JEFF'S NEW BOAT: Valiant 40 Delivery

Valiant 40 deck

HAD A CHANCE to return a favor last week, as my friend and neighbor, Jeff Bolster, needed crew to help him get his new boat all the way home from Florida. (You may recall Jeff helped me sail Lunacy back from Bermuda just two years ago.) Jeff's original plan had been to sail the boat--a Valiant 40 built in Texas back in the 1990s--up here to Baja Maine in one fell swoop. But the boat's engine had different ideas.

After an unscheduled layover first in Baltimore (to fit a new turbocharger) and then in Norwalk (to replace a bell housing that somehow managed to split in two), Jeff (seen up top wrestling with his new mainsail) at last had the pleasure of piloting his new ride into the mouth of the Piscataqua River twixt Portsmouth and Kittery not long before sunset on Friday.

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VALIANT 40: The First "Performance Cruiser"

Valiant 40

OFTEN HAILED as the first performance cruiser, the Valiant 40 was an important breakthrough boat both for its designer, Bob Perry, and for cruising sailors in general. The genius of the design is that it married what above the water looks like a beamy double-ended traditional cutter with a much more modern underbody featuring a fin keel and separate rudder mounted on a skeg. First introduced in 1974, the Valiant 40 was for at least a decade the definitive production-built offshore sailing vessel.

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CRUISING MEMORIES: Island of the Tripping Squirrels

doorway in forest

On returning from a solo cruise to Mt. Desert Island in Maine some years ago, I stopped and anchored for the evening next to an uninhabited islet off the northwest corner of Swans Island.

At least I thought it was uninhabited...

The sun was already low in the western sky, but I thought perhaps there was just enough daylight left for an expedition ashore. The tiny island beckoned to me. I hurried through my chores--rigged a snubber line on the anchor rode, snugged the sails down for the night--and then jumped in my tender and pulled for a thin stone strand I could see at the foot of a low cliff that ringed the island's shore.

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Triple Stars in Bermuda

HERE'S A POSTSCRIPT to a sad story. Triple Stars, the Island Packet 380 from which cruiser Jan Anderson was lost overboard last November, was towed into Bermuda last week by a fisherman. The boat has been adrift ever since Jan's husband Rob abandoned it about 285 miles northwest of Bermuda, after a search for Jan was called off. As you can see in the photo up top, taken at Ely's Harbour in Bermuda last Thursday (by Glenn Tucker, for the Bermuda Royal Gazette), the boat looks to be in reasonably good condition. At the time she was abandoned, there were reportedly problems with her autopilot and in-mast furling mainsail, but she was otherwise operable.

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Sailing cargo ship

AS A SAILOR I can't help but be intrigued by the notion that the commercial cargo carriers of the future will be sailing vessels. Or at least motor-sailing vessels. Environmentalists, and even a number of normal people, increasingly decry the fact that contemporary cargo vessels have absolutely enormous carbon footprints, and every other month it seems some idealistic non-profit or pie-in-the-sky corporate entity circulates drawings of a sailing cargo carrier and announces the concept is "in development." Up top you see one such suspect, a cool-looking Dyna-rigged ship designed by Rob Humphreys for B9 Shipping.

The party line here is that the Dyna-rig will provide 60 percent of the vessel's motive energy; the rest will come from biomethane-fueled engines. The methane will be produced from recycled waste (remember the power-generating pigs presided over by MasterBlaster in Barter Town in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?).

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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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