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On Sailboats with Dieter Loibner

Racing to Alaska for a pile of cash

The Hitia 17 catamaran of the Searunners team might not be the fastest boat in the Race to Alaska, but it's versatile, with a simple sailing rig, two paddles and, possibly, a bicycle-like propulson setup.“The most engaging conversation is an argument.” That’s how Jake Beattie frames his proposal, which, of course, is a take on messing about in boats. Beattie is executive director of the non-profit Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and he advanced the idea for the Race to Alaska: 750 miles, no engines, no support, no excuses.

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Luck, pluck and a boat added up to survival

Shoving off - Astrid departs Gothenburg, Sweden, on July 5, 1948, with 29 Estonians on board for the long trip across the North Sea and the Atlantic to Newfoundland.

If you were born and raised in a Baltic country between the two world wars, you were dealt a tough hand. Through no particular fault of your own, you were destined to become a pawn in the bloody chess game played by two of the most notorious villains in world history, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

In short succession each of them occupied this area of northeastern Europe and installed murderous puppet regimes that carried out ethnic cleansing on a vast scale.

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Small wooden boats, big follies … or not

Doug Adkins' 1954 Bateck Perigee, restored and ready for launch at Jensen Motorboat Co. in SeattleIf Aristotle was right, there is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man. And if he had known sailors (and how could he not?) he must have observed that owners of wooden ships must have an especially large cerebral portion set aside for foolishness — because they are forever fiddling, sanding, painting and caulking. And when the yacht finally is shipshape, they quickly think of something else. Like building a wooden tender. It doesn’t get any more foolish than that. Or does it?

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Nobody is perfect but this guy comes close

The yawl Artemis cuts a fine figure in the Danish islands during her first season after a long restoration.

If saving and restoring old boats were like football, Joachim Kaiser would be the second coming of Vince Lombardi. Like the legendary NFL coach, Kaiser has won many battles, often snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, drawing on his knowledge of the game and an ability to adjust as necessary. He knows the tricks, and he knows the blunders, many from firsthand experience. Paraphrasing Lombardi: To achieve success, there is a price to pay. Kaiser paid his dues in the restoration business, which requires research, intuition and the ability to shake the money tree.

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Less is more in this quest for ultimate sailing

With her narrow beam and double-ender hull shape, the 62-foot Francis Lee dosen't follow the production-boat trend that favors a lot of beam aft.The morning fog was lifting off Puget Sound as Blakely Rock slipped by to starboard, our bow turned north in search of wind. Soon a light, unsteady breeze sprang up. Nice, but on most boats it wouldn’t be nearly enough to unship the iron oar. Luckily, Francis Lee is not like most boats.

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