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.
Boats & Gear
The current (November 2013) issue of Yachting World contains a nice feature story I wrote about all the sailing I did on Lunacy last winter in the Spanish Virgin Islands. The theory, of course, is that this will inspire people to sail there this winter. When preparing the story, I therefore made a point of including an accurate map showing which parts of Vieques (a former U.S. Navy gunnery range) are still closed to the public due to the danger of unexploded ordinance. Believe it or not, I did have some trouble coming by this information when I was in the Spanish Virgins, and I impressed upon David Glenn, editor-in-chief at YW, that anyone visiting the area should find it very useful.
Of course, the comic didn't have space to print my map, so I thought I better post it here (see image up top), seeing as how I went to all the trouble of drawing it. If you do visit Vieques this year and somehow manage to blow yourself up, now you can't blame me. But on the other hand, if you want your visit to the island to be as interesting as mine was, you might want to forget to bring the map.
The Lunacy Report
Ever since the days of Bernard Moitessier, it has been a tired cliche that French liveaboard cruisers are dumpster-diving freeloaders who have no respect for authority and believe the world owes them a living. I have met many French cruisers in my day, some of whom have poked fun at this cliche, but I've never met any who actually lived up to it. But then I've never met Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann, who have been living aboard their red steel ketch Primadonna in Oriental, North Carolina, for over a year now, though I have been reading about them on the local community website.
I stopped at Oriental years ago on a trip down the ICW and found it to be one of the most cruiser-friendly towns in all of North America. We're talking hospitality with a capital H. Now, perversely, it seems the town is being punished for its generous attitude.
News & Views
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.
You may have seen this video a couple of years ago back when the collision, during Cowes race week, took place. They're having a trial about it now, as the skipper of the yacht, a Corby 33 named Atalanta of Chester, insists that he was not negligent. Watching what happened per the viddy, I'd say what it was, in law-school lingo, was negligence per se. As in: you should never try to cross in front of another vessel, particularly one that is much, much larger than yours, unless you are about 1,000 percent sure you're going to make it.
But the skipper on trial, Royal Navy lieutenant Roland Wilson, presumably is not a total punter when it comes to boathandling. His defense seems to be that the ship, the Hanne Knutsen, a 120,000-ton tanker, gave confusing sound signals as it was turning while trying to avoid another disabled boat.
Techniques & Tactics
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.
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Cruising Sailor's BB
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