I spent a day hanging out with multihull designer Chris White a while back and came away all buzzed up over his latest idea. The basic concept, as you can see in the image from his website up top, is pretty simple: two jibs and no mainsail. What isn't immediately clear from the photo is that those aren't conventional pivoting wing masts behind the sails. The masts in fact rotate through a full 360 degrees and have controllable flaps on their trailing edges, so that they too can act as sails and create lift at any wind angle.
Boats & Gear
HERE'S A HOT STORY from the Where Are They Now Department that blew my mind a bit while I was cruising around in the Spanish Virgins last week. Spotted a feature in All At Sea, a local Caribbean sailing comic, by a young blonde rasta-looking dude about sailing 2,000 miles to windward from Vieques to Brazil in a converted wooden fishing smack with a pregnant wife and young son. Byline: Thomas Tangvald.
Yes, THAT Thomas Tangvald. Last known whereabouts (in my own mind, at least) was a reef on the east coast of Bonaire in 1991, where, at age 15, he eyewitnessed from a surfboard in the dark of night the crunchy death and destruction of his famous cruising dad, Peter Tangvald, and his little half-sister Carmen. Which, amazingly, was in fact the last in a triptych of awful tragedies that defined his childhood. Panel one being the eyewitnessing at age 3 of his own French mother Lydia being gunned down by pirates in the Sulu Sea. Panel two being the loss (at age 8) of his Chinese stepmother Ann (mother of Carmen), who got clubbed overboard by an errant boom during a transatlantic passage from the Canary Islands to Grenada.
At the end of our last discussion on stability we mentioned the old mono v. multihull worst-case-scenario debate re sinking to the bottom (monohull) versus capsizing on the surface (multihull). This time we'll focus on that which drags the poor monohull to the bottom, which is, of course, its ballast. Ballast, ironically, is added to a boat to help it stay upright. As with form stability, the principle is obvious: an object is harder to up-end if a heavy weight is placed at the bottom of it. Witness the iconic inflatable punching clown. With the majority of its weight concentrated at floor level, the clown pops back upright every time you knock it down. This, of course, is exactly what you want your sailboat to do.
IT IS DIFFICULT when visiting Vieques by boat these days to get reliable information on where exactly you're allowed to go. During my exploration of the Spanish Virgin Islands this winter I've had three different set of charts aboard--all published after the U.S. Navy stopped using the island as a gunnery range--and they are maddeningly inaccurate and inconsistent about what areas are still restricted. Going ashore at Bahia Salina del Sur on Monday morning, however, Phil "Snake Wake" Cavanaugh and I were confronted with some very explicit signs (see photo up top) that suggested our presence might be prohibited.
The Lunacy Report
One thing that has changed since the last time I cruised these waters in the late 1990s is that now everywhere you go in the Spanish Virgins and the east coast of Puerto Rico you see these tsunami warning signs. I wasn't aware that tsunamis are a serious threat in the Caribbean, so I'm wondering what the point of these is. Maybe it's the fruit of some kind of sweetheart deal between the sign manufacturer and the local government.
Over the weekend I had a chance to watch Maidentrip, the new documentary film about Laura Dekker, after Jillian Schlesinger e-mailed me a private Vimeo link on Saturday. This is Schlesinger's directorial debut--her "maidenfilm," if you will--and whatever Laura might think of it, I thought it was pretty damn good.
Coincidentally, Lyall Mercer, who did a stint as Laura's agent and publicist, got in touch after he read my post on how Laura has disowned the film, and we had a long conversation on Friday. Our discussion was a trenchant reminder of what Schlesinger's film might have been, but isn't.
News & Views
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