MIAMI VICES: Command Chairs!

Command chair on Seaward 46

My annual pilgrimage to the Miami International Boat Show is underway. Unfortunately, I made it to the Miamarina at Bayside just a few hours before the Strictly Sail side of the show closed yesterday, so I didn't have much time to explore in between setting up dates to test-sail boats after the show. But I did get a peek at some interesting stuff, most particularly this stunning command chair, which dominates the saloon of the new Seaward 46RK from Hake Yachts.

This is just the thing for sailors who like to indulge in Capt. Kirk fantasies while sailing where no sailor has gone before. Sitting in the chair you have a clear view through the raised saloon windows forward and can't help but utter the sacred command--Engage!--while gazing through them.

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ERNEST K. GANN: Song of the Sirens

Song of the Sirens book cover

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the sinking of the Canadian school ship Concordia, a tragedy I will always relate to the controversial sinking just over 50 years ago of Chris Sheldon's school ship Albatross. This is a story that ties into a strong tide that has long flowed through my mind. It in fact first started flowing about 40 years ago when, at age 13, I found a paperback copy of Ernest K. Gann's Song of the Sirens stashed on the shelves of a lending library in a U.S. Army hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. The cover of the book (seen above) was so attractive I at once swiped it and quickly devoured it whole. On finishing it I swore to myself I would one day sail across an ocean. Fortunately (or not), I eventually kept that promise, and this had all sorts of consequences, one of which is the blog you are now reading.

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WAUQUIEZ PRETORIEN 35: A Well-Built Euro-Cruiser

Wauquiez Pretorien

This French-built cruiser-racer, designed by Holman & Pye, a British firm, first appeared on the market in 1979, just as the IOR rule was peaking in popularity. The Pretorien 35 thus exhibits features common to many boats of this era: it is beamy amidships with somewhat pinched ends and has a smallish high-aspect mainsail and a large foretriangle. It is not, however, an extreme example of its type. Nearly half the boat's design weight is contained in its lead ballast keel, which makes it rather stiff and stable (its AVS is a very respectable 124 degrees), it does not have pronounced tumblehome along its flanks, and its rakish "wedge-deck" profile, similar to that seen on Swans and Baltics built around the same time, give it a distinctive look many sailors find highly attractive.

The Pretorien as a result is valued as both a bluewater and coastal cruiser and is considered by many to be an excellent value despite its relatively high price. A total of 212 hulls were built before production ended in 1986, and many of these were exported to the United States, so good examples are not too hard to find on this side of the Atlantic.

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JARLE ANDHOEY: The Maori and Other Mysteries

Andhoey and Maori

If you've been following the unfolding Jarle Andhoey psycho-drama, you'll know that the Wild Viking and his crew aboard the steel sloop Nilaya are now officially in Antarctic waters south of 60 degrees and should be appearing in McMurdo Sound any day now. You may also have learned that the engimatic Kiwi crew member who "inadvertently" joined the expedition when Nilaya suddenly departed Auckland is in fact some Maori guy who weighs upwards of 300 pounds and sports copious facial tattoos. According to published reports, this Maori fellow, who worked on Andhoey's ill-fated Berserk when she was in New Zealand last year, was a genuine stowaway who hid himself in the boat's forepeak so he could join this year's expedition.

Since learning these things myself, I've discovered a website maintained by Charlene Banks, twin sister of Leonard Banks, one of the three crew who were aboard Berserk when she was lost outside McMurdo Sound last February. Charlene recently has published an e-mail from Jarle that her brother received in Decemeber 2010 describing preparations for Berserk's voyage south. In this e-mail Jarle asks Leonard to "Find a boat we can sail and sink - cheap." He also asks him to "find Maori mechanic or seaman with facetattoo."

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Javier Martin

Here's another interesting story I wrote something on almost exactly a year ago that has sprung back to life again. CBS News will be running a piece called "The Dark Side of Paradise" on its award-winning program, 48 Hours, about the murder and disappearance of two cruising sailors in Panama in January last year. You can check out a trailer for the show at this link here (sorry, CBS won't let me embed it). And, of course, you can refresh your recollection by re-reading what I wrote last February.

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JARLE ANDHOEY: Did Kiwi Navy Send Berserk To Her Doom?

Jarle Andhoey

I confess I am now officially obsessed with the "Wild Viking," Norwegian Jarle Andhoey, and his latest unauthorized voyage to Antarctica. In case you haven't been checking the news online every few hours like I have, let me bring you up to date:

1. Andhoey is questioning whether New Zealand's navy is culpable in the loss of his previous boat, Berserk, which disappeared with three crew aboard during a storm in the Ross Sea last February while Andhoey and another crew member were attempting to reach the South Pole on ATV bikes. Andhoey, who has been communicating regularly with media outlets in Norway since leaving Auckland, New Zealand, last week, believes that a Kiwi naval vessel, HMNZS Wellington, may have ordered Berserk and her crew to leave a secure mooring in McMurdo Sound just one day prior to her being sunk in a storm in open water.

The New Zealand navy denies this is true, but admits the Wellington was in radio contact with Berserk the day before she was lost. The purpose of the communication, asserts the navy, was solely to advise Berserk's crew of the imminent storm.

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Sailboat deck going on hull

My last missive in this continuing series on plastic boat construction dealt with internal structures within a hull and how they help support and stiffen a boat. This time we'll look at how the two biggest pieces of a plastic boat, the hull and deck, are married to each other.

Almost all builders these days first install a boat's interior and then close up the hull by placing the deck, another very large fiberglass part, on top of it. Large pieces of equipment, such as engines, electrical generators, and water and fuel tanks, are also installed while the deck is off. Sometimes owners later discover they cannot remove such equipment from inside the boat, as there is no deck aperture large enough to accommodate it. A few builders--Catalina Yachts is a good example--install all mechanical equipment after decks are installed to make sure this never happens.

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