SIMBO SAILING: Modern Twin Headsail Rig

25 Jul

Simbo sailing rig

I’VE RECENTLY RECEIVED an e-mail from Iain Simpson advising me that he has just launched a website dedicated to what he calls the “Simbo,” or Simple Bow Rig. In plain English this is a twin headsail rig, very similar to what bluewater sailors used to advocate for downwind tradewind sailing back in the 1950s. Iain has updated the concept for modern roller-furling systems and employs it on his Najad 570 Song of the Ocean. He is quite keen on it and has been proselytizing on the subject for a few years now.

The concept is really very simple. Instead ...

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Racing The Atlantic: Quebec-St. Malo

24 Jul

This Transat is not as well known as some of the big races that come west from Europe, like the Transat Jacques Vabre. But it has got 21 Class 40s sprinting across the North Atlantic to France. And anytime there are almost two dozen Class 40s duking it out against an ocean course, something interesting is bound to happen.

Gore Vidal once advised: "Never pass up the opportunity to have sex or go on TV." A sailor's version would say: "Never pass up the opportunity to have sex, go on TV, or race a Class 40." They are fast, fun ...

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JEFF’S NEW BOAT: Valiant 40 Delivery

23 Jul

Valiant 40 deck

HAD A CHANCE to return a favor last week, as my friend and neighbor, Jeff Bolster, needed crew to help him get his new boat all the way home from Florida. (You may recall Jeff helped me sail Lunacy back from Bermuda just two years ago.) Jeff’s original plan had been to sail the boat–a Valiant 40 built in Texas back in the 1990s–up here to Baja Maine in one fell swoop. But the boat’s engine had different ideas.

After an unscheduled layover first in Baltimore (to fit a new turbocharger) and then in Norwalk (to replace a bell ...

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A little bit about hose clamps

22 Jul

How much do you know about hose clamps? How much do you want to know? It seems the subject is a bit like Alice’s rabbit hole- though it doesn’t have quite the same charm you can go as deep as you like…

After pulling dozens of the hoses in my boat the one thing I feel I can say with confidence about hose clamps is that these are tricky little beasts. You can never seem to get at the screw if the tail is where you want it and when they’re installed almost invariably whatever part you can’t look at ...

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VALIANT 40: The First “Performance Cruiser”

21 Jul

Valiant 40

OFTEN HAILED as the first performance cruiser, the Valiant 40 was an important breakthrough boat both for its designer, Bob Perry, and for cruising sailors in general. The genius of the design is that it married what above the water looks like a beamy double-ended traditional cutter with a much more modern underbody featuring a fin keel and separate rudder mounted on a skeg. First introduced in 1974, the Valiant 40 was for at least a decade the definitive production-built offshore sailing vessel.

Besides making successful appearances in transatlantic races in the 1970s, the Valiant 40 was also prominent ...

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New Zealand

20 Jul

The first of the new generation of America’s Cup boats will be shown off Down Under tonight in a ceremony scheduled to start at 10:30 pm Pacific.

Emirates Team New Zealand is the first team with a boat in the water. Pics can be viewed at Sail-World.

The christening will be streamed live at the ETNZ Blog, where the latest post is all about the measures taken to assure that a champagne christening won’t bust the super-strong-and-yet-in-some-ways-fragile carbon over honeycomb structure.

The Defender, Team Oracle USA, has not announced a launch date, but late-July, early-August seems likely. Spithill ...

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Sorry, marine electronics industry…

20 Jul

…but I've gone to the dark side.

I have shunned one of your fine products and moved my electronic navigation onto my iPad. Every sailing magazine and website seems to have something about this every month, but I'll give the blow-by-blow of my personal experience:

1. My beautiful wife gave me an iPad last Christmas. I thought, what the hell am I going to do with this thing? I'm a Luddite. I like paper books and keeping my calendar on a calendar.

2. What? I can get a navigation/chartplotting program for this thing…that's something useful.

3. Oh no! My wife, ...

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PayPal Button, Is it Begging?

19 Jul

This topic has come up lots of times regarding my website, On the site, at the bottom of the menu column is a little PayPal button that currently reads, We Sail So You Don't Have To. In the past it has variously said things such as Buy the Bums a Pizza, Buy the Bums a Taco, Enjoy Bumfuzzle?, and maybe a couple more. It's never said, Donate Please!


So are we beggars? Does this constitute begging? A healthy percentage of “cruisers” on the web chat rooms seem to think so. Here's a link to one in particular. ...

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17 Jul

Once upon a time I was visiting the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship, and somebody asked if I wanted a tour of Alaska Eagle.
No big deal, but why not? And then there I was, walking the deck, prowling below, and this feeling crept over me. Gosh. Alaska Eagle. Ex-Flyer. Round the world winner in the 1977-78 Whitbread. 250,000+ miles as a school ship after her racing career. Communications vessel for the Transpacific Yacht Race since 1983.

This detail, managed just right, over here.

That detail, managed just right, over there.

It got ...

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Are pirates cool?

17 Jul

“To Err is human. To Arr is pirate.” I saw that on a t-shirt yesterday.

A fairly large percentage of recreational boaters fly pirate flags—the Jolly Roger or some variation. They fly them because they look cool, but this is a touchy subject among sailors.

Take these headlines:

“American Yacht Captured by Somali Pirates – Crew Hostage”

"Somali pirates anchor Danish family yacht, threaten death"

“Couple held hostage by Somali pirates for more than a year” 

That’s not cool. That’s the opposite of cool. That’s the least cool thing that could ever happen to a sailor.

Today’s pirate flag flyers obviously don’t support that ...

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