Boats produced by the French builder Chantiers Amel occupy a very unique niche in the cruising sailboat market. The company founder, Henri Toncet, who changed his name to Henri Amel while serving with the French resistance during World War II, became a pioneer of fiberglass boatbuilding in Europe after studying floating pontoons built of polyester-impregnated burlap that had been deployed by Allied invasion forces. Amel emerged from the war crippled in one leg, missing one eye, nearly blind in the other, but possessed of an iron will and obsessive personality that he channeled into the creation of a line of extremely clever yachts he described not merely as cruising boats, but as “integrated cruising systems.”
Boats & Gear
Next stop on my Mini Solo Cruise after Little Chebeague Island was all the way the other side of Casco Bay at the mouth of the New Meadows River. Malaga Island, as you can see, is wedged between Bear Island and the village of Sebasco, which is part of the larger town of Phippsburg on the Cape Small peninsula. I know the east side of this peninsula, which is bounded by the Kennebec River, extremely well, but have only begun exploring the west side in detail since I started sailing Lunacy out of Portland three years ago. I was particularly interested in visiting Malaga because of its grim and unfortunate history, which lately has been discussed much more openly than in the past.
The Lunacy Report
Those in the sailing universe will instantly recognize Neil Pryde primarily for all its windsurfing mojo, but also as a straight-up sailmaker. I made my second transat, for example, back in 1992 under a suit of sweet Neil Pryde sails on a recently built Taswell 56 named Antipodes. So I was more than a bit intrigued on learning this a.m. that Neil Pryde has just announced they are getting into the bicycle business.
Their bikes, not surprisingly, are both high end and performance oriented…
News & Views
Taft & Rinlaub's Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast is a bit dismissive of Chandler Cove, which is bounded by Great Chebeague Island to the north and east, Little Chebeague Island to the west, and Long Island to the south. The guide complains that the cove is a bit too large and deep to be comfortable in anything but settled weather, but fails to note it is almost perfectly situated as a short-notice get-away hidey hole for people (like me) who keep boats in and around the city of Portland. Many times I have hopped aboard Lunacy very late in the afternoon, cast off her mooring, and have wafted north into Chandler for the night on the remnant of the day's southwest sea breeze. In the cove's upper bight there is perfect protection against any northerly nastiness, plus there are always more than a few empty moorings available. Most of these are plenty stout enough to stand up to any southerly wind you are likely to meet during the summer, even if you're sailing a 21,000-pound tank like Lunacy.
I anchored out in Chandler Cove, just east of Little Chebeague, for the first time during my recent Mini Solo Cruise. The wind was flat-out westerly, so the smaller Chebeague offered better protection than the larger one. Plus, I wasn't quite in a "pick-up-a-mooring" sort of mood. I dropped the hook in 30 feet of water at low tide (or about 40 feet at high tide), which is a little bit deep, but not too bad.
After working my way through a short punch list of boat chores the following day (including my temporary Gamage damage repairs), I went ashore to explore the island itself.
This is my Omega Speedmaster, a fancy mechanical chronograph that my wife gave me for my birthday a couple of years back. It is, in fact, a special 50th anniversary edition of this legendary time piece, released back in 2007, when I myself turned 50.
Watch fanatics will at once remember the Speedmaster as the first and only watch ever worn on the moon. NASA conducted extensive tests back in the 1960s to discover which watches could function reliably outside spacecraft during space walks, and the Speedmaster was the only one that passed muster. It was thus duly anointed as NASA's official space watch. Later, when the shit hit the fan on Apollo 13 and the power went down, the crew used their Speedmasters to manually time the rocket burns that brought them safely back to Earth.
But what I really want to discuss is not the watch itself. Instead, please focus on the telemeter bezel ring circumnavigating the watch face.
Techniques & Tactics
You may have noticed I haven't been in a huge rush to blog about the offshore race in which Team SEMOSA competed the week before last. If you're assuming this was because we did poorly, you wouldn't be far wrong.
We ran the race on Phil Cavanaugh's Baltic 35 Alida, which we have campaigned with some success in the Piscataqua Sailing Association's Tuesday night beer-can series over the past few years. Because the Downeast Challenge course runs from Marblehead, Mass., to Rockland, Maine, where I once sailed regularly, Phil anointed me navigator. I'd never been a racing navigator before. One perk, I discovered, is that the navigator can easily think of important reasons why he should be belowdeck when conditions on deck suck.
For example, at the end of this race, when we were trying to thread our way into Penobscot Bay through fog and pouring rain, I spent all my time sitting at the nice dry nav station watching for obstacles on the chartplotter and radar. Meanwhile, Phil and our newest SEMOSA member, David Hill (on the left above), got thoroughly soaked up in the cockpit.
Page 67 of 87
Offshore Passage Opportunities
Attainable Adventure Cruising
Blue Planet Times
Father & Son Sailing
Cruising Sailor's BB
Good Old Boat
North American Sailor
Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell
Onboard with Mark Corke
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