GEORGIA MARSH CRUISE: From Hilton Head to Jacksonville

Lunacy underway

I did take the family down to Hilton Head to visit Lunacy over the Christmas vacation, but we did not take the boat anywhere. It was far too cold for that. Instead we used the boat as a hotel suite (thank God for the Refleks diesel heater!) and toured the surrounding environs. Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston, and of course the island of Hilton Head itself. To get home we had to drive to Jacksonville (the airport at Savannah was closed) through a vicious ice storm, and I swear I saw more car accidents in those few hours than I’ve seen in my entire life. True fact: people in the South cannot drive on slippery roads to save their lives.

We tried again last week, in much nicer weather, but still there were complications. Daughter Lucy, who likes horses much better than boats (go figure), had first to be deposited in the Florida horse/cattle country outside Gainesville, so she could indulge this preference. Which perversely meant getting stuck overnight in Charlotte, North Carolina (where family vacations go to die), due to the ineptitude of American Airlines. Which meant the wife and I, once we finally arrived in Hilton Head, really only had a handful of days to fool around on the boat.

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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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ELVSTROM BLUE WATER RUNNER: Modern Interpretation of Downwind Twin Headsails

Runner downwind

Here’s an interesting item my neighbor and erstwhile shipmate Jeff Bolster recently pointed me at. You may recall his Valiant 40, Chanticleer, was unfortunately parked last summer in Road Town, Tortola, and was dismasted in Hurricane Irma last September. He now has the boat in Kittery, Maine, for a refit (she motored on her own bottom from Tortola to St. Thomas, traveled by ship to Florida, then by truck to Maine), and he was thinking this new headsail system from Elvstrom might be worth trying out.

The basic concept, a symmetric pair of matching headsails for flying wing-and-wing at deep downwind angles, has been around a long time and was once considered de rigeur for bluewater cruisers running down the trades. It’s much easier to get a boat to sail itself downwind with a rig like this, and in the days before reliable self-steering gear this was an important feature. What’s new about the Elvstrom system, dubbed the Blue Water Runner, is these twins are set together on a single torque rope and are controlled with one continuous-line furler.

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OYSTER YACHTS ON THE ROPES: Esteemed British Builder Runs Out of Cash

Oyster yacht

I’ve been in this business long enough to know there’s no such thing as a boatbuilder immune to financial difficulty, but this does come as a surprise. As recently as last month Oyster proudly announced they have in hand £80 million in orders. They just showed off the new Oyster 745 (see photo up top) at Boot Dusseldorf, where it was the largest boat on display. One of these big boys was also parked just across the pontoon from my boat at the Annapolis show last fall and got a Boat of the Year nod from Cruising World for Best Luxury Cruiser. Oyster was also launching itself well and truly into the superyacht market and had two 118-foot boats in build. But as of yesterday all that ground to a halt as news slipped out that Oyster in fact has no cash on hand, can’t afford to pay anyone anything, and so has ceased operations as of today.

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ROUND BARBADOS MEMORIES: The Most Fun Race I Ever Sailed

race start

I have studied with some interest the results of the most recent running of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, which this year boasted a record-breaking seven race records broken. I was amused too to see that it was billed as the 82nd running of the event. A deft bit of marketing I reckon, as the race, in its current form, was but two years old when I sailed it in 2012. At that time it purported to be a reincarnation of a much older round-island competition amongst trading schooners that dated back to the 19th century. Tradition has it the consolation prize for the last boat to finish was a barrel of Mount Gay rum, and that skippers loitered about the course for days attempting to win it. The first recorded round-island race, in 1936, was between five schooners. The winner was Sea Fox, which belonged to a New England rum smuggler, Lou Kennedy, who allegedly, when sailing on the Maine coast, would amuse himself by spiking lobster pots with bottles of Mount Gay.

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BLOG WAR VICTORY: Linus Wilson of Slow Boat Sailing is Defeated in Court

Bart at board

I know, I know. You guys have been perched on the edge of your seats for days now waiting to see how this Louisiana small-claims copyright infringement and slander lawsuit against me turned out. You may have even gone to the hearing on January 9, like I invited you to do, in which case maybe you can tell me what happened exactly. For it turns out we defendants decided not to go ourselves. After much debate we concluded plaintiff Linus Wilson’s case against us was so obviously seriously totally lame we needn’t bother. This strategy was vindicated today when the court clerk called to tell me the small-claims arbitrator has made a decision: case dismissed with prejudice.

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AMERICAS CUP 36: A Bold Leap Into the Unknown Aboard the New AC75 Foiling Monohull

Ready to lay eggs

You have to hand it to the Kiwis and Italians who now control the fate of the Auld Mug: they are not lacking in imagination. Nor are they unwilling to take risks. Their concept for the new AC75 monohull in which the next America’s Cup cycle will be sailed, with a pair of canting T-foils sprouting out its sides like insect legs, is both highly creative and unprecedented. My favorite editorial remark so far, from the Daily Sail’s James Boyd in a Facebook thread, is that the new AC boat looks like it wants to crawl up on a beach and lay eggs.

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