Southbound WX And Marina Thoughts

 

I'm just back from sailing Lunacy down to her winter berth in St. Martin.  For this year's passage I had a professional weather-router, Rick Shema of WeatherGuy.com, give me advice on how to finesse the notoriously dodgy conditions that plague any boat trying to get from New England out to Bermuda and thence south to the W'Indies in th e fall.  As Andy Griffith once put it in his famous comedy spiel "What It Was Was Football," the name of this game is to get from one end of the field to the other without either getting knocked down or stepping in something.  Which is none too easy, what with late hurricanes and early winter storms to contend with, particularly on the first leg to Bermuda, where the Gulf Stream, perhaps the most significant climatological feature on the face of the planet, gets to play the role of the proverbial 800-pound gorilla.

I've been commissioned to write up the details for my print comic SAIL (they promised to pay Rick's bill; a tip of the hat to Peter Nielsen on that one), so I'm not going to spill too many beans here, but I thought I'd share some general impressions.  Plus, of course, I urge you all to read the full write-up when it appears on newsstands sometime in the hopefully-not-too-distant future.

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Rudder-Skeg Leak And Corrosion

While Lunacy was hauled out last June to have her new engine installed, I became aware of some other problems.  The most perturbing ones concerned her rudder skeg, which is a rather high-aspect alum inum structure that is welded on to the main structure of her aluminum hull.  Problem number one was that somehow, during the course of the year and a half since Lunacy was last hauled, about two pints of clean seawater somehow contrived to get inside the skeg.  Problem number two was that a bizarre corrosion pattern, seen here, appeared on the lower part of the skeg after the boat was out of the water for a couple of days.

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Lash It Up

 

In its own way this may have been the most important in-the-water exhibit at this year's Annapolis show.  No salesmen, ho hype---just a team of riggers changing out the standing rig on a 30-year-old Westsail 32.  What was significant was the material they were using.  No wire, no toggles, no turnbuckles.  Instead all the new standing rigging was Dynex Dux braided fiber rope (from Colligo Marine) secured in place with old-fashioned deadeyes and lanyards.  Just how ironic is that???  Let us count the ways.

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Sailing the New J/97

 

There are worse fates to be endured in this workaday life than getting to sail a new J/Boat with Al Johnstone on a gorgeous fall day on Narragansett Bay.  Conditions were just about perfect: bright sunshine with a brisk southwesterly blowing 15-18 knots and looking to get brisker.  Al, who designed our ride, the new J/97, told me beforehand what he was shooting for was an entry-level sprit boat that would be a tad less intense and intimidating than the very popular J/105, but would still be fast and fun to sail.  At the conclusion of our little outing I had to admit he has hit this nail on the head.

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A New Westerbeke

This story begins in a dead flat calm somewhere between Bermuda and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, late last spring.  Said dead calm is pictured here in all its glory.  In all my years of wandering about the watery parts of our world, I swear I have never ever seen a stretch of open ocean quite as flat and millpond-like as this.  If you have a functional auxiliary engine it is much easier to appreciate such scenery, as you can motor through it regardless.  Without the engine, however, it gets a little frustrating.

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Remembering Bill Crealock

 

Most would agree that British-born W.I.B. "Gentleman Bill" Crealock was one of the most influential cruising sailboat designers of the 20th century.  Some might even say he was the most influential.  Back in the early 1970s he massaged an obsolete Eric Atkins design to help create the Westsail 32, the iconic traditional fiberglass sailboat that put the sport of cruising under sail on the cover of Time magazine.  The boats he created after the 32, the Westsail 42/43 and several Pacific Seacraft boats that followed in its wake, were great improvements on the original Atkins template and are still deemed some of the most desirable cruising boats ever built among certain elements of the sailing cognoscenti.

 

The gentleman, alas, has recently died (on September 26) of complications of a broken hip at age 89.  He will be sorely missed by all sailors who knew him and/or his boats.  What I shall most remember him for is a delightful book he wrote when he was still a young man.  First published in 1951, Vagabonding Under Sail recounts a voyage undertaken by Crealock and three young friends aboard an antique wooden gaff-rigged cutter named Content.  After prepping the boat in Britain, Crealock and company (including a very worthy canine named Rum Swizzle) spent over two years wandering the North Atlantic from North Africa to South America and the West Indies, landing eventually in New York.

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Sexy New Tender

 

This is another neat new item that caught my attention at the Newport show back in September.  At first I laughed out loud when I saw it, as it seemed so over the top.  A carbon-fiber RIB dinghy with a teak deck!  Talk about overkill.  But then I inspected the craft in detail and fell in love with it.  This iteration, the Pure 450 Open T, which is about 15 feet long, has a super-clean look and ultimately its aesthetic, I think, is very elegant and understated.

Construction, for a tender, is robust and extremely high tech.  The hull body is carbon fiber reinforced with layers of Kevlar underneath (for increased impact resistance) vacuum-bagged over a CoreCell foam core.  The structure is then post-cured in an oven to assure maximum laminate integrity.  The inflatable sponsons are made of Valmex, a commercial-grade workboat fabric that is as long-lived as Hypalon (figure 10 years plus on lifespan) but can be heat-welded, which allows for superior seam construction and maximizes air retention over time.

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Inside the Bat Cave

 

Speaking of Volvo Open 70s, another thing I got to see at the Newport show was the inside of one.

 

I went down to Boston in May when the whole Volvo Ocean Race fleet was in town, and even though I had press credentials... even though I was crewing on a race marshal's boat, setting buoys and chasing riff-raff off the in-harbor race course (hats off to Scott Alexander at Selden Mast on that one)... no one would let me have even a teensy-tiny peek down below into the innards of any of the competing vessels. Interior accoutrements were strictly verboten, hush-hush, access only on a need-to-know basis.

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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.

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