Late last month, the United Kingdoms Marine Accident Investigation Board released its investigation report on the death of Simon Speirs, the 60-year-old sailor who drowned after falling overboard during the 2017-2018 Clipper Ventures Around the World Race. The biennial race, organized by legendary offshore sailor Sir Robin Knox Johnston, invites sailors to pay about $60,000 to compete in a nearly year-long race around the world on custom 70-foot offshore racing sloops. The race is also an advertising vehicle for corporate sponsors. The next race is set to begin in about two months.
Sailing a cruising boat is many things-rewarding, sometimes adventurous, and often relaxing-but seldom viscerally fun, not in the way that a beach cat or performance dinghy saturates the senses and puts you in touch with the wind and waves. It doesnt communicate every ripple and puff, it doesnt thrill, and it doesnt allow you to push the edge. Its the difference between driving a Winnebago and riding a bicycle. For many of us, our love of sailing began with something fast and volatile, and by-and-by, we miss it dearly. And yet as much as wed like to strap a Laser or Hobie to the foredeck, thats not happening.
Several years ago I heard a story about a boatbuilder who was demonstrating the toughness of their hull at a boat show booth by allowing passersby to wack a hammer at a sample fiberglass sandwich core panel. Each time, the hammer would impressively bounce back, leaving only a small dent. But then one dubious volunteer (an engineer, one presumes) took a turn, but this time with the hammer claw at the business end. The claw quickly pierced the thin laminate and lodged in the core, thus puncturing the myth of the indestructible hull.
The recent release of Steve Wystrachs outstanding documentary film Manry at Sea about Robert Manry, the former copy editor who sailed across the Atlantic in a 13-foot sailboat, got me thinking again about the virtues of small cruising boats. In my view, there are at least four main types of pocket cruisers. Manrys modified lake boat fits somewhere in between the first two.
With $655 million dollars marine vessel insurance claims from the 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma, there is no shortage of broken boats accumulating in salvage yards. The nations three big damaged boat liquidators - Certified Sales, Cooper Capital and U.S. Auctions are gradually thinning out their listings from Irma and Harvey, but Florence will surely bring a new crop. But just how salvageable are these boats?
The tools and materials required to maintain and repair everything on a boat will barely fit in a room. Just the kit required to maintain vital systems will raise the waterline of a large boat and is impractical in a smaller boat. Fortunately, when day sailing and even cruising locally, all we really need to do is get back to the dock...any dock.
A New Zealander greatly influenced by the traditional craft of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, famed multihull designer Ian Farrier understood that an enduring design goes through several evolutions. Proas, the small sailing craft of Micronesia that inspired his visionary folding trimaran design, presented a perfect example of this.
In May 1999 Practical Sailor reviewed the then-new Corsair F-24 Mark II trimaran. Nearly 20 years later, were here to follow up with a focus on the Corsair F-24 Mark I, a boat that can represent a good value today since many newer designs have entered the market.
A test sail is a great way to weed out the painted vixens before spending your hard earned cash on a marine survey. Sure, you could ride around with a Mimosa in one hand while the broker regales you with tales of far away, exotic lands, but a smarter move would be to approach your test sail with planning and a critical eye. Heres how to glean as much info as possible about your potential purchase during a test sail.
The problem with survival suits is that theres no telling when the big wave or brutal wind gust will hit, and it may not leave time to don a survival suit. Some survival suits have sewn-in gloves that make it almost impossible to turn on the radio or deploy a personal locator beacon. Thats why wearing a comfortable, breathable drysuit makes sense. It leaves you much more ready to manage the boat in heavy weather. And should the unexpected happen, your odds of survival in the water are better than they would be in foul weather gear.