DOWNWIND ADVANTAGE: The New Nose in Action

A-sail tacked to bowsprit

The bride and I spent a night and a day aboard Lunacy this past weekend, sans offspring, and (thankfully) sans mishaps. The wind Sunday, after the fog finally lifted, was light, but steady, so I was anxious to try flying our asymmetric cruising spinnaker from the new bowsprit. Previously, we'd always flown this sail with the tack held to the forestay with an ATN Tacker (essentially a plastic collar that fits around a furled headsail). With the tack four feet forward of the bow at the end of the sprit, we had a distinct advantage sailing deep angles downwind.

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VARIOUS MISHAPS: First Sail of the Season

Lunacy at Maine Yacht Center June 2011

After several delays the crew at Maine Yacht Center finally splashed Lunacy last Thursday. I then spent much of Friday and Saturday getting her ready to sail. Of course, I was very curious to see how she looks afloat with her new nose and was struck by how the angle of the deck's sheer line and that of the sprit seem a bit incongruent. When the boat was out of the water the sheer and sprit seemed to run on a single line, with the former flowing smoothly into the latter.

A minor aesthetic quibble, to be sure. On the whole I was pleased. I was also anxious to go sailing, which was accomplished Sunday, with all the family in tow.

In retrospect I can only laugh at all that went wrong:

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AMERICA'S CUP: Boats Go Boom

AC45 capsize

I've posted barely a syllable about the America's Cup since Larry The Oracle wrested the Auld Cup from the clutches of Ernie The Alinghi back in February of last year. Since then Larry has certainly not followed all my advice regarding the fate of the Cup (1. sail again in 90-foot multihulls; 2) have it in San Francisco; 3) appoint an independent trustee), but he has heeded much of it. We got a nice taste of the mayhem to come when Russell Coutts and James Spithill started showing off their two little training boats on SF Bay last week. First Coutts nearly crashed his boat last Friday (see video here). Then yesterday he crashed for real (in this video here) in front of a big gaggle of journalists.

Coutts is the one falling about 30 feet straight through the wingsail into the water.

Surely I'm not the only who thinks that he must have done this on purpose. After all, when was the last time an America's Cup test sail got covered by CNN?

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BAVARIA YACHTS: Meet the "Knik"

Bavaria Yachts coachroof detail

I spent Friday of last week down in Annapolis meeting with some folks from Farr Yacht Design and the newly formed Bavaria Yachts USA, which is seeking to reinject the Bavaria brand into the American market. SAIL senior editor Adam Cort and I got a good look at four of the boats in Bavaria's new "Cruiser" line and attempted to sail three of them in little to no wind on Chesapeake Bay. All the new boats share a distinctive design feature, a pronounced kink in the cabin side, which is known inside Bavaria as the "knik" (pronounced "ka-nick"). The term is the fruit, we were told, of a typographical error gone viral.

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BLUEWATER CLOWNS: Paintings by Sean Landers

Painting by Sean Landers

Is it fine art? Or just some cartoons? That's what I've been wondering about this "Around the World Alone" exhibit by artist Sean Landers currently on display at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery at 537 West 22nd Street in Manhattan. When I first came across these paintings, I was amused by them. But the more I look at and think about them, the more they seem an insult to ocean sailors everywhere.

I suppose they wouldn't seem insulting if Landers himself didn't seem to think they were anything more than cute cartoons. But on studying the gobbledy-gook statement about the exhibit on the Petzel website, I had to conclude Landers probably believes these images say something incredibly important and meaningful about life and bluewater sailing.

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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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Subcategories

  • Boats & Gear

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

  • The Lunacy Report

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

  • News & Views

    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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