A Classy Fleet

By | Boats

Enjoying a perfect summer day watching a boat regatta in Bristol, Rhode Island.

On left is the gaff schooner Columbia flying everything but the skipper’s undershorts in a soft 10 knot southerly. Just lovely.

On the right, a bit far off, part of a large contingent of Herreshoff S-Boats. Up close they are utterly gentlemanly, crew members sitting on booms to keep the mainsails from flogging, very pretty.

Most of the fleet clustered at the Herreshoff Museum at the end of the race, a gorgeous panoply of perfectly maintained wooden sailboats of every vintage, size and style. Although I have zero interest in sailing or maintaining a vintage wooden yacht, this afternoon was enough to make me think twice about it. The regatta must be a hell of a lot of fun for participants. There are onshore parties every night for the four day regatta. As you might expect, crews look totally “yachty” with plenty of Breton Red in sight. Acres of flawless varnish too. A classy fleet, to say the least.

A really enjoyable day on Narragansett Bay.

Bad Actors’ Bounty

By | Boats

Amazing how many bad actors buy megayachts! Interesting article about a $250 million megayacht built by a guy who siphoned off hundreds of millions from a Malaysian wealth fund.

Not bad looking, actually, and apparently up for sale soon.

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Jubilee: An Island Unto Herself

By | Boats

Yacht featured here – Jubilee – is an ode to utter excess, 361 ft long, décor is Vegas Casino on steroids, built for middle eastern potentate. That said, if you admire craftsmanship, the detail photos from the interior display some extraordinary detail and design work, even if it not to your (or my) taste.

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Tradeoffs, Tradeoffs

By | Boats

The glorious parade of yachts passing by our place every day consists mostly of fairly mundane sport fish and center consoles, but thankfully something different/rare/beautiful/impressive shows up often. Herewith a few that caught my eye over the past few weeks:

At left, an example of a relatively typical modern sedan powerboat. Not sure what it is – could be a Princess or Fairline from England. I’m not in love with the look – reverse sheer, oddly shaped hull windows, somewhat busy topsides with a lot of creases/notches/swoops – but this is one of the nicer ones and I don’t actively dislike it. Next is the kind of homely, oddball live-aboard ketch that charms me – aft mast is raked in a different direction from the mainmast, decks festooned with fenders/bicycles/spare tanks/who knows, anonymous plain-Jane hull a bit low in the water. Wandering on a budget, getting it done, don’t bother me. On the right is a very “yar” Dutch pilothouse cruiser. Elegant sheerline, deckhouse and pilothouse in proper proportion, tasteful dark green hull. The seagoing aspirations of this yacht, probably made of steel, are shown by tall paravane stabilizing fins on each side. They are lowered into the water offshore and keep the motion quite tolerable. On the other hand, their height makes it impossible for this yacht to pass under all but the highest bridges on the ICW. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs.

On the left, a tiny cruising sloop of immense charm. Note huge boom extending past transom – requiring detachable backstays every time you tack I assume. Sheerline is as jaunty and swoopy as possible in such a tiny yacht. Deckhouse is way plump, inky black inside with just one teeny portlight. There’s even a small dinghy on a towline. This little sloop wandered in the St. Lucie Inlet – from the Bahamas? Can you imagine living aboard for weeks or months? Top speed 4 knots? God bless single-handed roamers. Next is another charmer – a Pilgrim 40 pilothouse – houseboat-style powerboat, chugging resolutely down the ICW. Note pilothouse windows with rounded tops, Swedish crown adorning flybridge front, plenty of flags – US Ensign, Swedish courtesy flag, personal signal to port, and Great Loop burgee on bow. Stubby plumb bow, but you can’t see lovely rounded transom in this shot. Isn’t this a doughty yacht? Owner not content with simple “Vagabond” name – it is “HMS Vagabond.” So there.  On right is a rare junk-rigged schooner, designed by Tom Colvin. This looks like it is made of aluminum, left unfinished for zero maintenance. The junk rig doesn’t need stays, is utterly simple to reef and manage, and works OK on a reach or downwind. To weather, fire up the diesel. This is bone-simple cruising, unyachty, almost a sea-going loft.

Lots more I can send, array of yachts terrific lately.

Merry Christmas

By | Boats

Been a while since I’ve sent off pix of boats passing by our Stuart place that I find interesting. Alas, due to a computer switch I have lost all my old emails so I am unsure what older photos I’ve used. But the pix following this were all taken very recently.

Left to right:

A very pretty schooner – looks old, I do not recognize the naval architect. Nice spoon bow, ample bowsprit, and a pert, nicely-raked stern. The topsides are glossy black and note the very cute dinghy in matching black. A sense of harmony. Next is a stubby, modern power cat, beetling along at 12 knots or better. I see more and more power cats passing by – many people agree with me that they offer much to the cruising power boater – they are efficient, cruise at good speeds, take head seas well, and offer much interior space. If I were younger (and richer) . . . . Last is a rare vessel, a beige sailing catamaran designed in almost a Sampan or panga style. It is a schooner, unusual for a small sailing cat, and notice the outboard rudders. Unlike the chunky power cat, this slender-hulled, low-profile yacht will offer squished, minimal accommodations. A shot from another angle shows that what looks like a full-width deckhouse is actually a pair of very skinny deckhouses, one over each hull. Hope the owners are young, lithe and small!

Three very interesting powerboats! Left to right:

A brutal, massive ocean-going trawler yacht. See the crudeness of the construction – the hull is rippled and dimpled due to commercial-grade (or worse) plating – no fairing used, and the steel plates look slapdash. But the owner isn’t concerned – the name of the yacht is “WHO CARES.” Not very maneuverable – as it rounded the corner from the St. Lucie Inlet it was listing to starboard, then it had considerable trouble straightening out to run south on the ICW. This photo shows it heading right into Jupiter Preserve before the captain applied bow thruster and heavy reverse. Next is a darling pilothouse trawler from Canada. That canoe stern is entrancing, isn’t it? Combined with a plumb bow, arched window and mast with davit the look is lovely, although the damned fenders dangling over the topsides mar the appearance. Note how a good-sized tender was squeezed in – it is mounted athwartships sticking out over the side decks. First time I’ve seen that arrangement. A nasty head cracker to someone tootling down the side decks! Finally we’ve got a biggish, multi-level power cat from the drawing board of Ted Hood, better known for his many fine sailboat designs. Although Ted came across as the quintessential traditional Yankee, he was in fact very creative and not afraid to try radical designs. Ted was the first to embrace the use of jet drives on power yachts, and his Whisper jets are still popular. This power cat is very different looking — not too graceful in my opinion. I toured one at a boat show it was a head-scratching warren of odd spaces. He set up a production line for them in Taiwan but I think only about four or five were ever built. I remember seeing one 75% built for sale online years after Ted died. However, I applaud his creativity and here is one with the marvelous monicker “GIOVANNINO” rigged out for fun cruising with paddle boards on the foredeck.

So many cool yachts go by our place – I have dozens and dozens of pix of tiny wanderers, magnificent old yachts, insane monster sportfish, classic cruising sailboats and more. I love the fact that shoestring cruisers potter by in 1970’s Columbia 45 motorsailors you can buy for a song, right next to haughty $5 million Hinckley’s. Everyone can be on the water.


J Class World Championships

By | Boats

I was lucky to see a little of the J Boat regatta. J boats are amazing! In truth, I do not find any of them lovely – the ultra-flat sheer lines and wildly long overhangs look distorted and harsh to me, but they are seriously impressive. When one of them steams by you at 12 knots, rail down, bow wave foaming, you feel the immense power of a J Boat.

I walked down the docks where they were berthed at Newport Shipyard, and I was impressed by the incredible detail work and maintenance of these insane relic replicas – the teak work, custom fittings and bright work are perfection.

I’m unsure how the J Boat class has become so popular among the 1% of the 1% — there are now 7 of these extraordinary vessels afloat, five of them are new-builds that adhere more or less to hull lines drawn decades ago for some built and some unbuilt challengers. Two are re-builds of nearly defunct J Boats, that ended up being almost complete new boats. The J Boat class holds regattas all over the place, in the Med, the Caribbean and here. Well-known helmsman Ken Read said that competing in one of these of pretty hairy – they have no lifelines, massive forces from the huge sails, and I bet they get pretty squirrely given their extreme sail area. I assume they sail much more slowly than a new maxi boat built to roughly the same dimensions, since the J Boats suffer from massive wetted surface, antique sail plans and high-drag underbodies. But, for sure they are fun to watch.

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By | Boats

Great photo of magnificent yacht Meteor blasting through waves in strong breeze off Newport last weekend. It must have been a thrill to drive that boat in those conditions.

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Original Thinking

By | Boats

Quite interesting and novel new mid size yacht. Motors have been a moved under the swim platform, freeing up the entire hull for accommodations. Main salon is located at aft end of boat with huge glass transom. Will heavy motors at aft end make it run bow-high? There are a lot of additional interesting details.

Nice to see some original thinking in yacht design.

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Neat New Boat

By | Boats

Pretty cool new boat – a lightweight, trailerable, 35’ outboard-powered trawler/cruiser. A pair of little Suzuki 60’s pushed it to 26 mph, cruise at 16 mph (15 knots) burning just 4 gph. Neat.

Great Harbour TT35