News & Views

Wounded Boats (And Folk) In Bermuda

 

As I mentioned in the last edition of the Lunacy Report, sailing to Bermuda from New England in the fall is always the hardest part of getting south for the winter season in the Caribbe an.  This year was no exception.  Though Lunacy made it in good form after a delayed departure (knock on wood for that), I encountered a few other vessels in the anchorage at St. Georges last month that weren't so lucky.  At the top of the list was a strong 52-foot steel cutter, Cha Cha, skippered by Rich Littauer.  If you examine today's lead photo closely, you'll notice Rich is sporting a rather scraggly scar on the upper portions of his noggin.  It represents only one bullet point on the long list of his misfortunes.

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Off The Boat, Boy

 

In yesterday's post on the boats abandoned in this year's ARC I mentioned how improved comms technology has made it easy for modern ocean sailors to bail out when the going gets tough.  In most cases, as with the ARC boats, the question is whether the crew instead might reasonably repair or jury-rig the vessel in question.  But better communications at sea can have all kinds of weird implications.

Take, for example, Bernt Luchtenborg, an extremely competent German solo voyager who was five months into a projected non-stop double circumnavigation aboard his 52-foot cutter Horizons when he smacked into something, probably a whale, and broke off his rudder on November 24 about 430 miles west of New Zealand.  Luchtenborg is the real deal.  He didn't believe he was in any danger and went straight to work building a new rudder out of a cabin door.  But he also let folks on shore what was going on and in the end was brow-beaten into abandoning ship by his wife and insurance company.

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ARC Boats Abandoned

 

Organizers of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the Big Daddy of all cruising rallies, with 223 boats currently en rout e from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia, announced Tuesday that a participating boat, a 53-foot Bruce Roberts cutter named Pelican (pictured here prior to the rally start), was abandoned Monday about 325 miles west of the Cape Verdes.  This is the second ARC boat abandoned so far this year, the first being a 53-foot one-off race boat, Auliana II, which was abandoned November 23, just 36 hours after the rally start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

I always hate to second-guess decisions like these, because you never really know what the situation was unless you were right there onboard.  But I also know that modern communications technology can make it easy to get off a boat before it might really be necessary.  This is definitely one of those hard calls I pray I personally will never have to make.

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Stored Power, You Say?



Having already altered the America's Cup racing rules to permit the use of "stored-power" on competing vessels, Ernesto "the Alinghi" Bertarelli is now hard at work trying to figure out what sort of stored-power system will best help him retain the Cup.  Our spies in Europe tell us he has recently tested a radical new system featuring an aerodynamic internal combustion engine that turns a circular series of "rotor sails."  The engine reportedly will be tethered to the deck of Ernesto's new super-duper catamaran (appropriately named Alinghi 5) by a series of cables.  Team Alinghi designers and tech heads are rumored to be worried that the new engine/sail system may in fact generate enough lift to carry the boat into the air.  The Alinghi's lawyers are therefore hard at work seducing the ISAF into further revising the racing rules to delete a provision requiring competing vessels to remain in contact with the water.

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Storm Porn

Don't you love it???

Not the storms themselves, of course.  I'm talking about the images, the luscious satellite photography that lets us view glorious atmospheric blemishes like hurricanes from the ultimate POV.

The most attractive North Atlantic storm of 2009 (so far), IMHO, was Hurricane Bill, seen here on August 18 far from land just one day before before he maximized to Category 4 status.  Subsequently he brushed past the Eastern seaboard before degenerating into a warm wet blob that moseyed on east to molest northern Europe for a bit.

Thankfully, at least as far as us sailors are concerned, the North Atlantic hurricane season has been a dud this year (knock on wood). Seems like the first in a long time.

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