News & Views

GOLDEN GLOBE REVISITED: They're Off and Running

GGR start

It has begun! Seventeen competitors in Don McIntyre’s Golden Globe Race 2018, a highly structured tribute event honoring the 50th anniversary of the original Golden Globe, the first non-stop solo round-the-world race, took off from Les Sables d’Olonne Sunday at noon local time. An 18th sailor, Francesco Cappelletti, of Italy, is still in port working to pass a safety inspection and complete sailing trials. First across the line when the starting cannon sounded (fired by Robin Knox-Johnston aboard Suhaili, the boat in which he won the original event) was a Frenchman, Phillipe Péché, sailing a Rustler 36 named PRB. Reading the official account, it seems it was a hard-fought start, especially considering that the boats will be racing for 9-10 months over a course of 30,000 miles, give or take.

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CRUSHED BY HIS BOAT: Brit Dies in Bizarre Spring Commissioning Accident

crushed by boat

Every time I work on a boat hull propped up on the hard I think of this: what if it falls over? Even worse, what if it falls over on top of me? Then I chase that errant bit of evil paranoia from my mind. Nah, can’t happen! But apparently it can. Witness this alarming news-bit from Great Britain. Kevin Keeler, age 56, crushed to death on Monday by his new-to-him 29-foot Westerly, Ginny Kwik, at the Weymouth Sailing Club in Dorset as he was preparing to launch it after a quick haul-out. He’d only bought the boat three months earlier. It was the first he’d ever owned.

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OYSTER RESURRECTED: Online Casino Gambling Magnate Buys Builder Out of Bankruptcy

Oyster website screenshot

Well, this didn’t take too long. The big news in the boatbuilding world last week was that Richard Hadida, co-founder of Evolution Gaming, has purchased Oyster Yachts, scraped clean of its Polina Star III liabilities, for an undisclosed sum. Hadida is an active sailor who has chartered Oysters in the past and is a frequent guest on Lush, an Oyster 885 owned by Eddie Jordan, a regular columnist for the super-yacht comic Boat International. Hadida has said his immediate priority is finishing the 26 boats currently in build, including Oyster’s first super-yacht, the 118. Moving forward, however, he reportedly would like to de-emphasize big boats and work more on introducing smaller boats in the 40-foot range to make it easier for new owners to join the (now not-so-blue) Oyster cult.

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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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