The New Northwest Passage

I could see the towering ice, imagine the unrelenting cold and felt in awe of the Arctic. Yet, the whole time I was sitting at my corner desk, tucked beneath the window and looking out on some of Seattle’s darkest and rainiest days.

For two weeks, while writing The New Northwest Passage: Century-old Challenges and Modern Day Changes in the Arctic, I immersed myself in another incredible tangent of sailing culture. Some (smart, tan, sane) people sail south, others never leave, but an inspirational handful sail north on a journey that can be more challenging than crossing an ocean.

Although it was tricky to track some of these adventurous souls down, I am very grateful to Dario Schwöerer, Harry SternMark Schrader, Michael Johnson and Guirec Soudée took for the time to speak with me. What does this group of various ages, experience-level and nationalities have in common? Crewing aboard one of the 193 vessels to have ever transited the Northwest Passage.

Thank you also to Victor Wejer, recent recipient of the OCC Award of Merit, who helped provide such up-to-date transit data (how many vessels have completed the Northwest Passage, how many were sailboats, which way they transited, etc.) that to my knowledge, it has not been published anywhere else.

So, take a break from this latitude and head north, very far north, in my latest contribution to 48° North on page 30 of the February issue.

Cheers,
Cara

Image: Voyage d’Yvinec/Guirec Soudée

Crossfire’s Close Call

While I have sailed across the Pacific, I can’t imagine racing across it; let alone in a 55-foot high-performance custom race boat like CrossfireLast month, I interviewed navigator Bruce Hedrick and boat manager Nigel Barron about Crossfire‘s 2016 Vic-Maui race and subsequent retirement.

The skills, logistics, and dedication required of both boat and crew to participate in a race such as Vic-Maui are impressive. By all accounts the resulting experience is one-of-a-kind and well worth the effort.

Bruce and Nigel’s extensive experience, natural comradery, and well-honed storytelling skills made this a great interview. Although I found their technical knowledge daunting, the core of this story is about good seamanship, teamwork, and instincts gained from years of sailing. I was also encouraged because, like many other sailors they agree, “there’s always more to learn.”

Read more in my latest contribution from the December issue of 48° North“Failing to Safety: Crossfire and Vic-Maui 2016”

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Lunch with Laura

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the Portland Yacht Club with 48° North Editor Joe Cline and interview the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator. Most sailors reaction: “Woah, cool.” Most non-sailors reaction: “What does that mean?”

It means the quiet and thoughtful 21-year old woman having lunch across the table from me traveled 36,000 nautical miles, approximately one and half times around the world, on a 4o-foot sailboat by herself. Oh, and she did most of it between the ages of 14 and 16.

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Myself, solo circumnavigator Laura Dekker, and 48 North Editor Joe Cline.

From misunderstanding peers to lawsuits, boat refits to breakdowns, fierce storms to great loneliness, Laura Dekker experienced more in her first sixteen years than many do in a lifetime. Age is an abstract concept when speaking with Laura. I can imagine many describe her as an “old soul.” Knowing what I was like at ages 14, 16, and even 21 makes what she has accomplished even more impressive and thought-provoking.

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Walking the docks with Laura, this was her first visit to Portland, OR.

Regardless of the age of her soul, Laura is an incredibly unique person with a broad horizon of possibilities ahead of her. As she continues to travel, sail and occasionally speak, she shares her unconventional upbringing aboard boats, experiences exploring the world, and perhaps most importantly, her time spent alone with the ocean.

I completed my first long-distance sailing trip last year across the Pacific Ocean (Laura has sailed across twice!) and some days, as I go about my life here in Seattle it’s hard to imagine I did that and experienced such a different way of life. Laura remembers her trip with vivid detail but she is selective in the interviews and presentations she gives because it is her trip, her experience, and only the beginning of an adventurous life.

I sincerely appreciate Laura taking the time to have lunch and a long conversation with myself and Joe. It was entertaining, enlightening, and she’s a damn good sailor. Read my Q&A with Laura Dekker in the November issue of 48° North here, page 22.

For sailors and non-sailors alike check out Maidentrip, a documentary that follows Laura’s journey during her record-breaking solo circumnavigation.

Recently Published – The Wiring Whisperer & The Top 10 Sailing Movies

The new year didn’t truly set in for me until mid-January. I’m a little behind, I guess!

A48-north-january-2016-covert the beginning of January my latest profile for 48° North, Dan Hopkins: The Wiring Whisperer, appeared in the January issue of the print magazine. A retired electrician and experienced liveaboard, Dan is a “guiding light” in his community helping new liveaboards safely update their electrical systems and install heat this winter.

It was such a pleasure speaking with Dan, his wife Irene, and the appreciative neighbors he has helped. I learned so much about marine electrical, boat ownership, and the camaraderie of the boating community.

Read The Wiring Whisperer here.

 

 

Mid-January was an especially exciting time; I began a new job! My big present this holiday season was being offered, and enthusiastically accepting, the position of Marketing and Advertising Coordinator with GeekWire, an online tech and business publication based in Seattle.

GeekWire logoMy transition kept me on my toes. I left my previous job one Friday and reported for duty at my new job the next Monday, the time has been flying ever since! In addition to working with members, assisting with events, coordinating advertising and more, I curate two weekly posts, GeekWire Calendar Picks and GeekWork Picks.

GeekWire boasts an amazing editorial team and covers a very diverse range of topics, be sure to check it out!

Lastly, this new year has brought an exciting new phase for a publication I’ve worked closely with for several years now. 48° North launched a new website with even more great content for the NW sailing community. Congratulations to the team at 48° North!

For the occasion, I explored what nautical entertainment had to offer and compiled my Top 10 Sailing Movies, check out Part 1 (10-6) here. A couple of my favorite new features are the Editor’s Picks and #TBT. Now you can enjoy even more of the magazine “By Sailors, For Sailors.” 

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Busy with The Borgen Project

I’m a pretty busy person. I keep finding tasks to fill my time and extra time that doesn’t exist, but I’m sure this isn’t surprising.

This winter my time has been filled by a very enlightening and challenging task and that is my role as a volunteer writer for The Borgen Project.

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What is The Borgen Project? 

What am I doing as a volunteer writer?

How can we help solve global poverty?

Here are a few answers!

An innovative, national campaign, The Borgen Project works with U.S. leaders to improve their response to the global poverty crisis. With one full-time staff member (founder Clint Borgen) and a group of highly motivated and organized volunteers across the country, The Borgen Project is making global poverty an American priority.

The Borgen Project is the definition of doing a lot with a little. Volunteers meet with U.S. leaders (298 meetings in 2014 with members of Congress and their staff) and mobilize citizens across the globe. They don’t want to be the only ones talking about global poverty, they want all of us to speak out too.

Since the beginning of November, I have called and emailed my Congressional representatives each week. Not only has this taught me how foreign aid, policy, and poverty are intertwined, but I’ve also felt empowered as a citizen.

In addition to advocacy efforts, The Borgen Project works to raise awareness about global poverty through The Borgen Project Blog and The Borgen Magazine. This is where I come in.

As a volunteer writer, I am contributing my time and writing skills to help raise awareness about global poverty issues. Over the past couple months, I have researched and written about a wide range of topics from the potential of hydroponic farming in Africa to decreasing cases of malaria in South American and more.

By the end of my time as a volunteer writer, I will have completed 39 articles and improved my writing skills to boot! In addition to writing, my goal is to fundraise at least $500 for the world’s poor and I know every penny will help The Borgen Project pursue its mission.

Not since studying International Studies at the University of Oregon have I felt so aware and inquisitive about the dynamics of globalization and development. I often considered issues such as global poverty too overwhelming to tackle. The Borgen Project’s focus makes me believe otherwise.

So please, take a wander around The Borgen Project website (this is a good place to start) and if you’re in Seattle come join me at Hilliard’s Brewing on Thursday, January 14th from 5:30-8:30 pm for my fundraising event “Beers for the Borgen Project.”B4BPHalfPageHere are all my published articles:

A Timeline of Rwandan Ethnic Conflict

Increasing Rural Electrification in the Pacific
Digital Financial Services Help Women Invest in Future
Increasing Food Production in Liberia After Ebola
How to Help Refugees and Displaced Populations
5 Global Poverty Infographics Show 2015 Progress
Kyrgyz Republic Forest Management and Poverty
EU Finances Program Tackling Poverty Reduction in Pakistan
Hydroponic Systems: Food Security in Developing Countries
Mozambique Entrepreneurs Change Lives with Bikes
New Innovative Cooking Stove Uses 50 Percent Less Fuels
Virtual Reality Films Provide Powerful Insights
3 Ways Startup Culture Impacts Nonprofits
Cholera Outbreak in Nepal Averted Following Earthquake
Green Growth in Morocco Takes Center Stage
Prevention of Malaria in South America See Cases Reduced
VillageReach Optimizes Healthcare Data Collection
5 Solar Powered Solutions for Refugees

 

Recently Published- The Deep End: A Dinghy Sailor Dives In

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Back from the Boat

I returned from French Polynesia just over two months ago and it feels more than an ocean away. Days at sea, meals at an angle, and delicious Tahitian fruit are no longer the norm. However, I do now enjoy regular showers, excellent coffee, and my own bed.

Kids at summer camp say it, adults with full time jobs think about it:”I want to sail around the world!” Even within the racing community, the dream of sailing into the sunset ignites a spark in the eye of novices, racers, and cruisers alike. It’s a crazy, life changing idea. What’s even crazier is that people do it, hundreds every year! This year I met some of these people and experienced a small but stirring part of that dream.

I feel lucky to share my experience through this 48 North article, it is always a pleasure to work with them and they put out a great publication for the sailing community. I also feel lucky to be reminded about my trip, especially as I settle back into life in Seattle. When I’m heading to work, bundling up for the rain, or grabbing a coffee I will remind myself, “Yeah, I did that!”

Check out the full article here, thanks for reading!

– Cara
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Don’t miss the complete digital edition of 48° North Magazine.

Recently Published: PNW Sailor Couple Profiles

Seattle is home to a thriving and very social sailing community. Among college age, competitive, or casual sailors it is not uncommon to meet “sailing couples” who spend time together both on and off the water.

As most sailors know the dynamics on a sailboat can range from inspiring teamwork to laid back silliness, or tense confrontations. On a fourteen, or forty foot sailboat the space, elements, and nature of sailing challenge strangers, friends, and significant others alike.

This piqued my curiosity about how “sailing couples” make it work.  What if they raced competitively together? Do maintenance projects on the boat together? And what about those that live aboard their sailboat?

Four Seattle couples graciously allowed me interview them about their relationship both on and off the water. I explored these questions and more as each couple revealed the unique way they make their relationship with each other and sailing work. The result, “PNW Sailor Couple Profiles” is a Valentine’s Special Report in the February Issue of 48 North available at marine businesses throughout the Northwest and online here.

Read the full article here:

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