Galena under sail

The relevant thread at Cruisers Forum is titled Abandoned Westsail 32 Free For Taking, and it’s not just a salvage hyperbole. The gent who abandoned the boat, Galena (seen above), less than 200 miles northwest of Fiji, has declared he will make no claim on it if it is recovered. He just wants someone to get it. Which shouldn’t be too hard, as its position when abandoned is known, wasn't too far from shore, and its AIS transceiver, as of three days ago, was still transmitting.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

2016 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Odds and Ends and Just Plain Odd

X5 catamaran

I knew this would be an amusing show when I quickly deduced that this unlikely looking vessel, the new Exquisite X5 catamaran from South Africa, would likely prove one of the more interesting vessels on site. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking. I have sometimes complained, in a condescending tone, of how many modern powerboats are designed to look like running shoes, and here we have a sailboat that clearly falls into that same category. But really, I swear, this is a very cool boat.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

NATHAN CARMAN: Suspicious Circumstances Surrounding His Week Adrift in a Liferaft

Carman in raft

Not a sailing story this one, but it does involve boats, and it’s a fascinating breaking news item. The question raised: could a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome possibly have contrived to kill his mother by 1) luring her out on a fishing trip 100 miles offshore in a 32-foot open boat, 2) scuttling the boat, and 3) taking to a liferaft without said mother (or an EPIRB) to await rescue??? Such was the noxious cloud of skepticism that followed Nathan Carman ashore after the aptly named freighter Orient Lucky last week plucked him from the raft (see image up top) in which he’d been floating helplessly for eight days.

Read more ...

Write comment (2 Comments)

PURCHASE SURVEY: Everything Right Is Wrong Again

Hauled out

I have not mentioned this, as I didn’t want to jinx anything, but Lunacy has been under contract to be sold for some time now. The putative buyers, Nico and Amy, mentioned earlier, enjoyed two test-sails back in August before making an offer and this past week arranged to have the boat surveyed. First a short sea trial so Surveyor One, Gene Barnes, could scope out the engine, then a haul-out at Maine Yacht Center (see image up top) so Surveyor Two, Mike Whitten, could probe the hull with an audio gauge while Gene poked around some more.

My anti-jinx precautions, alas, had little effect, and the sea trial proved embarrassing. First the primary autopilot (the old Autohelm 2000 tillerpilot, which drives the head of the Aries windvane) failed to work properly. Then the PSS shaft-seal (which was replaced just last year) decided to stop sealing and spontaneously filled the bilge with seawater. Fortunately, these problems are resolvable.

The third thing that went wrong was that Mike, the audio-gauge guy, simply forgot to show up. So we had to schedule a Survey Day Two, which made this the longest survey I have ever attended.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

2016 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: The Resurrection of Gunboat and Other Developments

Xavier Desmarest

I can say without doubt the most interesting conversation I had while cruising the docks at Newport on Thursday was with this man, Xavier Desmarest, one of the principals of Grand Large Yachting, seen here closing his eyes and tapping his toes and wishing perhaps he were back in Kansas, or France, as the case may be. Grand Large, you’ll recall, is the French firm that recently purchased the bankrupted remains of Gunboat at auction. And to give you an idea of what a quirky guy Xavier can be: immediately after I snapped this shot he popped open his eyes and asked if he should take his clothes off. Which started a whole riff between us on whether there might be a market for a photo calendar filled with month-by-month shots of naked boatbuilders, kind of like the old Pirelli calendar, only weirder.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

CATANA 58: A Luxury Cruising Cat With Speed Potential

Catana 58

This is a high-end performance cruising catamaran from France that tries to split the difference between high-speed sailing and posh liveaboard comfort. The design by Christophe Barreau includes all the important features that keep cats sailing their best--narrow hulls, high bridgedeck clearance, very little solid structure forward of the mast, plus high-aspect daggerboards instead of low-aspect keels.

The boat’s construction is also pretty high-tech, with an emphasis on lightweight strength. The hull and deck are fiberglass laminate set in vinylester resin vacuum-bagged over a Divinycell PVC foam core. The hull has an inner skin of Twaron aramid fabric laminated over the core to increase stiffness and impact resistance. The deck joint is bonded then glassed over to form a monocoque structure. The only solid laminate is in areas where hardware is mounted. All furniture components and floor sections are also cored with Divinycell foam; the internal bulkheads--21 in all--are laid up with Nida-Core honeycomb coring.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

FIGURE-8 VOYAGE: Solo Round Antarctica and the Americas All in One Go


Speaking of aluminum boats, some of you may be wondering whatever happened to Taonui, the 41-foot German-built full-keeled expedition vessel that Tony Gooch sailed on a solo non-stop circumnavigation back in 2002-03. It was an impressive voyage, the first-ever non-stop circuit via the great capes sailed from the west coast of North America (Victoria BC in Canada to be precise) and also a very impressive boat (see image up top). I know I admired her intently and in fact it was my respect for Taonui that inspired me in part to acquire Lunacy, my aluminum Tanton 39, going on 10 years ago.

So I was a little jealous when I got a note last month from an online acquaintance, Randall Reeves, tipping me off that he had recently purchased a 41-foot full-keeled aluminum boat built by Dubbel & Jesse in Norderney, Germany, in 1989, now called Gjoa, but formerly named Taonui. The very same vessel. Randall first got in touch last year, seeking advice on tin boats, as he wanted to find one to take on what he calls the Figure-8 Voyage, a solo non-stop circumnavigation of first Antarctica and then the Americas via the Northwest Passage, all in one year. Now he has a perfectly appropriate boat and is training up for a departure from San Francisco next fall.

Read more ...

Write comment (3 Comments)


Clare in cockpit

For going on ten years now Clare has each summer broached the idea of cruising down south of Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as she has never been to those places and so has felt culturally deprived. But she normally can only get a week off work at a time, and I have consistently urged that this makes for a tight schedule when sailing from Portsmouth, or worse from Portland, where Lunacy is normally moored. This year, however, we decided at last to give it a try, emboldened by the fact that we’d been offered a mooring in Wood’s Hole, where we could leave the boat for a while if necessary.

With the help of our prospective boat-buyers, Nico and Amy, I sailed Lunacy down to Portsmouth from Portland the Friday before last, thus deleting 40 miles off the distance Clare and I would have to sail to reach the anointed cruising ground. We set off late the following morning from Pepperell Cove in Kittery, just across the river from Portsmouth, bound for Provincetown, first motorsailing then beating under sail against a contrary southerly breeze that eventually topped up to just over 20 knots.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)


  • Boats & Gear

    Evaluations of both new and older sailboats (primarily cruising sailboats) and of boat gear.

  • The Lunacy Report

    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

  • News & Views

    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.



Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here