ARC EUROPE 2012: Outer Limits Holed By Whale

Outer Limits departs Bermuda

I'VE BEEN MEANING TO SHARE more about my time in Bermuda visiting the ARC Europe fleet, but I hadn't thought I'd end up having to write a post like this. You may have heard the news over the weekend: one of the 33 boats that departed St. Georges for the Azores last Wednesday was abandoned on Saturday after striking a submerged object believed to be a whale. Fortunately, no one was lost or injured. The boat, a Hanse 370 called Outer Limits (pictured up top slipping out Town Cut on Wednesday), belonged to an amiable Dutchman, Joost Gehrels, who I happened to interview the evening before his departure.

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ABANDONED BOAT: Cha Cha Up For Grabs in Newport?

Cha Cha in Newport

Cha Cha at anchor in Newport. She seems very secure (note deployment of twin chain anchor rodes) (Photo from

THE UNFORTUNATE SAGA of CHA CHA, the 52-foot steel cutter I first encountered in Bermuda back in the fall of 2009, continues. According to an article published earlier this month, the city of Newport, Rhode Island, is now seeking to seize the boat, which reportedly has been lying at anchor in Newport untended since sometime last year. If the city succeeds in this and decides to sell Cha Cha at auction, it could be a good score for someone. The boat definitely needs a lot of work, but at the right price she should be well worth the trouble.

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BERMUDA RADIO: Masters of All They Survey

Bermuda Radio, view from

The view from on high. Bermuda Radio's perspective on the world

I FLEW HERE INTO BERMUDA on Sunday to catch the start of the World Cruising Club's ARC Europe rally, which departs tomorrow afternoon for the Azores and Lagos, Portugal. It is not the first time I've flown to Bermuda, but this will be the first time I've both flown into and out of Bermuda, as I normally come (or leave, or do both) by boat. Which means I normally get to chat with the guys at Bermuda Radio (ex-Bermuda Harbor Radio), who are keenly interested in the comings and goings of anything that floats within 50 miles of the island. Over the years, in answering their interminable questions about my intentions and the gear I have on my boat, I've developed a great deal of respect (and even affection) for these fellows, so when I learned that the WCC had organized a tour of the Bermuda Radio facility I begged to tag along. For anyone who ever sails out to Bermuda, this a bit like getting to visit the Wizard of Oz.

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Avon inflatable valve

The valve, rehabilitated

SOME MAY RECALL that last year's sailing season aboard Lunacy began with a series of amusing mishaps, one of which involved my inflatable dinghy, a 9-foot Avon with a roll-up floor. The very first time I tried to inflate it, the stem of the valve for the keel compartment popped out like a jack-in-the-box and went flying into the water. I simply ignored the problem and spent the whole season puttering about in a dinghy with a flabby keel. This year, however, I resolved to fix the valve and so paid a quick visit last week to Chris Harrison at Chase Leavitt in Portland, who bestowed upon me a rebuild kit (Avon Part #V00001) for Avon A7, B7, and C7 valves.

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NEW SEA CHEST: Plus A Filtration Scheme

Seacock and strainer

I promised to share pix of my new seacock/sea-chest installation (you'll recall the old aluminum chest had corrosion issues) once it was in place. Lunacy got launched late last week and yesterday was my first chance to visit in a while. I was pretty pleased with what the guys at Maine Yacht Center have worked out here.

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GROOTE BEER: Hermann Goering's Botter Jacht (Not)

Groote Beer

My association with this vessel dates back to 1992, when I sailed across the Atlantic with Cliff and Ruth Ann Fremstad aboard their Alden schooner Constellation. After we unfortunately lost Constellation in a river in Spain that summer, I was a bit surprised when Cliff and Ruth Ann, who had been living aboard the schooner for several years, announced they would have to move back aboard their other boat. My surprise morphed into amazement when they described it to me and showed me some pix. It was a 52-foot Dutch botter jacht named Groote Beer (or "Great Bear"), which they claimed had been built for Hermann Goering (yes, that Hermann Goering) during World War II.

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Nick Kats on Teddy

UPDATE to the UPDATE: He's on again! My cousin Nick (that's Nicolas Kats, a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist currently residing in Ireland, depicted above on the vessel in question) has in fact decided to move back to Portland, Oregon, and wants to take his boat along with him. Having studied the charts, he has concluded that the most logical route from A to B leads through the Northwest Passage, and he is looking for crew to come along on the journey.

Here's the voyage precis he sent me:

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ENSENADA RACE: Mysterious Destruction of Aegean

Aegean SPOT track

This is pretty weird. I previously mentioned the tragic loss of Aegean in the Newport Ensenada Race off southern California last weekend, and since then have been following developments with interest. The original presumption was that the boat, a 37-foot Hunter, had been run down by a ship, and this seemed to have been confirmed by at least one eyewitness on another boat. But Aegean's SPOT track also shows the boat running directly into the north end of North Coronado Island at a speed of about 7 knots.

The debris from the wreck reportedly looks as though it has "been through a blender," with most bits about 6 inches long. To me this doesn't seem very consistent with either explanation, and some have speculated there might have been a propane explosion as the boat hit the rocks.

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