Sunday, December 11, 2011

Madness: A 31-Foot Proa

In this video, John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft makes the case for the proa as an alternative minimalist cruiser.  This is one intriguing design, and the prototype shown here has since been launched and sea trialed. I plan to follow up with more on this Madness soon:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cool Gear Received:

I've got some new stuff in the mail to test and write about in the upcoming weeks.  First, I was offered a pair of Margaritaville polarized sunglasses from the Margaritaville Store: 

This style is the Havana, which retails for $159.95 and appears to be well-made.  I've been wearing them everyday for driving and find them comfortable and the optics good.  I'll put them to the test in the coming weeks with a couple of sea kayaking trips on the Gulf coast, and see how well the polarization works to reduce the glare.  This is a good time of year to test that, as the air is clear and the light seems to be at it's brightest - making it a great time of year for coastal photography as well.  I'll let you know what I think of the sunglasses here when I've had time to really evaluate them, but I can say at this point that I already like them a lot, and they come with some nice accessories, like a microfiber cleaning bag, an integrated leash system, and a nice zippered, hardshell case to protect them.  Oh, and the palm tree logos on the ear pieces and lenses are a nice touch too.

I've also got a couple of gear reviews to do for Sea Kayaker magazine.  One will be a round-up of the latest chart-enabled hand-held GPS units that I will get started on as soon as they are sent from the manufacturers.  In the meantime, I'll be testing several different water filtration packs by Hydration Technology Systems.  Of particular interest is the SeaPack Crew Emergency Desalination Pouch, which could be a good back-up system for sea kayakers and a valuable addition to a ditch bag or life-raft for sailors:

I'll be testing these to see if they work as advertised, and when the article is published in Sea Kayaker, I'll post a link to it here. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tiki 38 Atlantic Crossing Video

Wharram catamarans seem to get built and actually taken to sea on impressive voyages on a more frequent basis than just about any other boat I can think of designed for the backyard boatbuilder.

After five years of determined construction in the U.S., Jacques Pierret has launched his self-built Wharram Tiki 38, Pilgrim, and recently sailed her across the Atlantic from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey to Marseille, France.  The 4500 nautical mile passage took a total of 31 days, at an average speed of 6 knots, including stops, and a top speed of 16.6 knots.  Here's a great video of the trip by the captain and his four-man crew:

More videos, lots of photos and journal entries about the passage can be found on the voyage blog at:
Pilgrim 38.  Here's the route sailed and a few samples of the photos:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters: My Latest Book Now Available

I've neglected my posting on this site for way too long, and part of the reason is that I've been so busy writing books.  This has been my busiest year ever as an author, with two new non-fiction books released and a contract to write a novel that has to be completed by February.  All of these new titles are in the currently exploding survival genre, but these latest ones also offer a lot to anyone interested in boats.  Just last week, Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters: Build and Outfit Your Life-Saving Escape was released, and despite the cover image, it contains three chapters on waterborne transportation, as I am of the persuasion that in most situations boats are better options for evacuating danger zones than land vehicles.

Chapter Three: Bug Out Boats covers the kind of vessels I consider "escape watercraft".  That is, both power and sailing craft that can quickly get you out of a danger zone while carrying everything you need to survive, yet are not large enough to offer self-contained, long-term accommodations.  These boats include beach cruisers you camp out of, rather than in, and fast runabouts that quickly get you to a safer location in situations where you may not have time to stop overnight at all.

Chapter Six:  Liveaboard Boats is in the section of the book dedicated to mobile retreats.  This kind of boat provides a platform for long-term survival as well as transportation.  Vessels suited for both protected brownwater cruising and offshore bluewater voyaging are included here, with an emphasis on simplicity, seaworthiness and reasonable cost.  Outfitting and setting up such a boat as a mobile bug-out retreat is not much different than preparing for any type of long-term cruising in possibly remote locations, but special considerations for this use are pointed out. 

Chapter Nine:  Human-Powered Watercraft covers canoes, sea kayaks and rowing vessels, as this type of boat can navigate waterways beyond the reach of larger vessels and access remote wilderness areas where safe retreat locations can be found, as well as natural resources for survival.  In the event of some kind of sustained shut down of the power and conventional transportation grid, such craft may be the most viable means of travel - especially if stealth and a low profile is needed.

I won't go into many details about the novel project at this point, but I will say that a Wharram catamaran features prominently in the story line.  This should probably be expected by long-time readers here, who by now know about my enduring fascination with these Polynesian-style catamarans.  A Reuel Parker schooner is also in the story, and a good bit of sailing and passage-making is part of the plot.  

The other non-fiction book: Getting Out Alive: 13 Deadly Scenarios and How Others Survived was published back in March this year, and so is not news, but since it was not mentioned here before, I thought I should do so now as it also has some chapters to offer boating enthusiasts.  There's a scenario on surviving a hurricane aboard a sailboat, a scenario in which ill-prepared power boaters get swept out to sea in the Gulf Stream, and a modern-day marooning on a deserted Pacific atoll.  All these situations include real-life accounts of people who have actually survived (or perished) in similar scenarios. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

SEABRIGHT 33: A New Reuel Parker Design

Reuel Parker was kind enough to send me some study plans for an interesting design he drew recently that he calls the SEABRIGHT 33.  This boat really caught my attention and he probably knew it would appeal to me as I am most interested in those rare designs that combine shallow draft with offshore seaworthiness.  This really looks like a great boat: watertight bulkheads and built-in flotation,  trailerable and not too expensive or difficult to build, yet offering cruising for four with standing headroom in part of the cabin despite a draft of only 1' 9".

Here are a few of the drawings from the study plans:


LOD:  35' 2"

LOD:  32' 3"

BEAM:  8' 6"

DRAFT:  1' 9"

DISPLACEMENT:  5,000lbs.

BALLAST:  2,000 lbs. lead foil laminated in keel

WATER:  70 gallons 

TYPE:  New Jersey Seabright Skiff. Suitable for sailing in coastal and offshore conditions.  This model is designed with watertight flotation compartments and accommodations for four with a small galley and head.  The type has an excellent record as a lifesaving vessel, and can be used as an island-hopper, coastal cruiser and ocean voyager.  Trailerable behind a vehicle rated for 6,000 lb. towing capacity. 

CONSTRUCTION:  Marine plywood covered with epoxy-saturated Xynole-polyester fabric.  The hull is frameless, being built over bulkheads.  Options for planking include lapstrake, chine log and stitch-and-glue. (Plans are drawn for stitch-and-glue).  Skill level required for construction is moderate to high (lapstrake hull).

OPTIONS:  An inboard diesel (2 cyl Yanmar 2YM15) may be installed under the forward end of the cockpit well as shown on a separate drawing.  An outboard in a well is not practical for this model.  This boat may be rowed standing in the cockpit or sculled using a 10' oar with heavy-duty rowlock mounted on the transom.  Permanent ballast consists of lead foil laminated inside the keel bottom on both sides of the CB trunk covered with 1/4" teak & holly plywood.  If trailerability is not desired, ballast may be increased to 2,500 lbs.  Standing headroom under the sliding hatch (in the galley) is 6' 3"; headroom at the table is 5' 6" with exposed beams, and 5' 7 1/2" with the foam-core deck option.  The deck may be raised no more than 2" if more headroom is desired. Additional rigs are available on a custom-design basis. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Boatsmith's Tiki 30 Reduced Price

David Halladay has dropped the price on what is undoubtedly the finest and best-equipped Wharram Tiki 30 that has ever been built.  If you're looking for a professionally built Tiki 30 - a catamaran that can take you on long offshore passages, cruise shallow waters off limits to most boats and daysail with a party on board, you won't find a better one.  David says the boat has to go because there are new projects coming soon.  This has been the demo boat for Boatsmith, Inc., and has been shown in boat shows from Mystic, Connecticut to Miami.  At two years old, it has been meticulously maintained by the pros at Boatsmith and is ready for a new owner.

Here's his description of the boat and her inventory, as well as the reduced price:

Looking for the perfect boat to cruise the islands?  
Boatsmith is now offering Abaco for sale for $50,000.

This is a stellar example of a professionally built James Wharram Designs Tiki 30.  This boat has been our boatshow demo boat and is very well equipped.

There is a double and single berth in each hull with 4" foam cushions with Sunbrella covers The starboard hull also has the head and nav station with a storage area aft. The port hull includes the galley with a top loading icebox aft. There are two Bomar hatches and two opening Lewmar portlights in each hull for easy access and great ventilation. These all have screens as do the companion ways. The lights throughout the boat are LEDs. There are 6 lo amperage fans, a 1400 watt inverter, a 180 watt solar panel with controller.

The cockpit is shaded by a rigid anodized aluminum tube bimini with the solar panel mounted on top.  The cockpit is fully outfitted with 2" closed cell foam cushions with Sunbrella covers. Fuel, batteries, fenders, lines, BBQ and propane all are stored beneath the cockpit seats. There is a built in beverage cooler under one of the cockpit seats.  Under the fwd athwartships seat is storage for the boat hook, boat mop, fishing poles and spears.   The forward deck is slatted teak and the aft deck includes two trampolines and a teak swim ladder.  There is a stereo/CD/XM/Ipod and VHF and GPS chart plotter. The motor is a new Yamaha 9.9 HP with electric start and power tilt. The motor lives under an insulated box in the center of the cockpit.

This boat draws only 26" and the motor and rudders are protected when grounding. The sails are in excellent condition. The genoa is on a Harken roller furler and there is an asymmetrical spinnaker with a snuffer. The primary anchor is a 22 lb Rocna and there are two secondary Danforths. The boat has a matching 14' rowing dinghy and several large fenders and a full complement of mooring and dock lines.

To arrange a demo sail or for more information call (561) 632-2628.

"A boat is freedom, not just a way to reach a goal."
Bernard Moitessier - A Sea Vagabond's World


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