Inspiring Long Distance Cruising Seminar

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The Long Distance Seminar gets going - looks a bit serious at this point!

Fabulous seminar this Annapolis Boat Show weekend. We are humbled and inspired by the organizers. See you all on the water…

Thanks for a great seminar. I have some idea how hard they are to put on and how many things can go wrong, you did wonderfully.

The speakers were all outstanding – superbly qualified, great information and clear presentations.

We really enjoyed the seminar, and it reinforced our interest and desire to be part of the Blue Planet Odyssey. In any event, you put on a first class seminar, and we are thrilled to be a part of the group.

The entire seminar was excellent, every lecture was valuable and well presented. One of the unique presentations which could not be possible except at the Maritime Institute was the large ship simulator. It was excellent because it allowed everyone to experience exactly what a large ship’s limitations are to avoid collisions at sea with small craft. This simulator presentation may well save the lives of those present. Thank you!

These are just a few of the comments received from some of those who attended the Long Distance Cruising Seminar at the MITAGS maritime institute on October 13 and 14. Of those attending, about half were participants in the Blue Planet Odyssey, representing some 12 boats and nearly all of the North American entries. Though some of the Blue Planet Odyssey participants like Dani Amman had come all the way from Switzerland just to be part of the seminar.

A packed program of talks filled the two days, ranging from specialist weather information from Lee Chesneau to a hands-on medical session with Dr Laura Sudarsky and Dr Hakan Usal. Attendees learned how to deal with the most common ailments and accidents likely to happen on board, such as seasickness and minor injuries, and had a go themselves at gluing and stapling wounds on reassuringly fake skin.

Hands on at the Long Distance Cruising Seminar - during Dr Laura Sudarsky talk on medical emergencies, participants tried glueing and stapling minor cuts and wounds.

Jimmy Cornell covered a great deal of ground with his voyage planning presentation taking sailors from the US East and West Coasts through the Caribbean and Panama Canal into the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, with options explored for heading home again via the South Atlantic or the Mediterranean.

All aspects of the cruising life were covered from the mysteries of anchoring techniques unlocked by Evans Starzinger to a thorough explanation of offshore communications by Steve Bowden. Richard Hudson painted a vivid picture of sailing at high latitudes and educated us in the complexities of ice charts. Beth Leonard gave a revealing and often profound insight into how to cruise as a couple, based on her own extensive experience, complemented by Doina Cornell and Pam Wall’s colorful picture of the ups and downs of cruising as a family. In a formula that has worked well for Jimmy at other seminars, the women and men held their separate sessions, giving them the chance to ask in-depth questions from the serious (how to keep in touch with my family ashore) to the less so (what about dying my hair?).

The weekend also gave Blue Planet Odyssey participants their first opportunity to meet each other, and there is no doubt the seeds of some life-long friendships were sown during these two days.

The seminar also gave Blue Planet Odyssey participants their first opportunity to meet each other

It was also a wonderful chance for less experienced sailors to meet with those having considerable sea miles under their belt, inspiring and informing them to make the step from land to sea. In fact, with such a packed schedule, it was often hard for us organisers to draw people back to the classroom from their intense conversations over the excellent meals laid on by MITAGS. That was one of the few criticisms – that we tried to pack too much in. Maybe another day should have been added on to the schedule!

We have the most expensive video games in the country,’ said Glen Paine, Exec. Director of Maritime Institute, and he was not far wrong. We were treated to the sort of bridge simulation normally reserved for captains of vast cruise liners and container ships, as Richard Lednicky took the wheel, Lou Reynolds piled on the throttle, and we steered our way into New York harbour. As the white speck of a sailboat disappeared utterly in front of the bow, 1000 feet ahead, it really brought home to the cruising sailors the lesson that you really need to get out of the big ships’ way. Even if they can see you – which much of the time they can’t – they need a vast amount of space and time to change course. Captain Alan DeSa reinforced this message with his talk on AIS and collision avoidance.

Container ship bridge simulation – cruising sailors get to see the other point of view Lou Reynolds at the controls

Getting us out of our seats again, a practical demonstration was held in the indoor pool, demonstrating how to launch a self-righting liferaft. John Ellis, Richard Hudson and Lee Chesneau bravely volunteered to show it is not as easy as you might think to clamber into a raft when you are in the water. What was also made clear was that a four-person raft is going to be very cosy if you had to spend any length of time in it. We are very grateful to Karen Hansen of Viking for organising the use of the raft, as well as Nick Stark at Maritime Solutions, and to Jeff Cox of Ocean Marketing who ably talked us through the demonstration.

John Ellis and Richard Hudson demonstrate the liferaft Not much space in a 4-man liferaft: Rachel Loziuk, Anne Posner, William Hickson and Zeke Holland

The weekend concluded with a briefing for the Blue Planet Odyssey participants, giving them a chance to find out more detail about the complex preparations underway for the event. Jimmy Cornell left the seminar direct for Panama, in order to hold crucial meetings to prepare the way for the Canal crossing – and once this key date is in place, details of timings, routes and stopovers for the Blue Planet Odyssey will be announced in November.

Meanwhile, for those unable to attend the October seminar, another will be held for European participants the weekend of 22-23 March 2014 at the Cruising Association in London. This will be open to all interested sailors, as well as Blue Planet Odyssey participants, and more details will follow soon. If you are interested, contact us at

More photos:
Long Distance Cruising seminar photo album, on Facebook (15 photos)

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