While engaged in some heavy-duty procrastination one afternoon, surfing Google in quiet desperation in order to avoid writing an overdue article, I came across a mention of the once-famous foiler L’Hydroptère. It’s not just multihull aficionados who will remember the big trimaran—ten years ago, through the summer and fall of 2008 and into 2009, she made headlines not just in sailing magazines but in the mainstream press. She was, for quite some time, the fastest sailing craft in the world.
Her creator, Alain Thébault, was a friend of legendary ocean racer Eric Tabarly, who eagerly embraced the concept ... Read More
Hopefully, Carolyn Shearlock’s provisioning tips this month will help those of you who, like me, are useless at stocking their boats for a cruise of any duration. Bacon, eggs, cheese, a couple of steaks, a handful of onions and a loaf or two of bread, and I’m good to go. A couple of days later I’m pulling long-forgotten cans out of the lockers, wondering what culinary masterpiece I can throw together from pickled beets, artichokes, peas and a suspiciously rusty tin of Spam. In the end, it’s usually sardines on toast, washed down with the kind of last-resort boxed red ... Read More
Andy Warhol may have been a little wide of the mark when he famously said, “in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” but given the merciless advance of social media his words are starting to ring true. How else do you explain the rise to internet stardom of Tanner and Nikki, an unremarkable young couple from Colorado, who, despite never having set foot on a sailboat, decided to forsake the mountains for a life on the water?
They sold up, moved to Florida, bought an old boat for a few grand and spent a few more ... Read More
Photo by Mike & Robin Stout
We sailors can be a superstitious lot, and who can blame us? We head off into terra incognita every time we hoist our sails, in the sense that we can never be entirely sure what’s going to happen next. We have a much better idea, of course, than our forebears: meteorologists of the world, take a bow. Read More
But for most of human history, going to sea was a leap into the unknown. Those who did so knew there was a solid chance they would not return, so who could blame them for a little ...
In sailing, as in life generally, there are things that are fun to think about, and then there is everything else. The subject of safety most definitely falls under the umbrella of “everything else.” I was ruminating about this while pondering the upcoming windlass installation on my project boat. Now, the words “windlass” and “safety” are seldom mentioned in the same sentence—indeed, I may be a pioneer here—but when you look at the various ways or hurting yourself on a boat, anything that involves machinery is right up there with rope burns and stubbed toes.
I have had a ... Read More
What was that about reefing sooner, and just look at that dinghy…
Things undone, things still to do; what are your resolutions for the New Year? Here are some of mine.
1. Deep-clean the engine
OK, so this one was held over from 2017. And 2016.
2. Make it a rule to reef earlier
The screams and crashing of crockery from belowdecks get tiring after a while.
3. Don’t tow the dinghy in open water
Those oars were expensive.
4. Install a holding tank gauge
Do I really need to explain why?
5. Go up the mast to replace the ... Read More
The news that the America’s Cup is going back to monohulls for its 36th edition comes as no surprise to Cup insiders. I do not count myself among these, but even back in 2013, when the big AC72 cats were gearing up to transform multihull sailing forever, the whisper on the San Francisco docks was that if the Kiwis won, they’d do away with the multis.
Well, we all know how that turned out. Pride, fall, etc. Anyway, it came as no surprise to yours truly when, shortly after they took Oracle Team USA to the woodshed in Bermuda, ... Read More
The trio of hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—that killed more than 200 people and made tens of thousands of people homeless in the Caribbean, Texas and Florida also did heavy damage to many wonderful sailing areas. Marine communities and infrastructure from Guadeloupe to Georgia were devastated, and it will take time and money to rebuild them.
The Florida Keys had just been reopened to tourists as we went to press, and the resilient Conchs were doing what they’ve always done, cleaning up and carrying on.
In the Caribbean, though, the picture was gloomier. Most of the charter businesses that have ... Read More
I recently acquired a 30-year-old project boat whose systems are mostly original, except for the electronics, which had been updated in the early 1990s—the Jurassic era as far as modern electronics are concerned. In fact, I well recall installing that selfsame make of instrument on the boat I owned back then, and marveling at how wonderful it was to have a digital depth readout instead of a whirring dial and a couple of flashing lights to warn of impending collision with the sea bed. Read More
This presented me with the rare opportunity to specify a new instrument and nav system from ...
A long time ago in an office far, far away, I received a typewritten manuscript that told a harrowing tale of a transatlantic voyage gone horribly wrong. The author and his girlfriend had answered a magazine advertisement for crew (yes, it was that long ago) for a bluewater passage on a 40ft sloop owned by a genial Slav. All was well at first, but then, as the tradewinds failed to materialize and the daily runs dropped into double and sometimes single digits, the skipper grew increasingly morose and spent most of each day in his cabin, emerging only to eat ... Read More