What Would(n’t) You Do with $300 Million?

The largest sailing yacht with 144m (that’s 472 feet) and 3 carbon fiber masts (300ft high! 91m) has been built by the German Naval Yards shipyard in Kiel for the Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko who made his fortune from banking, steel and fertilizer.  The massive sailboat will have company in Melnichenko’s fleet, alongside his mega motor yacht, “A.” (Pic below) Estimates say that this new sailing yacht will likely cost much more than the $300 million price tag on the 394 foot M/Y “A,” and with a crew of 66, it isn’t hard to imagine how high just the maintenance and daily operating costs will be aboard the new yacht.

The boat is shockingly…. large, unsightly and seems like a monstrosity to imagine under full sail alone – but a seat at the massive pool on deck or in the soaring interior atrium might quell anyone’s aesthetic issues. The sailing part though, we cannot be sure of. Be sure to stay tuned and keep your eye on the horizon. Chances are you won’t miss it coming!

Across the Atlantic in my Folkboat

Leo Goolden tells the story of his voyage from Falmouth, England to the Caribbean, much of it solo and without GPS, in his rebuilt 25-footer.
(Article of Courtesy Classic Boat Magazine) 

clas15-1544 I hoist the mainsail with the mooring lines still tied. A few curious faces peer over the railings. “Is that a Folkboat?” says an old fella’ with a bag of chips. “Where you off to?” “France!” I say. He gives me an odd look and wanders off down the stone quay. I hoist the jib, untie the spring, and flick the bow line over the bollard.

I back the jib, holding the clew to leeward on the foredeck until the bow falls off a little, and then give the wall a good kick from the stern. I take up the slack in the main sheet as Lorema bears away and the sails fill, the wake widens, and I hear the sound of the water accelerating over the clinker planks.

As I pass Trefusis point, I turn and wave goodbye to Falmouth and Cornwall and all the friends I have made there – until next time. After two years it feels like home, but I am finally embarking on the trip I have planned for so long, and I can barely contain my excitement and nerves. I am heading south, destination unknown, and it feels good.clas15-2234
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Best of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez

Everyone loved the video of the dock walk down the St. Tropez quay lined with beautiful classic yachts. So why not look at the best of the amazing fleet and the great event last week in St. Tropez.  They had some terrible weather, some amazing boats new and old and a great venue for this storied event.  If Wally yachts are on the same race course as Herreshoffs, Fifes and Aldens, then it’s expected that you stare…take it all in. This video will help!


An Avoidable Tragedy at Sea

Nearly 3 years following the historic loss of the HMS Bounty (the US flagged tall ship that sailed into Hurricane Sandy never to return), another noteworthy vessel has been lost at sea at the mercy of a massive storm. And like the October 2012 Bounty loss, people are left wondering why the ro-ro container ship, the El Faro, went to sea with a massive and quickly developing storm bearing down and seemingly into the eye of a hurricane.

Aside from the fact that the two ships were lost at sea in a wicked hurricane – there are other unfortunate similarities. Two lives were lost in the Bounty tragedy to the 33 lives lost on El Faro, which has now been presumed sunk near Crooked Island in the Bahamas, one of – if not the worst area to be hit by Hurricane Joaquin. Both tragedies were avoidable, however unlike the Bounty, which was in truth a movie set or museum of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” movie that should have never been in even the calmest seas, the El Faro had weathered many storms of serious magnitude. The captain of El Faro was a respected and experienced skipper with thousands of miles along this same route between Puerto Rico and the US.

But the El Faro too, was an aging ship that was about to be replaced by one of the first LNG container ships by parent company, TOTE, Inc. The El Faro was to be sent to Alaska for limited service after years of repairs and regular maintenance on the 40 year old, 790 foot vessel. And the fact that it was a ro-ro ship – built to carry vehicles on a lower deck under the cargo deck – adds to the instability of the vessel in the 25 foot seas she was said to have encountered. When she sank, she was carrying 391 containers topside and 294 cars, trucks and trailers below deck. Get out your Chapman’s and look up Free Surface Effect. Basically it explains how the El Faro could have rolled and sank very quickly with an abundance of water on a lower deck. Ugly thought.

The plan to take any ship out into deteriorating weather to either outrun a hurricane (as was the thought behind the Bounty’s departure) or to “sail around” the storm – is ill conceived. Joaquin whipped itself up quickly from a tropical depression to a category 4 hurricane almost overnight. But it was not invisible to weather routers and to the El Faro Captain who had been closely monitoring the storm and felt confident he could get out in advance of any trouble. Choosing a route close to the Florida coast could have saved the day for a number of reasons.

So in the face of an intensifying storm bearing down on the ship, the worst happened – the El Faro lost power. To make matters worse, the ship was foundering without an engine and steering, and right in the path of Joaquin. And Joaquin was intensifying and moving very very slowly. Towards the El Faro.

It’s futile to overthink why they went. As the USCG continues to comb the area looking for survivors, is it possibly time to impose strict weather restrictions on those who decide it is safe to take a ship full of lives into the eye of a storm. No one can predict when an engine or system will fail – and in typical weather or even a “storm,” it could get hairy. But with a tropical depression on the horizon – it is no time to take chances and get out in front of an unpredictable weather system.

When a captain leaves port and is responsible for the ship and all the cargo and lives aboard it, it is a big call to make in the face of international commerce, big business and a massive weather event. But sometimes bad choices are made by one at the expense of many more. And if the pressure of deciding if there was time, ample distance or a chance of getting around Joaquin was too much for the Captain,  it could be helpful to all to know that above X knots (50? 75?) that the USCG “shuts down the waterways” or at least forbids departures. Sending USCG out to rescue, search and investigate these tragedies is also needlessly dangerous to those without a choice. If the USCG could take more of a role in mandating the inappropriate weather in which to navigate, we might have 35 more people around to support this idea. Lest we allow confident mariners the opportunity to stage a few more mutinies at sea.  Condolences to all families of those lost on the El Faro.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

Building a Carbon Fiber Hard Top Bimini – Part 1

This project took a fairly “useless” (ok, it was good for sun protection) and definitely tired existing soft top bimini cover on a Black Watch 26, and replaced it with a super lightweight and very solid, custom built carbon fiber “hard top.” Using the existing stainless steel frame, the tattered canvas top was removed and new carbon fiber panels were designed and built to fit onto the frame, adding surfboard, kiteboard and kayak storage on top of the hard top.

This first video in our 3 part How-To series, shows the first steps in building this hard top – from building a specific table to mold the panels, to laying out the carbon fiber and core cell foam and vacuum bagging the whole panel.

Watch as Brendan and Matt show you all the steps to get a new hard top panel started. And then watch for the follow up videos part 2 & 3 to see the whole project in action!

After a summer of use with plenty of boards strapped to the top, it certainly was a worthy upgrade!



Adventures with Icebergs and GoPros (and a cool sailboat…)

So maybe you never want to climb an iceberg….or explore the far reaches of our globe. the high latitudes are rumored to be stunning – even more so in real life than in this cool video with ultra beautiful 4k GoPro footage. And should you be one of these crazies who does want to scale icebergs  – you better have a great support boat nearby.

We love boats around here – not icebergs, truthfully. And while not every TotalBoater will explore these remote areas, we can all dream and better yet get a lift there via dazzling YouTube videos documenting it all.  Adventure is out there – and even if you’re a landlubber or if you’re stuck in a dusty wood shop or boat shed – we hope you find time to seek and enjoy plenty of adventure. And mostly we hope your adventures involve boats…forget the icebergs….

But even if you don’t care a lick about ice climbing (count me in that category), the footage is stunning from these well camera-ed up climbers. Complete with a drone and about 4 cameras (by my count) on each climber, this remote area is very inviting for an adventure. And if you agree, then by boat is pretty much the only way to go…that is if you want the ultimate adventure which, we know, is always based on a boat!

O’Pen Bic Intergalactic Video and Boat Sale

TOO. MUCH. FUN! In the midst of storm prep or storm avoidance it’s fun to look back at this crazy event this past summer. Kids had smiles for days after the first ever O’pen Bic Intergalactic RI Championships. Big breeze and a big crowd of sailors brought wild conditions and enthusiasm to the shores near the Tiverton YC, host of this awesome Un-Regatta. See – it wasn’t about winning this time – everyone got awards and everyone had a blast racing with a teammate on some pretty nutty courses. And everyone swam. A bunch. Not the scary kinda capsize, but planned – even mandated – capsizing mid race to see who could best recover and scoot to the finish.

The O’pen Bics are showing up all over the East Coast and beyond. The West Coast has a number of fleets popping up and around here – especially post Intergalactic event – clubs and families are embracing this fun, fast and fairly wet kind of racing.

We took demo boats on the road this summer (read about the Bic Summer Tour here) to spread the stoke about how cool they are to sail. And the people loved the tour. Junior sailors flocked to the trailer of boats to check them out and be first in line to take it out. (Watch the video about the Summer Tour here)  Kids readily handed off the tiller of their Opti for a chance to rip around in the O’pen Bics! And our little fleet of Bics rocked it’s way around New England – steadily adding to the list of enthusiasts. And to the list of boat owners. So next year when Bic madness ensues – there will be a longer list of local clubs and sailors ready to Un-Regatta with the best of ’em!

And now is your chance! Pick up one of these gently used boats from the summer tour for a great price. The boat retails for over $3200 but you can grab one of these boats for $2400.  (fully rigged, lightly used, no dolly or covers.) Grab one now and tuck it away for the sweet spring sailing we all love. To inquire about the boats contact kristinb@jamestowndistributors.com or grab a brandy new boat here.

The Hero in Heronemus

Here is another amazing story to share with you about the good people of our boating world. Steve Heronemus was an avid sailor of the Wisconsin waterfront until he was diagnosed over 10 years ago with ALS. Losing all motor capabilities and having a sharp mind must be amongst the most frustrating and difficult illnesses, especially when pastimes like boating and sailing with your family slip out of physical reach.

So when the folks at the SEAS (Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan) reached out the the Heronemus family to see if they were interested in getting Steve involved in a new endeavor with their existing Adaptive Sailing Program, they jumped at the chance. Steve Orlebeke, Director of Engineering Harken got involved and  invented a touch pad and sip/ bite system to operate the auto pilot. And off went Steve. And hopefully other ALS patients in the future.

From the SEAS Blog: On September 4, 2015 using only a bite switch coupled to an autopilot and two touch pads for sail trim Steven Heronemus took his 83 year old father for a sail in a twenty three-foot sonar off the shores of Sheboygan Wisconsin. At the time. he had no idea it would be their last sail together because twelve days later his father unexpectedly passed away.

To Steven the quiet afternoon sail was a joyful return to something he loved. To his father it was one of the most beautiful gifts he could have received from his son.
And to other sailors with disabilities it would further inspire SEAS to explorer develop and refine the human interfaces necessary to provide any disabled person access to the wind and water.

On September 23rd the day after his father’s memorial service Steve took his son Matthew for sail as a tribute to his father the man who taught him to sail.

The story is about a whole community – the sailing community of Lake Michigan  and beyond and the friends and family of the Heronemus’ – and even more so about the family who was able to sail together again in a very timely way. Three generations of Heronemus men were able to sail again – so regardless of how the program takes off – and we have faith that it will – already magical things have transpired and a sailor gets to sail once again.

How to Prepare Your Boat for a Hurricane

As the weather forecast zeros in on what could be a strong Hurricane barreling up the East Coast – it’s never too early to prepare your boat for a big blow or hurricane. Maybe you are in line to have your boat hauled by the busy hauler or boatyard – and maybe you plan to ride it out on your mooring or in your berth. Either way – (and even if your boat is safely ashore) you need to prepare for “the worst” in time to not be panicking and preparing as the storm bears down on your harbor.

This is a very important video on how to prepare your boat before a hurricane hits your area. It is essential to listen to weather forecasts and take the necessary precautions to properly prepare your boat from harsh winds and dangerous waves. You can find dock lines, fenders, chafing gear and thousands of other marine supplies at www.JamestownDistributors.com.

Be safe! Be smart! Be Prepared!


Classic Yacht Racing in the Med

What a sight it must be to walk along the main quay in downtown St. Tropez. This is true on any given day, but most especially this week and weekend while Les Voiles de St. Tropez fleet is in town.

With the collection of classic yachts mostly moored stern to along the downtown waterfront, it is a great opportunity for tourists and interested yacht oglers to get up close to the impressive fleet.  All the major classic yacht designers, styles and builders are present – with a few Herreshoff NY40s and the impressive Elena of London (a 180 ft replica schooner launched in 2009), some beautiful Fifes like Moonbeam III, an Alden or two and of course some boats penned by S&S, the J Class yachts, some 12 metres and the list goes on.

Take a walk down the waterfront in this video showcasing the lineup of stunning wood and brass. Meticulously maintained and sailed, these boats put on quite a show on the water while competing seriously on the water…that is on every occasion except when – as is the case a few times this week – racing is cancelled due to bad weather. The crews have plenty to do to keep busy – polishing, entertaining, competing in shoreside activities…. the fun is never ending even when stuck ashore.

And in case you thought this was only a showcase of the most fabulous classic yachts – there is a division of modern yachts, as well, with a 15 boat fleet of Wally yachts and a modern fleet with plenty of impressive carbon fiber and design wizardry. All in all – a major spectacle whether they are ashore for a weather day or out racing.