I’ve had some correspondence recently from an old sailing buddy of mine, Patrick Childress, who got a bee in his bonnet a while back after he almost got run down by a freighter while cruising Indonesia with his wife Rebecca aboard their Valiant 40 Brick House. It was a pretty typical situation: an alert cruiser aboard a small sailboat has to take last-minute evasive action after a large commercial vessel on a collision course, apparently with no one on watch, fails to respond to repeated radio calls. In these days of AIS this happens less often than it used to, but in this case the perpetrator wasn’t broadcasting an AIS signal.… Read More
Though they seem like very simple devices, propellers are in fact quite complicated. More often than you’d expect, problems with a boat’s performance under power can be traced to poor propeller selection. To drive a boat well a prop must be properly matched to whatever engine and transmission is turning it, and numerous variables–the engine’s horsepower, its operating and maximum potential rpm and shaft speed, the boat’s speed potential, and the dimensions and specifications of the prop itself–must be balanced against each other to achieve good performance over the broadest range of circumstances.
Even professionals sometimes get this wrong. The very best resource on the subject that I know of is Dave Gerr’s very helpful and comprehensive tome The Propeller Handbook (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 1989).… Read More
It says something of the nature of these boats that my initial correspondence with Jean-François Eeman (see photo up top), managing director of Boréal Yachts, regarding a visit to their yard, was interrupted for a month while he and his family took off on a cruise to Antarctica. On a Boréal, of course. Indeed, Eeman’s boat was the first Boréal 44 ever built, the ultimate product of a chance encounter on a dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, between Eeman and another Jean-François, surname Delvoye, a designer and builder with many bluewater miles under his belt who had long been nursing an idea for an ideal cruising vessel.… Read More
Sorry the blog’s been dark so long! But I do have an excuse. I’m in France right now, having come by way of Ireland (where I was visiting family for Easter) and Barcelona and then Andorra, where I stopped in for a few days to visit Clare and Edward Allcard, the well-known liveaboard cruiser-authors who wandered far wide for many years on an old 90-ton Baltic ketch named Johanne Regina (see Clare’s books A Gypsy Life and The Intricate Art of Living Afloat). Johanne has since been adopted by a Catalonian non-profit group, has been rechristened Ciutat Badalona (after the Catalonian municipality of the same name), and is now flawlessly maintained (see photo up top).… Read More
This mid-size cruising catamaran inhabits the middle ground between truly high-performance open-bridgedeck cats with very limited accommodations and little or no on-deck shelter and bulkier, more unwieldy cats with enclosed bridgedeck saloons and palatial accommodations. Its most distinctive feature is a permanently mounted hardtop roof supported by aluminum posts that shelters all of the otherwise open bridgedeck area abaft the mast. If desired the bridgedeck can be fully enclosed by deploying flexible transparent acrylic side-curtains.
This concept was first introduced by designer/builder Dick Vermeulen when he launched his first boat, the smaller Maine Cat 30, back in 1996. The 30-footer has proven quite successful, but is a bit too small and cramped for extended cruising.… Read More
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.… Read More
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.… Read More
Clipper Race officials have today released a much more complete statement describing the discovery of the mummified remains of German solo sailor Manfred Bajorat aboard his vessel Sayo by a crew member of the Clipper Race yacht LMAX Exchange. The statement reads in full:
At 0624 UTC on 31 January, the LMAX Exchange team ceased competition during Race 7, from Airlie Beach, Australia, to Da Nang – Viet Nam, to examine an abandoned yacht (pictured) found drifting in its path (11 38N / 137 46E – 650nM east of Philippines and 470nM west of Guam). One of the crew swam out and boarded the yacht, named Sayo, where the sole occupant was unfortunately found dead, in a state of advanced decomposition.… Read More
OK, this is officially getting extremely weird. After conducting an autopsy on the mummified remains of Manfred Bajorat, the German singlehander found by fishermen this past weekend, Philippine authorities have announced that Bajorat died of an acute myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack) more or less seven days before his body was recovered. Meanwhile, the folks running the current round-the-world Clipper Race have also announced that the crew one of their boats, LMAX Exchange, found Bajorat adrift and dead aboard his boat back in late January about 600 miles east of the Philippines.
These baldly contradictory assertions raise some interesting questions.… Read More
Phase Two my OPB (Other People’s Boats) cruising season (completed this past Saturday) began at the Dream Yacht Charter base in Le Marin on Martinique, where I encountered a few random nautical oddities, including this very interesting technique, employed by a rival charter outfit, for hauling out a catamaran without actually hauling it out. Is this freaking ingenious, or what?
All you need to try this at home is a super-huge inflatable fender and a small Shopvac. While studying this scene I was of course pondering the various things that might go wrong. For example: giant fender suddenly pops out from under boat (you can see there is a light retaining line taken to a winch that presumably is intended to prevent this, but I doubt it would actually be up to the job).… Read More