Too Much Teen Spirit?


So now the fat is in the fire. We have two pubescent girls on the loose bound non-stop around the globe via Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean with all the world watching and cheering them on. Abby Sunderland, age 16 (in the photo above), departed Marina del Rey in Los Angeles on Saturday, and as I write is west of Ensenada heading south down the Mexican coast. Meanwhile, her rival, Jessica Watson, also 16, of Queensland, Australia, who already cleared Cape Horn on January 13, suffered multiple knockdowns over the weekend while riding out a 70-knot gale. During the worst of these her boat, an S&S 34 called Ella's Pink Lady, was reportedly inverted at a 180-degree angle. Jessica's EPIRB was ignited, though not intentionally, and both she and her boat are purportedly in good shape.

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The Zen of DIY

One thing I learned early on in my bluewater sailing career is that there are, in fact, just two sorts of bluewater sailors: there are poets, who become engineers in spite of themselves, and there are engineers, who become poets in spite of themsel ves.

I count myself among the former. From the very beginning, one of the things that most attracted me to sailing was the simplicity and elegance of its apparatus. When we were boys, my brother could amuse himself--and confound me--by tinkering with the innards of such things as lawn mowers and outboard engines. Meanwhile I prided myself on being able to get a boat to move with just some sticks, rope, and canvas. To me this was beautiful. It wasn’t until much later, while pursuing the dreamy poet’s ambition of sailing across an ocean, that I realized how complicated sailboats could be.

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The Subject Was Winches



While discussing the care and feeding of Lunacy's winch menagerie last week I neglected to mention that both Harken and Holmatro have recently introduced new winches that are markedly different from what has come before. Both companies have attempted to "reinvent" the modern sailing winch. Though their products seem quite similar, there are in fact some subtle but important distinctions between them.

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Global Plumbing


Here's an oceanic news flash from the realm of geoscience: the Bering Strait is a valve that can play an important role in global climate trends. Open the valve (its current position; see photo) and the northern hemisphere tends to get cooler. Close the valve and it tends to get warmer.

No, this intriguing bit of climatological wisdom will not prove useful next time you have to dismantle your marine toilet...

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Surfing Cat in Oz


This is a Perry 43 catamaran named Saltonay coming in over the bar at the Southport Seaway entrance to Queensland's Gold Coast in Australia. If you watch the whole video you'll see these guys had one hell of an exciting ride.

Bulletin boards on the net have been crackling with critiques of the skipper's seamanship. Having studied the situation a bit, I've come to the conclusion he knew what he was doing, though I'm not sure I would have done the same thing in his position.

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Golden Globe Revisited


And just what was I reading while cruising aboard Lunacy during the holidays? A book about sailing, of course. I gobbled this one up in no time and can recommend it highly to sailors and non-sailors alike.

But first a threshold question: do we REALLY need another book about the 1968-69 Golden Globe Race???

Apparently we do. I've read a great deal about the race over the years, but still I learned a lot from this book. For example... did you know that Nigel Tetley died wearing women's underwear???

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A Trio of Winches


One of the things I did before sailing Lunacy down to the W'Indies for the winter was service all the winches onboard. I had been putting this off for years, but when the primaries in the cockpit started screaming at me whenever I trimmed the jib late last summer, I figured the time had come. I am not normally intimidated by winches. But in this case I was a bit, because Lunacy carries three different types, two of which seemed potentially troublesome.

Here you can see all three species lined up in a row in the cockpit. The winch on the right, a two-speed Andersen, is fairly common these days. The one in the middle is an antique three-speed Lewmar I think dates back to the early 1970s. Perversely, though they are the most powerful winches onboard, I use my two big Lewmars as secondaries to trim my staysail and sometimes the asymmetric spinnaker, primarily because they are not self-tailing. I think of them as my "kedging" winches, though I've never had to use them as such. They are so antique that conventional winch handles don't fit them. As you can see I do have one antique Lewmar handle that does fit them, and I live in constant fear of losing it. The winch on the left is an Enkes winch, manufactured in Holland, which I had never heard of before buying Lunacy. In addition to this one mainsheet winch you see here, there are three other Enkes winches forward on the mast for handling halyards and reefing lines.

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Golden Hind 31

Though not well known here in the U.S., the Golden Hind 31 is an iconic boat in Great Britain. I bought one in Maine over 10 years ago, cruised it on the coast there for several seasons, and developed great respect for it. Conceived as a shoal-draft bilge-keel cruiser for gunkholing the tidal creeks and swatchways of East Anglia, it is also a proven bluewater boat. For many years it was said to hold the record for most transatlantic crossings by a production sailboat and at least one has been around Cape Horn.

Though it does have its quirks, the Golden Hind is extremely versatile. With less than four feet of draft it can sail into all kinds of nooks and crannies where other boats dare not venture, a feature I found very useful when exploring Penobscot Bay and environs. Thanks to its bilge keels, it stands up straight when aground and can be anchored with impunity in areas that dry out at low tide, which is very helpful when you're looking for a parking place in a crowded harbor. Add to this the ability to cross oceans, and the Golden Hind makes for a unique package, particularly for a small boat exhibiting a great deal of traditional charm and character.

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  • 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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