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

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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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MIMI ON THE BLOCK: 15-foot 1977 Drascombe Dabber For Sale

Mimi 1

I should have mentioned this earlier. I'm looking to find a good home for Mimi, my 15-foot Drascombe Dabber, as the sad truth is she hasn't been used much in the past few years. This is a seaworthy open boat with positive flotation (Webb Chiles, you may recall, took a larger 18-foot sister vessel much of the way around the world) that has two rowing stations, a 5hp two-stroke outboard motor in a well, and a versatile gunter yawl rig. A great boat for Swallows-and-Amazons adventures, daysailing, camp-cruising, etc.

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ALBINO INTRUDERS: Beluga Whales in Narragansett Bay

Beluga

Here's an intriguing little news morsel from the Misplaced Wildlife Department. Seems a group of three beluga whales, a decidedly Arctic species that normally wanders no further south than the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Canada, has been lolling about the past two weeks in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Local marine biologists have been acutely interested and are monitoring them closely.

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AZORES RESCUE OPS: 12 Crew Recovered Off 5 Yachts; One Young Girl Dead

Swan 44

Bummer. Here I was looking forward to telling you guys all about the singlehanded passage I just did on Lunacy from St. Martin to Bermuda and instead I think I better go into this first. Details are pretty sketchy, but it seems five different yachts caught in a bad blow about 500 miles south of the Azores all called for help two days ago. A large SAR operation coordinated out of Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, which involved five different aircraft and four different ships, resulted in a dozen people being rescued. Tragically, one of these, a 6-year-old French girl who spent seven hours in the water after her family's Lagoon 400 catamaran capsized and sank, died from hypothermia after she was recovered.

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GOLDEN GLOBE RACE 2018: A Highly Regulated Retro Singlehanded Round-the-World Event

Suhaili under sail

We have an announcement this week that ex-BOC Race competitor Don McIntyre is organizing a retro reprise of the famous 1968-69 Golden Globe Race to start June 14, 2018, in Falmouth, UK. This being the 50th anniversary of the date on which Robin Knox-Johnston departed from that same port on the voyage that brought him fame, fortune, and victory in the original event. The tip being that all competitors in this new event must race using only technology that was aboard Knox-Johnston's 32-foot wood ketch Suhaili in the original race (see photo up top), but are prohibited from sailing in a boat identical to Suhaili or in any boat similar to the ones that competed in the first race.

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SPERM WHALE, UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: Gulf of Mexico ROV Video at 1,962 Feet

Sperm whale close

Time for a little wildlife admiration. Evidently this sort of thing doesn't happen very often. As in a submersible ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) gets closely inspected by a live-action sperm whale at considerable depth. For the whale, though, it's not really that deep, as they can dive down to over 7,000 feet when actively searching for snacks.

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SAILING THE ARCTIC RACE: Through the Northwest Passage in Recyclable "Volcanic Fiber" Yachts

STAR46 image

This is an event I've had an eye on for a little while, but had mentally stashed it in my IBIWISI (I'll Believe It When I See It) file. Well, I think I may be starting to believe it. Since the beginning of the year, organizers of the Sailing the Arctic Race (STAR), to be run in 2017 along a 7,700-mile course that stretches across the top of North America, have announced the enlisting of their first official competitor (a team called STAR Spain, led by Vendee Globe skipper Javier Sanso) and--more importantly for all us boat geeks out here--have also recently released renderings of the one-design STAR46 yacht in which the race will be sailed (see image up top). The most salient feature of these boats is that they are to be constructed of a fully recyclable basalt-fiber balsa-cored laminate developed by an Austrian company Fipofix (a race sponsor, of course) that is trying boot basalt-fiber boatbuilding into the big time.

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