SIGHTINGS — cont’d the mast an additional 322 lbs. 7) And finally, Catana has done a careful analysis of every detail of adhesive products, such as Sikaflex, to further reduce the weight by another 938 lbs. In other words, the new Catana 50s will displace in excess of 20% less than the 38,000 lbs of the original ones. To put it in more graphic terms, the new boats save the equivalent of 3.5 Chevy Malibus in weight, which will make them much more responsive in all wind conditions. Catana says they are also dramatically reducing the weight of their 42s, 47s, 58s and 65s, too. For the record, virtually all boat manufacturers are working to eliminate weight, so Catana is not alone. — richard
bogus — cont’d as a 40-day, 3,000-mile cruise, in hopes of earning a Yachtmaster’s Offshore certification. We alerted the 220-boat Pacific Puddle Jump fleet to be on the lookout for Columbia — which is conspicuous due to the words ‘Discovery Sailing Academy’ printed in large letters on her hull. Within hours, concerned members of several other cruising groups had extended the network of watchful eyes all the way from Patagonia to Easter Island. Meanwhile, government agencies of the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile put resources into play. So where had Columbia been during her 86-day transit? According to her deeply frustrated crew, they’d logged 5,000 miles attempting to follow what Norwid called the “old pirate route,” which took them as much as 2,000 miles west of the South American coast — well over halfway to French Polynesia. At one point they drifted for 12 days with little or no wind. But the skipper — who, according to Chabot, became staunchly militaristic as soon as the boat set sail, and was verbally abusive throughout the ordeal — reportedly refused to consider using his engine for either propulsion or to run the watermaker, despite having full diesel tanks. Instead, each crewmember was given a ration of about two cups of water per day, and Norwid instituted a contest to see who could get by on less. Although Columbia operates as a commercial vessel, she only carries a VHF radio, plus an SSB receiver (no transmitter) for communications. Norwid insisted that both remain turned off throughout the trip. Consequently, no one on board knew anything about the Chilean earthquake, and apparently the tsunami rolled right beneath them unnoticed. As the weeks wore on, it became obvious that there was no way they were going to reach their Chilean destination anywhere close to on schedule. All three trainees pleaded with Norwid to allow them to attempt making outside contact via the VHF so their families could be alerted that they were safe. He adamantly refused. Needless to say, a VHF call probably would have been futile in those lonely latitudes. But the skipper’s actions — or lack thereof — have raised some important legal questions. Because Columbia was involved in a commercial enterprise, should the skipper have been obligated to report his whereabouts when the trip became long overdue? Was he negligent for not attempting outside contact, knowing his clients’ families would be anxious? Should such a vessel be required to carry some type of long-range communications device when operating offshore? Such questions seem particularly pertinent in Norwid’s case, because he has a history of being long-overdue and incommunicado — at least twice before, search and rescue agencies have wasted valuable resources looking for him. If you’ve got a well-reasoned opinion about these issues, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re told that Norwid is under investigation by both British and Chilean authorities. One thing they’ll undoubtedly look into is whether this controversial instructor — who says he thinks of himself as something of a pirate — is actually licensed to conduct Yachtmaster courses. Despite initial surprise at Norwid’s harsh tactics, Westlake — who’d previously done a three-year stint in the Australian Navy — reportedly completed all his course requirements, and has been promised his certificate. But both Hanlon and Chabot eventually exercised their option to give up on the rigorous ‘training’ regime, after 63 days and 70 days respectively, and finished the trip simply as passengers. Hanlon had virtually no previous sailing experience — making us wonder why she was accepted for a Yachtmasters course — but had dreams of working on tall ships. She now says she never wants to go to sea again. Years ago, Chabot worked for six years on charter yachts in the Caribbean and Med, but mostly away from the deck action. She was hoping to fine-tune her seamanship skills, but returned home to Montreal totally disillusioned. “That man completely killed my passion for sailing,” she says sadly. — andy May, 2010 •
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The May 2010 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.