Charles Doane

TIN CANOES & OTHER MADNESS: The Genius of Robb White

6 Jun

Robb White

How could I have lived so long without discovering this man? He is such an improbably entertaining writer, and all he wrote about, pretty much, is boats, the water surrounding them, and the life that is in it. Hats off to crew member (and erstwhile Boréal shopper) Nat Smith, who handed me a copy of White’s first book, the only one published in his lifetime, How to Build a Tin Canoe (Hyperion/Theia, 2003), and promised me I would like it.

Some of you are clucking your tongues now. For Robb White wasn’t exactly flying under the radar. He ...

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SHAKEDOWN CRUISE: Nigel Calder’s First Cruising Narrative

21 May

Book cover

I’m feeling some vindication here. Several years ago when I was Nigel Calder’s regular editor at SAIL Magazine he told me the story of the first time he ever went sailing with Terrie, his future wife. To impress her he’d suggested they borrow (without permission) a small wooden boat that belonged to his brother and take off on a cruise together. She suggested they sail across the English Channel to Amsterdam (they were in the UK at the time) and he readily agreed, though he had little idea what he was doing. Terrie temporarily jumped ship once they got there (to ...

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NORTHBOUND LUNACY: Jacksonville, FL, to Morehead City, NC

8 May

Nat on wheel

We’ve had a brutal spring in New England this year. March brought four nor’easters, one a week like clockwork, each with heavy snow and blizzard conditions. April, once it finally got going, was mostly just too damn cold. So I was looking forward to getting back to the boat in Florida and doing some sailing. But sailing all the way back home, given the treacherous season, seemed like it might be a bad idea. Much better, I thought, to do this in stages.

For crew on this first leg I enlisted one Nat Smith, a recently retired geologist from Houston, ...

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CRUSHED BY HIS BOAT: Brit Dies in Bizarre Spring Commissioning Accident

20 Apr

crushed by boat

Every time I work on a boat hull propped up on the hard I think of this: what if it falls over? Even worse, what if it falls over on top of me? Then I chase that errant bit of evil paranoia from my mind. Nah, can’t happen! But apparently it can. Witness this alarming news-bit from Great Britain. Kevin Keeler, age 56, crushed to death on Monday by his new-to-him 29-foot Westerly, Ginny Kwik, at the Weymouth Sailing Club in Dorset as he was preparing to launch it after a quick haul-out. He’d only bought the boat three ...

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OYSTER RESURRECTED: Online Casino Gambling Magnate Buys Builder Out of Bankruptcy

28 Mar

Oyster website screenshot

Well, this didn’t take too long. The big news in the boatbuilding world last week was that Richard Hadida, co-founder of Evolution Gaming, has purchased Oyster Yachts, scraped clean of its Polina Star III liabilities, for an undisclosed sum. Hadida is an active sailor who has chartered Oysters in the past and is a frequent guest on Lush, an Oyster 885 owned by Eddie Jordan, a regular columnist for the super-yacht comic Boat International. Hadida has said his immediate priority is finishing the 26 boats currently in build, including Oyster’s first super-yacht, the 118. Moving ...

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GEORGIA MARSH CRUISE: From Hilton Head to Jacksonville

7 Mar

Lunacy underway

I did take the family down to Hilton Head to visit Lunacy over the Christmas vacation, but we did not take the boat anywhere. It was far too cold for that. Instead we used the boat as a hotel suite (thank God for the Refleks diesel heater!) and toured the surrounding environs. Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston, and of course the island of Hilton Head itself. To get home we had to drive to Jacksonville (the airport at Savannah was closed) through a vicious ice storm, and I swear I saw more car accidents in those few hours than I’ve seen in ...

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THE TALK OF MIAMI: Big Motors & Oyster Rumors Confirmed

23 Feb

Boats and skyline

I put in an appearance at the Miami International Boat Show last week for the first time in a few years. My first visit actually since the main part of the show moved out of Miami Beach and consolidated all its bits in front of the old Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. While roaming the ever-shrinking sailboat side of the show (it didn’t take long) I had a few conversations about the demise of Oyster Yachts. Word on the docks had it that the Polina Star III keel disaster was indeed the proximate cause of the boatbuilder’s sudden liquidation. ...

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SEA NYMPH SIGHTED: Volvo Race Boat Spots Derelict Vessel Abandoned by Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava

15 Feb

Sea Nymph sighted

She has risen again to infest the newsfeed of unsuspecting sailors! The good vessel Sea Nymph–belonging to controversial bluewater sailor Jennifer Appel, abandoned by her and shipmate Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs last October–was sighted yesterday approximately 360 miles east of Guam by skipper Dee Caffari and her crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic, a VO65 racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Caffari in her text report couldn’t help remarking on the irony of the situation: “I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage ...

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ELVSTROM BLUE WATER RUNNER: Modern Interpretation of Downwind Twin Headsails

12 Feb

Runner downwind

Here’s an interesting item my neighbor and erstwhile shipmate Jeff Bolster recently pointed me at. You may recall his Valiant 40, Chanticleer, was unfortunately parked last summer in Road Town, Tortola, and was dismasted in Hurricane Irma last September. He now has the boat in Kittery, Maine, for a refit (she motored on her own bottom from Tortola to St. Thomas, traveled by ship to Florida, then by truck to Maine), and he was thinking this new headsail system from Elvstrom might be worth trying out.

The basic concept, a symmetric pair of matching headsails for flying wing-and-wing ...

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OYSTER YACHTS ON THE ROPES: Esteemed British Builder Runs Out of Cash

7 Feb

Oyster yacht

I’ve been in this business long enough to know there’s no such thing as a boatbuilder immune to financial difficulty, but this does come as a surprise. As recently as last month Oyster proudly announced they have in hand £80 million in orders. They just showed off the new Oyster 745 (see photo up top) at Boot Dusseldorf, where it was the largest boat on display. One of these big boys was also parked just across the pontoon from my boat at the Annapolis show last fall. Oyster was also launching itself well and truly into the superyacht market ...

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