MOTORSAILING: Making the Most of Your Iron Genny

Dowlings fuel dock

THIS IS A COMMON SIGHT at Dowling's fuel dock in St. Georges, Bermuda, both in the spring and the fall when the seasonal stampede of migrating yachts passes through. It never fails to amaze me how many jerry jugs of fuel some bluewater sailors are willing to carry. In this particular case I counted 16 jugs open on the quay waiting to be filled and another four on deck. At five gallons a pop that's an extra 100 gallons of fuel this crew will somehow lash down on the deck of their 40-foot sailboat. At 7.3 pounds per gallon (the most generally accepted average weight for diesel fuel) that's an extra 730 pounds this boat will be carrying well above its center of gravity. Or to look at it another way: that's like sailing around with over 900 feet of quarter-inch high-test anchor chain stored on deck.

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BILL McCOY: The King of Rum Row

William McCoy

I GOT INTO THE SUBJECT of Prohibition a couple of years ago on reading Daniel Okrent's excellent popular history, Last Call. I'd always understood, of course, that Prohibition was the product of the unique power of highly motivated single-issue minorities in American politics. But prior to reading Okrent's book I'd never grasped what a perfect storm of political trends (the suffrage movement, allowing women to vote, plus the advent of income taxes, to replace revenue from liquor taxes) was required to make it possible for temperance fanatics to highjack the U.S. Constitution. What I also never realized was that there was ever such a thing as Rum Row, a floating city of oddball sailing and motor vessels that lay perpetually anchored in international waters just a few miles off the U.S. coast peddling booze to all comers day and night.

Since then I've also discovered Flat Hammock Press, a small independent publisher based in Mystic, Connecticut, that has reissued a series of non-fiction books first published during Prohibition that all tell the story of Rum Row from the smuggler's perspective. The most important of these is The Real McCoy, by Frederic F. Van de Water, which recounts the career of a rather personable and flamboyant Rum Row pioneer, William McCoy, from a first-person autobiographical point-of-view.

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ROUND ISLAND REGATTA: Wicked Good Family Fun

Round Island Regatta

ATTENTION ALL OWNERS of small sail and/or paddle craft within easy driving distance of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. You are hereby commanded to bring said craft to Portsmouth next Saturday, September 1st, to participate in the Second Annual Round Island Regatta. After racing your vessel in an informal and somewhat hilarious manner twice around a short course presenting some interesting but hardly daunting challenges, you will be regaled with beer and food and fun will be had by all.

Guaranteed.

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MAN OVERBOARD RECOVERY: Testing the Sea Scoopa

Sea Scoopa

YOU MAY RECALL we ran some SAIL magazine MOB drills aboard Lunacy back in early June. Hopefully you also read the article that ran in the comic in the August issue (which, of course, came out in July) and have viewed the video posted on the SAIL website, narrated by yours truly. Since then I've been in touch several times with Robert Wright, inventor of the Sea Scoopa, one of the MOB recovery products we tested. In light of the comments he has made, I thought it wise to expand my evaluation of the Scoopa here on the blog.

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OLYMPIC SAILING: Does Adams Have The Remedy?

Olympic sailing

THIS ISN'T BREAKING NEWS, I know, but it bears repeating: the U.S. Olympic sailing team were super-big losers at the London games this month. Not one single medal. First time this has happened since the Berlin games in 1936. (Little known historical theory: some believe it was the poor performance of U.S. sailors in '36 that inspired Adolf Hitler to attempt to conquer Europe. Just to give you an idea of how serious this is.) What is breaking news is that Josh Adams, publisher of SAIL, has been anointed as the man to set the team straight again.

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STORM PORN: Casco Bay Thunder Squall

Thunder squall

Clare and I finished bringing Lunacy back to Portland this weekend and spent the last night of our mini-cruise on a mooring at Cliff Island in Casco Bay on Friday night. Soon after we settled in a massive thunderstorm started zooming in from the southwest. The photo up top depicts its initial approach.

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MAINE COAST CRUISE: Brimstone Island

Brimstone Island

ALTHOUGH THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SPOTS on the coast, I haven't been here in almost 10 years. All that time I have been dreaming of coming back. On the chart it doesn't look like anything special--just another tiny uninhabited islet in the small archipelago that stretches around the southern end of Vinalhaven Island on the outer edge of Penobscot Bay. The instant you get ashore, however, you realize you've arrived someplace very special.

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Subcategories

  • 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.

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