News & Views

THE TALK OF MIAMI: Big Motors & Oyster Rumors Confirmed

Boats and skyline

I put in an appearance at the Miami International Boat Show last week for the first time in a few years. My first visit actually since the main part of the show moved out of Miami Beach and consolidated all its bits in front of the old Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. While roaming the ever-shrinking sailboat side of the show (it didn’t take long) I had a few conversations about the demise of Oyster Yachts. Word on the docks had it that the Polina Star III keel disaster was indeed the proximate cause of the boatbuilder’s sudden liquidation. And now today we find that Alexander Ezhkov, the aggrieved Russian owner of Polina Star, has unveiled a full barrage of information pertaining to his ongoing dispute with the builder on a website appropriately entitled How It Went Down.

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SEA NYMPH SIGHTED: Volvo Race Boat Spots Derelict Vessel Abandoned by Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava

Sea Nymph sighted

She has risen again to infest the newsfeed of unsuspecting sailors! The good vessel Sea Nymph--belonging to controversial bluewater sailor Jennifer Appel, abandoned by her and shipmate Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs last October--was sighted yesterday approximately 360 miles east of Guam by skipper Dee Caffari and her crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic, a VO65 racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Caffari in her text report couldn’t help remarking on the irony of the situation: “I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”

Not only a yacht, but a plastic one at that.

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OYSTER YACHTS ON THE ROPES: Esteemed British Builder Runs Out of Cash

Oyster yacht

I’ve been in this business long enough to know there’s no such thing as a boatbuilder immune to financial difficulty, but this does come as a surprise. As recently as last month Oyster proudly announced they have in hand £80 million in orders. They just showed off the new Oyster 745 (see photo up top) at Boot Dusseldorf, where it was the largest boat on display. One of these big boys was also parked just across the pontoon from my boat at the Annapolis show last fall and got a Boat of the Year nod from Cruising World for Best Luxury Cruiser. Oyster was also launching itself well and truly into the superyacht market and had two 118-foot boats in build. But as of yesterday all that ground to a halt as news slipped out that Oyster in fact has no cash on hand, can’t afford to pay anyone anything, and so has ceased operations as of today.

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BLOG WAR VICTORY: Linus Wilson of Slow Boat Sailing is Defeated in Court

Bart at board

I know, I know. You guys have been perched on the edge of your seats for days now waiting to see how this Louisiana small-claims copyright infringement and slander lawsuit against me turned out. You may have even gone to the hearing on January 9, like I invited you to do, in which case maybe you can tell me what happened exactly. For it turns out we defendants decided not to go ourselves. After much debate we concluded plaintiff Linus Wilson’s case against us was so obviously seriously totally lame we needn’t bother. This strategy was vindicated today when the court clerk called to tell me the small-claims arbitrator has made a decision: case dismissed with prejudice.

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BLOG WARS: Linus Wilson of Slow Boat Sailing Sues WaveTrain, Active Interest Media for Slander and Copyright Violation

Lafayette City Court

This pertains to my earlier post regarding the infamous Sea Nymph rescue. You’ll recall I mentioned Dr. Linus Wilson and his coverage of the controversy, and in the comments he complained because I posted an image of him from a video he created. This image was credited as having come from his video and depicted him wearing a ball cap that said CAPTAIN on it in big letters and also a shirt that had tiny little anchors all over it. Wilson also complained I had defamed him by calling him “the king” of those asserting that Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the crew of Sea Nymph, were perpetrating a hoax. He complained as well to SAIL Magazine, which republished my post on their blog aggregation site SAILfeed. After hearing from Wilson, SAIL immediately took down my post from SAILfeed, and I took down the image in question from WaveTrain.

Wilson nevertheless filed suit against me, Active Interest Media (AIM), which owns SAIL, SAIL’s editor-in-chief Peter Nielsen, as well as two AIM officers, Andrew Clurman and Efram Zimbalist III, in the Small Claims Division of the City Court (see image up top) of Lafayette, Louisiana (Wilson’s hometown), on November 21. He is seeking $5,000 in damages, which is the maximum recovery allowed in a Louisiana small claims court. I will not editorialize here on Wilson’s character and behavior and instead will only post the pleadings and let you draw your own conclusions.

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SEA NYMPH RESCUE: Two Crazy Ladies and Their Dogs Adrift for Five Months

Sea Nymph

This story has been getting a ton of play in the mainstream media, plus of course the usual sailing-forum trolls who pounce like hyenas on any abandoned-boat mishap have been happily feasting on it. It does involve an unusual set of facts. Starting with the crew: one woman with 10 years of coastal sailing experience, another with exactly zero sailing experience, and two dogs, rather large ones, presumably with limited experience. Then there’s the fairly mild nature of the equipment failures that led to their drifting across the Pacific aboard their boat Sea Nymph for five months: an engine that got wet and wouldn’t start and a bent mounting bolt that compromised one spreader in their rig. Finally there’s the latest development: they claim to have been making radio distress calls throughout their ordeal, but it turns out they also had an EPIRB they never activated.

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EYE OF THE STORM: Cleaning Up the Mess in the Caribbean

Maria satellite image

Here we go again! As I write this Hurricane Maria, a Category 3 storm due to ramp up soon to Cat 4 strength, is bearing down on the islands of Dominica and Martinique with its eye projected to pass through the channel that separates the two islands by the end of the day. From there the storm should pass close by St. Croix tomorrow night, clobber Puerto Rico on Wednesday, give the Dominican Republic a glancing blow early Thursday morning, and then run right over the Turks and Caicos on Friday.

Maria track

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TANIA AEBI'S VARUNA: Abandoned and Up for Grabs in the Eastern North Atlantic

Varuna at dock

I have this straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, as Tania just dropped me an e-mail to help scare up some publicity. Though it no longer belongs to her, she’d really like the boat to be recovered. The boat (seen in a recent photo up top) being her old Contessa 26, Varuna, in which she sailed around the world alone as a teenager back in the 1980s.

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POPHAM BEACH PILING REMOVAL: The Politics of Beach Erosion

Popham pilings

So, about that arrogant CEO I mentioned in my last post: this would be Jackson Parker, who runs a heavy construction company called Reed & Reed, based in Woolwich, Maine. About five years ago Mr. Parker built himself a McMansion on Popham Beach--he calls it a “cottage,” in the best tradition of the old Newport elite down in Rhode Island--just down the beach from a small house owned by my aunt. WaveTrain riders with long memories may recall this is the house where my mom died over seven years ago.

Since buying his property and building his cottage Mr. Parker has decided he does not like a collection of old steamboat pier pilings (see photo up top) that jut up out of the water just off the beach, almost directly in front of my aunt’s house and just a short distance down from his. He may not like the look of them, or he may (as some contend) want to build a dock of his own, or, most likely I think, he may, as he claims he does, sincerely believe the pilings are causing the beach to erode.

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