Boats & Gear

PEARSON ALBERG 35: Real Cheap On Craigslist

Pearson Alberg 35

I HAVEN'T SEEN this boat in person, but from the photos on this Craigslist listing it looks to be in very good condition... and the asking price is just $11K! She's got recent Awlgrip on her topsides, a recently rebuilt freshwater-cooled Atomic-4 engine, a new water tank, a new prop, and a new stuffing box. Looks like an excellent deal for an offshore-capable boat.

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TAG 60: Deluxe Performance Cruising Catamaran

Tag 60 bow on

THIS IS ONE BOAT that really jumped out at me when I was cruising the docks at the Strictly Sail portion of the Miami International Boat Show after doing my bit judging the NMMA Innovation Awards. I first spotted it bow on (see photo up top) and immediately noticed its narrow hulls, high bridgedeck clearance, and super-long bowsprit--everything you want to see in a truly aggressive cruising cat. But it wasn't until I snuck up on the beast from behind that its most distinctive features became apparent.

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MIAMI BOAT SHOW: 2013 NMMA Innovation Awards

NMMA judges

I'M JUST BACK from SoBe, where I served this week as a volunteer on the NMMA Innovation Awards judging panel. My fellow judges and I, led by Der Panel Fuehrer Zuzana Prochazka, first spent two days dodging forklifts and golf carts as we ran around interrogating innocent flacks and techs who were trying to set up for the Miami International Boat Show. We then retired to our Situation Room (see photo up top) high above the floor of the Miami Beach Convention Center and cast tea leaves and chicken entrails to select the show's most innovative new products and boats.

I found it to be a gratifying experience. I got to hang out in Miami Beach in February, I got to hob-nob with fellow boating scribes, plus I got to peek into corners of the industry we sailors normally don't think about. Example: this year I learned that the late-breaking trend in the powerboat world is called "coving." Evidently, it's a revolutionary concept: instead of running around burning expensive fuel all day, you head straight to some scenic cove, drop anchor, and hang out for a while.

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Sailrocket unloaded

I WAS BUSY messing around with my own boat back in November, so failed to note the fantastic achievement of Paul Larsen, who finally, after 11 years of work, succeeded in smashing the world sailing speed record in Vestas Sailrocket 2. By now everyone knows the number: 65.45 knots. That was Sailrocket's average speed over a 500-meter course on Walvis Bay in Namibia on November 24 in 25 knots of wind. Almost 10 knots faster than the previous record (55.65 knots on a kiteboard), the biggest single leap forward in the history of speed sailing... and Larsen claims he is confident that Sailrocket, in her current configuration, can easily top 70 knots.

So how does this weird-looking vessel manage to go so fast? Everyone has seen pictures of it, but I don't think too many people understand much about how the boat actually works.

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Metal boat construction

METAL HAS BEEN USED to build ships for about 160 years, and very large metal yachts were being built as early as the late 19th century. In 1895, for example, Nat Herreshoff designed and constructed a radical 123-foot composite metal sloop, Defender, to defend the America's Cup. She was built of aluminum, bronze, and steel and within six years was so debilitated by galvanic corrosion she had to be broken up.

It wasn't until the 1960s (except for some boats built in Holland, where steel has long been a favored material) that metal was used to build sailboats of more moderate size. Bernard Moitessier, an early pioneer, commissioned the construction of his 40-foot steel ketch Joshua in 1961. By the middle of the decade, aluminum was also being used to build both racing and cruising boats. By the mid-1970s, aluminum was the favored construction material in America's Cup 12-meter boats (the first was Courageous, built in 1974) and remained so until the mid-1980s.

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WOOD BOAT CONSTRUCTION: Practical and Traditional

Wood boat hull

HUMANS HAVE BEEN building boats out of wood for many thousands of years. Many assume therefore it must now be obsolete. Wood certainly does not lend itself to mass production the way fiberglass does, though there were a few builders who manufactured wood boats on something like a production basis not long before the advent of glass. Wood does have some distinct virtues. It is light, even compared to modern building materials, and in terms of tensile strength is stronger per pound than common electrical-grade fiberglass. In terms of stiffness, it is stronger per pound than S glass, E-glass, and Kevlar. In terms of its total structural efficiency, it is better than all of these materials, including carbon fiber.

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ARC 2012: Homemade Open 60

My Way 60 galley

Belay earlier transmission. Or part of it anyway. That "old Open 60" I pointed out in my last post, I learned yesterday is actually a new Open 60. Or nearly new. Turns out it was first launched in 2010 and was both designed and constructed by its owner, Michele Cassano (see photo up top), who spent eight years of his life working it on Italy's Adriatic coast. Step aboard and you'll find the finish quality is indeed a bit agricultural, but still it is a very impressive achievement.

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ARC 2012: Rodney Bay Dock Walk

Pogo 50

I'm on the ARC beat in St. Lucia again this week, chilling with my SAILfeed compadres Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson and stalking the pontoons checking out all the peeps and boats that coagulate here in Rodney Bay as the world's biggest bluewater cruising rally comes to an end. It was a rougher ride than usual through the trades from the Canaries to the W'Indies this year, but spirits are high and the energy, as always, is very positive.

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CATALINA 42: A Modern Classic

Catalina 42

The Catalina 42 was introduced in 1989 and was one of the first mass-produced American boats to feature both a sugar-scoop transom with a swim platform and a three-stateroom layout with two aft cabins under the cockpit. It was very much a response to similar boats that first appeared in Europe in the mid-1980s, but unlike its contemporaries it stayed in production for over 20 years. Over 1,000 were built, making it one of the most successful cruising sailboats of its size ever created.

Boats like this have long dominated the mass-production market, but what distinguishes the Catalina 42 from more modern boats is its moderation. Where many contemporary mass-production boats now have rather exaggerated shapes to maximize interior volume, the Catalina 42 has a much more balanced form. Its bow is well raked and has a clean entry, but its waterline is not too short. Its beam is carried well aft, but not excessively so, and tapers quite a bit at the transom, so the boat does not gripe too much sailing hard to windward. Freeboard is not too high, the coachroof lines are crisp, and the boat has very clean, handsome profile.

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