Lit Bits

Cook Strait Knockdown

Lots of cruising sailors maintain blogs about their voyages and adventures. One of the best I'm aware of is written by Antonia Murphy, who sails aboard Sereia, a 36-foot Mariner ketch, with her husband Peter and toddler son Silas. They've been in New Zealand for some time, and here you see them recovering from a knockdown they recently suffered in Cook Strait. Antonia's detailed account of the event, which she just published today, is amazing! I urge you to read it and explore their past adventures in detail. At the end of her most recent post, Antonia has announced they now plan to abandon ship and explore New Zealand by van, but I'm sure her posts from shore will be as lively as ever.

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Labrador Cruise Circa 1925

 

I've just finished re-reading this gem of a book, and this has only reaffirmed my belief that it is one the very best cruising tales ever published. The author, Desmond Holdridge, is utterly obscure and long forgotten, but he was a great wordsmith and adventurer in his day. This account is of a cruise he made in the mid-1920s when he was but 18 years old. In a converted 30-foot potato lugger with minimal accommodations and minimal gear Holdridge dared to sail the entire length of the Labrador coast from Newfoundland to the Button Islands and back again in one season. His crew, two older, much more experienced men, bitterly resented his authority over them, but he ultimately succeeded both in commanding their respect and in reaching his objective.

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The Mystery of Jim Gray

Three years ago next month, Jim Gray sailed out of San Francisco Bay aboard his C&C 40 >Tenacious, bound for the Farallon Islands to scatter the ashes of his dead mother at sea. Conditions were utterly benign. Gray made cellphone calls to his wife and daughter, described the dolphins playing in the water around him, and then... just disappeared.

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Remembering Bill Crealock

 

Most would agree that British-born W.I.B. "Gentleman Bill" Crealock was one of the most influential cruising sailboat designers of the 20th century.  Some might even say he was the most influential.  Back in the early 1970s he massaged an obsolete Eric Atkins design to help create the Westsail 32, the iconic traditional fiberglass sailboat that put the sport of cruising under sail on the cover of Time magazine.  The boats he created after the 32, the Westsail 42/43 and several Pacific Seacraft boats that followed in its wake, were great improvements on the original Atkins template and are still deemed some of the most desirable cruising boats ever built among certain elements of the sailing cognoscenti.

 

The gentleman, alas, has recently died (on September 26) of complications of a broken hip at age 89.  He will be sorely missed by all sailors who knew him and/or his boats.  What I shall most remember him for is a delightful book he wrote when he was still a young man.  First published in 1951, Vagabonding Under Sail recounts a voyage undertaken by Crealock and three young friends aboard an antique wooden gaff-rigged cutter named Content.  After prepping the boat in Britain, Crealock and company (including a very worthy canine named Rum Swizzle) spent over two years wandering the North Atlantic from North Africa to South America and the West Indies, landing eventually in New York.

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