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Bob Billingham Celebration of Life

Fri, 2014-04-11 17:19

Posted April 11, 2014

Bob Billingham had one life, but he touched so many.

The accomplishments are one thing—Olympic medalist, trimmer on the 1992 America’s Cup winner, five-times a world champion in Solings, Etchells, J/24s and Maxis, facilities manager for America’s Cup 34, commentator for the racing—but those are things that can be represented by trophies on a shelf, or medals in a case. They don’t begin to tell you how much Bob gave of his wisdom and generous heart, every step of the way. Even as each step grew harder and harder.

On the tenth of May, at the St. Francis Yacht Club, from 1 pm to 4 pm, there will be a celebration of life honoring Bob Billingham.

The newly-named Billingham Buoy will be in the water, just beyond the window.

Bob will be missed, but few of the leaders of yachting will be missing from that room—Kimball

Contributions to the Buoy in Bob’s memory continue to be welcome at the St. Francis Sailing Foundation.

Roy Would Be Proud: Towill and Enright Launch Volvo 65

Fri, 2014-04-11 16:16


Here’s a story that began with Roy Disney’s Morning Light project and, just as he intended, didn’t end there. The word from Volvo Ocean Race PR:

April 11, 2014. Southampton, UK – Team Alvimedica launched their new Volvo Ocean 65 boat on Friday in Southampton to herald six months of crew selections and hard training before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in October.

On the dock was Race CEO Knut Frostad who has fostered the dreams of two young Americans, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, to launch a boat in offshore sailing’s toughest round-the-world professional event.

“This is a proud moment,” said Frostad. “Mark and Charlie remind me of me when I was their age – they have no fear and are just so hungry to compete in this race.

“They have overcome many, many barriers to reach this point having found the ideal sponsor for them but now, in lots of ways, the hard work is just starting.”

Enright and Towill’s success in securing a Volvo Ocean Race campaign already has a fairy tale feel – they first met as teenagers on the set of a Disney sailing movie seven years ago and vowed then to compete in the event one day.

“Today is a great moment for the both of us,” said Towill. “We’ve followed this dream all this time and for so long we didn’t think it would happen. We can’t wait to assemble our crew now and get in shape for the big start in October.”

The event at Southampton’s Green Marine boatyard also marked a major milestone for Alvimedica CEO Dr Cem Bozkurt who is fully backing the Turkey-based medical device company’s own dream of contesting the race.

“Our sailing team, initially made up of our employees, achieved significant success in a number of races after we identified sailing as our company’s sporting pillar two years ago,” he said.

“Now our target is to race with professionals in the premier league of sailing. We have set our hearts on the Volvo Ocean Race and we want to introduce Alvimedica to a broader public around the world using a challenging race which draws the attention of more than 1.5 billion people every edition.”

Alvimedica became one of Europe’s leading companies in the area of interventional cardiology after merging last year with CID, an Italian-based firm.

Now they have their sights firmly focused on the North American market and the global reach of the Volvo Ocean Race, which visits all continents of the world and 11 countries in total, suits those ambitions perfectly.

“We are in the Volvo Ocean Race because it is a sporting platform to express our worldwide business ambitions and reflects our corporate values and our passion.

“We’re young, agile, we love challenges, we thrive on modern technology and we firmly believe that teamwork leads to better results. That is also the spirit of the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Towill and Enright have a very full agenda now that their one-design Volvo Ocean 65 has hit the water in an event witnessed by journalists from around Europe.

They will be trialing prospective crewmates later this month with the accent firmly on young talent from around the world. Towill and Charlie are both in their 20s and will be leading the youngest team in the race.

Once the eight-man crew plus an on-board reporter are recruited, Team Alvimedica plan some hard-core training in the lead-up to the opening in-port race in Alicante, Spain on October 4.

A highlight of their preparations will be a trans-Atlantic voyage to their home port of Newport, Rhode Island which will be hosting the Race for the first time in May next year.

A week after the Alicante in-port race, the fleet sets sail for the first leg of nine to Cape Town on October 11.

My views on split rigs

Fri, 2014-04-11 13:15
This article originally appeared in my buddy Kevin’s blog.


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Split Rigs According to Perry, by Bob Perry


I use
the term “split rig” to describe any boat with more than one mast. It’s
important to keep this discussion in historical context. There was a time when
dividing up the big rig of a sloop was a practical matter. It was done to break
the sail area down into smaller individual components to make handling easier.
But today we have nice big winches, roller furling for jibs and mains, fancy
line handling hardware, aluminum and carbon fiber spars and lighter weight, high
tech sail fabrics. The modern fractional sloop rig is very easy to handle and
the benefits of the split rig have diminished to the point where we are left
with split rig disadvantages. If you prefer a split rig I think it’s best to
realize that it’s a subjective decision most of the time. You might just prefer
the look of a schooner, ketch or yawl. I can’t argue with that. Actually I have,
but in the end I have always lost that argument.

What are the disadvantages of the split rig? Weight
aloft would be one. Complexity and clutter would be another. Cost certainly is
increased when you add another mast with its required chainplates, mast step and
additional sail detailing. But I have designed a lot of split rigs and if that’s
what the client wants I’m happy to oblige.

An Islander Freeport 41 ketch, my very first
design job for Islander, chugging along nicely with modern off-the-wind
asym chute and mizzen staysail drawing
well.

 

Let’s start with the yawl. Yawls look great with
their itsy bitsy mizzen, usually hovering over a long stern overhang. While
there have been yawls and yawl-like rigs for many years, the popularity of the
yawl boomed in this country during the late 40′s and 50′s when the dominant
racing handicap rule was the Cruising Club of America rule, the CCA. There was a
bit of a glitch in the way the CCA measured sail area. Sails flown off the
mizzen mast, i.e. mizzen staysails and mizzen spinnakers, were not counted in
the measured sail area. So if you had a 44′ yawl and could fly a 300 square foot
mizzen staysail off the wind, that was 300 sq. ft. of “free” sail area. This was
eventually corrected in the later days of the CCA and when corrected yawls
disappeared from the racing fleet. But when the free sail area was allowed, the
dominant ocean racers like the famous S&S FIGARO and Alan Gurney’s
magnificent WINDWARD PASSAGE were all yawls. Any race that was an off-the-wind
race gave a distinct advantage to the yawl. While the token mizzen was of little
use at all, big mizzen staysails and mizzen shuts were the key to rule efficient
off-the-wind boat speed. Most of these boats beat to weather with the mizzen
furled and then unleashed an inventory of off-the-wind mizzen flown sails for
off-the-wind horsepower. The only practical side to the yawl for a cruising boat
was that the little mizzen made a great riding sail to keep the boat head to
wind at anchor. You can hang your radar off the mizzen too. Or you can stow your
fishing poles alongside the boom. You can also use the mizzen boom as a lifting
device for your outboard. I only drew one yawl and I did it for my friend
Jimmy Hiller when we were exploring designs for a CCA style “retro” cruiser. The
boat never got built and as I look back at the design it’s obvious to me that
try as I might, I never really captured the strength and beauty of the boats
designed by Bill Tripp and Phil Rhodes. Right near the top of my all time
favorite boats is the Rhodes design CARINA, a classic CCA yawl. Perry’s only yawl design – A
48-footer that was never built I won’t fall back on the old definitions for ketch
and yawl. The criteria used in the old days just don’t hold up today. Where is
the mizzen in relationship to the waterline “buttwater”, the rudder, the helm?
Boats today are very different than the boats of the 50′s. Rudders are much
farther aft.  A center cockpit boat has to have the mizzen aft of the helm. For
me the difference between yawl and ketch is strictly one of proportions. A yawl
will have a very small mizzen, well aft. A ketch will have a much bigger mizzen
stepped further forward. It doesn’t make any sense to me to define the
difference with numbers, just use your eye. When I was a kid it was almost automatic that any
“serious” offshore cruising boat would be a ketch. History was full of them and
they made sense given the technology of the day. The ketch had some advantages.
The three sails were smaller than the two sails of a comparable sloop. The
center of pressure was lower for better stability, although, the VCG was often
higher due to the weight of the mizzen mast. So I think the stability argument
can be questioned. Many sailors like the ability to sail “jib and jigger” in a
blow. This meant furling the main and sailing under jib and mizzen. This works
and can be very convenient but I wouldn’t count on this configuration to give
you good performance to weather. One problem that all split rigs share is that
the mizzen or aft sail is always sailing in the bad air of the forward sails
upwind. The apparent wind for the mizzen will be closer to the wind than the
apparent wind angle for the forward sails. So, in sheeting the mizzen in to get
clean air over it, weather helm can easily be created. Many ketches go to
weather in a blow with the mizzen furled to relieve helm pressure. During a two
week cruise in the BVI’s where we had plenty of breeze we never flew the mizzen
on the 54 ketch I sailed. This is the CT 54, my very first GRP (glass
reinforced plastic) design. I was 26 years old. They built 100 of these classic
ketches. They sail very well considering the general nature of the
type.   I have designed two ketches that really surprised me
with their performance. The very first Tayana 37 that was delivered to Seattle
was a ketch version. The boat was beautifully balanced and went to weather very
well. The other ketch that surprised me was CAPAZ, a 48′ motorsailer with an all
inboard rig. CAPAZ was very close winded. The 48′ motorsailer ketch
CAPAZ   But my favorite ketch of my own design has to be the
CT 65. They built about 30 of these and they sail very well. Vladimir Ashkenazy,
the famous maestro, owns one and that makes me happy. I find this a very good
looking ketch with classic ketch rig proportions. CT 65
ketch

 

But today I have a new ketch being built at the
Pacific Seacraft yard in North Carolina. This is the 63′ CATARI. This ketch has
a bigger mizzen, well forward. We were working with a rig height restriction on
this design so I needed to spread the area out to get the sail area I needed and
come up with a mizzen that would be  a true driving sail, effective upwind and
down. It’s a complex rig made even more complex by the fact that this boat has
both an aft cockpit and a center cockpit. The deck layout has been a real
challenge.

CATARI, a 63′
ketch

 

I can’t forget schooners. Of all the split rigs the
schooner is the most photogenic. But with the big sail aft the schooner can be a
challenge to balance and often the foresail is blanketed by the large main when
off the wind. Schooners made sense in the days of working sail when small crews
would have to handle large schooners. But today the schooner rig is expensive
and getting four sails (jib, staysail, foresail, mainsail) to line up and work
efficiently upwind can be a challenge. The schooner rig is not close winded. My
friend just bought a beautiful old Alden schooner. It’s a lovely boat but it is
not fast. I have only designed one schooner. I tried to talk the client out of
the schooner rig but he just wanted a schooner. JAKATAN is a modern schooner
with an all carbon fiber rig and single point halyards on the foresail and main.
We eliminated the throat and peak halyard arrangement typical of gaff rigs in
favor of a simpler single halyard system. It works well. JAKATAN is very fast
with a modern underbody and a powerhouse off the wind.   JAKATAN, a modern
schooner
We
didn’t look at cat ketches. They can work well but there are not many of them. I
didn’t mention staysail schooners either. They are just a variation on the
schooner rig and I don’t think they have any real advantage. But you have my
basic thoughts on the pros and cons of split rigs. They can all work well given
a good design but none match the performance of the standard sloop for
efficiency. -BP

REBEL HEART UPDATE: Rescue Team Press Conference

Fri, 2014-04-11 10:08

OK, I lied. I’m doing one more post before taking off today. I just watched this press conference with members of the California Air National Guard team who rescued the Kaufman family off Rebel Heart and wanted to make a few points about the rumpus this has inspired.

We still don’t have a lot of answers to questions worth asking, but it is clear from this video that Rebel Heart need not necessarily have been abandoned and scuttled. Apparently nothing was wrong with the steering, she was taking on minimal water, and the rig was at least serviceable. What it came down to, from the skipper/father’s point of view, as one member in the rescue team states pretty explicitly in the video, was whether he was going to stay with the boat or with his sick child and family.

I’ve now been in the bluewater cruising game for over 20 years, both sailing and covering it as a journalist, and I’ve never heard of anyone being put in this position.

I know of and have met many, many people who have gone on major bluewater cruises with very young children (including James Burwick and his young family aboard an Open 50, Anasazi Girl, who were recently rescued off the coast of Chile after being dismasted en route to Cape Horn, all without attracting major media attention). The vast majority of those cruisers, in my experience, have very positive experiences and the children are better off for it. This is the first time I have ever heard of a cruising family having to call in outside support to care for a sick child while on passage.

I also know of and have met several people who have abandoned boats at sea. As some of you know, I recently became one of them. In many cases, I know, too, the reasons for evacuating have been, shall we say, questionable. For example, I once interviewed, at some length, a skipper who evacuated a perfectly functional vessel only because he had received a bad weather forecast.

But I have never heard of anyone having to make the choice that Eric Kaufman had to make. As a father and sailor I know this much: it’s pretty much a worst-case scenario. Which ever way he went he was guaranteed to be criticized, and I am sure he had many more variables to consider than we will ever know about. One of the big ones, of course, was that this bluewater cruise was a dream he had worked many years to fulfill.

Bottom line: I have nothing but respect for the man and the decision he made. I only pray I am never put in the same situation.

I should note, too, that Eric has made a public statement on his blog that is perfectly anodyne and offers no substantive facts about his family’s situation then and now. Both Eric and Charlotte have been very honest in the blogs they have maintained on their website–it is one of the best cruising sites out there, IMHO–and unfortunately now they have only been punished for it. I would not be surprised, and would not blame them, if they now decided to keep their story to themselves.

Also, I need to correct a statement I made in my last post on this subject. The sailing community not been as unanimous as I would have hoped in their support of the Kaufmans. The primary locus of sailorly vitriol against the Kaufmans, not surprisingly, has been the Sailing Anarchy website, not just in the forums there, but in editorial commentary on the front page. All I can say about that is that it is a sad thing that a website with such a negative, bitter spirit is so popular with sailors.

One mainstream media organization has taken the trouble to tabulate a price tag for the Kaufman’s rescue, $663,000. The impression I get from the press conference is that most of this money would have been spent on training anyway. I do still think it is fair to ask whether those calling for unnecessary rescues should have to help cover costs, but I do not think this was an unnecessary rescue. Whether Eric stayed with the boat or not, the child needed help. Many laypeople have questioned whether taking children on such a voyage is unreasonably dangerous, but the fact is Eric’s kids were safer on that boat than they would be strapped into car-seats in a minivan on the freeway.

Finally, I can’t believe that none of the reporters at the press conference thought to ask my question: why so many rescue swimmers? I can see sending two, but why four?

Normalizing the view of family life afloat

Fri, 2014-04-11 07:56

Most of the time, the general public really has no view, or interest, in our very different way of living. The events on Rebel Heart have changed that temporarily, the center of a swirl of media attention. It’s given the uninformed,  hiding in the anonymity of the internet, the mistaken impression that their opinions are wanted or matter. Seeing the venom spewed at families who choose this life, it’s hard not to feel judged, and feel frustration that there’s so much misinformation!

It’s time to showcase the way cruising family life looks 99.9999999% of the time. Check out the #kidsonboats hashtag on Twitter, where people are sharing images of their kids, on boats, all over the world. Or this collaborative photo album of family cruisers that’s the brainstorm of mom Cindy, raising her kids afloat. There’s the awesome video soon-to-be-cruising mom Cidnie pulled together, families from our connected cruising world sharing more photos from around the globe.

Rallying around Rebel Heart, cruisers like Tamiko are taking the naysayers to task for the gross and inaccurate assumptions made Charlotte and family. After publishing a great article in Slate about their life afloat, cruising mom Diane waded through the comments and found a few good questions tucked among the absurd. So, she answered them.

Want to see super normal happy kids growing up- just, afloat? Look at the gorgeous photo essay Genevieve put together of her girls, who happen to be growing up aboard their boat in the Caribbean. Or, take a stroll through this a slideshow BabyCenter published a little over a week ago of our life, from early days as weekend sailors through the miles we’ve voyaged since. Or visit with Brittany, who is no stranger to dealing with those who question the decision to raise her little girl Isla (and soon, twins Haven and Mira) afloat, and has choice words for those who pass judgement. Or the yacht Momo, where Michelle ponders why people need to judge, and reflects on what she’s learned about risk while raising her daughters cruising.

These are the tribe of cruisers, of families afloat, of people who get it. Not jumping to conclusions. Knowing there’s a story to be told, and it’s for Charlotte and Eric to tell. And meanwhile, as we wait, to offer our support by trying to normalize a public view of family life afloat.

The Kaufmans have expressed profound thanks on their blog, and asked that donations be made to That Others May Live, an organization which provides relief to the families of members of the United States Air Force Rescue community when tragedy strikes.

  I’m always grateful when followers read this on the Sailfeed website.

Ian Williams Hangs on at Congressional Cup

Fri, 2014-04-11 00:09

By Rich Roberts Posted April 10, 2014

The 50th Anniversary Congressional Cup is hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club
Thursday’s weather: Wind 4-9k S; foggy early, hazy; high temp. 65F
Friday’s forecast: Wind 10k SW; high temp. 65F

April 10, 2014 LONG BEACH, Calif.—Adam Minoprio has skippered in the Congressional Cup and other major match racing competitions, but has a new role in the game these days: tactician for 2010 Crimson Blazer winner Francesco Bruni, in Italy’s renewed Luna Rossa campaign for the America’s Cup, starting with Stage Two of this event.

The New Zealand native speaks little Italian, but that isn’t a problem.

“Everybody on the boat speaks English,” Minoprio said, “but the big thing this week is to make sure my English is clear and not too Kiwi.”

It’s a joke, but it must be working. Bruni’s boat was among half the fleet of 10 that completed the last four flights of the first of two round-robins Thursday by winning three of four matches. Ian Williams of the UK is still alone on top at 7-2, with Italy’s Bruni, France’s Mathieu Richard and Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands hard on his tail—literally—at 6-3, followed by Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson making a comeback at 4-5. All were 3-1 on the day.

Competition continues with the second round-robin Friday and Saturday, followed by the semifinals Sunday.

Williams’ lead would be a bit larger if Canfield, ranked No. 1 in the world, hadn’t done to him precisely what Bruni did 24 hours earlier: stalking his stern and, using his right-of-way position, to force him behind the committee boat right up to the starting horn, requiring Williams (No. 2) to do a downwind turnaround as Canfield sailed away into the end of the lazy, hazy day.

“Today we were starting a little better,” said Canfield, who was 3-2 the previous day. “Communication on the team is better. We knew he was [approaching in the line] early, so we wanted to get him as far up in the box as possible.”

But the most interesting start was in the first flight of the day when Bruni and Swinton stalled dead in the water at the pin end of the line and Berntsson, scheduled for the next start, entered the box and poked his boat between them, drawing a foul.

Meanwhile, Bruni was cruising at 3-0 on the day and led fellow Italian Simone Ferrarese off the starting line and around the first of two laps until, he said, “We had an issue with a spinnaker takedown. The [spinnaker] pole wasn’t coming off, and the sheet caught somewhere on the hatch.”

Before they could straighten it out, Ferrarese was gone out of reach.

Richard launched his comeback by dealing Canfield his only defeat of the day, then lost to Australia’s Keith Swinton (5-4) before beating Ferrarese (3-6) and New Zealand’s Phil Robertson (3-6).

“We had some very poor starts today,” Richard said, “but we got three points, anyway. I’m very proud of the crew.”

And Bruni seems happy with his new tactician.

Minoprio said, “It’s good that while the Kiwis have such a big role in the sailing world that I have an opportunity.”

He searched out a role elsewhere when it became clear that the continuing Emirates Team New Zealand campaign—unlike the U.S. dearth of Americans on the American boat Oracle in last year’s successful America’s Cup defense—was overcrowded with homegrown sailors. Luna Rossa’s AC team responded favorably.

Minoprio, 28, grew up in Auckland, “but I haven’t really lived there in six years,” he said, while sailing with various international campaigns around the world, including ETNZ’s 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race aboard Camper.

Nine more flights remain on the Long Beach outer harbor over the next two days to determine the four semifinalists who will mix it up Sunday. Total prize money is $75,000, with $17,500 to the winner through $2,000 for last place.

Racing is scheduled to start daily at 11:30 a.m., conditions permitting. Spectators enjoy incomparable viewing of the races from Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Admission is free, as is parking at the base of the pier. Seating, free public shuttles along the pier, concessions and comfort stations are available.

Standings after 9 of 18 flights

1. Ian Williams, UK, 7-2; 2. tie among Mathieu Richard, France; Taylor Canfield, USVI, and Francesco Bruni, Italy, 6-3; 5. Keith Swinton, Australia, 5-4; 6. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, 4-5; 7. tie among Simone Ferrarese, Italy, Phil Robertson, New Zealand, and Dave Perry, U.S., 3-6; 10: Scott Dickson, U.S., 2-7.

Footnotes

The Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing, introducing on-the-water umpiring in 1988, plus a high level of organization with a unique volunteer force of more than 300 LBYC members. Each competing crew is assigned a boat hostess and housing team who deliver the outstanding local hospitality characteristic of Congressional Cup for half a century, alongside world-class yacht racing. Long Beach Yacht Club has been one of the nation’s premiere boating institutions since 1929. It is located at 6201 E. Appian Way in Long Beach, Calif.

Garmin GNX 20/21 instrument displays, monochrome mashups

Thu, 2014-04-10 22:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 10, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

The press release for the new Garmin instruments doesn’t mention it — and I didn’t notice it at first myself — but can you see what’s quite unusual about these monochrome displays? The GNX 20 at left and its inverted GNX 21 sibling have LCD screens that are partly segmented and partly dot matrix. I didn’t even know that was possible, but I think it makes sense in terms of maximum power efficiency without completely surrendering to the readability limitations of large segments…

The GNX 21 true wind speed/angle screen above illustrates the segment/dot matrix mix pretty well, especially if you click to make it bigger, and the inset depth/depth graph does it even better, though I don’t have a high resolution version. The segmented upper left section of these screens display big numbers crisply, much like Furuno FI-50 Digital and Multi displays. But the Furuno’s can’t show a graph and sometimes even label text is a little hard to make out. By contrast, the all dot matrix Simrad IS20 Combi and Graphic displays are good at strip charts and small fonts, but not so great at large numbers. The Garmin GNX 20 and GNX 21 use both power efficient LCD display technologies.

Garmin has also done something unusual with monochrome LCD backlighting, offering seven color choices and even the ability to custom mix them. Nonetheless, Garmin reports that the GNX displays only use .4 watt with mid level backlighting on and .35 during the day. And power efficiency — so important to sailors – is really what these $450 displays are about. A powerboater with plenty of spare amperage underway is apt to get a $550 all-color, any-graphic GMI 20 instead. Even big numbers look good on the new breed of all-in-one NMEA displays, as seen here, but they do use more juice (max on the GMI 20 is 2.5 W).

Powerboat may be the name of one set of data screens built into the GNX, but the other three are Sail Cruise, Sail Race, and Custom. I suspect the name change from GMI (Garmin Marine Instrument) to GNX (Garmin Nexus?) further signifies the sailing orientation. But Garmin didn’t have to do anything special on the backside to accommodate Nexus systems, as they already introduced the GND 10 Black Box Bridge last fall (along with GWind and lots of other stuff). So existing Nexus users can add GNX displays via that NMEA 2000 port, and like the GMI 20 there’s still an NMEA 0183 port for older sensors (though we’re at the point where that cable is an option).

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MAINE CAT 38: Minimalist Performance Cruising Cat

Thu, 2014-04-10 18:30

Speaking of catamarans, this is a new Maine Cat launch coming up this year that I’m looking forward to. I love cats like this–lean and mean and simple, with enough accommodations that you can really go somewhere in them, but not so much that the boat gets fat and slow. This is an open bridgedeck design, similar to the Scape 39 Sport Cruiser I sailed across the South Atlantic a few years ago, but not quite as severe, with some serious hardtop shelter on deck. Basically it looks to be an open-air saloon. Or a huge pilothouse. Take your pick.

The in-hull accommodations, as you can see, are also clean and simple.

I love that they have the cojones to put just one head on the boat. I’ve never appreciated multiple heads on boats under 50 feet long. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Space on a boat is limited, always, and how much time do you really spend in the head?

This will be a very versatile boat, as all the foils (daggerboards and rudders) are retractable, as are the twin 20hp outboards that provide auxiliary power. With everything up, draft is just 19 inches (the outboards are fully enclosed, with fairings that seal the leg apertures when the engines are raised), so you can easily hit the beach if you want.

Construction looks to be impeccable: infused vinylester resin and thermo-formed Core-Cell foam throughout. The standard rig features a Selden aluminum mast, a self-tacking jib, and a protrusion for a screecher. A rotating mast, flat-top main, overlapping jib, and a screecher to fly from the protrusion, are all optional.

The prospective standard equipment list has most everything I’d want on the boat (electronics, including an autopilot, fridge and freezer, 150-watt solar array, and an 510AH house battery bank) and the introductory price, $321K, is extremely reasonable.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sail one in Maine this summer. I’ll also be looking for it in Annapolis in the fall. And here’s another enticing test-sailing option if you’re seriously interested: Maine Cat will have one available next winter for bareboat chartering in the Bahamas.

Man… if I had a boat like this in the Bahamas, I might never come back.

WARNING: I’m going missing for a while, without my computer, so this will be the last post for a week or more. Very nice gig this. I look forward to telling you about it when I get back.

Frozen

Thu, 2014-04-10 17:30

One of the much-vaunted benefits of travel is that it makes you open to new things.  It is supposed to be a growth experience.  Spending time with new people, living life in different ways, seeing the beautiful places of the world as well as the desperately sad ones – all of these things are supposed to make me into a wise old crone.  By the time I move home, I should be so full of the Wisdom of the Earth that people will run from my smug face at a hundred paces.  But today, I have learned a different lesson.  Hold on – let me adjust my flowing robes, put on a mysterious smile and gaze into the distance.  Ready?  I have learned… that I can longer tolerate the cold.  Not even a little bit.  I know this because I am sitting bundled up in a long-sleeved shirt, blowing on my fingers in Brisbane, Australia.  A place that will climb to 30 C today.  But, compared to Noumea?  I feel like someone has set me out to drift on an ice floe.

I’ve never been a cold weather fan.  This is no secret.  But this new development does worry me just a little.  It is not a good idea for my body to turn tropical.  For one thing, my home is back at 43 N.  I remember the scritch-scritch of snowpants and wearing two layers of grandma’s knitted mitts.  I dread and respect black ice.  I know that when half a meter of snow falls overnight, you don’t call in the army – you just trade head-shakes with your neighbours, send someone to Tim Horton’s for a round of double-doubles, and get shovelling.
 I know these things, but my body rejects the memories.

Maybe Brisbane was just too much of a shock to my system.  Intellectually, I understand that 30 C (86 F) is nice and toasty.  And while I am outside, it doesn’t feel so bad.  But indoors, Australians air-condition themselves into a polar vortex conditions.  At least in the apartment I can crank up the temperature as it suits me, but, out in the world, you get what you get.

And no place – not anywhere – is worse than the supermarket.

As we walked into the store, Indy started rubbing her arms.  ”Why is it so cold in here?”
I’d forgotten that Aussies like to pretend they are grocery shopping in the Antarctic.  ”I don’t know, honey.  Let’s just be quick.”
As the girls picked out oranges and tomatoes, I felt the goosebumps come out on my arms.  I swore quietly to myself.  Goosebumps are my early warning system. I didn’t have a lot of time.
“Okay, ladies.  Divide and conquer.  Stylish: strawberries.  Indy, let’s find some ham.”
We strode down the aisles, trying to generate heat, but there was no escape.  We paused in a dead-air zone in the bread aisle to regroup. “Ooo, English muffins!”  Stylish picked up a pack.
I put it in the cart.  ”Sure.  But if we buy these…” I looked down at the girls.  Their lips were turning blue.  ”We’ll need cream cheese.”
Indy moaned a little.  Stylish wiped the frost from her brows and nodded.  ”I’ll get it.”
“Are you sure?  Sweetheart, you’re so young.” I took a deep breath.  ”Promise me that, if it gets too hairy, you’ll abort the mission.”
She saluted, and was gone.
Indy and I huddled for warmth by the raisin buns.  ”Is she going to be okay, Mom?” asked Indy.  But I was too cold to speak.
The seconds ticked past.  I checked my watch.  It had been too long.  Something had gone wrong.
I flexed my fingers, which were now yellow up to the first knuckle.  ”We have to go get her.”
Indy gave me a despairing look.  But she nodded, the little trooper.
We found Stylish paralysed in front of the sour cream.  ”I can’t find it!  Sour cream, whipping cream, all of the other creams are here.”
I pointed down the aisle.  ”Cream cheese is usually between the yoghurt and cheese.  You couldn’t have known, soldier.”  I patted her shoulder.  ”I’m going in.  Stay here and warm up your sister.”
“Mom!”
But I was already gone.  Leaning forward at a 45 degree angle, I fought my way through the blast of the a/c.  Greek yoghurt, low-fat, no-fat, bingo!  The silver and blue Philadelphia packaging had never looked so welcome.  I snatched a pot of store brand (sorry, Philly: cheap cruiser habits die hard) and backtracked to the girls.
“Shortest line,” I managed.  ”Hurry.”
Back on the street, the girls and I took a moment to stand in a sunbeam and recharge.  As my fingers gradually turned pink again, I gave the kids a hug.
“We’re not going back there again, not ever” said Indy.  ”Right, Mom?”
“No way,” I said.  ”Not worth it.”
The girls nodded solemnly.  We had enough Mint Slices and bread to get us through.

Soon enough we’ll be back in the face-melting heat of Noumea.  No doubt I’ll complain about that, too.  And, for now, I’ll try to make peace with the Aussies and their obsessive need to create a winter wonderland.

But I might have to pick up a sweater to take to the museum today.

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