CARIBBEAN 1500 RALLY: Imminent Departure

Katahdin ready to 1aunch

I should mention that I'm in Virginia right now, and will depart today (maybe) in this year's Caribbean 1500 cruising rally to Tortola, BVI. I'm crewing on a Cambria 44, Katahdin, which you see here, as of yesterday evening, all ready to go. Sort of.

We launch this a.m. at 0900 and will be praying that the new rudder bearing packing gland does not leak.

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Antifouling test

Lunacy was hauled for the winter on Friday, which means at last I have answers and evidence to share with the several people who've been asking me about the Ultrasonic Antifouling system I installed toward the end of the season last year. When Lunacy was hauled last year, after two months with the Ultrasonic unit running, there wasn't a speck of growth on her anywhere. This year, after a full five months in the water, the results are decidedly different.

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MARTEN 65: Canting-Keel Cruiser by Owen Clarke

Marten 65 under sail

That's right--this is a dedicated cruising boat with a canting keel. Not only that, the keel lifts, too. Not only that--this puppy's for sale right now. All yours for just a tad over $2 million.

It is, needless to say, a quite sophisticated one-off job. The commissioning owner, a big fan of Ellen MacArthur and IMOCA Open 60 racing, initially sought to acquire an existing Open 60 and convert it to a cruising boat, but then turned to Owen Clarke Design, which had designed MacArthur's Kingfisher, to create a new purpose-built vessel. Constructed by New Zealand-based Marten Yachts (which also built Kingfisher), Spirit of Adventure was launched in early 2004 and subsequently was actively cruised by her owner.

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PIRATE BAIT: Laura Dekker v. Johansen Family

Laura Dekker map Indian Ocean

I haven't mentioned teen sailor Laura Dekker in quite some time, because, as I expected, her voyage--a standard westabout milk-run circumnavigation--has so far been largely uneventful. But now she's in the Indian Ocean. She left Darwin, Australia, headed west over a month ago and soon should be arriving at her destination.

Only thing is... we don't know where that is.

On leaving Darwin, Laura refused to say where she was going, and since leaving has not posted position updates on her website. She has maintained a written blog, but publication of her posts has been intentionally delayed by several days so that her whereabouts cannot be deduced by her descriptions of weather conditions. These precautions, of course, have been prompted by the threat posed by Somali pirates, who now rule a large swath of the northwestern Indian Ocean.

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CRASH TEST BOAT: Onboard Propane Explosion

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In case you had't noticed, the staff at the British sailing comic Yachting Monthly have been having some fun over the past year torturing a 40-foot Jeanneau Sun Fizz to death. The denouement, featured in this BBC news report, came earlier this month when they blew the boat up with propane gas.

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SAILROCKET 2: Sailing Speed Record Attempt

Sailrocket 2

If you're looking for a niche of the web with some current live-action sailing exotica, I recommend you start checking in at The VESTAS Sailrocket team is down on the "Speed Spot" in Wallis Bay, Namibia, with version two of their weird proa, looking to steal the outright world sailing speed record from the French hydrofoil trimaran Hydroptere, which sailed at 50.17 knots over a nautical mile in November 2009 and also hit 52.86 knots over 500 meters.

The hot spot on the site is the blog maintained by Sailrocket's pilot, Paul Larsen. Just yesterday he posted an onboard video of the boat hitting 53.92 knots and 50.5 over 500 meters... during a practice run with a journalist onboard! A few hours later he put up another rather discouraging post explaining how they broke the boat trying to sail it again that very afternoon.

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CAPE VERDE ISLANDS: New Cruising Guide by Don Street

Don Street Cape Verdes guide cover

I ran into Don Street at the Annapolis show and he pressed on me a copy of his latest book, Street's Guide to The Cape Verde Islands, published by Seaworthy Publications. No, this isn't some updated retread of one of Don's many earlier cruising guides. It is an entirely new book, which struck me as pretty damn impressive, given that Don's now in his early 80s. I can only pray I'm still going strong, sailing and writing, if and when I ever reach his age.

What's also impressive is the book itself. Having now spent some time noodling over it, I can certainly recommend it as a must-buy if you are planning on sailing to, or even just thinking of sailing to, the Cape Verde Islands. Don's big pitch is that you shouldn't cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the West Indies in November or December, hoping to spend Christmas in the Caribbean, as there's a good chance the tradewinds won't have filled in yet. He recommends instead that you spend Christmas cruising in the Cape Verdes, then cross to the W'Indies in January, when the trades will be honking for sure.

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From The Wind in the Willows

It is certainly one of the biggest cliches in the literature of boating. What the Water Rat said to the Mole: "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

But here's a little tip. Any purportedly literate mariner who quotes that little snippet of Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows at you (it appears very early on, in Chapter 1, The River Bank) probably hasn't bothered to read the entire book. Because the very best bit--the part any cruising sailor, at least, will most readily relate to--doesn't appear until much later in Chapter 9, Wayfarers All.

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