TANKER MASHES UP SAILBOAT: Fun and Games in the Piscataqua River

Dismasted

Here’s an interesting mishap that took place mere footsteps from my home here in Portsmouth while I was off roaming the Maine coast last week. A 477-foot tanker, Chem Venus, was exiting the Piscataqua River late Wednesday afternoon with two tugs in attendance and missed the turn at Seavey Island, where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located. It ran down three sailboats across the river in the Kittery Point Yacht Club mooring field in New Castle and dismasted one of them (see image up top, shot by eyewitness Glenn Kisch). The tanker ran aground on a ledge and was pulled away from the scene by the tugs.

Read more ...

Write comment (2 Comments)

BECOMING A BOAT DOG: The Further Adventures of Baxter Afloat

Bax in vest

There were some suggestions after I introduced Baxter here that I needed to get him a life-jacket. I knew this, of course, and wanted one as much for the handle on the back, so I could heave the beast more easily in and out of a tender, as for the flotation. You see him here, modeling his new Ruffwear vest during our recent week-long cruise from Portland to Rockland, and as the expression on his face suggests he doesn’t really mind it a bit. Indeed, by the end of our time together he had deduced that being asked to wear the jacket while aboard Lunacy meant an opportunity to go ashore, and he eagerly wagged his tail whenever I picked it up.

Read more ...

Write comment (4 Comments)

SAILING ON FOILS: Will the Latest Racing Technology Divide Our Sport?

Foiling cats

I was just stoking the antique coal-fired bunkers in my brain getting ready to write something about foiling sailboats, when I got a query from a Red Bull flack asking if I could help get the word out about their Red Bull Foiling Generation competition. Which actually is a very cool program: they are inviting young racing sailors born between 1996-99 to apply for special training with Olympic gold medalists to learn how to sail and compete in foiling 18-foot Flying Phantom catamarans (see image up top) in two Red Bull events to be held in Newport from October 11-23. Individuals or teams of two have until July 15 to submit an application to participate. (Follow this link here to throw your hat in the ring.)

Think about that for a moment. This is a major commercial sponsor of top-flight sporting events around the world (including Formula One racing and MotoGP) spending precious coin not only to promote racing on foils, but more particularly to create a talent pool of foiling sailors here in the United States, a nation where sponsorship for any sort of sailing has historically been very hard to come by. This, as much as anything else, makes it clear how hydrofoiling technology is transforming sailboat racing.

Read more ...

Write comment (3 Comments)

RACING SCHOONERS: Sterling Hayden Versus Bluenose

Bluenose and Thebaud

Back in the 1930s the next most important match-racing event after the America’s Cup didn’t involve yachts but fishing vessels. The Sir Thomas Lipton International Fishing Challenge Cup had only a brief tenure in the annals of competitive sailing, but it commanded major media attention at the time. Effectively a grudge match sailed between Canadian and American Grand Banks fishermen, the event was run was just three times, and each time featured the same two competitors, the famed Canadian schooner Bluenose (on the right in the image up top) and the American schooner Gertrude L. Thebaud (on the left).

Read more ...

Write comment (2 Comments)

BOAT DOG ORIENTATION: Can Baxter Hack It Afloat?

Baxter

This is Baxter, a more-or-less 2-year-old male mongrel (we suspect a Jack Russell terrier mixed with some sort of pit-bull) who came north on the Underdog Railroad from Georgia last fall. We adopted him through Alpha Dog Rescue in Lebanon, Maine, after persistent lobbying from daughter Lucy, who is passionately interested in animals. Lucy has insisted that Baxter is perfect in every way ever since we got him last October, but I have remained skeptical. Yes, he had checked most of the boxes on my own personal list of family-dog criteria (doesn’t pass waste in the house, tractable disposition, willing to share bed with dog-besotted daughter, etc.), but whenever I tried to lure him on to MiMi2, our Melonseed Skiff, as she lay tied to her dock in Portsmouth’s Back Channel, he resisted mightily and looked at me like a condemned prisoner being led to the gallows.

I didn’t press the point at the time, but I did wonder if we would ever be able to make a boat dog of Baxter. His physique and coat (dense, tautly muscled, with short hair that does not dry easily when soaked) are not especially aquatic, and it seemed clear he had never spent much if any time in or on the water during his dark time in the South. I wondered: would we have to exile Baxter to some kennel while frolicking on Lunacy during the sailing season? Or would he be able to suck it up and somehow adapt to life on a sailboat?

Read more ...

Write comment (6 Comments)

POWER-SAILERS: When Is a Sailboat Not a Sailboat?

Nuva under power

It’s hard to believe, but there just might be enough of these atrocities now that they qualify as a boat type unto themselves. They’re not really motor-sailers, which have displacement hulls and are rather slow under power. Instead I’ve come to refer to them as power-sailers: powerboats with big outboard engines and planing hulls that can also be sailed. The latest entry into this weird niche market is the new Nuva MS6 out of Barcelona, Spain. It’s got a carbon-fiber rig, a modern square-top mainsail, a retractable bulb keel, and a plumb bow, all of which makes it very much “of the moment” as a sailboat. Or you can leave the rig off altogether and just use it as a trendy-looking runabout.

Read more ...

Write comment (2 Comments)

THE INVASION OF ANGUILLA: A Comedy of Errors, Caribbean Style

Anguilla beach

I first learned of the British invasion of Anguilla, which took place in March 1969, while studying Don Street’s Transatlantic Crossing Guide several years ago. In his classic tome (which I can still recommend as a great general reference if you are cruising the islands of the North Atlantic), Don mentions the event in passing and cites two books treating it. One, The Mouse That Roared, he claims is a fictionalized account of the invasion; the other, Under An English Heaven, he cites as a factual account.

The Mouse That Roared, by Leonard Wibberley, which I read as a boy, in fact was published in 1955, 14 years before the invasion of Anguilla took place. It tells the tale of a fictional European micro-nation, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, that declares war on the United States, hoping to garner a bonanza of foreign aid after its inevitable defeat. Instead, through a series of improbable events, Grand Fenwick ends up in control of a U.S. secret weapon, the Q-Bomb, and in effect conquers the world. Though the book has nothing to do with Anguilla, its comic spirit does mirror that of the real-life improbable events that led Britain to invade Anguilla after the tiny island rebelled against independence from the British crown.

Nope, that’s not a typo. They rebelled against independence.

Read more ...

Write comment (3 Comments)

GRAND LARGE YACHTING: New Owner of Gunboat; Jimmy Cornell's Garcia 45 For Sale

Gunboat 55

This seems like an interesting development. Grand Large Yachting, a French conglomerate formed in 2003 that specializes in turning around distressed boatbuilders, was the prevailing bidder at a bankruptcy auction held this month for Gunboat, the luxury performance catamaran builder founded by Peter Johnstone. Reportedly Grand Large will put up $910K in cash and is waiving unsecured claims worth about $4.6M. The French firm, which has never before invested in a builder outside of France, has committed to continue the Gunboat brand and maintain a U.S. presence, but may or may not continue operating Gunboat’s current facility in North Carolina.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

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.

Search

Subscribe

Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here