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Cockpit mess kicks off whodunit caper

Published on July 22nd, 2023

by Herb McCormick, Cruising World
It was a frantic, heinous, 27-hour ­excursion in my ancient Ford F-150 from mid-Florida to Rhode Island via the hideous Interstate 95 corridor. I was in a hurry. It was mid-May, and I’d just laid up my Pearson 365, August West, in Longboat Key, but there were other sailboat adventures on my immediate horizon.

First, my Pearson Ensign, Saunter, was scheduled for an imminent relaunch from a marina in Portsmouth. And immediately following that, I was bound for Lake George, New York, with my longtime Newport J/24 sailboat-racing pals to compete in that one-design class’s national championship. I had a lot going on.

Right from the get-go, my first glance at Saunter after pulling off the winter tarp was, well, disturbing. Strewn about the boat’s open cockpit was a chunky, nasty mess of old Styrofoam, and there was only one place it could’ve come from: the transom compartment abaft the tiller, which had been filled with the stuff to prevent sinking if the boat was swamped, ­presumably before the sloop’s launching in 1963.

I checked the pair of inspection ports to see if I’d absentmindedly left them open and was slightly relieved to see that I hadn’t. Whatever had gotten in there had done so through an extremely small cockpit-drain hole. – Full report

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