YACHTIE APPRECIATION WEEK: Good Times and New Moorings at Dominica

Prince Rupert's Bay

Attention all Caribbean cruisers! This is an event you’ll want to check out if you’re in the area. My old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt and his organization, Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), have conspired with the Tourism Board of Dominica and with the Dominica Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) to launch the first annual Yachtie Appreciation Week (YAW) in Prince Rupert’s Bay (see photo up top) this February 14-21. During the event all visiting yachts will get free moorings and their “yachtie” crews will be eligible for discounts on island tours and will also get to enjoy some serious partying in the evenings.

My understanding is all you have to do to qualify is show up on a boat! Plus, if you’re wondering what to do afterwards, the St. Maarten Yacht Club is organizing a race/rally to feed boats from Dominica up to St. Maarten in time for the Heineken Regatta.

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VOYAGING WITH KIDS: The Ultimate Guide for Cruising Families

Kids cover

Lin Pardey gave me a hug and handed me a copy of this book when I saw her at Annapolis, and now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Of course, I do have to admit I am biased. I know and have worked with several of the people involved in creating the book--two of the authors, the publisher, and the editor--but I wouldn’t be pimping it if it wasn’t good. All these people are some of the best in the business.

I can think of many magazine articles I’ve read (and edited) over the years on this subject--how to live the cruising dream with kids in tow--but offhand I can’t think of any books. And the big problem with all those articles is they are always written by just one person, so you get a necessarily narrow perspective on what is ultimately an extremely multi-faceted subject. After all, there about as many different ways to be a cruising family as there are families out there cruising. (I am remembering, for example, a family of four I once met in the Canaries who were having the time of their lives--on a boat just 18 feet long!) The very cool thing about this book it that it has three different authors, all of them highly experienced cruising parents, plus they have elicited opinions and information from many dozens of other cruisers, including a big bunch of cruising kids who have since grown into adulthood.

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LOST CHARTER CAT: Sunsail Versus Families of the Missing Crew Members

Cat plaque

This is getting increasingly intense. The overturned Leopard 44 catamaran that set out from South Africa on a routine delivery and was lost in the Indian Ocean over a year ago, then miraculously reappeared upside down off South Africa just last month, was taken in tow, and then lost again, still has not been rediscovered. Unfortunately. Meanwhile, Sunsail, the boat’s owner, and the families of the missing crew members have today released separate statements that are decidedly at odds. At this point I am not prepared to comment on this conflict. You can read the statements yourself and draw your own conclusions. The image up top is the photo referenced in the Sunsail statement.

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LONG WAY HOME: Charter Cat Lost on Delivery Returns to South Africa Upside Down One Year Later

Capsized cat

It was a little over a year ago, on December 14, 2014, that skipper Anthony Murray (58) and two crew members, Reginald Robertson (60) and Jaryd Payne (20), set out from Cape Town to deliver a new Leopard 44 catamaran into charter service in Phuket, Thailand. The un-named vessel, described variously in reports online as belonging to Sunsail or the Moorings, was last heard from via sat phone on January 18, 2015, at which time it was in some proximity to Cyclone Bansi in the Indian Ocean well west of Australia. Family members of the missing crew reported the vessel missing 10 days after it failed to arrive on schedule in Thailand in early February of last year and since then have worked tirelessly trying to figure out what happened to it. After multiple sightings of an overturned catamaran east of Mauritius and Reunion and now most recently off the South African coast, a tugboat now has what is very likely to be the missing cat in tow and is headed back to Cape Town.

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PETER JOHNSTONE: No Longer at the Helm at Gunboat

There were a lot of subterranean rumors flying around the show in Annapolis last October about big trouble at Gunboat, so I wasn’t too surprised when the company announced the following month that they were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (to reorganize rather than liquidate). Boatbuilding has always been a skin-of-the-teeth business and Gunboat had suffered a string of misfortunes, what with its messy legal dispute with its ex-build partner in China, the tragic abandonment of hull number one of the new Gunboat 55 series, and the dramatic capsizing while racing of the hot new foiling G4. I figured they’d cut a court-supervised deal with their creditors and get on with it. So I was a bit taken aback when I learned yesterday that the company will be sold at auction and that Peter Johnstone, its founder and sole owner, has stepped down as president.

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SEA GYPSY: Early Adventures of Peter Tangvald

Sea Gypsy cover

I continue to be fascinated by the Tangvald family: young Thomas, who sailed with his young son and pregnant wife from Puerto Rico to Brazil aboard an engineless 34-foot nativo racing sloop and was subsequently lost at sea off the South American coast sailing the same vessel singlehanded in 2014; and his father Peter, who lost two wives at sea and was himself killed along with a 7-year-old daughter after he piled up on a reef off Bonaire in 1991. So I have purchased and recently finished reading Peter Tangvald’s first book, Sea Gypsy, which was published in 1966 and has long been out of print. This does not document the infancy of Peter’s bluewater cruising career, aboard a 45-foot yawl Windflower that he sailed from England to California in 1957-58, but rather its adolescence, aboard a 32-foot cutter Dorothea on which he circumnavigated from 1959-64.

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SAFETY-HARNESS DYNAMICS: Are You Really Safer Tethered to Your Boat?

PBO test

This is a question I have asked myself ever since I first started sailing offshore. The received conservative wisdom, of course, is that you should always be wearing a harness, preferably one that incorporates an inflatable lifevest, and should be clipped to the boat at all times. But in my mind I’ve always imagined that being dragged behind or alongside a boat in a harness at the end of a tether would in itself be very life-threatening. The British magazine Practical Boat Owner, to its credit, conducted extensive tests last year with a weighted dummy (see photo up top) and has published the results, which absolutely confirm the awful scenarios conjured up by my imagination.

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MODERN TWIN-HEADSAIL RIGS: Simbo Sailing and the Dutchmar Zoom Boom

Simbo Rig

The concept of the twin-headsail rig, where two jibs are set flying side by side, was first propagated back in the 1950s by bluewater sailors who wanted an easy-to-manage rig for sailing deep downwind angles on tradewind passages. The idea has been revived of late, first by an acquaintance of mine, Iain Simpson, who updated the concept for modern roller-furling systems and employs it on his Najad 570 Song of the Ocean. He is quite keen on it and has been proselytizing on the subject for a few years now on his website.

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