The Lunacy Report

LUNACY'S FLOODED ENGINE: The Final Solution

Master Blaster

By far the biggest disappointment of my recent new-boat buying experience was when new Lunacy’s engine flooded in the middle of the Atlantic as I was sailing her back from France this past spring. My initial reaction, as I described before, was one of abject denial, though the problem was not at all unanticipated. In fact, prior to leaving, I had asked Jean-François Eeman, managing director of Boréal, point blank if they’d ever had any flooded engines on their boats. He answered there had been only one, on a boat where the buyer had asked that the footwell in the cockpit be lowered 4 inches so there’d be more standing room under the hard dodger. This in turn had required that the raised loop in the exhaust run, just under the footwell, be lowered accordingly.

My anticipation of the problem was hard earned. I have now owned four different offshore-capable sailboats, and of those three have had engines that flooded (or almost flooded, repeatedly, in one case). In a fourth case a large schooner I was crewing on, during my very first transatlantic passage, also suffered a flooded engine. As I like to tell people: I get flooded engines the way most sailors get dirty fuel.

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Down Chesapeake Bay and Through the ICW

Phil & John

For many years now my semi-regular aquatic flights from winter have involved offshore passages from New England to the West Indies by way of Bermuda. This year, however, what with new Lunacy already ensconced in Annapolis in the aftermath of her appearance in the boat show in October, I thought I would try an even older trick. It has been more than 20 years since I took a boat down Chesapeake Bay in the fall, and thence down the ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort, North Carolina. So though I had no clear idea of where I might end up, I did have some dusty memories to guide me en route.

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DRYING OUT: Not Afloat Aboard the New Lunacy

Anchor and boat

I’ve been looking forward to doing this ever since I got this boat. Mind you, I’ve done it before on another boat. My old Golden Hind 31, Sophie, conceived by Maurice Griffiths, a true shoal-draft aficionado, had three keels (one shallow full keel on centerline, plus two small auxiliary bilge keels) and was designed to take the ground with impunity. So I tried drying her out, once, in the St. George River off Thomaston in Maine. I did not know the ground there, and it turned out the mud flat I grounded her on was composed of very (very) soft mud. When the tide was out she was sucked way down into it, bow first, and I was afraid it would never let her go.

Lesson learned: before parking your boat on the inter-tidal littoral, you should know what it consists of.

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TWEAKING NEW LUNACY: Mainsheet Modification

Lunacy under sail

Now that I’ve got the new boat on the Left Side of the Pond I’m starting to think seriously about how I’d like to change it. Of course, I’ve been thinking about making changes all along, even before I accepted delivery, but I do believe you should first spend some time sailing a boat the way its builder and designer intended before you start mucking with things. Presumably they had their reasons for doing what they did, and you should strive to understand those before making alterations.

My first modification pertains to the mainsheet, the run of which can be easily followed in this fantastic photo taken by Clint Davis, from a boat called Corsair, when we crossed paths between Bermuda and Newport last month. Many thanks to Clint for sharing this (and a few other pix)! It is always great thing when you can score off-the-boat images of your own boat under sail.

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NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phase Four to Newport; Phase Five to Portsmouth; All Done Now!

Self in new shorts

It’s over… at long last! My seventh transat done and dusted. This has been true for nearly a week now and still I’m waking up in a bed in a house every morning in a confused wobbly-footed fuzzy-headed daze feeling like I just stepped ashore.

I must be getting old or something.

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NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phase Three, Big Jump to Bermuda

Lunacy sailing

This was a hard one this. For one thing it was a bigger jump than I had sketched out in my head. For some reason I had fixated on 2000 as the rough mileage between Porto Santo and Bermuda (see last blog post), but in fact it is 2,400 and change, even via a great circle route, as the chartplotter dourly informed me once I plugged in the distant waypoint. In all, due both to contrary winds and aggravating technical problems (more on that coming up), it took us 23 days and about nine hours to transit the gap, which via the meandering route we followed involved moving much more than just 2,400 miles.

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NEW LUNACY TRANSAT: Phases One and Two Complete

Shiny boat

Talk about shiny new. (It’s a camera defect, actually, that makes the boat sparkle so.) This is us on Lunacy crossing the Bay of Biscay, en route from Treguier, France, to La Coruña, Spain, late last month. (I would have posted something about this earlier, but finding a reliable Wifi signal in La Coruña proved challenging.) This passage, a distance of 400-plus miles, took three days. Highlights included the comfortable deep broad reach you see here (a wing-on-wing-on-wing configuration, as I call it, with the staysail splayed out opposite the poled-out jib), some vivid phosphorescent water filled with spiraling dolphins one very magical night, and one very sporty night with wind howling straight on to our beam at 27-33 knots true for hours on end. The boat, flying a double-reefed main and the staysail, was much more comfortable doing this than we were.

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EASTER SUNDAY MASSACRE: First Solo Sail on New Lunacy

JFD on deck

It went pretty well actually, except for one part at the very end. The weather at least was fabulous. Bright and sunny with a moderate 15-17 knot breeze out of the west. I motored down the river, Le Jaudy they call it, against the dregs of the flood tide, and raised sail just before reaching the entrance. There followed a few hours of experimentation in open water. Took a reef in the main. Played with the Windpilot windvane for a while. Diddled with the electronics. Reveled in the moments and all. One of the highlights was when I turned back in and saw the creator of the Boréal, Jean-François Delvoye, heading out on his own new boat (that’s him on the foredeck trying to take photos of me) for a bit of an Easter Sunday jaunt.

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BOREAL 47: New Lunacy Afloat and Lying (Also Flying) en France

New Lunacy under sail

In fact I have been in Treguier here in France for a week now, grappling with the project of getting to know the new Lunacy while simultaneously studying printer’s proofs for the new book. The book now has been irretrievably committed to the press, and just yesterday Jean-Francois Eeman of Boreal Yachts joined me for a maiden sail on Lunacy. We had a broad range of wind to work in, from 8 to 25 knots apparent at various angles, and exercised all the sails, including the spinnaker, which has, as you can see, quite the modest color scheme.

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