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May 26, 2011

Gulfstar 39 Sailmaster Review: Cruising Couple Dreamboat

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Richard Jordan @ 2:54 pm

Gulfstar 39 PDF Brochure (Click to Download)

When introduced in 1981, the Gulfstar 39 Sailmaster was a controversial design because of her single stateroom interior layout. Most aft cockpit sailboats of her day featured a quarter berth. These days you often see twin berths aft as manufacturers maximize sleeping accommodations. From a sailor’s perspective the G39’s accommodations make a good deal of sense. Quarterberths tend to turn into garages packed with all sorts of useless cruising junk. The elimination of that area forces you to keep a tidy ship. And as everyone finds out the best sleeping berths are at the center of yaw, pitch, and roll — the salon settees. In 1982, Gulfstar introduced a Mark II version with a portside quarter berth instead of the office area and deep cockpit locker. According to the Gulfstar Owner’s Club, all told they produced around 60 hulls (some cite 57 hulls) of the Sailmaster 39 over the two year production run. Then using the same hull as the 39SM but with a center cockpit arrangement, Gulfstar made a dozen Moorings charter boats and branded them Gulfstar 40 Sailmasters. Let’s take a look at the features of this well respected model. Continue reading “Gulfstar 39 Sailmaster Review: Cruising Couple Dreamboat” »

May 18, 2011

Blue Seas Directory

Filed under: Navigating — Richard Jordan @ 10:46 am
The American Practical Navigator by Bowditch

The American Practical Navigator by Bowditch

A colleague pointed me towards this Blue Seas website a week ago. First he had found via a Google search pdfs of Sailing Directions, the volumes of coastal pilots familiar to merchant mariners such as this one of the Bahamas. What a tremendous find! The government site was in a poor format though, so searching a little more, he found this Blue Seas Navigation website. This site not only has Sailing Directions but Chart 1, the Sight Reduction Tables, and Bowditch all available free for download. I have upcoming deliveries to Tortola and Columbia, and by downloading these onto my iPad, I will no longer have to lug around my hardcover copies. The new tools for your celestial navigation pleasure are an iPad and sextant. Make sure you download the current Nautical Almanac.

March 16, 2011

Lagoon 440 Review: Charter Catamaran

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Richard Jordan @ 2:12 pm

Lagoon 440

I wish I could take delivery of every yacht I review here, but I am usually restricted to a short seatrial at best. Hearing from owners the qualities of a vessel is one thing, but experiencing them yourself makes the unique qualities more vivid and altogether leads to a superior review. I hope that is the case here as I am still yearning to be offshore after my 12 day delivery of a Lagoon 440 catamaran from Venice Isle, Fort Lauderdale to Gibson Island, Annapolis.

Lagoon was established in 1984 as a development of the legendary Jeanneau Advanced Technologies racing division. Lagoon went on to achieve fame for building the trimarans for the blockbuster movie Waterworld starring actor and inventor Kevin Costner. Lagoon’s first era of production ran from 1987 to 1996 and included production of 55, 47, 57 and 67 models meant as bluewater cruising catamarans for private purchase along with 37 and 42 models suited for the charter service. The charter side became dominate post-1996 and continues to today. The designs by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost use the latest in cost saving techniques. Lagoons populate the Caribbean charter fleets in the Leeward and Windward Islands. Today the builder is CNB, a division of Group Beneteau whose other brands include the monohull lines of Jeanneau, Wauquiez, and Beneteau. Continue reading “Lagoon 440 Review: Charter Catamaran” »

March 8, 2011

11 Most Important Pieces of Equipment

Filed under: Miscelaneous — Richard Jordan @ 3:28 pm

The Spray - When We Were Real Sailors

Offshore on delivery of a nice Lagoon 440 catamaran which I will shortly publish a review of, I thought it would be apropos to re-read Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Alone Around the World” while on watch – not to mention the book is available free via the Gutenberg project through iBooks. Sitting at the inside helm station with GPS, radar, heat, and more while reading Slocum’s story, I could not help but feel ashamed at the luxury I was in compared to the limited equipment Slocum had. The situation exhibits how spoiled we have become in this far flung sailing world. In one chapter Slocum writes about lashing the helm and then having severe nausea from bad plums and white cheese for days on end. He crawls out to adjust the block and pulley systems which manage his sail plan while navigating via dead reckoning and celestial sights in uncharted territory all the while passing out in between hallucinations of the pilot of the Pinto steering the Spray. Can you imagine?

Despite our sorry state, it is hard enough to stay safe from Poseidon’s punishment even with the equipment we have today. I have compiled a list of the eleven most important pieces of equipment on an extended voyage in order of importance. The failure of any these will jeopardize your safety. Continue reading “11 Most Important Pieces of Equipment” »

February 21, 2011

7 Best Aft Cockpit / Aft Stateroom Sailboats

Filed under: Miscelaneous — Richard Jordan @ 3:21 pm

C&C 37/40+ Layout

It is often confusing when talking about center cockpit sailboats when certain models come along into discussion. When I talk about center cockpit yachts, I mean yachts with full width aft staterooms. The assumption is that these two features: a full width aft stateroom and a center cockpit deck mold go hand in hand. But there is a rare class of yachts that mess up this simplified categorization of sailboats. While all center cockpits have aft staterooms, some aft cockpits have full width aft staterooms. There are serious trade-offs including low headroom and a likely lack of overhead hatches. Here is a list of some of the most well known models with this arrangement.

  1. Baltic 38 – The Swan split-off offers high quality construction and fast lines like on this 38-footer.
  2. Beneteau Idylle 11.5 – Old school Beneteau before they went all the way to mass production.
  3. C&C 37/40+ – The inspiration for this list with her spacious centerline queen aft. I should note that the earlier model C&C 44 was the prototype for the 37/40 and had a similar arrangement.
  4. Hunter 40 Legend – Amazing value and performance, typical Hunter build issues.
  5. Hylas 42 – Classic Swan style German Frers design.
  6. Mason 44 – Comes in her original 43-foot version likewise with an aft stateroom.
  7. Swan 46 – Low freeboard and athletic lines make this a spectacular racer / cruiser.

I have been struggling for a while to put together this list which according to to my records I first drafted on December 14, 2010. Please offer your suggestions in the comments below or any feedback on the current selection.

February 19, 2011

Miami Boat Show

Filed under: Miscelaneous — Richard Jordan @ 8:48 am
Tiki 30 at the 2011 Miami Show

Tiki 30 at the 2011 Miami Show

The Miami Boat Show started Thursday and runs until Monday in downtown Miami at various locations including Sea Isle Marina, Bayside, and the Miami convention center. The show includes a Strictly Sail section featuring Passport, Hylas, Jeanneau, Catalina, Beneteau, and a few more. This year returns to the traditional location at Bayside which allows deeper drafting, higher clearance sailboats in. As expected manufacturers have brought fewer yachts and vendors are sparser. I love the openness of the internet and by perusing the chat boards, you can read a dock level report on not only this year’s Miami Show but comparisons between Miami and other shows as well as opinions of the offerings seen at Miami. One particular thread on Sailnet is a fun read detailing a few attendees thoughts.

February 11, 2011

Catalina 390 Review: Coastal Cruiser

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Richard Jordan @ 3:08 pm

Catalina 390

The Catalina 390 traces its lineage back to the Morgan 381, the first Gerry Douglas designed Morgan introduced in 1993. The Morgan 381 evolved into the Catalina 380, 387, and 390. The 390 hull, deck, and rig is in fact identical to the C380 with the only change being a two cabin layout aft. Catalina has impeccable reputation for producing perfect coastal cruisers in the yachting community. The 390 fits this mold and would be an excellent value driven choice for a family looking to explore the coastline and island chains. There are better choices for long term, offshore cruising though there is certainly precedent for serious voyages in a Catalina. The main competition from a brokerage perspective are Beneteaus, late model Bavarias, Hunters, and Jeanneaus.

Catalina Yachts was formed by Frank Butler in 1970 in North Hollywood, California. He like so many new boat buyers was duped into lending money to a broke boat builder. To compensate for his loss, Butler took ownership of the tooling and eventually the production facility for an unexpected career as a sailboat manufacturer. He expanded to Largo, Florida in 1984 by acquiring the assets of the bankrupt Morgan Yachts. Butler is known as one of the foremost innovators of so-called molded liner mass production. In writing about the Catalina 390 I have the opportunity to write about a design which was previously reviewed in Sailing Magazine. If you have not noticed, I use their same format in admiration of their many excellent reviews. Please see their online Catalina 390 review for a professionally published article. Continue reading “Catalina 390 Review: Coastal Cruiser” »

February 10, 2011

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40DS Review: Panoramic View

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Richard Jordan @ 3:42 pm

Jeanneau 40 DS PDF Brochure (Click to Download)

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40DS introduced in 1998 is an excellent example of the deck salon idea that has revolutionized yacht design. Despite traditionalist tastes, it is pretty clear that most future sailboats will feature – if not full out deck salons – at least large portholes along their trunk cabins. The panoramic view below and well protected helm above out weigh any preconceived stylistic standards. Like the evolution from long CCA overhands to sharply raked bows, the sensibility of these yachts is lending them to become the dominant style of sailboat seen off our shores.

Chantiers Jeanneau was originally founded as a powerboat manufacturer in 1957 by Henri Jeanneau and made their grand entry into the sailboat market in 1970 with the Sangria of which they produced 2,000 hulls. Their sprawling 145 acre yard in Les Herbiers, France is reportedly the largest production facility in the world with 1,425,700 square feet of building space and employing 1,900 people. It was at Les Herbiers where they started production of the 40DS by Daniel Andrieu in 1998 and produced her until 2004 along with a 40-foot flush decked version with twin helm stations. The 40DS was meant as a couple’s performance cruising vessel with offshore rated quality. When the company entered bankruptcy in 2005, Madame Beneteau jumped on the opportunity to purchase their assets, cut costs by sharing technology with her other brands, and steered Jeanneau back into prominence. Jeanneau’s rebirth is connected to their skill in producing handsome, functional, and performance oriented DS designs. Today in 2011 they feature 39, 42, 45, and 50 foot versions. Continue reading “Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40DS Review: Panoramic View” »

February 9, 2011

Helm Balance – Center of Effort, Lateral Resistance, Centerboard, Mast Rake

Slight Weather Helm

Often when reading about sailboats, one encounters criticism with respect the excessive weather helm as a negative characteristic of a vessel’s sailing performance. With a little research, weather helm is revealed as a tendency of the sailboat to turn windward necessitating a constant and opposite application of pressure on the tiller or wheel. Then opens a whole science related to helm balance. Properly designed cruising sailboats exhibit a slight weather helm. The alternatives are as bad as excessive weather helm. Neutral helms do not provide feedback to the captain while lee helm vessels can accidentally jibe, a dangerous maneuver, or get knocked down by nasty and unexpected puff. Let’s take a look at the ways to balance the helm which include mast location, bow sprites, reefing, mast rake, centerboards, weight distribution, and heeling. Continue reading “Helm Balance – Center of Effort, Lateral Resistance, Centerboard, Mast Rake” »

February 2, 2011

Tropic Rover, two masted 145-foot gaff rigged catamaran

Filed under: General — Richard Jordan @ 10:25 am

One time largest sailing catamaran in the world was built in Fort Lauderdale from 1961 to 1962.

Tropic Rover Under Sail

Are the boat building glory days of Fort Lauderdale past? Talking to Bixby Hill reminisce makes you wonder what has happened. Bix invited me to his home across from LMC and told stories of building boats on the New River during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The east and west banks downriver from I-95 have a rich tradition and colorful history of large yacht construction that makes you question if the mega yachts that populate our city today are really that advanced. In the 1950’s, Bix worked at Dooley’s Yacht Basin, what is now the east yard of Lauderdale Marine Center. There they built 140-foot minesweepers and exported them to the Netherlands to clear WWII mines from the North Sea. Equally busy yard hands on the north side built famous yachts such as the Prospector and Starlite and provided dockage for others such as the 115-foot motor yacht, Arethusa. Continue reading “Tropic Rover, two masted 145-foot gaff rigged catamaran” »

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