Those lazy, crazy days of
- Jerry and I just experienced one of those sailing weekends to
be remembered fondly for a long time: the waves of Lake Superior
stayed in the less-than-one-foot range, while the wind blew at a
steady 15 or so. We sailed on one tack all the way across the lake
from Wisconsin's Apostle Islands to Minnesota's famous Split Rock
Lighthouse. And we sailed all the way back on the opposite tack.
We're more used to constant tacking, endless headsail changes
(with our vast collection of hanked-on jibs, we never have the
correct one on the headstay), and gradually building seas when the
wind is blowing.
- But just this once we sailed flat, in control, and fast
(usually in the 6-knot range). A trip of 25 miles in each
direction took an afternoon from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. or so. The
weather was perfect and the sailing outstanding. On that long
weekend there were other glorious sailing days also, but this one
looms large in our memories. It was hard to come back to the
- But back we are and working hard on the September issue.
What's to come in that issue follows. First the other random news
worth sharing: if you've signed up to help Good Old Boat do
a book review, do not give up hope. We must have had 75 or
more volunteers for the job when we put out the call a year or
more ago. We're still working through that list. If you're not on
the list, and are not intimidated by the news that it's a long
waiting list, tell us what sort of sailing books you like to read,
and we'll put your note in the file. We page through these when a
book comes in and try to make a good match. We mail the book out
once we've received an OK from you that you're willing to give
that particular one a whirl. You get to keep the book, and we'll
even pay $50 for your time and effort.
- John Vigor's series on Twenty Small Boats to Take
You Anywhere will be concluded sometime within the next six
issues. We'll continue to do a feature boat and a review boat in
each issue. We like that format, and there are so many more boats
out there to cover! If your boat hasn't come up yet, believe us,
we're working on it. That's another strong argument in favor of
going to a monthly publication (but that would require several
more staff members; we're not ready for that sort of growth
- Speaking of growth, however, we are always looking for more
subscribers. If you can help us reach some good old boaters who do
not yet know about the magazine "for the rest of us," please do.
Either send us the mailing address of anyone you think might like
to receive a free sample, or ask us to send you five or six copies
of the current issue that you can pass along to others. Either
way, we get the word out, and once they've seen the magazine, it's
amazing how many do sign up. We appreciate your help in our
"guerrilla marketing campaign."
- One last tidbit: our sales of shirts and hats have been
educational. We've learned that the "work for boat parts" T-shirts
sell better than the museum ones. We're already into a second
printing of the "boat parts" shirt, while the museum shirts are
waiting on the shelves. For that reason, we don't expect to
reprint the museum shirts. Since these will be allowed to run out,
speak now if you'd like one, while we still have most of the sizes
- The same thing goes for our Tilley hats. The one-size-fits-all
ball caps are much easier to stock (and since they're less
expensive, they're easier for you to buy). So we're planning to
let our Tilley stock dwindle down to nothing. If you want a Tilley
hat, speak soon. They are classy and do make great holiday
- And on a sad note, our very popular short-sleeved denim shirts
are no longer available for re-stocking. We've still got most of
the sizes on our shelves. If you like them as much as we do, give
us an order soon.
Back To Top
What's coming in the September
- The September issue is not an easy one to face when the boat
hasn't been in the water all that long, but a short sailing season
is the price we pay to enjoy our northern wilderness. Here's
what's headed your way in late August or early September:
- The review boat is the Baba 40.
- The feature boat is the Tartan 33.
- Other boats include the Viking longship, the
Monterey boat, the refit of an Alberg-designed
Corinthian, and a "transmogrification" of a Marshall
- We've got Part 2 of the marine metals article by Mark
Smaalders and a piece by Ted Brewer on resistance.
- We take a look at electric propulsion.
- Don Launer tells us how to keep a boat in northern
waters all winter using bubblers, and Norman Ralph
discusses stanchion rebedding and repair.
- Chris Bauer, founder of the Bauer boats, is the good
- Niki Perryman tells of sailing a Lion class sloop in
and around the world on a shoestring.
- Kai Sturmann takes us to the big Sparkman &
Stephens event in Rhode Island earlier this summer, Mary Jane
Hayes does a salute to harbormasters, and Barbara White
tells us about hearty one-pot boat stews just in time for
- We've got several neat Quick and Easy projects, book reviews,
Reflections, Last Tack . . . the usual.
Back To Top
- Several sailors had fun with Karen's "editorial gripe" in
the June newsletter:
- To air is human
Originally, what distinguished a yacht from a boat was that a
yacht was a vessel devoted to leisure whilst a boat was a vessel
engaged in commerce -- i.e. fishing, shipping, etc. The
contemporary distinction seems to be that a vessel used for
leisure with proper cooking, dining, lavatory, and sleeping
accommodations, and a crew to do the dirty work qualifies as a
yacht, whilst a "boat" lacks one or more of these. Accordingly, I
refer to our vessel -- which lacks a crew to do the dirty work --
as "the boat" whilst my darling wife safely refers to the same
vessel as a yacht! Strange, no?
- Decks is properly plural as even with a flush-decked yacht one
has a foredeck, mid-deck, quarterdeck and -- if one has a properly
finished yacht -- an aft deck. In "daze of old," the steersman
(helmsman) occupied the aft deck whilst the ship's master took
station on the quarterdeck where he or she (yes, women did master
vessels) could easily communicate with both crew and helmsman
whilst being out of range of the sweep of the steering-oar or
tiller. The reference to the quarterdeck remains in use today.
- Airs and winds
I enjoyed your piece about "airs" and "winds." I'm always
driving my friends crazy with that's-not-the-right-word
commentary. Why do we put on pants (plural) when I obviously only
wear one at a time or, in the case of the other gender, a bra,
singular, which is obviously for a pair?
- Two are better than
Ref: "Decks." What about "heads"?
- To this we add: How about "bows"? Who are they kidding?
We've only got one. Ever seen a monohull with more than one?
I was just reading your June Newsletter. The section on nautical
names brought back an interesting remembrance that my father told
meóit must have been over 50 years ago. When Britain ruled
India there were frequent trips by ships back and forth between
the two countries. The non air-conditioned ships of those days
could be like an oven in the tropical sun, especially if your
cabin was on the sunny south side of the ship. Thus wealthy and
influential Englishmen would specify that their cabins be on the
port side when outbound (on the north side of the ship) and on the
starboard side when homeward bound (again, on the north side of
the ship). These accommodations were specified with the
abbreviation of P.O.S.H. (Port Outbound Starboard Homeward bound).
Later, of course, this term grew into a wider meaning.
Forked River, N.J.
- Oops, to err is human also
I just got my mail today and, of course, the June newsletter was
the first thing that I pulled out of the stack. One quibble: in
your reply to Bruce Swanton you mentioned a "veneer caliper." I'm
sure this was just a typo. Veneer is actually a thin layer of
something (e.g. wood). The caliper is a Vernier caliper, after
Pierre Vernier who invented the short graduated scale used for
interpolating fractional parts of a reading (since superceded in
most applications by a geared dial indicator -- or digital
readout, if you really get fancy). One other thing I should
mention. I am very remiss in not getting back to you and your
readers sooner. Some time ago I asked for help in locating a water
tank that would fit under the cabin seat in our Newport 28. The
response was overwhelming. Most everyone recommended Kracor and
Ronco. I found Kracor to be unhelpful. They do have an extensive
catalog, but they would not send me one. You had to go through it
at your local chandlers. It was not on the Web (at that time, at
least). Ronco has a very good Web site with a wide variety of
special tanks. I found a water tank on their site and ordered it
directly from them. It came through exactly as I wanted. I found a
stock Kracor holding tank that would fit under the V-berth in West
At some point, I'll have to do a write-up on what we have done for
this boat. I think we have removed, rebuilt, or redesigned and
reinstalled virtually every system on the boat from the original
Hood rollerfurler back to the new shock-mounted engine mount and
from the re-bedded and re-faired keel to the new lighted Windex.
She is now in far better shape structurally and systems-wise than
when she left the factory some 25 years ago. It has been a
three-year project (so far). We got in a couple of months of
sailing last year and, hopefully, will have a full summer this
year. She is due to be launched this coming Sunday. Thanks for a
The technical editor takes the fall for this one, though at
the moment it seems best to claim for a typo. Actually, I proofed
the final version so typo or not, I got it wrong. I did not know
why the caliper was named as it was, and my eyes are at the point
where a dial would be nice, but I still live with two Verniers and
a box full of micrometers with that scale.
- On that EPIRB issue
I want to put my two cents worth in here (concerning Relief is
spelled E-P-I-R-B in January 2001 and Mail Buoy letters which
followed in May 2001). I spent 10 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The truth is this: Dangerous? Sure there was risk in what I did. I
chose that career because I wanted and accepted the challenges
that came with the job. It is not nearly as dangerous as it was
say 30, 40 years ago. Today we are flying aircraft that are far
more advanced than in previous times and the crews are better
trained. I can honestly say many of us would much rather be flying
on any SAR case no matter how trivial than sitting, I mean
diligently ensuring aircraft readiness, around the air station.
There will always be the chance that some situation, regardless of
how experienced or prepared you may be as a sailor, will catch you
off guard. When that time comes some very dedicated people will be
there to pluck you from harm's way. If, as a captain or crew, you
feel that a situation is potentially life threatening or beyond
your skills, then by all means hit the EPIRB button and do
it before it gets that serious.
- The vast majority of the cases I flew on were not what I, as a
sailor, would have considered serious; still I considered each as
another opportunity to practice the skills we were trained to use.
The more we practice the safer our jobs become. To continue to
cite the Perfect Storm (a rare event) or to say that every time we
get into a helo is potential suicide is melodrama. As a former
Coastie and an offshore sailor, I have stood on both sides of the
fence, and I understand and respect the decisions of both those
who choose to go offshore and those who choose to help them when
something goes wrong.
Palm Harbor, Fla.
- Bloodless self-defense
A few months back some of your subscribers struggled with the
question of self-defense in response to threatening confrontation
or assault while boating. I can suggest an option for those who
want to protect themselves but who cannot deal with inflicting
injury on another person or whose state law inhibits self-defense
with firearms. An alternative is pepper spray shot shell loads
that are designed for use in a standard 12-gauge 1 3/4-inch flare
pistol. They are sold by Firequest International, Inc., P.O. Box
315, El Dorado, AR 71731, 870-881-8488.
Stone Mountain, Ga.
- What about inland weather?
Weather books like my current favorite, Weather Predicting
Simplified, by Michael Carr, do a good job of introducing the
mariner to the use of weather charts like those offered by the
Marine Prediction Service of the National Weather Service (NWS).
These specialized charts are especially useful to the offshore
sailor, as they compile much information useful to the voyaging
sailor into one or two charts showing the likely location of
significant features currently and 24 hours later.
- For inland sailors there is no similar integrated compilation.
Instead, each continental weather feature is presented in separate
series of charts in immense detail. For example, upper air wind
patterns are shown at "altitudes" of 100mb to 800mb sometimes in
combination with other analyses utilizing a variety of computer
In addition to the hundreds of charts provided by the NWS,
numerous other Internet sites provide endless iterations of this
information making the choice of charts daunting. As a Great Lakes
sailor, I have selected a small set of charts, which permits me to
glean similar results to the offshore charts.
From a single free Internet source, http://www.nws.noaa.gov,
I download a handful of black and white charts. Start with the NWS
home page. Click weather maps and select winds, the surface
analysis plot #1. Returning to the home page, click on extended
forecasts. On this page, you can pick surface analysis and the
500mb charts. I usually pick the 3- and sometimes 5-day forecast,
but the reliability diminishes rapidly beyond five days. I also
download the extended forecast discussion. This discussion is sort
of like the offshore chart in words and, along with the above
charts, makes for secure sailing decisions. (No less than 27 pages
of abbreviations, some of which always pepper this discussion,
make it initially somewhat disconcerting.)
- You need to practice a bit to learn to rotate, center, or
otherwise adjust the frame to obtain the best printout. You can
always supplement with color when available and satellite imagery
if time permits. But the brevity is nice if you are grabbing a
download on the run and need to reduce online charges.
- I would appreciate learning how others have come to terms with
- Rescuing good old boats
Ship's Company (a maritime history nonprofit organization) took a
19-foot Lightning in donation from the previous owner, restored
it, and listed it on your Web site (fixer-uppers page). We plan to
sell her, from our yard on Kent Island. We took ownership almost
two months ago, just finished the registration/licensing transfer
paperwork and overhauled the trailer (lights, bearings), and are
now ready to get serious about finding this nice restored 1942
Lightning a proper home. More about Ship's Company at our site:
- Simple o nline renewal
Here is a vote for keeping renewals online. Already signed up for
another year. It only took two minutes. Wouldn't want to miss an
issue. Thanks for giving us the very best sailing magazine
- Not exactly our goal, but...
I will not be renewing my subscription because I am boarding my
good old boat (1977 Pearson 39 K/Cb) and going cruising. The items
crucial to safety have been taken care of. The other items will
happen over time as we travel. Your magazine has been a wonderful
help and inspiration. As I cruise south, I hope to find your fine
publication for sale at various places connected with the marine
business. Thanks for giving a voice to a community.
Now wait a minute! If everyone leaves to go cruising, we'll
have to sell out, pack up our computers and go, too! Humm, now
there's a thought . . .
- Subscriber for life
More than any other of my sailing-subject subscriptions, I admit
that I have found your magazine to be that comfortable and
welcomed anchorage that cannot be duplicated. I will probably be a
- My very first issue arrived some months ago, and the featured
boat was the Allied Seawind Mk II. As an owner of one of these
relatively rare yachts, I was to take the article as a sign of
welcome. Of the 129 of these boats built during the strife-torn
history of the Allied Yacht Company, most still survive. They have
become an icon of sorts, and the few that come on to the market
are revered by a sort of ASW II cult of buyers. My own ketch, hull
#29, built in 1976, (Gigi to be renamed Sea Quill)
has a significant history of her own.
- Thanks for bringing it up
I started reading the new issue and saw where some guy was
complaining about the subscription price. I would like to say that
it might be high but as long as I get more great articles and less
advertising I'm glad to pay a little more. Some people want
everything free. Keep up the great mag.
Thanks, Dennis. It was just brought to our attention that
we should mention a little-known fact about magazine economics.
(Actually, we're just figuring this out ourselves.)
Most U.S. magazines are funded by their advertising income.
Believe it or not, they are allowed to have up to 75-percent of
their pages devoted to advertising before they lose their
periodical mailing privileges (and become something more akin to
an advertising catalog which is treated as bulk mail). From the
looks of things, some magazines are nearly that heavy with
advertising. Those magazines are able to set their ad rates based
on how many readers they have.
- Ergo, it's worthwhile for them to just about give the
magazine away in order to increase circulation and therefore ad
rates and therefore income.
- Unfortunately, this leaves most sailing magazines dependent
in an unhealthy way on the advertisers who support them. If the
marine economy slumps or if an advertiser gets out of sorts
because of an editorial position taken or lack of mention in the
pages, the magazine can be injured financially. So which kinds of
boats are shown and reviewed in these magazines? Those with
manufacturers that are buying ads, of course. That analogy
continues with sailing gear and other marine equipment. The
advertisers who pay the piper have much to do with the dance being
Not understanding that, Good Old Boat started out
without advertising. Foolishly perhaps, there were only two
founding partners, and we thought it would be simpler and more
elegant to skip the hassle of selling and creating and keeping
track of and invoicing for advertising. So we set our subscription
price high. High enough, we thought, to make this a
subscriber-supported publication. We soon learned that we needed
additional revenue and that our subscribers wanted ads that were
pertinent to the work they're doing on their boats. So we began
- Still, we are primarily supported by your subscriptions,
which gives us the happy advantage that if the economy sinks some
of the marine companies out there, the loss of their ads will not
cause the end of this publication. Likewise, if an advertiser
wants to play hardball with the editors due to something we said
or didn't say, we can lose that advertiser without having to lay
off staff or reevaluate our budget. We're glad to have the
advertisers that we have with us ñ don't get us wrong. But
no individual advertiser has the sort of power to define editorial
policy. We like it like that.
- Floating Bombs
In the June Newsletter Charlie Sweet commented on the "Floating
Bomb" Seven Bells. In his letter he mentioned the increased
octane rating of modern fuels indicating that the higher ratings
are perhaps more dangerous than the older fuels. Actually, the
higher octane ratings burn more slowly than lower rated fuels.
This allows the fuel/air charge to be ignited earlier and produces
a much more efficient flame wave in the combustion chamber. If you
have ever heard your car's engine "ping" it is because the
fuel/air charge actually explodes instead of burning at a
controlled rate. The term "octane" refers to the type of petroleum
product used to establish a performance number. Normal Heptane has
a performance rating of 0; iso-octane has a rating of 100. By
blending the two and running the mixture in a standardized engine
(aka a "knock motor") a comparison can be made to an unknown fuel
and an "octane rating" can be established. The really high
performance fuels have other additives added to slow the burn rate
even more. In the old days it was tetra ethyl lead, hence the term
"ethyl" for high grade fuel.
- The real issue with gasoline is the evaporation rate, or its
Reed Vapor Pressure measurement. No fuel will burn in its liquid
state. At normal temperatures diesel does not evaporate, hence it
is the preferred fuel for boats and such. Gasoline, on the other
hand (why is there always another hand anyway?) will evaporate at
minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit so it is ready to burn under any
condition. To make things worse for boaters, the vapor is heavier
than air and will accumulate in the lower parts of the boat unless
vented. For what it is worth, one cup of gasoline in an empty
55-gallon drum is equivalent to a five-pound stick of
- So, now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about
fuel ratings, what's the point? In theory the newer fuels are
"safer" than the old ones. In practice there is no such thing as a
controlled flame wave in a bilge and Charlie is absolutely right,
we are all lucky to have survived those days! Try to keep the dry
Grand Prairie, Texas
Back To Top
- These were very out of date. We
removed them to protect the innocent from search engine
Back To Top
Protection from the sun
- We saw Gerry Kidd's latest column in the March issue of
Pacific Yachting magazine, and asked for permission to
share it here. It's a message all boaters should hear.
- I won't say how many years I've been boating, but it's
approaching 50, and during most of those years the damage the sun
can do to one's skin, particularly for fair-skinned people, was
not as commonly known and discussed as it is today. I'm quite fair
and, as I am just getting over my third treatment as a result of
too much sun over too many years, I felt it might be interesting
for others to hear what's going to happen to you if you are silly
enough to think you can beat the ultraviolet.
- Those of you with darker, tougher skin may not burn so easily,
but you can still suffer similar damage over the years, so before
you go back to the cruising stories, you'll want to read on as
- A few months ago I went through my third major session of
treatments for a potentially serious ailment known as Actinic
Keratoses, the medical term for a bunch of pre-cancerous lesions
which usually develop on the face, although they can also appear
on the back and forearms. I was treated by a dermatologist who
sailed a J/24 for many years, and who told me this affliction is
common among fair-skinned boating people, especially sailors, who
usually steer from a position close to the water and spend hours
staring at telltales facing into the sun and exposed to brilliant
reflection off the water and sails.
- All my years of sailing were spent without a hat because I
like to feel the wind on my face, and hats have a habit of blowing
off when you're going to weather. Effective sunscreens have only
been available in the last decade.
- Although I'm fortunate to have a thick crop of hair, all that
bush on my crown was not enough to stop some serious sun damage to
the top of my head. About five years ago, the dermatologist found
a lump up there, and was able to take the whole thing out in his
office. A biopsy showed it was basal cell cancer, the least
dangerous form of skin cancer, but if it had been ignored for too
long a time, well, you wouldn't be reading this, at least not from
- A couple years later I had a bunch of lesions on my face
treated in a process that takes a total of about six weeks of
unpleasantness, and then I had to repeat the whole treatment this
past holiday season. Because the damage is to cells deep under the
outer skin, I was told I would probably have to go through the
process again in a few years as the lesions reappear. The lesions
are the direct result of overexposure to ultraviolet light from
the sun, and on some people they develop into invasive squamous
cell carcinoma, which is quite serious. The first sign of trouble
is the development of scaly papules on the forehead, down the side
of the face, or on the ears. They are practically invisible but
are easily felt by rubbing your hand over the skin.
- In early December, I noticed quite a few of these things
developing on my forehead, and dutifully paid a visit to my
sailing dermatologist. He gave me a prescription for the standard
cream used to eliminate the lesions, an innocent-looking tube
called Efudex. I had to apply this cream thinly twice a day for
three weeks, and then drop back to see the doctor.
- After a week of Efudex I began to look like a teenager with a
bad case of acne. I had bright red blotches all over my face, some
of them bleeding. The doctor had warned me that it was going to be
pretty ugly, but even after a similar session four years ago, I
wasn't quite prepared for the revolting mess the cream created,
and the wincing reactions of my family and friends. I'd been told
that most people who used this stuff stayed home during the worst
of it, and I could see why. So I spent over two weeks working on
my iMac and watching the American election crisis on CNN.
- The treatment isn't painful, but during the worst of the
blotching it was infuriatingly itchy. My wife was unsympathetic,
reminding me how many times that she had warned me to put on a hat
and T-shirt during those sweltering July days in Desolation and
farther north. Every time I looked in the mirror I felt like an
ass for exposing myself to all that sun damage over the years. My
ugly face was harsh payment.
- When I returned to the doctor after three weeks, his first
comment was "Ah, that looks pretty good," meaning, of course, that
the cream was doing a good job of getting rid of the lesions. He
said I was ready for the antidote, a betamethasone cream with the
trade name Betaderm. He said to apply this thinly twice a day, and
it should start to get rid of the mess in a week or so. But, he
warned me; it wouldn't be completely gone for about a month, so I
shouldn't plan on attending a lot of Christmas parties. At the few
parties I did attend,I got tired of explaining my ailment and was
surprised at the lack of sympathy I got, so I mostly stayed home
until my face healed.
- The many excellent sunscreens and the increasing popularity of
Tilley hats, made with a chinstrap for sailors, is helping to cut
down the damage in recent years, but the danger is increasing
because of the thinning ozone layer. In certain places, New
Zealand being a prime case, a huge hole in the ozone cover is
causing quick 15-minute burns to fair-skinned people, and strong
sunscreens well over 40 SPF are commonly used. Good sunglasses are
also important, as those same ultraviolet rays can cause macular
degeneration or cataracts. Blue eyes, like fair skin, are
especially prone to sun damage.
- So, take those warnings from the medical people seriously. I
didn't, and now I'll be spending the rest of my life making
periodic visits to dermatologists to undergo another six-week
adventure with the ultimate uglies.
- When John Phillips sent this story, he told us he'd written
it for his kids. We liked it enough to give it a slightly larger
- When I was a child, my family spent a good portion of our time
on our knees working in one of the various flowerbeds that we had.
Ladybugs were a constant companion. My mother would softly sing
that children's song and help us believe that this particular bug
represented good luck and fortune. Years later at her funeral each
of us kids commented on having found a ladybug crawling on our
hand or sleeve at one time or another that day. Not that I am
suggesting anything surreal or superstitious, because it was just
that time of the year when ladybugs were quite common in Nebraska,
but rather that we had all carried from our youth this special
feeling about a ladybug and its place in our lives.
- Several years ago I decided to sell a family business, disrupt
everyone's life and buy a marina. At 52, I felt it was time for a
change. With this came a great deal of worry. Nighttime became a
time to dread, a time when self-doubt, worry, and fear crept in
and almost jeered at me through the darkness. During this time,
for some reason, I decided to purchase a Cape Dory Typhoon that
was located in Chicago. I sent an employee to pick it up, and
while he was gone the old self-doubt started again. Why was I
spending money on a boat at this time? It wasn't that much money,
but in getting the marina going, I was going to need all of the
cash I had. The night before he was to get back was hell. The next
morning I drove down to the dealership early, nervous but anxious
to see the Cape Dory. As I pulled up to her I couldn't help but
love her lines. I got out and started what all really nutty boat
people do, rubbing her teak, knocking on her hull and gradually
worked my way to the transom. As I came around behind her I saw
her name and knew that everything was going to be all right. She
was named Ladybug II.
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Published August, 2001