2014 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: Gunboat 55, Varianta 37, Salona 33, C&C Redline 41

Gunboat 55

I spent yesterday cruising the docks at the show in Newport and was particularly pleased to have a chance to get aboard the new Gunboat 55. You've got to hand it to Peter Johnstone--he is not one to rest on his laurels. After sailing the Gunboat 60 last year at Annapolis, I was impressed by how willing he's been to rethink what a Gunboat might be. Given the great success of the first generation of boats, a lot of builders would have been very happy to just do more of the same. The 60 is definitely a different sort of Gunboat, but the new 55, a very elegant open-bridgedeck design, is something else entirely.

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SINGLEHANDED CRUISING WOMEN: Liz Clark and Nike Steiger

Liz Clark sailing

Just because I'm aware of (and somewhat amused by) the fact that many, if not most women on cruising boats have been lured aboard by the men in their lives doesn't mean I think this is proper or desirable. Au contraire. It is not nearly as common as I wish it was, but it is certainly not unheard of for women to sail boats of their own alone and unaided. Of course, we can all tick off the names of several solo women racers, but there are also a few solo women cruisers out there who aren't nearly as well known. Everyone remembers names like Tania Aebi and Laura Dekker, but they gained their notoriety setting records. I bet not too many remember women like Julia Hazel, who built herself a boat and quietly cruised around the world on her own during the 1980s and '90s.

Women like this are important, I think, because they serve as real-world role models for both women and men who aspire to cruise under sail--for women, because they demonstrate that women are clearly capable of sailing and maintaining a boat on their own, and for men, because they demonstrate it is possible to bring a very different mind-set to the game.

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2014 ROUND ISLAND REGATTA: An Embarrassing and Provocative Outcome

RIR Sail winner

I have been tardy in reporting on what happened at the fourth annual Round Island Regatta, held Saturday, August 23, right here in Portsmouth, NH, both because the regatta's media department has been very slow getting photos to me and because I am a bit embarrassed by the results. After missing last year's event, I managed again to get Mimi, our trusty 15-foot Drascombe Dabber, to the start line this year. And no, I did not manage to sail her any faster than the other boats (quite the opposite). This distinction went to Class 1 (Sail) winner Joie Paciulli, seen in the photo up top displaying her winning form aboard her banged-up old Banshee. The Banshee proved an ideal boat for the conditions (weight is just 120 pounds with 82 sq.ft. of sail area), which were very light, and Joie (daughter of Bruno Paciulli, head sailing instructor at the Kittery Point Yacht Club) handled it expertly, easily besting the other 34 sailboats in the fleet, which included a Hobie 16 catamaran.

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LABOR DAY WEEKEND CRUISE: Lasers and Dogs From Outer Space

Lasers racing

As is traditional, our annual Labor Day excursion got off to a late start. But after we finally dropped Lunacy's mooring pennant in Portland harbor on Saturday afternoon, we instantly found ourselves embroiled in the Laser Atlantic Coast Championship Regatta (see photo up top), which was quite exciting. As far as I know we didn't actually get in anyone's way.

If you were there racing that day and have a different opinion, please feel free to correct me on that.

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MAINE COAST CRUISE: Mouth of the Sheepscot River

Wing-and-wing

With children fortuitously exiled in sleep-away summer activities, my bride Clare and I had a chance last week to venture out on Lunacy for several days on our own. We originally thought we might visit the Damariscotta River, but heading out from Portland last Monday we were plagued by light air and had no reasonable hope of its increasing considerably in the days ahead. This is a problem that often confronts the cruising sailor: when the wind lapses do you simply switch on the motor and go where you wanted to go anyway, or do you sail more slowly and go someplace you hadn't thought of?

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SERVICING WINCHES: A Necessary Chore

Winch service prep

I spent some time last year installing new "disc springs" on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy's cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don't rush through it.

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VARIOUS MISHAPS: Two Abandonments and Two Boats Sunk at Harbor Entrances

Walkabout in distress

It's been a busy fortnight in the realm of sailing mishaps. Number one involves the abandoning of a 42-foot sailing vessel Walkabout (see photo up top), whose crew of three were caught in Hurricane Julio and issued a distress call Sunday about 400 miles northeast of Oahu. They reported their liferaft had been stripped off the boat, a hatch cover had been ripped off the deck, and they were taking on water faster than they could pump. Not at all a sanguine situation.

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DOUSING THE MAINSAIL: Do It After You Park The Boat

Unfurled mainsail

I do a fair amount of singlehanded coastal cruising during the summer, usually just going out for a quick overnight whenever an opportunity presents itself. When departing my mooring at Portland Yacht Services (or any mooring for that matter), it has long been my practice to raise the mainsail before dropping the mooring pennant. That way I can get sailing ASAP, usually immediately. When anchoring or picking up a mooring, however, my habit for many years has been to douse and stow the mainsail first, then secure the boat.

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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.

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    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.

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    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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