Selden's Electric Furler Back-up System

Like any good lazybones cruiser, I surely do appreciate the ease and convenience of a push-button power furling system. Being able to wind up a big sail in a matter of seconds just by exercising a fingertip is enough to make any sailor feel like an all-powerful deity. But these systems also make me nervous. All I can think about when using one is what happens if I lose power??? Will I still be able to control the sail? It is, of course, a matter of basic common sense that any such furler should have an effective manual over-ride, but in many cases they really don't. Usually you'll find a token socket for a winch handle stuck on the unit somewhere, but often there isn't room to rotate the handle through a full 360 degrees, as a deck, spar, or some other protuberance usually contrives to get in the way.

So I was very pleased when I found out how Selden Mast engineered the over-ride system for their electric Furlex furlers while poking through their booth at the Miami show last month. Instead of turning the socket for the manual over-ride with a winch handle, you just slap on one of these continuous-line drive units and start hauling away. You can run the line all the way back to the cockpit if you like, have more than one guy hauling on it, or even put it on a winch if you really have to. Whatever happens, power or no, you'll always be able to roll up your headsail promptly and safely.

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Song of the Sirens

 

The recent sinking of the Canadian school ship Concordia and the memory it roused in me of the earlier sinking, almost 50 years ago, of Chris Sheldon's school ship Albatross ties into a strong flood tide that has long flowed through my brain. It in fact first started flowing just about 40 years ago when, at age 13, I found a paperback copy of Ernest K. Gann's Song of the Sirens stashed on the shelves of a lending library in a U.S. Army field hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. The book's cover (seen here) was so attractive I at once swiped it (the whole book, not just the cover) and quickly devoured it whole. On finishing it I at once swore to myself I would one day sail across an ocean. Fortunately (or not), I eventually kept that promise, and this had all sorts of consequences, one of which is the blog you are now reading.

To put it more succinctly: I love this book. I urge you to read it, too, for there is a very good chance you'll have the same reaction.

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Scape 39 Sport Cruiser

This is another boat I saw at the Miami show, though it wasn’t actually in the show. The owner, or an enterprising yacht broker, had anchored it right off the docks at the Sea Isle Marina with a big “For Sale” sign on it, hoping it might catch the eye of some cat-happy show-goer. I smiled when I saw it, for I know the boat well, as I helped deliver it across the South Atlantic from South Africa soon after it was first launched in 2007.

There were three of us who did the trip--myself, Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities (who acted as titular skipper), and the owner, Wayne Gallo. He had commissioned the boat’s creation after his wife announced she was no longer willing to live aboard the fat “condo cat” that had been their home for two years. An ex-motorcycle racer, Wayne decided he wanted a much lighter, more casual cruiser to replace his liveaboard boat, something that would be both somewhat habitable and a blast to sail.

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North Atlantic Plastic Patch

 

Those of you who sail and cruise in the Atlantic Ocean will probably not be pleased to learn that scientists have confirmed there is a vast patch of floating plastic debris in a band between 22 and 38 degrees north that rivals the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in size and density. Kara Lavender Law, a researcher with the Sea Education Association (SEA), shared this depressing revelation with scientists gathered at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon, earlier this week. According to Law, most of the debris picked up in surface trawl nets over the course of a 20-year SEA study consisted of fine bits of plastic up to one centimeter in size. The maximum density observed was 200,000 bits of plastic per one square kilometer.

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Sailing the e33 with Dr. Destructo

 

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Miami was getting to meet Jeremy Wurmfeld, a young, personable designer who is co-founder (with Robbie Doyle of Doyle Sails) of e Sailing Yachts. I was hoping to sail with Jeremy aboard his e33, the sweet-looking daysailer he and Robbie introduced a few years back, but at first he demurred. He'd just returned from taking a group of five neophyte show-goers out for a hair-raising spin in quite blustery conditions and wasn't anxious to head out again.

Fortunately, I spied Steve Pettengill loitering about nearby. Just the man to have aboard when conditions are dicey! I at once press-ganged him into joining us and assured Jeremy all would be fine. But as we cast off lines and nosed out of the marina, Jeremy (seen on the right above) seemed puzzled and asked who Steve (on the left) was. I might have explained about the solo round-the-world racing career, or about the time he flipped a trimaran off Cape Horn, etc., etc., but instead I cited Steve's current job title. "He's Director of Destructive Testing for Hunter Marine," I answered enthusiastically. Jeremy, to his credit, did not look (too) alarmed.

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School Ship Concordia Disaster

I'm sure a few Hollywood agents are already wrangling over the rights to this one. It's got everything needed for a blockbuster movie script: a crowd of innocent kids, some seriously mortal danger, plus a big fat happy ending. The scary part of the tale concerns the fate of the Canadian school ship Concordia, a 188-foot square-rigger with 48 high-school students aboard, that sank in a matter of minutes last Wednesday after being struck by a savage microburst 300 miles off the coast of Brazil. The miraculous part of the story is that everyone aboard--all the students, plus 16 other crew--escaped alive and was brought safely to shore.

Smack dab in the middle of this drama we find one huge unanswered question: why did it take Brazilian authorities over 24 hours to respond to Concordia's distress signal???

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Presto 30 Sharpie

 

One big bummer for sailing show-goers at Miami this year was that the sail side of the show was split between two venues. Most boats were at Sea Isle Marina next to the Venetian Causeway, but a handful of larger ones were at the old Miamarina Bayside location. To see all the sailboats you therefore had to spend a lot of time waiting in line for shuttle buses. One big bonus, however, was that there were at least four different boats at Sea Isle that were continually taking folks out sailing on Biscayne Bay. One of these was the new Presto 30 from Ryder Boats in Maine. I'd seen drawings of this modern reinterpretation of the classic shoal-draft sharpie in a number of magazines and was anxious to go for a ride.

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Slow-Motion Fuel Polishing

 

Having recently been involved in some annoying funky fuel adventures on my boat Lunacy, I was very interested in this new Parker Racor FPM-050 fuel-polishing "module" I found at the Miami show. The b lack box you see here is basically a pump that can continually pull a low volume of fuel through a Racor fuel filter when your boat is idle. Though you can also purchase a timer/controller unit that automatically turns the pump on and off at set intervals, its power draw is so low you can in fact leave it running unattended for indefinite periods of time. It seems an ideal way to keep fuel from getting wet and funky during an extended winter lay-up or when you are otherwise away from your boat for longer than you'd like to be.

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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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