LONGUE ROUTE 2018: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to Bernard Moitessier's Great Voyage

Joshua under sail

So now, as the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race of 1968-69 draws on nigh, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. We have on the one hand a highly organized tribute event: the previously discussed Golden Globe Race 2018, put together by ex-BOC racer Don McIntyre, with a fixed starting time and location and all kinds of strict rules and limitations as to boats to be sailed and equipment to be used. And now we also have an utterly disorganized anti-matter tribute event: Longue Route 2018, being put together by another ex-BOC racer, Guy Bernardin, in recognition of Bernard Moitessier’s role in the original race.

Moitessier, on his 40-foot steel ketch Joshua (see photo up top), of course became a legend when he blew off his chance to win the Golden Globe, the first-ever solo non-stop round-the-world competition, and kept on sailing around the world again so as to “save his soul.” The book he wrote about his voyage, La longe route (in the original French, or The Long Way, in the English translation), has since inspired all sailors with a spiritual bent and most particularly French sailors, who (ironically) have dominated long-distance singlehanded ocean racing ever since.

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JURGEN KANTNER: German Cruiser Beheaded in Philippines, Body Recovered

Sabine and Jurgen

We have some very grim news here. That Jurgen Kanter, taken hostage by the Filipino terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, late last year, was beheaded last week after a ransom demand of $600K was not met. Just yesterday there came follow-up reports that Kantner’s remains have been recovered by the Philippine military. Reportedly, Philippine armed forces suffered fatal casualties during operations conducted in an effort to rescue Kantner and other hostages held by Abu Sayyaf. Evidently, no details on these casualties are available.

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OUT OF AFRICA: Harmattan Days in the Cape Verde Islands

Carie in cockpit

[Editor’s Note: After spending most of the winter of 1997 in Senegal and Gambia on Crazy Horse--see earlier posts on this here--I sailed out to explore the Cape Verdes before sailing to the West Indies. An earlier version of this account was published in Cruising World.]

AS WE LEFT the city of Banjul behind us, we could see that the swollen mouth of the Gambia River, a vast grey fairway, was studded with fishing pirogues. Most of the fishermen were tending charcoal fires in their bilges and thus were easily distinguished from a distance, lurking under dark smudges in the sky. They waved their arms as we approached, shouting in Wolof, to warn us away from their unmarked nets.

Either we’d strayed on to the flats, where one might reasonably expect to find men fishing in small canoes, or a buoy was missing. And yes, I remembered. The previous week while walking the beach at Fajara, Carie and I had found a huge red nun lying like a bloated whale upon the sand. And I thought then: pity the sailor who needs this buoy to find his way. And I was thinking now after studying the chart: it must have gone right there, off our port bow, and these men must be insane, fishing like this with their nets splayed out all across the shipping channel.

Later that afternoon, after we finally we broke break free of the onshore sea breeze, free from the drift nets and from the continent of Africa, we found the tradewinds had far too much north in them--a discouraging development.

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LUCKY 13: Rich Wilson Completes His Second Vendee Globe, Fastest American Ever

Wilson returns

After running much of the Vendee Globe in 14th place (out of an original fleet of 29), the race’s only wholly American competitor, Rich Wilson, got lucky as he started closing on the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne two weeks ago. It wasn’t the sort of luck you openly pray for, as it came at the expense of another competitor, the half-American Conrad Colman (the other half is Kiwi), who was ahead of Rich in 10th place when his boat, Foresight Natural Energy, was dismasted less than 800 miles from the finish. Conrad did cobble together a jury rig, but he hasn’t been fast enough to stay in front of Rich, and so it was that Rich finished in 13th place the day before yesterday.

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VINEYARD VIXEN 29: A Special Friend For Sale on Narragansett Bay

Ave Marina

I’ve recently received word from Tim Murphy--my ex-shipmate, ex-roommate, and ex-co-worker (from my brief tenure at Cruising World magazine), that he is selling his 1974 Vineyard Vixen 29. I am quite familiar with this boat, named Ave Marina, as I helped Tim sail her from Rumery’s Boat Yard in Biddeford, Maine, after he refit her there round about 1998, down to Newport, where we were both living at the time. It was one of the most memorable short deliveries I’ve ever made, a proper odyssey in miniature.

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FOILING MONOHULLS: Flying Minis and the New Figaro 3

Flying 747

Here’s a photo that raised a few eyebrows a couple of weeks ago: David Raison’s famous 747 Mini 6.50 Prototype, the first scow-bowed Mini, pulling another first as it goes airborne flying on a foil. Makes you wonder what this year’s Mini Transat is going to be like, as I’m hearing rumors there are at least three Minis currently undergoing foil conversions. This 747 experiment is being conducted by SEAir, a French company that specializes in engineering and manufacturing hydrofoils, and they tell me it is just that, an experiment, and they do not plan to campaign the boat.

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USED BOREAL 44 FOR SALE: RC Louise Is Up For Grabs!

RC afloat

The primary reason I ordered a new Boreal rather than just buying a used one is that used ones very rarely come on the market. In fact, I’ve never seen one listed, until now. I met Steve and Tracy, owners of RC Louise, a Boreal 44, through a series of coincidences last summer and managed to lure them to my home in Portsmouth by shooting them an e-mail as they were sailing down the coast from Maine. We had a fine visit and I learned many useful things from them. Later I coincidentally ran into them again after sailing old Lunacy down to Annapolis to be sold. They have recently announced they are reluctantly selling RC Louise, which is now available for viewing, also in Annapolis. If you are interested in these boats you should definitely check her out. You are very unlikely to see another available in the U.S., or anywhere, anytime soon.

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BE GOOD TOO REVISITED: The EPIRB Question, Why She Didn't Sink, What Happened to Gunther, and a Shameless Book Plug

BGT abandoned

There has been much less furor online about the rediscovery of the Alpha 42 catamaran Be Good Too (hull no. 1) on a beach in Scotland than there was when we abandoned her three years ago. Which is a good thing for sure. I was disappointed to see, however, that Gregor Tarjan of Aeroyacht, formerly president of Alpha Yachts, has seized on the boat’s reappearance to again malign her crew. If you take a moment to read his full rant here, you’ll see his primary accusation, the “worst” thing that happened, was this: “The crew DID NOT leave the activated EPIRB aboard to mark the 40’ vessel for other mariners. BE GOOD TOO would for 3 years represent a deadly threat to other small boat sailors.”

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