30 Dec

Sunsail charter

This is a lesson I’ve learned before: when sailing with children in the West Indies, the most desirable point of sail is to windward. The most desirable place for them to sit is on the bow, clinging to the lifelines, where they will scream in rapture as they are plunged into steep tradewind seas… over and over and over again.

(As you can see in the photo up top, there are also some adults who enjoy this.)

So this is us (me, wife Clare, daughters Una and Lucy, plus our good friends Lindsey and Denise) sailing from St. Maarten upwind ...

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Bluenose New Year

30 Dec

I’m in Nova Scotia, visiting my wife’s family for the week. I’m sorry I ever complained about San Francisco being cold. Even the lobsterman down the street says it’s too cold and rough to go out.

My in-laws live just outside of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home of the Bluenose. The Bluenose is a 140-foot fishing schooner, built in Lunenburg in 1921, and famous for beating the US for the International Fisherman’s Trophy over the course of the next seventeen years.

Bluenose launch, Lunenburg, March 26, 1921 - courtesy of the Nova Scotia Archives

She was the first non-human to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. She’s ...

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Stars at 100

29 Dec

The wildest sailboat ride I ever had was not on a wing-powered catamaran. It was on a “simple” Star.

What Tom Blackaller once told me about sailing in an Olympic Trials on San Francisco Bay

“It was like going into a fire hose that’s shooting 40 knots.”


“I just sailed it under.”

crossed my mind.

The wind on the final day of the 1972 Star Class trials went way-doggies off the curve, even by the community standards of windy San Francisco Bay. Think 40 knots, gusting to 45. The Olympic Circle was a mass of whitecaps, and yes, despite ...

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Race Video For Dummies (“Oh, what’s he doing?”)

28 Dec

This video of the Soto 40 racing in the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac Race is unlike any race video you have ever seen. The pictures aren't anything special, but the narration manages to nicely skewer all the things about sailboat racing that must seem ridiculous to non-racers. Pretty funny.

So if you've had your fill of race videos that are overly serious, and aim for a cool, professional, Right Stuff sort of delivery (i.e. BORING)…(cont.)

, then this is just the sort of change-up that you need.

Who knows, maybe it will inspire a new genre of sailing videos in which sailors ...

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Landlubbers Aboard

27 Dec

Today we took Ali's mom out to see the boat. Our families are not in any way shape or form considered an aquatic people, and even a simple dinghy ride can seem like an adventure on the water. But once they get on our boats they always seem to like them. Ali's mom even said to her dad, "I could do this. Could you do this?" She was referring to the part of cruising that everybody likes, sitting on deck in the warm sun with a cold beer in hand.


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The Lafitte Story

27 Dec

Lafitte 44 under power.jpgLafitte on beam reach.jpg

When I tell these “histories” of my projects I am working mostly from memory. So from time to time I may get some facts and dates wrong but I will do my best to convey accurately the character of the project and the personalities of those involved.

Obviously I am still struggling with the image management part of the blogging process. Some of these old hand drawing make huge files when digitized.

Lafitte Oria from port bow  2.jpg

The Lafitte project began in mid 1976. I was just 30 years old but my yacht design business was going great guns and I was feeling pretty good ...

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SUNDEER 60: An Ideal Bluewater Cruising Boat

26 Dec

Sundeer 60 under sail

This innovative bluewater performance cruiser was one of a series of designs developed by offshore sailing guru Steve Dashew starting in 1978. Dashew’s basic concept of a long, narrow, fast boat designed to be sailed long distances by a couple first saw fruition in his Deerfoot line, which he built in fiberglass and in aluminum on a sporadic basis at several locations. The Sundeer line was more refined and focused and consisted of three boats–the Sundeer 64, 60, and 56. These were the only Dashew designs ever built on a true production basis.

The ketch-rigged Sundeer 64 boasted three double ...

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A Very Calder Christmas

26 Dec
Esteemed author and boat-systems guru Nigel Calder 
mucks out my bilges. On Christmas Eve.

Happy holidays everyone! I haven’t managed a post in few days because I’ve been very busy with my family. My mom and dad are down here in New Orleans for two weeks and we’ve been spending the holidays in true Calder style, which is to say hard at work. We did manage to spend Christmas day at my Grandmother’s but still got in an overhaul of the boat’s head (toilet) which we hauled out to her house in the trunk of a rental car!

And ...

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Jessica Watson Sails Again

25 Dec

You just can't keep her ashore (or separate her from a slick, high-profile, marketing strategy). Already the youngest ever to circumnvigate the globe solo and non-stop, Jessica Watson, now 18 and eligible for the Sydney-Hobart Race, has put together the youngest-ever crew (average age 19) in a sponsored Sydney 38  called "Ella Bache' Another Challenge."

The early weather report looks a lot more forgiving than the brutal 1998 year, which sank five yachts and killed six sailors. But it won't be a milk run. After an initial northerly serves up an easy downwind run, the ...

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