ATTENTION EARTH PEOPLE! As I write this I am approaching Bermuda, blasting along but 70 miles out on what seems a perpetual close reach, due for a landing sometime in the wee hours tomorrow, of which more later. What I really want to spout off about right now are inflatable tenders. I was thinking about this as we were preparing to leave Puerto Rico, while regarding our neighbors on a 45-foot Bristol next door, who were about to depart for Annapolis. They had just stowed their RIB tender for the passage, and it took up all of their foredeck. I mean ALL of it! On Lunacy, meanwhile... well, you see that photo up there?
Techniques & Tactics
Another America's Cup summer looms on the horizon, raising again that perennial insuperable question that so tortures racing sailors: how the heck do we get laypeople interested in our sport? These days the default answer is super-fast boats and TV-friendly race formats, which certainly are attractive to sailors, even slowpoke cruisers like myself. But this sort of excitement, I fear, flies over the heads of most people who are not inherently interested in sailing. A much more successful formula is to focus instead on personalities. Look back at those moments in America's Cup history that have truly bubbled up into the mass consciousness, and you'll note they have all revolved around interesting people--Dennis Conner fighting to redeem himself after losing the Cup in 1983; Ted Turner talking trash back in the 1970s; Sir Thomas Lipton playing the lovable loser throughout the early 20th century.
Sailors may have trouble comprehending this, but writers certainly don't. Which, I assume, is why Julian Guthrie, in her soon-to-be-released book on the most recent history of the Auld Mug, The Billionaire And The Mechanic, tries her darnedest to make a hero out of Larry Ellison. It says something of her ability as a writer that she almost succeeds in doing so.
Just figured something out. That Irish-owned Swan 48, Wolfhound, currently adrift twixt Bermuda and the W'Indies, is ex-Bella Luna, the same Swan 48 that my buddy, A.J. Smith, skippered through Tropical Storm Sean (see photo up top) during the ill-fated 2011 NARC Rally (the one in which Jan Anderson lost her life aboard the Island Packet 38 Triple Stars). Check out Bella Luna's brokerage listing, and you'll see she had a very comprehensive equipment list and some unique features, including a coffee-grinder in her midship cockpit, just like Wolfhound.
A.J., who has worked as a delivery skipper for some 25 years, had a hell of a trip on Bella Luna. He got within 80 miles of Bermuda, nearly lost the rig, fell off a wave so hard the speed log blew out of its through-hull fitting and flooded the boat, and in the end had to bail out and retreat to Charleston, South Carolina, to lick his wounds and put the boat back together.
News & Views
WHEN IT CAME TIME to leave Dakar, I found we were, almost literally, hanging by a thread. I had anchored Crazy Horse, my Alberg 35 yawl, on about 100 feet of three-strand nylon rope, plus there was a 30-foot chain leader. On hauling back all the rope, which I had to do by hand, as we had no windlass, I discovered the rode, just a few feet back from the chain, had almost chafed right through. Two strands were severed entirely; the third was cut in half.
On making this discovery I was, of course, both shocked and relieved. Something down there clearly liked to chew on rope, and I reckoned in only a few more hours it would have been done chewing on mine. At best we would have lost the anchor; at worst we might have lost the boat. I also couldn't help laughing: it seemed appropriate that we should escape the city by the skin of our teeth.
MY LAST POST about that abandoned Swan 48 floating around south of Bermuda has created some buzz it seems and numerous people are now making noises about retrieving it. To help inform and inspire would-be salvagers, I thought I should share some of what I know about these boats. I've sailed them back and forth between New England and Caribbean several times and have also raced a bit on them—around the cans and in one Bermuda Race.
You know, of course, that Nautor Swan of Finland, founded originally by Pekka Koskenkyla, has an excellent reputation. They've been building high-end production fiberglass sailboats for over 40 years, most of them what I'd call cruiser-racers. Most older Swans have sleek, modern hull forms, according to the era in which they were built, but they are also a bit heavy, as they are very solidly constructed with teak decks and lots of heavy solid-teak interior joinery.
Boats & Gear
There she is folks... yours for the taking. This empty Frers-designed Swan 48 of mid-90s vintage, worth I'd guess $500K or more, was adrift approx. 800 southeast of Bermuda as of this past weekend. She was abandoned just north of Bermuda by her Irish owner, Alan McGettigan, and three crew back in February. At the time it was believed she may have sunk soon afterwards, but one Martin Butler recently snapped this image and sent it to the Irish sailing comic Afloat, which is running an account of the boat's abandonment in its current issue.
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