For Whom The Bait Trolls

A lot of bluewater sailors I know complain that they never catch fish while on passage. Once upon a time I had this same problem, but since perfecting my technique I've never once been skunked on a passage during which I have tried to catch a fish. It's really not very hard and is great way to vary your diet at sea.

Some veggie-lantes I know do like to argue that it is immoral to catch and eat fish. But the way I see it you have to look at things from the fish's perspective. A fish that is bigger than you normally will not hesitate to eat you if it is hungry. But it also probably won't kill you for sport and prominently display your remains in its home. Thus, rule number one in my guide to ethical fishing: Never kill a fish for fun.

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Let's Have a Tea Party for Loran

While celebrating the start of America's Cup racing come Monday don't forget to shed a tear and hoist a cold one for our old friend Loran, which is scheduled to get shut down the same day. For you Sarah Palin fans who like to rail against the idiocy of the federal government, this should make an excellent talking point. Having spent $160 million over the past 10 years to upgrade Loran to "enhanced" eLoran status so it can serve as an effective back-up for the GPS system, the government will now flush that money down the toilet, in spite of the fact that shutting down the Loran system will probably cost more than finishing the upgrade.

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America's Cup Predictions


Get ready to set your alarm clocks, sports fans. The good news is you will (finally!) be able to watch Race One of the Great AC Showdown live via the Internet at next Monday. The bad news is you'll have to get up at 0-dark-hundred (3:45 a.m.) to do it. If you're too lazy to manage this, I'll save you some trouble and make a bold prediction: Larry is going to take Ernie down in two straight races.

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Island of the Tripping Squirrels


On returning from a solo cruise to Mt. Desert Island in Maine some years ago, I stopped and anchored for the evening next to an uninhabited islet off the northwest corner of Swans Island. (At least I thought it was uninhabited...)

The sun was already low in the western sky, with (perhaps...) just enough daylight left for an expedition ashore. The tiny island beckoned to me. I hurried through my chores--rigged a snubber line on the rode, snugged the sails down for the night--then jumped in my tender and pulled for a thin stone strand I could see at the foot of the low cliff that ringed the island's shore.

Facing the anchorage there was a shallow ravine that cut through the cliff, up which I scrambled once I shipped my oars and secured the tender. At the top of the ravine I found a well-worn trail leading inland. And just a few yards down that trail I found a doorway standing alone at the edge of the forest that stretched across the middle of the island.

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Used Diesel Engine For Sale


I made an offhand offer to sell my old engine back when I wrote up the installation of Lunacy's new engine, but now I'm getting serious. I'll be listing the engine for sale with Trans Atlantic Diesels, Inc., but will happily sell the beast to any interested WaveTrain riders.

The beast in question is a Lister-Petter LPWS4 4-cylinder marine diesel, rated at 40hp @ 3,000 RPM, serial number 4000021LPWS4A-42. It comes with a Hurst transmission, HBW150-2R, serial number 1746267 (not pictured here, but I assure you it does exist). The engine was built in 1991 and has approximately 3,500 hours on it. As I described in my earlier post, I thought the engine had fuel issues, but it turned out it didn't. It does leak oil and could use a rebuild, but you might be able to put it into service as is.

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That Crazy Italian Guy

I first met Alessandro di Benedetto on a dock in November 1992 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, as we were both preparing to sail across the North Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to America. I was crewing on an Australian-owned Taswell 56 called Antipodes that was enrolled with 145 other yachts in Jimmy Cornell's America 500 rally. Alessandro planned to cross with his father on a 18-foot Hobie Cat called United States of the World.

As I remember, Alessandro was the quiet one; his father, Federico, was the voluble, talkative one. They roamed the docks where all the rally boats were tied up handing out photocopies of a letter they had sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations. In the letter they explained that the purpose of their voyage was to help establish a new democratic international order based on economic justice and environmental responsibility. Not surprisingly, they were often referred to casually as "those crazy Italian guys."

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Strange Sand In My Water Tanks


While sailing Lunacy south in the fall of '08 my crew and I noticed there was some white sandy grit in the fresh water running out the taps when the boat was sailing in rough weather. The operative theory at the time was that this crud was just what it appeared to be: sand. We reckoned at some point in the boat's long cruising career (including a westabout circumnavigation), some sandy water had been taken aboard in some remote tropical port, and that the sand had settled to the bottom of the tank, where it sometimes it gets stirred up when things are bouncy onboard.

Before bringing Lunacy south again last fall, I decided to open up all three water tanks and hopefully remove the sand. Cracking open the fuel tank (which had been part of the summer's ongoing engine drama) had been a major production, as some joinery first had to be removed to access the inspection plate. But opening the water tanks was easy. The inspection plates are under the settees and nav seat in the main saloon, with access hatches right over them.

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Windvane Variations


I am a huge fan of self-steering windvanes. They work extremely well, are perfectly energy efficient (i.e., they draw ZERO power), and are easy to service and maintain. They truly are as simple as bicycles, and as you may have gathered from my recent Zen of DIY post I like simple gear. I also like bicycles.

Windvanes aren't nearly as popular as they used to be, primarily because electronic autopilots are now reasonably reliable, surprisingly energy efficient, and amazingly versatile. Back in the day, when I first started ocean sailing, this was not the case. I gained a lot of valuable experience steering in big waves when I was crewing around on other people's boats precisely because every time I went sailing the autopilot on whatever boat I was on always broke. Once I crewed on a boat with two autopilots, and they both broke. Consequently, the first thing I did when I bought Crazy Horse and prepped her to go offshore was remove her autopilot. I replaced it with a Monitor servo-pendulum windvane that never gave me a lick of trouble during two-plus years of wandering the North Atlantic.

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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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