On the Water

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As we put this issue together, cruising season was in full swing, and the Soundings team took advantage of safe and pleasant harbors, fair winds and following seas.

Executive Editor Pim Van Hemmen traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, where the eyes of the sailing world were trained on the 12 Metre World Championships, the largest-ever gathering of these yachts in the United States, with almost two dozen boats from six countries. Pim had the chance to watch the action from the best possible location: the deck of the new MJM. It was Hull No. 1 of the builder’s flagship 53z, and the official boat of the international jury. In his story “Front Row Seat”, he shares his impressions of MJM’s handsome, outboard-powered cruiser, and of the sometimes nail-biting race, which included seven America’s Cup defenders and challengers.

“I have a giant soft spot for Twelves,” Pim says. “In 1983, I watched Australia II and Victory ’83 race on Rhode Island Sound. The following year, I got a job in Newport sailing the 12 Metre Magic, which was used by the Eagle Syndicate as a trial horse for the 1987 AC Challenge. Covering the Worlds in Newport was like a satisfying time warp.”

Senior Editor Gary Reich knows a thing or two about time warps. For his story “Melting Pot”, he spent a few days traveling the Penobscot Bay region in Maine to dig into the storied history of boatbuilding there. All along the coast, he discovered a high concentration of craftsmen with skills that are envied the world over, and more. “The number of wildly different builders in the area is mind-boggling,” Gary says. “And it’s such a rugged, salty place. It has everything a boat nut could want, from beautiful craft in gorgeous harbors to real working waterfronts. Oh, and then there’s the lobster. Gotta love the lobster.”

Working waterfronts inspire great boat design on the West Coast too. Dieter Loibner discovered that while sea-trialing the Ranger Tugs 41 in the Canadian Gulf Islands. The 41 is the new flagship for the Washington-based builder. It’s for those who like the rough-and-tumble looks of industrial workboats. The 41 has the plumb bow and wheelhouse of a salty commercial craft, but that’s where the similarities end; at heart, she’s a family cruiser fitted out with everything you’d need to explore cruising venues including the Inside Passage, the Great Loop and Downeast Maine. Keep an eye out for her in your local waters now, while the cruising season is still ripe. 

JCraig@aimmedia.com

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue.