SPERM WHALE, UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: Gulf of Mexico ROV Video at 1,962 Feet

Sperm whale close

Time for a little wildlife admiration. Evidently this sort of thing doesn't happen very often. As in a submersible ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) gets closely inspected by a live-action sperm whale at considerable depth. For the whale, though, it's not really that deep, as they can dive down to over 7,000 feet when actively searching for snacks.

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SAILING THE ARCTIC RACE: Through the Northwest Passage in Recyclable "Volcanic Fiber" Yachts

STAR46 image

This is an event I've had an eye on for a little while, but had mentally stashed it in my IBIWISI (I'll Believe It When I See It) file. Well, I think I may be starting to believe it. Since the beginning of the year, organizers of the Sailing the Arctic Race (STAR), to be run in 2017 along a 7,700-mile course that stretches across the top of North America, have announced the enlisting of their first official competitor (a team called STAR Spain, led by Vendee Globe skipper Javier Sanso) and--more importantly for all us boat geeks out here--have also recently released renderings of the one-design STAR46 yacht in which the race will be sailed (see image up top). The most salient feature of these boats is that they are to be constructed of a fully recyclable basalt-fiber balsa-cored laminate developed by an Austrian company Fipofix (a race sponsor, of course) that is trying boot basalt-fiber boatbuilding into the big time.

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GUNBOAT G4: A Cruising Cat That Flies (Literally)

G4 foiling

For those of you who don't happen to follow Gunboat CEO Peter Johnstone on Facebook, here's a hot piece of late-breaking news: the world's first foiling racer-cruiser catamaran has just gone airborne (see photo up top). That would be hull no. 1 of Gunboat's new 40-foot G4, which was recently launched in St. Martin and is now being worked up to compete at Les Voiles de St. Barth (April 13-18) and Antigua Sailing Week (April 25-May 1).

I am sure Nat Herreshoff is dancing a jig in his grave. This is exactly the sort of cutting-edge boat (see, e.g., the catamaran Amaryllis, circa 1876) that he loved to create.

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LOUIS JORDAN IN THE GULF STREAM: Rescued After 66 Days Adrift on an Alberg 35

Jordan and boat

Lots of buzz right now on the InterWeb about this story: Louis Jordan, age 36 (or 7?), who was airlifted to shore by the Coast Guard yesterday off a German-flagged container ship, M/V Houston Express, that found him adrift some 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras. Many of the stories you find online state he was found atop his boat's overturned hull, but this seems highly unlikely. No way could you cling to an upside-down full-keeled Pearson Alberg 35 for two months. No way could such a heavily ballasted boat with so little beam and so much deadrise in its hull stay inverted for very long. And no way could the boat stay inverted for much time without sinking.

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Transit celebration

I'll be honest, folks. When Jimmy Cornell shot me an e-mail after his new Garcia Exploration 45 debuted at the Annapolis show last fall and asked if I could carve two weeks out of my schedule in March to join him on a passage from Florida to Panama and on through the canal, I was skeptical. Not about the bluewater bit. I was sure we could pull that off inside two weeks. But I wasn't so sure about having time to make it through the canal. I'd heard wait times for yachts seeking transits can run from one to six weeks, so when Jimmy assured me he had connections in Panama and could get us through with the quickness, I took all that with the proverbial grain of salt. Worst case, I reckoned, was I'd do the passage and miss the transit, which in the cosmic scheme of things seemed a pretty good worst case.

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Aventura aerial

O how fickle the Wind Gods! A couple of weeks ago while aboard Lunacy with the family in St. Martin you'll recall we had far too much of it. Wind, I mean. Then just two days after returning from that venture, I sallied forth to join Jimmy Cornell aboard his new Garcia Exploration 45 Aventura (same name as his last three boats) to crew on a 1,300-mile passage across the entire breadth of the Caribbean during prime-time tradewind season, and what do I see on prognosticatory WX charts while waiting to board a flight to Florida? A most emphatic lack of wind, 10 knots or less, all the way from the shoal-spangled Bahamas to the chicken-neck isthmus of Central America. For one whole week, at least.

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JEFF & MOLLY'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE: An Engineless Cruise Through the W'Indies

Chanticleer sailing

Editor's note: Attention WaveTrain riders! I have just received a most excellent missive from my erstwhile skipper/crew (it's a symbiotic relationship) Jeff Bolster, featured here previously, regarding his long-planned much-looked-forward-to entire winter of cruising with his bride Molly through the length and breadth of the Caribbean islands aboard their Valiant 40 Chanticleer. Long story short: they broke their prop strut three days out of Bermuda and are just now getting around to fixing it. I'll let Jeff fill you in on all the gory details (this from an e-mail dated March 10).

Good thing we like Martinique: we might need to get French citizenship and live here forever. The boat has already been on the hard for 10 days and the "A-Team" has barely begun to work. It's the Caribbean, mon.

As some of you know, we broke the propeller shaft strut on the third day of the voyage and essentially have had no use of the engine since then. It's that Old Timey Sailing Ship stuff that I live for. As Joni Mitchell once wailed, "It's suffering, makes me feel that I am alive..."

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WINDBOUND IN SXM: More Sailing With the Family (Or Not)

Lunacy aerial

The better part of valor, and all that. When we arrived here on St. Martin Saturday evening it was blowing a bit, and all day Sunday--as we provisioned Lunacy, adjusted to the pleasant weather, and diddled around at the pool while watching Heineken Regatta boats stream up and down the coast outside the entrance to Oyster Pond--it was blowing a bit harder. And by Monday morning, as post-Heineken bareboats started streaming like locusts into the docks here at Capt. Oliver's Marina in a just-as-stiff breeze, it occurred to me that an idle family cruise might not be so idle in conditions such as these. Checking the weather (finally), I discovered the forecast was for the wind to increase a bit more still and hold there for the rest of the week. Fortunately, the family wasn't too disappointed when I told them I thought our sailing vacation would be much more vacation-like if we morphed it into a dock-based event.

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  • 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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