Monday, January 28, 2008

Christie's Maritime Art Auction on Jan 30

On January 30, Christie's will hold its first maritime auction of the 2008 season. Over 350 works are on the auction block ranging from folk art and scrimshaw to paintings by Montague Dawson and James Edward Buttersworth. Our personal favorites are the models, which range from navy ships and modern cargo carriers to a half-hull of America, yes the ship that is the namesake for the Auld Mug.

While some of the pieces have estimates into six figures, some lots have estimates as low as $1,000. (Which is still a bit too rich for us)

Viewing started on January 25 and runs through January 29 with bidding starting at 10:00 a.m on January 30th. For those who wish to bid online, you need to pre-register with the auction house.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wind-Powered Freighter Crossing the Atlantic

Admittedly, we are a bit late to this story, but better late than never.

Beluga Group equiped a shipping freighter with a sail, specifically a SkySail, a parachute-shaped sail that is the size of a football field. The Ship, MS Beluga SkySails, departed on its first trans-Atlantic voyage earlier in the week. According to Beluga and SkySail, a ship‘s fuel costs can be reduced by 10- 35% on annual average, depending on wind conditions. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumption can temporarily be reduced by up to 50%.

During the fuel crisis of the 1970s, the idea of adding sails to fuel-powered freighters to reduce costs was floated around, but the technology wasn't available to make it work. Even earlier, in 1966, the DynaRig, a modern version of a square-rig, was conceived in Germany as a means to add sails to freighters, but it was never tested because the technology wasn't available to make the masts. Fast forward 35 years and this is a viable option. In addition to the SkySail, the DynaRig is the powerplant behind Tom Perkins' 288-foot Maltese Falcon.

The fact that the SkySail technology can be easily adapted to most cargo ships leads us to believe that we'll start to see more creative wind-powered solutions to help the world's shipping fleets reduce costs.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Made in Brooklyn: Bags From Recycled Sails

Reiter8 is a Brooklyn-based company that we love. The owner/designer, Katherine Rasmussen, makes very stylish and durable bags and pillows out of recycled sails, each with its own unique stripe, logo, mark or number. The pricing is reasonable with a large messenger bag costing $125, tote bags $65-$75, pillows $48 and mini wallets for $8.

Reiter8 is available at various domestic retail outlets and online through Etsy. And for you sailboat owners with old, unused and unloved sails in storage: donate them to Reiter8 and get a custom bag made from your sail.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Photo of the Day

Winter in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Its amazing how many boats are still in the water.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Major National Sailing Championship Coming to NYC

A major U.S. sailing championship will take place this spring in Staten Island. On May 15 through May 18, the Richmond County Yacht Club (RCYC) will host the 2008 J/24 National Championship.

The J/24 Class Association expects anywhere from 50 to 70 boats and crews, coming from across the country, to participate. On May 15th, boats weighed and measured at RCYC. Over the next three days in Lower New York Harbor and Raritan Bay, the boats will fight it out to determine who will be the National Champion .

The Staten Island Advance reported spoke with Doug Olsen, an RCYC officer and resident of The Rock, who said, "We're absolutely excited to be holding it. We hosted the J24 Northeast Regionals in 2005, but this is the first time Staten Island has had the Nationals ... and since there's a 20-year rotation of where the Nationals go, this could be the only time Staten Islanders get a chance to see it."

The J/24 is the world's most popular one-design keelboat, with more than 5,000 sailing in fleets around the world. While the racing is purely amateur, and more about bragging rights than anything else, to win this regatta is very prestigious among the sailboat racing cognescetti. Eight to 10 windward/leeward (upwind/downwind) races, consisting of five 1-1 1/2 mile legs, are planned each day. All boats are involved in every race, which can make for a very long starting line, and tight competition at each rounding mark. Local sailors know that the strong currents and tides, combined with pretty consistent breezes will be a factor in determining the winner.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Photo of the Day

A wooden double-ender docked in Sheepshead Bay.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Designed in Brooklyn: Sail Magazine's Best Boat of 2007

We know they used to make sails in Brooklyn, but did you know that modern sailboats -- ones that you can buy and sail today -- are designed in County of Kings? Neither did I.

A number of boat manufactures have recently introduced classically styled daysailors with modern performance. One notable model among this new fleet is the e33, designed by Brooklyn-based Wurmfeld Design. The e33 conceived by America's Cup veteran and sailmaker Robbie Doyle, who collaborated with Jeremy Wurmfeld to create one of Sail Magazine's Best Boats of 2007 .

The boat very thoughtfully designed: it has a huge, 16 foot cockpit, with a nice space to comfortably spread out behind the rudderpost. We've read that the seats are designed with proper lumbar support. Below deck, the cabin is nicely equipped for a weekend or overnight, with an enclosed head, opposed settees and a little v-berth. But where this boat really excels at is sailing. The sailplan is designed to give the e33 a lot of horsepower, especially with the asymmetrical spinnaker hoisted. Its also designed to be easy to sail. All controls leading to the cockpit and the sails can be trimmed without the need for winches, which make for an easy boat to sail singlehanded. All of that, plus the fact that it can be easily launched using a typical yacht club crane, using its built-in lifting points. It really does seem ideal.

We'd love to take it out for a sail. So Jeremy, if you're reading this, keep us in mind.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Sailing as Fashion: Martha Stewart Gives Props to North Fork Sailmaker

Greenport, Long Island's, Wm. J. Mills & Co. has crafted sails and canvas products since 1880. A Scottish immigrant, Mills moved from Northport on the Long Island Sound to Patchogue, on the South Shore, and then to Greenport, a very busy port at the time, which fed New York City's demand for fish and catered to a larger shipping business.

Today, the company still creates a small number of sails, but it's core business comes from custom canvas awnings and other canvas products, which it sells mainly to local customers. However, Wm. J. Mills & Co. has an international reputation for its Boston Whaler canvas accessories. The company is also a growing reputation among the countries diva's of design for its canvas bags.

In the December issue of Blueprint, which is published by Martha Stewart Omnimedia,(and has ceased publication as of this post) it lists the Wm. J. Mills flight bags in the holiday gift guide. The bags, which are made of the weather-resistant marine canvas, used in their awnings, come with a lifetime warranty. Perhaps its both the quality and style the has Martha Hooked.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

New York Boat Show This Weekend

While you may be freezing your butt off, its never too early to think about summer. This weekend at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the New York National Boat Show comes to town. While its mainly for powerboaters (aka stinkboaters), the may have one or two sailcraft in the house.

Adult tickets are $15 and you can order online.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Winter Swans in Sheepshead Bay

A family, or a few families, of swans live in Sheeepshead Bay throughout the year, even in the Winter. (The picture above was taken on December 29.) The swans are deceptively large, maybe 25 or more pounds, and the whitest, white I've ever seen. They also make a mess, so people try to keep them off their land, docks and boats. The swans are generally passive and don't bother people, they are not afraid to protect or their turf. You don't want one of these things to charge at you. Trust me!

The October 24, 2004 issue of the New York Times writes about Sheepshead Bay's swans noting they are mostly feral mute swans native to Europe. And for many years wildlife workers have been controlling the Jamaica Bay swan population to keep the swans from proliferating, crowding out native wildlife and fouling freshwater ponds. The swans are good relocators and have made their way to Sheepshead Bay where they've most likely grown used to being fed.

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