April 2007

What’s in this issue


This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at AudioSeaStories.net. It is read by Michael and Patty Facius. We recommend a broadband Internet connection to download, since it is a large file.

Download a PDF version of this newsletter here.

Want to look up a previous newsletter? We’ve added an on-line index of all the
Good Old Boat newsletters at: http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/newsletter_index.php

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Spread the word…about sailing

Jess Gregory of Banner Bay Marine is a man with a million good ideas. The latest is brilliant in its simplicity. Jess reminds us that if sailors would just leave their old copies of sailing magazines around as reception-room reading material in the offices of their doctors, dentists, barbers, and health clubs, we could introduce thousands of unsuspecting people to our favorite pastime. Jess says, “These magazines are like expensive 80-page color brochures extolling sailing. What a shame not to recycle them as a recruitment tool…It’s an easy effort that could help recruit new sailors and possibly new subscribers.” Even if you can’t bear to part with your precious copies of Good Old Boat, it’s OK with us if you leave the other sailing magazines in waiting rooms in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to recruit new sailors! Why didn’t we think of that?

Boat show season winds down
We made it through another boat show season and spring is on the way. One season officially ends and the other begins, we suspect, with the Strictly Sail show in Oakland. So far, we have not chosen to have a booth at the California show. By then, we’re busily launching our boats here on the Great Prairie for the very short season ahead. (Did we mention that the Lake Superior season is about two weeks long?) So until the October show in Annapolis, we’ll be sailing.

Several readers expected to find editors Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas under the table sucking their thumbs, as promised, by the end of the Strictly Sail show in Chicago. But on the very last day when NO ONE was around — since the Chicago Bears were immersed in some sort of gladiatorial event of great consequence in Florida — Karen and Jerry did slip under the table briefly. If you missed it, what can we say? We hear it was a bad day for the Bears. You shudda’ been at the boat show!

The beat goes on…
Well, our simply shameless and self-serving offer has been, simply speaking, a big hit! (It was Mark’s idea and since he’s the one who collects the data on how it’s doing, it can’t possibly fail. Hmmm, is there a loop in that logic somewhere?) Since this promotion is set to continue through the end of May, there’s still time to sign up your friends for a free half-year subscription and to get additional copies added to your subscription for your trouble. For the whole story, refer to the February 2007 newsletter. It’s posted online http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/febnewslett52.html. To see any of the previous Good Old Boat newsletters, go to http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/newsletter_index.php.

Fixer-upper webpage
And while we’re reminding you about web pages that we create and maintain just for you, visit our fixer-uppers page for a newly listed gem http://www.goodoldboat.com/fixer-uppers.html. Sailboats that are offered for less than $5,000, sometimes even for free to a good home, are listed on this page at no charge.

Googling about the Internet
Here are a few helpful tips we discovered while traipsing about the Internet in search of whatever it is that boat magazine editors search for. These little bits may make a difference in finding what you’re looking for, rather than finding 55 pages of possibilities. If they make your day go more smoothly, we’re glad to be of assistance!
Using quote marks – If you’re looking for a multi-word subject such as great white whales, put the exact phrase you’re looking for in quotes, “great white whales,” and you’ll only get pages that have all three words together in that order. Otherwise, you’ll get responses that mention some great things, some white things, and some whales in the first paragraph or two. We found a listing that included “killer whales and great white sharks,” for example.
Using the tilde (~) sign – Searching with the tilde sign brings you synonyms. Searching for ~sailboat ~maintenance will return pages that have boat and yacht upgrades, refits, projects, etc.
Using OR – Searching with a capital OR means either one would be OK: sailboat OR yacht maintenance.


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What’s coming in May?

For the love of sailboats
• Pearson 36
• Jeanneau Trinidad 46 (or 51, don't ask)
• Yamaha 25
• Portland Pudgy (7.5)

Speaking seriously
• The schooner rig
• Replacing a bow trim casting
• Respecting the furler
• Building flexible floor grating
• A creative waterlift muffler
• Anchor Sentinels 101
• Are boat brokers necessary?

Just for fun
The Solitude of the Open Sea book excerpt
• Remembering
• Night sailing
• Looking at sea life center spread
• RC model Lasers
• The soul of sailing

What’s more
• Simple solutions: Rudder stops; The jug sling or hackamore knot
• Quick and easy: Portable cockpit light; Cockpit piloting; Plastic brightwork



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In the news

BCC and FC no longer in production
The Sam L. Morse Company, builders of the legendary Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter, have announced that they are ceasing manufacturing immediately.

Sumio Oya, owner of Sam L. Morse, said that he felt the boats were for the niche market of the serious distance cruiser. As the economy weakens, the demand for these expensive, but high quality, vessels diminishes. The Sam L. Morse Company is now discussing several opportunities to sell the existing molds and patterns for these vessels, together with the exclusive right to build the vessels. The sale, however, will not be to the highest bidder, but to the purchaser deemed to be best capable of continuing the construction of these classic vessels. A notice to this effect has been placed on the company’s website, http://www.samlmorse.com.

Ted Brewer recognized
Our very own Edward S. Brewer (Ted to his friends) and his former business partner, Bob Wallstrom, were honored by the Westlawn Institute with the Norman Nudelman Marine Education Award in recognition of a lifetime of excellence and achievement in marine education. A Westlawn release states that Ted Brewer, one of the co-founders of the Yacht Design Institute (YDI), and former YDI president Bob Wallstrom “recently came aboard as adjunct Westlawn instructors to further enrich the Westlawn faculty. Westlawn also recently acquired the rights to the course material of the former YDI schools.”



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Mail buoy

On folding dinghies
In our February 2007 newsletter we ran information from Don Jackson about folding dinghy plans that he’d been lovingly preserving in a “to-do” folder since 1972. We offered to email copies of the article and plans received from Jim and were amazed at the interest from readers! If you are interested, contact Karen Larson for a mailed or emailed copy. Others sent us more on the subject, which has been an ongoing theme since the November 2006 issue, as you’ll see below.


Duckworks is a good source
A message for Mail Buoy reader Jim Shell: I read in the November 2006 issue that you are looking for a folding dinghy. Go to http://www.duckworksbbs.com/index.htm. On the second line (just below the word “builders”) click on “search.” A Google box will appear. Type in “folding dinghy.” It will give you access to a list of folding dinghies. (My favorite is the Flapdoodle; plans are available in German or English, metric or imperial).

Or go directly to http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/flapdoodle/index.htm.

Aaron (Ron) Edelman


But wait! There’s more!
Ron got back to us with a few more sites he’s discovered in his own folding dinghy research:

From my “Folding folder,” some additional websites that might be of interest:
http://www.microcruising.com/ding1.htm (wooden folding dinghy)
http://www.seahopperfoldingboats.com (wooden folding dinghy, the original dinghy that started these folding dinghy discussions)
http://www.woodenwidget.com (wooden folding dinghy, see below for more)
http://www.flapdoodledinghy.com (wooden folding dinghy)
(folding dinghy)

The following site is in German, but some of the links will be in English. If nothing else, look at the pictures, which might give you some ideas. This site basically deals with folding kayaks plus folding bicycles. (Yes, you can take it with you).

These sites are about folding kayaks:
(lots of links)
(a folding canoe, might work as a dinghy too)


Announcing the Origami Folding Dinghy
Your readers might be interested in this practical folding dinghy, so small it can stow anywhere. Ideal for camping and fishing, anyone can build one from our plans. It can carry two, takes an outboard, rows well, is easy to assemble and to build with no experience, is light and easy to stow and carry, and much more. Visit http://www.woodenwidget.com for more details. We hope you enjoy the site and we would love to hear from you.


You did what?
I enjoyed the article on testing rope-to-chain splices (“Don’t try this at home”) in the January 2007 issue (
Note: That one was hidden on Page 86 –Eds). I did try it at home…or something very like it. I experimented to compare the relative strengths of an eyesplice and an eye formed by using a seizing. Seizings are quicker and easier to put in than eyesplices in double-braid (15 vs. 45 min. for me) and require less rope. I hoped it would result in an article on the proper way to make a seizing, but it didn’t work out that way.

I used my car and a solid oak tree. After several iterations of the test, I found out why seizings are rarely used today and why whippings, seizings, and servings are put on against the lay. Unfortunately, it’s probably not interesting to modern sailors (another old skill being overtaken by modern technology).

Anyway, I thought you might be interested to know that I actually tried it and both the car and I survived.
Gene Bjerke
Williamsburg, Va.


Trouble with Penetrol?
In your January 2007 issue there is an article suggesting the use of Penetrol to restore the gelcoat on older boats. Don’t do it. I tried this a few years ago on my boat and the gelcoat is now coming off. An identical boat next to mine did not apply Penetrol and the gelcoat is intact. The two boats have remained in the same environment for years.

Your picture shows Penetrol Quality Paint Conditioner. A product called Marine Penetrol is sold in boat stores, which does suggest that it restores fiberglass luster. I don’t know if they are the same. I would research this issue.
Claude Moss


Gregg dug into the issue
I just got off the phone with the Flood Company. To make a long story short, there is nothing in Penetrol’s formulation that could damage the gelcoat. In fact, Penetrol is designed speci-fically to protect gelcoat. The product has been around for decades.

With that said, the only problem that might occur is when too thick of a layer of Penetrol is applied. In this instance, the Penetrol, not the gelcoat, will begin to flake off. This is the voice of experience speaking and it was confirmed during my telephone conversation. Flaking of the Penetrol would occur within just a few months of the product’s application, definitely not over a 10-year period.

I confirmed that all the Penetrol products are chemically the same, just the target market is different. Lastly, the Flood Company said they would be happy to respond to further phone inquiries on the matter (800-321-3444).
Gregg Nestor


Vineyard Haven…Vinalhaven…
Unless there has been a radical shift in land masses, I think you will find that Vineyard Haven is a harbor located on Martha’s Vineyard Island off the coast of Massachusetts and Vinalhaven is an island off the coast of Maine.

I’m an avid reader of Good Old Boat and owner of a 1984 Morgan 384 sailing out of Saco, Maine. Keep up the good work.
Loyd Dussault
Indeed, Loyd, we let that slip by in the February 2007 newsletter. Our apologies.


Women at the helm
As an avid reader of Good Old Boat and someone who savors the practical nature of the articles and distinct lack of pretension, I very much enjoyed “Why should men have all the fun and why shouldn’t women share the stress of docking?” I had been thinking about writing a similar article for some time, and it was with great joy that I read many of my own thoughts in Suzanne Giesemann’s article.

I have been sailing with my husband since 1999 and, although it has not been entirely easy, we strive for and generally achieve a 50/50 relationship on the boat. A simple, yet effective, system that a friend suggested to us years ago is to alternate Captain Days. So, whoever’s Captain Day it is steers, docks, decides where to anchor, and makes the multitude of other decisions that make up a day of sailing (i.e., rum or beer? north or south? sail or motor? jib or genoa?). Whoever the Mate is does the cooking, tidying, line handling, anchor hauling, sunscreen fetching, and whatever else the Captain asks him/her to do.

One factor that has facilitated our goal of equality is that we both learned to sail at the same time. I think it would be more difficult if one person were an expert and the other a beginner (but with commitment and patience, it could still work). Our first and beloved boat was a Cal 20 — very easy (in retrospect) to handle and very forgiving. Last year, we sold our Cal and bought a Fuji 32 (very different to handle, given her nearly full keel and general massiveness).

We learned together about prop walk versus prop wash, first by reading and then by doing. When it came time to take our Fuji out of the slip for the first time, we played one round of rock-paper-scissors to decide who got to take her out. By chance, I won and I was so nervous that my knees were literally shaking as I read and re-read the docking section of Nigel Calder’s book (aka: the Bible). Also by chance, the winds, currents and our old friend Poseidon were kind to me, and I backed out and turned the boat around like a pro.

I have thought a lot about why so many women don’t like sailing and agree with Suzanne: it’s boring to always be the assistant, especially if the assistant has to do all the dishes! Women also seem to underestimate the need for clothing on the water. It’s hard to have fun when you’re marginally hypothermic. And the biggest one: fear. Information is the antidote to fear. I flunked physics in college, but the basic concepts are simple.

The flip side of this deal is that if you want to do half of the fun stuff, you need to do half of the not-so-fun stuff, like getting up in the middle of the night to check the anchor or to tie down the banging halyards, not to mention fiddling around with the stinky, gross, blocked head (a box of latex gloves goes a long way on a boat, we find).

Doing some of these less-glorious tasks leads to a feeling of ownership and responsibility that ends up making them much less awful somehow. I find that the joy of sitting at the helm and being handed a steaming bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning enables me to more happily do the jobs that neither of us really wants to do because I really do feel that it is my boat too.

In exchange for the adrenaline rush of potentially screwing up a docking or the discomfort of getting up at night out of a warm bunk to check the depth, I gain the extreme satisfaction of moments like the one when I expertly tucked the boat into her berth in the near dark only to hear my dad (a bluewater sailor of yesteryear) say, “Very well done, Catriona.”
Catriona Munro


The Dinghy Rodeo: Yeeee ha!
Bob Steadman was willing to share one of his misadventures with “the rest of us:”

January 2007, Boot Key Harbor, Florida Keys
Chris Boyle runs the water taxi service in Boot Key Harbor. I was motoring in our dinghy behind his electric launch, thanking him for all that he had done for us during our stay in the Keys. After concluding our conversation, I zoomed ahead back to Bettie. . Now there is a speed limit in the harbor but, as there was a stiff headwind blowing to mask my wake, and the sheriff wasn’t around, I decided to have a little fun. Our little hard dinghy really flies with her 8-hp motor. There was a heavy chop kicked up by the headwind and I was planing over the tops of the waves. Then one wave reared up a little higher than the others and one of my chines dug into it. I went a little sideways and all of a sudden the dinghy made a hard right. I, however, kept going straight. I was launched, as Chris said, “like a melon seed.” As I settled into the warm water, my first thought was to get the hell out of the way of the dinghy as the motor was still going wide open. Fortunately, it was locked in a tight turn to the right and wasn’t going to run me down.

Chris arrived on the scene with his launch and fished me out of the drink. The dinghy continued to do tight circles with the throttle wide open, throwing spray like a maddened bronc that had just thrown its rider. This had turned into quite a rodeo.

I guessed that there was enough gas in her to make her run until well after dark and Chris had other commitments, so waiting her out didn’t seem very feasible. Chris tried to maneuver close in so I could lean out and grab the cord on the kill switch, but after several hair-raising attempts, we gave that up; it was too fast and too dangerous. We sat there and pondered what to do. Why, lasso her, of course!

We had an old length of manila line, and I tried throwing it in the dinghy’s path so we could foul the prop and stop her. Chris maneuvered in close again and after a half dozen tries I succeeded in getting a wrap around the lower unit but the prop was still turning. In far less time than it takes to tell the tale, it swung around and slammed into the side of our launch, allowing Chris to snatch the cord on the kill switch.

The rodeo had come to an abrupt end. Thoroughly soaked and feeling not a little sheepish, I headed back to Bettie.

The next day I was in for some good-natured ribbing on the Internet (“Here’s a candidate for the Darwin Award…”). It just goes to show you if you wanna be dumb, you gotta be tough.

Somewhat chastened by this experience, I resolved to wear that leash that goes to the cutoff switch. However, we have a tiller extension so the leash would have to be lengthened. Because I have to reach back for the gear shift I figured that the longer leash would be forever tangled, stop the engine when that wasn’t desired, etc. The solution: an ankle leash. A small loop of shockcord goes around my ankle with enough cord to the cutoff switch so that I can have reasonable freedom of movement. Now if I get launched the motor will shut down. I feel much safer.
Bob Steadman


Safety system, you say?
After reading Jerry Powlas’ Mail Buoy discussion in the October 2006 newsletter on correcting the common weaknesses of lifeline stanchions and their mountings, I found myself wondering why it ignores the essential underlying question: why are these supposed safety systems so weakly built and poorly installed in the first place? Given that they are called, after all, lifelines, and may be, in times of peril, all that stands between the seaman and the sea, why don’t boatbuilders do a better job of designing, manufacturing, and mounting them in the first place? My own experience suggests that he is correct in saying that, even on reputable boats, this potentially critical equipment is sometimes relatively flimsy, badly anchored, and not tall enough to do its job. Underbuilding here is a poor way to economize.
Phil Brookes


Jerry Powlas responds
I don’t have an answer for that. I had a friend who designed a lifeline system that corrected many of these problems, but in my opinion it still had a weak spot in that it needed a very strong point on the boat’s deck to mount to. Each owner or installer would have to provide that, and while it could be done easily on some boats, the areas where the work needed to be done was not always accessible in others.

I think lifelines are still an area where builders skimp and owners trust too much. The world did not beat a path to my friend’s door. You could mount his lifeline stanchion to a test panel, set the panel sideways, and a grown man could hang from the end of the stanchion without it bending or harming the base. Yet, pretty much, nobody cared.
Jerry Powlas, technical editor



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On podcasts and players

In our December 2006 newsletter we asked our readers to tell us about their involvement with iPods and other MP3 players. We asked: “How have you adapted these things to work with your life? Have these devices changed your habits at all?” From the responses we received, it would appear that these new gadgets are adoptable (for many at least) and adaptable. The invasion of the MP3 players is underway: iPods aren’t just for teenagers anymore.

Barry Brierley is effusive with his praise of this new technology: “I received an iPod for Christmas last year (after much pleading and begging), and at the risk of sounding like a dork who needs to ‘get a life,’ I have to say it has changed my life.

“After years of buying CDs (I own about 400), I haven’t bought a single one since the day I got my iPod. I now download all my music from the iTunes Music Store and from my CD collection and store them on the iPod. I carry my iPod with me everywhere, and all three of our cars have iPod-compatible audio systems, so we listen in the car as well.

“At home it has replaced my large and expensive stereo receiver/amplifier; I have an iPod dock connected to the stereo and play music from the iPod over the big speakers. The fact that I can build ‘playlists’ of my favorite music, eliminating those tracks I don’t like or want, makes the music I listen to absolutely perfect for me. My wife has her favorite playlists as well.

“But it’s aboard our boat where the iPod has been most valuable. We often spend days aboard on the lake, where we keep our boat almost always at anchor rather than in the marina, and the iPod is our only audio entertainment source. I bought a set of very small battery-powered speakers that the iPod mounts into, and that becomes our shipboard ‘stereo system’ with terrific audio quality.

“In the evenings when we’re done sailing and the hook is down, we relax in the cockpit with an adult bevvie and listen to music tailored to our personal preferences. It’s wonderful. I’ve abandoned any thoughts of buying and installing a marine stereo system, running speaker wires through the boat, and mounting speakers. After dark, if we care to, we can view the latest TV show episode or watch a movie, all from this incredible little device.

“When it’s time to head for home, the battery-powered speakers fold into a small carrying case and we take them home with us. When we go out of town, I carry them with us to provide music in our hotel rooms.

“Besides music, I subscribe to several podcasts, including The Sailing Channel, plus we have a variety of short films, full-length feature films, home videos, and photos stored in the iPod. In fact, the iPod has become my ‘wallet full of family photos.’ I fire it up to show friends pictures of our boat, our cats, and our new grandson.

“I am a complete convert to this technology. It is absolutely outstanding.”

Naturally, there are the early adopters and the not-so-early adopters. We love them all. Maynard Nelson makes it clear about his level of interest: “An iPod…is that one whale? Or past tense of peed?” But he tells us, “I enjoy all your output, from web-based to glossy paper.”

And Gary Pitsenberger asks, “What’s an iPod? Will it help me find Bermuda? Just kidding. But I think I prefer listening to the gull’s babble and the rustle and slap of the water. (Not to insult Karen’s reading or wonderful editorial musings.) Thanks for the greatest boat publication ever.”

Indeed, there is much to be said for the sounds of nature and the sounds of silence. Peter McCorison reminds us that there are even some good old skills that should not be replaced by this novel technology: “I’m not a tech-hater; I made my living in the computer world for 30 years. But all this reminds me of the old joke about a family that had no TV and were called by the Nielson rating people: ‘What are you watching?’ they were asked.

“The man responded, ‘We are reading: R-E-A-D-I-N-G.’

“These newsletters are very interesting to me, but I’d like to R-E-A-D them.”

Brian Cleverly tells us, “As far as I’m concerned the people responsible for both the cell phone and the iPod should be publicly hung, drawn, and quartered. However, I realize I’m in the minority, so I wish you well in this endeavor.”

Mike Chirco points to one problem for some of those who would adopt this technology: “The problem is that I live in the country, where dial-up Internet is all I can get. It takes forever to download anything.”

Dave Brandt writes, “Well yes, I do have an iPod and use it for the drive to the boat as well as on our Cape Dory 25. I have a small battery-operated speaker system that provides plenty of sound on the CD-25. It’s a small luxury on a small boat. I enjoy the magazine; keep doing what you are doing!”

“Yep,” writes Steve Spangler, “I am tied to my MP3 player. I use it primarily to play music on the road and also on the water. I’ve purchased a set of computer speakers (no additional sub-woofer needed with these) that are mounted on the bookshelf on our Cape Dory 30. I can plug them into a converter while at anchor. These speakers are low-power output and low-power requirement.

“Just yesterday, I downloaded my first podcast: the Good Old Boat newsletter, October 2006. Thanks a bunch. This is really neat.”

Thor Powell agrees: “iPod? Love it…actually iShuffle. I even bought some cool speakers that run off AAs to use with it. The setup is about the size of two good paperbacks and the sound is amazing. About six hours of music and commercial-free. I take it on the boat and leave the harbor with the theme from Master and Commander playing. Simple, small, and wonderful…like my Nonsuch 26.”

It may someday come to this, but we had a horrible vision of reading Good Old Boat on a tiny iPod screen when Peter Collins wrote: “I have an iPod. I was thinking about your problem with the cost of paper in the last issue…why not send us the whole journal over the Internet, including the pictures?”

Terry Smitherman adds, “Just wanted to let you know I love the iPod downloads. I got my wife an iPod for Christmas. (Hey, it was her idea! Gotta love a woman who loves new gadgets and marine stores and I can’t seem to get her out of the hardware store!) Of course we met sailing 15 years ago!”

Drew Shemella tells us, “Yes, the iPod has changed my sailing life. My entire music collection and that of a few others’ is on my iPod. We have the FM-signal broadcaster, which means we can play any tune in my music collection on the boat’s FM stereo system. That can be in the cockpit or cabin. It’s very powerful and a 12-volt plug makes sure the batteries are always good.

When we raft up with friends for social time, all of the boats can tune into the FM signal on their FM stereos, and we have the same tunes throughout the raft. 

“We haven’t delved into podcasting, but many of my professional continuing education courses are available as podcasts, as are many other media events. I could be earning education hours as I tack up Little Peconic Bay.”

And there is one other dilemma we certainly hadn’t thought of. Jim Lorrey made it meaningful to the good old editors with this: “Hi to all, I just went out and bought my iPod. Now I can’t afford to renew my subscription. Oh, what should I do? iPod…renew, iPod…renew? Yeah, I guess I’ll return the iPod. Keep up the good work.”

Additional comments will be included on the Newsletter Podcast.



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Hamilton Marine announces open house
March 31–April 7, 2007
Portland, Rockland, Searsport, & Southwest Harbor, Me.

Hamilton Marine is kicking off the sailing season with a week-long (March 31-April 7) affair. Many products will be specially priced and there will be refreshments, all kinds of drawings and a giveaway of a 7-day cruise to Bermuda aboard the Norwegian Majesty. There are four Hamilton Marine stores in Maine (Portland, Rockland, Searsport, and Southwest Harbor) and an E-store at http://www.hamiltonmarine.com. Contact Hamilton Marine, Searsport, Maine, by calling 207-548-6302.


Taleisin open to the public at Sail Expo
Sail Expo
April 18-22, 2007
Oakland, Calif.

Visitors to Sail Expo will be invited to board the 29-foot Taleisin, which has taken Lin and Larry Pardey over 67,000 miles, including a doubling of Cape Horn. Lin and Larry will be joining Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) from April 18th to April 22 at Jack London Square to raise awareness of sailing opportunities offered by BAADS for those with disabilities or anyone looking for a way to get out sailing. Members of BAADS and special volunteers will show the boat’s special features. Lin and Larry will be available at least six hours each day to answer your sailing questions.

For more information go to http://www.landlpardey.com, or contact Sail America at http://www.sailamerica.com, BAADS at http://www.baads.org or Jim Morehouse at Paradise Cay Publications, 1-800-736-4509.


What To Do When the Electronics Fail
Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, 2007
8:00 AM–5:00 PM
North Seattle Community College
9600 College Way North
Seattle, Wash.

This two-day workshop with Julie Teetsov, presented by Seven Seas Cruising Association, is $250 per person for SSCA members, $300 for non-members (it’s cheaper to join!). The fee includes a continental breakfast and lunch each day. The registration form can be found online at http://www.ssca.org/eventind.htm, or email, or call 954-771-5660.


Basic Marine Weather
May 26-27, Dania Beach, Fla.
June 23-24, San Diego, Calif.
October 13-14, Annapolis, Md.
8:00 AM–5:30 PM each day

Understanding the cause and effects of marine weather is the topic of this two-day workshop presented by Seven Seas Cruising Association and conducted by Marine Meteorologist Lee Chesneau, USCG STCW-certified instructor. The cost is $300 members/$350 non-members and includes workbook, continental breakfast and lunch. Enrollment is limited. Register early to guarantee a space at http://www.ssca.org/eventind.htm, email, or call 954-771-5660.


Newport Spring Boat Show
Father’s Day weekend, June 15-17, 2007
Newport Yachting Center
America’s Cup Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Exhibition Group, in partnership with the Yacht Brokers Association of America, present the Newport Spring Boat Show with “Everything you need to launch the boating season.” For more information call 401-846-1115 or go to their web site: http://www.NewportSpringBoatShow.com.


Summer Sailstice
June 23-24, 2007
Summer Sailstice celebrates sailing on a grand scale. Organized locally and celebrated globally, this event is a chance to connect with your fellow sailors and win prizes from the national sailing community including Good Old Boat. Go to http://www.summersailstice.com to organize your club, class or fleet.


Youth Education Sail Training aboard the schooner Virginia
July 1-12: Newport, R.I. to Halifax, N.S.
July 26–Aug. 3; Aug. 5-12; 15-20: Portland, Me.
Aug. 23-31: Portland, Me. to Gloucester, Mass.

The Schooner Virginia is a 122' floating classroom offering young people, ages 13-17, the opportunity to “Set Sail Their Dreams.” Reservations for the adventures are being taken on a first-come, first-served basis for the summer 2007 schedule. For more information on Youth Sail Training, call 757-627-7400 or visit http://www.schoonervirginia.org or call Summer Katabian 757-228-5815.


Northeast O’day Owners’ “rOnDAYvous”
July 13-15, 2007
Milford, Conn.

The fifth annual Northeast O’day owners’ “rOnDAYvous” will be held at Milford Lisman Landing Marina in Milford, Connecticut. Food, drink, fellowship, music, sailing, and “all-things-O’day.” For more information, email Pete Dodenhoff. For slip reservations, email Joan, or call 203-874-1610.


Plastic Classic and Father’s Day Race
June 16, 2007
Bay View Boat Club
San Francisco, Calif.

The Port Royal Yacht Club of Redondo Beach, California, in conjunction with the Bay View Boat Club of San Francisco, is hosting a “Plastic Classic and Father’s Day Race” on June 16th. There will be two concurrent races: one for the Plastic Classic competitors (fiberglass boats 25 years or older), and one for all other sailboats. Within each race, there will be two separate courses: a Mariner class and a Spinnaker class. The entrance fee is $10. Contact Mike Williams.


2007 Day Sailer North American Championship Regatta
July 8-12, 2007
Lake Onalaska, LaCrosse, Wis.

Day Sailer Fleet 132 and the LaCrosse Sailing Club are hosting the 2007 Day Sailer North American Championship Regatta. The organizers expect to have both Championship and Presidential Fleets, plus a Junior NACR Fleet — a minimum of three boats must be registered to form a fleet. Registration forms and regatta information can be found on the DSA website, http://www.DaySailer.org or by calling Lee Peterson at 507-875-2324. Information about the La Crosse Sailing Club and Fleet 132 can be found on the club’s website at http://www.lax-sailing.org.


GLCC 2007 Rendezvous
July 15-18, 2007
Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis.

The Great Lakes Cruising Club’s 2007 Rendezvous will be held at the western end of Lake Superior from July 15-18 at the 430-slip Barker’s Island Marina in Superior, Wisconsin. Go to http://www.glcclub.com for the latest information on this summer’s Duluth-Superior Rendezvous. 



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Stress test

by David Browne

When I turned 50 a few years ago my internist announced I needed a stress test to measure the condition of my heart. That’s not-so-great news when you are standing in your underwear expecting an all clear from your doctor. I asked a worried “Why?” and he said he had not detected a problem but wanted to be sure I was OK. So I got wired to a special treadmill and ran uphill until my pulse reached 190. The doctor said it would either reach that number or I’d have a heart attack somewhere below it (!?!). The outcome was I reached the number and kept on running, while he admired the short peaked blips on the printout from the plotter my wires connected to. Everything was fine; we’ll do another in 10 years.

Last night I did open heart surgery on the Bristol. I removed her starboard main chainplate, installed at the yard 36 years ago, just to make sure she was OK. I have put Sally B through some deliberately harsh stress tests over the years, and like running stairs when you are 50-plus, the condition of her chainplates and main shrouds were a constant, murmuring worry at the back of my mind.

The chainplates attach the shrouds to the hull and keep the mast from falling over. They are the main aorta, the central element that keeps the boat alive. And, like the heart, they are buried inside the boat, just their tips exposed through the decks. If not bedded correctly, rainwater will seep down them, causing crevice corrosion to the stainless steel and quickly rotting the wood knees they bolt to — the equivalent of clogged arteries that can happen at any time.

So I removed the starboard chainplate, with the nuts, painted over long ago, cracking open for the first time as the socket bit and turned them, the ratchet working in the cramped space under the side deck. The bolts had to be driven out with a hammer — a good sign. Finally the three bolts were out.

Expecting the worst, I found, like my internist found with me, that things were fine. There were some rust stains, but no rot and no fractures of the metal. She could have sailed with those old chainplates for many years to come. But I will give her new chainplates, stronger than the old metal ones, that will take her safely across the seas. Standing in the cabin, looking at the strip of metal in my hand, I couldn’t help thinking how long it had kept me safe and secure as the Bristol beat through heavy seas, heeled too far over from my not reefing early enough, strained at her sheets, and still brought me safely home.

If you appreciated this story, David Browne has a new blog that you may enjoy: http://bristol29.blogspot.com/.


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Book reviews

Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum, audiobook narrated by Jerry Stearns with an introduction by John Vigor (produced by Good Old Boat; 6.8 hours; $15.00/download, $19.95/MP3 CD, $24.00/audio CD)
Review by Mark and Diana Doyle (authors of Managing the Waterway )
St. Paul, Minn.

Mark: I finally made it and I’m glad I did! I’ve tried to read this book a couple of times before and never got through it. For some reason it just never caught and I’d end up putting it aside. I believe everyone should read—or listen to— Slocum’s account of circumnavigating the world. Not only was it the first singlehanded circumnavigation, but he did it at a time when it was believed to be impossible. There was no Panama or Suez Canal and sailboats simply weren’t sailed with a crew of one back in 1895.

Diana: I’m not an audiobook person: I like to read the written word. But that being said, I have to admit I’ve never taken the time to read Slocum’s classic book. So if you’ve never experienced Sailing Alone Around the World, you should, so get the audiobook instead of procrastinating any longer!

Mark: Slocum is an excellent storyteller, with simple factual writing and a modest tone. And with Slocum’s lean and compelling prose, it’s a perfect book for audio. Jerry Stearns’ clean and straightforward reading is a natural complement to Slocum’s literary tone.

Diana: Any cruiser can easily relate to Slocum’s story, even if you have no intention of circumnavigating. So many of his experiences are part of the culture of contemporary coastal cruising: the hospitality of new acquaintances, the camaraderie among other sailors out on the water, the logistics of provisions and boat repairs, and the lifelike affection for one’s vessel. It was fascinating to hear his perspective on these emotions and events of life on Spray.

Mark: It’s also easy to relate to (and admire) this modest character. Here’s a man who lived his life as a sea captain but has his “heart in his mouth” the first time he brings Spray into port alone. All the old fishermen run down to the wharf hoping for the thrill of a calamity, but Slocum docks her so lightly “she would not have broken an egg.” You cheer for his success while he admits that if he says a word he’ll betray his shaking voice and nervous shortness of breath!

Diana: The quiet seafaring captain from Nova Scotia was prescient in many ways. I chuckled when he said the local ladies were so curious about the technical aspects of solo circumnavigating that he predicted there would be “sailing mistresses.” It took 80 years, but in 1979 Naomi James became the first woman to solo-circumnavigate via Cape Horn.

Mark: Slocum was also right on the money (pun intended) about the endless trap of new navigation gadgets! He laments about the “newfangled notions of navigation” — that a mariner must have a chronometer. “Fifteen dollars!” he says. Nothing has changed in the world of navigation: instead of chronometers, now it’s that large-screen color chartplotter!

Mark and Diana: In all, two earbuds up!


Sailing Away from Winter, by Silver Donald Cameron (Douglas Gibson books, 2006; 376 pages; $25.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

It’s great fun to go cruising with Silver Donald Cameron. Through his books we’ve traveled with him several times, and each time has been a pleasure. Don’s tales of his voyages introduce his readers to people he meets, places he visits, and events along the way. He tells us about their background and, through these historical glimpses, what they’ve become today. Don makes strangers and strange places meaningful to us. With the latest book, Sailing Away from Winter, readers will also develop a fondness for Don; his wife, Marjorie; and Leo, their aging wonder whippet and boat dog, also known as the BFD (brave and faithful dog).

This trio buys a motorsailer specifically for a 1,500-mile trip from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, sailing away from a Canadian winter season via the Intracoastal Waterway. They are richly rewarded with an entire range of cruising experiences along the way. Pack your sea bag and enter their world; your own horizons will be broadened as a result.

Don acquired the “Silver” moniker in Nova Scotia, where the name Cameron is common enough for the need to distinguish between several Donald Camerons. Don, the author and sailor, is the one with the white hair. In this book he could have been called “Dandelion Don,” because he had a terrible time finding a barber along the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., and that thatch of white hair became a halo before a hairdresser was finally located.

I have always admired Don as a master with words, and he’s done it again. His description of an evening in Halifax is a good example. “Catherine MacKinnon picked up her fiddle and began another haunting slow air, plangent and sweet and melancholy. It felt like an ethereal exhalation from the most ancient parts of the soul. And the past was all around us — the Acadians, the forts, the salty old seaport, the historic ships both above the water and below it. Sitting on the deck of a schooner, surrounded by my country’s past and bathed in its music, poised to sail into an unknown future, I suddenly realized that I knew exactly who I was, and exactly where I was. And I liked it.”

Don is honest about their trip down the Intracoastal Waterway. Equipment failed, the weather was sometimes unpleasant, clearing U.S. customs was a hassle, and grocery shopping and laundry became major events. Because they were making a late-season delivery, they pushed too hard and moved too fast. Sometimes lonely, at other times they had more social interaction than needed. But they had a good time, learned much about themselves and others, and found that they were fitter and younger-feeling than when they left. Once in the Bahamas, the pace slowed, and the madcap race to arrive was forgotten.

Reading this book will whet your appetite for more by Silver Donald Cameron. I can wholeheartedly recommend that path. You won’t regret any of the journeys you make with this man whose words are silver. Perhaps that’s a better reason for the additional name he has worn so well for so long.


Sally Steals an Elephant, by John Vigor, audiobook narrated by Theresa Meis (produced by Good Old Boat, 2006; 2 hours; $15.00/download, $19.95/MP3 CD, $24.00/audio CD)
Review by Morgan Doyle, age 12
St. Paul, Minn.

Sally Steals an Elephant is by John Vigor, who also wrote So Long, Foxtrot Charlie and Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer. Sally Steals an Elephant is the sequel to Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer. All three audio CDs are narrated by Theresa Meis. She reads clearly and changes the tone of her voice to match the characters. The book comes to life as if the characters are actually speaking. The PDF map, included with this audio CD, helped me understand and visualize the adventure.

The main characters are Sally and her two younger brothers, Peter and Andy Grant. They are sailing around the world with their father on a diesel-powered monohull. The story begins with the Grant children in the jungles of South Africa. They notice a tethered elephant outside the town and go to look at it. They discover a zookeeper is mistreating the elephant so the Grant children decide to rescue the elephant at night. But the frightened elephant runs off into the jungle; now the Grants have to find the elephant before the evil zookeeper does.

This audio CD is best for ages 8 to 12. You don’t have to be a boating kid to enjoy this story, but it was fun to listen to the kids’ explorations by dinghy. I had a great time listening to Sally Steals an Elephant.


Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Repair Manual, by Jean-Luc Pallas (Sheridan House, Inc., 2006; 208 pages; $29.95)
Review by Will Sibley
Shady Side, Md.

In this lavishly illustrated volume, Jean-Luc Pallas, professor of Recreational Marine Mechanics at La Rochelle Technical College in France, has produced what I would regard as a “must-read” reference for owners whose boats have diesel auxiliary propulsion systems. I say this from the perspective of one who has owned sailboats for 70 years and who now (after an academic career) runs a small-scale solo business repairing sailboats on Chesapeake Bay.

Replete with diagrams, drawings, and photographs, this volume is suitable for owners who do serious maintenance work themselves and also for those who farm out this work but who need to be well informed.

The volume begins with a section on theory: diesel operation, fuel and air supplies, lubrication, cooling, propulsion, and electrical systems and includes many explanatory diagrams, graphs, and explanations of how things work.

Theoretical matter is followed with a thorough section on maintenance, including schedules, tools needed, and a listing of multiple tasks within the ability of any reasonably adept diesel owner. Information is included on batteries, stuffing boxes, and shaft seals in addition to maintenance guidance for the engine itself. This section, too, is profusely and usefully illustrated. Though the pictures may not be of a particular owner’s engine, the basic operations are clearly shown. The wise diesel owner will also invest in manuals for her/his specific engine model to supplement this general guide. Generally, factory repair manuals can be purchased to supplement the basic, but often minimal, information provided with engines installed by boatbuilders.

For the more skilled and/or adventurous do-it-yourself owners, there follows an excellent repair section, with pictures of typical operations ranging from valve adjustment to engine rebuilding and replacement. Much of this may be beyond the ken of most owners — but being well informed can avoid misunderstanding and unnecessary expense when dealing with mechanics and boatyards.

A section on breakdowns includes an extensive table of symptoms and solutions and is followed with an excellent essay on winterizing, then restarting a diesel engine after winter storage.

There is much meat here. The price seems quite reasonable for such a useful compendium of information.


Cruising: The Basics, by Zora and David Aiken (The Lyons Press, 2006; 209 Pages; $14.95)
Review by Joseph Orefice
Baltimore, Md.

When you see a book title like Cruising: The Basics, you would normally assume that it would cover ground about the cruising lifestyle: sailing from port to port, provisioning, and the sort of tips and tricks sailors generally pick up while adventuring out from the dock for weekends, weeks, or months. Such books have been written, but this book isn’t one of them.

More suitable is this book’s original title, Cruising: The Illustrated Essentials. This title gives you a better impression of what you will find inside. It condenses the likes of the Annapolis Book of Seamanship and Chapman’s Piloting, Seamanship & Small Boat Handling into the bare minimum of what you need to know when sailing or motoring.

The book organization is well executed and, overall, authors Zora and David Aiken succeed in getting the information across by breaking it down into various bite-sized topics. The navigation section covers the basics such as lights, buoys, sound signals, and plotting a course. The chapter on rules of the road is a nice refresher.

Section two is the largest of the three sections and covers the most ground. This is where the book really shines. It covers bridges, locks, towlines, anchoring, and riding waves. In addition, each section talks about how to handle encounters with commercial traffic. The third and final section covers weather, laws, insurance, and etiquette for boaters.

Considering it’s small size, Cruising: The Basics covers a lot of ground. Those of us who cruise will find it to be a good refresher or quick-reference book. It’s not a replacement for the larger books dedicated to the fine points of seamanship, but it doesn’t require much muscle to lift, either. It does have tips for cruising scattered throughout. The only noticeable shortcoming is that a chapter on sailing is absent; sailing isn’t even touched except during the “Rules of the Road” chapter.

Cruising: The Basics will shine as an introduction for friends who have never set foot on a boat. If you give them a good introduction to recreational boating and allow them to participate more, they’ll enjoy their time aboard and you’ll enjoy having them as guests.


A Ship’s Tale, by N. Jay Young (Boston Books, 2006; 358 pages, $19.95)
Review by Jim Shroeger
Traverse City, Mich.

High seas adventure, piracy, kidnapping, political intrigue, an Irish Sea gale, and even a bit of romance…all this and more awaits the readers of A Ship’s Tale.

Jay Young tells a story about a group of tall-ship sailors who had more years at sea than a lapstrake dory has copper rivets. These stalwarts were led by Captain Bowman and aided in their adventure by two Royal Navy sailors just released from service after WW II. Add an enticing barmaid and an entire orphanage of teen-aged boys and you have the cast of characters for A Ship’s Tale.

The story revolves around Captain Bowman and his crew, who were determined to save the Bonnie Clyde, a true good old boat! The Clyde was a 300-foot, three-masted bark that the local politicians determined was a relic of the past and needed to be scuttled in order to clean up the waterfront. What the politicians did not know was that Captain Bowman and his band were planning to abscond with the Clyde and sail her to the boatyard in Scotland where she was built. She was to be rebuilt there and preserved as a museum ship.

The rescue involved a 1,000-mile voyage in waters that were notorious for bad weather. The Clyde was crewed by young, inexperienced boys sailing a ship that had been provisioned by felonious acquisitions of ship’s stores from the area Royal Navy yard and the local circus. Along the way they were caught in a powerful gale, offered aid to the U.S. Navy and, in return, were aided by a U.S. submarine. An entire network of ham-radio operators also came to the Clyde's assistance.

Was the Clyde safely delivered to her home port or was the entire crew arrested for piracy? The answer to those and many other questions awaits the readers of A Ship’s Tale. Jay Young has created a wonderful sea adventure that is exciting, believable, and a real page-turner.


Practical Sailor — Guide to Sailing Gear, edited by Dan Dickison (Lyons Press, 2006; 296 pages; $19.95)
Review by Al Horner
Victoria, B.C.

A practical test of whistles? Yup. It’s right there on page 184 in “Safety and Survival.” If you own a good old boat, you need this book.

This book was created from articles published in Practical Sailor magazine over a number of years. It’s not just a reprint of articles; a lot of the testing details have been condensed to provide the most useful information in the fewest pages. Yet the editors haven’t skimped on details; in every section they provide background. For example, in the section on high-tech line, there’s an explanation of the variety of modern line components, then the testing of various lines. A similar approach is taken with almost all of the gear tests and comparisons. Depending on how you use your boat, coastal versus off-shore, it’s possible to narrow the choices to the best gear for your boat and your type of sailing.

The book is well laid out and while you may not be interested in all of the sections, it’s a good cover-to-cover read. The best use after the initial reading is to put it on your reference shelf, where it’s available the next time you need to replace things, maintain things, or just putter — it’s reassuring to confirm you’ve been using the right caulking, boat cleaners, and waxes, for example.

Topics are grouped logically and range from deck hardware to plumbing, electrical systems, safety and survival, creature comforts, and more. Other excellent features are the numerous sidebars, tables, and photos that give summaries of information.

One caveat: the editors admit that prices are not current. This can be a bit disconcerting at first but, as they point out, the given prices will provide a relative comparison that is useful when you go to your favorite chandler. The eight pages of websites and contact information may even help you pick the right source of the gear you need. You can do a lot of homework with the help of these resources.

This is an excellent book for anyone who owns a sailboat, new or old. It packs a lot of information into its pages. I wish I’d had this book when I refitted Water Rat II.


Mudlark’s Ghosts and the Restoration of a Herreshoff Meadow Lark, by Ian Scott (Sheridan House, 2006, 172 pages, $19.95)
Review by Janet Perkins
Stone Mountain, Ga.

A man who owns 11 boats, six on one side of the Atlantic and five on the other, is either eccentric…or truly loves boats. Ian Scott, the author of Mudlark’s Ghosts, is the latter.

His story of 12 years spent restoring Mudlark, a 1953 custom modification of L. Francis Herreshoff’s Meadow Lark sharpie design, leaves no doubt of his affection for the wooden boats he considers a valued heritage, but his devotion was sorely tried by the restoration of this one.

For a boat professionally designed and built, Mudlark suffered a surprising number of design and construction shortcomings, including a sailplan and lee board positioning that caused lee helm and significant problems with the hull. Therein lies the “ghosts” part of the book’s title. No haunts, just the author’s doing what probably every restorer of an older boat would love to do: ask questions of the designer/builder. Since Mudlark’s are deceased, Ian imagines the conversations…a feat he carries off convincingly.

There are several interwoven stories. One deals with choosing Mudlark in spite of her problems, another with the author’s appreciation of wooden boats. Then there is the aforementioned effort to understand the decisions made by those who shaped and built the boat, and the restorations that eventually meant taking the boat apart and rebuilding — a project the author undertook to do himself after retiring.

Devastatingly honest about his initial lack of skill or knowledge, Ian has a gift for putting into words the experiences of boatkeeping and boat restoration to which anyone who has done either can relate. “I learned that there were limits to my time-tested belief that by promising the ridiculous I could achieve the impossible,” and “With age and experience I had learned the best can sometimes be the enemy of the good and that the good was often good enough” may sound familiar. He is justifiably proud of what he accomplished and says he wrote the book “to demonstrate that anybody can take on projects like this if they really want to…and (truly) that if I can do it anybody can do it.”

Ian Scott is a fine writer — articulate, passionate, organized, and possessed of that self-deprecating English humor that enlivens. Having finished Mudlark with the observation that “there will always be something to improve,” he and his wife sailed off to spend 2007 exploring shallow waters. We can hope the “ghosts” approve and another chapter in the old boat’s life will appear.



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Looking for

Southern boat?
I live in Louisiana near New Orleans. I think most of the sailboats in this area were destroyed after the storm and it’s difficult to find a used sailboat. I want to buy my first boat and have recently read John Vigor’s
20 Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. However, many of these boats are not to be found around here.

I grew up fishing in the Gulf in small powerboats. We always bought VERY seaworthy boats, usually in the 20' range, and tested them in some very serious weather at times. We often referred to those days as “Viking” days, as you had to be a Viking to go out on those days. Regarding boats, there was an advertisement for one that said, “For when you get more than you bargained for” and we always liked boats that were ready for the roughest of weather.

I would like some advice on a used boat that is affordable, or as affordable as anything else, that I can locate in the South. I’d like that boat to be something in the 26-32' range that is as seaworthy as it gets. I like the idea of a narrow-beamed boat that can get you home in a storm.
Pat Fraher


We’re stumped!
I am the owner of Northeast Sailboat Rescue. I have just rescued a 24-foot daysailer: fiberglass hull, wooden full keel, wooden mast, flush deck with an open cockpit. I have no idea what it is. I have attached the sail logo. Can you help?
Michael Chasse
With all the sail insignia resources available, we were sure we could solve this one in a flash but this logo was not there. (Dear readers, it really does take all of us at times like these.) We figure it’s got to be a boat called a seagull or a tern or a swallow or a…you get the idea. If you’ve got the answer, please let Michael Chasse know and please let us know too: karen@goodoldboat.com.

For other resources, if you’re interested in looking sail insignias, you can download a many-page booklet online at http://www.msogphotosite.com/PDF%20Page.html, and the Good Old Boat association pages offer many listings with logos at http://goodoldboat.com:8080/GOBWeb/GOBAssociations?search_heading=1. We know that’s a terribly long address. It’s because it is a searchable database. Just go to our homepage and click on the blue Owners’ Associations tab at the top.


Conn. or R.I. rubber boat repair
I would like to know about rubber boat repair places in Connecticut or Rhode Island. I get in used and new kayaks, boats, rubber boats and recreational gear and sometimes they need repairs. Thank you for any information about shops that do this.
Shirley Bloethe


LM 27 part
I’m searching for an obsolete part for our LM 27 and I’m hoping someone can help. After owning our boat for 24 years, last summer we lost the impeller for our sumlog. I have tried to locate a replacement with no luck. I have attached a picture (hoping it will be of some help). The color of the impeller is white. The unit is made by VDO. Thanks for any help you can provide.
Lorne Shantz



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Excerpts from The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

by John Vigor

If you wish to steer accurate courses by compass, you must know the compass’s deviation, or the amount by which it deviates from the magnetic course. Deviation is complicated — it changes as you swing the boat around and varies for every course, so it’s convenient to make up a graph or a table that can be displayed on a deviation card for quick reference.

The process for calculating deviation is know as “swinging the ship.” All it involves is measuring the difference between a known magnetic bearing and what your steering compass says the bearing is. These differences are measured every 15 to 45 degrees while the boat is swung around the clock in a tight circle.

The results are displayed on a deviation card, and tell you at a glance what compass course to steer for any given magnetic course, which you can either read straight off a magnetic compass rose on the chart or calculate for yourself from a true course.

It’s not difficult to make your own deviation card, and it’s a good skill to learn because deviation usually changes with time. All you need is an inexpensive pelorus from a marine hardware store and a modicum of patience while you swing the ship. There is no great mathematical skill involved, just simple addition and subtraction.

There are several other ways to check for deviation and many good books that describe the methods, but Chapman’s Piloting, Seamanship & Small Boat Handling is the old standby, providing as much detail as you’re ever likely to need.

Some small boat compasses will introduce a surprising degree of error into courses steered if they are not checked for deviation — as much as 20 degrees is quite common. They must, therefore, be compensated, or adjusted so that deviation is reduced as much as possible — that is, within about 5 or 6 degrees.

There are professional compass adjusters who can do this for you, but you can also do it yourself by means of the adjustable external magnets found on most marine compasses. It’s not black magic, and you can hardly do any permanent damage to the compass during your experimentation. If you are planning to cross an ocean, however, it might be wise to call an expert, just for peace of mind. Once your compass is corrected, keep it free of nearby magnetic influences such as anchors, binoculars, and steel beer cans.

John Vigor’s book, Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, is available from the Good Old Boat Bookshelf at $29.95; 352 pages (hardcover).


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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




© 2007 Good Old Boat
Published: March 28, 2007