Boats & Gear

CRUISING SAILBOAT GROUND TACKLE: Chain Versus Rope Rode

Anchoring

Many cruisers believe an all-chain anchor rode is always superior to rope rode. Chain is stronger and much more chafe resistant than rope, but you can still do some serious anchoring on rope alone. With rope you do need to be more security conscious and must always check for chafe. If there is coral on the bottom, this means diving on the rode on a regular basis. You should also be much quicker to set a second anchor, not only as insurance when conditions get strong, but also to keep your boat from swinging around too much.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

Jeanneau 64 cockpit

My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Dragonfly 25 and Oyster 475

Jens Quorning

Pardon me a moment while I step into the Not So Wayback Machine and dial into the middle of last month, post boat show in Annapolis, when I was doing my routine round sampling new boats under sail. Subject number one this year was the new Dragonfly 25 trimaran, which I sailed with Jens Quorning (see photo up top) of Quorning Boats in a typically light 6-10 knot breeze on Chesapeake Bay.

You think of course a trimaran should be fast, but speed is a relative concept. It seems bottom line on this little hot rod is that in light-to-very-moderate conditions like we had you’ll usually be sailing at wind speed, which is pretty damn good for a boat just 25 feet long. Problem is it doesn’t seem so fast when you know the boat is capable of so much more. In this case, Jens informs me the top speed they’ve seen on this little 25 is a skosh over 20 knots in very strong conditions. Fifteen knots is common in moderate-to-strong wind.

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2015 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Surviving Day One

Harken intro

Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.

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HOBIE MIRAGE TANDEM ISLAND: Not Your Mama's Pool Toy

Tandem Island

Now this was a fun assignment! I’ve had a few glancing encounters over the years with Hobie’s roto-molded Mirage Drive kayaks and even sailed one once for a few minutes, but never before had I been asked to officially test-sail one. This took place courtesy of Fay’s Boat Yard on Lake Winnipesaukee a couple of weeks ago. I know what you’re thinking, that these things are just glorified pool toys, but really I was impressed by how well engineered this little vessel is.

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2015 NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW: More Euro Invaders and Some Cool American Boats As Well

Euphoria

Walking the docks at Newport last week I couldn’t help noticing that the seemingly never-ending invasion of Euro boats into the American market continues apace. Two new brands in evidence this year were Euphoria and Azuree, both of which are creatures of Sirena Marine, a Turkish builder that previously did contract work for others (most notably building powerboats for Azimut) and a few years ago struck out on its own. Yes, I know most of Turkey is not in Europe, but still, the Euphoria 54 (see photo up top), designed by German Frers, reads as a sleek luxury performance cruiser in the best Euro style.

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BELLA LUNA: New Alerion-based Daysailer From French & Webb and Chuck Paine

F&W Alerion

Boat-testing season is upon me again, and what better way to start it than by spending a day with Art Paine (sailor-artist-journo twin brother to designer Chuck Paine) and Todd French (from the Belfast-based boatbuilder in midcoast Maine) loitering about the waters off Southwest Harbor in this fabulous boat. The original Alerion, a daysailer designed by Nat Herreshoff for his own use back in 1912, is perhaps one of the most iconic classic small boats ever created. One modern builder has seen fit to hijack the name for its own line of high-end retro-style boats, boats faithful to the original design are still built from time to time, and a few variations have been assayed over the years.

This particular variation has especially serendipitous origins. These begin with a knowledgeable private owner, Michael Rindler, who came to French & Webb seeking an Alerion-style daysailer in cold-molded wood, but stiffer and less hard-mouthed than the original keel-centerboard boat, with a round cockpit coaming aft. French & Webb brought in Chuck Paine to fiddle with the hull shape, underbody, and rig (Rindler quickly rejected a fin-keel variation and insisted on a full keel), while the interior and the deck with its elegant cockpit-and-cabinhouse oval footprint were designed in-house by eye as French & Webb actually built the boat. The result is one of the smoothest sailing and steering boats you’re likely to ever meet, combined with a sweet organic built-by-eye aesthetic.

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THE PERFECT DINGHY: Does It Exist?

OCT in action

I’ve been studying the specs on this new Offshore Cruising Tender (see image above), which was developed by Russell and Karin Carlyon, a Kiwi cruising couple who evidently often found themselves pining for a better dinghy during their 7-year circumnavigation. We can only presume this represents their idea of “the perfect dinghy,” which is, of course, a highly subjective concept. After studying their website I’d guess their goal here was to create a dink with most of the attributes of an RIB tender, only more rugged and durable.

It certainly has a distinctive look, and for a hard tender it is remarkably light, just 92 pounds. Construction is relatively exotic--carbon-reinforced glass with Kevlar abrasion pads over a 10mm PVC foam core--yet the Carlyons claim the boat is easily repaired. There’s also a big closed-cell foam bumper encased in Sunbrella running all the way around the hull. Their most remarkable claim is that the boat will plane when powered by a 3hp outboard.

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MODERN CRUISING SAILS: Sail Construction and Materials

Under sail

To function as a proper airfoil a modern Marconi sail must present a curved surface to the wind. To the casual eye a sail may look like a flat two-dimensional piece of cloth, but in fact it has a very specific curved shape built into it. This shape is carefully engineered, depending on what sort of sail it is and how it will be used.

To turn a piece of flat fabric into a curved foil, the fabric must be cut into panels and stitched back together again. By cutting a convex curve along one edge of a panel and stitching it to a straight edge on an adjacent panel, a process is called broadseaming, a unitary curved surface is created once all the panels are joined together. Where the edge of a sail will be attached to a straight spar, as with a mainsail bent onto a mast and boom, shape can also be created by cutting a convex curve along that edge. This is called edge-shaping and is not commonly used these days.

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