News & Views

JVD Airways: Fly Foxy to the Virgin Islands

Foxy

By far the most interesting piece of news I picked up while wandering the show in Annapolis the last two days came from this man, Foxy Callwood, renowned owner of Foxy’s Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. During the course of a rambling conversation, Foxy complained of the lagging effort to revitalize his home island after last year’s devastating hurricane. He also let slip with a sly smile that he was working on a scheme to launch a new airline, JVD Airways, that he hopes will help rekindle the local economy by offering direct flights from all over the U.S. straight to the Virgin Islands.

Foxy being Foxy, I thought at first he must be kidding. But no, he is very serious. I asked if he has secured funding, and he dropped a name that would raise anybody’s eyebrows. Foxy is still working on putting this deal together, and asked that I not divulge the identity of his prospective partner, but you heard it here first folks: this could really happen.

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UNMANNED: First Robot Sailboat Completes Transatlantic Voyage

Sailbuoy Met

Who needs crew? Not the Sailbuoy Met, a 2-meter long sailing robot, which recently arrived in Ireland after sailing 80 days non-stop from Newfoundland. Created by a Norwegian company, Offshore Sensing AS, Sailbuoy is the first robot vessel to cross the Atlantic and the first to complete the Microtransat Challenge, a transatlantic race for autonomous vessels. Twenty previous attempts by different teams had ended in abject failure.

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LAURA DEKKER'S GUPPY: Wrecked on a Reef in the Cook Islands

Guppy under sail

This definitely denotes a trend. A curse even. Call it the Curse of Famous Circumnavigating Sailboats That Have Been Donated to Non-Profit Organizations. The latest victim, you may have noticed, is Laura Dekker’s bright red 40-foot Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy, which carried her around the world back in 2010-11 and helped her become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world alone. Laura has posted details on both her blog and one of her Facebook pages, so I’ll let her tell the story:

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GOLDEN GLOBE RACE: Windvane Politics

GGR tracker

Here we are a shade more than a month into Don McIntyre’s Golden Globe retro tribute race and already the pot is stirring nicely. There are three distinct leaders, Jean-Luc van den Heede (an older but highly experienced solo ocean racer), Philippe Peche, and Mark Slats, all sailing Rustler 36s, with the main peloton not too too far behind. Meanwhile, three sailors have already quit the race altogether, two of them complaining of windvane problems. Another competitor, Antoine Cousot, stopped to regroup in the Canaries, complaining of his windvane and mental stress, then continued sailing in the non-competitive Chichester Class. Another, Istvan Kopar, meanwhile broke communications protocols (i.e., he turned on his sat phone) to also demote himself to Chichester status, complaining (you guessed it) of windvane problems. Istvan intended to stop and swap vanes in the Cape Verdes, but then thought better of it and successfully lobbied to be allowed to continue racing.

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GOLDEN GLOBE REVISITED: They're Off and Running

GGR start

It has begun! Seventeen competitors in Don McIntyre’s Golden Globe Race 2018, a highly structured tribute event honoring the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, took off from Les Sables d’Olonne Sunday at noon local time. An 18th sailor, Francesco Cappelletti, of Italy, is still in port working to pass a safety inspection and complete sailing trials. First across the line when the starting cannon sounded (fired by Robin Knox-Johnston aboard Suhaili, the boat in which he won the original event) was a Frenchman, Phillipe Péché, sailing a Rustler 36 named PRB. Reading the official account, it seems it was a hard-fought start, especially considering that the boats will be racing for 9-10 months over a course of 30,000 miles, give or take.

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CRUSHED BY HIS BOAT: Brit Dies in Bizarre Spring Commissioning Accident

crushed by boat

Every time I work on a boat hull propped up on the hard I think of this: what if it falls over? Even worse, what if it falls over on top of me? Then I chase that errant bit of evil paranoia from my mind. Nah, can’t happen! But apparently it can. Witness this alarming news-bit from Great Britain. Kevin Keeler, age 56, crushed to death on Monday by his new-to-him 29-foot Westerly, Ginny Kwik, at the Weymouth Sailing Club in Dorset as he was preparing to launch it after a quick haul-out. He’d only bought the boat three months earlier. It was the first he’d ever owned.

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OYSTER RESURRECTED: Online Casino Gambling Magnate Buys Builder Out of Bankruptcy

Oyster website screenshot

Well, this didn’t take too long. The big news in the boatbuilding world last week was that Richard Hadida, co-founder of Evolution Gaming, has purchased Oyster Yachts, scraped clean of its Polina Star III liabilities, for an undisclosed sum. Hadida is an active sailor who has chartered Oysters in the past and is a frequent guest on Lush, an Oyster 885 owned by Eddie Jordan, a regular columnist for the super-yacht comic Boat International. Hadida has said his immediate priority is finishing the 26 boats currently in build, including Oyster’s first super-yacht, the 118. Moving forward, however, he reportedly would like to de-emphasize big boats and work more on introducing smaller boats in the 40-foot range to make it easier for new owners to join the (now not-so-blue) Oyster cult.

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THE TALK OF MIAMI: Big Motors & Oyster Rumors Confirmed

Boats and skyline

I put in an appearance at the Miami International Boat Show last week for the first time in a few years. My first visit actually since the main part of the show moved out of Miami Beach and consolidated all its bits in front of the old Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. While roaming the ever-shrinking sailboat side of the show (it didn’t take long) I had a few conversations about the demise of Oyster Yachts. Word on the docks had it that the Polina Star III keel disaster was indeed the proximate cause of the boatbuilder’s sudden liquidation. And now today we find that Alexander Ezhkov, the aggrieved Russian owner of Polina Star, has unveiled a full barrage of information pertaining to his ongoing dispute with the builder on a website appropriately entitled How It Went Down.

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SEA NYMPH SIGHTED: Volvo Race Boat Spots Derelict Vessel Abandoned by Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava

Sea Nymph sighted

She has risen again to infest the newsfeed of unsuspecting sailors! The good vessel Sea Nymph--belonging to controversial bluewater sailor Jennifer Appel, abandoned by her and shipmate Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs last October--was sighted yesterday approximately 360 miles east of Guam by skipper Dee Caffari and her crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic, a VO65 racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Caffari in her text report couldn’t help remarking on the irony of the situation: “I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”

Not only a yacht, but a plastic one at that.

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