The Lunacy Report

SELF-ALIGNING ENGINE WOES: A New Prop Shaft and Some Existential Questions Concerning Corrosion

Shaft seal

I have previously mentioned the problem I was having over the fall and winter with my engine being badly out of alignment. How I'd just run the engine anyway and eventually the prop shaft would whip it right back in line, and how this seemed to culminate in a shaft-seal leak that plagued me on the last leg of Lunacy's journey home from the W'Indies leaving Provincetown bound for Portland.

Given the impressive amount of water spraying all over the place as we left P-town, all of it spewing forth right from the mechanical face of the seal itself, I reckoned there was a good chance the whole unit would need replacing once I delivered the boat to the tender mercies of Maine Yacht Center. I knew I should at least have the bellows behind the seal replaced (it was about time), but I was prepared to bite the bigger bullet if necessary (see photo up top, of all new shaft seal installed).

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PROVINCETOWN MA TO PORTLAND ME: Doublehanded With Underpants

Bear front

Lunacy at last, as of early Tuesday morning, is all the way home. I brought along crew for this last mini-leg of the voyage not because it felt necessary, but rather because an old friend, a fellow sailor, Frank "Bear" Gibney, has suddenly reappeared in my life and it seemed the perfect way to reconnect. As you can see in that photo up there, Bear quickly got the hang of Lunacy's helm and became adroit at steering with his (well-underpanted) groin.

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BERMUDA TO NEW ENGLAND: Solo Passage With Underpants (A Performance Comparison)

Masthead shot

Phase Two of this experiment began with a grand round of socializing in the harbor at St. George's, in which I was ably assisted by my bride. Clare also assisted refueling the boat and in spotting me as I ascended the mast to see if I could get the tricolor light interested in being a light again. (You can't see her in that photo there, peering up at me from on deck, because actually she was down below flipping the anchor and tricolor lights on and off countless times at my command.) I spent a good deal of time up there, and that foot you see in the maststep went numb from carrying all my weight for so long, but ultimately I wasn't able to figure out why the light was unhappy.

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ST. MARTIN TO BERMUDA: Solo Passage Without Underpants

Underpants on line

I think it was Fatty Goodlander who once wrote that he is always so nervous just before starting a passage that he constantly has to pee. I can certainly relate to that. No matter how many times you've done it, no matter how well prepared you are, at least if you're skipper of a vessel there's always a vague element of fear and uncertainty to wrestle with on setting out to sea. Most particularly when you're going alone. When sailing solo the potential consequences of stuff you forgot to attend to and of miscalculations you may have made always seem grossly magnified.

You can imagine my dismay then when I realized the morning of my solo departure from Oyster Pond aboard Lunacy that I had forgotten to pack any underwear. Not that this in itself must be fatal to the voyage's success. I did have the one pair of underpants I'd worn on the plane down to St. Martin, which I could repeatedly wash by hand en route (see photo up top). I also had two pairs of swimming trunks I could wear. And of course, being alone, I could always just prance around the boat naked if necessary. (Don't worry, I have no photos of this.)

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WINDBOUND IN SXM: More Sailing With the Family (Or Not)

Lunacy aerial

The better part of valor, and all that. When we arrived here on St. Martin Saturday evening it was blowing a bit, and all day Sunday--as we provisioned Lunacy, adjusted to the pleasant weather, and diddled around at the pool while watching Heineken Regatta boats stream up and down the coast outside the entrance to Oyster Pond--it was blowing a bit harder. And by Monday morning, as post-Heineken bareboats started streaming like locusts into the docks here at Capt. Oliver's Marina in a just-as-stiff breeze, it occurred to me that an idle family cruise might not be so idle in conditions such as these. Checking the weather (finally), I discovered the forecast was for the wind to increase a bit more still and hold there for the rest of the week. Fortunately, the family wasn't too disappointed when I told them I thought our sailing vacation would be much more vacation-like if we morphed it into a dock-based event.

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LEEWARD ISLANDS CRUISE: St. Kitts and Nevis

Kitts cruise under sail

This was my primary personal goal for Lunacy's winter season in St. Martin. Together with fellow SEMOSA members, Phil "He Of Many Nicknames" Cavanaugh and Charles "May I Cast Off Now?" Lassen, I had previously sailed Lunacy south from St. Martin to explore Saba and Statia. Also, of course, I have voyaged with the immediate family north and east to the more immediately neighboring islands of Anguilla and St. Bart's. But this year I wanted to get to St. Kitts and Nevis, to the southeast, which are probably the furthest islands you can easily reach from St. Martin during a one-week round-trip cruise.

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POST-CHRISTMAS WEST INDIES CRUISE: High Maintenance Vacation

Una and Lucy

Truth be told, I originally resisted the idea of basing Lunacy in St. Maarten this winter, primarily because she previously spent two other winters there, and I was hoping to check out someplace new. Also, I've always found the island to be a bit over-developed, with too many people, too much traffic, and too many big-box stores. Inexorably, however, it was the place that made the most sense for the sort of winter cruising we do (in short bursts of a week or so), because the airfares are reasonable and there are often direct flights from Boston. And during our just completed post-Christmas cruise, the island's over-developedness in fact turned out to be a blessing, as we spent an inordinate amount of time attending to boat maintenance (a price one often must pay when wandering about on one's own boat), and St. Maarten, if nothing else, is a great place to buy boat gear.

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2014 SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Goodness Gracious Great Mats of Weed!

Wrongway sunrise

As I had expected, we encountered mostly headwinds after we finally left Bermuda bound for St. Maarten on the morning of Saturday, November 8. Even worse, early on in the passage, when our headwinds were most vigorous, we spent about a day and a half pounding our brains out sailing continuously in the wrong direction. The photo up top says it all. When voyaging south, you do NOT want to see your bow pointed at the sunrise with deep reefs in your mainsail. This never smells like progress and is very bad for crew morale. At first, as skipper, I felt rather virtuous, getting all my easting in early in the game, regardless of the pain, but then later I got nervous. I started wondering: what if we NEVER get a chance to turn south?

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2014 SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Waiting on WX in Bermuda

Bermuda rainsquall

Right now I'm sitting out my second gale-force WX feature since arriving here last Saturday morning. I had had some hope of getting out before it arrived and taking off Wednesday afternoon as soon as all my crew were onboard. A few boats left on Monday, bound south for the islands, and one took off Tuesday, but when that one came right back less than 24 hours later, saying their weather-router had threatened to disown them if they didn't turn around, I could see the writing on the wall. No choice but to wait for this gishy low-pressure cell grafted on to a front to move through, and the plan now is to leave tomorrow morning, Saturday, exactly seven days after I arrived here.

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