FAMILY CRUISE: A Foggy Fourth And Beyond

Sabre 28 in fog

CLARE, LUCY, AND I (sans Una, who was off jet-setting in SoCal) packed ourselves aboard Lunacy this past Wednesday and were off from Portland none too early, heading east across the whole of Casco Bay, bound for Popham Beach and the mouth of the Kennebec River. I was afraid our late start would leave us in the end struggling against the full might of the outgoing tide as we entered the river mouth... and so it was. What I hadn't counted on was having to do this in zero visibility.

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BRISTOL CHANNEL CUTTER 28: A Salty Pocket Cruiser

Bristol Channel Cutter 28

THIS IS A VERY TRADITIONAL CRUISING BOAT that evokes a strong emotional response from most sailors, but is also surprisingly functional and performance-oriented for a vessel of its size and type. Conceived by Lyle Hess, the BCC 28 is based on earlier Hess designs built in wood--specifically Renegade, a small gaff-rigged cutter that won the Newport-Ensenada Race two years running back in the 1950s, and Seraffyn, the famous 24-foot Marconi-rigged cutter that Lin and Larry Pardey sailed around the world during the 1970s.

Built in fiberglass by Sam L. Morse Co. of Costa Mesa, California, the BCC first appeared in 1976. The company went through three changes of control before finally closing its doors in 2007, at which time Cape George Cutter Marine Works, based in Port Townshend, Washington, acquired the molds for both the BCC and its smaller sibling, the 22-foot Falmouth Cutter, and announced it would continue building both boats. In all, over 125 Bristol Channel Cutters have been built to date.

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TIDES OF TITAN: An Underground Liquid Ocean

Saturn's moon Titan

BIG NEWS HERE SPORTS FANS! NASA announced last week that its Cassini probe has established that Saturn's moon Titan (seen in that sexy NASA/Cassini photo up top) experiences significant tidal bulging that must be caused by an ocean of liquid water trapped beneath the moon's solid surface.

And you're wondering: what has this to do with the sport of yachting???

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SOMALI PIRACY: South African Sailors Released

Sailors held by pirates

AFTER 20 MONTHS IN CAPTIVITY a South African sailing couple, Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates off the coast of Tanzania, have finally been freed. It's unclear how this happened, but according to the most detailed report I've seen, it seems the Italian and South African governments (Pelizzari holds dual SA/Italian citizenship), with help from other interested governments, brokered the release. Though the Somali government has meanwhile claimed it freed the couple in a military operation, Somali expatriates within South Africa have denied this. It seems a ransom of approximately $500,000 to $700,000 may have been paid, with the bulk of the funds provided by the Italian government and Somali expatriates, but this has not been confirmed.

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CLASS 40 DELIVERY: Bermuda and Back All on One Tack

Brian Harris aboard Amhas

JUST RETURNED YESTERDAY from delivering the Akilaria Class 40 Amhas back from the Onion Patch with Brian Harris (that's him up top), who runs the boat for her owner, MacKenzie Davis. Brian and MacKenzie finished third over the line in the Doublehanded Division in the recently concluded record-breaking Newport-Bermuda Race and corrected out to 6th out of 9 boats. Admittedly, this is a less than fantastic result, which Brian attributes to not having a proper A3 reaching sail aboard. Instead he and MacKenzie shuttled back forth between a Code 0 and Code 5 sail while watching other boats flying A3s dance away from them.

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EAST GREENLAND CRUISE: Cousin Nick's Summer Adventure

Nick Kats and crew on Teddy

NO DOUBT YOU'RE WONDERING what happened with my cousin Nick Kats, who was planning to transit the Northwest Passage from Ireland to Oregon this summer aboard his steel ketch Teddy. In the end he decided to punt and cruise to the east coast of Greenland instead. He and his young crew (pictured up top) took off from Clifden in county Galway bound for Iceland last Friday.

Coincidentally, one member of his crew, Sam Berner, who just graduated from high school, is the son of Tania Aebi, ex-teen sailing prodigy. I met Sam and his mom the summer before last in New York, when they joined me and Hank Schmitt in greeting Reid Stowe on his return from his non-stop 1,152-day voyage around the world.

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Selden Reversible Winch

EVER SINCE THEY WERE INTRODUCED in Europe almost two years ago, Scott Alexander at Selden Mast has been urging me to install a Selden reversible winch on Lunacy. Only problem was he couldn't get me a winch. Well... they finally started shipping these puppies across the Pond this past spring, and now at long last Scott has sold me one. I spent the morning yesterday installing it, a process that was only a little bit more involved than I hoped it would be.

Although Scott had suggested I replace ALL the winches on the boat with Selden winches (he is a salesman, after all), I opted just to replace the mainsheet winch, which sits on the coachroof beside the companionway. The mainsheet, of course, is a line that gets played a lot--trim, ease, trim, ease, ad infinitum--so a reversible winch (you can ease it without taking the line off the winch) should come in very handy here.

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NEWPORT-BERMUDA RACE: Blast Reach to the Onion Patch

Passage Weather wind field image

THIS YEAR'S BERMUDA RACE, which starts today out of Newport, is looking to be a fast one. That wind chart for this afternoon you see up top is representative of the predicted conditions--moderate to strong northeasterlies right on the beam--from now until Sunday. Already the pundits are speculating that the fastest boats may finish in less than 40 hours, shattering the Open Division record (48 hours and change) set by Hasso Plattner on Morning Glory back in 2004.

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