Boats & Gear

METAL BOAT CONSTRUCTION: Strong As Hell

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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TANDEM ANCHOR SYSTEM: An Anchor Within An Anchor

Tandem Anchor illo

This new anchoring system, developed by Peter Weber in Slovenia, was formally introduced at the METS (Marine Equipment Trade Show) extravaganza in Amsterdam this month, where it was nominated for a DAME Award, and was also on our shortlist at SAIL when we put our heads together this week to pick winners for the 2013 Freeman K. Pittman Innovation Awards. It is a fascinating concept. The drawing up top gives a clear idea of the basic principle: a pair of anchors that can be deployed together on a single chain rode, designed so that one can nest inside the other when stowed.

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2012 ANNAPOLIS CATAMARAN TESTS: Leopard 58 and Fountaine Pajot Sanya 57

Leopard 58

Both the cats I tested after the Annapolis show this year are super-sized production boats designed mostly to serve in the charter trade. The Leopard 58, a.k.a. the Moorings 5800, is the more extreme example of this species, fully three stories tall, topped with an enormous covered flybridge on which it is possible to entertain and feed a dozen or more people while simultaneously driving the boat.

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2012 ANNAPOLIS MONOHULL TESTS: Hunter 40 and Zen 24

Mark Pillsbury

After departing the Annapolis show on Sunday morning, I returned to Annapolis Tuesday morning to test-sail boats with my colleague and partner-in-crime Adam Cort from SAIL magazine. We each got in four boats in less than 48 hours, which, believe it or not, is a semi-easy schedule when it comes to post-show testing. On one of the two monohulls I sailed, the new Hunter 40, I shared a test with Cruising World's editor-in-chief Mark Pillsbury, thus continuing the bilateral cooperation initiated by Elaine Lembo and I this past summer. Mark didn't want to cooperate for too long, however, and hopped off the boat about 15 minutes into the sail. In that photo up there you can see the mysterious black RIB that swooped in to steal him away from us.

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LAGOON 380: An Entry-Level Cruising Cat

Lagoon 380

The Lagoon 380 is not the smallest Lagoon catamaran ever built--both the Lagoon 37, its immediate predecessor, and the Lagoon 35CCC were smaller--but it is the smallest Lagoon currently built and one of the smallest dedicated cruising cats that succeeds in combining both reasonable performance and a "big cat" accommodation plan in a single package. It is a carefully balanced exercise in moderation. Designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost and first introduced in 2000, the Lagoon 380 is intended to serve both as a charter fleet workhorse (it is co-branded as the Moorings Lagoon 380) and as a serious entry-level cruising cat for private owners. Several hundred of these boats have been built over the years, and it is probably the most successful contemporary cruising cat currently on the market.

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