News & Views

THRASH TO WINDWARD: Swan 60 Delivery from Florida to Tortola

Foredeck in art mode

This is called going against the flow: sailing from Florida to the W’Indies against the prevailing easterly tradewinds. I did something similar many years ago, moving a Taswell 56 from Great Exuma in the Bahamas to St. Thomas, and remember it as an exercise in gross masochism. Like banging your head against a wall… for days on end. When you do it in little hops, from one Bahamian island to the next, they call it the Thorny Path. When you do it all in one fell swoop they should maybe call it the Quantum Thorny Leap.

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YACHTSMAN OF THE YEAR: Award Nominations Open Until Friday


My good friend Paul Gelder, formerly editor-in-chief of Yachting Monthly in the U.K., one of my favorite print sailing comics, writes to remind me that interested parties have until the end of this work week to make nominations (these can be made by any member of the public, mind you) for the 2015 Yachtsman of the Year Award, presented by the U.K.-based Yachting Journalists Association. The award was first established in 1955 and the inaugural recipient was a cruiser, Eric Hiscock (see photo up top), in recognition of his three-year circumnavigation with his wife Susan aboard their 30-foot sloop, Wanderer III.

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JOE HARRIS: Warming Up for a Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation

Joe Harris

I’ve never met Joe Harris, but I met his wife and kids once at the swimming pool at Capt. Oliver’s Marina in St. Martin while loitering there on my own boat. The Harris family was out on a straight bareboat charter, just like anyone else, and it wasn’t until later that I pieced together everything the missus had told me and figured out who exactly they were. From a distance at any rate, Joe has always struck me as that kind of guy: low key and under the radar.

Anyway, I’m now starting to dial into Joe’s latest scheme to fulfill a long-held ambition to race solo non-stop around the world. He’s always wanted to do this in an organized race with other boats, but since there is currently no relevant event he can join in his Akilaria RC2 Class 40 Gryphon Solo 2, he’s setting out on his own. His goal being to break the official WSSRC speed record for a non-stop solo circuit in a 40-foot boat (137 days, 20 hours and change) set by Guo Chuan (also in an Akilaria) in 2013. He expects to depart from Newport next month.

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STRANGE NEW PLANET: Gulf of Naples Hail, Hurricane Joaquin, North Atlantic Cold Spot

This viddy was shot earlier this month during a vicious hailstorm in the Gulf of Naples off Italy. Talk about taking incoming fire. The guys in the skiff are laughing about it, but this storm actually did a whole lot of damage on shore. Hailstorms normally occur well inland, although hail over water is not unknown. I remember once I got caught in a mini hailstorm running up Muscle Ridge Channel off the west coast of Penobscot Bay in my old Golden Hind 31 Sophie. But it didn’t last very long, and the hailstones were nowhere near as big as these.

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CLIPPER ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Pay-to-Play Crew Dead in Reefing Accident


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this has ever happened before. With all the many bluewater pay-to-play crewing opportunities out there these days (some of which I’ve been involved with), I think this is the first time anyone has actually died doing it. According to the official statement released by Clipper Ventures, organizers of the Clipper Round the World Race, Andrew Ashman, 49, a British paramedic who had been sailing since he was a teenager, died onboard the Clipper 70 IchorCoal two days ago after being knocked out by the mainsheet and perhaps the boom while helping to reef the mainsail in Force 6 conditions.

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MELONSEED SKIFF: Successfully Deployed as Secret Weapon (Sort Of) in 2015 Round Island Regatta


There’s a rumor going around that the only reason I’ve been looking to sell Mimi, my beloved Drascombe Dabber, is because she’s not competitive in the Round Island Regatta, an anarchic free-for-all involving small sailing and paddle/rowing vessels that is convened each summer on the back channel here in Portsmouth. And yes, it is true we did very poorly in Mimi last year. And I will confess it had crossed my mind that the Melonseed skiff I had set my heart on as Mimi’s successor might just get me on to the podium.

And, in fact, it almost turned out that way. In that photo up top (taken by my crew, daughter Lucy) you see me helming our new Melonseed, MiMi2, at the Class 1 start of this year’s regatta this past Saturday. We did well off the line and were in the top three (out of 27 boats in Class 1 Sail) after one lap round the course. And by the end of the second lap, we had a firm lock on second place. But then the anarchy factor took hold.

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SPOUSE OVERBOARD: Cruising Legend Pete Hill Loses Wife Carly Off Coast of South Africa

Peter and Carly

I think everybody who sails has vividly imagined some variation of this nightmare: you leave a crew member alone on deck for a while to catch some sleep below, and when you come back on deck you find your crew is missing. Disappeared, with no clue what happened to them. So it was in reality for poor Pete Hill, who departed Durban, South Africa, bound for Madagascar on Thursday with his wife Carly aboard their 33-foot junk-rigged wood-epoxy catamaran Oryx. Hill reportedly went below for a nap at some point on Friday afternoon, while the boat was still just 6 miles off the South African coast, and when he awoke Carly was gone. After a fruitless two-day search by South African authorities, Carly Hill, age 58, is now presumed to be dead.

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RAINMAKER UPDATE: Photos of Abandoned Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1 Adrift at Sea

Rainmaker 1

All these pix come courtesy of Gunboat's CEO, Peter Johnstone, who posted them today to his Facebook page. Johnstone, much to his credit, has not been shy about sharing information on the boat and what happened to it. And no, this is not the first time Rainmaker has been sighted since she was dismasted and abandoned five months ago. But it is the first time, as far as I know, that photos of her adrift have been released to the public.

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