News & Views

REBEL HEART EVACUATION: Another Internet Sailboat Rescue Tornado

Eric Kaufman with children

Goodness gracious. Do I feel sorry for Eric and Charlotte Kaufman! Not only have they lost their home, Rebel Heart, the Hans Christian 36 they've been cruising on for two years, which they had to abandon yesterday when they boarded a U.S. Navy warship about 900 miles west of Mexico, and which the Navy subsequently scuttled and sank. Not only have they had to cope with the unthinkable stress of having their 1-year-old daughter, Lyra, come down with some mysterious illness in the middle of a long Pacific passage. But now they have a good chunk of the global population lambasting them online for getting into all this trouble in the first place.

Isn't modern technology wonderful?

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CAT PPALU: Great Salvage Video

Ppalu sunk

Gotta hand it to Randy West. He knows how to bounce right back after getting slapped down hard. You'll recall his classic 75-foot Peter Spronk catamaran, Ppalu, sank last month in St. Maarten during the Heineken Regatta. (This right after Randy got done with a 7-month refit of the boat.) Now you can watch a properly produced Rick Moore video on how the old girl was salvaged:

You'll also learn a bit about the history of the boat, starting with when Randy was one of 200 people who helped pick her up and walk her into the water when she was first launched in St. Maarten over 30 years ago.

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MYSTERIOUS DESTROYED YACHTS: Wrecks Found in West Indies and Off Australia

Burning boat

I started following both these stories last week when they broke, and now I'm pretty curious to see how they play out. First: an apparently exploded 49-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey that was spotted on fire (see photo up top) a few miles west of St. Vincent last Wednesday. A local dive-tour operator, Kay Wilson, was first on the scene and found the boat's British owner, John Edward Garner, 53, floating in the water in a life jacket with serious injuries to his face and legs. A burning liferaft and a waterproof ditch bag with a passport and other documents were also found floating near the burning yacht, which soon sank. Garner was rushed to a hospital ashore, but did not survive.

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FROM PRISON CELL TO THE SEA: Greg White and Jeff Bolster

Bolster and fish

You remember Jeff Bolster, right? He lives down the street from me here in Portsmouth, and I've crewed on his boat, and he's crewed on my boat, and he doesn't mind eating fish raw for breakfast. He teaches history at the University of New Hampshire and in a past life was a pro schooner jockey. I've heard from him the story of how his first scholarly tome, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Harvard University Press, 1997), proved to be a major inspiration to a black prison inmate, Greg White, who consequently went on to forge a career as a merchant mariner after serving out a 22-year sentence for armed robbery. As a result, Jeff and Greg formed a bond that continues to this day.

Now their relationship has been featured in a recent mini-movie produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which you can watch right here:

Good stuff. I've never met Greg, but I can assure you Jeff really does talk like that in real life.

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CAT PPALU: Holed in St. Maarten

Ppalu at anchor

Major bummer here. D. Randy West, the well known West Indies multihull maven, is struggling to salvage his new ride, the Peter Spronk-designed Cat Ppalu (see photo above), which he bought and renovated last year after a 20-year quest.

Major coincidence here, too, as Randy was in St. Maarten racing on the Gunboat 62 Tribe at the Heineken Regatta with, among others, Tribe's creator and original owner, Peter Johnstone, who has been resolutely ignoring some e-mails I sent him last week asking questions about the new Gunboat 60. I had just figured out where Peter was, and why he wasn't answering e-mail, when I got word from Paul Gelder, ex-editor of Yachting Monthly in the UK, that Ppalu was in trouble.

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OLYMPIC SAILING: What Does the Josh Say?

Josh Adams

Well informed sports fans will recall that SAIL's publisher, Josh Adams, abandoned his career in sailing journalism back in August 2012 to assume command of the U.S. Olympic sailing team. Our loss was the Olympic team's gain, and they seem to be recovering nicely from their zero-medal performance in the 2012 London games. Last month they scored six podium finishes at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami regatta, including a gold medal for Paige Railey in the Laser Radial class.

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CHASING SHACKLETON: What Paul Larsen Did After Breaking the Sailing Speed Record

A. Shackleton under sail

PBS has aired and released its great three-part video series, Chasing Shackleton, which follows the exploits of five modern-day adventurers as they seek to recreate Ernest Shackleton's amazing small-boat voyage from Antarctica to South Georgia Island in 1916. Follow this link here, and you can watch all three 1-hour episodes for free. Don't dawdle! I'd be surprised if they leave these up for long.

For sailors, the story inside this story is that one of the five crew aboard Alexandra Shackleton, a very accurate duplicate of Shackleton's lifeboat James Caird, was Australian Paul Larsen. Just weeks before embarking on this grueling survivalist nightmare of a voyage deep in the Southern Ocean, Larsen had been in Namibia triumphantly shattering the world sailing speed record aboard Vestas Sailrocket 2. This was the culmination of a 10-year personal quest, during which many had ridiculed Larsen and his revolutionary boat.

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