Just back from helping from helping me mate Jeff Bolster sail his Valiant 40 Chanticleer down to Norfolk, VA, from Newport, RI. This being phase two of his four-step campaign to take the boat down to the West Indies for the winter (phase one having been a short jaunt from here in Portsmouth, NH, down to Newport, accomplished by he and his bride Molly). Jeff, you may recall, bought this iconic fiberglass cruising machine--the boat that in many ways made Bob Perry as a yacht designer--just last summer. Immediately afterward he managed to do a pissload of work on it, including repowering it, before taking it down to the W'Indies and back last season.
We left Newport Friday morning, after a cold front barreled through, and carried the post-front northwesterly, which had much more west than north in it, out Narragansett Bay, past Block Island across the mouth of Long Island Sound, and out past Montauk into the ocean proper before sunset. Friday night was a real shitfight. The wind at least cranked a bit more northerly, so we had it almost on the beam, but it blew hard--30 knots with gusts to 35--and the sea was ungodly.
Boats & Gear
Dehler was one of a few venerable European sailboat brands that ran out of oxygen during the Great Recession. You may recall that many of their quick, durable, well-built cruiser-racers got sold on this side of the Pond over the years. Hanse Group, which evidently aspires to be the General Motors of European boatbuilding, bought the remains of the business a while back and this Dehler 38, which just debuted in Annapolis, is the first all Hanse-built model they've put out. It was the very first boat I test-sailed after the show, and I have to say I was impressed by its performance.
Ever since I first talked to designer Chris White earlier this year about his new MastFoil rig I've been anxious to try it out. I've always been very interested in unconventional rigs, and this one seems particularly promising, so of course my outing aboard his new MastFoil-rigged Atlantic 47 apres-show in Annapolis last month was perhaps the one test sail I was most looking forward to. Unfortunately, the wind was much lighter than I would have liked, blowing only about 5-7 knots, so I still can't say anything terribly definitive about how the rig performs.
My post-Annapolis test-sailing dance card had a great mix of boats on it this year. At the total opposite end of the spectrum from the simple and diminutive Paine 14, I found this high-end sweetheart. Like many of you, I've been reading about Gunboats for years and have walked through a few tied to docks, but I've never actually sailed one, so I was looking very forward to this test. It is, however, an ineluctable law of sailing journalism that the more you look forward to test-sailing a boat, the less wind there will be during the test. Case in point: when Peter Johnstone plucked me off a dinghy dock in Eastport in one of his fancy Pure tenders and swooped me out to the Gunboat 60 way out in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, the true wind was only blowing about 5 knots.
I studied the bay's glassy surface, and my heart sank, but Peter didn't seem particularly concerned. Sure enough, as soon as we boarded the boat and unrolled its big black carbon screecher, we were trundling easily upwind at speeds in excess of 6 knots. A little later, when the true wind piped up to 7 knots, we were running off under an A-sail at 8 knots.
Pardon the void in my personal blogosphere here, but I'm just back from Annapolis, where I was test-sailing boats for the comic after the big show closed down. By far the most relaxing test I did was with designer Chuck Paine (see photo up top) aboard his new Paine 14, a sweet little daysailer based on the old Herreshoff 12-1/2. We had a great time ogling moored boats and chatting up a storm as we ghosted up and down Spa Creek in the few cat's paws of wind that presented themselves--exactly the sort of thing a boat like this is designed for.
The big in-the-water show here in Annapolis is featuring a lot of the in-the-air water this year. We suffered a biblical downpour yesterday morning that continued sputtering on and off through the day. I was forced to invest in new Helly Hansen boots and an umbrella on the sperm of the moment...
Speaking of Gambia, here's a very cool time-lapse viddy documenting the construction there during 2012 of Han Klaar's new crab-claw-rigged double-canoe Ontong Java II (a.k.a, OJ II). Hans is out and about cruising the planet aboard this intriguing vessel and is looking for pay-to-play crew to join the adventure. Check here for info on how to do that.
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