Mainsheet Block Swivel: Should Have Been A Shackle?


Broken mainsheet block swivel

I have long marveled at how light some of the hardware found beneath a sailboat's mainsheet tackle can be. Here you see the decidedly fragile swivel that previously secured the bottom end of Lunacy's mainsheet tackle to her traveler car. Fortunately, I detected the fracture before the bit let go altogether and all hell broke loose. It was one of those odd distracted moments during our recent SEMOSA cruise where my eyes were wandering and noticing things that might have otherwise escaped detection. What I noticed specifically was that the angle of the bottom block on the mainsheet tackle was slightly altered. It took only a brief inspection to discover the cause.

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Lesser Antilles Cruise: Becoming Better People


Chas. Lassen aboard Lunacy

The first annual SEMOSA Winter Cruise aboard Lunacy was unfortunately cancelled due to the death of my mother, but we were able to schedule a Spring Cruise in its place. Participants included myself, Phil "Snake Wake" Cavanaugh, and Chas. "May I Cast Off Now?" Lassen (pictured above). Regrettably, Martin "The Geek" Hansmann, who had signed on for the earlier event, was unable to attend the later one.

I should explain about SEMOSA. The acronym stands for South End Men's Ocean Sailing Association, and its emblem, an S contained within the biological symbol denoting the male sex, was devised by Mr. Lassen during a passage south aboard Lunacy the year before last. In but a short period of time, the organization has become an exemplar of civic virtue and sportsmanship in the South End of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where most members reside. SEMOSA bumper stickers and flags are commonly displayed through out the neighborhood, much to the amusement of our wives, who insist the club emblem looks like a logo for a sperm bank. We hoped to capitalize on this during our cruise and displayed the club flag whenever possible, but, alas, were approached by no women soliciting donations.

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Wylie 66

Wylie 66 color art

Tom Wylie, as we all know, has long been designing and building high-performance sailboats. In the latter part of his career, he's focussed on perfecting the unstayed wishbone rig, and his line of una-rigged Wyliecats, ranging in size from 17 to 48 feet, are certainly among the most exciting alternatives to conventional Marconi-rigged boats.

The Wylie 66, one of Tom’s few dedicated cruising designs, evolved out of a purely speculative project in which he designed and started building a motor-sailing ocean-research/school vessel with a wishbone rig. Randy Repass, founder of West Marine, became a partner in the project, and financed completion of the vessel, Derek M. Baylis, which launched in 2003 and is now active in various environmental projects on the West Coast. Repass also commissioned the construction of a slightly reconfigured sistership, Convergence, launched in 2004, for he and his family to cruise on. The end result was a comfortable, spacious bluewater cruiser that is very fast under both power and sail.

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Crunching Numbers: Hull Speed & Boat Length

Sailboat moving at hull speed

Aside from its displacement, which we discussed before, another important factor to refer to when evaluating a boat is its length. We usually think first of a boat’s length overall (LOA), but when it comes to sussing out a boat’s performance potential, the more relevant measurement is actually the load waterline length (LWL). This refers to the horizontal length of a hull at the water’s surface when a boat is carrying a normal load. All other things being equal, this is the single most determinative factor in establishing how fast a boat can ultimately go.

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Estocada on the Rio Odiel: Death of an Alden Schooner

Matador gored after estocada

During much of that long night as our fine Alden schooner, Constellation, lay crippled on her side in the river, I found myself thinking of the bulls.

Tim, the first mate, and I had gone to see them at the Plaza del Toros in Puerto de Santa Maria, across the bay from Cadiz, not long after we first landed in Spain. Neither of us had ever witnessed a bullfight before, so initially we’d had trouble grasping what was happening. It seemed unfair that one bull should have to fight all those men--the picadors, the banderilleros, the haughty matador with his sword and cape--and as one animal after another slumped to the sand lathered in blood, I could not help but feel that their deaths were cruel and meaningless.

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Allied Princess 36

Allied Princess 36 at anchor

The Princess 36, built by the long defunct Allied Boat Company up the Hudson River in Catskill, New York, is a robust character ketch that does not pretend to be anything other than a simple, comfortable cruising boat. In truth, it is a boat only a cruiser could love. Designed by Arthur Edmunds and first introduced in 1972, the Princess enjoyed a 10-year production run during which about 140 hulls were built, which likely makes it the most successful boat produced by Allied during its 22 years of existence (1962-84).

Of all the boats Allied built--including the Luders 33, sailed by the famous boy-cruiser Robin Lee Graham; the Seawind 30, first fiberglass boat to circumnavigate; and the Seabreeze 35, a very handy CCA cruiser-racer--the Princess is the one that still commands the most loyal following among modern cruising sailors.

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Catalina 445: Best Aft Cabin on Earth

Catalina 445 aft cabin

There's a lot to admire in Catalina's new 445, and it's little wonder it won both SAIL's Best Boats and Cruising World's Boat of the Year competitions at the Annapolis show last fall. What I like best is the so-called utility cabin in the aft port quarter. I have often bemoaned the current accommodations status quo, wherein aft cabins are invariably equipped with double berths, and have longed to see more useful layouts with twin over-and-under single berths that can be used by kids. Catalina's Gerry Douglas must have heard me moaning, because the 445's port aft cabin is exactly what any modern cruising boat really needs, IMHO. It truly is a Swiss army knife of a space. It can be quickly converted from a guest cabin, with either a full double berth or over-and-under singles, to a storage/utility space with a dedicated work bench. Even better, the overhead gull-wing cockpit seat hatch opens directly into the stateroom, providing super ventilation (which is very rare in aft cabins) and full access to the cabin's interior from above.

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  • Boats & Gear

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

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