14-year-old Dutch sailor sets off...Plastiki skipper Jo Royle speaks...Northwest Passage's new sailing adventurers...Great American raft-up...Seychelles jails its pirates...and much more...

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 05 Aug 2010

Solo teen sailor ponderings...

Laura Dekker - AP Photo/ Evert-Jan Daniels  .
When I think about this recent crop of teen solo sailors making the headlines, the parental instinct – to protect at all costs – is always at war with my own love of the sea, and the empathy for anyone who stretches for that most sublime of all life's harmonies, life on an ocean-going sailing boat.

But when the hint of fame-searching and money-making begins to stain the image, I am rocked back into reality and parental mode.

The intended voyage of Laura Dekker, born on a boat, owned her own at six, started sailing at 10, does not at all resemble the voyages of Abby Sunderland (dismasted and broke we hear) or Jessica Watson (made it- and a rich celebrity now). Laura is setting off, one small sail at a time, with the joy of never having to come back.

The mainstream press now makes much of her push for a record. They've learned, thanks to Jessica's collision with a cargo ship on her first night at sea, and Abby's dismasting in the south Indian Ocean, that teenagers in danger make news that sells in a very big way. Maybe Laura is now also being swept along in the tide of rising publicity, but I wouldn't mind betting that she would be doing the same thing, the very same thing, were no-one taking any notice.

Lots of luscious other news this edition. Stories of cruising sailors out there in the blue come in from Indonesia and San Juan in the USA, and from up in the Northwest Passage there's a new crop of adventurous sailors from many different nations tackling the famed Passage.

The Seychelles is hoping to hold out the welcome lines again as they toughen up by convicting and jailing some pirates, and having the right gear on board meant a quick rescue for some sailors hundreds of miles from the so-remote Nuie. Nuie? Where's that? Read the story.

Good small pieces of practical advice this week too – Fast Fender is my favourite of the week to stop all that fender panic when your shiny hull is threatened, there are Tips to keep your all-important VHF antenna healthy, and, if you don't have one already, Adam Loory lists the arguments for installing an inner forestay.

Browse down the headlines and choose your stories

Sweet sailing!

Nancy Knudsen, Editor

Dutch teen solo sailor, 14, begins her voyage
Nancy Knudsen,
Laura Dekker, 14, finally allowed by a Dutch court to sail solo around the world, has only one regret - she will miss her dog, Spot. Yesterday she set off with her father on a test and delivery sail to Portugal, from where she will begin her great adventure. Laura was born during a circumnavigation, had her first boat at six, and began sailing solo aged 10.... [more]
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The San Juan Sailing Flotilla 2010 - more cruising sailor tales
Meghan Cleary, American Sailing Association,
In every sailing country in the world, cruising sailors get together to enjoy sailing in company, for a host of reasons - sharing knowledge and friendship, the inside story on the best anchorages and destinations, help along the way if you need it. The American Sailing Association recently held another San Juan Islands Flotilla. Enjoy their tale and their fabulous pictures:... [more]
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Four simple tips on how to ensure a healthy VHF antenna
Sail-World Cruising,
A boat's VHF antenna is one of the vital links in the communication chain on-board. You depend on it for most ordinary communication, but in times of distress it can make the difference between surviving and not. Regular inspection and testing are both vital and easy to ensure this important equipment performs properly when needed.... [more]
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Product of the Week: Fast Fender
Lee Mylchreest,
There are two difficulties about getting the fenders ready in a hurry - they take so long to tie them to the guard rail, and Murphy's law says that the level will be wrong and you'll have to retie them at the very last minute, or risk scratching your nice shiny hull on the dock - that is, until Fast Fender came along...... [more]
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Cruising Indonesia by superyacht - by the Captain
Captain Charles Dwyer, for charterworld.com,
Not all cruising happens on the 30-50ft cruising boat with a short handed crew, likely to be a couple. There is a more luxurious form of cruising, if you can fund the lifestyle, and the upside of this is that the crew also get to enjoy cruising in remote and idyllic cruising grounds.... [more]
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Ocean capsize for catamaran - registered beacon meant quick rescue
Sail-World Cruising round-up,
Two cruising sailors have been rescued from stormy seas off Niue, one of the most remote inhabited islands of the South Pacific, after their catamaran capsized yesterday. Rescuers said later that, even though the catamaran capsized in very remote waters, the fact that the EPIRB was registered contributed to their swift and efficient rescue.... [more]
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Great American Raft-up - what a great idea
Des Ryan,
Yacht Clubs around the world are always trying to think up great events and excursions for their cruising sailors, but the idea of the South Shore Yacht Club at Newport Beach in southern California to hold a 'Great American Raft-up' every mid-summer is a beauty.... [more]
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Northwest Passage - the adventurers and Canadian advice
Nancy Knudsen,
It's summer again in the cold Arctic and the expected group of sailing adventurers are off to see if they can transit the once dreaded Northwest Passage. No-one knows in advance just what sort of ice-free summer it will be, but in 2009, the brave yachts that tried it found much more ice than in 2008, when it was relatively ice free by mid-summer.... [more]
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Seychelles to the forefront - jail for Somali pirates
Des Ryan,
The Seychelles may soon be an attractive destination for cruising yachts again, as the island nation takes stern action on pirates in its waters. They have announced that they have prosecuted and convicted a group of Somali pirates, with ten year sentences each.... [more]
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Teen sailor Laura Dekker - sailing with Dad to the start line
Nancy Knudsen,
Fourteen-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker has announced she will sail away from the Netherlands on Wednesday, sailing with her father to Portugal, from where she will start her solo sail around the world. She has announced no date for her solo start, but it is expected to be within the next couple of weeks after she has completed some test sailing.... [more]
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Inflating for safety - Australians set new world record
Sail-World Cruising,
It was all about safety - trying to get the message across to thousands of boaters in Australia about new rules after November 1, and that a life jacket may end up saving your life. So the NSW boating industry, including Australia's latest favourite sailor Jessica Watson, set a provisional world record of 415 lifejackets inflated at once in the one location.... [more]
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The argument for an inner forestay
Adam Loory, UK-Halsey Sailmakers/Sail-World,
Like the boat pictured here, many cruising boats have a roller furling genoa as our primary headsail. This is excellent for short handed crews, and the single headsail works well until the wind starts to blow hard and then the combination of too much sail and not enough crew can make things difficult and unpleasant.... [more]
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New markers for Studland seagrass study
An American system, new to the UK, normally used for moorings is being used to replace the markers of an independent study to examine the impacts of recreational boat anchoring on seagrass in Studland Bay.... [more]
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Jo Royle: the Plastiki experience at Sydney International Boat Show
Jeni Bone,
Tucked in a plastic pod, onboard a leaky boat called Plastiki with a crew of men for four months, Skipper Jo Royle has many stories to tell. But her main message is that we need to beat waste and change our attitudes to the use of one-life plastic.... [more]
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How to give yourself the best chance of avoiding whales
American Sailing Association,
Remember this photo? Even though the incident occurred off the coast of South Africa, sailors round the world were moved and empathetic - 'It could have been me!' Along with floating containers and icebergs (if you sail in colder waters) collision with a whale is one of those uncontrollable nightmare possibilities at sea.... [more]
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Sir John Franklin search sailing vessel found
Sail-World Cruising round-up,
A sailing ship lost while searching for missing explorer Sir John Franklin in the Arctic 150 years ago has been found by Canadian archaeologists, 'standing upright in very good condition,' and with it, the bodies of three sailors who are thought to have died of scurvy.... [more]
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Rough seas slow rally yachts
Sail-World Cruising,
Yachts who set off from Darwin on the northern coast of Australia heading for the Indonesian destination of Banda Neira have been delayed through unusually rough seas.... [more]
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Greenland Ice Core team reaches bedrock
British Antarctic Survey,
Bedrock has been reached, Tuesday July 27 2010 at the deep ice core drilling site North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) on the Greenland Ice Sheet at the depth 2537.36m.... [more]
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Expedition identifies unusual variety of Deep Sea Vents
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
The first expedition to search for deep-sea hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Cayman Rise has turned up three distinct types of hydrothermal venting, reports an interdisciplinary team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in this weeks Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... [more]
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