Monday, July 28, 2014


Cammas arrived late (to the team) to recover the advance Souben and team Dunkerque had over Groupama, specially after a leg cancelled due to bad weather. Several victories were not enough. But the great achievement from Daniel Souvent risk to lose importance face to the big news: Next year the Tour de France will be raced on multihulls.

It seems that the guys don't find the M34 fast enough :-). It will be raced on this baby:

It is going to be fast, very wet and very physical,specially on the long legs. For sure it will provide some amazing movies. I cannot wait ;-)

Saturday, July 26, 2014


He deserves this post! Look at the advance he has! Nobody is going to steal this victory from him on the secretary....and it is not (only) the boat since there is another similar boat racing and a more modern one. Italy has a champion in solo racing and that is good. Now great solo racers are not only French, but also German, Swiss and Italian. Solo sailing is on the rise and I like it :-)
Here Pedote this year on another race:

Thursday, July 24, 2014


For the ones that don't know this is one of the most famous races from the mini-racers circuit and from the ones that don't know what a mini racer is, well, it is just that, about the smallest ocean racer there is, with just 6.5m. The races are normally solo (like this one) and have two categories: prototypes and series boats. This one starts at Sables d'Olonne and (France) go to Açores and back to Les Sables. Quite a race ;-)

This year the Italian Giancarlo Pedote, after having losing, with a lot of bad luck, the last Transat, seems that will not give a change to anynobody and with his odd looking but effective bath tube bow racer, is well ahead.

You can follow the race almost in direct here:

Monday, July 21, 2014


2014 ISAF Youth Worlds, biggest international participation ever: it is a pleasure to see the future of sailing on all those nice boys and girls. Cheers to them!!!


Comar, the shipyard that makes the Comet has been very active on the last year: After the development of two new catamarans (that you can find on this blog) now they propose a bluewater boat, the kind of boat suited for a circumnavigation or to sail on high latitudes.

Better to say it in first place: I don't like it for the simple reason I find it very ugly.
Being a bluewater boat is no reason to make an ugly boat and Comet is known to make beautiful boats. Too much freeboard, huge port hulls and an ugly cabin are the main reasons for my dislike. The boat is even uglier then the one made by Garcia for Jimmy Cornell.

Certainly the boat has qualities: I can see that the winches are well set up for solo sailing, that the hull has a nice shape, that the boat is light (11500kg) has a big B/D ratio, with a ballast of 4800kg and a variable draft (swing keel 1.60/3.50m). It has a cutter configuration with enough sail area and it is strong, with a clever structure, made with infusion of vinilester resins, Kevlar and carbon with a crash box at the bow. Has a big tankage (680l diesel, 440L water) and a big carrying load (4.500kg)......
But it has to be so ugly????

The design team is a big one: Pierpaolo Ballarini, H3O, studio Arcore, Smar Azur for the rig and sails, STYachts with Doug Schckler e Davide Tagliapietra for the keel and rudder; Comar Yacht for the interior.... I wonder why the hell they did not command it to Marc Lombard, that has experience with this type of boats (RM) and has designed for Comar the two beautiful catamarans, has never made an ugly boat and contrary to Pierpaolo Ballarini has a long list of successful designs?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


That's probably the French highlight in what regards crewed racing : 1200 Nm around France on the M34 racer, mostly with professional crews on several legs. The race is approaching its end (27/7) and there is a big battle going on between Courrier Dunkerque (Daniel Souben) and Groupama, now with Franck Cammas. The last leg give the advantage a Courrier Dunkerque but more than words the images tell about the quality of sailing and the battle going on:


It makes a lot of sense, even more than the 38: A 35ft boat has not much interior space, and interior space in a small boat is never too much for cruising. The Oceanis 35 offers the interior space of many 38ft for the price of a smaller boat and with no significant loss in performances (regarding a 35ft boat) with an increased stability and offering sailing with reduced heeling. 

The performance upwind (and with very light winds) will probably be slightly worse (and more uncomfortable upwind with waves) than a more conventional sailboat but the performance at 60º (with medium to strong winds) and over will be probably better and with less roll (downwind). A miracle? no, just Finot/Conq applying to cruising boats what they have learned designing for 30 years open solo race boats. 

Do I have any doubt? Yes, more on the 38 (were the size will increase the problem) than on the 35: The boat has no forward bulkhead, at least one that word mention. Structurally it is possible to pass without it but the hull has to be reinforced and even so I bet that the hull will flex more.

Have they done it properly on a mass production inexpensive boat? Maybe and maybe that's why the 38 is an expensive boat for an Oceanis but I would have preferred a boat with a proper bulkhead. Of course that way it was not possible to have that beautiful daysailer with a big loft, but the boat would have been stronger. Even on the Oceanis 35 with a closed front cabin the bulkhead is removable so even if it adds some rigidity it will not be the same offered by a fixed bulkhead. 
The boat has a hull based on open solo racers, two rudders, a modern torpedo keel, it is not heavy (5207kg) and I am quite sure that, designed by Finot/Conq, it will sail well. Off course, it will have a simple rigging with few ways to fine tune the sails. It is not a sportive boat, even if I bet it can go fast downwind. 

A very interesting option for someone that wants a coastal cruising boat with a big interior but only has the money for a 35ft boat. I believe that Beneteau, as usual, is providing the market with the type of boats that makes more sense and is adapted to the needs of most cruisers.

Friday, July 18, 2014


And this fabulous collection of pictures by Juerg Kaufmann shows just that. Beauty can take many forms and in this case it is in the eye of the photographer but sure he gets a help from the subject: sailing has the potential for great images, some will come to the public on photos or movies, others will be forever on the memories of the sailors that lived through them. Those are the more precious ones ;-)

Juerg Kaufmann Pure Sailing Passion from VIDEO.JUERGKAUFMANN.COM on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


And an interesting one by several counts: by its excellent crafted interior and because unlike almost all cruisers is a very narrow boat (not many on the market). Faurby had already on his line for many years, the 363, also a relatively narrow sailboat for a 37ft, with 3.30m of beam and recently they launched the 360e, not as a replacement boat but as another boat on the line. Contrary to what almost all builders are doing, the new boat, having the same length is not beamier, quite the contrary, it is remarkably narrower, 30cm narrower and that is a lot on a 37ft boat.

The designer, Niels Peter Faurby has been designing and making his own boats for more than 30 years and that means something: Nobody survives on the aggressive yacht market for more than 30 years without a quality product and the Faurby are high quality boats. When they appear in Dusseldorf I always went for a tour, to enjoy the feelings you can only experience on a boat crafted as an art object. You can see that everything is built to perfection and that there is a huge experience and a lot of thought in all details on that boat.

So, why such a narrow boat? well, I would have to ask Niels Faurby but I bet I know the answer: He likes to go upwind, in fact he says that 70% of the sailing is upwind (not for many eh!eh!) so it makes sense to design a boat that goes upwind fast and without pounding and that's why all Faurby are narrow boats. I also bet that among all his boats the new 360 has a special place on Faurby's heart. 
The boat is narrow but has a very nice interior, with a good galley a spacious head and has all the space a couple needs for cruising. Have a virtual visit: you are going to be impressed:

I bet it will be a very agreeable boat at the tiller, yes, no wheel but a tiller. I like it a lot even if for the kind of extensive cruising I make that considerable heeling would not be very comfortable, but what a pleasure should be to drive hard this boat upwind on a seaway!!!

Recently on Yacht de magazine they have made a comparative test between the 363 and the 360. I did not read the test but we can see on the movie below that both boats go at the same speed downwind and that's where the 362 should have an advantage. The conditions were not favorable to show the 360 upwind potential: I bet that against waves the 360e will be considerably faster than the 363 and even more comfortable.

If you like narrow boats and are on the market for one, certainly this one deserves a test sail: the boat is beautiful, in a classical way, has a modern underbody that can include a considerable draft and a torpedo keel and has one of the best quality interiors I have ever seen. It is fast too, specially upwind. If you like the feel and look of a classical wooden interior, you are going to love the Faurby even if narrow boats are not your cup of tea;-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I had already talked on other place about this boat, a different Maxi yacht, one based on the open boats principles, with a huge beam, liquid ballasts and a lifting keel. There was no decent movies about it then but there are now...and they confirm that this is an impressive yacht,  a very fast one too, not only fast but also fast with little heeling and that's important to comfort. Enjoy the movies ;-)

Nomad IV por voile-magazine

and also this one:

MR Pelicano: C&C 41

The hull and deck design is classic Mark Mills and I predict this will be a fast, competitive boat in the right hands. But I can't say I care quite as much for the interior. The wood treatments around the port lights, the use of carbon juxtaposed with wood on the saloon table and galley surfaces, these don't work for me. However, knowing how clever Mills is with the IRC rule, I'm sure there's some rating benefit to all of this. I would prefer a more contemporary approach, even perhaps a bit more spartan. On the other hand, American buyers tend to like those kinds of things, so maybe that's why they're included. Looking forward to seeing how she performs on the race course.

Yes, I agree with you that the boat shows the American trend in what regards the extensive use of wood on the interior but I don't dislike it: It is not as heavy as in other American boats.

Funny thing that the Americans tend to like a lot of natural wood on the interior, even on sportive boats, while Europeans favor the use of wood on the deck, even in sportive boats. Both trends are purely aesthetically since there is as much sense on having teak decks as in having heavier natural wood on a sailboat, but sailing boats, even the fast ones are not only functional objects but living spaces and desirable objects by itself so beauty takes a part in their conception and what is beautiful for some is not for others. Tradition, even if on the wooden interior and teak decks, still plays a big part on the majority taste regarding the definition of a beautiful boat even if things are slowly changing, as always.

Compare the interior of the Sly 42, where contrary to the American boat the "wood" seems to be a lighter composite material...but then, look at also at the teak decks: Winning weight on one side and losing on another ;-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Diário de bordo, por favor, com entradas diárias. E depois publique-se, com umas aguarelas de ilustração e com umas histórias paralelas, com minóicos e cretenses e Ilíadas e Odisséias.

Hi Gonçalo. This one stays in Portuguese but please write in English. No, it is not because I want to show that I can write on a comprehensible English but because this Blog, that has an average of 200 visits a day, is followed by North Americans, Canadians, Brazilians, Chileans, on central America, on many countries of Europe including Russia, China, Taiwan, Australia and of course some Portuguese that are far to be the larger number. So English is just a toll, a language that allows everybody to communicate.

Back to your suggestion, I never intended this to be a a boat blog like the others, about my travels, but maybe your suggestion has some merit and be of interest to others. Not as detailed as you would like it but just some photos and appointments.

To start, a place that I found beautiful, Zakros, on the East Coast of Crete. Not too touristic, the only yacht on a bay, some very nice Tavernas and still has fisherman that stay out in the night, fishing on their little traditional boats. 

There I saw the biggest goat and sheep herd I have ever seen coming out of the mountain. The strange thing is that there are no dogs, no shepherd, nothing, the herd (many hundreds) come down the mountain, passed along the narrow trail, went alone for almost a mile and disappeared behind a hill. Outstanding, here large herds don't need a shepherd and know their way to the mountain and back home. Very odd I can tell you, not even a dog!!!!

Regarding Zakros it was not only me that found the place beautiful because just near the beach we can found the ruins of a Minoan Palace. They had good taste. Great place for a settlement!!!

From there we sailed to Vai. Vai has Palm trees (they are there for thousands of years) and probably I am being unfair, but maybe because it is touristic developed (with a beach very well organized with water bikes and other rental nuisances buzzing around) it did not had for us half the appeal Zakros had. Still the only yacht around.

We had several small problems on the boat due to that big storm. The wind instrument went working again but the depth sounding was definitively out of service and without it is not safe staying on anchor the way he use to do. The depths indicated by the plotter are just approximately : On Zakros we cast anchor in 5m (by the plotter) to find out that we had only about 3.6m and on Vai we anchored by the plotter on 7m to find out later that we had more then 11m under the boat (I dived on both occasions to see if the anchor was well set and to confirm the depths). 

We had also a very nasty problem with the engine. Now it is a funny one but at the time quite frightening: Some days ago, when we went out of that storm to find shelter on Kalilimenes, we anchored with the wind still blowing strongly, cast the anchor, verified that it was well set (pulling with the boat backwards at full throttle) and finally disconnected the engine. If the boa moved we could always turn the engine on recover the anchor and try again....except that I turned the key and the motor did not die. The key had just broke. Of course I had ways to kill the engine but none that allowed me to bring it quickly to life, if the boat dragged. I called Luca from Comar, in Italy, that has been more than a professional, a true friend (it was Sunday) and he suggested me to disconnect a wire on the big aft locker. It worked but to connect and disconnect the engine I had to dive inside the big locker, disappear inside and in a contortionist way, connect the wire. Those that know me know that I am not small nor skinny, so it was funny to Isabel to watch me (she could go inside much more easily but not reach the wire)...not for me :-(

We sailed to a big marina on the North coast to try to find solution to the boat problems: I managed to took out the broken key, lubricate the system and found out a key maker that was also a shoe maker. Two new keys for 3.00 euros solved that problem and since the guy, or should I say the entire family are true artists, I took all sandals I had (and loved) for repair: All of them become better than new and since I have this strange thing of only liking old shoes, they really made me happy. Believe it or not, while I was writing this, already late in the night 10.00, they come to the boat to deliver the last ones. Very nice people. I invited them for a drink on the boat tomorrow.

The Depth sounder was another story. On Vai for some brief instants it worked so I had hopes that with a goo cleaning of the circuit ( I had already had made one) a professional one, the thing would return to live. I took it to a Greek that worked mainly in televisions and computers and I guess he cleaned it too well, or perhaps was already beyond repair, the circuits too damaged by salt water.

So here I am on a lovely place (Isabel is happy) Agios Nikolaus, stranded without knowing very well what to do. The problem is this, the device, a Simrad IS 15 Multi is not made anymore, the new model does not talk the same language, I mean it is not just to connect it and play, it needs a "translator" and all that is too much for my knowledge in electronics and I am afraid to the knowledge in electronic of everybody on the Island :-(

I have tried everything but till now it seems my best and simple option is to find some used Simrad IS 15 multi, but I tried on ebay, Luca is trying in Italy and till now nothing :-(. Maybe someone that follow this blog can help? The only place to have a new set up seems Athens that is just against the wind (strong). I guess that if I cannot solve it here I will make it to Turkey, maybe Bodrum: The wind is better.
As I said the town is very nice (we have rented a car to tour the Island) but for me, more than a couple of days on the same place, is just sailing is boring. Tomorrow I will probably be out to have a nice day at the sea and be back at night. The place at the marina where we are has only a problem, it is a place for a big yacht. I have not enough line to approach the quay so I have a big "passarela" and when I say big you can believe it: You have to think twice before making the "passage". I take it sportively but Isabel just hates it. Till know we managed not to fall on the water ;-)

Monday, July 14, 2014

DIVA 40....WOW!!!

Diva 38
On the old site I had talked about the Diva 38, a strikingly beautiful yacht with classical looks and an incredibly good and luxurious interior, if you miss it have a look, it deserves it:

But the truth is that even if I find it very beautiful I would not have one for me (even if I had the money...they are expensive ;-)). Too classic and a hull that without being old is not really update but the 40 is another story: in my opinion they have just managed the perfect blend between tradition modern building techniques and contemporary hull design. The NA is Bernt Lindquist, an old timer and the same designer of the other Diva, that on this design shows that being an old timer in NA does not necessarily means outdated designs.

They say about the Diva 40: 

"Diva Yachts has a long history of innovation and success of which we are very proud. It is also a legacy that requires us to work hard to when developing new models, we do not just want to build a boat, we want to bring something new and better to sailors.


The New Diva 40 is in some ways a modern iteration on the original Diva 39. The objective has been to create a yacht that is not excessive in size, interior and concept. Pure lines, a clean layout, innovative solutions and a focus on joy of sailing and comfort. A true Sailors Yacht optimized for cruising and racing. A yacht that brings the Diva heritage into the future. The Diva 40 has moderate beam for it´s length. This brings a number of advantages.

• Good all-around performance, especially upwind, which normally is about where 70% of the time is spent sailing.

• Modern, high-tech construction utilizing the latest advances in materials, laminate plans and construction methods.

• Interior layout and specification as on a 38-footer, but with the benefits of space of the 40 feet length. We have not tried to squeeze in excessive functions which results in an open and spacious feeling.

• World renown Swedish build quality with a contemporary styling. The objective is a modern take on the classical mahogany interiors.

• Light displacement for it´s length due to the well planned layout and modern build methods.
• Because of the moderate displacement, the need for exaggerated sail areas is avoided, making the boat easy to handle for a family, and fast for the racer.
• Price target set very aggressive relative to the build method, materials and quality. The attractive price is also a result of the low weight, smart interior planning and advances in build methods.
• Facilitate different decks and layouts for a wider customer base."

And if the interior of the new boat has a quality similar to the one of their siblings they have achieved much of that design brief: The boat has a LOA of 12.25m (LWL 11.20) a very moderated beam (3.80) with with all the beam pulled aft, 2.15m of draft and probably a bulbed keel similar to the one on the 38. That means that the 2500kg of ballast on a 7000kg boat, with that draft and type of keel will be enough to (with the help of a considerable form stability) to make it a stiff boat. The boat carries a considerable sail area, considering that it is a relatively narrow boat (94m2 with a 106% small genoa) and I have no doubt it will be a very fast cruising boat with tankage more then enough for coastal cruising (300L of water and 150L of fuel). 

I like many boats, different types too, but this one is on the very restrict number of boats that I would like to have. I really like it, it is a gorgeous sailboat :-).

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Gunboat is making a different cat. Instead of the fast luxurious and very expensive boats over 50ft they are making a smaller and more spartan one. it looks good:

Gunboat G4 design preview from Holland Composites BV on Vimeo.

Friday, July 11, 2014

C&C 41 on the water

The Mark Mills American beauty is on the water. It looks as nice as in the drawings ;-). 

The interior seems not bad for a cruiser racer even if those two aft cabins would be better with two doors (for cruising) but I guess that in America this boat is going to be used exclusively for racing.

A pity since that interior looks inviting and the boat even sailed very conservatively by a duo should maintain a very good sailing performance. Lots of fun I am quite sure and a huge stability for safety. Lots of sail area but while cruising you don't have to fly it all and can adapt the boat performance to the crew competence and number.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Well, I am cruising so almost no time for the Blog. Lots of nice boats to talk about but I will wait until October. In the meantime a short story about my (and my wife’s) cruising times aboard Alma, our Comet 41s.

On July 3rd, in the morning, we left Kapsali (lovely place) bound to Crete. About 45m earlier a brand new French Jeanneau 57 Yacht (very nice boat), with a crew of six had also bound for Crete, so we followed since we seemed to be pointing to the same nice anchorage, on the West Coast, Gramvousa. With 10K wind between 90 and 120º, doing over 7K it seemed that I was catching the 60fter. I could not believe it, neither the guys on the Jeanneau that were trying to trim better the sails but there was nothing that they could do and I just glided along the jeanneau and some pissed sailors winning about more 20 minutes till I reached Gramvousa. Yes my boat is very fast with light to medium winds and that’s one of the reasons why I have choose it.

Gramvousa is a spectacular anchorage, big, with two possible anchorage zones well apart with different wind protection, surrounded by huge mountains and with a XVII century fortress perched on the top of one of them, the one nearer where we and the French cast anchor. I dived to see if the anchor was well set and was surprised by a big wreckage of an ancient boat. Maybe the violent storms of this winter have dug it out since I could see lots of pieces of amphora, some big and lots of other remains. It was late afternoon so I decided to have a better view next day….but no luck.

In the middle of the night a violent wind came, out of nowhere, pointing the boat to some rocks not far away. Even if the anchor was well dug the bottom was not perfect (sand and rock) so I decided that an anchor watch was appropriate and went to the cockpit taking short naps and having a lookout.

The guys on the Jeanneau were doing the same and early in the morning they sailed away, against the wind on flat water to the North of the Island. They probably had internet and detailed weather information by satellite but I could not find coverage for my 3g internet. Given the sea condition and wind direction I thought that I could also go North, turning the cape and make it to Hania, a port, maybe 35/40NM away on the North coast. I turned the cape and was surprised by a change of wind and a nasty broken steep sea with 2/3 meter waves. I started to beat upwind but it would take many hours to reach Hania with a VMG of 3 or 4K. We were making about the same speed as the Jeanneau but I bet the motion on our boat was much more uncomfortable and 10 hours of that was just too much, specially for my wife. I remember to have seen two days before that it would be less wind on the South Coast of Crete and also an inshore wind, I knew that there were some decent anchorages not far from the last cape so I turned around and soon I was surfing waves between 8 and 10K. Nice and fast ride till the South Coast.

At the beginning all went well, the wind (F6) diminished, I put more sail but soon we were being caught by some of the most violent gusts I have ever seen, like going from 20K to 40K with the only warning of the flying water approaching fast. We kept only the Genoa very reefed (just a tiny piece of sail) that allowed us to go upwind between 7 and 8K but at a lousy angle, that was about enough to keep the boat on course. After two hours of wild gust sailing we reached the anchorage. Not so many gusts there since it blew already fiercely, maybe F7/8. We anchored, good bottom, the boat was holding on perfectly, we rearranged the sails (the main one had been torn away partially out of the sailing bag and was hold by some lines), connect to internet to have a look at the Greek detailed forecast, just to be sure that the wind was just the afternoon typical stronger wind and was going to diminish by night….and surprise, it was going to increase to 9 and then F10. Being on anchor with a F10 was not my idea of fun so I started looking for alternatives: No decent ports nearby (I have a big draft) besides they were all very small and my boat has really an auxiliary engine with no bowthruster, so manoeuvring on those small spaces with a F8 with this boat is something I do not want to try except if I have not any alternative. 

But an alternative seemed possible: we found out that accordingly to the detailed Greek sailing weather report (that normally is very accurate) the wind was less offshore and there was a zone almost without no wind, around the Southern Greek Island of Gavdhos, the European Southernmost point. So we sailed away planning to pass the night at sea or at one of the tiny anchorages of Gavdhos or maybe on its small port.
We sailed away at about 17.30 and all went well, the wind shifted, we had a nice upwind sail with a F3/4 and near Gavdhos the wind died away. We took the sails and motored away to Gavdhos, already at night. But then I started to be hit on the beam by some nasty steep waves. The waves kept on increasing in size and near Gavdos we had 4m waves running like a freight train to the Island plus a F5/6 wind coming from the wrong direction. No shelter on that Island.

I decided to go away from Gavdhos, that was now a lee Island and just keep the boat as comfortable as possible for the night, trying not to scare my wife that at this point was more than seasick. So I hung on close to the wind, kept the motion to a minimum and that is a way of saying it because those 4 m waves have among them 5m steep waves, breaking waves that sometimes just pass over the boat. Sometimes, passing slightly sideways those big steep waves, the boat was so tilted that all the transom was submerged on the water and I had water to my ankles. Of course, the wind was only a F6 when I was lucky, we had zones of F8/9 and maybe 10. 

I passed all night lashed at the wheel, trying to make it as smoother as I could till daylight. Thanks to my offshore Musto equipment I was reasonably dry but I was being hit badly by waves. Sometimes it looked as if somebody were throwing at me big heavy bags full of something heavy and disagreeably soft, like a corpse. Sometimes the weight was so much that through me out of the boat rail, to the other side of the cockpit (I was lashed to the wheel by a short theather). On most of the night to keep motion at a minimum I was just making between 0 and 1k of boat speed. 

Only on the hours near dawn conditions allowed me more speed, changing slightly the angle of attack, tacking the waves (that were smaller and less steep) more on the beam. I was then managing to make about 3.5/4.5K and asked my wife to find me a suitable shelter for the wind that had been changing all night. When I approached Gavdhos I had wind coming from E, then it changed to NE. Isabel gave me a perfect anchorage protected from NE, Ag Gallini, and I pointed the boat on that direction without difficulty but at sunrise the wind had not only increased again to F8/9 as the wind was now a steady W and the sea looked like a huge river flowing very fast and with an incredible power, a bit like the Colorado river, but with 4 to 5 meter steep breaking waves, just to give an image. I had never seen anything like that, I have been on much bigger Atlantic seas, but nothing like the nastiness of this broken steep fast surge.

I was going along and for the first time I could take following seas and even on this broken sea the motion was not dangerous, just crazy. I asked Isabel for another safe anchorage, some place protected from this madness and she gave me Kali Limenes, at just only 15NM but cutting at 90º that monstrous flow of sea. I said it was not safe and didn’t know if it was even possible. She asked me if I could take more 24 hours at the wheel? I had been helming on the last 12 hours and obviously I could not take that. I must explain that I have a stupid problem on the autopilot that only works in settled conditions. I had my rudder removed and inspected and when all was mounted again the autopilot refused to acknowledge the rudder information, working in what it calls a simulated way. Without rudder information the autopilot can be very dangerous in any complicated situation, like riding a freight train of 4/5 meter waves at 10k. No way I was doing that with a defective autopilot, so I tried to see if it was possible to cut sideways that huge nasty river and the big steep waves.

Believe it or not, the boat handled it in not a very different way than the open kayak I used to Surf waves with when I was younger and that knowledge proved fundamental to the success of the operation. Basically it was like that: If the wave had only 4m I proceeded at 90º and the boat, with a sweet touch of wheel had no trouble in taking at beam, going up without almost without heeling, on the big 5 or 6? really steep ones (really a vertical wall, some already breaking), I had done what I used to do with the kayak, I turned the boat and surfed them, taking the boat out as soon as possible. Really the only problem were some half a dozen bad calls, when I thought it was possible to go up over them on the beam and ended up thrown sideways to the base of the wave. Here I should say my skin has been saved by my boat that being a powerful one with a big stability to carry large amounts of sail, went down those big waves sideways never exceeding 60º of heel and most of the time not exceeding 45º. I would say that was what gave me confidence to go on, because if I would have a bad knock out, a single one, with the mast on the water, I would have turned the boat around and saw if I was really able to stand on for 24 hours.

Funny how our past experiences can help on different situations: who would say that the knowledge of how a Kayak behaves in big breaking waves would matter to helming a cruising boat? Or that my past experience as a motorcycle rally rider, with sometimes 9 hours racing non stop, would be important in what regards managing the physical effort? On long range racing you learn that the way to do it is maintaining all body muscles lose and only to dispense the minimum energy necessary for the job. The normal tendency in a stress situation is to remain tense and if you stay that way your energy is not going to last for long.

Anyway after 4 long hours I managed to reach the big cape that protects Kali Limenes and I have done so with a good margin, case things turned out worse but when I was passing the cable, at 1K or so, with the boat without any sail, I had my doubts if that effort was of any use: Suddenly I saw the base of the big cliff to be full of what seemed like a malignant fog and then saw that fog racing at blinding speed to the boat. It was a wall of wind so strong that turned the surface of the water in a big boiling surface with spray several meters above surface. It hit the boat so strongly that it heeled it steady at over 30º, not momentarily but for as long as I took to stay away from that place (several minutes). I looked at the wind speed meter but instead of reading the speed of that monstrosity I just saw it dying way, as well as the depth meter: both could not stay impermeable to that violent mist, took water inside and just short circuited.

With several doubts I pointed the boat to Kali Limenes, but Isabel has saved the boat: It was not only a very nice place (a bit spoiled by some big fuel tanks on an Island in front ) but it provided good shelter. I dived to see if the anchor was well set and I could not believe my eyes. I was in the middle of a submerged city with gigantic Minoic tombs and several artefacts carefully marked on the bottom with submerged buoys. The place had not any mark, neither on the pilot book, nor on the map. Carefully I moved the boat out of the stone submerged city to a perfect sandy bottom, some hundreds of meters way.

We stayed for two lovely days, the first one to take a rest, the second to enjoy: There is a kind of non official but very organized camping park and an incredible Taverna, just like the one that used to be on my favourite beach 30 years ago, where two Souvlakis, a big Greek salad, two big Ice-creams, half a litter of wine, an ouzo and a coffee cost less than 25 Euros. Nice food. I am already regretting having sailed away, stuck on the shelter of a bay about 50NM West, waiting with another sailboat the Mistral to die away. It will take another full day listening to the wind howling outside. Isabel hates it and I cannot say I like it, but I am sure that a nice sunny beach with a nice Taverna is waiting for us somewhere on the East coast of Crete. If all was nice, living would be boring. 

One thing is for sure: The South Coast of Crete is beautiful with its big mountains but it is not and easy place to cruise in July. Believe it or not, the Amel Maramu that came to take shelter on the same bay we are now is the first cruising boat that I see on the South Coast and if I exclude the Jeanneau 57, the only one I saw till now in Crete and I have been sailing here for 5 days. The positive point is that you can have it all for yourself: Not a problem to find a place in crowded anchorages….you will be the only boat there.


Sunday, July 6, 2014


La Solitaire de Figaro is coming down to the wire, with legendary Jeremy Beyou holding a narrow 15 minute lead over Corentin Horeau. Two other boats are within striking distance, assuming JB doesn't have any major failure. And, to my personal satisfaction, Figaro rookie Gwenole Gahinet is sitting in 13th spot, the top novice in this year's edition (though with Artemis' Sam Matson less than 30 minutes behind on cumulative time). I think Gahinet is going to be a big star in a year or so, though perhaps not as massively gifted as Francois Gabart. Going to be a very exciting finish to this race. Much, much more exciting than the Newport-Bermuda Race or the Singlehanded Transpac Race. :)

I don't think you can compare both races. La Solitaire is a race for professionals, the best solo racers with equal boats, while the Bermuda race or Transpac race has more amateurs doing it then professionals and all kind of boats, from racers to oldies and full keelers.

The best professional Portuguese solo sail racer, Lobato, after winning several races in the mini circuit including a Transat (Series) has done the complete Figaro circuit and even if in some legs he managed to arrive in 2th (and that is very good) was so disgusted with his overall comparative performance that decided to take a break from professional sailing. I think he was expecting to be a top player but to be the best among the best is not an easy thing. By the way I am very curious about what Lobato is doing. He put a stop (I hope provisionally) to his professional sailing carer, but he is also a NA, so I am hoping nice things from him.

Back to la Solitaire du Figaro, raced on Beneteau Figaro:

"Il va falloir que je me déchire pour gagner l... por lasolitairedufigaro

Après le match, la course reprend ses droits por lasolitairedufigaro

Jérémie Beyou passe la ligne en vainqueur ! por lasolitairedufigaro

 I agree that Gahinet made a great race, for a first timer, but the winner is a favorite of mine, Jeremy Beyou. Give it a competitive boat for the next Vendee Globe and I bet he will be a top contender.