Boats and Gear

Foiling Across an Ocean: It

3 Jun

“Five corsairs on a dream boat” is Alain Thbault’s description of himself and crew as they prepare for the first-ever transoceanic sailing record attempt on foils.


Los Angeles-Honolulu.

Their 59-foot trimaran, L’Hydroptere DCNS, has never before been far from France, but this flagship of all foilers worldwide holds the absolute speed record over one nautical mile—50.17 knots, 57.7 mph—and for a time it took the 500 meter record away from the kites. There’s nothing else quite like it.

At play in the Med Photo © Francis Demange

The mojo: L’Hydroptere’s in-water foils are angled at 45 degrees, and ...

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Another Cape Dory 28

28 May

Look, it’s my boat! Well, almost. This Cape Dory 28 showed up in the yard a couple days ago for a new bottom job. It looks to be a few years younger than mine, and significantly better cared for. Fortunately, mine is catching up fast. The engine is in, the through-hulls are in, the mast is mostly rigged, and we’re brushing on the final coat of a new paintjob on the hull tomorrow morning at 6am sharp (the only way to make the paint work on 95-degree days). It shouldn’t be long before my Cape Dory 28 looks this good…...

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Viva Solar!

24 May

I was going through some old papers on my boat, and it's been over 15 years since I installed my solar panels. One of the downsides of solar panels is that the output supposedly declines after about eight years, but this has not been the case. I checked the amperage with a fairly accurate ammeter, and my array puts out 13 amps in overhead sun, exactly what it put out during the first few years. These panels haven't had any vacations: They've been sitting there, right where I installed them, for 15 years and roughly 60,000 miles.

In the terrestrial ...

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ABANDONED BOAT: Cha Cha Up For Grabs in Newport?

16 May

Cha Cha in Newport

Cha Cha at anchor in Newport. She seems very secure (note deployment of twin chain anchor rodes) (Photo from

THE UNFORTUNATE SAGA of CHA CHA, the 52-foot steel cutter I first encountered in Bermuda back in the fall of 2009, continues. According to an article published earlier this month, the city of Newport, Rhode Island, is now seeking to seize the boat, which reportedly has been lying at anchor in Newport untended since sometime last year. If the city succeeds in this and decides to sell Cha Cha at auction, it could be a good score for ...

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GROOTE BEER: Hermann Goering’s Botter Jacht (Not)

7 May

Groote Beer

My association with this vessel dates back to 1992, when I sailed across the Atlantic with Cliff and Ruth Ann Fremstad aboard their Alden schooner Constellation. After we unfortunately lost Constellation in a river in Spain that summer, I was a bit surprised when Cliff and Ruth Ann, who had been living aboard the schooner for several years, announced they would have to move back aboard their other boat. My surprise morphed into amazement when they described it to me and showed me some pix. It was a 52-foot Dutch botter jacht named Groote Beer (or “Great Bear”), which ...

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Buy Mediocre Tools

30 Apr

A good piece of advice for any aspiring mechanic would be, "Buy the best tools you can afford." Quality tools will last a lifetime, and pay for themselves with jobs well done.

If the aspiring mechanic happens to work on boats, I dare say this strategy should be revised.  I'm careful with my tools, but looking over my tool bag there are very few that were there four years ago. Some, like my hammer, have been with me forever. You're always hanging onto a hammer, and it's not likely to go flying. With screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and the like you're ...

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NEEL 45: Living Large on a Trimaran

27 Apr

Neel 45 under sail

Theoretically, I was to spend all day Monday testing boats after the “multi-cocks” show in Lorient, but the weather was so foul everyone cancelled on me. Instead I managed to cram in a couple of short tests during the last day of the show, including one on the new Neel 45, an intriguing trimaran that tries to fit cat-sized cruising accommodations into a three-hulled format.

This is not a new concept. Early cruising tris, those slab-sided beasts built of plywood back in the 1960s, tried to pull off this trick by pushing sleeping spaces into the bridgedecks connecting the ...

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BAMBA 50: Catamaran Motorsailer

23 Apr

Bamba 50 under sail

Yo peeps. I’m tapping this out in the wind-blown town of Lorient, France, where I spent all day yesterday browsing through a small, but very interesting boat show, Les Salons du Multicoque. This is a special presentation of multihulls, containing some very cutting-edge boats, that flops back and forth between Brittany and the Med. Ironically, one of the boats I found most interesting was this new Bamba 50, a catamaran motorsailing trawler built right near here in La Rochelle. It serves as a trenchant reminder that the “edge” in boat design can cut more ways than one.

The ...

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What Our Bluewater Boat Cost

16 Apr

Charlie Doane recently posted an article titled Bluewater Sailing On a Budget, about the purchase of his first bluewater sailboat in 1994. Adjusted for inflation he paid about $65,000 to purchase and outfit a boat for circling the Atlantic in. I enjoyed reading it and thought I'd write something similar.


In my case it won't be my first bluewater boat (though many would argue that my first boat, a 35' Wildcat Catamaran wasn't a bluewater boat) this is our idea of a bluewater boat on a budget. Our catamaran cost us over three times what we paid for this, ...

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14 Apr

Sailboat deck

This is an area of fiberglass sailboat construction that many owners ultimately become interested in, either because deck hardware installations on their boat start leaking, or because they decide to replace and upgrade hardware. Unfortunately, it is also an area where some builders often try to streamline their methods to save time and money, particularly when it comes to installing hardware such as winches, cleats, genoa tracks, travelers, stanchion bases, and the like.

As we’ve discussed earlier in this series, almost all fiberglass decks are cored these days, which presents two problems any time a deck is penetrated to ...

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