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  • 13 May 2020 10:14 PM | Mark Bussard (Administrator)

    Due to COVID-19 impacts, the NEMA Events page has been maintained by the NEMA RC to indicate which events have been cancelled thus far. For those events listed on the Events page not shown as CANCELLED, we are waiting for official confirmation from those race organizers as to whether those events will occur or not, and if they are held on the planned dates, what specific restrictions (if any) will be in place at the event (no group social activities, shorthanded rules, etc). We hope you still have opportunity to get out on the water to do any multihull sailing!

    NEMA RC

  • 2 Feb 2020 7:56 PM | Andrew Houlding (Administrator)

    THE NEMA ANNUAL DINNER was a success. Louisa Chafee gave a great presentation on what it takes to get into U.S. Olympic sailing and how to get a NACRA 17 up on foils and keep it there while hanging from a dyneema trapeze wire (until the wire breaks--as it did twice in the Rio Olympics).   

    Race Chair Dave Lussier handed the 50-year old perpetual Season Trophy to Steve Parks, whose Flying Fish beat out Banshee and Final Gravity.  And Alex Bocconcelli took home the Distance Trophy-- having sailed Blackbird in about 13 events and racked up the most miles sailed over the season.  

    We had a great bunch of slides from Laurent Apollon, and Fran Grenon from Spectrum Photo lent us a photo sequence from the start of the first day of the Buzzards Bay Regatta, which featured a multi-boat collision that knocked Swamp Fox out of the Regatta with a substantial crack in the port float.   To commemorate that event we introduced the "Fender Awards," given to boats that sustained collision damage in the racing season.  Final Gravity got a Little Fender for a little love tap from Skedaddle (sorry again Jeff!); Alex Bocconcelli got a Full Fender for Blackbird's troubles at the BBR start; and Don Watson got the Big Fender award for Swamp Fox --plus a roll of duct tape.

    NEMA sailors also opened their checkbooks and credit cards and gave generously to the Sandra Tartaglino Memorial Fund, created in the memory of Sandra who was killed in a boating accident last summer while racing her F18 in Newport.     Dave Lussier led the way with an offer to match the first $500 in contributions and so far the fund drive has raised over $1600.  We urge you to continue making contributions; find the "Donate" button on our Home Page, click on it and add a little more.  The fund is designed to support youth sailing programs and boat safety awareness.   

    It was great to see old friends and meet new members.  The sailing and racing season is just around the corner, and we will soon announce a spring social/educational event.  

    If you haven't done so already, you may want to check out the NEMA Sailors FaceBook group, it's another way to keep in touch and we have some great photos there, check it out.  

    Thanks to all who joined us at the dinner, and special thanks to the NEMA Board members who worked hard to make it a success.  For those who couldn't join us: you missed out!  So make plans to be there next year.

    Sail Fast!  

    Andy.




  • 2 Jan 2020 9:41 PM | Jeff Bugbee (Administrator)

    By Keith Burrage.


    Some 22 years ago we organized the first Atlantic Highlands Fling as a fun way to race up to Block Island, with all that offers, and help draw the New York, New Jersey and Chesapeake Multihull fleet down east to participate in the excellent NEMA racing and cruising events.

    In 1997 we had a strong fleet of nine entrants, a fun get together in Atlantic Highlands and an exciting race, won by Dave Lussier in a really well sailed F27. What could be better than racing to a beautiful island, away from the oppressive heat and humidity that July announces on the east coast?

    Unfortunately with the multihull scene favoring smaller, folding, trailerable boats, interest in offshore racing diminished and after the third edition in 1999 the Atlantic Highlands Fling was discontinued.

    But, in 2019 the Fling was back! By early spring we had interest from eight owners declaring their intent to race. In an effort to encourage more cruising boats to tag along we added the “By Hook or By Crook” trophy: even if getting to Block Island required firing up the “iron topsail,” the first cruiser to make the Island could get an award and join the festivities!

    Sadly, as race day approached, a series of events, including a serious lightning strike nixing the TRT 1200, the fleet whittled down to three starters.

    Perfect weather conditions on race day provided a brisk, port-favored, windward start and plenty of boat speed to beat the adverse tidal flow up to and around Sandy Hook.

    After getting around the hook into a downwind flow, Nice Tri, the Dragonfly 1000, set her asymmetric and with Summer Magic, the St Francis 44 under her reacher, the leaders stayed tight on the Hook, cheating the current and ran south into the expected southerly shift that brought the downwind sails to the deck and sheets sweated in for the beat south. After a less than perfect start with his new ride and fast learning crew Alston van Patten on his Contour 34 Coltrane was getting dialed in as we worked the lifts right into the surf on our way to Manasquan sea buoy.

    Nice Tri rounded first and popping her chute flew off to the northeast in the teens. Summer Magic following half an hour later, set her reacher and headed due east. But Coltrane, the crew not feeling they were familiar enough with the boat, elected to call it a day, turned around and headed for home.

     As evening fell we enjoyed a near idyllic downwind reach, Nice Tri gybing along the Long Island south shore, Summer Magic continuing off to the east until the forecast westerly shift had her gybing off to the northeast where she converged with Nice Tri a couple of miles west of Montauk - all aboard Summer Magic elated that our offshore tactic had paid off handsomely.

            Nice Tri cleared Montauk and pressed on eastwards while Summer Magic gybed again once clear of Montauk and weather-bowed the ebb current sweeping out of Block Island Sound which drove her eastward toward the finish in the dying breeze. Nice Tri  slipped off to the southeast, realizing too late how strong the set was, then gybed to the north and almost parked with insufficient wind to beat the ebb. Summer Magic crossed the finish line having taken 27 hours 22 minutes to complete the 160 mile course, averaging 7.17 knots through the water. Nice Tri struggled in on the faltering wind disappointed not to have taken line honors - next time! Needing to get home for work, Nice Tri, after taking on some diesel, headed out which left a pretty thin crowd for the party but we all, including Coltrane, had a blast and hope we can attract a bigger fleet next year to this, the longest offshore event in the NEMA calendar.

  • 25 Nov 2019 7:48 AM | Andrew Houlding (Administrator)

    Please make plans to join us once again at the NEMA Annual Dinner February 1, 2020, at the Atlantic Beach Hotel, Middletown RI.  Good food, good company.  Details to follow.  Registration will be available through the EVENTS portal on this website.  

  • 12 Apr 2019 11:54 AM | Andrew Houlding (Administrator)

      Lightning, Sailboats and the Power of Points

    Multihull masts need grounding, too!

    By Bobby Jepson

    “Our president is a lightning rod for political criticism!” That might be something you’d read or hear most anywhere these days. What does that mean? Does it mean lightning rods attract lightning? Look that up: “Do lightning rods attract lightning?” You’ll find that’s not the case. The response might be so firm you’d think it a dumb question. But our vernacular betrays the disclaimer.

    Many years ago, the folks that made lightning rods were advised by their first lawyers to not ever say lightning rods attract lightning: “Sweet Jesus, man, you can’t say that!” And if you think about it, it makes sense. What insurance company wants to be liable for damage to a proximate, uninsured property? They had a problem.

    So the explanation of how lightning rods work evolved into “Lightning rods take lightning strikes safely to ground,” and if you had any doubt there are plenty of photographs of the Empire State Building getting struck by lightning, with no damage. Even Charles F. Chapman, writing in his textbook Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handlinga century ago, said you’re in a “Faraday Cage” when of course you’re simply on a sailboat under a grounded lightning rod. But to say a mast is a lightning rod would invoke the notion that the lightning rod would take a strike, and it is most unlikely to do that. My guess is they had a meeting, and decided that calling sailing “being in a Faraday Cage” would be a good idea.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave

    When first we practise to deceive!    Walter Scott in Marmion

    What Benjamin Franklin learned between 1743 and 1752 culminated in the invention of the lightning rod and more importantly his publication “The Power of Points.” By then, everything Franklin wrote was significant, he was certainly one of the finest writers in America, and master of a loose syndicate of printers anxious for something good to print. “The Power of Points” was soon translated to French and his experiments replicated in France, the center of the modern scientific world. Almost overnight he became a worldwide superstar, a pioneer of the Enlightenment, when at last all answers weren’t provided by either the King or by Rome.

    Books have been written about Franklin’s remarkable electrical apparatus and methodology. He was the perfect man for the job: inquisitive, wealthy, and easing out of his successful printing activities. He knew everyone, especially artisans of his group of Philadelphia craftsmen, the Junto. He was affable, never confrontational, and quite possibly the most accomplished man you will ever encounter in history.

    To our point here, he had mounted on his roof in Philadelphia a 9-foot iron rod, insulated by glass, which was connected by wire down into the stairwell in his home. There on the wall he mounted two brass bells some inches apart. To one bell he attached the wire from the lightning rod, to the other a wire which ran to the basement below and fastened to the well pump. Between the two bells, suspended by a thread, was a small brass ball. The simple device became known as Franklin’s Bells, although he got the idea from an Austrian who devised it ten years earlier. When there was charge in the air, the little brass ball would oscillate between the two bells, making them ring. Can you imagine why? Franklin did! And what do you think happened thereafter? In Franklin’s words, from his autobiography:

    “One night, awakened by loud cracks on the staircase, starting up and opening the door, I perceived that the brass ball instead of vibrating between the bells was repelled and kept at a distance from both, while the fire passed sometimes in large quick cracks from bell to bell, and sometimes in a continuous dense white stream as large as my finger, whereupon the whole staircase was enlightened with sunshine so that one might see to pick up a pin.”

    So there it is. Instead of just being there to take a lightning strike safely to ground, lightning rods pump a huge opposite voltage into the air above via induction. A pal’s dad, a farmer from Southern New Jersey, told my pal the lightning rods on their farm buildings “sucked the energy out of the clouds” and that’s a great layman’s explanation. In industry it’s called ionized air, and most static problems these days can be solved with grounded conductive fiber brushes. You may see a fuzzy wire next to the slot where the paper comes out of your computer’s printer; same thing there.

    The elephant in the room is if you acknowledge you’re ionizing air above your lightning rod or sailboat mast, might that (positively) charged air serve to attract (negatively) charged air, i.e. lightning, to the proximity? Aye, matey, there’s the rub! That is why you don’t buy one lightning rod for your home; rather they’re placed every 12 feet or so along the ridge, and on the outbuildings too. If you see a lightning rod installer at your neighbor’s, call to him and get a quote! While on the subject, the ground wire cable for a sailboat mast needn’t go straight down any more than the cable for your home’s lightning rods comes down through your living room.

    With the advent of iron ships, then yachts with aluminum masts that set upon metal keels, it was impossible to have a mast that wasn’t an effective lightning rod. The huge voltages involved don’t care about some bottom paint or a little anodize on the mast. But fast forward to modern keel-less lightweight designs married with the disinformation on the subject, and you’ll get what we have now: a bunch of lightweight sailboats out there with ungrounded masts.

    The masts on most multihulls aren’t very big, nor very tall, and they really don’t present a very attractive invitation to the charged air above. The problem arises when you moor next to a conventional keelboat with a grounded mast. I was on a conventional sailboat years ago when we encountered a violent electrical storm, and lightning struck around the boat in a constant 50-foot radius every few seconds.

    Remember Chapman’s “cone of protection” beneath the mast? Where that cone met the water, all hell broke loose. And what if we had passed a multihull sailor as we headed in? A very bad situation would have occurred!

    There is absolutely no advantage to not grounding your mast. Even if the ability of your grounded mast to ionize air is overtaxed, which is extremely unlikely, there should be no damage as we see with occasional strikes to skyscrapers.

    The best way to ground your multihull’s mast is permanently using a minimum of 144 square inches of 3/16" metal below the waterline, connected by at least #4 wire to a rod that extends above the top of the mast, per the recommendations of the U.S. Coast Guard. Alternately, for a temporary solution, get a stout 1/2" diameter aluminum cable as sold by lightning rod suppliers. You can either wrap it around your aluminum mast and throw an end off each side on the main hull (trimarans), or straight down into the water (catamarans).

    Alternately, or if you have a carbon mast, attach a halyard about a foot or so from the end of the aluminum cable and run it up along side the mast such that the cable end is above the top of the mast. In each case, you want a couple of feet of cable in the water. I unwove mine such that the end in the water is like a broom. We’re dealing with single polarities of high voltages, and it’s trying to get away from itself, like the brass ball in Franklin's stairwell that night.

    The cable I used cost about 65 cents a foot, making it a great way to spend $20. You’ll be able to equip a few boats in order to meet suppliers’ minimum charges.

    Please ground your masts, and minimally get some aluminum cable aboard that becomes an important safety accessory like a life jacket or fire extinguisher.

    Bobby Jepson is a New England Multihull Association member who, in his words, “squandered much of his career in the static control business.” He speaks on the subject, and is nearing completion of his book, Lightning, Sailboats and the Power of Points. Known to his friends as “Bobby Hot Rods”, he says, “I spent a lot of time enjoying hot rods all my life, and still have a project in the garage, but spend some of that time now on my Corsair 27, Triptych, in Buzzards Bay.”

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