NOSE JOB: The New Sprit in Wood

Lunacy's mock sprit

Lunacy's new bowsprit continues to evolve from concept to reality. I stopped by Maine Yacht Center this past Thursday to check out the latest wooden mock-up and was very pleased with what I saw. This latest iteration, as you can see, incorporates the vertical plate that will support the underside of the structure. (After pondering a bit, I've realized the best name for this piece is "bob-plate," as it does the same job as a bobstay.) We've also added the extra foot of unsupported sprit forward of the anchor rollers from which my A-sail will someday fly. I was worried all this would make Lunacy's prow look a bit odd, especially given her raked bow, but in fact I think it looks pretty cool.


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SOMALI PIRACY: Cruising Family Held Hostage

The Johansen family aboard ING

As if the murder of four American cruisers last week wasn't enough to shine a big spotlight on the Indian Ocean's Somali piracy problem, the big crisis this week is that the Somalis have grabbed a Danish family of five, including three kids (ages 12 to 16), who were en route to the Red Sea aboard their 43-foot boat ING. Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, their two boys Rune and Hjalte, and their daughter Naja, together with two other adult crew members, were reportedly captured last Thursday. As of today it is believed that ING is anchored near the northern Somali village of Hafun and that the hostages are all ashore.

Funny how Somali piracy seemed only a back-burner issue when it was a simply a case of 30 commercial vessels and 660 merchant mariners being held prisoner. Now that some recreational sailors have been dramatically victimized, pundits are talking darkly of a "9/11 moment" and are insisting that something must be done to solve this horrible problem.


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HUNTER 18: Test Sail with Dr. Destructo

Hunter 18

I made it up to St. Augustine and met Steve Pettengill, Director of Destructive Testing for Hunter Marine, at his R&D shed at 7:30 sharp yesterday morning. He had a brand new Hunter 18 fresh off the production line and we at once set about commissioning it for a test sail. The forecast was for a strong breeze from the south.

Being on the water in St. Augustine brought back some dramatic memories, as it was almost 20 years ago that I arrived here one fateful morning aboard the schooner Constellation. Just as we were entering the inlet, a huge pillar of black smoke suddenly came pouring out the midship hatches. It turned out we were not on fire, but we did have to shut down the engine. So it was that we sailed Constellation, a 78-foot vintage wooden vessel with a long full keel, into the Matanzas River, through the Bridge of Lions (a drawbridge), and finally landed on a dock at a private fish camp (which has since become Fish Island Marina). Later that same day a pilot in a small private plane buzzed the camp, waggling his wings hello, clipped a tree, and crashed and died.

I was half expecting my sail with Steve might be nearly as interesting, and I was not disappointed.


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SAILING INTO DANGER: Pirates and Ice and Obama's Big Chance


Berserk in Antarctica

I'm still up to my eyeballs in Miami. I've sailed three boats here over the past two days, and tomorrow I'm driving five hours to sail two more up in St. Augustine. But in between boats I have been following the news and thought I better throw in my two cents on the latest big rumpus in the cruising world.

Everyone and their mother now knows that Somali pirates have killed four American voyagers they took hostage off the coast of Oman. But I reckon fewer people are aware that Norwegian adventurer and madman Jarle Andhoey has gone missing off Antarctica on his 47-foot steel sloop Berserk.


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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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  • Boats & Gear

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