NICK SKEATES ON WYLO II: The Ultimate Barebones Cruiser and his Ultimate Dirt Simple Boat

Nick Skeates

Dang it. I was going to write a post about the boats I test-sailed after the show in Annapolis, as has been my custom these past years, but I lost my freaking camera and have no pix for it. Ah, well. This gives me a chance to change the subject and point you at a fantastic viddy posted on Vimeo by Byrony Stokes a couple of months ago. About the intrepid Nick Skeates, a dumpster-diving barebones cruising legend and his tough-as-nails self-designed and self-built boat Wylo II.

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JVD Airways: Fly Foxy to the Virgin Islands

Foxy

By far the most interesting piece of news I picked up while wandering the show in Annapolis the last two days came from this man, Foxy Callwood, renowned owner of Foxy’s Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. During the course of a rambling conversation, Foxy complained of the lagging effort to revitalize his home island after last year’s devastating hurricane. He also let slip with a sly smile that he was working on a scheme to launch a new airline, JVD Airways, that he hopes will help rekindle the local economy by offering direct flights from all over the U.S. straight to the Virgin Islands.

Foxy being Foxy, I thought at first he must be kidding. But no, he is very serious. I asked if he has secured funding, and he dropped a name that would raise anybody’s eyebrows. Foxy is still working on putting this deal together, and asked that I not divulge the identity of his prospective partner, but you heard it here first folks: this could really happen.

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2018 SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Back to the Boat Show Solo Delivery Trip

Lunacy in slings

This truly was touch and go. I’d had the boat hauled in early September to attend to a fairly discrete list of chores: 1) put on fresh bottom paint; 2) have some nice handrails sent by my friends at Boréal welded on to the stern arch; 3) make sure the engine’s running gear was OK after that run-in with a pot warp. It was the last item, of course, that created problems.

Turned out that wrapped pot warp (remember?) had ruined the cutless bearing, and to change that out the prop shaft had to be pulled, and as long as the shaft was out: why not send it on to get it checked to make sure it’s still perfectly straight??? It made sense at the time, but it unfortunately took much longer than it should have. Then there was some head-scratching over Lunacy’s exotic Vetus transmission coupling after the shaft came back, and a missing shaft key, and before I knew it the guys at Maine Yacht Center were relaunching Lunacy (see above) the very morning I planned to take her away south to Annapolis to be in the show again.

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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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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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