Boats & Gear

VINEYARD VIXEN 29: A Special Friend For Sale on Narragansett Bay

Ave Marina

I’ve recently received word from Tim Murphy--my ex-shipmate, ex-roommate, and ex-co-worker (from my brief tenure at Cruising World magazine), that he is selling his 1974 Vineyard Vixen 29. I am quite familiar with this boat, named Ave Marina, as I helped Tim sail her from Rumery’s Boat Yard in Biddeford, Maine, after he refit her there round about 1998, down to Newport, where we were both living at the time. It was one of the most memorable short deliveries I’ve ever made, a proper odyssey in miniature.

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FOILING MONOHULLS: Flying Minis and the New Figaro 3

Flying 747

Here’s a photo that raised a few eyebrows a couple of weeks ago: David Raison’s famous 747 Mini 6.50 Prototype, the first scow-bowed Mini, pulling another first as it goes airborne flying on a foil. Makes you wonder what this year’s Mini Transat is going to be like, as I’m hearing rumors there are at least three Minis currently undergoing foil conversions. This 747 experiment is being conducted by SEAir, a French company that specializes in engineering and manufacturing hydrofoils, and they tell me it is just that, an experiment, and they do not plan to campaign the boat.

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USED BOREAL 44 FOR SALE: RC Louise Is Up For Grabs!

RC afloat

The primary reason I ordered a new Boreal rather than just buying a used one is that used ones very rarely come on the market. In fact, I’ve never seen one listed, until now. I met Steve and Tracy, owners of RC Louise, a Boreal 44, through a series of coincidences last summer and managed to lure them to my home in Portsmouth by shooting them an e-mail as they were sailing down the coast from Maine. We had a fine visit and I learned many useful things from them. Later I coincidentally ran into them again after sailing old Lunacy down to Annapolis to be sold. They have recently announced they are reluctantly selling RC Louise, which is now available for viewing, also in Annapolis. If you are interested in these boats you should definitely check her out. You are very unlikely to see another available in the U.S., or anywhere, anytime soon.

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FOLDING RIB DINGHY: The Best of Both Worlds in an Inflatable Tender?

FRIB 265

We have discussed dinghies before, in a global sense, and I’ve also made it known that I personally prefer roll-up inflatables, primarily because they are easy to stow. But I’m always on the look-out for a better tender, so I spent a little time checking out these new F-RIB boats that were on display in Annapolis in the fall. They struck me as well built, neatly engineered, with impressive specs and pricing. The smallest boat in the range is 9 feet (see image up top), which is the size I always go for, and it weighs just 79 pounds and sells for $2,995.

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2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Xquisite X5, Solaris 50

X5 stern

Day two of my test-sailing regimen on Chesapeake Bay earlier this month involved just two boats, both a good deal larger (50-footers) than the three I sailed on day one. The wind forecast, lamentably, was for even lighter conditions overall than the day before. This worried me a bit, particularly with respect to my first ride, the impressive X5 cruising catamaran on which I bloviated at some length in my post on the Annapolis show. We approached her via water taxi in the morning as she lay at anchor off the Naval Academy (see image up top), and I noted with dismay the mostly unruffled water on which she floated.

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2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Allures 39.9, Seawind 1190 Sport, Fareast 23R

Allures cockpit

I had a full dance card my first day testing boats last week after the show closed down, and as often happens on Chesapeake Bay, even in the fall, the forecast was for increasingly light conditions through the day and on into the next. Fortunately, the boats I was sailing also got increasingly lighter as the day wore on, starting with the Allures 39.9, a nice aluminum centerboard cruiser from France. I enjoyed an excellent sail in 9-12 knots of breeze with these prospective buyers (seen here enjoying the comfy cockpit with high-backed coamings) as well as Pete McGonagle from Swiftsure Yachts (they represent Allures in the U.S.) and one Brian, the boat’s owner.

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2016 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Odds and Ends and Just Plain Odd

X5 catamaran

I knew this would be an amusing show when I quickly deduced that this unlikely looking vessel, the new Exquisite X5 catamaran from South Africa, would likely prove one of the more interesting vessels on site. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking. I have sometimes complained, in a condescending tone, of how many modern powerboats are designed to look like running shoes, and here we have a sailboat that clearly falls into that same category. But really, I swear, this is a very cool boat.

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2016 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: The Resurrection of Gunboat and Other Developments

Xavier Desmarest

I can say without doubt the most interesting conversation I had while cruising the docks at Newport on Thursday was with this man, Xavier Desmarest, one of the principals of Grand Large Yachting, seen here closing his eyes and tapping his toes and wishing perhaps he were back in Kansas, or France, as the case may be. Grand Large, you’ll recall, is the French firm that recently purchased the bankrupted remains of Gunboat at auction. And to give you an idea of what a quirky guy Xavier can be: immediately after I snapped this shot he popped open his eyes and asked if he should take his clothes off. Which started a whole riff between us on whether there might be a market for a photo calendar filled with month-by-month shots of naked boatbuilders, kind of like the old Pirelli calendar, only weirder.

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CATANA 58: A Luxury Cruising Cat With Speed Potential

Catana 58

This is a high-end performance cruising catamaran from France that tries to split the difference between high-speed sailing and posh liveaboard comfort. The design by Christophe Barreau includes all the important features that keep cats sailing their best--narrow hulls, high bridgedeck clearance, very little solid structure forward of the mast, plus high-aspect daggerboards instead of low-aspect keels.

The boat’s construction is also pretty high-tech, with an emphasis on lightweight strength. The hull and deck are fiberglass laminate set in vinylester resin vacuum-bagged over a Divinycell PVC foam core. The hull has an inner skin of Twaron aramid fabric laminated over the core to increase stiffness and impact resistance. The deck joint is bonded then glassed over to form a monocoque structure. The only solid laminate is in areas where hardware is mounted. All furniture components and floor sections are also cored with Divinycell foam; the internal bulkheads--21 in all--are laid up with Nida-Core honeycomb coring.

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