CRUISING SAILBOAT EVOLUTION: Cleopatra’s Barge

Cleopatra's barge

In the beginning, what we now call “yachting,” or sailing for pleasure, was practiced solely by a wealthy elite. Indeed, the first leisure craft were owned by monarchs and were profligate in their construction and appointments. Ptolemy IV of Egypt, we are told, lolled about the Nile aboard an immense 300-foot catamaran whose hull stood 60 feet high and was propelled by thousands of galley slaves. Cleopatra is said to have bewitched Mark Antony aboard a luxurious barge that had silver oars, purple sails, and a gold-encrusted hull.

As Shakespeare described it in Antony and Cleopatra: “The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/Burned on the water.”

Even centuries later, when the industrious and more egalitarian Dutch took up pleasure sailing in the shallow waters of the Netherlands aboard their sturdy all-purpose jaght schips, the ancestors of what we now properly call “yachts,” they could not resist lavishing their vessels with ornamentation.

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HEADSAIL FURLER INSTALL: Selden Furlex 300S

Selden Furlex 300S furler in box

One huge last-minute addition to Lunacy's pre-launch punch list this year has been replacing the headsail furler. Near the end of last season I noticed that her old Profurl unit, which probably dates back to the early 1990s, was getting increasingly difficult to use. When rotating the drum, the action was stiff and felt very rough, as though the bearings inside the unit had all gone "square." I had assumed this was reparable. But when Lunacy's rig came out of storage earlier this spring, I asked the guys at Maine Yacht Center to check into it, and they found the furler is in fact so antique that Profurl longer makes parts for it.

So I gave my old friend Scott Alexander at Selden Mast a call, and he hooked me up with a new Furlex 300S furler. Being the fine fellow he is, he also came up to Portland last week and helped me put it on.

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JETLEV R200: Water-Propelled Jetpack

JetLev jetpack

Getting tired of being stuck in a two-dimensional world while fooling around on the water? Ever wished you could fly out to your boat on its mooring, rather than simply floating out in some boring old dinghy? Fear not, fun-lovers… your prayers have been answered. The new JetLev R200 jetpack is now available for purchase. For a mere $99,500, you too can be propelled through the air at the end of dual-nozzled firehose.

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FIBERGLASS BOATBUILDING: Cored Laminates

Cored fiberglass laminate

So far in our exploration of fiberglass boatbuilding, we’ve only discussed how to create a solid glass laminate. Very few boats, however, are made entirely of solid glass. Most also contain some cored laminate, as this is the most effective way to decrease weight in a fiberglass boat while also increasing its strength.

Cored decks have been standard since the earliest days of fiberglass boat production; they help decrease weight well above the waterline and also eliminate the need for beams to help support the deck from below, thus increasing accommodations space. Cored hulls, meanwhile, are also quite common, particularly on performance cruising boats and racing boats.

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NOSE JOB: Bowsprit Completed

Welding on Lunacy's new sprit

Lunacy's new nose is now firmly attached to her face. I went up to Maine Yacht Center a while back to see the surgeon (i.e., the welder) at work and came back feeling a bit worried that maybe all this was an awful mistake. Not that the sprit wouldn't be functional; just that it would look all wrong. Lunacy isn't really a pretty boat, but she does have a certain no-nonsense aesthetic. I was afraid in the end her enhanced proboscis would make her look silly somehow.

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DRASCOMBE DABBER: Subterranean Bottom Paint Blues

Underside of Mimi

After gloating last week over how I needn't put any bottom paint on Lunacy this spring, it was only fitting that I should spend a good part of this past weekend messing around with bottom paint. Not painting Lunacy, but Mimi, our little Drascombe Dabber that we use for exploring the local backwaters here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Now my body is all sore from crawling around under Mimi's trailer with a paintbrush clenched in my teeth. My eyes are smarting from the toxic dust unleashed during the prep work. My hands and face are speckled red with blotches of poisonous copper paint.

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ELECTRIC WINCH: Weapon of Mass Destruction?

Electric winch

I've been trying for a while to figure out exactly what it was that happened in Jolly Harbor, Antigua, back in March. Accounts are vague and somewhat contradictory. As is often the case, Dick Durham, news editor at Yachting Monthly, seems to have developed the best information. The magazine's most recent web post on the subject describes it, in the words of one eyewitness, as a scene from "an abattoir with body parts all over the cockpit." According to YM's current print issue (p.11), the horrific accident was the result of "a complex riding turn on the drum of [a] foot-operated self-tailing winch."

What seems clear is that: a) the boat involved was an Amel Maramu, ranging somewhere in size from 50 to 56 feet; b) the winch was electrically powered, built by Lewmar; c) a woman from Venezuela lost her hand and some part of an arm, and also had her other hand crushed, while trying to hoist her husband up a mast; and d) the good Samaritan who tried to rescue her lost 7 (or was it 8?) fingers for his trouble.

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COPPER BOTTOM PAINT: Banned in Washington State

Applying bottom paint

I hate to say I told you so… but I did. In the next few years many people with boats in the state of Washington are going to have to get as interested in copper-free bottom paint as I am. I've been trying out copper-free paint on my boat Lunacy because she has an aluminum hull, and when I blogged about it I predicted copper paint would be regulated in the future.

Well, the future is now. Last week Washington's Gov. Chris Gregoire put her Hancock on legislation prohibiting the sale of new boats treated with copper-based bottom paint as of January 2018. No paints containing more than 0.5 percent copper can be used on old or new boats starting in 2020. The law, which imposes fines of up to $10,000 for violations, applies only to recreational vessels up to 65 feet in length.

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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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    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

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    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    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.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.

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