Entries in ‘Cruise’ Journal

Fast Raft Monterey Bay Boat Tour in California

Friday July 18, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 1 Comment

sealions, "Monterey Bay" California

California sea lions in Monterey Bay

There’s nothing I like better than being out on California’s Monterey Bay on a sunny day. So when the folks at Fast Raft asked if I wanted to join them for a Monterey Bay boat tour, I was on that RIB (rigid inflatable boat) faster than a dolphin swimming in a sea of sardines!

Most visitors to Monterey, California are not aware of our National Marine Sanctuary and how accessible this body of water is to the general public. There are plenty of things to see and do in Monterey, including a trip to our world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visitors will hear sea lions barking from Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf, but the best way to explore Monterey Bay is with a Fast Raft Eco-Tour.
 


 
 

"rib" boat, "Bodo" "Norway

Riding a RIB in Bodø, Norway


 

Rigid inflatable boat

I’ve had the good fortune to travel by RIB in Bodø, Norway, along the world’s strongest maelstrom, Salstraumen, in the Arctic Circle. I’ve spied green sea turtles and Spinner dolphins along Hawaii’s Napali coast on board a RIB and I have explored the waters of San Francisco bay, gliding under the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge with Bay Voyager in a rigid inflatable boat.
 

"Fast Raft" "Monterey" "California"

Explore California’s Monterey Bay on Fast Raft


 

Fast Raft rigid inflatable boat

While RIB’s vary in size, these rigid inflatable boats carry between 12 and 6 passengers, in addition to a captain. In the case of Fast Raft, our female captain also happened to be a trained biologist. Captain Kate Spencer was able to point out abundant marine life, sea birds and even spotted several whales this particular morning in Monterey Bay.
 

"California sea lions" "Monterey"

California sea lions in Monterey Bay


 

Monterey Bay nature tours & whale watching

Due to the small group size of Fast Raft boat tours, six passengers, in addition to the captain, the Monterey-based company is able to create custom tours on the coastline of Monterey, exploring Point Lobos or Elkhorn Slough. Price start at $140. per person. Check the website for details.

If You Go:

Fast Raft Eco-Tours (800) 979-3370

32 Cannery Row, Suite F2

Monterey, California 93940
 

Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Fast Raft.

Book Review: Victura: The Kennedys, A Sailboat, and the Sea

Friday July 11, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

"Victura" book

Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea

The lives of President John F. Kennedy and his storied family have been dissected, one would have thought, from every angle possible. But now comes the story of their enchantment with sailboats. As an avid sailor, this approach piqued my interest as none of the other myriad of tell-all stories of American’s “Camelot” had ever done. Author and Kennedy family friend James W. Graham focuses his tale on the Wianno Senior a 25-foot (7.6 m) gaff-rigged sloop that seems to be raced only on Nantucket Sound by four Cape Cod yacht clubs. JFK was, according to the tale, given a Senior at age 15 and it was named Victura, which means “about to live” or “about to conquer.”

The book starts out, as many Kennedy biographies do, with the last days of the doomed president. But it focuses on a doodle the president made on the stationary of the Rice Hotel in Houston, where he and his wife Jacqueline stayed the night before his assassination in Dallas. On a piece of paper found later by the cleaning staff was a little sketch of a sailboat.
 

"Kennedy" sailing

Kennedy sailing Victura with kids


The Kennedys love of sailing

It’s a novel way to approach the story of the Kennedy family, and I was anxious to see how the story of their love for the sea wound through the historic highs and lows of the Kennedy epic. We learn a number of things about the family and their relationship to the sea, mostly about their family compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. We’re reminded the Kennedys were ambitious, competitive and hated to lose at anything, especially sailing. This was something they learned from the patriarch of the family, Joseph P. Kennedy, who would chide his children, or just plain not talk to them, after a loss in a sailing race. We learned that, to the Kennedys, sailing was a ritual to prove their place in the family, and fight for a place in the pecking order. Sailboats were a place for courting and building an image as America’s first family of a new generation of politicians in the tumultuous middle of the last century.

Many of the iconic stories and images of the Kennedys concern boats and water. The most powerful, of course, is the story of JFK surviving the sinking of the PT109 in the South Pacific during World War II; another is the picture of JFK and Jacqueline on Victura during their courtship (pictured above, on the cover of the book). This tale is at its best when it sticks to the boats and the lives of the Kennedys when they return to Hyannis Port to sail together as a way to celebrate or mourn, which they did in spades.

 

"Victura" sailboat

Victura sailboat at JFK Library & Museum, Boston.


 
The book drags a bit when it wanders too far from the sea, trying to weave in the major issues and crises of JFK’s presidency, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, and other historical and political challenges faced by JFK and his brothers. It’s clear that returning to Hyannis Port to sail was one way the Kennedys decompressed from their extraordinary public lives. The sections on the presidency don’t add to what is already known, and make the real core of the story — a family’s love for the sea — seem small and, except to a sailor, slightly inconsequential in perspective.

This book confirms much of what we have come to know about the Kennedy family: they live lives not like the rest of us. But it also showed that they shared something core to most sailors: the knowledge that roiling tides, battering winds and the challenges of flapping sails and flying sheets are both a salve for despair and a powerful way to feel the joys of victory. Whether you are a sailor or fan of John F. Kennedy, you might enjoy the book Victura: The Kennedys, a Sailboat and the Sea by author James W. Graham.

Where to Buy

Victura: The Kennedys, A Sailboat, and the Sea

This is a guest post written by Spencer A. Sherman. Spencer last wrote about Houseboating on Lake Oroville.

Movie Review: Maidentrip

Friday January 17, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 3 Comments

laura dekker, movieMaidentrip is a true story of 14 year-old Laura Dekker setting out to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo. While Laura accomplishes her objective, the experience is not so much about setting a speed record as it is about enjoying the journey, while testing herself and her sailing abilities along the way.

 
 
As a parent of two young adults, I remember the turmoil her decision sparked in the media and with the Dutch authorities. While I didn’t doubt her sailing skills, I questioned if it was safe for a female teenager to sail solo on the open sea.

 
Solo travel

As I watched the movie, seeing Laura land alone in the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia and Africa, I felt protective of the fiercely independent young woman and hoped no one took advantage of her during her solo travel. Fortunately for Laura her travel experiences, both on land and at sea, proved uneventful.

On that note, the feature documentary movie, Maidentrip, directed by independent filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger, might be too low-key for some movie-goers used to being spoon-fed constant thrill-a-minute, on the edge of your seat action and adventure.

Laura wears a sail harness at all times during her maiden sailing voyage. The only thing that goes overboard during her travels is a pancake she sacrifices to Neptune god of the sea, when she crosses the equator in a long-standing line crossing ceremony tradition.

 

 

 
Laura Dekker, south africaGet up and go travel

The one hour and 22 minute unrated movie is an award winner, capturing the audience award at 2013 SXSW Film Festival. I watched this movie with my husband. As an introvert who never gets enough alone time in the woods, he could relate to Laura’s joy spending 47 days alone at sea. As a journalist, I could relate to the writer on board, peppering Laura with questions about her travels while her boat, Guppy, was docked at port.

“Freedom is when you are not attached to anything,” says sailor and world traveler Laura Dekker.

The movie Maidentrip features beautiful photography and will inspire the adventurer to get up from your seat and go travel.

Where to See: Maidentrip

Movie review by Nancy D. Brown. First Run Features supplied me with this DVD for review purposes, as well as photos. All opinions are my own.

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