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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The SEA IS NOT FULL: Now Available As An E-Book!

SINF cover

Many of you have asked about this, and I am happy to report my latest book has just been released in electronic format at both Amazon and at the iBooks store. Now you have no excuse for not reading it! (Also, it’s my birthday today, so you should feel obliged to propitiate me.)

Remember: John Kretschmer, one of the most popular bluewater authors of our generation, has called The Sea Is Not Full “ONE OF THE BEST SAILING BOOKS” he’s read in a long time. “More than that," he continued, "it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. [Doane’s] revelations of being at sea recall the spirit of Moitessier.”

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2018 SUMMER CRUISE: Thwarted Ambitions

Lunacy aground

Job one before embarking on this summer’s cruise was to clean up Lunacy’s bottom a bit. I waited until too late to ask if my home yard, Maine Yacht Center, could arrange to have a diver do it, so ended up having to do it myself. First I dove on the boat, on day one of the cruise at Cliff Island, and scrubbed a good bit of the starboard side, paying particular attention to the log and depth sensors, which were extremely foul. This, as I’d hoped, resolved both my autopilot problem (my modern NKE pilot needs more-or-less accurate boatspeed data to function properly) and my inconsistent depthsounder problem. Two birds with one stone, as the saying goes.

Day two of the cruise was spent at Popham Beach, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, where I grounded the boat on the sandbar between Long Island and Georgetown Island (see photo up top). The spot is well known to me, as I used to spend summers on Long Island when I was a boy. I wanted to ground out on hard sand, and I knew the sand is very hard here, but I’d forgotten there are also some significant elevation changes, which accounts the nice heel angle you see there. Fortunately, this worked to my advantage, as it gave me good access to the port side, which I’d ignored when diving on the hull the day before, and also the running gear behind the shallow skeg keel, where I found the prop zinc had disappeared and needed replacing.

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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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DICK CARTER ISN'T DEAD YET: And He's Written a Book to Prove It

Dick Carter

This was a rumor that may have started on a Dick Carter fanboy thread on Sailing Anarchy a few years back: that Carter, one of the leading designers during the IOR era back in the 1970s, had sadly passed away. Even people active in the thread who’d once been close to Carter--like Bob Perry and Yves-Marie Tanton, who both designed boats with him back in the day--were in no position to deny this and so accepted it as fact. You can imagine then how surprised Tanton was when he ran into Dick Carter in Newport, at a memorial service for Ted Hood, in 2013.

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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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NORTHBOUND LUNACY: Atlantic City, NJ, to Portland, ME

Flies onboard

As I departed the casino-studded shores of Jersey early last Thursday morning, sailing alone this time, there seemed no shortage of wind. There was a nice northwesterly, 20 knots or so, so I tied in one reef as I hoisted the main just outside Absecon Inlet, as I thought it might soon grow stronger. In spite of the firm breeze, the boat was soon infested with flies. Dozens and dozens of them. On the sidedecks, in the cockpit, down below. As if suddenly they had all decided that New Jersey was no longer worthy of their presence and they would risk anything, even a voyage on a boat bound for God knew where, to get away from it.

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Subcategories

  • Boats & Gear

    Evaluations of both new and older sailboats (primarily cruising sailboats) and of boat gear.

  • The Lunacy Report

    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

  • News & Views

    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.

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