We have previously discussed both form stability and ballast stability as concepts, and these certainly are useful when thinking about sailboat design in the abstract. They are less useful, however, when you are trying to evaluate individual boats that you might be interested in actually buying. Certainly you can look at any given boat, ponder its shape, beam, draft, and ballast, and make an intuitive guess as to how stable it is, but what's really wanted is a simple reductive factor--similar to the displacement/length ratio, sail-area/displacement ratio, or Brewer comfort ratio--that allows you to effectively compare one boat to another.
Boats & Gear
This was a fast passage with very little motoring. My mate Mr. Lassen and I covered the 830 some miles between Fajardo and St. Georges in less than six days and burned only about five gallons of fuel in the process. Not my fastest passage ever between the Onion Patch and the W'Indies, but I think it's the fastest northbound trip I've ever made at this time of year.
The normal pattern is to have moderate to strong easterly tradewinds for the first two or three days, followed by variable junk the rest of the way to Bermuda. If you're unlucky you may see more junk than wind and end up motoring most of way. What we saw was almost the opposite of normal--a good dose of light air during the first few days, then moderate to strong wind through the latter part of the passage.
The Lunacy Report
I was planning next to bore you with some details of Lunacy's recent passage from Puerto Rico to Bermuda, but the breaking news is far more compelling. And not just to sailors it seems. In my recent post on the America's Cup I noted that the general public only seems to follow the Cup when there are intriguing characters involved, but now, unfortunately, we've found something else guaranteed to pique their interest. No one seemed terribly interested in AC72s when they were just sailing fast, but now that someone's been killed on one, all the major media have perked up their ears.
News & Views
ATTENTION EARTH PEOPLE! As I write this I am approaching Bermuda, blasting along but 70 miles out on what seems a perpetual close reach, due for a landing sometime in the wee hours tomorrow, of which more later. What I really want to spout off about right now are inflatable tenders. I was thinking about this as we were preparing to leave Puerto Rico, while regarding our neighbors on a 45-foot Bristol next door, who were about to depart for Annapolis. They had just stowed their RIB tender for the passage, and it took up all of their foredeck. I mean ALL of it! On Lunacy, meanwhile... well, you see that photo up there?
Techniques & Tactics
Another America's Cup summer looms on the horizon, raising again that perennial insuperable question that so tortures racing sailors: how the heck do we get laypeople interested in our sport? These days the default answer is super-fast boats and TV-friendly race formats, which certainly are attractive to sailors, even slowpoke cruisers like myself. But this sort of excitement, I fear, flies over the heads of most people who are not inherently interested in sailing. A much more successful formula is to focus instead on personalities. Look back at those moments in America's Cup history that have truly bubbled up into the mass consciousness, and you'll note they have all revolved around interesting people--Dennis Conner fighting to redeem himself after losing the Cup in 1983; Ted Turner talking trash back in the 1970s; Sir Thomas Lipton playing the lovable loser throughout the early 20th century.
Sailors may have trouble comprehending this, but writers certainly don't. Which, I assume, is why Julian Guthrie, in her soon-to-be-released book on the most recent history of the Auld Mug, The Billionaire And The Mechanic, tries her darnedest to make a hero out of Larry Ellison. It says something of her ability as a writer that she almost succeeds in doing so.
Just figured something out. That Irish-owned Swan 48, Wolfhound, currently adrift twixt Bermuda and the W'Indies, is ex-Bella Luna, the same Swan 48 that my buddy, A.J. Smith, skippered through Tropical Storm Sean (see photo up top) during the ill-fated 2011 NARC Rally (the one in which Jan Anderson lost her life aboard the Island Packet 38 Triple Stars). Check out Bella Luna's brokerage listing, and you'll see she had a very comprehensive equipment list and some unique features, including a coffee-grinder in her midship cockpit, just like Wolfhound.
A.J., who has worked as a delivery skipper for some 25 years, had a hell of a trip on Bella Luna. He got within 80 miles of Bermuda, nearly lost the rig, fell off a wave so hard the speed log blew out of its through-hull fitting and flooded the boat, and in the end had to bail out and retreat to Charleston, South Carolina, to lick his wounds and put the boat back together.
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Offshore Passage Opportunities
Attainable Adventure Cruising
Blue Planet Times
Father & Son Sailing
Cruising Sailor's BB
Good Old Boat
North American Sailor
Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell
Onboard with Mark Corke
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