Here we go again. It's getting so you can write these "youngest solo circumnavigator" stories just by filling in some blanks on a form. Except in the case of Laura Dekker, age 14, who set out yesterday from Den Osse, Holland, on her 38-foot Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy on a shakedown cruise to Portugal with her dad, you pretty much have to throw most of your teen RTW sailor stereotypes right out the window.
For one thing, I don't really get the sense the record is what motivates her. I think all she really wants to do is go on a long bluewater cruise by herself. She was born on a bluewater cruising boat, she's been sailing her previous Guppy, a 28-foot Hurley 800, on her own in the English Channel and North Sea since she was 11, and her parents genuinely seem ambivalent about her plans. (Her mom, Babs Mueller, was until very recently dead set against the trip, while her dad, Dick Dekker, decided to support her only after failing to dissuade her.)
News & Views
Having massaged the Insurance Gods to ensure the financing of more permanent solutions, I set out during my recent Solo Mini Cruise of Casco Bay to undo some of the damage inflicted on our poor Lunacy by the Big Bad Schooner Harvey Gamage. The ugliest bit, you may recall, was the bent forwardmost stanchion post on Lunacy's starboard side. The post is solid aluminum stock, perhaps an inch or more in diameter, so I knew it would take a Mighty Force (indeed) to make it more or less straight again.
A flash of inspiration rippled through my aging brain cells. Recalling the awful predicament of Bernard Moitessier, after the bowsprit on his steel ketch Joshua was bent in a collision with a freighter off South Africa during the legendary Golden Globe Race, I fastened a tackle to the injured post, fastened the other end to a strong point on my bow pulpit, then led the fall aft to a primary winch.
The Lunacy Report
In my last missive on this subject I introduced the concept of building fiberglass boats in female molds, just like the one pictured here. Now we need to talk about the business of building up a glass laminate within a mold in more detail. To understand fiberglass lamination, it is best to focus first on simple solid laminates in which multiple layers of fiberglass fabric are built up to the thickness necessary to make a part strong enough to do its job.
Boats & Gear
Ian Morse of Radical Catamarans has just launched his very first boat and, man, it sure is… radical. I've always been intrigued by this sort of parallel, or biplane, rig, so I had lots of questions for him when we talked the other day. He was, however, a bit tentative about some of his answers, as he still hasn't figured out exactly how best to sail this thing. It's been in the water just six weeks, and Ian's been out sailing on it just six times, and the learning curve is still pretty steep.
I have just spent more than 24 hours during this weekend's Downeast Challenge (Marblehead to Rockland race) listening to fellow crew and SEMOSA member Charles "May I Cast Off Now?" Lassen explain to me that the now famous whale-jumping-on-boat photo on which I blogged earlier is naught but a clever Photoshop image. Mr. Lassen posits the couple involved somehow negligently damaged their boat themselves (see above) and the fake photo is part of an insurance scam. He claims to have trusted informants in Cape Town researching this theory now.
Many others online have made similar assertions. I therefore look forward to hearing some very creative explanations of how this video of the event was created.
Just a few hours ago that crazy Italian guy, Alessandro di Benedetto, arrived safely in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, thus completing his solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world. He now holds the world's record for smallest boat (21 feet) ever to do this. The fact that he was dismasted and has been sailing with a jury-rigged mast since before he rounded Cape Horn makes this feat especially phenomenal.
So far the only recognition I find of his return is the simple one-word statement on his website: Arrived. Right over a tracking map that puts him on the Brittany coast. Though I do imagine there must be some kind of wild party going on there right now.
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