture on the little village about he dangers of home brew, which had killed a number of people in the Solomon Islands due to improper ingredients being used and abusive intake. They nevertehless sent a search party to our boats, inspected our papers and said we must go to Honiara to check in. They were at all times polite and very professional, and even ended up meeting with Edi in Honiara to get a copy of his DVD with the last soccer world cup final.
On the next day we made our way to Honiara, a 130 nautical mile trip, and even though nothing was to be expected in the forecast, a small low center deepened to the North of Malaita and gave us a rough ride, with 30 knot gusts and lightning.
Just before arriving in Honiara we caught a Mahi Mahi, and the first dinner and party in the Solomons had a menu, with the crews of Zazen, Joceba, Tartaruga and Green Nomad discussing their various experiences to that point.
Our routes through the Solomon Islands
We spent a week in Honiara, buying some extra supplies to last us the cyclone season, as we had initially intended to sail to Australia, and learning about the local life, which was returning to calm after some years of political turmoil. In past years very few boats had been visiting the islands due to this, and now with an Australian and New Zealand peace force things were improving.
Buying vegetables from the ladies in their canoes
This elderly man had never set foot on a yacht before
With new stocks we made our way to the Florida Islands sailing with Tartaruga, and after overnighting on a bay East of Tulaghi we made a very interesting trip, motoring the narrow channel between Nggela Sule and Nggela Pile, going for some 8 miles just between the lushest vegetation and small villages, finding a breathtaking coral pass on the other end, with such clear water and small depths that even then our idea that a capable cruising boat for us should have variable draft was forming, feature that we have now on the second Green Nomad.
Our destination for this trip was the Island of Anuha, on the North of the Florida Group, where awaiting for us were Majjham and Suffyo, from Zazen.
Sailing along the North Coast of Nggela Sule we were followed by two bride whales right into the anchorage, which was on a fantastic half atoll surrounding two islands. Kathy from Tartaruga speedily jumped in the water after they reached the bay, trying to swim with the whales, but they did not stay long enough.
Green Nomad and Tararuga in Anuha, Florida Islands
We spend a couple of weeks in Anuha, with Joceba, Mektoub and Thank Girl arriving and joining us. Edi and Claudia were sick, with Malaria, and this was my first contact with this common disease in the Solomons ( I had it as a child in Africa ). Possibly even then I already had the parasyte in me, but no symptoms. As it turned out I would have to live with this disease on and off for the next six months.
One moring Marli awoke with a small fever and vomiting, and in this area you first think of Malaria, so we decided to cross the channel between Anuha and Nggela Sule by dinghy and ask the locals in the nearby village if there was a clinc somewhere in walking distance, so she could be tested for Malaria. One of the villagers offered himself to come along, and guided us through to the clinic, which was a good hour and a half away bu foot, and Marli had a hard time following us.
Reaching the clinic the tests for Malaria proved negative, but she lay down for a couple of hours taking in hydratation in order to recover enough for the walking trip back, which in the end did not occur, as we saw Maho’s catamaran arriving in the anchorage in front of the clinic, and even thought he was coming to get us worrying about our long time gone from the boat.
It turned out that the real patient of the day was him, having been stung by a stingray on the beach while playing with his daughter. He was treated with injectable antibiotics and soon we were all on our way back aboard Mektoub.
Being connected to the faraway world with an HF based email system, we received an email from Marli´s brothers in Brazil saying that her father was ill, and if she had any means to do it, she should try and reach Brazil in the near future.
There was no clear description of the illnes or its gravity, but we knew by the way it was said that it was serious, so we decided to start making our way to Ghizo, on the Western Province of the Solomons, which had an airport and was close to Vona Vona Lagoon, the place where we intended to spend most of the coming months.
Zazen when we met in Port Vila
On the way we stopped one night at Korighole Harbour, in the south coast of Santa Isabel, which was an unbelievably beautiful place, and made the 100 miles passage across the New Georgia Sound towards New Georgia Island. We could spend months just in between these two islands, but another email from a friend had shown us that Marli´s father situation was worst than initially communicated.
Zazen had an Iridium satellite phone, and so it was that during an HF schedule he put Marli´s brother Lauri on the microphone and while sailing at night she received the dreaded news that her father had passed away. It was a hard night, but we were at sea and things had to be done.
We reached New Georgia next morning, turned to an achorage in the North coast but a little later decided to try to reach Kolombangara that day, so we could be in Ghizo in the next morning. By the end of the afternoon we were entering Mbambari bay, in the East coast of Kolombangara, a very protected and beautifull harbour. The locals surrounded with canoes and had vegetalbes and carvings for sale, but I let them know of the sad night we had, and they let us be.
Kolombangara seen from the East coast
We finally reached Ghizo, from where Marli would leave on her way to Brazil and her sieblings, being ten in total. She had to have that reunion, as we had been away from family for four years by then.
Ghizo island and its lagoon are a most varied scenery, with anchorages that go from blue water atoll style to deeply closed mangroove, and even in this heavy moment its beauty was uplifting.
The coral reefs and blue waters around Ghizo lagoon
Having just a debit card from Australia tha could work only on the banks of Honiara, the only way to buy her ticket from Ghizo to Honiara was in cash, and that took away almost all money we had on board, which saw me left with two hundred dollars that would have to last me until I reached Australia at the end of cyclone season.
The day of Marli’s flight to Honiara arrived and we took a small motor boat that makes the run from Ghizo’s main pier and the airstrip, located on a small island inside the lagoon. We said goodbye and so it started my singlehandling sailing experience, which lasted almost six months, when I May 2005 I crossed alone from Munda to Cairns, in Astralia, where we met again.
On that same day I had a fever, and went to a local malaria test clinic to see if I had it. The result was negative, but something inside told me it wa wrong. I wrote to a Doctor from Australia that we met on a clinic specialized in traveller’s health, asking what could happen if I took a malaria medicine course not being sure it I had it. She said It was safe to take it, and so I did. What I did not know is that medicine I took was effective mostly against falciparum or cerebral malaria, as it is also known, which is the commonest strand in the Solomons, but it should be followed on by a course of another medicine if what you have is vivax malaria, which I had.
This concurred to make me have another three recurrences of malaria, slowly reducing my body weight from the usual 52 kg to a mere 46 kg.
Thinning out with malaria
But between malaria crisis, the next months were amongst the most active and fun from all my years sailing on our first boat.
This period showed me how much one can take if survival is at stake, as during the malaria crisis I still had to take care of myself and of the boat and navigation, anchoring, clothes washing and other shores. Even when all I wanted was to lay down and rest, I still had to get out there and trade for for fresh vegetables and fuits, go fishing, get water and all the elements of a good diet, because I knew this would make the difference between getting through the disease or not.
My idea was to spend most time in or around Vona Vona Lagoon, an area with excelent protection from all wind directions, superb anchorages, with tens if not hundreds of islands and coves. In one of these islands named Lola was a rustic lodge for surfers and fishermen, Zipolo Habu Resort. It was owned by an american named Joe and his wife Lisa, a natural of the Solomons. They were very hospitable to the cruisers, letting us take water ashore, hang out in the island and their daughters were happy to have the company of a bunch of sailors.
Vona Vona Lagoon and Lola anchorage, places to return to
Not that this support was the only reason to draw us there. Lola is located just a few hundred meters from the open ocean, which is reached accros a fantastic coral reef, with waters of incredible visbility.
Having not much money left was not a real problem, as we had as usual the boat sotcked for six to eight months, and for that nice drink on sundown I was brewing rice wine aboard from a recipe learned from another cuisers in Vanuatu, so that was nearly for free.
Rice wine fermented on Green Nomad
So, from the 200 dollars remaining I spent at once 100 on diesel fuel, so I could have enough to last me to Australia. And because we had stocked the boat for two, now I had some surplus, which I sold to some less well stocked friends, mainly the luxuries like instant coffe, olive oil, cigarretes that we have as gifts to locals and some other niceties. Green Nomad Store was open for business!
In Lola I decided to change the galley layout, fabricating a dishes dryer on a high level so that I could free the second sink. This using only whatever material were on board, and so for several days I hardly put my face out of the companionway, which prompted Joe and Lisa to send their daughters to chek on me and see if I was well.
Rendova island in the background, Lola in the right, inside Vona Vona Lagoon
A lot of the time my only contact with other people was during the HF radio contacts with the other cruisers. That was our way to keep in touch when we were dispersed through the Western Province of the Solomons.Our group was augmented when Bill and Ulli, from a catamaran named Mau, from England and the australians Kadari, Sonia and their children Ary and Ivy, from another cat named Storm Bird, arrived.
Bill was a retired sailor from the Royal Navy, Ulli a german Nurse. He made me remember the Captain Haddock from Timtim’s adventures, with his looks and peculiar spirited speech!
Bill, Ulli and Gabriel, Anna and Nick, Kadari, Sonia and kids,Kathy, Suffyo, Claudia, Majjham
At times we were all apart, each boat on a separated island or lagoon, and at some other periods we would come together for more social days, having partys, going fishing, hiking in group.
I was the one staying more in Lola, and used to spend most days in the reefs around it, going snorkeling or fishing. The marine life was so fantastic that I could hardly think of something else to do than observing it. My fishing was done just for nutrition, and most of the time I swam and looked.
Life with friends on the islands of Vona Vona Lagoon
There was a particular shark that followed a curious pattern. He would let me swim and fish or try to fish for 40 minutes to one hour without coming around, but almost always after this he would show up and tell me who was boss. I usually would give up fishing then, as the thought of a bleeding fish in the water would loose all appeal. One ne of those days an amazing thing happened: after I was in the water for the usual hour, boss shark came and I went back up to the dinghy. Sensing that the moment was good for going about two huge groupers came out of their hidding holes. As the sun was high and the water very still and clear, I could see them standing from dinghy, and they could see me, and so I stayed watching them and the surrounding marine life, taking in all theat beauty for as long as I could take the sun’s heat, in one of these magic moments that you will forever remember.
One afternoon after some diving and fishing I felt a light fever returning, and I knew for sure the malaria was coming back. I decided to make way to Ghizo the next morning, where I could see doctors at the local hospital. Munda was closer but it did not occur to me to go there. I motored to Kolombangara’s Ringgi Cove, passing through the Diamond Narrows, between New Georgia and and Arundel islands.
I spent the night in Ringgi Cove, without suffering any bad symptoms from the malaria, and at day break I left for Ghizo, entering the lagoon by the pass next to Kennedy Island and already inside I saw a heavy rain squall coming, which would lower the visibility and prevent me from advancing, and just at this cloud arrived the malaria crisis hit with full strength, the fever reaching 41.5 degrees Celsius, and myself startin to shake volently, barely able to seat next to the wheel and hold the boat’s position while the rain squall passed. At this moment things were looking alarming, but soon the squall was gone and knowing that a safe achorage and help was only five miles away gave the necessary strenght to hold on and reach the destination, where I signalled Nick from Thank Girl to get on the VHF radio, asking him to come by and get me with his dinghy. He did so and accompanied me to the hospital.
Malaria test done and vivax malaria detected, medicines prescribed and purchased, I went back to Green Nomad. That night Gabriel, who had sailed in to see if he could help, brought me dinner, this being the only night that I know I would have been unable to feed myself, and help was there.
I spent a week anchored in front of a bar named PT109, after the boat captained by the then future president of the USA John Kennedy, which was sunk in the straight between Kolombangara and Ghizo during the Second World War. There I would listen to the music and people having fun ashore, while the slow recovery from the malaria took place. As soon as I felt strong enough, I decided to go to a more tranquil anchorage, which was where I first met Storm Bird. Zazen was there too, and knowing I was a bit tired from the malaria they invited me over a few nights for dinner.
Kennedy Island, on the Northeastern pass to Ghizo lagoon, where John F. Kennedy landed after his boat got sunk in WWII.
Kolombangara seen from an anchorage in Ghizo and Storm Bird next to a dinghy pass to the outer reef.
Because of the malaria I had been a long while without scraping the bottom of Green Nomad to clean off the marine growth, and it was badly needed now, so I moved to an anchorage that was closer to the lagoon’s outer reef, because it is risky to dive in murky water in the Solomons, due to the presence of salt water crocodiles, which tend to be closer to river estuaries and mangrove lined shores. But even there, with the depth dropping from 10 to 30 meters, very clear water, I had an eye for the scraper and another looking down and around watchfull for the crocs.
With a clean boat I sailed to Liapari, a small island next to Vella Lavella, with a narrow channel between both islands. There I met Mau, Zazen and Tartaruga. By then I was stronger and already back to my dayly snorkeling and fishing trips to the reefs. There I swam with a school of huge Napoleon fish, almost bigger than me.
Majjham, Gabriel and Suffyo in Liapari
Vella Lavella in the left and Liapari, separated by a narrow channel that we explored by dinghy
Something I will always remember was the trip we made with three dingies tied together along the channel between the islands, with us laying down and watching the scenery above and underwater, with such blue and clear water that is hard to imagine.
Drifting down the channel between Liapari and Vella Lavella
In Liapari there was a boatyard for service boats and tugs, and it was managed by Noel, from New Zealand, and Rose, his wife, natural of the Solomons. We spent some nice afternoons ashore, enjoying their hospitality. The land in Liapari was beautiful, with lush vegetation and a profusion of colours to please the eye.
I decided to return to Vona Vona lagoon, and this time I went via the Western pass, just across the reef from Ghizo. I crossed the whole lagoon stoping in a few islands along the way, in a maze of reefs and small islands that can be tricky to navigate but of such beauty to take your breath away. Doing that singlehanded meant sometimes running from the wheel to the mast and climbing it to the first spreader, to spot the way ahead using polarized sun glasses, and running back down to correct the course.
Aloft to spot reefs and find my way with polarized sun glasses
In one of the anchorages I received the visit from Tony, a carver that had met me in Lola before. The carvers in the Solomons are great artists, using contrasting colour woods and shells like the nautilus to produce magnificent works. And mostrly they do all that with the simplest tools, like knifes and pieces of metal taken from WWII wreckage.
I agreed to buy a nuzo nuzo (phonetical spelling, as it sounded to us), a kind of figurehead used in ancient war canoes from the region. If the figurehead is holding a bird it meant a peace mission, but if it was a skull, better was not to stay and ask questions…
Tony and my new sculpture
The price agreed was a cuttlery set given to us as wedding gift. Forks and knifes are easy to come by anywhere, aren’t they?
In Lola I was back to my old hard life, snorkeling, fishing, doing some social life with other boat crews when they came by. I was normally by myself, seldom going ashore, to the point that some of the lodge guests sent a boat inviting me for dinner, so that they could know something about that misterious figure that never came ashore even though the boat was a couple of hundred meters away.
Thank Girl just completes the perfect scene in Vona Vona Lagoon
I also had some very social periods, like around the end of the year, when we made several partys ashore and on the boats. One of these partys was decided at the very last moment on the 24th of December, when we saw the weather was going ot be calm, and rafted four boats, all hanging on Green Nomad’s anchor, for a memorable evening. There was decorations and food, and even Lisa and some locals from Lola came to share this evening with the boat crews
Zazen, Green Nomad, Nyathi and Joceba in Lola
After another spell of good life, I was awarded with another malaria crisis, and this time I went to Munda to visit the hospital. As I was quick to move and make the tests and get the treatment, this crisis was easier and quicker to overcome. The bad part was that in Munda they wrongly diagnosed me with falciparum malaria, and this caused an improper treatment to be administered, which in turn was the cause of a fourth and spectacular return of the desease later on.
I took the oportunity to know the area around Munda, which has superb anchorages, and the town itself was quite interesting, offering good vegetable markets and general stores.
It was in Munda that our family of South Seas vagabonds had the first contact with a little machine new to us, as most of us had been away from big consumer centers for three or four years. It came to be because Kathy had asked me to go the Munda customs and get a parcel sent to her from Australia. She was gone and would not be coming back, and so I went to customs and asked for the parcel explaining the situation, which they kindly understood.
I took the parcel back to Green Nomad, and there we all sat around it and I opened it to reveal this little thing with the name Ipod on it, and we touched every button to find out what it did…
Also in Munda I purchased another nuzo nuzo, nicer than the first, and this time the price was a drill bit set.
The end of April was coming and Marli was still in Brazil. My visa for staying in the Solomons would expire soon, and so we decided that she would not fly to the Solomons to meet me, but rather stay in Brazil and only fly to Australia when I had sailed the boat there singlehanded. This 900 nautical mile passage was going to be my first one all by myself.
Storm Bird in the anchorage in front of Munda
This would also save the cost of the ticket from Australia to the Solomons, which was more than half the money we had left after the recent years cruising the islands.
Another reason I wanted to waste no time in sailing to Australia then was that I had felt some slight fever symptoms the days before, and I knew the malaria was still there somewhere, and another crisis could impair my ability to sail the boat for a long while
So it was that I checked out of the country in Munda and sailed to Vona Vona lagoon, in order to relax a bit and enjoy this wonderfull place a little more, and to wait for a weather condition that would give me the best possible start.
Last anchorage before departing to Australia. Ary and Ivy having fun with the local kids. Pictures by Storm Bird.
Storm Bird came to join me, and a little later Gabriel, now also singlehandling, as Kathy had left, and who was also going to sail to Australia. The place we were, just south of the Eastern pass into Vona Vona was extremely beautiful, and I still could dingy ride to Lola and say goodbye to Joe , Lisa and their daughters.
Finally the day to leave came, and me and Gabriel sailed through Munda bar and into the Coral Sea. For that whole day we are able to apreciate the majestic Rendova Island while slowly moving away from that magic place.
Tartaruga and Green Nomad in the morning that both sailed singlehanded to Australia. Picture by Storm Bird.
We knew the first part of the journey would be tricky, and we had to clear the southeastern tip of the Louisiades group before being able to swing around to a direct course to Cairns, and this would put the wind far ahead of the beam. The first night we had southerly winds right on the nose and lightning, and Gabriel, with an engine problem thought about returning, but I told him that I would go on, even if it would take me a month to reach Cairns.
After we cleared the Louisiades we had a nice Southeasterly for the whole way down to Cairns, and as tartaruga was afaster boat we became truly solitary with our own thoughts. We had a couple of HF radio contacts every day, but no visual contact.
I was visited by a pod of pilot whales, who I believe were atracted by some music I had been playing that had whale sounds on it, and they sailed along for nearly an hour.
Pilot Whales swim with Green Nomad in its last passage with me
After eight days we were reaching the pass on the great barrier reef that leads into Cairns, and being nearly dark we decided to wait for thenext morning, which allowed me to catch up with Gabriel.
At dawn I started sailing in, as there were still around 30 miles to be transversed inside the reef to reach Cairns. About two hours before arriving I called Australian Customs on the VHF radio, and told them my ETA at Marlin Marina, which is where boats coming from overseas had to go, and it was then that my body must have sensed that the task was done, because at a surprising speed a fourth and to date last malaria recurrence came fast. By the time I tied the boat in front of the Quarantine and Customs officers I had a 38.5 degrees Celsius fever and rising.
It was interesting to watch as the face of the quarantine officer changed when, in response to his mere formality question if there was any sick people on board I answered: YES, one case of malaria!
This was the last passage on our first boat, and a little later than a year after that we were leaving Australia having sold our beloved home for the last ten years to atend family concerns in Brazil.
Green Nomad and its new face, now a Kiribati 36 aluminum swing keel design, in Paraty, Southeastern Brazil
Now, we are already back on track, having built a second boat, also named Green Nomad, and this time having co-designed it in partnership with B & G Yacht Design, naming the design Kiribati 36 after another of our favorite places in the world, which was subjetc of a previous article and that you can read by clicking here.
Luis Manuel Pinho
Click here to know more about the Kiribati 36
The option for aluminium
The hull of a MC 41 SK is turned over
Being a metallurgist engineer I like metal boats, which is natural. That does not mean that other materials are unsuitable or inferior, just that aluminium is my material of choice, and the following text shows why.
The first favourable feature of aluminium is the fact that it is a metal, as steel, and sometimes the obvious must be stated to reinforce a good point.(The word aluminium here is used to mean aluminium alloys, not the pure metal, which has not much use as structural material – steel is also an iron carbon alloy, not a pure metal).
As a metal, aluminium has all those properties that make metals the materials of choice for most structural applications in the world, apart from very specific applications in niche industries such as aerospace and competition vehicles.
To calculate the structural behaviour of an aluminium part or any metal part is a straightforward process because metals are isotropic and homogeneous in mass, meaning that their mechanical properties are not direction dependent and that a portion of aluminium has the same properties of every other portion of the same composition.
Aluminium alloys used in the marine industry are also not susceptible to ageing, which means that their properties remain stable with time.
The energy absorbed before fracture is proportional to the area under the stress strain curve
Another good characteristic of metals is that they deform elastically when a stress is applied and, when the stress surpasses a certain limit called the proof stress, they will acquire a permanent deformation, called plastic deformation, and will absorb an energy proportional to the area under the stress strain curve shown here. This deformation absorbs energy from a possible impact and is a safety factor as well as an early warning for failure.
Seeing the good features of metals that make them good structural materials, aluminium alloys enjoy a good position in the marine industry since the 1950s, after the 5000 series alloys (aluminium magnesium alloys) were perfected, due to their unique features, as follows:
HSV Aliso carries 500 passengers, 148 cars and 112 coaches at 37 knots
From these features the most important to our analysis are the first two.
Designing two structures, one in aluminium and the other in steel, to have the same rigidity, the aluminium structure will weigh only 50% of the steel one. Or, saying it in another way, if we have two vessels weighing the same, we can have the aluminium one extremely stronger built.
This weight advantage is not limited to the comparison with steel. For the same strength aluminium boats are also lighter than Fibre Glass Reinforced Plastic boats. Before the appearance of the modern cutting edge laminates with Kevlar and carbon fibres, aluminium boats dominated the scene in offshore racing, remembering the famous Eric Tabarly and his various aluminium Pen Duick boats.
These cutting edge materials are many times very expensive and their production processes beyond the reach of small builders, and their longevity can be smaller than aluminium.
Aluminium’s corrosion resistance in the marine environment (Alloys 5083, 5086 and 5383 are virtually inert in salt water) means a long service life and good re-sale value. The production costs are also lowered because the material does not need any surface treatment other than priming and anti-fouling below the water line.
Boats and other coastal structures like piers made from aluminium alloys have been in service for several decades, being sometimes replaced because their designs became obsolete rather than because of any degradation due to corrosion.
Among most common materials used today for boat building, aluminium is the only one that will keep its properties if exposed to salt water without any barrier. You could even drill a hole and expose it to salt water in a boat, and no degradation would occur to the drilled aluminium (of course the boat would sink if the hole was under the waterline, so no great gain here!)
A magnificent aluminium boat, Amyr Klink´s Paratii I
The net result of all this is more stable and faster boats due to better weight distribution, with few limitations to hull shape because of the good formability of the material, with good productivity when building because of the light weight and good welding speeds.
Aluminium affords safe and durable boats, features we all seek when building or buying.
Luis Manuel Pinho is a metallurgist engineer graduated in 1990 by Rio de Janeiro State Federal University, and a lifelong sailor and twice amateur boat builder. He lives on board boats with his wife Marli Werner since 1996, having sailed in excess of 30000 nautical miles, mostly in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. He collaborates with B&G Yacht design in some designs, producing CNC cutting files for our metal boat designs and doing some design work of his own creation.
Building the dinghy Caravela 1.7
The dinghy Caravela 1.7 was custom designed to serve as tender for our Multichine 28 cruising sailboat project. Since this boat has an unobstructed flush foredeck, we were consulted by many of our clients about the possibility of carrying a solid dinghy on it. So we felt it was a nice idea to provide a plan for building a dinghy tailored to fit in that place, leaving enough room for the crew to circulate around it without feeling cramped. As the dinghy is included in the Multichine 28 stock plan package, we had the idea of offering it for free to anyone who wanted to build her.
The dinghy Caravela 1.7 was custom designed to fit the Multichine 28 foredeck.
That was a good decision we took, even though for different reasons than those we had foreseen. Many amateurs who want to build a boat for the first time wish to try first building something easier, and the Caravela 1.7 is just perfect for the purpose. Besides, the Caravela 1.7 is an extremely versatile, unsinkable tender, capable of being propelled by sail, outboard motor, or simply rowed.
Already being available as free plans for a few years in our site, we have been informed that there are Caravelas 1.7 being used as leisure dinghies or tenders in the oddest places, like Siberia or Antarctica. The plans have been used in boat-building and sailing schools, some of them running with non-governmental organization funds, something that lightened our hearts to be informed about.
The folklore about the Caravela 1.7 is endless. One day we were watching an adventure video about a Norwegian who was sailing in Antarctica waters. When approaching a scientific base in a calm day in one of the many havens in that continent, his engine stopped functioning, and he promptly deployed his dinghy, which was no other than a home-made Caravela 1.7, to tow the sailboat to the base’s pier.
On another occasion a Caravela 1.7 was stowed vertically next to the foreface of a sailboat mast with a halyard lashed on the lanyard pad eye when a fierce gust of wind made the dinghy take off the deck and, after swinging in a long arch, land on the spreader of the sailboat in front, at the other side of the pier, about some five metres above deck level. And the stories are so many that one day we will have enough material to write a book…however, up to now, most of them are related with newcomers to the sport of sailing who never built a boat before. Once in a while we receive such enthusiastic e-mails, some of them showing nice photos of their dinghies being built or already sailing, that makes us believe this has been a great achievement in the lives of their builders.
If you built or are building a Caravela 1.7 and want to send us an e-mail to email@example.com, we will be delighted to know your story.
Click here to open the Download Page of the Caravela 1.7
Singapore, our temporary address
You might be intrigued why B & G Yacht Design (formerly Roberto Barros Yacht Design) is temporarily operating from Singapore, instead of Perth, now its permanent address.
Our office is a family business. The founders, Roberto Barros, and his British wife, Eileen, founded the company in 1987 at the city of Rio de Janeiro. In 1991 their daughter Astrid Barros, and her just married husband, the naval architect Luis Gouveia, joined the office, where they worked until May, 2007, when, willing to spread the scope of the office’s market, decided to shift the business to Perth, where they grew deep roots and are permanently established now, buying a house there and opening the B & G Yacht Design branch of the company (B & G from Barros and Gouveia). The original Roberto Barros Yacht Design office didn’t close its doors, and is still operating in Rio de Janeiro, with the assistance of Eileen and Roberto.
Luis, Astrid and kids having dinner out in Singapore
Things made a radical change in March 2009, when thanks to Astrid’s PhD degree in fluid dynamics, she was invited to be the project engineer for the construction of the first drilling rig built to exploit the gigantic ‘pre-salt’ oil field recently discovered about one hundred miles offshore Rio de Janeiro. Since presently you can operate from anywhere provided you are linked to the web, the family packed their bags, and there they went to Singapore, where this first drilling rig was starting its construction. This oil-rig, the Gold Star, is already concluded and this November will leave Singapore bound for Rio by way of Cape of Good Hope, calling at Port Louis, Mauritius, for refuelling and shifting crews.
The drilling rig Gold Star ready to leave Singapore bound for Rio de Janeiro
It happens, however, that another rig has been ordered to the same shipyard by the company she is working for, and Astrid has been invited to stay in the job until the delivery of this second rig.
The change of address was good for a change, since Singapore is a civilised place with superb quality of living, while Luis and Astrid’s kids are frequenting Australian schools, with no interruption in their way of life. The new address allowed the family touring in their holidays to interesting places nearby, like Bali, Malaysia, and now with an intended trip to Borneo.
Astrid, the lady boss as the Chinese engineers call her, is the one in blue overall
The yacht designing activity is carried out by Luis Gouveia, with Astrid’s eventual help, when she is not too tired, since yacht design runs in her blood. Luis is also assisted by the staff that remained in Brazil.
Being one the best known Brazilian yacht design offices, it is no wonder that most of our boats are from Brazil, but this is changing rapidly, since our more recent builders are mostly from the Northern Hemisphere.
We feel a great pleasure in understanding that the cruising ‘tribe’ is universal and that there are no boundaries dividing oceans, and what really matters is being aboard sound boats with pleasing lines to warm the heart.
The digital clock in the fly-bridge displays the names of the staff responsible for the construction of the Gold Star
South Pacific Cyclone Seasons aboard Green Nomad
A major threat to any cruising plans is the tropical revolving storms that occur in most tropical regions during summer. These are called hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean and cyclones in the South Pacific. Strictly speaking, a tropical revolving storm is called a cyclone if the sustained wind speeds it generates are equal or above 64 knots.
Since the areas in which we like to cruise are mainly situated in a belt of 25 degrees to each side of the equator, well in advance of summer for the hemisphere in which we are cruising we have to decide how to avoid or cope with the upcoming cyclone season if we are in an affected area, such as the South Pacific Ocean.
During the years we cruised in the South Pacific aboard Green Nomad we opted for many different ways to cope with the cyclone season.
In the first season we sailed all the way from Panama to Australia, where we arrived in Brisbane, which is South of the normal limit for tropical cyclones, so we were out of danger.
After we spent three years in Australia working and becoming new Australians, we decided it was time for another Pacific Journey, since the first one had been by far too fast. This time we had to go against the trades to reach island groups to the east of Australia.
Being so hard to get back to the islands, we decided that going down South again to an area outside the tropics, which basically meant Australia or New Zealand, was not interesting, and so we decided that we would spend the next few cyclone seasons around the tropics, but we would have our cyclone season plans always ready well in advance.
Basically one can choose three kinds of evasive action regarding the cyclone season:
1 – Finding a region outside the tropics, where tropical cyclones do not form. It is the preferred option of most cruisers in the Pacific, but it entails longer trips at the end of the cruising season, and normally having to cross areas that are traditionally boisterous, as the passage to New Zealand or even the approach to the Australian coast near Brisbane. It also means getting back to a more urban lifestyle, in marinas, or at least anchored off big towns.
2 – Looking for a suitable place near the equator, generally less than 8 degrees in latitude, N. or S.. It is perhaps the safest option, but it still requires a lengthy passage. The upside is that you gain a whole new cruising season, and by norm you end up in idyllic places, which have been little affected by the madness of the modern world, apart from most of them being earmarked for sinking slowly into the ocean due to sea level rises forecast to happen as the earth climate changes.
3 – Staying in a cyclone affected area, but in a place that you know to have good hiding spots, the so called “cyclone holes”.
A world to oneself in the South Pacific anchorages during the cyclone season.
When the first summer was coming we decided that we would stay in New Caledonia (thus choosing n° 3 option listed above), a place we had fallen in love with and that we were not willing to leave behind.
In order to decide our course of action we needed to make sure there were really safe cyclone holes in New Caledonia and try to get from locals and other cruisers precise directions on how to get into them. Having no insurance for the boat meant that all our material possessions were at stake, not mentioning the risk of getting hurt, or even worst.
New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France, and it is made up of a main island called the “Grande Terre” and many smaller ones, such as the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands.
The Grande Terre is surrounded by a coral barrier reef, and in its southeast end is located the Isle of Pines, where we spent most of our cruising days before the cyclone season.
The Isle of Pines (Kunie in the local Kanak language) truly is one of the wonders of the world. We have to try very hard to remember another place that comes close in beauty, quality of anchorages, marine life and water clarity, and so on.
So, when the cyclone season was approaching, we started our way back to Noumea with a broken hearth, but getting closer to the cyclone hole we had chosen.
Masthead view of Isle of Pines.
Amongst many possible options, we had decided in favour of a mangrove system near a bay called Port Laguerre.
Port Laguerre is located about 10 Nautical miles NW of Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, which in itself is already a well protected anchorage, but not a cyclone hole, as many would be reminded later in that season.
Chart of the South of New Caledonia, showing Port Laguerre ( 1 ) and the Isle of Pines (2)
As you can see from the chart the way from Isle of Pines to Port Laguerre is far from clear of dangers, and the 70 nm cannot be safely made in one day by small cruising sailboats if there is any kind of adverse weather. Daylight navigation should be the norm there if one prefers to stay in the safe side of things.
Taking that in account we decided to spend the cyclone season months, from December to May, anchored in between Noumea and Baie Saint Vincent, some fifteen nautical miles away from Port Laguerre.
A panoramic assembly of Noumea’s port, with Port Moselle marina in the foreground and the anchorage to the left.
Green Nomad, a solitary in Baíe Saint Vincent, April 2003.
As usual, we had supplies to last for six months, and just fresh produce and fish were needed to complement our stocks, so, most of the time during cyclone season we spent in anchorages not too far from Port Laguerre, the main one being Baie Papaye (red anchor sign on the chart below). From there we could do trekking in the surrounding mountains, go fishing on the nearby reefs, scavenge the beaches for edible shells, pick fruits in the bush, and relaxing at night under a breathtaking sky, outlining the ragged mountains.
Baie Papaye anchorage and the track to the mangrove cyclone hol
Green Nomad at anchor in Baíe Papaye
We had an old notebook and used our SSB radio to pick up weather-fax signals from the Australian, New Zealand and USCG weather services. In between 1200 and 0200 PM most of the useful charts were transmitted, and our daily routine included analyzing them while we had our lunch. In this way we had almost a week forewarning for any cyclonic activity.
In particular the Pacific Streamline Analysis transmitted by the Honolulu weather-fax station would clearly show at least a week in advance if something was brewing. Of course you would only get that feeling after repeated observation.
By the end of December 2002 we decided to do an in depth check of the cyclone hole, and, with a hand drawn map we had copied from another cruiser, we got into the dinghy taking a handheld GPS and a sounding line (a diving belt weight tied to a rope with knots at every half metre) with us, and followed the indicated track, taking soundings and registering waypoints, producing a local chart of sorts.
That was a must since there was only a very narrow channel, and contrary to the norm in this area, the water colour did not give you any clues for the depth when seen from sea level.
Hand drawn map of the mangrove cyclone hole
Notice the shallows in the way to the mangrove hiding hole! This picture was taken with the polarized sun glasses in front of the camera lenses.
Mountain top view of the cyclone hole
As if to reward us from all that work, on December 28th, 2002, the weather maps were showing cyclone Zoe, with wind speed of up to 180 knots, passing over the small island of Tikopia, and moving straight to New Caledonia.
We spent the last days of the year anchored inside Port Laguerre bay together with some other boats, one of them the Brazilian catamaran Saravá. Lots of partying and some worrying, but in the end on that occasion we did not move into the mangroves.
By the end of January the time had come for the first real test of our cyclone hole. Cyclone Beni was aiming at New Caledonia, and together with two other boats, one of them belonging to an Australian couple, and the other to a Swedish single-hander, we moved into the mangroves.
It was not a light decision to take, since considering shallowness of the channel, and our 1.78m draught, we had to wait for high tide to move in, and this had to be a daylight high tide, so we eventually were not granted a chance to draw back during those five, six days before the cyclone, besides the whole affair of tying up being very tiresome. The mosquitoes were also a constant company, should we get stuck in there for a fortnight.
At least on the bright side there were no salt water crocodiles such as the ones we would have to deal with later in Australia, where we did not know which was worse, a cyclone catching us out of the mangroves or a crocodile getting us inside them!
Tied up with friends waiting for cyclone Beni
Boats are ready, so we may as well get together and do some cruiser style dinner party with Juergen, from Sea Tramp and Peter and Sandy, aboard Otama Song
Beni”s track passed 30 Nm south of Noumea and all we felt in Port Laguerre was 35 knot gusts and lots of rain.
But we did not waste our time training for the big one. In March cyclone Erica formed near the Australian coast and started strengthening and to move in a big arc passing near the Solomon Islands and pointing again to New Caledonia.
Cyclone Erica’s track, which reached category 5 at some stages .
As one cannot always be lucky, that was one of the rare periods we had moved away from Baie Papaye, and when Erica showed up on the maps we were in Baie Saint Vincent, 15 Nm to windward of our safe haven, and it was blowing 20 to 25 knots. A heavy boat ( 13 tons ) and a small engine ( 30 HP ), besides having to deal with the narrow channel, it was the time for full throttle, and 3 knots of boat speed being all we could get.
This time we got into the mangroves five days in advance. And believe it or not, right up to the last morning before the cyclone hit, we were the only boat there. We almost made half turn and left in the same tide we went in, as the New Zealand 72 hour forecast showed Erica weakening and bearing away.
But look at the satellite picture we downloaded 3 years later in Australia. Erica was a huge cyclone, nearly as big as the main island of New Caledonia, which is 254 nautical miles long. Centre pressure was down to 920 hPa, and sustained wind speeds were 150 knots, reaching 190 knots in gusts.
Cyclone Érica, a monster with a well formed eye. Notice the outline of the main island of New Caledonia to the SE of the cyclone.
Preparation was to tie the boat to ten different points in the mangrove trees, each line being passed through as many roots as we could reach, remove all loose items from deck, store the sails down below (mainsail was left out, well tied around the boom), remove solar panels and wind generator blades, go up the mast and remove the Windex and tri-colour light, and the list goes on.
The evening before the cyclone was expected saw us ready and able to give a hand to other boats that would come. Most of them had draught problems as we did, and had to wait for high tide to get in. And the last tide window was to be at 03:00AM.
But in fact nobody else tried to get in, apart from our other friend, Maho, on a small aluminium catamaran, which got in before Edi, as he could move at any time due to its shallow draught.
Some did not get in by sheer impossibility, like Jean Michel and Zaza from Kyrymba, a seventeen metres long steel goellete. Jean Michel and Zaza were in their third circumnavigation, having even been cruising companions of legendary Bernard Moitessier.
Some did not believe it was needed; some were lazy to go to all the trouble. The anchorage of Port Laguerre, the bay right outside the mangroves, had some 5 boats anchored, which had decided that it was safe enough already to be there.
Saravá, the Brazilian catamaran, was inside the mangroves, but in the main channel, as her huge beam did not allow her to access the side channel like we did, which was safer by being narrower, deeper and out of a possible strong current.
Saravá could not reach the side channel due to her wide beam, while Kyrymba stayed just outside the mangroves because of its excessive draught. Both were quick to act, but their boats limited their chances of protection.
Having the boat ready, all we had to do now was to wait and monitor the cyclone’s track. The local VHF radio broadcasted regular updates and we also were receiving the usual weather maps.
So the boat was ready but, what about us? We knew what we had to do and had done it as well as possible, but up to that moment we had no idea of what the weather in a cyclone would look like. We had been at sea in 50 knots of wind, but 150, that was beyond common experience to even start imagining.
In the early hours of the day the cyclone was to arrive, a fine rain started, and it did not stop and became heavier and heavier as the cyclone approached. The radio updates told us that Erica was now moving at 20 knots, which is very fast for such a big cyclone. We would later conclude that this quick motion was a great helper, as it limited the time the cyclone affected a given area. A lot of damage was suffered by the boats and other property in Noumea, but if the cyclone had been moving at the more usual speed of 6 to 10 knots, we believe that New Caledonia’s nautical scene would have been wiped out almost entirely.
Boat tied to the mangroves but lots of work to be done yet, such as removing solar panels, wind generator blades, storing loose items below decks…
You couldn’t see Green Nomad from outside the lateral channel.
Ahead of the eye the winds from Erica were blowing out of the NE. As the cyclone was moving in a SE track, the winds were a bit weaker that the real cyclone wind speed, since they were composed with the cyclone movement, and also high mountains provided some protection from that quadrant.
So, the first half of the experience was a bit milder than expected. The wind speed increased during all morning, and at 1100 AM we estimate they were blowing around 70 knots, but as the refuge was worth its name, at water level there was no real concern inside the mangroves.
These pictures were taken before and during the passage of the cyclone’s eye. As the eye passed overhead we were even calm enough to snap this picture using the camera’s timer.
As the cyclone’s eye moved overhead the wind started to decrease, and I even was confident to get out on deck and check things, making sure all lines were secure.
During the first half of the cyclone passage I was mostly perched on the companionway ladder and peaking through the dodger’s tempered glass windows. Marli was looking through the side portlights, and I thought that the framing around the bookshelves would show her fingernail prints by now.
We sat in the cockpit waiting for the eye to pass and for the real blow to start. Our warning was a darkening of the sky followed by a strong roar.
Our friend Edi thought the ordeal was over and was on his dinghy on the way to Maho’s catamaran when the strong south-westerly started, but luckily he was close to the boat and got there in safety.
I got down but still managed to see through the dodger. I was looking at the treetops when something amazing happened: All of a sudden most leaves left them in concert, as if ordered. The wind noise was terrifying and we were heeling 30 degrees only by the pressure on the top third of the mast.
The barometer had long ago been rendered useless, and the pointer rushed past the scale’s bottom well before the eye reached us.
This stronger second half of the storm only lasted about half an hour, with varying intensity. But opposite to the wind speeds before the eye reached us, which increased slowly from 20 to maybe 70 knots, the wind speed dropped quite drastically after this half hour.
We did not have an anemometer on Green Nomad, but the official wind speeds recorded in Noumea were around 110 knots.
As soon as the wind abated we got out on deck, and all was in order. The whole deck was covered in thorn leaves and the water level had raised a lot, and its colour changed from the usual green to a light brown.
The water level was much higher after the cyclone passage. Notice the two spools we carried to store 100m of 20mm line on each deck side. Very handy for demanding anchoring situations.
Our first thought was to go and check how the others had done. We got into the dinghy and went out of the mangrove lateral channel. To shortcut a long story, apart from Kyrymba, which was nearly inside the mangrove, all the boats that decided to stay anchored in the access bay had found another element below their keels.
Of all anchored boats none stayed in the water, all were high and dry with varying damage, apart from a racing catamaran, around 28ft long, which allowed herself to face the cyclone in style by taking off but forgetting to land with the keel down, losing the rig in the process.
Sarava, the 55 ft catamaran that was inside the main mangrove arm was unscathed, but her skipper, Cacalo, told us that the roots to which he was tied broke one by one, and in the end there was only one line holding them.
We remained in Port Laguerre for five days more, getting the boat back together again (solar panels had to go back up, wind gen, and so on) and helping on the effort to get the grounded boats back into the water.
With Kyrymba using her powerful engine and all dinghies pulling from the top of the masts with a halyard to help to turn the boats in the right direction and reduce draught by heeling, we managed to refloat all of them.
In those five days a lot had been done to clear Noumea’s port from the damage, but when we went back there, what we saw were lots of masts sticking out of the water and an impressive amount of floating debris.
On our way to Noumea we had an incredible sight: the southwest side of the hills was brown, as the leaves had been burnt by the friction of the salt water spray caused by the strong SW winds. As far high as 30 or 40 metres above sea level!
Lots if debris and boats tossed about on the streets of Noumea!
The first and only stainless steel boat we saw!
The sights on the local repair yard and hardstand were no less dramatic.
Could you picture a steel boat hull looking like this?
Erica was not fussy about hull materials. She dished it out on all!
We still spent another three months in New Caledonia, and in June resumed our voyage, sailing to the island of Tanna, in Southern Vanuatu, after a quick stop in Lifou, in the Loyalty Islands. We were relieved to be out of the cyclone season.
Or almost, as on June 6th, after a couple of relaxed days not looking at any weather maps, we decided it was time for a check, and sure enough, cyclone Gina was bearing down on us, already in the island of Espiritu Santo, Northern Vanuatu!
That was a big fright, since Tanna did not offer any all weather anchorage, never mentioning cyclonic conditions. So, if Gina really was going to come over us, the only thing to do was to put out all anchor gear and get out of the boat onto high ground. Heading to another island was out of the question, as our speed would be insufficient to get us anywhere safely.
But Gina decided to be kind and started to veer and weaken. But it left the message that early June may be too early for lowering your guard.
2003-2003 season South Pacific cyclone tracks
For the next cyclone season we decided that we did not want the company of Ginas, Ericas, neither their boyfriends, so we headed for the Kiribati Islands, in the Gilbert group, which are all located within 3 degrees of the equator. No cyclones there and we would have one of the most memorable experiences of our cruising life, meeting some of the kindest people on Earth.
After that season, the next one we spent in the Solomon Islands, which lie mostly between 5 and 8 degrees of latitude South, and therefore are also out of the danger zone.
Zazen ( BRA), Green Nomad (BRA), Nyathi ( USA) e Joceba ( FRA) in the Solomon Islands. Sleepy morning after an enjoyable night party!
With these choices we managed to spend three years without having to leave the island groups of the Pacific and accumulated some of the best moments of our lives, living a natural and peaceful existence (ok, discounting nail marks on the shelving, malaria and...)
But we had to get back to Australia and work again, go to Brazil to see the families and plan on future voyages.
As we elected to stay in Cairns, which is located in the Northern Queensland coast, we were back on a cyclone affected area, and so weather maps and cyclone warnings were the order of the day again.
And should we have forgotten our cyclone handling skills, cyclone Larry, one of the most destructive in Australian history, would remind us, since it passed just at scant 30 nautical miles south of us, shattering a whole village totally to the ground.
We had got licences from our jobs in order to be prepared for the cyclone season, and also because it rains almost all the time there in those months (February, March, April). We did a bit of sounding just like in New Caledonia, so when the big one came we had a plan.
Tying the boat to the mangrove roots in Cairns, Australia. Every time a branch moved I only thought of a crocodile’s big mouth closing!
Green Nomad getting ready for cyclone Larry
This time I missed Port Laguerre, where the only problem was the cyclone, because during the months we stayed anchored in Trinity Inlet, in Cairns, many times we saw salt water crocodiles swimming past the boat.
So, any thing brown that moved quickly became a crocodile in our minds, and getting down on the dinghy to tie ropes to the mangroves was not done with a light hearth. Te locals told us to make lots of noise, hit the water with the oars when approaching the mangroves, so the crocs would move away frightened.
If they got frightened we don’t know, but us…
Second cyclone cat. 5. Many lines to stow, but no damage!
Luis Manuel Pinho, firstname.lastname@example.org is a member of our yacht design staff and presently is building his new Green Nomad. This time he chose the Kiribati 36, the latest B & G stock plan, mostly designed by him. As soon as the boat, which is being built in Porto Alegre, South Brazil, is concluded, he intends, together with his wife, Marli Werner, to return to the South Pacific, this time feeling more prepared to face awkward situations during the hurricane season, thanks to the swing keel system adopted in the design of the new boat.
Green Nomad in Kiribati
In November 2003 we were in Vanuatu, Banks Islands, which have been named after the botanist Joseph Banks, a member of the Captain Cook’s Endeavour expedition.
It was time to seek shelter from the South Pacific cyclone season. The options included either to go north and stay close to the equator line or pass to the northern hemisphere, or to go south, outside the tropics, which meant Australia or New Zealand, or stay another season in the cyclone area in some place where good cyclone holes could be found.
We started the passage with pretty strong south-easterlies, the famous Trade Winds from the southern hemisphere blowing their last breaths for that year. We had to sail with two reefs in the main and staysail, with a fifty to sixty degrees apparent wind angle. The wind started to ease after three days, and, as we would expect, we started to enter the area of variable winds, calms and thunderstorms that are characteristic of the passage between hemispheres.
We arrived there with an overheating problem in our engine, so we had to cross the pass under sail, having to tack a few times along that narrow channel, which it is not an easy task and is even less welcome after eleven days at sea. However, once inside the lagoon we could use the engine for the last three miles that separated us from the anchorage.
The immigration chief at the time had making peoples’ lives difficult for sport, but we ended up with all papers we needed and a permission to stop by in Abaiang and Butaritari on our way to the Marshall Islands.
These twenty-five miles of water separated two worlds. Away from Tarawa one can witness the Micronesian way of life like their forefathers lived for ages.
We stayed in Kiribati for five months, four of them during our first passage, and another on our way back south, after spending another five months in the Marshall Islands, which lie a few hundred miles north-northwest of Kiribati.
Another remarkable feature of the Kiribati culture is the still common use of the traditional Polynesian outrigger sailing canoe. They are in no way inferior to any modern catamaran (and cost a lot less to build). I was constantly running to Green Nomad’s foredeck to get sailing magazine quality pictures of these fine sailing craft. They soon discovered I liked to photograph them sailing, and would present me with many a close pass.
And yet another memorable moment was being invited to fish with our friend Teinabo and his brother.
We left Abaiang with a heavy hearth, but soon we would find ourselves surrounded by new friends in Butaritari, the northernmost atoll in the Gilbert group.
Being anchored in one of these atolls always provided for images that defied your imagination. In Abemama, where the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson lived, the blue would stick around even if the weather would try otherwise.
Kiribati was so special to us that we feel we have to go back one day. Apart from being in an oceanic paradise, it was evident that their sustainable lifestyle is a viable one. People looked to live happier than their modern consumer society counterparts, and knew how to use their environment to survive, while respecting it.
As the memories that this people and place left in us are always driving us forward to go back there, we are building a boat again, after selling Green Nomad in Australia in 2005.
Also we got rid of the submarine ride feeling, as traditional sailboat design made us feel. The new boat has panoramic view from inside the cabin, due to the 9 hatches surrounding the main cabin area.
A new revolution in auxiliary propulsion for sail boats
A few days ago we were watching ‘River Queen’, a New Zealand movie about the difficult times of colonization during the nineteen century, when in one of the beautiful scenes of this film; a square-rigger could be seen at a distance, showing a long chimney, witness of her hybrid condition concerning her means of propulsion. That ship was a good example of an age when the steam engine, a new technology then, was not absolutely trusted and, in spite of its unequivocal superiority, ship owners were still reluctant in abandoning the age old system.
It is interesting to notice that it required many decades more to ban the complexity of masts, rigging and sails from commercial navigation, leaving the art of sailing for cruising and racing yachts alone.
During the twentieth century, when combustion engines became common place in all sorts of vehicles, it didn’t take long for those expensive and noisy villains to invade the bilges of our sailing boats.
Following the trend in yacht design during the last decades of the nineteenth century and first ones of the twentieth, hulls had pinched stern overhangs and long keels with rudders joined to them, requiring an aperture between keels and rudders for propeller installation. Those crafts were slow, had poor steering control and were difficult to build. Then the plastic revolution came into scene and sail boats began to receive fin-keels, which considerably improved their performance when sailing close hauled and rudders were separated from fins, improving their efficiency.
Later on a third improvement was introduced, which was the widening of the after quarters of sailing boats, up to the point that some modern designs have the maximum beam practically at the transom. This type of shape with flattish after lines and wide transoms increased speed when running or reaching, improved dynamic stability, besides proportioning more symmetrical waterlines when the lee topsides were submerged
This trend in yacht design, however, required a correction for steering efficiency, due to the loss of rudder performance, as the boat heeled. The solution was to adopt twin inclined rudders. This dramatically enhanced steering control in all conditions. When running, the two blades providing dual control and when heeled, if the windward blade got partially out of the water, the other one assumed an almost perfect position, close to plumb line, right in the centre of the groove. In spite of some loss of simplicity, it seems that large transoms and twin rudders came to stay in sail boat design.
Meanwhile a new silent (literally) revolution is taking place; the introduction of electric motors for sail boat auxiliary propulsion.
It’s amazing that such an obvious solution took so long to be accepted. Of course it wasn’t an easy proposition to let salesmen proclaim that a little gear resembling a car alternator could substitute the bulky brutes, with their thousands of parts, many of them movable.
At any rate, the new idea had all to do with the spirit of sailing; a quiet motor that doesn’t pollute, the energy it consumes being stored when the boat is under sail, the very motor then becoming its own generatorJ, not mentioning that solar panels and wind gensets, two ecologically friendly equipments, would also contribute for energy’s supply.
It was no surprise that some beautiful pieces of equipment began to appear in bilges of many sail boats and presently we already are beginning to hear people saying that they will never install a combustion engine in their future boats, what seems to be a hard blow for combustion marine engine manufacturers in the near future.
We have a rewarding satisfaction as yacht designers; no matter how small is our contribution, to participate in the new trends of our trade. It is exactly the case with this issue concerning electric motors. We were sold to the idea at the first moment and we are already beginning to specify this propulsion in our latest projects. However we are foreseeing other possibilities that can represent a great improvement in cruising speed, steering control and safety: the use of twin electrical motors in front of two rudders in sail boat hulls. With this configuration the boat can motor-sail whenever the energy equation is favourable, keeping hull speed when sailing in lighter winds, without having to worry about poor carter lubrification of engine parts due to excessive angle of heel.
When running with banks in a low stage of charge, it’s just enough to resume to sailing and putting the engines in charge mode. This is the closest one can go towards freedom of energy consumption. On the other hand, when quietly motor-sailing, or just motoring, rudders will hardly require any effort to steer, since the accelerated flux of water in their leading edges will be contributing to their efficiency. Perhaps, when programs of the type that dump rolling in vessels, or even those supplied in auto-pilots, which adjust their speed to the state of the sea, it will be possible to steer exclusively with the two engines, changing the revs in one of them as required, to keep a straight course. Of course this is just an exercise in futurology. More obvious still will be the manoeuvrability of boats with this sort of propulsion. They will turn in their axis as if they were running bow-thrusters. Large oil rigs already use electric thrusters for their locomotion and even to keep them in a stationary position, so why not apply this very same technology in a much simpler way, installing electric motors in sail boats?
Roberto Barros Yacht Design, www.yachtdesign.com.br is already specifying electric auxiliary propulsion in its trailerable sail boat design, Pantanal 25.
Maitairoa in the Falklands
We sighted Jason Islands, a small archipelago north of the Falklands, three days after leaving Mar del Plata, our last port of call. Aboard, missing less than one hundred miles to arrive, our mouths were already watering with the expected tomorrow's lunch in the best restaurant in Port Stanley. But it was written in the stars that it wouldn't be so.
Maitairoa is a very sturdy and stable yacht, and whenever she faces bad weather, her crew feels as though being confronted with a simple breeze. Perhaps for that reason I didn't take the necessary precaution of keeping the boat sufficiently offshore. To crown it all, our engine wasn't functioning and our depth finder, fouled by barnacles on the transducer, was recording inaccurately. Suddenly, out of the mist, where there should have only been open sea, a hill loomed ahead preceded by breakers. Foreseeing imminent danger, I tried sailing close-hauled to escape the trap into which we were falling, but to no avail, since only then did I perceive that there was a strong current throwing us southwards in the direction of the Falklands channel. It didn't take long to hear the thundering noise of our keel colliding with hard ground. We had just been snared.
We dropped our Bruce anchor with about twenty metres of chain plus a good length of a half inch nylon warp, trying to keep the boat in that position. But our hopes didn't last more than a few minutes. After a couple of breakers raising the boat like a rearing colt, the nylon rope parted as if it was a string. When convinced that nothing would stop the boat from drifting ashore, I asked the crew to hold on firmly and let the seas do the job of beaching her. The discomfort lessened considerably after winning the first line of breakers, even though the boat heeled dangerously from side to side. We threw our kedge with just a short length of chain, to oblige the boat to point the stern towards the breakers, this way diminishing the impact against our topsides.
PLY- GLASS VERSUS SANDWICH OF STRIP PLANKING
Our line of Multichine ply-glass sailboats are a series of plans we have designed for amateurs which permit people without previous experience to build cruising sailboats capable of navigating on high seas with comfort and safety. This method of construction is simple to execute and practically all those who decided to build one of these boats, following the instructions of the construction manual, have been able to accomplish the work without difficulties.
Our office designed the motor yacht Sea Baron 57 for one of the leading glassfibre processors in Latin America, Hidroplas S.A., a company installed at the city of Botucatu, state of São Paulo, Brazil.
Planned to be constructed in foam sandwich, for lightness, strength and speed, this boat could be included in a category of yachts five or ten feet larger. The reason for this is an after owners cabin with bathroom en suite, leaving this area isolated from the traffic of people aboard, a feature seldom found in the fifty foot range of motor yachts, without a raised sheer line at after quarters.
Our team developed the design with the collaboration in structural dimensions and propulsion of Jorge Nasseh and Marco Antonio Vieira, two experts in these fields of technology. As a result the plans of the Sea Baron 57 are among the most complete and sophisticated designs of luxury motor yachts to be found anywhere. arti