HOBIE MIRAGE TANDEM ISLAND: Not Your Mama's Pool Toy

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

Euphoria

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

IchorCoal

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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BERNARD MOITESSIER: Sailing Mysticism and The Long Way

Long Way cover

It is interesting that our three major monotheistic “revealed” religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--are all the fruit of mystic transmissions received by prophets who isolated themselves in the desert. And in Buddhism, of course, though it is not really theistic, we have a belief system based on the enlightenment of a man who isolated himself beneath a tree. But curiously, though humans (as we have discussed before) have long wandered across the watery part of our world, an inherently isolating experience, from the very beginning of our existence, we have in our history no real prophet of the sea.

I think most would agree now that the man who most closely fits the description is Bernard Moitessier, the iconoclastic French singlehander who became notorious in 1969 after he abandoned the Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, so as to “save his soul.” Most sailors probably would also agree that the book Moitessier wrote about his experience, The Long Way (La longue route in the original French, 1971), though it obviously has never spawned any sort of religion, is the closest thing we have to a spiritual text.

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THE PERFECT DINGHY: Does It Exist?

OCT in action

I’ve been studying the specs on this new Offshore Cruising Tender (see image above), which was developed by Russell and Karin Carlyon, a Kiwi cruising couple who evidently often found themselves pining for a better dinghy during their 7-year circumnavigation. We can only presume this represents their idea of “the perfect dinghy,” which is, of course, a highly subjective concept. After studying their website I’d guess their goal here was to create a dink with most of the attributes of an RIB tender, only more rugged and durable.

It certainly has a distinctive look, and for a hard tender it is remarkably light, just 92 pounds. Construction is relatively exotic--carbon-reinforced glass with Kevlar abrasion pads over a 10mm PVC foam core--yet the Carlyons claim the boat is easily repaired. There’s also a big closed-cell foam bumper encased in Sunbrella running all the way around the hull. Their most remarkable claim is that the boat will plane when powered by a 3hp outboard.

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MODERN CRUISING SAILS: Sail Construction and Materials

Under sail

To function as a proper airfoil a modern Marconi sail must present a curved surface to the wind. To the casual eye a sail may look like a flat two-dimensional piece of cloth, but in fact it has a very specific curved shape built into it. This shape is carefully engineered, depending on what sort of sail it is and how it will be used.

To turn a piece of flat fabric into a curved foil, the fabric must be cut into panels and stitched back together again. By cutting a convex curve along one edge of a panel and stitching it to a straight edge on an adjacent panel, a process is called broadseaming, a unitary curved surface is created once all the panels are joined together. Where the edge of a sail will be attached to a straight spar, as with a mainsail bent onto a mast and boom, shape can also be created by cutting a convex curve along that edge. This is called edge-shaping and is not commonly used these days.

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Subcategories

  • Boats & Gear

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

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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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