• Leg Two Complete

      Many of you might recall David Rearick and Class 40' Bodacious Dream from the Atlantic Cup
      a while back, David has been busy completing the 2nd leg of his solo around the world circumnavigation, having just arrived in Wellington New Zealand this morning. A bit of overview on David's "Bodacious Dream"

      Since I was a teenager on the shores of Lake Michigan, my undying passion and ever-present dream has been to race a boat around the world sailed only by myself. There’s a simplicity to such a dream, a simplicity that involves putting myself, my boat and my skills to a test that only I can pass or fail. Mix those simple variables with the infinitely more complex ones of the ocean, the weather and the wind – none of which offer any possible certainty, and suddenly you have the makings of a very one-of-a-kind story that then unfolds against the backdrop of the entire planet and over all her vast oceans. How can such an experience not offer up an inexhaustible number of unique opportunities that simply beg to be shared … and which now CAN be shared via the Internet in ways not previously possible?

      So, my dream has evolved into a two-part dream … to not only make the long-dreamed of journey for myself, but to also share it – as it happens – with curious minds around the world, minds of all ages.

      With a boat and plans in place, my dream stalled waiting for the “Global Ocean Race” to materialize. As the organizers moved the race from 2013 to 2014 (or possibly later,) the decision was made to press forward on our own … and to sail the same course as the Global Ocean Race, BUT to do it in our own way, and in our own time, and so allow ourselves the chance to explore more deeply the wonders of the marine world along that same course, and also to do our best to capture the experience in story, photos and video, turning each day into a learning opportunity for kids and adults who might not otherwise have access to these distant and remote corners of the world, and to the many lessons hidden there.

      Bodacious Dream, our boat, is a 40-foot long, Class 40 sail racing boat. She was designed to sail and race long distances by a single individual and was constructed to withstand the forces of nature that rise in the wilder regions of the world’s oceans. For this voyage, Bodacious Dream will be my home, my transport, my mobile learning lab and my media communications studio. As I sail the remote ocean course and meet each day’s challenges, I will be sharing those events and discoveries with you.


      Our adventure began on October 2, 2013 in Newport, Rhode Island. We headed south towards the equator (and after a stay in Bermuda, to make repairs) we crossed the equator and headed eastward towards South Africa, following the traditional race routes of the major solo circumnavigating races of the world, such as the original BOC and Around Alone races, now both renamed the Velux 5 Oceans Race, the Global Ocean Race and the Vendée Globe.

      From Newport to Newport, the course runs approximately 30,000 miles in a complete circumnavigation and will likely take approximately 9 months. Unconfined by the competitive race format, we’ll have more time to explore and experience some of the more interesting and remote regions in the world, mostly inaccessible without a boat, and there capture interesting data and record events to upload to the Internet and to make available to everyone … including teachers, scientists and organizations such as our partners at Earthwatch Institute.

      You can see Dave's itinerary HERE

      Some excerpts from Dave's ongoing blog Dave's ongoing blog as he progresses around the planet:

      Dave Rearick: We’re in sight of land now and heading up the west coast of New Zealand here. The cold front that we hoped would push us up to Farewell Spit at the northern tip of the South Island and down into Cook’s Strait dissipated and left us fighting through wind right on our nose. It was an unusual weather pattern that made for very rough seas with lots of pounding waves. I kept trying to work my way towards shore to grab the best angle north against the wind – but it was a slog with very little progress to show for a lot of effort. As my weather guy commented … It’s kind of like sailing up Lake Michigan in the Mackinac Race, getting to the bridge, and losing wind. You can see the finish; you just can’t get there!

      Yesterday, I began to grow concerned about having enough fuel to carry me through the notoriously unpredictable winds of Cook’s Strait. I got on the radio to see about landing somewhere along the rugged and dangerous coast, when a commercial fishing boat named “Ocean Odyssey” picked up my radio signal and offered to help. Eventually, we got our boats close enough together, that I was able to tie my gas cans to a line and drop them over the side, where they picked them up and refilled them for me.

      The whole operation took us about two hours, but now I am better set for Cook’s Strait, with 50 gallons of fuel intend of 5. The skipper Barry even suggested that I come onboard the Odyssey for a shower and a hot meal … but I begged off, preferring to stay crusty with a belly full of freeze-dried filler. Today is all stormy and bouncy and so I have to stay focused. Oh well, onward we go! Looks like another great update right here from our Earthwatch scientist Tegan Mortimer - and on a very important topic, so be sure to check it out! Be back soon with more!
      Why do whales strand?

      Around the same time that pilot whales where stranding on Farewell Spit, there was also pilot whales stranding in the Florida Everglades. Pilot whales together with other social and toothed whales like dolphins, killer whales, and sperm whales are the most common whales to become stranded. You might remember me talking about sea turtles stranding in my last Science Note when the turtles get washed on shore after becoming stunned by the cold water. Toothed whales seem to actively beach themselves, swimming into shallow water where they get stuck as the tide recedes. The tight social bonds between animals in a pod mean if just a few do this, then it’s likely that whole pods will follow suit and strand together. Why this occurs is a mystery and there is probably no single answer that fully explains the behavior.

      There are a few causes which are often pointed to when whales strand. Individual animals may beach themselves if they are sick or injured. Other healthy animals may strand if they are unwilling to leave an injured pod member. This seems like it might have been the case of the pilot whales that stranded in Florida, they were not in very good condition and necropsies (animal autopsies) of the animals that died showed that they had nearly empty stomachs.

      In contrast to the Florida pods, the whales that stranded on Farewell Spit were in good condition and seemed healthy, so probably they stranded from other reasons. These whales may have gotten trapped in shallow water as the tide flowed out of Golden Bay. Farewell Spit forms a long hook which can be difficult to navigate out of, which is made worse by the quick drop in sea level when the tide recedes. The soft muddy bottom doesn’t reflect the whales’ echolocation, which means that the whales can’t “see” the bottom. Essentially they don’t realize they are in shallow water until it is too late. There is also evidence that noise disturbances from seismic testing and military sonar could also be a factor in mass strandings.

      Unfortunately, stranding is fatal for whales. Out of the water, whales as quickly susceptible to dehydration and overheating. Whales are designed for a weightless world, which allows them to grow very heavy. Out of the water, all this weight presses on their vital organs and can cause death in and of itself. Unless they refloat on an incoming tide there is little chance for a whale to get back to deeper waters.
      Conversations with the Otto-Pilot

      It’s been about five days now since we exited the storm zone and in that time the weather’s been quite pleasant, which has given me a chance to catch up on sleeping, eating and general boat chores. Although I’m grateful for the nicer weather, I also wouldn’t mind if it were a bit windier.

      I’ve been working to keep a 7-knot average speed through the day, but I’d love to see it move up some. There’s heaps of different wind pockets around, which means there are parts of the day when I have only lower-speed winds to work with and then other times, they’re back kicking up to 14-16 knots. Somewhere in the course of this back and forth, I’ve taken up playing games with the winds, coaxing them … or trying to trick them somehow. How do you trick the wind, Dave? Glad you asked. It’s a routine I developed when we were in the thick of it. You see, as I got increasingly tired, various parts of the boat began to play in my periphery and to gradually take on personalities, which enabled me to carry on conversations with them.

      Otto (the auto-pilot) is my primary chat partner. Otto probably knows more about me in sleep-deprived mode than anyone. Together, we often discuss the weather, the course or how the boat is doing. So sometimes, when Otto and I want more wind, I’ll put on my gear and act as if I’m going to change sails. At this point, usually, the wind decides it wants to kick up and so thwart me from changing sails. Then what happens is that the winds will build for a while, long enough for me to go off and do something else … and then once they die off again, I’ll look like I’m heading back out to change sails … at which point, they kick up again!

      I don’t know whether or not I’m acquiring any special wind whispering powers, but sometimes it seems that I can accomplish the same response just by pushing a button or two on the auto-helm control panel. For whatever reasons, when I am about to push buttons to change course, the wind suddenly picks up, causing me to pull back on the buttons. Believe it or not, this kind of nonsense goes on day and night, and while I know it sounds odd, I actually think focusing in on the details of the process has made me better at anticipating just what the capricious overlords of the wind want me to do.