IT'S HERE! Spring, I mean. Though there is still snow in the forecast up here in New England, and even in Annapolis, from which I returned last night after holding forth at the World Cruising Club Ocean Sailing Seminar over the weekend. I have an awful feeling I will actually succeed (for once!) in getting Lunacy launched in early to mid-May this year... and there will then be a HUGE BLIZZARD the day after she splashes.
We are forging ahead regardless, so I stopped by Maine Yacht Center last week to see how the old girl's rudder-skeg repair is coming along.
The Lunacy Report
The Gemini, the first production cruising catamaran ever built in the United States, was born from the ashes of a terrible fire that in 1981 destroyed the molds for the successful Telstar 26 folding trimaran that multihull enthusiast Tony Smith had just brought over from Great Britain. Eager to save his new Maryland-based business, Performance Cruising, Smith immediately started building catamarans instead, using molds for an old British cruiser, the Aristocat, designed by Ken Shaw back in 1970.
The original Gemini 31, appropriately named the Phoenix, was rebranded with minor changes as the Gemini 3000 after the first 28 hulls were launched. In all, 153 of these boats (including the first 28) were built from 1981 to 1990, when the 3000 was discontinued and replaced by the Gemini 3200. All subsequent Gemini models built by Performance Cruising, including the 3200, the 3400, and two 105 models, though they grew slightly, have the same basic hull and deck form and interior layout as the first. A total of nearly 1,000 Geminis have been launched over the past quarter century, making them the most popular American-built cruising cats to date.
Boats & Gear
You remember Jeff Bolster, right? He lives down the street from me here in Portsmouth, and I've crewed on his boat, and he's crewed on my boat, and he doesn't mind eating fish raw for breakfast. He teaches history at the University of New Hampshire and in a past life was a pro schooner jockey. I've heard from him the story of how his first scholarly tome, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Harvard University Press, 1997), proved to be a major inspiration to a black prison inmate, Greg White, who consequently went on to forge a career as a merchant mariner after serving out a 22-year sentence for armed robbery. As a result, Jeff and Greg formed a bond that continues to this day.
Now their relationship has been featured in a recent mini-movie produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which you can watch right here:
Good stuff. I've never met Greg, but I can assure you Jeff really does talk like that in real life.
News & Views
Major bummer here. D. Randy West, the well known West Indies multihull maven, is struggling to salvage his new ride, the Peter Spronk-designed Cat Ppalu (see photo above), which he bought and renovated last year after a 20-year quest.
Major coincidence here, too, as Randy was in St. Maarten racing on the Gunboat 62 Tribe at the Heineken Regatta with, among others, Tribe's creator and original owner, Peter Johnstone, who has been resolutely ignoring some e-mails I sent him last week asking questions about the new Gunboat 60. I had just figured out where Peter was, and why he wasn't answering e-mail, when I got word from Paul Gelder, ex-editor of Yachting Monthly in the UK, that Ppalu was in trouble.
Who wouldn't want to be Alex Thomson? He's suave and sophisticated and has enjoyed the longest running full-on sponsorship in professional sailing. Hugo Boss has been financing his racing career since 2003 and recently re-upped with a new four-year deal. Alex was so pleased he scored a fancy new suit and went for a walk:
We have already discussed an early elite cruising vessel, Cleopatra's Barge, and the development of high-end yacht design in the 19th century. Now it's time to turn to the "hoi polloi," the unwashed mass of middle-class (and upper middle-class) sailors who were also determined to enjoy "messing about in boats," and who, ultimately, had a much bigger impact on the development of the sport.
One important pioneer was a stern British stockbroker named Richard Turrell (R.T.) McMullen, who, in 1850, at age 20, decided to teach himself sailing and commissioned the construction of a 20-foot half-decked cutter named Leo. Over the next 41 years he cruised throughout the British Isles and across the English Channel in a series of purpose-built vessels, the largest of which, a 42-footer named Orion (see image above), was a classic deep-draft, narrow-waisted British cutter.
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Offshore Passage Opportunities
Attainable Adventure Cruising
Blue Planet Times
Father & Son Sailing
Cruising Sailor's BB
Good Old Boat
North American Sailor
Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell
Onboard with Mark Corke
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