CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Converting a Sloop to a Slutter

Sophie as cutter

I mentioned the concept of a "slutter," a sloop that is converted to a cutter by adding a removable inner forestay, in my last post on this subject and thought I should expound a bit on the process of the conversion. It is a popular upgrade, particularly on bluewater boats, and of course being able to hoist a staysail can also be handy on a coastal boat. My old Golden Hind 31 Sophie was a sloop when I bought her, and I converted her to a cutter rig with a removable inner forestay, although she became a true cutter, as I also increased the height of the mast and added a bowsprit to enlarge the foretriangle. In the photo up top you see Sophie post conversion, during her very first test sail, flying both a large genoa and her staysail, which in fact was something I rarely did, as it was difficult to tack the genoa around the staysail.

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FOURTH OF JULY CRUISE: The Father-Daughter Variation

Lucy navigating

For reasons we need not go into this year's father-daughter cruise fell on the July 4th weekend rather than on Father's Day. Our big breakthrough this time out was that Lucy got interested in navigation, courtesy of the Navionics app on my iPad. This on day two of the cruise, when we were tediously motoring most of the way from Cliff Island in Casco Bay to Popham Beach at the mouth of the Kennebec River, our traditional July 4th destination.

After Lucy asked for the hundredth time, "How long until we get there?" I just handed her the iPad and said: "Here, you figure it out."

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GREEN 37: New Centerboard Yawl Design by Jay Paris

Profile and sailplane

Just heard recently from Jay Paris, N.A., who has been SAIL magazine's technical advisor since before time began. He sent drawings and details of an intriguing upscaled version of the 32-foot centerboard yawl he designed and built for himself. (For details on that boat be sure to check this post here.) He calls this new design the Green 37, as he claims it "reduc[es] the environmental impact of construction and operation in terms of accommodation, payload and performance." I'm scratching my head over that a bit, but in all other respects I find this a fascinating concept and would love to see one of these built someday. Knowing Jay, there are all sorts of clever details in here that won't be readily apparent until they are fully realized in three dimensions.

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HOOLIGAN NAVY: Sailing Yachts On Sub Patrol During WWII

Corsair bow image

When I was boy during summers spent on the Maine coast at the mouth of Kennebec River my mother used to tell us a story from when she was a girl growing up on the river, of how once during the war a Nazi submarine was spotted near the river's entrance. To me this always sounded crazy, until I got older and read more about the war and learned how badly German U-boats had ravaged shipping all along the East Coast right after the U.S. entered the war in December 1941. My mom's story might well have been apocryphal, but it was not at all improbable, for in those days U-boats did indeed operate with impunity quite close to our shores.

Those of us who sail along the East Coast can take some pride in the fact that the initial response to this threat was mustered by amateur sailors and yachtsmen, ex-rumrunners, and other ne'er-do-wells who volunteered for service in what was known officially as the Coastal Picket Patrol, or more colloquially as the Corsair Fleet, or more derogatively as the Hooligan Navy. This eclectic branch of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve was the brainchild of Alfred Stanford, commodore of the Cruising Club of America, and was ultimately run by Rufus Smith, who was then the editor of Yachting magazine.

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SELF-ALIGNING ENGINE WOES: A New Prop Shaft and Some Existential Questions Concerning Corrosion

Shaft seal

I have previously mentioned the problem I was having over the fall and winter with my engine being badly out of alignment. How I'd just run the engine anyway and eventually the prop shaft would whip it right back in line, and how this seemed to culminate in a shaft-seal leak that plagued me on the last leg of Lunacy's journey home from the W'Indies leaving Provincetown bound for Portland.

Given the impressive amount of water spraying all over the place as we left P-town, all of it spewing forth right from the mechanical face of the seal itself, I reckoned there was a good chance the whole unit would need replacing once I delivered the boat to the tender mercies of Maine Yacht Center. I knew I should at least have the bellows behind the seal replaced (it was about time), but I was prepared to bite the bigger bullet if necessary (see photo up top, of all new shaft seal installed).

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SPOUSE OVERBOARD: Cruising Legend Pete Hill Loses Wife Carly Off Coast of South Africa

Peter and Carly

I think everybody who sails has vividly imagined some variation of this nightmare: you leave a crew member alone on deck for a while to catch some sleep below, and when you come back on deck you find your crew is missing. Disappeared, with no clue what happened to them. So it was in reality for poor Pete Hill, who departed Durban, South Africa, bound for Madagascar on Thursday with his wife Carly aboard their 33-foot junk-rigged wood-epoxy catamaran Oryx. Hill reportedly went below for a nap at some point on Friday afternoon, while the boat was still just 6 miles off the South African coast, and when he awoke Carly was gone. After a fruitless two-day search by South African authorities, Carly Hill, age 58, is now presumed to be dead.

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RAINMAKER UPDATE: Photos of Abandoned Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1 Adrift at Sea

Rainmaker 1

All these pix come courtesy of Gunboat's CEO, Peter Johnstone, who posted them today to his Facebook page. Johnstone, much to his credit, has not been shy about sharing information on the boat and what happened to it. And no, this is not the first time Rainmaker has been sighted since she was dismasted and abandoned five months ago. But it is the first time, as far as I know, that photos of her adrift have been released to the public.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Sloops, Cutters, and Solent Rigs

Big sloop

In our previous episode in this series we discussed what I like to call split rigs--ketches, yawls, and schooners--where a sailplan is divided among two or more masts. Cruising sailors once upon a time preferred such rigs, at least on larger cruising boats, because each separate sail requiring handling was smaller and thus more manageable. These days, however, by far the most popular rig for both racing and cruising sailboats is the simple sloop rig. This has a single mast supporting a single Marconi mainsail with a single headsail supported by a single headstay flying forward of it.

Its advantages are manifest: there are only two sails for the crew to handle, each of which can be hoisted with a single halyard and trimmed with a single sheet. While sailing, there are normally only two lines--the jib sheet and mainsheet--that need to be controlled at any given moment. And because there is but one headsail flying forward of the main, tacking a sloop is easy, since the headsail, even if it is a large overlapping genoa, can pass easily through the open foretriangle.

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