2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

Jeanneau 64 cockpit

My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Dragonfly 25 and Oyster 475

Jens Quorning

Pardon me a moment while I step into the Not So Wayback Machine and dial into the middle of last month, post boat show in Annapolis, when I was doing my routine round sampling new boats under sail. Subject number one this year was the new Dragonfly 25 trimaran, which I sailed with Jens Quorning (see photo up top) of Quorning Boats in a typically light 6-10 knot breeze on Chesapeake Bay.

You think of course a trimaran should be fast, but speed is a relative concept. It seems bottom line on this little hot rod is that in light-to-very-moderate conditions like we had you’ll usually be sailing at wind speed, which is pretty damn good for a boat just 25 feet long. Problem is it doesn’t seem so fast when you know the boat is capable of so much more. In this case, Jens informs me the top speed they’ve seen on this little 25 is a skosh over 20 knots in very strong conditions. Fifteen knots is common in moderate-to-strong wind.

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YACHTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Award Nominations Open Until Friday

Hiscocks

My good friend Paul Gelder, formerly editor-in-chief of Yachting Monthly in the U.K., one of my favorite print sailing comics, writes to remind me that interested parties have until the end of this work week to make nominations (these can be made by any member of the public, mind you) for the 2015 Yachtsman of the Year Award, presented by the U.K.-based Yachting Journalists Association. The award was first established in 1955 and the inaugural recipient was a cruiser, Eric Hiscock (see photo up top), in recognition of his three-year circumnavigation with his wife Susan aboard their 30-foot sloop, Wanderer III.

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CASCO BAY CRUISE: Out and About on My Wild Lone in Late October

Lunacy at Jewell

Tis true, faithful readers. I have been missing from this space for far too long, lost in the endless maze of Annapolis and the boat tests that come afterward (more on those later), the acquisition of yet another rescue dog (no need to go into that here), and straight into a delicious week of wandering the bay alone on Lunacy before she gets put away for the winter. One advantage of cruising the Maine coast in mid to late October is you can visit high-traffic anchorages without finding any traffic. Witness the photo above, taken at Jewell Island just around sunset, where I was the only visitor in its confined nook of a harbor. This after a swift cold-air sail out of Portland late on a Monday afternoon.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Surviving Day One

Harken intro

Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.

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JOE HARRIS: Warming Up for a Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation

Joe Harris

I’ve never met Joe Harris, but I met his wife and kids once at the swimming pool at Capt. Oliver’s Marina in St. Martin while loitering there on my own boat. The Harris family was out on a straight bareboat charter, just like anyone else, and it wasn’t until later that I pieced together everything the missus had told me and figured out who exactly they were. From a distance at any rate, Joe has always struck me as that kind of guy: low key and under the radar.

Anyway, I’m now starting to dial into Joe’s latest scheme to fulfill a long-held ambition to race solo non-stop around the world. He’s always wanted to do this in an organized race with other boats, but since there is currently no relevant event he can join in his Akilaria RC2 Class 40 Gryphon Solo 2, he’s setting out on his own. His goal being to break the official WSSRC speed record for a non-stop solo circuit in a 40-foot boat (137 days, 20 hours and change) set by Guo Chuan (also in an Akilaria) in 2013. He expects to depart from Newport next month.

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STRANGE NEW PLANET: Gulf of Naples Hail, Hurricane Joaquin, North Atlantic Cold Spot

This viddy was shot earlier this month during a vicious hailstorm in the Gulf of Naples off Italy. Talk about taking incoming fire. The guys in the skiff are laughing about it, but this storm actually did a whole lot of damage on shore. Hailstorms normally occur well inland, although hail over water is not unknown. I remember once I got caught in a mini hailstorm running up Muscle Ridge Channel off the west coast of Penobscot Bay in my old Golden Hind 31 Sophie. But it didn’t last very long, and the hailstones were nowhere near as big as these.

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

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