Revenge of the All-Girl Crew: St. Martin to the BVI

 

Lucy and Una on Lunacy

Just back yesterday from another great cruise with the family aboard Lunacy down in the W'Indies. Thought I'd try a little experiment this time and subject them to a mild open-water passage twixt St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands, both so we could vary our cruising ground and to see how the girls would take to being out of sight of land. Here's a hot tip for those inclined to follow in my wake: take the trouble to get out a chart and calculate the time and distance involved before pitching such a venture to your crew. I've done the trip several times, so relied on my increasingly creaky memory and consequently told my shipmates I expected we'd take only 8 hours and a bit to get from here to there.

Even as we motored out of the Radisson Marina at Anse Marcel, Lucy the Youngest (predictably enough) immediately asked: "How much longer till we get there, Dad?"

In the interest of accuracy (for Lucy has a much better memory than me) I queried the GPS and found we in fact had about 80 miles and 18 to 20 hours to go at our then current speed of 4.5 knots. In the photo up top you see how Lucy and her older sister Una received this news.

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Morgan Out Island 41: Affordable and Comfortable

Morgan Out Island 41

The legendary designer/builder Charley Morgan allegedly conceived this boat in a fit of pique when the IOR supplanted the old CCA rule as the racing rule du jour back in 1970. If so it was an auspicious tantrum, as the Out Island 41 turned out to be an extremely successful boat and ultimately helped to transform the business of fiberglass sailboat production. The OI 41 was not only one of the first designs targeted at the emerging bareboat charter industry (the original “charter barge,” if you will), it was also one of the first center-cockpit boats and one of the first to blatantly discount sailing performance in favor of maximum accomodation space.

As such, the OI 41 is a boat many serious sailors love to hate--for its bulky plastic appearance, for its less than mediocre performance, and for the profound change it wrought in mass-production priorities. It is also, however, still much loved and prized among more pragmatic cruisers who value comfort, space, and nice low purchase prices.

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Crunching Numbers: Displacement/Length Ratio

Concordia yawl under sail

We’ve already discussed the basic concept of a boat’s displacement or weight. We’ve also discussed waterline length and how it relates to a boat’s theoretical maximum hull speed. Considered separately, however, length and displacement yield only a general notion of what a boat is like. If you blend the two values you can make a much more nuanced evaluation. The displacement/length ratio (or D/L ratio) is the tool yacht designers have created to do this.

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Elevated Jackline Leads

 

Combination jackline lead and shroud cleat

This is a very interesting idea a few offshore sailors I know swear by. Run your jacklines off the deck up to a fixed point on your midship shrouds. That way the jackline is always easy to find and clip on to as you step out of the cockpit, your clip stays clear of all the other lines and stuff on deck, and if you actually do slip and fall you may stand a better a chance of staying onboard. The folks I know who like to do this always had to jury-rig something. For example, the combo shroud cleat/jackline lead seen here is a DIY prototype developed by Cyrus Knowles a few years back.

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HEAT SOURCE: Hot Pix of the Sun

SDO image of sun

I know, I know. The Aquatic Miracles angle on this one is a little attenuated. But the sun, as our primary heat source, is ultimately responsible for all our weather, and of course keeps our oceans liquid as opposed to solid. Which is a nice feature when it comes to oceans. Besides, I have always been fascinated by unmanned space probes (e.g., check my Yachts of Titan post from a while back). They truly are the great exploratory seafarers of our age.

The image you see here was collected by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a spacecraft launched back in February to collect new data on the sun. It is one of the very first SDO images to arrive and was released earlier this week. This particular image, part of an Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment, was taken on March 30. In this color scheme, reds are cool (about 110,000 degrees F) and blues and greens are hot (about 1.8 million degrees F).

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Eyeball Navigation: The Heart of the Art

Eyeball navigation with binoculars

Quiz any curmudgeon these days on the subject of proper wayfinding and you’ll soon find yourself reefed down in a gale of conventional wisdom about the importance of paper charts, compass bearings, dead reckoning, sextants, and the like. But what curmudgeons tend to forget, as they rail on about how modern nav tools are corrupting us, is that many of their sacred cows are also just tools. They are more primitive, simpler, hence more reliable in one sense (if not more accurate), but still they are not the organic root of navigation.

Reduced to its purest form, human navigation (as opposed to more advanced forms used by migratory cetaceans, birds, and fish) is simply a matter of being able to look at something from a distance and say what it is. In a state of nature we can travel knowingly only as far as we can see.

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Comprehending Reid Stowe: Early Voyages & The Moitessier Factor

Reid Stowe aboard the schooner Anne

AS OF LAST MONTH, as documented here on WaveTrain, Reid Stowe can rightfully lay claim to a record for longest ocean voyage in history and earlier toppled the record for longest solo voyage. But unlike most sailors who now play the record-breaking game, Reid's motivations and methods are, shall we say, not entirely linear. To understand the enigma that is Reid--a man who inspires some, infuriates a few, and leaves many others simply baffled--it helps to know something of his origins as an ocean sailor.

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Nor’Sea 27: A Trailerable Offshore Cruiser

Nor'Sea 27 under sail

Legend has it the idea for this unique pocket cruiser was born round a campfire in Baja California in the early 1970s as two brothers, Dean and Stan Wixom, speculated on alternative modes of exploring Baja and the Sea of Cortez. They were on motorcycles, had tired of the dusty ride, and thought a small, but truly ocean-worthy cruising sailboat on a trailer might be a better way to travel. Dean later queried several yacht designers, but the only one who thought such a craft feasible was Lyle Hess, who allegedly took only a few minutes to sketch out the basic concept of what became the Nor’Sea 27.

Wixom built hull number one in a makeshift plant in Southern California in 1977, then three years later built himself a boat (hull number 77, as it happened) and sailed off over the horizon in it. His new business, Heritage Marine, he sold to Bob Eeg, who renamed the company Nor’Sea Marine and has continued building Nor’Sea 27s ever since. To date over 450 have been launched and many believe it to be the most seaworthy cruising sailboat in its size range.

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

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    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.

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