FWI With An All-Girl Crew

 

I am pleased to report that this year's post X-mas cruise in the French West Indies with wife Clare and daughters Lucy and Una was much more successful than last year's. Indeed, last year there really was no such cruise. This was because a) Ehouarn, a shaggy French diesel mechanic who looked something like an Ewok, unfortunately failed to repair Lunacy's engine in a timely fashion; and b) the famous Caribbean Christmas winds were so strong that the entrance to Oyster Pond, where Lunacy was docked, was darn near impenetrable. We ended up noodling around St. Martin, doing the landbound tourist thing, and used the boat only as a hotel room.

This year the wind was unusually light, and though we had to rely on Lunacy's new engine to get around a bit more than I would have liked, we roamed the waters betwixt St. Martin and St. Barts with impunity. The girls got in lots of swim time, us big folk got in lots of down time, the suntan lotion flowed like honey, and I even got to check out a couple of places I had never been before.

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Some Catching Up To Do

 

Happy New Year, sports fans. I'm just back from a post-Xmas family cruise on Lunacy down in the W'Indies, of which more later, but today I wanted to give you some quick updates on three evolving stories we were following back there in the tail end of 2009.

First up the Cup. Ernie Bertarelli has fortunately succeeded in getting his boat Alinghi 5 to Valencia for next month's America's Cup showdown. No information yet on how he managed to smooth things over in RAK, but presumably some species of time-consuming negotiation was involved. RAK, after all, is much closer to Valencia than San Diego, and in the end the two super-sized AC multihulls arrived on their respective freighters within hours of each other this past Sunday.

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The Legend of Plumbelly

 

This, my friends, is a small boat with a very large reputation. The reason I'm blogging about her right now is that she happens to be for sale. Unfortunately, I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, but for a certain sort of sailor--you must be young, footloose, and maybe just a little bit crazy--this represents the opportunity of a lifetime.

I first met Plumbelly many years ago while passing through Bermuda, and the sight of her lying against the wall at Ordinance Island stopped me dead in my tracks. This is not an unusual reaction. I don't know if mere photography can convey just how charismatic this little vessel is, but if ever you see her in the flesh--and flesh is indeed the word for it, as there is nothing plastic about her--you will at once be lost in mad fantasies of micro-gaffer ocean voyaging.

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Butterfly Boat

 

Gather round boys and girls and have a gander at what Santa did not bring me for Christmas this year. One big reason for this is that this boat does not yet exist. Indeed, it may never exist. The yacht Ankida, near as I can tell, is merely a concept, a fanciful g leam in the eye of a designer named Alexander Isaac, who works with Lila-Lou, a design "studio" based in both London and Switzerland. Mr. Isaac has not deigned to return my telephone calls, so I can offer no intelligence on whether this thing actually has a snowball in hell's chance of ever getting built, but I can say this:

Wowza!!! This is an entirely different approach to rigging a sailboat.

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Yachts of Titan

 

NASA's Cassini probe, currently in orbit around the planet Saturn, has in recent years confirmed that there are large liquid lakes of methane, ethane, and propane on the s urface of Saturn's moon Titan. (The radar image seen here was gathered by Cassini in July 2006.) Titan also has a dense atmosphere, which, believe it or not, makes it more like Earth than any other planetary body we know of. Might it make a decent cruising ground? One group of scientists, led by Dr. Ellen Stofan of Proxemy Research, is dying to find out. Last week at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Stofan presented details of her proposal to land a boat on one of Titan's largest methane lakes, known as Ligeia Mare, which is believed to be about the size of the Caspian Sea.

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Cook Strait Knockdown

Lots of cruising sailors maintain blogs about their voyages and adventures. One of the best I'm aware of is written by Antonia Murphy, who sails aboard Sereia, a 36-foot Mariner ketch, with her husband Peter and toddler son Silas. They've been in New Zealand for some time, and here you see them recovering from a knockdown they recently suffered in Cook Strait. Antonia's detailed account of the event, which she just published today, is amazing! I urge you to read it and explore their past adventures in detail. At the end of her most recent post, Antonia has announced they now plan to abandon ship and explore New Zealand by van, but I'm sure her posts from shore will be as lively as ever.

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Teen Sailor Busted

 

Theory has it that publicizing teen suicides just encourages more kids to off themselves. So I've been a good little blogger and have kept my laptop shut about this neverending kids-who-want-to-sail-around-the-world-alone-and-break-a-record story. But this past weekend the whole phenomenon went beyond weird when the youngest and most enigmatic of the current trio of contenders, Laura Dekker, age 14, escaped from the watchful eye of the Dutch government, which effectively had her under house arrest, and lit out for St. Maarten.

By plane, that is. The rather small boat, a 26-foot sloop named Guppy, that she would like to sail around the world solo is still sitting on its mooring in the Netherlands. Apparently Laura went missing last Friday, an international APB was issued, someone spotted her yesterday in SXM, and now she has been detained and is being sent home under a police escort.

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Labrador Cruise Circa 1925

 

I've just finished re-reading this gem of a book, and this has only reaffirmed my belief that it is one the very best cruising tales ever published. The author, Desmond Holdridge, is utterly obscure and long forgotten, but he was a great wordsmith and adventurer in his day. This account is of a cruise he made in the mid-1920s when he was but 18 years old. In a converted 30-foot potato lugger with minimal accommodations and minimal gear Holdridge dared to sail the entire length of the Labrador coast from Newfoundland to the Button Islands and back again in one season. His crew, two older, much more experienced men, bitterly resented his authority over them, but he ultimately succeeded both in commanding their respect and in reaching his objective.

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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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