NEWSLETTER -- April 2005

(what's in this issue)

(Click on the Good Old Boat icon to come back to the top of this page.)

How to contact us
Good Old Boat Magazine
7340 Niagara Lane North
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
763-420-8923; 763-420-8921 (fax)

Michael Facius, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Mary Endres, Design

michael at goodoldboat dot com
jerry at goodoldboat dot com

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Oops! Misfired with that one

Now and then we blow it. This one was my idea, so I get to write the apology. The March/April 2005 issue went to all of our subscribers with what is called a “cover wrap.” This is a cover with a special message attached to the magazine over the actual cover. It’s not an original idea; I got it from some other magazines which do this. In our case, as you know by now, we sent out a cover wrap to encourage our subscribers to get their friends to subscribe. The offer on the cover wrap was that if a subscriber brought in a new subscriber, we would give them a fleece vest or jacket for their efforts. The offer ran under the headline: “Get Fleeced,” which I thought was ever so clever.

Well, maybe not.

At least one reader was offended by this because he thought the cover wrap was the actual cover and felt a cover like this was just too crass to be indulged. He canceled his subscription. If one reader felt this way, we reason, there are bound to be others.

So, if you were offended by the cover wrap on the March/April issue, please rip it off at the staples. Underneath you will find a pretty standard Good Old Boat magazine cover, a lovely catboat worthy of any cover. We apologize for the confusion. We are planning to run the offer in the next issue as well, but we will make sure we don’t confuse anyone the next time around.

By the way, we got our offended reader back after we explained about the cover wrap, but we know we should not be doing things that need that much explanation.
Jerry Powlas
Good Old Boat co-founder


Virtual virtuosity (we hope)
Every so often we tell you that the Good Old Boat publishing empire is really operating out of the founders’ home. We try to tell readers and callers on the phone that we don’t have a fancy office somewhere with neat little cubicles. But no one believes us. Now it’s not true anymore anyway. It’s even stranger than that. (Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.)

Now this magazine is published out of at least four main offices and a score of satellite offices all in people’s homes. We think we have created the virtual office. And we really like it (so far . . . only time will tell). The four main offices are the Maple Grove home of founders Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas in the Minneapolis northwest suburbs. We’re calling that the Editorial Office.

Then there’s the home of Mark Busta in Lake Elmo on the other side of the Minneapolis metro area. We call that Good Old Boat – East. Mark manages circulation, retail products, and books from there.

And there’s the home of Michael Facius. Michael is our advertising manager, recently promoted to publisher. And he’s the editor of this newsletter also. His home office is in the northeast corner of the city of Minneapolis.

And finally, there’s the really far one: Karla Houdek is the magazine’s financial manager, classified ad editor, and many other titles. She’s got one business card that says simply, “Goddess.” ’Nuff said. When we want something done, we ask Karla. Then we get the heck out of the way. Karla just moved to North Dakota. Guess we’ll call that Good Old Boat – North.

Now that we don’t have to be in one place together and we can communicate through amazing telephone and computer systems, others of us are getting ideas about where we’d like to live during the years ahead when we grow up. As other moves happen, we’ll keep you posted through this newsletter.


Masthead changes
The masthead in a magazine (yes, they really do call it that) is that list of who’s who in the organization. These days you’ll notice that our advertising manager, Michael Facius, has moved up a chair to publisher. He still sells the ads, too, but Michael is assuming the responsibilities for the rest of the business functions of this operation.

Founding editors Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas won’t let go of the content and editorial decisions, but they’re more than happy to let Michael direct the financial operations.

What's coming in May

For the love of sailboats
• Aloha 32
• Rhodes 22
• Refit of a Morgan 34

Speaking seriously
• Portlight replacement
• Cordage for the rest of us
• Selecting a surveyor
• Replacing a damaged overhead
• Binoculars 101
• Blister repair
• Head layout considerations

Just for fun
• Hal and Margaret Roth profile
• Lifetime adventure
• Cruising with pets
• A season begins (we second that motion!)
• Boat kids photo spread
• Reflections: In defense of the daysail

What’s more
• Simple solutions: Mast step repair; Digital marketplace
• Quick and easy: Making a traditional boathook; A "special-needs" boat card

Fighting fraudulent boat buyers

by Brian Gilbert

Like many people, now that I’ve fixed up my good old boat, I’ve decided to sell it and fix another. And like many sellers, I’ve posted ads at various sites around the Internet, hoping the great exposure might bring me a buyer. While this strategy has brought a few potential clients, it has resulted in an amazing number of bogus offers by con men.

The con goes something like this: The alleged “buyer” is a sales agent in Europe and wants to buy my boat, which will be shipped overseas. He asks about the latest price and condition. When I respond, he’ll say, “I’ll send you a certified check for $10,000 (or some other overpayment) to cover the cost of the boat and the shipping. The “buyer” wants me to forward the excess to a “shipping agent,” who will then allegedly arrange for transport of the boat overseas. Trouble is, none of it is legitimate. Boats aren’t the only target; big-ticket items, (cars, machinery, even horses) are targets. Apparently quite a few people were taken by this scam when the Internet was young, because as of 1996, it was worth $5 billion in losses worldwide.

One of the dead giveaways for this scam is that these emails usually have horrible grammar. But the most obvious is the overpayment. With boats, this is usually a “shipping fee,” but variations on the scam include a “transfer tax” or “advance fee.” What they want you to do is deposit their bogus check and transfer your own funds to them before their check comes back as fraudulent. This is so common it’s been named a “419 Scam” after a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code. While they may originate from other countries, Nigeria is a common source because there is no extradition for this type of crime from Nigeria. Some say the scammers are members of the Nigerian government!

I used to just sigh and delete the scam emails that I received (and continue to receive), but I recently learned how these people can be, if not stopped, at least inconvenienced a little.

You can get scam email addresses closed down by reporting the scam to their ISP (Internet Service Provider). You need to forward the scam message, with the header, to “abuse@(their email address).”

For example, I received a generous offer of $9,950 from I copied the header information (Outlook Express has an “Internet Headers button” under the “View tab”) and pasted the info into the following note:

Your ISP is being used for Nigerian 419 scams through the following address:
HEADER FOLLOWS: (header was pasted here)
FRAUD EMAIL FOLLOWS: (Dwight’s bogus note was pasted here)
Thanks, BG

A short while later, I got a note from Yahoo that said: “In this particular case, we have taken appropriate action against the account in question, as per our Terms of Service.” In other words, his mailbox was closed. This doesn’t stop them. They make up another name, get another mailbox, and start over. But it gives me comfort to know I’ve inconvenienced them a bit.

If you really like to live on the edge, there’s a website called These folks actively engage scammers as a “sport,” hoping to waste as much of a scammer’s time, effort, and money as they possibly can. They play along, getting the scammers to send bogus checks, and stringing them along with more emails. “I never got the check, my dog ate it, my account’s overdrawn, etc.”

I’ve never done this, since my personal contact information is all over the web. While the chance of ever coming into contact with these people is extremely slim, it must be remembered that they are criminals, and you likely wouldn’t want to meet any of them in person. Be careful should you attempt to “mess with” these people; make certain that your identity and personal information is carefully hidden.

I’m having fun shutting down their email boxes!

To this your hardworking editors add that although we’ve certainly tried, we can’t seem to do anything to prevent your email address from being spammed almost from the day it goes up on our (and any other) website. Most folks know that these email messages are bogus, we hope. Here are a couple of the funnier messages we’ve received from our readers:

You can pull the ad for my Nissan 5-hp OB. It sold pretty darned promptly from the web ad. (Of course, I also got six million fraudulent inquiries involving my sending the “buyer” money.)
Al Lorman
We put up a bogus ad of our own on the classified page to measure the level of spam that our poor advertisers get just because they’ve got a boat (or outboard motor) to sell. Our bogus ad follows. (You wouldn’t think that any scammer would be taken in by this boat, but yes, Clara gets offers from the scammers too):

Used 7.13 Meter
Ferrocement over corrugated galvanized sheet with carbon fiber toerail and keel. Needs work. Deck, hull, and spars accidentally crushed by bulldozer. A very unusual vessel, perhaps the last of its type. In Zamboanga. $248,947.13 firm. Serious inquiries only.
Clara Charlie
To which Ian Inkster, of Perth, West Australia, responds: “Hey, Clara, What model bulldozer?” (Thanks, Ian!)

Just when we were figuring out that all these email messages are spam, here’s the latest. This message came on our fax machine (that number is also posted on our website):

From: Mrs. Nazek Audi Hariri
Date: (for some reason the date is nearly a year old)

It goes on for nearly a full page single-spaced with the sad tale that her husband was unfortunately killed in a massive explosion in Beirut. She was then surprised to learn of $86,000,000 in U.S. dollars that was in his name. She is making this proposal to the unnamed CEO (whoever that might be at this particular fax number!) as a person of integrity.

What does she need from a total stranger in the U.S.? Our role would be to deposit the funds into our bank account and for this we’d receive 30 percent of the funds. Of course, we’d have to give her all our bank account information in order to make this all possible . . . humm . . .


In the news

Thrill of the Mac essay contest
Lands’ End is offering a chance to sail the 333-mile Chicago-Mac Race to the winner of an essay contest. The Chicago-Mac is the world’s longest annual freshwater race. The winner of the essay contest will win a spot on the Lands’ End yacht, Guaranteed. Period., a 38-foot C&C, on July 16 for the 97th running of the race from Chicago to Mackinac Island.

If interested, submit a 500-word essay describing why you think you are cut out to sail non-stop for about 60 hours with the Lands’ End crew. The prize includes travel and lodging for the winner and three family members at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Visit for more. Winners will be selected on or about April 25.


North American Safe Boating Campaign
We hear that the North American Safe Boating Campaign is going to focus on encouraging boaters to wear their life jackets this summer. “Wearing a life jacket — not just stowing them on the boat — is the best way to stay safe on the water,” states Virgil Chambers, Executive Director of the National Safe Boating Council. “That’s why we urge boaters to ‘Boat Smart. Boat Safe. Wear It!’” With that in mind, here are several unusual life jackets that will appeal to some of our readers. The first is from John Barker, who sends this note:

I have just purchased a very interesting product which your readers may be interested in. It’s called a Reaper Cheat; basically a Rashie shirt (the type surfers wear for protection from skin grazes and sunburn) with a built-in PFD. One of the chief reasons sailors don’t like wearing PFDs is that they get in the way when working on deck. This item solves the problem and also offers non greasy sun protection. Check out their website at:
Since the company is in Australia, here’s an email address instead of a phone number: aquasafe at acenet dot net dot au.
John Barker


The second came as a news release from Orca Gear about a new product called Float-Tech, which is a nice-looking lightweight jacket which is comfortable in temperatures from 30 to 70 degrees F. Its sleeves zip off if you prefer to wear it as a vest. The inner liner, which can be zipped out of the shell and worn alone, is an inflatable PFD. For more, contact Orca Gear: 518-266-0964

Also see the August 2004 Newsletter for another unique life vest called StayAlive “It’s more than a lifejacket.” Or visit
This idea comes around every once in a while. Your keel boat won’t go very far in a two-week vacation. You may already be cruising in paradise, but you’d like to see what someone else’s paradise is like. What to do?

A newly launched UK-based website offers a matching service for short-term boat exchanges. It costs $92 to join with an annual subscription fee of $92. For more information, go to

Calendar of events

Gulfstar Owners Club Rendezvous
The 20th annual Gulfstar Owners Club Rendezvous will be April 29 and 30 at the Holiday Inn Sunspree in St. Petersberg, Fla. Contact Michele Kosmitis at 727-347-4500 or email gulfstaroc at aol dot com Also see


Columbia Yachts Rendezvous
The West Coast Columbia Yachts Rendezvous will be May 7 at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum in Newport Beach Calif. Contact Doug Ward at dougward2 at socal dot rr dot com or 714-624-9044.


Catalina 22 Northern Gulf Coast Cruise
Fleet 77 will host the Catalina 22 National Sailing Association’s Northern Gulf Coast Cruise at Walton Beach, Fla., May 7 to 13. For more, go to


Newport Spring Boat Show
The 31st Annual Newport Spring Boat Show will be May 19 to 22. Call 800-582-7846 or go to


Ericson Rendezvous
The 2005 Ericson Rendezvous will be at Port Hudson Marina, Port Townsend, Wash., June 18 and 19. Call Rhonda at 800-228-2803 or go to


Westsail Owners Chesapeake Bay Rendezvous
The Westsail Owners Association Chesapeake Bay Rendezvous will be June 24 to 26 at Mears Yachthaven Marina, Oxford, Md. Contact Rob or MJ Peirce at 410-279-7536, 410-279-7535, kolonahe32 at hotmail dot com or Jimmy or Cynthia Quast at 410-819-8679, jquast at goeaston dot net.


Bayfield Race Week
The 26th Annual Bayfield Race Week is set for July 3 to 8 in the Apostle Islands, Bayfield, Wis., Lake Superior. Contact Herb Garcia, 651-261-2072 or Chairperson at bayfieldraceweek dot org.


Sail Lake Erie Club – Sail to Port Dover
The Sail Lake Erie Club of Erie, Pa., will hold its 3rd annual sail to Port Dover, Ontario, July 14 to 17. Contact Marci Watson at 814-504-6700.


Mac Bay Get Away Rendezvous
The Lake Michigan Catalina Association will hold the 12th annual Mac Bay Get Away Rendezvous July 15 to 17 at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland, Mich. Contact Rodney Schmidt at rschmidt at i2k dot com.

Looking for

Dinghy davits, what works for you?
I am interested in the possibility of having dinghy davits instead of towing my 9-foot inflatable. I can’t recall any articles in Good Old Boat on this subject. Maybe readers can send in their experiences with davits. Were they home built or bought?
Mac Lindsay
Mac is right. Davits will work on some good old boats. We’d like to know more. If you’ve made or installed davits (with good or bad results), please get in touch with Jerry Powlas, jerry at goodoldboat dot com.

Batteries and starting motors
We are working on an article about batteries. If you have ever burned up a starting motor by having too big a battery bank, please contact Jerry Powlas, jerry at goodoldboat dot com, 763-420-8923.

33-foot wooden cutter
We acquired a 33-foot wooden cutter sailboat in August 2004 and are embarking on a major restoration. We believe she was built in England in 1953 and sailed in at least one trans-Atlantic race. She has a Lloyd’s of London number carved in the forward berth: ON186787, but we don’t know how to go about tracking any of her history with this information. Based on a carving on the companionway hatch and an old life ring, we believe she was called What Cheer and sailed out of Providence, R.I., in the 1970s and ’80s.

We’d like any information at all regarding make, model, origin, and anything else anyone might know or recognize.
Michael and Mary Araujo
AraujoSail at aol dot com

Mail Buoy

Spar parts
Very interesting article on the re-rig of Sea Quest in the January 2005 issue. I am interested in the source of the 1 x 19 good quality galvanized used in this job. I’m also interested in the idea of Nicropressing the thimble directly to the upper screw of the turnbuckle. Seems like being able to renew the turnbuckle at some future point would be a good idea without having to replace the wire rope or cutting it apart. Even if the turnbuckle were re-galvanized, it would be quite a bit older than the rigging. Accidents can happen that could bend or damage the turnbuckle before the wire would have to be replaced again.

I’ve done quite a bit of Nicropressing of 1 x 19 in stainless-steel type 316 and found that doubling up on the sleeves (with a little space between) gave us a little extra tensile strength and, of course, more material. There are hand-operated portable
hydraulic presses that will do this size wire in a series of spaced compressions similar to the finished sleeves on a wire halyard done with the hand-compression tools. I was also wondering about the material that the sleeve was made from. We use a copper alloy with a zinc coating that seems to hold up very well with the stainless-steel wire.
Brooks Paul Jones
Sailing Services, Inc.

Michael Batham responds
I was doing the re-rig in New Zealand, so I went to the big supplier of marine and industrial wire rope: Cookes Wire Rope, PO Box 708, Whangarei, New Zealand. They have a head office in Auckland. They bring in the strand from overseas and spin up the (1 x 19 etc.) cables at their New Zealand plant. I specified English strand, it being recommended as the best available. I must say, though, that four years down the road the galvanizing is definitely not as good as the 20-year-old cables I took off.

Cookes’ main business comes from cranes, lifts, logging companies, tugs, and ships. They don’t cater to yachts but were happy to make up wires to the lengths I gave them. Having a low-tech boat, I find I can often get things from the commercial world rather than having to rely on (and pay the price of) the yacht suppliers.

On my old rig the shackles that joined the thimbles to the turnbuckles always created a lumpy mess that would catch sheets. I tried making sleeves of firehose to cover them, but found I needed 4-inch hose to get over the shackle pins, whereas 2-1/2-inch hose would have gotten over the thimbles. After much thought I decided to go the way I did. I figured those shackles had stayed in place for 15 years, so it was not a high-maintenance area. Also, I could always cut a damaged turnbuckle off the wire and then use a shackle to connect a replacement. Another way to go would be to replace all the turnbuckles with the type that has a clevis and pin at both ends. But this would have added considerably to the overall cost of the job.

I’m very happy with the way it worked out. The finished job just looks so much neater with the turnbuckles taped and painted, and now there is no need for the sleeves, as ropes don’t catch anymore.

I assume that “talurit” and “nicropressing” are basically the same process; a sleeve crimped around the tail and the standing part of the wire. Why did you find a need to double up on the sleeves?

The sleeve material was the same as you mentioned, copper alloy with a zinc coating. All the old ones that came off were still in excellent condition.
Michael Batham
Cruising aboard Sea Quest

Landfall Sailing Club
Here’s a new idea! A sailing club for singles of a certain age (similar in concept to good old boats perhaps?). The requisite age for the Landfall Sailing Club is 35 years. Judging from the photo they sent, these folks know how to have a good time. The group is centered in the Boston, Mass., South Shore area with members from Portland, Maine, to New Bedford, Mass. For more information, contact Donald Weaver, 508-222-9941, donwxpress at aol dot com.

How knot to survive a hurricane
My 1966 Alberg 30, Anemone, survived Hurricane Ivan on Dauphin Island, Alabama, but leaving the boat on the island was definitely Plan B. I tried to follow Robert, my brother-in-law, in his Bristol Channel Cutter to Biloxi, Miss., and eventually to Mandeville, Lousianna, on the Saturday before the storm.

But my Atomic 4 died under the Dauphin Island Bridge, and I had to anchor overnight until I could complete repairs. Robert had goaded my sister, Teecie, and I for years to learn our knots. But no.

So when the governor called for a mandatory evacuation of the island, Teecie and I had to act quickly. We were able to back the boat out of the slip into our little bay about 150 feet, where we set two stern anchors. We were halfway there. Next the bow. We found a nice-sized pine tree ashore.

“Teecie,” I said, “Can you tie a bowline?” “No,” she said, “I thought you were going to learn.” We found the knot book and, as the traffic was fleeing the impending disaster, Teecie was on a ladder wrapped around the thick part of a pine tree, and I was at her feet holding the knot book as high as I could.

“Let’s see . . . the rabbit goes in the hole? Or is it the rabbit comes out of the hole?”

Well, we finally got Anemone secured, and we left with the other evacuees. I really did not want to see her ride it out. By some miracle and some outstanding first-time knotwork, Anemone withstood gusts of up to 130 mph.

Next the rolling hitch.
Jim McNamara

Father Time Catches Up With the Joneses
Six or seven years ago, we equipped Cadenza (our C&C Corvette) with an in-boom furling system. The thought at the time was that it would make sailing much easier. We would no longer have to go forward to reef, and when it came time to lower the main after a day of sailing, all we would have to do was to crank the sail down with the furling winch just like furling the headsail. The system worked great, and we were very happy with it.

Little did we know at the time that our muscles would start to weaken as we got older. Tacking the genoa became a pain. My wife, who looked after the genoa, developed a stiff shoulder. Last fall we started to debate what to do. Should we give up sailing and buy a trawler, or just give up boating all together?

Then a friend took us for a sail on his Nonsuch 26. He raised the main from the cockpit, and we were under way. At his command of, “Tack,” I asked what he wanted me to do. He replied, “Just watch.”

I did. The wheel was turned, and we were away on the other tack. No adjustment of sheets, just turn the wheel. The boat sailed very well, quite flat with no sense of urgency, and it was moving along quickly with no fuss. That was the answer to our dilemma. We had to have a Nonsuch. I spent the winter months reading, dreaming, and rereading the September 2003 issue of Good Old Boat with its review of the Nonsuch 26.

We found a fully equipped Nonsuch 26 (Xtasea Tu) in Connecticut, bought it, and had it shipped to Ontario. Sailing was great fun this summer. We enjoy the boat very much and have been very surprised at how fast she is. The most difficult thing to do, is putting the sail cover on. Dropping the sail is not a problem, as it falls into a cat’s cradle slung from the wishbone. Tacking is easy, the only limitation I found was jibing in winds over 15 knots; we just tack instead. I have single-handed Xtasea Tu several times. The boat is quite tame, allowing me to go below to make lunch.

The Corvette sold after I placed an ad in Good Old Boat.

We are looking forward to next summer and a lot more sailing and cruising. When the winter blues strike, I get out the September 2003 issue of Good Old Boat and dream some more.
Chuck Jones

Musings on lightning prevention
As a relatively new good old boater up on Lake Superior, one thing has been bothering me. Something that will happen to every sailor sooner or later, Lightning! I’ve got a 30-foot chunk of aluminum waving around in the air, and every year I hear about a golfer waving a 4-foot club getting zapped.

Can you shed some truth on the subject of sailing and lightning protection? I’ve got a 1981 Catalina 30. Keel-stepped mast and absolutely no connection between the mast and the water that I can see. Comments from other boaters and “experts” range from:

1. No grounding, good. No ground, no reason for lightning to hit it. Just keep it well insulated and you’re OK. Grounded masts only attract lightning.
My thoughts: Hmmm . . . Sounds kinda bogus, but this boat has been around for 25 years in all kinds of weather and has never been hit that I can tell. Maybe something to this theory?

2. No grounding! Gads, you’re lucky to be alive! Run 1/2-inch cable from the mast and everything metal on the boat to at least a 1-foot-square piece of metal bonded to the outside of the hull below the waterline. And never paint the metal.
Hmmmm. I’ve spent a lot of time examining the boats in the parking lot in the fall and spring and never noticed unpainted pieces of metal on the outside of the hull. Plus, a coupla million amps surging through that plate sounds like a great way to get some truly magnificent localized heating resulting in the plate getting blown off the hull and ending up with a hole below the waterline.

3. Run big thick cable from the mast to your keel bolts. That’ll work.
Hmmmmm. My keel is faired. Sounds like pretty good insulation to me.

4. Put a big round brass ball on the top of the mast. That will dissipate any pre-charge and prevent the lightning from hitting your boat. Whatever you do, though, don’t put a sharp pointy object on the top of your mast. That will attract lightning.
Hmmmmm. Darned near every sailboat I’ve seen has a sharp pointy object on the top of the mast. It’s called an antenna for the VHF.

5. Put something sharp and pointy on the top of your mast. That’ll keep lightning from hitting your boat. by dissipating pre-charge. Whatever you do, though, don’t put anything big and round on top of the mast.
Hmmmm I wonder if the big curved flat spot on the top of the mast almost qualifies as big and round? Lucky I’ve got an antenna up there . . . I think.

6. Awww, no problem. Just clip a pair of good jumper cables to your sidestays and throw the other ends overboard into the water.
Hmmm. A couple of million amps trying to flow through the contact area of the jaws gripping the sidestay. This sounds like a great way to attract lightning and then not being able to handle the surge. Sounds bigtime not good. But this appears to also be one of the most popular ways people attempt to deal with being caught out in a lightning storm on the big lake.

Lightning?? Act of God. Nothing you can do about it. It’s sneaky and totally unpredictable. If the bolt has your name on it, you’re going to get blasted, and there’s no preventing it. You might get fried, or you might not notice anything except a really bright flash and a huge kaboom. Don’t worry, just go sailing.
Hmmmmm. I believe in acts of God but I also believe He gave us brains to avoid doing really stupid things to hasten our demise. Double Hmmmm. Looking at today’s world, I’m not really sure this statement applies.

So what’s the straight scoop on this? There’s a lot of confusion out there. How should good old boaters maximize our chances of avoiding or surviving a lightning hit? There are a lot of really curious minds out here!
Ken Freitag



Musings response
Much has been written in the yachting press about lightning. Sadly, few of the authors have been experts in the matter, so a lot of the concepts and ideas have simply been recycled from one article to another until now we consider them truths when, I think in fact they are folklore. I have turned down many article submissions on this subject and resisted the temptation to join the throng myself.

Your questions are so well stated, however, that I am inclined to offer answers of a sort. Our boat was hit by lightning a few years ago. The damage was so extensive that if I had not done a lot of the repair myself the repair costs would certainly have exceeded the value of the boat.

In the sense that I had a chance to carefully examine and make (some) repairs to one boat that was struck by lightning, I can claim some “experience” with lightning strikes. I was also an engineer for 29 years, during which time I obtained a reasonable familiarity with electricity. Neither of these exmples makes me an expert for two reasons.

1. If I were an expert, why did I allow my boat to be hit and badly damaged by lightning?

2. Engineering concepts associated with 12 to 460 volts DC and AC are not all that applicable to the high voltages and unusual waveforms of lightning.

Nonetheless, I am a boatowner, and I was faced with all the concerns you have expressed as well as evidence that lightning could strike and thoroughly damage my boat. I had to make decisions about how the boat would be configured in the future regarding these considerations. Without trying to offer a definitive argument for each decision, I’ll tell you how my boat is configured with regard to all of the issues you’ve raised. I had to make choices, and I’ll share them with you.

Concerning bonding (what you called grounding), the underwater metal fittings of our boat were not all bonded together when we bought it. Bonding is controversial. The ABYC supports the practice of bonding, but others make cogent arguments against it. There was evidence of current flow from underwater bronze through-hulls to the water. I did replace some of these metal parts but not all of them. Interestingly, some of the through-hulls that had burn marks around them on the outside of the hull were not electrically connected to anything. I cannot see how the situation would have been improved if they had been connected by heavy copper wires to each other as well as the mast and keel so they could have received even more current.

I did not bond the underwater fittings on our boat after the lightning strike.

Our “keel-stepped” mast is actually stepped on heavy wooden and fiberglass members in our keel sump and does not touch the lead keel. The aluminum mast cup was connected to a keel bolt by an 8-gauge wire so, in effect, since the mast rested on the cup, there was a metal path from the mast to the keel. The lightning struck the 4-foot-long fiberglass radio whip antenna (there is a copper wire inside these). The antenna was probably vaporized, but in any case, only about 6 inches of it remained after the strike. The short coaxial drip loop from the antenna to the coax on the mast was also gone, and a black burn smudge showed where the drip loop passed the current to the mast extrusion. From this I surmise that the whip was hit and that current traveled down the mast through the cup and wire to the keel. Although there was no evidence of current leaving the keel, it is so massive I suspect it took the majority of the current back to the lake without damage. The keel was faired and painted, but I don’t think that was much of a barrier to current flow at that voltage.

I inspected the 8-gauge wire carefully and then added additional heavy wires from the keel cup to a keel bolt. In total the added wire is equivalent to perhaps a #0 cable. I tried to keep the wire paths as direct as possible because the impedance of the path is increased with each turn or even partial turn of the wires. A single added cable would have been better, but the spaces did not allow such so I used a large number of 10-gauge wires.

If a keel is faired I would discount that fairing as having much insulating effect against the voltage of the lightning. If a keel is encapsulated, it might damage the glass, but that would still be acceptable damage compared to alternative paths for the charge. I do not have a grounding plate, which I am concerned might explode if it were porous. I have not heard of this happening, however.

I think connecting the mast to the keel is good.

We have no balls, brushes, pointed or rounded rods, or other devices at the top of our mast. I trust that the VHF whip will take the hit if there is another strike and convey the initial current to the mast. I am not sure that the zone around the boat can be effectively discharged by these devices. They are somewhat controversial, and it would be difficult to prove they work since many boats with and without them are never struck by lightning.

We will not be deploying chains, wires, or rods from our shrouds to the water in a storm. Such things may work, but while I have met several people who use them, none has been hit, and I’m not sure I want to encourage current flow in the shrouds in any case.

We had enough current flow in the rudder to require that it be completely rebuilt. I can’t say how the current got to it, but since our 12-volt negative is connected to the keel, and the shift and throttle controls are a metallic path to the engine which is grounded to the 12-volt negative with 2 #0 cables and they are also a metallic path to the rudder shaft, I can see how it may have happened. I have not decided what to do about that. I have considered disconnecting the 12-volt negative from the keel and mast. The engine is isolated at the coupling. Many authorities consider the connection of 12-volt negative to the 115-volt green bonding wire and to underwater metals to be an important safety consideration. I have not made up my mind about that, but I might break that connection, even though it is recommended by ABYC.

Some of the writers on this subject say things like, “Electricity takes the path of least resistance.” While this is true, it is very misleading, because electricity takes all paths, with the most current flowing through the least resistance. (Actually impedance is the critical term in an AC circuit.) The problem that I had in understanding the flow of current through my boat was that my concept of conductors and insulators was not useful at the very high voltages involved. I suspect when you are dealing with a voltage so high that the strike has already come thousands of feet though air, there may be no resistors, just conductors of varying resistance. That would explain why the strike made so many exit wounds at points not connected to each other nor any metals.

I will decline comment on acts of God, which may be an unfortunate term. We were on board when the lightning hit. Actually we were showering. There is an arrogance in that, but we survived.

It is very difficult to separate true scientific understanding from promotional claims and the folklore. I suspect many of the cures and fixes work because the boats are not hit. Anything works if the boat is not hit. Perhaps very little works if it is hit. I am convinced that if the boat is hit, no matter how the boat is configured, all or almost all of the electronics will be destroyed.

Bond the mast to the keel.
Jerry Powlas
Technical Editor



Think planes are expensive?
I just received my first copy of Good Old Boat and have been enjoying reading the articles. Your article on the Tayana 37 struck a cord. In the paragraph entitled “Wanted a plane,” Bill Truxal expressed an opinion that the sailboat was less expensive to run than a plane. Well, let me tell you!

I own both a boat and a plane. I sail a Swan 371 and fly a Siai Marchetti SF-260. Both are kind of the same thing in their respective fields: high end, smaller, fast, etc. I love both, but they are not similar in any way. The plane is like a motorcycle, take it for a ride and put it away. The boat is more like a second home/camper/racer.

Now to the bottom line. The boat is by far more expensive to maintain than the plane. It’s true the boat sips fuel when the motor is on and one tank lasts most of the season, while the plane must be fueled with expensive aviation gas. When you consider the maintenance costs, however, the boat probably is five to ten times as expensive as the plane to keep operational. The boat has so many systems and constant exposure to corrosion that you are always fighting to keep up. Between bottom paint, running rigging, safety equipment, electronics, etc. the cost of boat repair is extreme. Also, in aviation the work is by licensed professional mechanics who are supervised and regulated by the federal government. That keeps everyone honest and the bad people out of business.
Peter Leffe



Lest we forget
During the winter Gord Hoskins sent us a couple of scenic photos, of the way it was only a couple of months ago.

We know Gord as the guy behind Meals on Keels, those no-fuss prepared meals for sailors who have limited galley space or cooking expertise.

Obviously he has other talents also. He captured several winter memories. Keep this shot in mind in mid-August. You’ll feel cooler immediately.





Bill’s boat
This is the last boat I built, a faithful reproduction of the Brittany fisherman’s punt dating back to probably the 1800s as documented by Dr. Claud Worth in The Royal Cruising Club Journal, 1912:

“The Auray fishermen’s dinghies are of particular interest to owners of small yachts. For steadiness, carrying capacity, landing on a beach, or dragging over mud, they would be difficult to improve upon. At sea they are either carried in the lugger or are towed. We saw one of these punts being towed in a flesh breeze; it seemed to be skimming along the top of the water like a hydroplane. The long bow is said to improve their towing qualities and to keep them dry in rowing to windward . . . Where space is limited there would be no harm in taking 9 inches off it. This dinghy might then be made to fit very nicely, bottom upward, over the skylights of a small yacht.”

Everything he said about them is true, I’ve rescued three boats — towed them in under oars — one a CS36, another in 4-foot lake waves, and I’ve carried 650 pounds in her!

We were towing her off Gananoque a couple of years ago and pulled in at the gas dock. My wife, Sue, was walking the dog. She came over to me and said, “Go talk to that man over there; he is very interested in the dink.”

I had a long and interesting talk with him. At the end of the conversation he said, “Come over and meet my family. By the way, my name is Mark Ellis.” A real nice man!

Great magazine, we moved last year, and I didn’t get around to renewing anything. Now that we are settled, yours is the first to be renewed.
Bill Jaine


One more thing
The new season is upon us. Don’t say we didn’t warn you to beware of men boating. Alex Sharter sent this photo of a sign posted at Brands Marina in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Maybe they were talking about powerboaters. Umm, yeah. That’s it!










Book reviews

Through the Land of Fire: Fifty-Six South by Ben Pester (Sheridan House, 2004; 286 pages; $23.95)
Review by C.H. “Chas” Hague
Des Plaines, Ill.

Ben Pester and his friends, Jeremy Burnett and Fraser Currie (aggregate age: 193 years) had an objective. They wanted to explore the waterways off Tierra del Fuego and celebrate the turn of the Millennium off Cape Horn in Ben’s 36-foot teak boat, Marelle. How they accomplished this is the story of Through the Land of Fire.

Sailing from Falmouth, England, across the Atlantic, and down the east coast of South America, they entered the Magellan Strait, continued due south at Point Hope, went through the Cockburn Channel, probed the Beagle Channel, sailed past Wollaston Island, and traveled around the Horn, west to east.

The book has less than the usual complement of sea stories. Instead, Pester gives some of the amazing history of this desolate place. He has done a wonderful job of research; when the Marelle passes a point of interest, he tells, in great and fascinating detail, which explorer named it, the story of who it was named after, and what interesting historic events happened at that site. For example, Tierra del Fuego is no longer the Land of Fire; the explorers and missionaries exterminated the native people who set the fires that Magellan saw and for which it was named.

The crewmembers of Marelle do have their problems dealing with bureaucracies in a hostile (both climatic and military) environment and combating some of the unrelentingly worst weather on the planet. A “Richas” is a fierce wind that drops off the Andes down into a bay, sometimes reaching speeds of 100 knots which can blow for two or three days.

The first chapter discusses setting up a small, simply equipped boat for such a journey, and four appendices deal with subjects from baking bread to survival at sea. Four good-quality color maps are included. Turn to these early; otherwise, keeping track of the many locales that are mentioned, especially in the Beagle Channel, will be difficult.

The writing is a bit overwrought, at times. This is less apparent in the historical anecdotes. For a sailor looking to the ultimate challenge of a Horn passage, this book would be a useful guide to the remarkable history of this desolate place.


Herreshoff Sailboats, by Gregory Jones (MBI Publishing Co., 2004; 138 pages; $40)
Review by Eric Nelson
Celina, Ohio

Breathes there a sailor with soul so dead,
That he has not at one time said,
“Gosh, I’d like to own a Herreshoff.”
(With apologies to The Man Without a Country.)

Ask any knowledgeable sailor, “Who were the top sailboat designers of all time?” Odds are Nathanael Herreshoff and L. Francis Herreshoff will be near the top of the list. The Herres­hoffs created some of the most beautiful sailboats of all time. Nathanael also designed and built the first practical racing catamarans (quickly eliminated from competition by the rule writers), redesigned steam engines, and built fast steam yachts and naval patrol vessels.

Numerous books have covered the Herreshoffs and Herres­hoff Manufacturing Company (HMC), but few authors have so effectively examined the extended careers of the Herreshoff dynasty as Greg Jones has with his beautiful coffee-table book. Combining lucid text and historic and contemporary photographs, Greg squeezes 200 years of history into 160 pages. He begins with Karl Herreschoff in 1763 (the “c” was dropped when Karl emigrated to America) and goes up to the present Herreshoff Marine Museum which rose on the old factory site.

Nathanael Herreshoff and his brother, J.B., started HMC in 1878 to manufacture steam yachts and torpedo boats. They built sailboats for their own pleasure. Their fast and beautiful yachts came to the attention J.P. Morgan and the racing crowd at the New York Yacht Club. Greg details a gilded era of unlimited spending and ostentatious living, with the Herreshoffs serving as boatbuilders to the stars.

In the last 25 years of the 19th century and the first 25 years of the 20th, the Herreshoffs built some of America’s most historic yachts: Gloriana, Vigilant (the Herreshoff’s first America’s Cup defender), Defender, Columbia, and Resolution. At the same time HMC was building Cup boats, Nathanael designed and built a string of smaller sailing craft, culminating in what is arguably the most beautiful sailboat ever built: Alerion. Alerion was never eclipsed, but L. Francis Herreshoff equaled her with his famous Rozinante. The two stand at the pinnacle of sailboat design.

The photos in Herreshoff Sailboats are outstanding both in selection and reproduction. The 19th- and early 20th-century black-and-white photographs are especially good. Only minor quibbles can be made with the book. Early America’s Cup defenders are covered in excruciating detail. However, the Herreshoffs’ smaller boats, which had a greater effect on the developing science of sailboat design than the towering J-boats, are mentioned only in passing. Also, pictures are often separated from their text, leading to a good deal of page flipping in a search for details.

Setting aside these minor flaws, Herreshoff Sailboats will find a place of honor on many a coffee table. It is a book you’ll pick up on a cold winter’s evening along with a cup of your favorite hot beverage. As you turn the pages it will take you back to a time when craftsmanship was everything and when beauty of line and function ruled supreme.



Four Guys in a Boat, by Pat McManus (Sheridan House, 2005; 106 pages; $10.95)
Review by Eric Nelson
Celina, Ohio

The subtitle of this book could be, Larry, Moe and Curly go sailing with a friend, except there is precious little sailing in this book and very little to interest the readers of Good Old Boat.

Four Guys in a Boat
describes how a group of college professors and administrators, “the guys” (membership in the group changes with time), overcame cold winters and their own midlife crises by chartering a series of boats in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Accounts of the suffering they endured as college profs reinforce the words of my first department chairman,”College teaching is hell, but it beats working for a living.”

The chapters tend to be repetitive accounts in which the protagonists fly to a location, get in a sailboat, and go to someplace in which they can drink exotic drinks (mostly based on rum), eat (mostly greasy hamburgers and cookies), ogle women (scantily clad or not clad at all), and entertain each other with sophomoric humor. Space is given to the guys’ discomfort while putting suntan lotion on the backs of their fellow guys . . . apparently due to concern about what unknown spectators might think of them.

Virtually nothing is included about the places visited, the people of the islands (except for bartenders, waitresses, and one boat groupie they turn down when she approaches them about a ride). The rest of that chapter is devoted to fantasizing about what would have happened if they had said yes to the groupie and their wives found out. Sailing is described briefly. The charter boats are a dreary listing of mid-size monohulls and catamarans. The catamarans astound the book’s author by their inability to sail close to the wind, a characteristic that 15 minutes in a Hobie Cat would have made clear. There isn’t a good old boat in the lot.

Sailing narratives are restricted to a brief description of the adventures of setting a spinnaker, followed by a briefer account of dousing said spinnaker. The boats are described with the same emotion as if one were describing a 1989 Chevy. Considerably more time is spent on misadventures with the dinghy than with the big boat.

One chapter is devoted to a vacation in which no boat is involved, plus a delivery trip on the Erie Canal and down to Chesapeake Bay. This chapter benefits the book in only one way: by increasing the word count.

After nine years of the same trip in different locations, the profs take a tenth anniversary fling by chartering a catamaran in the Bahamas. They drink rum, eat cookies, and ogle girls . . . all of which could have been done in Denver, Milwaukee, or any other town. When I finished the book, my principle emotion was relief.

Am I being unfair to the author? Is there perhaps some profound point I missed in my reading? Lin and Larry Pardey these guys ain’t. On further thought, perhaps the book should have been titled, A Guys’ Guide to Spring Break in the Caribbean or Junior College Kicks and Beyond. When it comes to sailing, these “guys” are definitely in need of an education.



Fast Track To Cruising: How to Go from Novice to Cruise-Ready in Seven Days
, by Steve and Doris Colgate (International Marine/ McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2005;
246 pages; $33.95)
Review by Frank Salomonsen
Rochester, Minn.

The most important thing in life is to know what is important. Likewise, the most important thing in reading an instruction book on sailing is to know what is important to understand. The first hurdle for the beginning sailor is the volume of new language and terms with multiple meanings. Does this book cut it? You bet! Fast Track To Cruising gets you from A to Z with ease. It’s a must-have book to take aboard and also for year-round review and fine tuning.

Fast Track to Cruising
is well organized and continuously informative with outstanding illustrations and photos to assist the novice. The clearly drawn diagrams and many of the photos have bold print comments in the margin. For example, in Chapter 3, where cycling through the points of sail is explained, bold print comments review the multiple meanings of the word “tack.”

Tack (noun)
1. Forward lower corner of a sail
2 A boat’s heading in relation to the wind, on a starboard tack
3. A course, when the boat is underway, it’s on a tack

Tack (verb)
1. To change direction from one side of wind to the other while sailing toward the wind

Comments such as this are helpful for the beginner trying to pick up on the sailing lingo.

Knowing what to do in a variety of conditions is helpful, but it is of greater value to the new sailor to understand why. The chapter on wind and sails is very helpful in understanding how the wind moves the boat. The illustrations clearly convey these concepts. The “test yourself” section at the end of each chapter reassures you that you are understanding what is important.

The authors include a discussion of when things do not go as planned, such as the accidental jibe, as well as when tacks don’t go as planned. Throughout the book are tips for understanding what some novices consider difficult subject matter, such as navigation. The author starts in Chapter 8 giving tips for using parallel rules and picks up the subject again later with navigation basics. Great illustrations help explain this subject on the first exposure.

Knot tying is scattered throughout the text as the knots are being used. A separate section on knot tying would have been more helpful, easier to find, when going back to practice.

All in all, it’s a great book featuring excellent instruction and practical advice. It is a thorough basic training manual and a complete source of reference for the more experienced sailor. After finishing this book, the novice will have the knowledge to get on a boat and fill the sails. With additional experience on the water he or she will be cruise-ready.




The Solitude of the Open Sea, by Greg Smith (Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 264 pages; $15.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Greg Smith set out in his sailboat to see the world. Those who choose to go along as readers of his book, The Solitude of the Open Sea, gain a fresh perspective of circumnavigating through the eyes of this realist.

Sailing around the world is not about anchoring in one tropical paradise after another. It is not a series of pristine dive sites with exotic fishes. Traveling by sailboat is more frequently about visiting the waterfront communities of countless third-world countries, about customs and public transportation, and about provisioning and boat maintenance. In this book, Greg offers honest observations of the people, the surroundings, and the activities of daily life for a sailor and those he encounters ashore.

He ponders about these cultural exchanges, wonders about how to really get to know the locals in various countries, and despairs on occasion over the language barriers and economic disparities which make mutual understanding almost futile.

Here is a sailor who does not descend upon a community as part of a merry band of cruisers. Instead he arrives thoughtfully and respectfully, making a serious attempt to understand the culture and lifestyle he finds.

In making his observations, Greg shares his philosophy of life and innermost feelings with his readers. It is as if we happened by his boat and asked, “So how was your voyage?” then sat down with him in the cockpit to listen to the answer. He makes no effort to impress fellow sailors. Greg is comfortable with who he is and what he has accomplished. He has learned much along the way; his passages have been both physical and psychological.

Even before completing the manuscript, I had already begun recommending this book to others. Greg went to sea with his eyes wide open. He left the rose-colored glasses at home and brought back a clear view of the world that opened to one who came, not as a tourist, but as a world traveler. He is just the sort of sailor with whom to see — really see — the world . . . the kind of sailor most of us would like to accompany on a circumnavigation. Because Greg took the time to write the book, here’s your chance to sign on as “armchair crew.” Hop aboard and enjoy the journey.





Sailing with Vancouver, by Sam McKinney (TouchWood Editions, 2004; 224 pages; $12.95)
Review by Betty Brewer
Gabriola Island, British Columbia

Sail back into the mists of time with Captain Vancouver as he explores the Pacific Northwest aboard the HMS Discovery. In Sailing with Vancouver, Sam McKinney — in his 25-foot sailboat, Kea — uses Vancouver’s original 1792 log and charts to follow the route of Vancouver’s exploration of Washington and British Columbia’s inland seas.

These now very popular cruising destinations are made more interesting with snippets of history, giving insight into the story behind Vancouver’s exploration, in particular why islands, inlets, channels, and headlands were named.

Sailing with Vancouver
gives the reader a sense of what it must have been like to explore these waters for the very first time, lacking charts or any knowledge of the landmarks and having natives of questionable friendliness as their only contacts.

This book would be wonderful to read while armchair cruising with modern charts or planning future voyages. It certainly adds a very special historical flavor aboard while cruising the intricate waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


Sailing quotes

The north wind stepped readily into the harness which we had provided and pulled us along with good will. Sometimes we sailed as gently and steadily as the clouds overhead.
Henry David Thoreau


Much of the joy of solitude comes from making some contact with one’s inner being. In stripping away the jumble of distractions, or society’s expectations, or the professional mask (persona), the individual makes contact with something which is uniquely himself. This does not have to lead on to lofty states of awareness, simply to a profound sense of tranquility and sense of meaningfulness.
Sir Francis Chichester


Many people develop a kind of love-hate relationship with the spinnaker, and it has often been said that this sail is the easiest to hoist but requires the most courage.
R. “Bunty” King
from Spinnaker, 1981


To my mind the greatest joy in yachting is to cruise along some lovely coast, finding one’s way into all sorts of out-of-the-way coves and rivers.
R.D. Graham


The boat is like a plow drawn by a winged bull.
Henry David Thoreau
from Journals, 1858


There comes a tide in the affairs of men that, taken at the flood, sucks them swiftly away from the sea and boats and strands them for the best part of two decades on the reefs of Marriage, Career, and Bringing Up Children.
John Vigor


The art o the sailor is to leave nothing to chance.
Annie Van De Wiele


If you consider the hull as a ship’s body and the sails her means of locomotion, the “lines,” as seamen called the ropes, were her nerves and tendons. The wind blowing on this intricate network of cordage made a deep humming noise in a fresh gale and a high-pitched whistle in a storm; halyards slatting against the spars provided the woodwind; the sails spilling wind and then filling out with a hollow boom were the percussion instruments; and the rush of great waters the organ accompaniment — in a symphony of sound that was music to a seaman’s ear.
Samuel Eliot Morison
from The Ropemakers of Plymouth, 1950


I began to feel the loneliness less acutely as my goal approached, though at the same time I hated the thought of arriving.
from Wind Aloft, Wind Alow, 1947

Published April 1, 2005