BOAT SHOW DELIVERY: Sailing the Outremer 49

Sailing the Outremer 49

This year, for the first time, I got myself to the boat show here in Annapolis in the proper way--by boat. I only wish the entire passage down from Newport had been as a pleasant as what you see in the photo up top. Most of it instead was a mind-numbing motorsail dead to windward. But the boat, at least, was a worthy ride--an Outremer 49, a very interesting performance cruising catamaran from France.

What intrigued me most about it were the twin carbon-fiber tillers aft on each hull. I'd never steered a cat this size with a tiller before, and I was very curious to find out what it was like.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

CONCORDIA SINKING: Human Error NOT a Microburst

School ship Concordia

Canada's Transportation Safety Board has finally released its report on the loss of the school ship Concordia, the 188-foot square-rigger that capsized and sank off the coast of Brazil back in February of last year. I was more than a little surprised by its conclusions: a) there was no microburst, as was reported by the captain and crew of the vessel; b) the ship's officers failed to follow guidance on securing the vessel and reducing sail area prior to the capsize.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

CHASING BOAT LEAKS: A Noble (if Frustrating) Obsession

Edward Gorey drawing

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,

In a Sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,

In a Sieve they went to sea!

--from The Jumblies, by Edward Lear/Drawing by Edward Gorey

ONE THING I'VE NEGLECTED TO MENTION is that Lunacy has been plagued with a mild leak this past summer. I'd noticed that a small amount of water was constantly appearing in the bilge sump, and just as constantly I kept mopping it out with a sponge. Gradually the small amount got larger, until I grew steadily more worried about it.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon the source. While putting the boat away after an overnight a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the toilet's inlet hose was weeping where it is clamped onto a sea-chest fitting atop the boat's one and only raw-water through-hull inlet. Upon close inspection, I could see that one of the two clamps securing the hose had cut right through it.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)


Fiberglass sailboat under construction

We've already discussed how a fiberglass laminate is created: what fabrics and resins are used, molds, the problem of blisters, and how cores can be used to make a laminate both stronger and lighter. Now we'll consider how a simple fiberglass boat hull can be reinforced and strengthened by the structural elements within it. This is necessary, because in fact the molded glass hull of any boat much larger than a dinghy is not normally rigid enough to withstand much abuse. Without internal structures to help stiffen it, a large hull's laminate would otherwise have to be unreasonably thick and heavy.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

AFT CABIN VARIATIONS: Life Under the Cockpit is Getting Better

Beneteau Oceanis 45 aft stateroom

Boat show season is upon us. I spent last Thursday down in Newport, checking out the new boats on offer for the comic, then returned yesterday for some post-show test sails. This year when comparing boats I have been paying particular attention to how aft cabins are treated. Not the big palatial ones you find on center-cockpit boats, but the much smaller ones that get crammed in on either side under the cockpit on aft-cockpit boats.

These have been ubiquitous for years now, as they allow boatbuilders to fit up to three separate staterooms into even a modest-sized boat. Many of these cabins in the past (and more than a few still today) make miserable living spaces and are staterooms in name only. But things have been improving. Last March, you may recall, I proclaimed the aft cabin on the Catalina 445 to be "best on earth," because it was not only livable, but extremely versatile. Walking the Newport show this year, I noticed more well designed aft cabins. It is encouraging to see that designers are paying more attention to how this space gets treated.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

HEAVY-WEATHER SAILING: Remembering Hurricane Mitch

Storm in Bermuda

Editor's note: Later this fall I'll be crewing on a boat in the Caribbean 1500 cruising rally, which departs from Hampton, Virginia, on November 7. The prospect has me recalling the last 1500 I sailed in, way back in 1998, when the rally fleet had a serious run-in with Hurricane Mitch. It was a very educational experience. I thought some of you, particularly those sailing south this fall, might find it interesting.

LATER--AFTER TWO BOATS HAD BEEN ABANDONED, after people had been hospitalized, after we finally (and gratefully) reached the safety of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands--Steve Black, who had organized the rally, held a "debriefing" session. This was attended by most of those who had tangled with the erratic, still destructive remnants of Hurricane Mitch. It was very heady stuff. A tent was erected on the marina lawn, and it quickly filled with sailors. Many had stories to tell. Stories of gale-force winds, broken gear, and enormous seas.

Just a few days earlier several of these same people had been neophytes with little or no offshore sailing experience. But now they were all, without doubt, bluewater veterans, and their pride in this--their sense of accomplishment--was very much a tangible thing.

Read more ...

Write comment (4 Comments)

PIRATE ATTACK: Another Cruising Sailor Murdered

French catamaran Tribal Kat

Now for some more bad news from the Piracy Desk. Several news outlets over the weekend have confirmed that a 55-year-old French cruiser, Christian Colombo, was killed by pirates off the coast of Yemen last week during an attack on a 56-foot French-flagged cruising catamaran, Tribal Kat. Subsequently, the victim's wife, Evelyne Colombo, was rescued by a Spanish strike force from a group of pirates in an open skiff.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

SOMALI PIRACY: Danish Family Released

Jan Quist Johansen

Some good news from the Danish foreign ministry today: the Johansen family (parents Jan Quist and Birgit Marie and their teenage children Rune, Hjalte, and Naja), along with two crew, who were captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean over six months ago, were released yesterday and are in reasonably good health. The Danish government in its statement did not say whether any ransom was paid, but according to sources in Somalia a small plane dropped a payment totaling $3 million immediately prior to the release.

The Johansens and their crew were taken hostage off their 43-foot yacht ING back in February. The following month a Somalian military force attempted to rescue them in an abortive raid that resulted in several casualties. Subsequently, according to a news report that was not widely circulated, a pirate chieftain announced he would release the family if their 13-year-old daughter Naja agreed to marry him. This offer, evidently, was not accepted.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)


  • Boats & Gear

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

  • The Lunacy Report

    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

  • News & Views

    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.



Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here