News & Views

ON PASSAGE WITH JIMMY CORNELL: Ft. Lauderdale to Panama

Aventura aerial

O how fickle the Wind Gods! A couple of weeks ago while aboard Lunacy with the family in St. Martin you'll recall we had far too much of it. Wind, I mean. Then just two days after returning from that venture, I sallied forth to join Jimmy Cornell aboard his new Garcia Exploration 45 Aventura (same name as his last three boats) to crew on a 1,300-mile passage across the entire breadth of the Caribbean during prime-time tradewind season, and what do I see on prognosticatory WX charts while waiting to board a flight to Florida? A most emphatic lack of wind, 10 knots or less, all the way from the shoal-spangled Bahamas to the chicken-neck isthmus of Central America. For one whole week, at least.

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JEFF & MOLLY'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE: An Engineless Cruise Through the W'Indies

Chanticleer sailing

Editor's note: Attention WaveTrain riders! I have just received a most excellent missive from my erstwhile skipper/crew (it's a symbiotic relationship) Jeff Bolster, featured here previously, regarding his long-planned much-looked-forward-to entire winter of cruising with his bride Molly through the length and breadth of the Caribbean islands aboard their Valiant 40 Chanticleer. Long story short: they broke their prop strut three days out of Bermuda and are just now getting around to fixing it. I'll let Jeff fill you in on all the gory details (this from an e-mail dated March 10).

Good thing we like Martinique: we might need to get French citizenship and live here forever. The boat has already been on the hard for 10 days and the "A-Team" has barely begun to work. It's the Caribbean, mon.

As some of you know, we broke the propeller shaft strut on the third day of the voyage and essentially have had no use of the engine since then. It's that Old Timey Sailing Ship stuff that I live for. As Joni Mitchell once wailed, "It's suffering, makes me feel that I am alive..."

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STEVE JOBS SUPERYACHT VENUS: Barely Escapes From Simpson Bay Lagoon

Venus aerial

And now for something completely different. Steve Jobs' 256-foot superyacht Venus, built by Feadship and completed in 2012, a year after his death, has been out and about this season and was most recently drone-videoed as it squeezed through the Simpson Bay drawbridge in St. Maarten. According to the Insider's St. Maarten Island Guide, the yacht had been in SXM for two weeks and on Saturday headed out on a private charter.

In superyacht lingo, I guess Venus is what you'd call a "Simpson-Max" vessel, as in there is no possible way it could be any bigger and still fit through this bridge:

Got hand it to the skipper: he (or she?) has got some cojones for sure.

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MID-BLIZZARD EVACUATION: Australians Rescued Off $10K eBay Boat

Sedona hoist

Yet another mid-winter North Atlantic Coast Guard helicopter rescue. Not off a new boat this time, but off an old 43-foot Carroll Marine racing sled, Sedona (built in 1995), that an Australian, Jason McGlashan, age 37, bought on eBay for $10,000 US. Apparently the price was too low to resist, and Jason and his dad, Reg, age 66, flew into Rhode Island a while back to prep the boat for a delivery back to Oz. The eyebrow-raising bits are that a) they departed from Jamestown last Friday, right in front of the huge blizzard we endured this weekend, and b) apparently the Coast Guard, as well as someone who had worked on the boat, strongly warned the duo not to leave.

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RAINMAKER ABANDONED: Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1 Dismasted, Crew Evacuated by Helo

Rainmaker rescue

For me this is like déjà vu all over again. All this month I've been thinking about where I was a year ago, dangling from a wire beneath a Coast Guard helicopter many miles offshore with a busted catamaran beneath me. This year's victim, unfortunately, is an award-winning Gunboat 55, hull no. 1, Rainmaker, which got dismasted yesterday after getting raked by a 70-knot whiteout squall about 200 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. The five-member crew elected to abandon the vessel and was evacuated by a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter operating near the limit of its range.

Gunboat CEO Peter Johnstone broke the story late yesterday on his Facebook page and described the incident to me in more detail early this afternoon.

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TOPPLED: Sloop Providence Replica Falls Off Jackstands in "Historic" N.E. Blizzard

Providence toppled

Ouch! This happened yesterday in Newport, Rhode Island, at the Newport Shipyard, where Providence was blocked up for the winter. Though the yard staff evidently stuck in some extra jackstands before the storm, they weren't up to the job. The vessel's mast is busted and her fiberglass hull has been punctured. She also, coincidentally, is for sale, so now's the time to come in with a super lowball bid if you're interested.

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STANLEY PARIS: Foiled Again

Kiwi Spirit in Cape Town

I get the sense some people out there are waiting for me to opine on the fate of Dr. Stanley Paris, who again decided to abandon his attempt at a non-stop circumnavigation and put into Cape Town aboard his custom performance cruiser Kiwi Spirit (see photo up top) a little over a week ago. As discussed previously, the good doctor was never entirely forthcoming about the gear damage he suffered during his last abortive voyage. He has been even less forthcoming this time. All we know is that "the top quarter of [his] mail (sic) sail separated along a seam from the rest of the sail." There has been no description of any causative weather or event, no indication at all of what might have precipitated this.

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VESTAS WIND SHIPWRECK: Post Mortem With Embarrassing Personal Recollection

Verbraak navigatin

You know something really big has gone on in the sailing world when even The New Yorker magazine feels they have to say something about it. The grounding and abandonment of Team Vestas Wind has been a major publicity coup, for both the Volvo Ocean Race and the boat's sponsor, Vestas Wind, made all the sweeter by the fact of the happy ending: no one was seriously injured. The cause of the accident has been pretty clearly identified. The Cargados Carajos Shoals were in an exclusion zone that was opened to the fleet the night before they started leg 2 of the race out of Cape Town. Vestas navigator Wouter Verbraak (see image up top) wasn't aware that the shoals were directly on the route north to Abu Dhabi, didn't have time to fully scope out the new track before the start, and assumed he'd be able to do so while racing the leg. In the end he never zoomed in close enough on his electronic chart to see the shoals, and the crew sailed right on to the reef at night having no idea it was there.

This obviously was a stupid mistake, and Verbraak, to his credit, has openly confessed to it. The boat's skipper Chris Nicholson likewise has accepted full responsibility for what happened and recently gave two long interviews—one in print with Sail-World (a big three-parter that starts here) and one on video with Sailing Anarchy. These are both well worth your attention.

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CRUISE INTERRUPTED: Young Swedes Shipwrecked on Easter Island

Frivarv wrecked

Ah, to be young again. That's what I'm wishing after reading this account of two young Swedes, Melvin Svensson and Emil Warme, who were shipwrecked on Easter Island (called Rapa Nui by locals) this past August after their Carter Concubine 33 Frivarv was driven ashore at Ahu Tongariki (see photo up top). I was shipwrecked once in my younger days, but that was in Spain, a very civilized, well populated place. These guys lost their boat literally in the middle of nowhere. Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands on the planet. The nearest inhabited land, Pitcairn Island, with a population of just 50, is almost 1,300 miles away, and the nearest continent, South America, is about 2,220 miles away.

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