Tag Archives: sailboat

Zen 24 electric sailboat demonstrations with Yoh Aoki

zen 24 port tackThe Zen 24, a new electric auxiliary inboard sailboat designed in Japan by legendary circumnavigator Yoh Aoki, will be on display and available for demonstration cruises in California this September, and then will participate in the ASA Southern California Flotilla to Catalina, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Long Beach.

Come check out this beautiful, environmentally-friendly new boat!

Here are the dates and locations for the demonstrations:

September 8-9: Marina del Rey, CA (Los Angeles)
September 17-19: Marina del Rey, CA (Los Angeles)
September 23-25: Redwood City, CA (Bay Area)

For more information on the boat and the demonstrations, visit the Zen 24 website.

yoh aoki
Yoh Aoki during his circumnavigation.

About Yoh Aoki:

At age 22, Yoh Aoki built a plywood ketch in his backyard and sailed it around the world solo. This boat, Ahodori 2, holds the Guinness World Record for smallest boat ever to circumnavigate, and is currently on display at a museum in Japan.

Yoh is now an ASA instructor and the owner/operator of Aoki Yacht, an ASA affiliate located in Osaka, Japan.

zen 24 stern
The Zen 24 viewed from astern.

Voyaging with Velella: Baja Hospitality

cacti on bajaContinuing the “Voyaging with Velella” series by ASA writer-at-large Meghan Cleary. Meghan, her fiance Prescott, and their kitten Nessie are on a planned 9-month cruise in the tropics.

The Sea of Cortez is adorned with striking contrasts: dry pink cliffs standing up out of drinkably blue water, lime green cacti amidst creamy soft sand dunes, the throbbing sounds of Carnival resonating against black nights glittering with millions of stars.

Just a short way from the southern Sea of Cortez base of La Paz, where we picked up friends for a week-long cruise, all traces of civilization drop off completely. Our views are filled with stark geological formations and turquoise bays and cliffs silhouetted against blazing sunsets. Coming from the smokey green mainland Mexico, arriving in Baja feels not just like another country, but perhaps another planet. Today we tasted coarse pink salt from moonlike salt ponds; we picked our way past no less than 8 different kinds of cacti while hiking the backbone of a pink-and-green striated mountain, and returned to Velella lying in a perfectly circular anchorage formed by a volcanic crater. For us, this stuff is the cream of cruising.
fisherman with octopus
We’ve been excited to pack four sets of visitors into this busy month. While it’s hard to host guests in our tiny home for weeks on end, it’s so much fun to experience this environment with company. On a beach walk the other day, we all watched stunned as a local fisherman stuck his spear between the rocks and pulled out a writhing purple octopus, promptly squeezed it so the black ink dripped out like blood, and threaded it onto his buoy. By the end of the afternoon, he had several octopi, clams, and other shellfish, all foraged from within a mile of his home. And we followed suit–bringing home six large razor clams that we grilled up with garlic butter for lunch. Watching the enjoyment our guests take as they learn to sail, fish off the back of Velella, spot a whale or dolphin, and try a hot cockpit shower for the first time refreshes our own love for our cruising way of life. We also like having people held captive to play four-person board games or cards with us in the evenings!

Yesterday afternoon was blustery, so we spent the afternoon swimming in the wind-whipped bay and enjoying cold Tecates. Then, my two girlfriends, our guests for this week, decided to take a dinghy excursion to shore. Unlike most cruisers, Velella carries no outboard motor for our dinghy. There have been only a few times we’ve regretted not buying an outboard; most often we congratulate ourselves for choosing to rely only on oars. Of course by now, we’re both pretty strong rowers… our guests sometimes have a bit more trouble, especially in 20-knot gusts.
meghan rowing
We gave the girls the handheld VHF radio and told them to call us if they needed to. From the cockpit, we watched them row to shore, angled far up into the wind and blown way down onto the leeward end of the beach. No harm done. They spent a bit of time exploring the town, and the next thing I noticed out of the porthole was them dragging the dinghy upwind along the beach. One of them had the painter line and the other grabbed a handle of the side of the dinghy, and they trudged along in about two inches of water all the way up the beach so that they were upwind of Velella. We silently congratulated them on this plan, hoping that their strategy would make the row home an easy one, and set to work making dinner.

Soon, on the radio I hear, “Velella, we’re almost there! Can you come out and catch us?!” in a somewhat strained voice. I jumped outside to see the girls about 10 feet from the boat on the starboard side. I called “Row over here and throw me your line” to which they replied “We can’t!!” and spun the dinghy around in an ineffective circle as the wind blew them further downwind. I started laughing and wondering how the heck they had gotten all the way back to the boat and then couldn’t make it the last ten feet, but soon realized that they were being blown beyond hope of recovery. As the gusts funneled through the bay, they overpowered any rowing efforts the girls made and they drifted downwind despite their great strain. I quickly threw them our 150-foot heaving line, but it still came about fifteen feet short of them, and they could not make way upwind that far. Not that any harm was going to come to them if they blew back down all the way to the bottom end of the beach again, but I felt bad for my guests in this frustrating situation.

prescott with clams
The hero in happier times

Just then, Prescott emerged from the cabin in swim trunks, said “This is gonna be really cold,” and dove in. In a ridiculously heroic manner, he swam out to the damsels in distress, clamored into the dinghy, and rowed them home with the strength of someone who’s been practicing for six months. When they got back, I heated up a freshwater shower for our hero, and everyone changed into dry clothes. Then, the man of the day proceeded to whip up a pot of the most delicious tortilla soup imaginable. I smiled as we ate, pleased that we somehow manage to give all Velella’s guests some sailing lessons and a taste of both sides of the sailing lifestyle.

Here’s where Velella’s dinghy will be rowing ashore today:

View Voyaging with Velella in a larger map

March Photo of the Month: Your Most Relaxing Day on a Boat

Well, I thought we had a barn burner last month, but this month’s Facebook sailing photo contest required an unprecedented “run-off vote” to determine a winner. The theme was “Your Most Relaxing Day on a Boat” and we had a huge crop of entries, most of which featured people taking semi-comatose siestas on the decks of their boats in all sorts of locations, both exotic and close to home.

As the scheduled voting period ended, the race between the leaders was too close to call. It came down to a case of “Mother and Child” vs. “Man and his Best Friend.” But in the end, we had a clear winner, which will be published in the ASA Sailing With Style E-Newsletter. Thanks, as always, to everyone who submitted their wonderful photography and to all of you who voted!


Maria Cox Sheridan submitted this winning entry: “My son and I relaxing on the Chesapeake Bay, after returning from a 10-month cruise to The Bahamas.” Some of our readers added their own commentary. “A child on a boat with his Mom…a future sailor and memories being made!” And: “The composition is nice…The entire effect is sweet, warm and relaxing.”
March photo winner


Rob Webb’s portrait of an easy-going day on the water with a barbeque and a trusty canine friend came near to victory. I don’t think anyone would mind trading places with him in this shot.
march runner up


Bill Lindsay’s submission, “A lazy afternoon on the Nile,” earns my nod this month not only because of its relevance to current events, but because it’s different than anything else we received. As one reader put it, “Definitely out of the box for ASA.”
march editor's choice

You can view the full album of relaxing photographs here. And be sure to “like” our Facebook page, if you haven’t already, so that you don’t miss out on all the cool stuff we’re doing.

Sailing with Whales

I assume by now you’ve all seen this:

But it’s so completely insane I had to repost the picture. (And have you seen the video of it?? I can’t decide if it’s fake or real or what…)

Whale run-ins are the only thing I can think of that a sailor can’t do anything to prepare for. Poor visibility, no problem. Light winds, fine. Even storms are manageable, with the right sails, ground tackle, self-steering, drogues. Shoot–we have tactics for lightning strikes. But hitting a whale? (Or in this case, a whale hitting you??) Completely unpredictable, and not a dang thing you can do about it.

For how many yachts sink from hitting whales at night (snapping off the keel, thudding a whole in the hull), it’s amazing that the whale jumping on top of this boat didn’t sink it.

Being a cruiser myself, I’ve had many a night watch on the Pacific Coast to fret about hitting a migrating whale. On the most extravagant end of my wish list is one of those new FLIR thermal imagers that can detect things underwater like radar…but they start at around $5,000. Instead, I learned a thing or two about whales to help minimize the chances of hitting one.

1. When you spot a whale, it’s easy to let the wheel drift towards it. But make sure you stay at least 300 feet away from them, because the closer you get, the more curious they become about you.
2. Whales have poor eyesight and trouble hearing sailboats, so it’s a good idea to turn on the engine when you know whales are nearby. If they can hear you, they’re less likely to surface blindly underneath you–or jump on top of your boat.
3. Whale watching guides recommend keeping yourself behind the whale and always maintaining a constant speed. Rapid changes in direction or speed may trigger defensive action from the whale, (although jumping on top of your boat is not normally one of these!).
4. Keep in mind that the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the US have passed laws regarding whale watching practices for private boaters. Here is a link to NOAA’s guidelines and regulations.

It’s important for sailors’ safety as well as for consideration of the whales that you follow these safe whale watching guidelines. At night, a healthy dose of telepathy–“stay away from our keel, whales”–is the most effective method I’ve found. So far, it’s working for me.