I have been moaning for years that “they just don’t make them like they used to” when it comes to modern cruising boats, especially when it comes to comically bad keels they are putting on them these days. While anchored near Shelter Island yesterday, I noticed a late model cruising sailboat trying to beat to weather in the 15-20 knot breeze that had kicked up. The boat was being sailed close hauled with both jib and main well reefed down. Initially, I had a view of the boat’s port side, but when it tacked I had an almost perfect view from astern. I was so astonished at what I saw that I pulled out my cell phone and captured this video:
In disbelief I wondered if this boat wasn’t being swept to leeward by the current. So I pulled out Navionics and checked the chart. The current was running strong FROM RIGHT TO LEFT as seen from the perspective of the video!
Yes folks, they really are building boats that sail this badly. It’s no wonder that production boat I lined up against years ago in my Sabre 42 wound up sliding a mile to leeward of me by the time we cross the Chesapeake near Annapolis. But I guess as long as people do all of their research at the boat shows and choose boats based on interior accommodation instead of sailing characteristics, they’ll keep building boats like this and people will keep buying them.
How about that! We had ideal conditions for a mid-day sail from Nantucket to Edgartown today: Winds starting in the upper teens from beam apparent that built into the low 20s with gusts to 28 or so. We did some really fantastic double-headed beam reaching and then tightened up to a close reach where we had to douse the staysail and reef the genoa well in to stay on our feet. What a ball!
In the past I have written on these pages that there isn’t nearly as much sailing living the cruising lifestyle as one might think. This was true even when I was on my single-handed sabbatical on the Sabre, but it’s even more true on Rover with two of us working full time. We can really only make large passages over the weekends and the odds are usually against us for conditions to be right for sailing without the help of the engine. This season in particular the conditions simply haven’t lined up such that we could stop the main engine and still keep the speeds up enough to make our destinations in a reasonable amount of time. As a result, apart from a brief sail between Block Island and Newport on our original delivery north, we have only motored or motor sailed this entire season.
Yesterday the stars finally aligned and we had perfect conditions to sail in the ocean all the way down the eastern coast of Cape Cod, mostly under spinnaker! For me this was like a glass of water to a man in the desert and it really recharged my batteries. Rather than write about it, I am just going to post a few photos and videos to let you come along for the ride!
Up until now our 2021 New England cruise hasn’t been the smoothest, so my posts here haven’t been that upbeat. It’s time to change the tune a bit, so here are some photos of our current neighborhood: Provincetown on Cape Cod. I am loving being back here at anchor enjoying the seals and late evening scotches looking at the night sky on the bow.
We had a couple of nice days in the outer anchorage of Vineyard Haven last week – apart from the ferry noise and wakes beginning at 6 am every day. The forecast for Friday night, however showed a strong breeze building from the east-northeast. Looking at the way the harbor is oriented, we figured we would have some beam swell from waves hooking around the shoreline but nothing worse. The forecast was off, however, and in reality we had 20-25 knots of wind from the north northeast. It was a sleepless night capped by by a 3-4 am anchor watch to be be sure the swells didn’t yank our Rocna out of the bottom. Here were the conditions when we got up, which had lightened considerably from the 3-4 am period:
Realizing we weren’t going to have a very good day for napping, we decided to pull into Lagoon Pond. Here were the conditions in Lagoon Pond:
Lagoon Pond was crazy scenic too. Lesson learned! No more outside anchorage for us at Vineyard Haven! Other lesson learned: our Rocna kicks ass.
Sometimes things happen living on a boat that you just couldn’t make up if this blog were pure fiction. Last week, after a month’s wait, it was looking like our repaired diesel injection pump would be fixed near the end of the week. Just as it looked like we might get paroled from Break Down Prison, though, Tropical Storm Henri formed offshore in the Atlantic. Most early models predicted that Henri would take an easterly turn and would not affect the New England coast. Around mid week I got a warning from my friend Glenn that his weather service predicted that many models had under estimated the chances of a New England landfall and that Henri posed a “material threat” to us. We began to consider options for preparation, but there was no certainty the engine would even be fixed before the prospective weekend landfall, so there was no certainty that we had any options to prepare other than removing the sails and canvas. By Thursday the forecasts made a New England landfall look much more likely, so we began calling marinas. We learned that haul outs were first-come-first-serve, and that the only marina that might be able to take us was New England Boat Works (NEB), which was 6 miles north in what used to be called Bend Boat Basin. Ironically, Bend Boat Basin is where my family’s brand new Pearson 40 was delivered to Mathews & Fales, our Pearson dealer, in 1979. On Thursday, NEB said not to leave Newport until they were ready to haul us because there were too many boats converging on the Basin, which meant they had to hold them outside of the basin in the Bay and lead them in one at a time for haul out.
By Friday morning, the forecast looked much worse for us. Here is the forecasted track we awoke to:
Like the “vacation week” I tried to take during our cruise last year, last week was a “character builder” for me when it comes to the live-aboard lifestyle. We continue to wait for the part needed to get our main engine operational again, which could take three weeks to arrive from Japan – although the actual delivery time is a total unknown since the mechanic sent the pump to a rebuilding shop, who ordered the part from a distributor, who ordered the part from Yanmar. So chock up the arrival time on that part – and the continuation of our cruise – to “?????.” Note to Yanmar: you suck for not offering this pump for sale anymore. There are tons of us out here with this engine!
In the meantime we have been on the mooring and taking advantage of Newport, but last week things took a turn downhill on the mechanical side. Unless we want to be towed to a VERY expensive Newport slip, we are 100% dependent on the generator for power. And with water running low early in the week, I planned to commission the water maker, which also relies 100% on the generator and will dramatically increase it’s scheduled runtimes. On Monday the generator started to stall during the evening charge. By Tuesday morning it was becoming so unreliable that I shut it down to investigate the problem – easily ruling out clogged fuel filters since I had recently replaced both. I traced the issue to a dead fuel lift pump – a part that, luckily, I found was in stock at the local NAPA, which meant a shore crew could be sent in to fetch it and I was able to install it after work. Problem solved, but not without some stress and very good luck that this pump was in stock because it is also used on old carbureted cars. Since they had two in stock, we bought both to have a spare onboard.
After this week’s test sail of a deep-draft Sabre 36, I thought it would be fun to take a moment to pause and reflect on the Sabres I have sailed so far and how they compare! And I thought I’d rank them based on how enjoyable I found them overall.
Editor’s note: the author has no affiliations with the sellers of the boat in this article and was not compensated in any way for writing it.
Regular readers of my blog know that I am a huge fan of the second-generation Sabre sailboats designed by Roger Hewson, and that I plan to buy another one in the future. As such, I follow the market for these boats pretty closely, and last week I saw a post on the Sabre Sailboats Facebook Group about a 36 that was coming on the market. As luck would have it, the owners were cruising to Newport that weekend so I was able to reach out to them and convince them to let me dinghy over to see her, and even to come along for a test sail later in the week.
There are two fascinating difference between our prior boat, the Sabre 42 (and most similar coastal cruisers) and our current Hylas 54 from the standpoint of automatic bilge pumps. The first big difference: on our Sabre, a variety of sources would cause the (single) automatic bilge pump to run regularly quite apart from any leaks that would be alarming to the crew or a threat to the vessel. For example, rainwater would run down the center of the mast into the bilge which could cause the bilge pump to run periodically during rainy periods. Also, the Sabre’s air conditioning and refrigeration drained condensate directly to the bilge (neither of which were particularly desirable) which would trigger automated draining of the bilge by the pump. Whatever the cause, while aboard we regularly would hear the bilge pump run and therefore had an awareness that that the bilge pump worked.