The Lunacy Report

ALUMINUM HULL ANXIETIES: Return of the Leaky Rudder Skeg and More Bottom Paint Rumpus

Lunacy hauled out

Lunacy got hauled out at Maine Yacht Center soon after we arrived there from Bermuda last week, and yesterday I went up to have a look at her. As you can see in the photo up top, there's very little bottom paint left on her nether parts. She's been mostly bald like this for most of the winter. Since taking her down to Puerto Rico last November, it's been a battle keeping the growth off and she's had her bottom scrubbed five times--three times by me and twice by divers. Besides being too soft to stay on the boat for a full year, or after a few scrubs, the ablative copper-free Ultima Eco paint I had on didn't seem to be an effective deterrent to life in tropics.

So I was wrestling with the big question: do I finally abandon my quest for an effective copper-free paint? Is it time to resort to the "nuclear option"??? The MYC service manager Jeff Stack and I discussed what would be involved, i.e., lathering on more barrier coating in hopes of keeping a hard, or semi-hard, copper paint separated from Lunacy's vulnerable aluminum self.

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NORTHBOUND LUNACY: Bermuda to Maine

At sea

Just arrived yesterday in Portland, Maine, with crew members Billy "Swizzle" Springer and Adam "Twinkletoes" Cort after another reasonably fast passage on Lunacy. This time we covered a distance of 820 miles in 5 days 6 hours, again without using too much fuel for motoring--just 13 gallons. Which means in all, moving the boat 1,670 miles from Puerto Rico to Maine via Bermuda, I used just 18 gallons of fuel. Not so much because I got lucky with wind, but because I had light-air sails (see photo up top of Lunacy ghosting along under her screecher) and was willing to use them.

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BERMUDA FITTED DINGHIES: More Extreme Sailing

Bermuda dinghy downwind

Practically the first thing I learned on flying back to Bermuda to rejoin Lunacy this past Thursday was that there would be dinghy races here in St. George's Harbor on Friday. That and the prospect of a front moving through on Saturday immediately put my inchoate plan for a Memorial Day weekend mini-cruise with the bride on the back burner. No way could I miss a dinghy race. I've been fascinated with these traditional local racing machines--formally known as Bermuda fitted dinghies--ever since I first saw some racing here way back in August 1995.

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NORTHBOUND LUNACY: Sailing From Puerto Rico to Bermuda

Sunrise at sea

This was a fast passage with very little motoring. My mate Mr. Lassen and I covered the 830 some miles between Fajardo and St. Georges in less than six days and burned only about five gallons of fuel in the process. Not my fastest passage ever between the Onion Patch and the W'Indies, but I think it's the fastest northbound trip I've ever made at this time of year.

The normal pattern is to have moderate to strong easterly tradewinds for the first two or three days, followed by variable junk the rest of the way to Bermuda. If you're unlucky you may see more junk than wind and end up motoring most of way. What we saw was almost the opposite of normal--a good dose of light air during the first few days, then moderate to strong wind through the latter part of the passage.

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CRUISING VIEQUES: Visit to the Bay of Death

Warning sign Vieques

IT IS DIFFICULT when visiting Vieques by boat these days to get reliable information on where exactly you're allowed to go. During my exploration of the Spanish Virgin Islands this winter I've had three different set of charts aboard--all published after the U.S. Navy stopped using the island as a gunnery range--and they are maddeningly inaccurate and inconsistent about what areas are still restricted. Going ashore at Bahia Salina del Sur on Monday morning, however, Phil "Snake Wake" Cavanaugh and I were confronted with some very explicit signs (see photo up top) that suggested our presence might be prohibited.

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CRUISING CULEBRA: Tsunamis & War Junk

Tsunami sign

One thing that has changed since the last time I cruised these waters in the late 1990s is that now everywhere you go in the Spanish Virgins and the east coast of Puerto Rico you see these tsunami warning signs. I wasn't aware that tsunamis are a serious threat in the Caribbean, so I'm wondering what the point of these is. Maybe it's the fruit of some kind of sweetheart deal between the sign manufacturer and the local government.

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CRUISING VIEQUES: Cease Fire in Paradise

Sailing off Vieques

WHEN I FIRST SAILED through the Spanish Virgin Islands back in the late 1990s, the prospect of visiting Vieques was rather daunting. The U.S. Navy, operating out of its old base at Roosevelt Roads, was still using the island as a firing range and both the cruising guide and charts I had on hand were full of dire and confusing warnings about the place. Rather than risk an accidental shelling, I steered clear and focussed instead on the neighboring island of Culebra. But I always wondered about that long bumpy silhouette on the southern horizon, and one of my major goals when I based Lunacy on the east coast of Puerto Rico this winter was to at last find out what's over there.

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CRUISING CULEBRA: A Puerto Rican New Year

Culebra mural

O FUN-LOVING BOAT-WORSHIPPING CHILDREN of the Internet! Forget what you heard about doing up New Year's on St. Bart's. Tis a hyped-up overrated overcrowded experience if ever there was one, IMHO. I'm here to tell you: Culebra is the place to be (or have been). None of this dandified Beautiful People On Their Superyachts pretense and nonsense. On Culebra they know how to turn the page on the calendar with Egalitarian Style.

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Passage to Puerto Rico

Lunacy at sea

WE'RE HERE! In the photo, if you look carefully, you'll see the lumpy bumps of dry land--the island of Culebra to be precise--that we encountered at sunrise yesterday morning as we swooped in from the north on a moderate east-southeasterly breeze. By 1030 hours we were tied up at the fuel dock at the Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, awaiting a U.S. customs inspection.

This, strange to say, focussed largely on our garbage. We answered several questions about the food we bought in Bermuda (all of it processed stuff or fresh produce that, of course, had originally been imported from the States) and our two small bags of garbage, composed mostly of plastic packaging we hadn't thrown overboard en route, were then quarantined. We subsequently had to pay the marina $15 to remove these biohazards from the boat.

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