News & Views

DRAKEN HARALD HARFAGRE: Viking Raid on Great Lakes Repelled by Ruthless Bureaucrats

Vikings at Detroit

Legend has it the first time Vikings came to North America they were driven away by irate natives, called skrælings by the Norse. Now more than 1,000 years later it’s the U.S. Coast Guard who are handling the job, wielding regulations rather than weapons. This time the Viking raiders, who’ve come from Norway on the 115-foot longship Draken Harald Hårfagre, got as far as the Great Lakes (see image up top, which depicts them cruising past Detroit) before they were stopped in their tracks by bureaucrats demanding they pay up to $400-an-hour in pilot fees.

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2016 ROUND ISLAND REGATTA: Tickets On Sale Now!

Lucy and I

The time has come for Lucy and I to wreak our revenge. We were quite competitive in our Melonseed Skiff in last year’s Round Island Regatta (see image up top), but were denied our rightful second-place finish (not that there was a trophy to win or anything) by the incompetent race committee, who sent us round the course four times and our competitors only three. (In spite of this handicap we still finished fourth!) Yes, I know that anarchic management has historically been a hallmark feature of the RIR, but it seems those days are coming to an end. The regatta, now going into its sixth year, is under new management and is being run by the Gundalow Company--people with genuine organizational experience. So this year (I’m hoping) we cannot be denied.

Mark your calendars! This year’s regatta will be held @ 10 a.m. Saturday July 30 on Portsmouth’s Back Channel, per usual, with prizes and partying afterward at the Wentworth Lear house. As in the past there will be one class racing under sail and various other classes racing in kayaks and rowboats. In spite of the enhanced structure it should be a blast. This event has sold out the last few years, so be sure to register now.

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TANKER MASHES UP SAILBOAT: Fun and Games in the Piscataqua River


Here’s an interesting mishap that took place mere footsteps from my home here in Portsmouth while I was off roaming the Maine coast last week. A 477-foot tanker, Chem Venus, was exiting the Piscataqua River late Wednesday afternoon with two tugs in attendance and missed the turn at Seavey Island, where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located. It ran down three sailboats across the river in the Kittery Point Yacht Club mooring field in New Castle and dismasted one of them (see image up top, shot by eyewitness Glenn Kisch). The tanker ran aground on a ledge and was pulled away from the scene by the tugs.

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GRAND LARGE YACHTING: New Owner of Gunboat; Jimmy Cornell's Garcia 45 For Sale

Gunboat 55

This seems like an interesting development. Grand Large Yachting, a French conglomerate formed in 2003 that specializes in turning around distressed boatbuilders, was the prevailing bidder at a bankruptcy auction held this month for Gunboat, the luxury performance catamaran builder founded by Peter Johnstone. Reportedly Grand Large will put up $910K in cash and is waiving unsecured claims worth about $4.6M. The French firm, which has never before invested in a builder outside of France, has committed to continue the Gunboat brand and maintain a U.S. presence, but may or may not continue operating Gunboat’s current facility in North Carolina.

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TRANSAT BAKERLY: Peyron and Joschke Down and Out

Pen Duick II

This year’s singlehanded transatlantic race out of Plymouth, England, dubbed the Transat bakerly in honor of the title sponsor, a French snack company that evidently eschews the use of capital letters (just like e.e. cummings), is finishing up now in New York, and I’m crying in my beer because the two sailors I’m most interested in have had to drop out. These would be Isabelle Joschke, who was leading the Class 40 fleet aboard her steed Generali-Horizon Mixité, and Loïck Peyron, who was doing a blast-from-the-past trip aboard Eric Tabarly’s old ketch Pen Duick II (see image up top). Both my heroes (sob) officially retired yesterday due to damage sustained by their boats.

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VIKINGS ON THE LOOSE: Largest Longship Built in Modern Times Has Set Out Across the Atlantic

Harald under sail

Hide the family jewels! The Vikings are coming! The 115-foot Norse longship Draken Hårald Harfagre has just set out from Norway and is bound to North America via Iceland and Greenland. Ultimately Hårald and her crew plan to roam as far inland as the Great Lakes before raiding the Big Apple and Mystic Seaport in September and October.

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Enthalpy ketch

This, thank God, is a solo MOB tale with a totally happy ending. David Thompson, a retired engineer, was swept off his 49-foot ketch Enthalpy II (see photo up top) by a wave while sailing solo down the north coast of Puerto Rico this past Sunday. He was attached to the boat with a lifejacket/harness, but a second wave stripped him out of his harness, and out of his pants, and he was left to drift half-naked as his boat sailed away from him. After seven hours in the water he managed to swim ashore at Isabela, about 15 miles west of Camuy where he went over the side, and is now recovering in a hospital. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, managed to recover Enthalpy II in the Mona Passage, some 80 miles west of Camuy, thanks to her AIS transponder.

David, without doubt, is a very lucky man. He gets to keep living, and he gets his boat back! His tale also vividly illustrates some points we discussed recently regarding the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a harness and tether while sailing.

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RAINMAKER RECOVERED: Is There an America's Cup Connection Or Not?

Rainmaker in Bermuda

As the old saying goes: what goes around comes around. So it is that Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1, Rainmaker, which was tragically abandoned by owner and crew in late January of last year 200 miles off Cape Hatteras, and has since been spotted and photographed adrift in the Atlantic, has at last got spotted and towed to terra firma. More specifically: Bermuda.

We have this via Facebook and Peter Johnstone (the sadly ex-CEO of Gunboat) and more intriguingly via Sailing Anarchy, who claim they’ve received a hot tip that the spotting was done by members of Oracle Team USA, who were idling offshore doing some recreational fishing off Bermie on a no-doubt treasured day off from work.

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