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October 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Gunning for Florida

With Hurricane Matthew fast approaching southern Florida, boaters are clearing their decks, de-rigging sails, checking their insurance policies and — in many cases — evacuating inland.

© 2016 NOAA / National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Matthew is currently barreling toward the Bahamas, after causing widespread destruction in Haiti and Cuba yesterday. Now a Category 3 storm packing sustained winds of 120 mph, Matthew is expected to slam into the Bahamas tomorrow morning, and reach southern Florida by tomorrow afternoon. It is predicted to advance NNW along the eastern coastline of that state before curving toward the northeast, thus threatening Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.

On its approach to the northern Caribbean islands, Matthew reached Category 5 status (winds higher than 156 mph or 136 knots), but downshifted to a Category 4 (130- to 156-mph winds) before slamming into Haiti and Cuba yesterday with max sustained winds of 145 mph. Needless to say, there was widespread destruction and flooding on both islands, with at least 11 deaths reported so far. Haiti, which is by a wide margin the Caribbean’s poorest country, has never fully recovered from a series of four major storms in 2008 and a devastating earthquake in 2010.

As if the desperately poor population of Haiti didn’t have enough problems, Matthew struck a direct hit on the island nation yesterday. 

© 2016

More than a million people are now preparing to evacuate from coastal areas of Florida and South Carolina. Matthew is already the most powerful storm to affect this region in nearly a decade, but storm watchers fear that it may build in intensity as it arcs to the northeast.

Needless to say, millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of boats and boating infrastructure are vulnerable to Matthew’s wrath as it advances. In addition to the damage potential of storm-force winds, big surf and the punishing effects of storm surge are expected. Meanwhile, sources in the British Virgin Islands — the Caribbean’s most popular boating destination — tell us there was virtually no impact there from Matthew other than a period of 30-knot winds. The storm passed far to the east of the archipelago yesterday.

Short on Cash but Long on Need?

We needed a bigger symmetrical chute and a bigger asymmetrical chute for our 63-ft catamaran Profligate. As we’re making some expensive upgrades to the boat, we wanted to be thrifty. That, along with the fact that used Santa Cruz 70 chutes fit Profligate perfectly, encouraged us to go chute hunting at Minney’s Marine Surplus in Costa Mesa.

Minney’s had so many good chutes for our boat that we couldn’t believe it. Fortunately, Charlie, one of Ernie Minney’s employees, was there to take us to a second warehouse and help sort through some of them. Mind you, SC70 chutes are big, so it was a workout for Charlie, who did most of the work.

We drove away with two chutes for about 10 to 15% of what they would have cost new. A couple of days later we flew them off to San Diego. It turned out that what we thought was going to be an asymmetrical, probably due to a brain fade on our part, was actually a symmetrical. As for the 1.5-oz symmetrical that once graced the Andrews 70 turbo sled Magnitude, she’s going to see a lot of duty on Profligate during the Baja Ha-Ha. She looked perfect and still crinkled.

You get five days to try out used sails from Minney’s. If you don’t like them, you can return them — undamaged, of course — for a full refund. So we’re going to return the one that we thought was an asymmetrical. But before we had a chance to, Charlie emailed us some good news: “The symmetrical spinnaker that you purchased is on special this month for 33% off. Please call us and we will write you a check for the difference. Sorry for the error.”

Wow, a refund from somebody who already had our money in their bank.

So if you’re entered in the Ha-Ha and need a symmetrical chute — the discount doesn’t apply to asymmetricals — you might want to check out Minney’s. There is a complete list of sails on their website. And when you call them, ask for Charlie.

Of course, most sailmakers also have used sails. They may not have as big a selection as Minney’s, but it’s worth asking if they have what you need.

Golden Globe Race Update

We’ve introduced you previously to the 2018 Golden Globe Race, but just a quick reminder — it was conceived in celebration of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s first-ever nonstop solo circumnavigation of the globe, in 1968’s Sunday Times Golden Globe, aboard his Atkins-designed ketch Suhaili.

Like the original, the new Golden Globe Race will circumnavigate the world via the Great Capes.

© Golden Globe Race

Entries are closed as the 30 spots have been claimed. Over the past two weeks four skippers have retired (Fabrizio Ladi, Antonio Martinez, Luc Marry and Edoardo Raimondo), moving four entries from the waiting list to the provisional entries list (Loic Lepage, Graham Applin, Francesco Cappelletti and Federico Beccaria). Six remain on the waiting list.

"Sadly, we have lost our only Westsail 32 and skipper, which is the closest production boat design to Suhaili," writes event founder Don McIntyre. The Westsail 32 sailor, Antonio Martinez, was one of four Americans entered. "The exciting news though is that there are two Suhaili replicas under construction and a third being considered. Sir Robin has completed the major part of a three-year restoration of Suhaili, and she is in the water sailing once again. She will be looking smart as our official start boat in Falmouth."

RKJ’s Suhaili. The 32-ft teak ketch is looking good for a 53-year-old. The 2018 Golden Globe will be sailed in similar craft, not modern carbon-fiber speed machines.

© Golden Globe Race

On June 14, 2018, Suhaili will make a 50th anniversary crossing of the original start line in Falmouth, and then all the GGR entrants will sail past during a parade honoring Suhaili and Sir Robin. The race will start on June 16. A race village will be open a few weeks ahead of the start.

Plans are already underway for a 2022 Golden Globe Race, and the intention is to hold the event every four years.

Going to be in Paris for the boat show this December? The Golden Globe Race will hold a media and public briefing there on December 6. "Many of the skippers will be attending, and certainly our French contingent will all be there," says McIntyre. See

Waters off the Cityfront get pretty churned up due to all the erratic boat traffic, but it’s always big fun to be out there during an air show. 
This photo of the new J/70 world champions, Joel Ronning and crew on Catapult, shows how wet the boats are in big breeze.