News & Views

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.

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TRANSAT BAKERLY: Peyron and Joschke Down and Out

Pen Duick II

This year’s singlehanded transatlantic race out of Plymouth, England, dubbed the Transat bakerly in honor of the title sponsor, a French snack company that evidently eschews the use of capital letters (just like e.e. cummings), is finishing up now in New York, and I’m crying in my beer because the two sailors I’m most interested in have had to drop out. These would be Isabelle Joschke, who was leading the Class 40 fleet aboard her steed Generali-Horizon Mixité, and Loïck Peyron, who was doing a blast-from-the-past trip aboard Eric Tabarly’s old ketch Pen Duick II (see image up top). Both my heroes (sob) officially retired yesterday due to damage sustained by their boats.

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VIKINGS ON THE LOOSE: Largest Longship Built in Modern Times Has Set Out Across the Atlantic

Harald under sail

Hide the family jewels! The Vikings are coming! The 115-foot Norse longship Draken Hårald Harfagre has just set out from Norway and is bound to North America via Iceland and Greenland. Ultimately Hårald and her crew plan to roam as far inland as the Great Lakes before raiding the Big Apple and Mystic Seaport in September and October.

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SOLO SAILOR OVERBOARD OFF PUERTO RICO: He Swims Ashore and Gets His Boat Back

Enthalpy ketch

This, thank God, is a solo MOB tale with a totally happy ending. David Thompson, a retired engineer, was swept off his 49-foot ketch Enthalpy II (see photo up top) by a wave while sailing solo down the north coast of Puerto Rico this past Sunday. He was attached to the boat with a lifejacket/harness, but a second wave stripped him out of his harness, and out of his pants, and he was left to drift half-naked as his boat sailed away from him. After seven hours in the water he managed to swim ashore at Isabela, about 15 miles west of Camuy where he went over the side, and is now recovering in a hospital. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, managed to recover Enthalpy II in the Mona Passage, some 80 miles west of Camuy, thanks to her AIS transponder.

David, without doubt, is a very lucky man. He gets to keep living, and he gets his boat back! His tale also vividly illustrates some points we discussed recently regarding the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a harness and tether while sailing.

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RAINMAKER RECOVERED: Is There an America's Cup Connection Or Not?

Rainmaker in Bermuda

As the old saying goes: what goes around comes around. So it is that Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1, Rainmaker, which was tragically abandoned by owner and crew in late January of last year 200 miles off Cape Hatteras, and has since been spotted and photographed adrift in the Atlantic, has at last got spotted and towed to terra firma. More specifically: Bermuda.

We have this via Facebook and Peter Johnstone (the sadly ex-CEO of Gunboat) and more intriguingly via Sailing Anarchy, who claim they’ve received a hot tip that the spotting was done by members of Oracle Team USA, who were idling offshore doing some recreational fishing off Bermie on a no-doubt treasured day off from work.

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MUMMIFIED SAILOR: More Facts = Bigger Mystery

Bajorat dad

OK, this is officially getting extremely weird. After conducting an autopsy on the mummified remains of Manfred Bajorat, the German singlehander found by fishermen this past weekend, Philippine authorities have announced that Bajorat died of an acute myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack) more or less seven days before his body was recovered. Meanwhile, the folks running the current round-the-world Clipper Race have also announced that the crew one of their boats, LMAX Exchange, found Bajorat adrift and dead aboard his boat back in late January about 600 miles east of the Philippines.

These baldly contradictory assertions raise some interesting questions.

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OPB CARIBBEAN CRUISING: Circumnavigating Martinique

Lifted cat

Phase Two my OPB (Other People’s Boats) cruising season (completed this past Saturday) began at the Dream Yacht Charter base in Le Marin on Martinique, where I encountered a few random nautical oddities, including this very interesting technique, employed by a rival charter outfit, for hauling out a catamaran without actually hauling it out. Is this freaking ingenious, or what?

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GHASTLY REMAINS: Mummified Solo Sailor Discovered Adrift Off Philippines

Mummy remains

This is an incredibly grim photograph, but it belies an end-of-life scenario more than a few cruising sailors might actually welcome. These are believed to be the mortal remains of a German cruiser, Manfred Bajorat, age 59, whose boat, a Jeanneau Sun Magic 44 named Sayo, was found about 40 miles off the Philippine coastal town of Barobo by two fishermen over the weekend. The current best guess on a cause of death is a sudden heart attack, and so far no one has any clear idea when this might have happened. According to published reports, Bajorat was last heard from either one or seven years ago, take your pick.

Me, I’d guess one year is more likely. What I’m really wondering is why the body is so well preserved. Most published reports are citing “dry ocean winds,” but in my experience there really is no such thing. Life on a boat at sea is always moist in some respect, and I would have thought that a dead body in a moist tropical environment would decompose very quickly. But then there’s a lot about corporal decomposition I do not understand. Maybe the condition of the corpse has something to do with a lack of microorganisms in the environment.

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