NEEL 45: Living Large on a Trimaran

Neel 45 under sail

Theoretically, I was to spend all day Monday testing boats after the "multi-cocks" show in Lorient, but the weather was so foul everyone cancelled on me. Instead I managed to cram in a couple of short tests during the last day of the show, including one on the new Neel 45, an intriguing trimaran that tries to fit cat-sized cruising accommodations into a three-hulled format.

This is not a new concept. Early cruising tris, those slab-sided beasts built of plywood back in the 1960s, tried to pull off this trick by pushing sleeping spaces into the bridgedecks connecting the main hull to the amas. These boats proved to be a bit too heavy and unwieldy to sail as well as a trimaran should and were also fragile. You might recall the disintegration of Nigel Tetley's Piver-designed Victress during the Golden Globe Race in 1969, or the less-well-publicized fracturing of a plywood tri sailed by cruisers Val and Ernest Haigh some years later.

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BAMBA 50: Catamaran Motorsailer

Bamba 50 under sail

Yo peeps. I'm tapping this out in the wind-blown town of Lorient, France, where I spent all day yesterday browsing through a small, but very interesting boat show, Les Salons du Multicoque. This is a special presentation of multihulls, containing some very cutting-edge boats, that flops back and forth between Brittany and the Med. Ironically, one of the boats I found most interesting was this new Bamba 50, a catamaran motorsailing trawler built right near here in La Rochelle. It serves as a trenchant reminder that the "edge" in boat design can cut more ways than one.

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MATT RUTHERFORD: Bay Bridge in Sight

Matt Rutherford off Virginia Beach

Matt Rutherford off Virginia Beach (photo courtesy of Mark Duehmig)

Editor's note: Andy Schell, my Matt Rutherford correspondent, shot me this report just moments ago. LET'S GO, MATT!!!

You'd think that in a voyage of now 310 days--the time Matt Rutherford has been at sea since departing the Chesapeake almost a year ago--the hardest part would be far behind him.

But in fact, the hardest part is right now.

Matt has the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in sight, and is only a handful of miles from crossing his outward track, which would make him the first person in history to complete a solo nonstop voyage around both American continents. He's already been recognized by the Scott Polar Institute as having piloted the smallest vessel ever through the Northwest Passage, and if the weather cooperates, he'll make history again in a much bigger way sometime today.

The trouble is the weather is not cooperating.

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SUICIDE OCEAN TOW: Drake Roberts on YouTube

Many moons ago I blogged about a fellow I met in Bermuda, Rich Littauer, who was aboard a derelict 52-foot steel boat, Cha Cha, that had been towed into St. Georges after losing her engine and sails during a rough passage from Newport, Rhode Island. More recently I've been in touch with Drake Roberts, the singlehander who found Rich and his crew, Gail Alexander, adrift and towed them most of the way to Bermuda with his Westsail 42, Paragon. Drake has launched a YouTube channel and has posted a complete video account of his own voyage to Bermuda that year (2009), in which Rich and Cha Cha (not surprisingly) are prominently featured. The viddy you see up top is Episode 4, where Drake first makes contact with Cha Cha.

If you remember my previous post (or have clicked through to it), you'll know the tow ended in disaster. The situation became untenable after the weather deteriorated, and the two boats twice collided and suffered serious damage. Drake was forced to cast Rich adrift again, but he did stick around until a superyacht showed up and (somewhat reluctantly) towed Cha Cha the last 30 miles or so to Bermuda.

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FIBERGLASS BOATBUILDING: Deck Hardware

Sailboat deck

This is an area of fiberglass sailboat construction that many owners ultimately become interested in, either because deck hardware installations on their boat start leaking, or because they decide to replace and upgrade hardware. Unfortunately, it is also an area where some builders often try to streamline their methods to save time and money, particularly when it comes to installing hardware such as winches, cleats, genoa tracks, travelers, stanchion bases, and the like.

As we've discussed earlier in this series, almost all fiberglass decks are cored these days, which presents two problems any time a deck is penetrated to receive a hardware fastener. First, the core must not be crushed; second, it must not be exposed to any moisture. Given the enormous number of fasteners needed to secure deck hardware and the enormous loads some hardware carries, it should come as no surprise that hardware installation is both critical and troublesome.

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NONSUCH 30: A Modern-Day Catboat With a Wishbone Rig

Nonsuch 30 under sail

The Nonsuch 30 was the first and most successful of the Nonsuch line of una-rigged cruising catboats built by Hinterhoeller Yachts of Ontario, Canada, from 1978 to 1994. Designed by Mark Ellis at the instigation of Gordon Fisher, a famous Canadian racing sailor who wanted a fast, easy-to-handle cruising boat for his retirement, this boat in particular and its four siblings (the Nonsuch 22, 26, 33, and 36) are among the most popular alternative-rigged production boats ever built. In all a total of 975 Nonsuchs were launched over the years; of these 522 were 30-footers. The Nonsuch remains a popular cult boat and its very active owners' organization, the International Nonsuch Association (INA), has over 700 current Nonsuch owners enrolled on its lists.

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OCEAN CURRENTS: Fantastic Video

Just had to share this one. This is an animated NASA "visualization" video showing the disposition of global ocean currents during the period from June 2005 through December 2007.

Aside from how beautiful it is, what strikes me most is the prevalence of huge eddies in certain locations--particularly off southern Africa, where there is an impressive string of them stretching from the southeast coast out west into the South Atlantic. There are also some interesting looking eddies off the northeast coast of South America and either side of the Central American isthmus, particularly on the Caribbean side.

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LANGSKIP 55: A Viking Longship Yacht

Langskip 55

Wanna-be Viking voyagers (e.g., Jarle Andhoey) who are daunted at the prospect of having to plunder and pillage in open boats can heave a sigh of relief. At last someone has had the vision to both design and build a modern-day Norse longship with comfortable interior accommodations and contemporary amenities. The visionary in question is Sigurjon Jonsson of the Skipavik shipyard in Stykkisholmur, Iceland, which has been building fishing boats since 1928. This beautiful and extremely unusual Langskip 55, the first yacht ever built at Skipavik, was conceived by Sigurjon as a versatile world-class cruising boat that can both cross oceans and wander up shallow rivers and inland waterways with impunity. Cruisers with a sense of history take note: these are the very same attributes that allowed Norse sailors to make such a nuisance of themselves during the Middle Ages.

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Subcategories

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

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