Harken intro

Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.

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JOE HARRIS: Warming Up for a Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation

Joe Harris

I’ve never met Joe Harris, but I met his wife and kids once at the swimming pool at Capt. Oliver’s Marina in St. Martin while loitering there on my own boat. The Harris family was out on a straight bareboat charter, just like anyone else, and it wasn’t until later that I pieced together everything the missus had told me and figured out who exactly they were. From a distance at any rate, Joe has always struck me as that kind of guy: low key and under the radar.

Anyway, I’m now starting to dial into Joe’s latest scheme to fulfill a long-held ambition to race solo non-stop around the world. He’s always wanted to do this in an organized race with other boats, but since there is currently no relevant event he can join in his Akilaria RC2 Class 40 Gryphon Solo 2, he’s setting out on his own. His goal being to break the official WSSRC speed record for a non-stop solo circuit in a 40-foot boat (137 days, 20 hours and change) set by Guo Chuan (also in an Akilaria) in 2013. He expects to depart from Newport next month.

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STRANGE NEW PLANET: Gulf of Naples Hail, Hurricane Joaquin, North Atlantic Cold Spot

This viddy was shot earlier this month during a vicious hailstorm in the Gulf of Naples off Italy. Talk about taking incoming fire. The guys in the skiff are laughing about it, but this storm actually did a whole lot of damage on shore. Hailstorms normally occur well inland, although hail over water is not unknown. I remember once I got caught in a mini hailstorm running up Muscle Ridge Channel off the west coast of Penobscot Bay in my old Golden Hind 31 Sophie. But it didn’t last very long, and the hailstones were nowhere near as big as these.

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Tandem Island

Now this was a fun assignment! I’ve had a few glancing encounters over the years with Hobie’s roto-molded Mirage Drive kayaks and even sailed one once for a few minutes, but never before had I been asked to officially test-sail one. This took place courtesy of Fay’s Boat Yard on Lake Winnipesaukee a couple of weeks ago. I know what you’re thinking, that these things are just glorified pool toys, but really I was impressed by how well engineered this little vessel is.

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2015 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: More Euro Invaders and Some Cool American Boats As Well


Walking the docks at Newport last week I couldn’t help noticing that the seemingly never-ending invasion of Euro boats into the American market continues apace. Two new brands in evidence this year were Euphoria and Azuree, both of which are creatures of Sirena Marine, a Turkish builder that previously did contract work for others (most notably building powerboats for Azimut) and a few years ago struck out on its own. Yes, I know most of Turkey is not in Europe, but still, the Euphoria 54 (see photo up top), designed by German Frers, reads as a sleek luxury performance cruiser in the best Euro style.

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BELLA LUNA: New Alerion-based Daysailer From French & Webb and Chuck Paine

F&W Alerion

Boat-testing season is upon me again, and what better way to start it than by spending a day with Art Paine (sailor-artist-journo twin brother to designer Chuck Paine) and Todd French (from the Belfast-based boatbuilder in midcoast Maine) loitering about the waters off Southwest Harbor in this fabulous boat. The original Alerion, a daysailer designed by Nat Herreshoff for his own use back in 1912, is perhaps one of the most iconic classic small boats ever created. One modern builder has seen fit to hijack the name for its own line of high-end retro-style boats, boats faithful to the original design are still built from time to time, and a few variations have been assayed over the years.

This particular variation has especially serendipitous origins. These begin with a knowledgeable private owner, Michael Rindler, who came to French & Webb seeking an Alerion-style daysailer in cold-molded wood, but stiffer and less hard-mouthed than the original keel-centerboard boat, with a round cockpit coaming aft. French & Webb brought in Chuck Paine to fiddle with the hull shape, underbody, and rig (Rindler quickly rejected a fin-keel variation and insisted on a full keel), while the interior and the deck with its elegant cockpit-and-cabinhouse oval footprint were designed in-house by eye as French & Webb actually built the boat. The result is one of the smoothest sailing and steering boats you’re likely to ever meet, combined with a sweet organic built-by-eye aesthetic.

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CLIPPER ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Pay-to-Play Crew Dead in Reefing Accident


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this has ever happened before. With all the many bluewater pay-to-play crewing opportunities out there these days (some of which I’ve been involved with), I think this is the first time anyone has actually died doing it. According to the official statement released by Clipper Ventures, organizers of the Clipper Round the World Race, Andrew Ashman, 49, a British paramedic who had been sailing since he was a teenager, died onboard the Clipper 70 IchorCoal two days ago after being knocked out by the mainsheet and perhaps the boom while helping to reef the mainsail in Force 6 conditions.

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  • Boats & Gear

    Evaluations of both new and older sailboats (primarily cruising sailboats) and of boat gear.

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    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

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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.

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    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.



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