HAVING SUFFERED NO DAMAGE while lying in port during Superstorm Sandy, Lunacy at last departed New Hampshire at 1000 hours last Thursday. Aboard with me were two pick-up crew enlisted through Offshore Passage Opportunities: Minnie Burke, 23, a young adventuress from Virginia, and Chris Salas, 41, a doctor from Rhode Island. Neither had much, if any, offshore sailing experience, and I was careful not to sugarcoat our prospects. I told them what I tell anyone who proposes to sail from New England to Bermuda in the fall: this is normally a difficult passage; you will be sailing in winds over 30 knots; you will be uncomfortable.
I was as good as my word. Indeed, I was thrice as good.
The Lunacy Report
Big confession here: I have read little of Carleton Mitchell's writing. I was always familiar, of course, with his enormous reputation--three consecutive Bermuda Race wins, etc.--but I never bothered to study any of his seven books until he died at the ripe old age of 96 in the summer of 2007. On learning of his demise, I ordered a copy of Islands to Windward, his first book, published in 1948, which documents an extended cruise of the Caribbean he made aboard Carib, a 46-foot Alden ketch, shortly after World War II. The photos were nice, but I wasn't very impressed with the writing, much of which seemed like dated travelogue stuff. Vaguely interesting, perhaps, if you had visited some of the same places and were curious to see how much they had changed, but not very compelling in itself.
This summer I spotted a copy of Passage East, Mitchell's account of the 1952 Transatlantic Race, in a used-book store and picked it up on a whim. It has been a while since I was so immediately enthralled by a book about sailing. Though its format is shopworn and predictable--a present-tense logbook-style narrative of a long ocean passage--Mitchell's prose is so engaging and evocative I got sucked right into it.
A replica of the good ship Bounty, of Mutinous Fame, has sunk off the Carolina coast south of Cape Hatteras this morning and two of the 16 (or 17???) crew members are reported missing. The vessel, under the command of Robin Walbridge, departed New London, Connecticut, on Thursday, bound for Florida. Evidently, the plan was to sneak past Hurricane Sandy and get west of the storm before it got too far north.
News & Views
I've been scuttling about the past few weeks prepping Lunacy for her trip south to Puerto Rico. On Sunday we moved her from Portland down here to Portsmouth, bashing into some inconvenient head seas along the way, and starting tomorrow we'll take another jump down to Newport. After that comes a big leap to Bermuda. The fly in the ointment there is a storm named Sandy, which, as of early yesterday morning, was forecast to be past Bermuda and recurving east by Sunday or Monday. The image you see up top, pilfered from Weather Underground, shows modeled tracks for Sandy as of yesterday morning in pink and the official forecast track in white.
Here's a titillating bit of synchronicity. It seems that marathon voyaging champ Reid Stowe, who has spent much of the last year living with his family in the jungles of Guyana working to refit his schooner, will soon be leaving South America, just as his old buddy Ivo van Laake sails in from Europe on a cruise with his family. Reid's mom Anne (see photo up top), after whom his schooner is named, died recently, and Reid's current plan is to sail north to North Carolina via the West Indies and move in with his dad. Meanwhile, Ivo, a Dutch sculptor living in France, has acquired a rugged metal cruising boat, which he has named Vlaag, after the tiny plywood boat he cruised the Pacific on when he was young. He cast off his lines last month and is currently en route to Madeira and ultimately to Brazil.
Lunacy was hauled at Maine Yacht Center last week, just for a quick scrub and zinc replacement, as I plan on taking her south to Puerto Rico for the winter. This is the second full season she's had her Ultrasonic Antifouling system clicking away trying to keep her private parts clean. As you can see in the photo up top, the results from a distance look pretty good.
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