MIAMI VICES: More Tin Boats

Tupelov N007

Confession first: I did not locate the folding EzyBoat here at the Miami boat show. It is a very large show! But I did find this crazy amphibious Russian thing made out of aluminum, the Tupelov N007, designed by Aleksei Tupelov at the behest of the Russian military.

As the owner of an aluminum boat, I can easily relate to vessels like this. The design brief was for something that could be carried in a helicopter and could cross lakes and frozen tundra under its own power to retrieve cosmonauts who landed in Siberia.


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EZY BOAT: It Sails! It Rolls! It Folds in Half!

EzyBoat under sail

Though it's not the greatest venue for sailboats, the Miami International Boat Show is normally my favorite show to attend simply because it offers a fantastic excuse to visit Miami Beach in February. It's also the only show I go to regularly that exposes me to the mainstream boating market. It's always useful to get a glimpse of this much larger alternative universe where nearly naked women lounge around on phallic powerboats and people buy things like pontoon boats, bass boats, and ski boats festooned with industrial-size woofers and tweeters.

I'm heading down to Miami Sunday night, and one thing I look forward to checking out this year is this new EzyBoat, which hails from Australia and is now being introduced to North America. Yes, you can sail the thing, but somehow I doubt I'll find it in amongst the other sailboats.


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JAVIER MARTIN: Cruiser Wanted for Two Murders in Panama

Javier Martin

Looks like we're going to have open up a Rape & Murder category here on WaveTrain. This time it's a breaking story: Javier Martin, a Spanish national, is the top suspect in two sailing murders committed recently in Panama, and as I type he is the subject of an international manhunt.

The body of one victim, a French sailor named Jean-Pierre Bouhard, who apparently was shot with a .22 caliber gun, was discovered by divers on February 5, bound and tethered to an anchor. The body of what is presumed to be another victim, an American cruiser named Don North who has been missing since January, has yet to be discovered. But Martin has been connected to both men and both their boats have turned up empty with their names changed. In the case of Bouhard, Martin was seen operating Bouhard's vessel, a 50-foot aluminum catamaran named Levante, soon after Bouhard disappeared.


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CHINA AFLOAT: Return to East Africa

Model of ZhengHe ship

This just blows my mind. Check out the difference in size between one of Christopher Columbus' ships and a Chinese treasure ship commanded by Zheng He many years prior to Columbus' famous voyage in 1492. It certainly makes you think about the ebb and flow of history.

The Chinese, I am sure, are thinking about it. And to help remind us of how great they once were (and will no doubt be again) they've launched an archeological expedition to locate one of Zheng He's ships that is believed to have been lost near Lamu Island on the coast of Kenya in 1415. Survivors of the wreck are said to be the ancestors of a group of Kenyans of Chinese descent who have lived in the area for centuries.


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HANS KLAAR: Iconic Cruiser Jailed For Rape

Hans Klaar aboard Rapa Nui

Many moons ago, while toiling in the salt mines at Cruising World as an associate editor, I procured and edited for the magazine an amazing story about a man named Hans Klaar. Written by James Baldwin (you can read the original manuscript on his website here), the story told of Klaar's unusual childhood aboard a Thai cargo junk. It was like something out of The Swiss Family Robinson… on steroids.

It told also of Klaar's adult life. Of how he'd purchased a 51-foot Wharram Tehini catamaran, sold off its aluminum spars, and re-rigged it with Polynesian crab-claw sails. Of how he had wandered the Indian Ocean making a living as an itinerant cruising trader. Of how he hoped someday to build his own 75-foot Polynesian voyaging cat and explore the Pacific.

Just two years ago, when I met James Wharram and Hanneke Boon for the first time in Mystic, Connecticut, I had merely to mention Hans Klaar in passing… and the three of us fell into something like a collective swoon.

So you can imagine my surprise, and dismay, when I learned this week that soon after the story I prepared appeared in the July 1998 issue of Cruising World, Klaar was convicted of rape in South Africa and was sentenced to six years in prison. Ever since August 1999, when he lost his appeal, he has been on the run, sailing the world, and was finally taken into custody again in South Africa just last month.


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SCAPE 51: New Performance Catamaran from Cape Town

Scape 51 under sail

Kevin Knight at Scape Yachts in South Africa just dropped me a line to let me know they've recently launched their biggest boat yet, a new 51-footer. This is a big sister to their Scape 39, a boat I delivered across the South Atlantic a few years back. Like most boats built by Scape, hull number 1 of this new design, dubbed Quality Time, will be used for day-charter work. It can also, however, be tricked out as a performance cruising boat.


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WAYNE'S WORLD: Sailing the Beneteau Sense 50

Beneteau Sense 50 on Tampa Bay

I'm just back from a jaunt aboard the new Beneteau Sense 50, which is still on the boat-show circuit and is currently en route from St. Petersburg to Miami under the command of Wayne Burdick, President of Beneteau USA. Wayne and his lovely bride, Joyce Harvey, are using this between-shows delivery as an excuse to engage in a little honeymoon cruising (they've been married little more than a year) and are also showing off the boat to interested parties like yours truly.

Also aboard as crew for Leg 1 of this odyssey was Stanton Murray, of Murray Yacht Sales, which represents Beneteau throughout the east side of the Gulf of Mexico. Together the four of us motored out of Tampa Bay under the Sunshine Skyway just as the sun was setting on Monday evening (fantastic aesthetics; see photo up top) and pointed the boat's bow south toward Naples, about 120 miles away.


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Alessandro di Benedetto completes his voyage

At last, here's some serious recognition for my man Alessandro di Benedetto, who set a world record back in July for smallest boat used in a non-stop solo circumnavigation. Setting the record was one thing, but you'll recall what was truly remarkable about Alessandro's voyage was that he sailed the last three months on his modified 21-foot Mini 6.50 Findomestic Banca--from west of South America, round Cape Horn, and all the way home to Les Sables d'Olonne, France--with a jury-rigged mast. Though much of the sailing world made little or no fuss about this, the Cruising Club of America was duly impressed and has announced that Alessandro will receive their Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship at a ceremony next month at the New York Yacht Club.

I spoke with Alessandro recently and he was pretty nonchalant about having been dismasted during his approach to Cape Horn. "I was already prepared in my mind to be dismasted five or six times during this voyage," he explained. "So I was ready to rebuild the mast and had everything I needed. I was disappointed, of course, but I was not injured and I was ready to go to work."


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