The Legend of Plumbelly

 

This, my friends, is a small boat with a very large reputation. The reason I'm blogging about her right now is that she happens to be for sale. Unfortunately, I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, but for a certain sort of sailor--you must be young, footloose, and maybe just a little bit crazy--this represents the opportunity of a lifetime.

I first met Plumbelly many years ago while passing through Bermuda, and the sight of her lying against the wall at Ordinance Island stopped me dead in my tracks. This is not an unusual reaction. I don't know if mere photography can convey just how charismatic this little vessel is, but if ever you see her in the flesh--and flesh is indeed the word for it, as there is nothing plastic about her--you will at once be lost in mad fantasies of micro-gaffer ocean voyaging.

Read more ...

Write comment (23 Comments)

Butterfly Boat

 

Gather round boys and girls and have a gander at what Santa did not bring me for Christmas this year. One big reason for this is that this boat does not yet exist. Indeed, it may never exist. The yacht Ankida, near as I can tell, is merely a concept, a fanciful g leam in the eye of a designer named Alexander Isaac, who works with Lila-Lou, a design "studio" based in both London and Switzerland. Mr. Isaac has not deigned to return my telephone calls, so I can offer no intelligence on whether this thing actually has a snowball in hell's chance of ever getting built, but I can say this:

Wowza!!! This is an entirely different approach to rigging a sailboat.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

Yachts of Titan

 

NASA's Cassini probe, currently in orbit around the planet Saturn, has in recent years confirmed that there are large liquid lakes of methane, ethane, and propane on the s urface of Saturn's moon Titan. (The radar image seen here was gathered by Cassini in July 2006.) Titan also has a dense atmosphere, which, believe it or not, makes it more like Earth than any other planetary body we know of. Might it make a decent cruising ground? One group of scientists, led by Dr. Ellen Stofan of Proxemy Research, is dying to find out. Last week at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Stofan presented details of her proposal to land a boat on one of Titan's largest methane lakes, known as Ligeia Mare, which is believed to be about the size of the Caspian Sea.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Cook Strait Knockdown

Lots of cruising sailors maintain blogs about their voyages and adventures. One of the best I'm aware of is written by Antonia Murphy, who sails aboard Sereia, a 36-foot Mariner ketch, with her husband Peter and toddler son Silas. They've been in New Zealand for some time, and here you see them recovering from a knockdown they recently suffered in Cook Strait. Antonia's detailed account of the event, which she just published today, is amazing! I urge you to read it and explore their past adventures in detail. At the end of her most recent post, Antonia has announced they now plan to abandon ship and explore New Zealand by van, but I'm sure her posts from shore will be as lively as ever.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Teen Sailor Busted

 

Theory has it that publicizing teen suicides just encourages more kids to off themselves. So I've been a good little blogger and have kept my laptop shut about this neverending kids-who-want-to-sail-around-the-world-alone-and-break-a-record story. But this past weekend the whole phenomenon went beyond weird when the youngest and most enigmatic of the current trio of contenders, Laura Dekker, age 14, escaped from the watchful eye of the Dutch government, which effectively had her under house arrest, and lit out for St. Maarten.

By plane, that is. The rather small boat, a 26-foot sloop named Guppy, that she would like to sail around the world solo is still sitting on its mooring in the Netherlands. Apparently Laura went missing last Friday, an international APB was issued, someone spotted her yesterday in SXM, and now she has been detained and is being sent home under a police escort.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

Labrador Cruise Circa 1925

 

I've just finished re-reading this gem of a book, and this has only reaffirmed my belief that it is one the very best cruising tales ever published. The author, Desmond Holdridge, is utterly obscure and long forgotten, but he was a great wordsmith and adventurer in his day. This account is of a cruise he made in the mid-1920s when he was but 18 years old. In a converted 30-foot potato lugger with minimal accommodations and minimal gear Holdridge dared to sail the entire length of the Labrador coast from Newfoundland to the Button Islands and back again in one season. His crew, two older, much more experienced men, bitterly resented his authority over them, but he ultimately succeeded both in commanding their respect and in reaching his objective.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Wing Nuts And Lawyers

 

There have been a few developments since my last tongue-in-cheek post about the America's Cup, so I thought I'd bloviate a bit more on the topic. Don't worry. I'll try hard to be serious this time. You've probably heard yesterday's news that a New York appellate court shot down Ernie Bertarelli's appeal of a lower court decision ruling out RAK as a race venue. I'm sure you know, too, that Larry Ellison last month unveiled a very impressive hard wingsail that has been tested successfully on his BMW Oracle trimaran. Both wing and tri have just been loaded on to a freighter in San Diego and are now en route to Valencia, Spain, for the final showdown with Ernie's Alinghi catamaran in February. Many are acting now like the legal rumpus must be over and there's nothing left to do but (finally!) have a sailboat race, but I'm not so sure it will be that simple.

For one thing, Ernie's cat is still in RAK and it's not at all clear he'll be able to get it out. It seems very likely the only reason he appealed the lower court's anti-RAK ruling was to propitiate the powers-that-be there. He has also promised that if he wins this match the next America's Cup will for sure be held in RAK. But the sheikhs in RAK have already spent $120 million preparing for this America's Cup and probably feel like idiots for ever believing Ernie could make good on his initial promise to race there this time around. If I were those sheikhs I'd seize that cat with the quickness and shake down Ernie for some cash reimbursement.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

The Mystery of Jim Gray

Three years ago next month, Jim Gray sailed out of San Francisco Bay aboard his C&C 40 >Tenacious, bound for the Farallon Islands to scatter the ashes of his dead mother at sea. Conditions were utterly benign. Gray made cellphone calls to his wife and daughter, described the dolphins playing in the water around him, and then... just disappeared.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Subcategories

  • 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.

Search

Subscribe

Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here