NEWSLETTER -- August 2004


(what's in this issue)

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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)

Karen Larson, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Mary Endres, Design

karen at goodoldboat dot com
jerry at goodoldboat dot com

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History revisited

(Good Old Boat back issues now on CD)

It’s been a common refrain since sometime in 2000 (when Good Old Boat first began selling out of back issues): “Can’t you reprint . . . or make a CD . . . or SOMEthing?” Some have begged and pleaded. Others have threatened and cajoled. We were listening. Really!

Our CD of the first two years of Good Old Boat is now available for $29.95 (no postage, no tax). The CD includes (in PDF format) all three of our first issues in 1998 and all six published in 1999. All nine issues have been out of print for several years. The CDs are searchable. They work on Mac or PC. And they’re much easier to store than a stack of nine magazines!

Email Karla Houdek (karla@goodoldboat. com) or call us (763-420-8923) to order yours. This might even make a good holiday gift for someone. It’s not too soon to start thinking of the holidays. Truly. As a part of this business, we’re always thinking ahead!

3M’s Mildew Block
In the June newsletter, we mentioned a new non-toxic product by 3M which claims to stop mildew from growing on protected surfaces. We were impressed by the claim and asked for three product testers. The response was as you might expect: there’s mildew out there in the good old boat fleet! We heard from dozens of would-be testers. Three were selected to receive the product for free from 3M: Anthony and Carol Bartleson in Melboune, Florida; Rick Haun in Arlington, Virginia; and Jay Zittrer in Houston, Texas. Jay says the heat and humidity are so bad on the Texas Gulf Coast that “even people grow mildew and mold here if left out.” Now that’s positively frightening!

But they’ve got it bad in Vermont, Washington and Oregon, and the Great Lakes states also. So bad, in fact, that most of those who hoped to be selected to do the test for free — but weren’t selected — went out to their local marine supply store and bought the product on their own. We expect to hear from a host of product testers. Stay tuned for their reports which will trickle in over the next several issues of this newsletter.

Preggie Pops
Speaking of product testing, what happened to those suffering from mal de mer? We confessed in the February newsletter that we have an unreasonable fear of anything even named Preggie Pops, but these ginger lolli-pops are supposed to help prevent sea sickness. We figured someone would have the guts to try them and get back to us. These lollipops are available by calling 866-773-4443, or visit their site at

What's coming in September

For the love of sailboats
• Spencer 35
• Corsair 24
• Profile of yacht designer Garry Hoyt

Speaking seriously
• Seacocks 101
• Dave Martin on avoiding leaks, floods, and drips
• Buying an affordable boat (excerpt from Hal Roth's newest book)
• Non-skid applications (2 articles)
• Replacing the ballast
• Navigating in the fog
• Checklists for trailersailers

Just for fun
• Love letter to a boat
• Art spread with lovely boating scenes
• Two delightful cruising memories
• Last sail of summer

What’s more
• Simple Solutions: Winter cover, three useful navigation gadgets you can make, and Concordia seatbacks
• Quick and Easy: Boltrope as a cockpit cushion retainer system as well as for other uses and a water trap to save your vacuum from dust death

In the news

Swiftsure Classics Race report
The morning of May 30, 2004, saw 16 sailboats — all launched prior to Jan. 1, 1975 — start the first-ever Swiftsure Classics Race, sponsored by Good Old Boat magazine. Following a start with ominous skies, the wind filled in. The day looked like a good one for the 61st running of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, as a whole, and for the first Classics Race. With its 17-mile course and a finish deadline of 5 that afternoon, the Classics Race would surely save the participants from the race’s traditional light overnight winds — or would it?

This new addition to Swiftsure grew out of the celebrations surrounding the 60th Swiftsure International Yacht Race in 2003, which saw four classic yachts and many classic sailors of previous Swiftsure races return to Victoria, British Columbia, for the event. The skippers and crews of that small gathering of classic yachts asked for a shortened course ending in Victoria’s the Inner Harbor. The race committee picked up on that idea for the 2004 event. Early in the planning process, Swiftsure chairman, Bill Conconi, read an article in Good Old Boat about the Good Old Boat Regatta in Annapolis and contacted the magazine publishers about a potential addition of a classics race to the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. The folks at Good Old Boat jumped on board as sponsors of the Swiftsure Classics Race, providing the Fiberglass Division trophy. Jesperson Boat Builders, a yacht building business in Victoria, supplied the Wooden Division trophy.

At the end of the day, Circe, a 63-foot classic sloop, skippered by Dave Maeser, won the Classics Wooden Division, while Bob Bentham skippered Dystocia, a 1968 Cal 2-30, to win the Classics Fiberglass Division. Circe had raced in early Swiftsure races in the 1930s through 1969. Dystocia had also raced in the Swiftsure between 1985 and 1995.

In fact, of the 16 boats entered in this new division of the Swiftsure, more than half had a history of racing in previous Swiftsures on all three of the race’s courses: the Juan de Fuca, the Cape Flattery, and the long race out to Swiftsure Bank. The main reasons given by skippers for entering their boats in the Classics Race were that while they wanted to keep racing in the Swiftsure, their boats were becoming outdated technologically, and they were becoming less interested in racing an overnight race. They also liked the idea of returning to Victoria’s Inner Harbor at the end of the race to engage in celebrations and meet up with other sailors of other classic boats. Therefore, the new Swiftsure Classics Race was their race of choice in 2004.

And what did the unpredictable Swiftsure weather have in store for this group of experienced sailors? While the weather at the start showed great promise of providing a swift race, the wind dissipated early in the day. Due to diminishing winds and an adverse tide, the boats that finished first were those which started on the starboard end of the line and held tight to the shore before tacking out toward the rounding mark at William Head and heading back to the Cover Point mark on a spinnaker run. During the course of the race, the wind became so light the Classics Race was shortened to finish at what was to have been the Clover Point rounding mark.

Asked how it felt to race Dystocia again and to skipper her to win the Fiberglass Division of the first Swiftsure Classics Race, Bob Bentham answered, “I had a bunch of friends with me, including the son of one of the crew. We had an absolutely perfect race day, and I’m looking forward to defending my title next year against a much bigger field of classic yachts.”

Solar ovens
Here’s an idea that’s bound to catch on: solar cooking aboard. The advantages include no flame, no need to tend the meal once it’s cooking, non-tippy, lightweight and durable cooker that is easy to stow, meals are healthier, and the concept is environmentally friendly and energy-saving.

So what’s the downside? You have to plan in advance. These meals take longer (like using a slow cooker). You have to learn a few new habits. Menus are included to help you get started.

We’ve got an article coming up on this subject in a spring issue of Good Old Boat, but if you want to try the concept sooner, call the non-profit Solar Oven Society at 612-623-4700 or visit their website at

Stay alive
While we’re discussing cool (and unusual) products, we recently came across the life jacket that makes those worn by your trusty editors look mighty simplistic. Allow us to back up a moment. Jerry Powlas (my husband and magazine co-founder) and I are confirmed life jacket wearers. Our boating area is cold (which makes it easier to wear a life jacket in the first place) so cold (40 to 50? F) that you don’t get much time for rescue if you fall overboard. Since we wear life jackets when on deck, we have taken to attaching important items to them so these items will be available when we need them. We each carry a whistle, a flare, a Boye knife, a flashlight, and a flasher/beacon.

How can you top that? StayAlive, founded by Don Williams, is selling a life jacket that has flaps which open to reveal just about everything you need to abandon ship. It includes flares, a signaling mirror, a distress flag, a bailer, line, a whistle, a flashlight, glow sticks, and an inflatable signaling device. Don is a former Florida Marine Patrol Officer, and he wants to see people alive and well when rescued. Even if you don’t wear one all the time, having this life jacket nearby for an emergency exit is a good idea. For more about it, call Don at 866-829-6173 or visit his site at

An early look at fiberglass

Yachting magazine, January 1944

Yachting magazine wrote about the new material (plastics) in its January 1944 issue. Here’s the thinking of the times. Reprinted with permission.

Plastics and Tomorrow’s Boat
After Years of Experimentation, Plastics for Marine Applications have Come of Age.
Here is a Description of One Type which is Now Being Put to a Variety of Nautical Uses.

By Frank R. Metcalf and Kenneth H. Bowen

For many years, one of the favorite subjects of the Sunday supplements and the star gazers, has been a forecast of the many places in which plastics would and could be applied. Of course, much of this talk has concerned the manufacture of all types and sizes of boats. Such talk is oftentimes more harmful than beneficial. Nothing is more detrimental to any projected product than to describe it in too glowing and sometimes misleading terms.

Several months ago, we had the opportunity of describing to the editors of Yachting the strides that the Columbian Rope Company had made in the development and use of a plastic called Co-ro-lite. We had with us a small model boat made of this material. They were interested in the applications of such material to the boatbuilding industry and asked us to describe the process, the material, and the possibilities which it might have for the boating fraternity. At the outset, it is important to explain that the material is a reinforced plastic and, as in reinforced concrete, the reinforcing adds strength.

Ideal boat
The popular conception of the ideal boat from the owner’s point of view would probably encompass the following requisites: she must first of all have the best of lines; she must be a true ship in every way, not designed with the idea of fitting the boat to the materials, but the materials to the boat. This is a most important point, as the present trend in small boats has been, generally, a design with the former view in mind. The present V-section boat, although sacrificing the flowing lines of the more expensive boats, does have the definite advantage of bringing down the price of stock boats and thus enlarging the use of small boats generally.

A second point to be considered in either a molded or a conventionally built boat is the requisite of good performance. By this is meant that any boat, by whatever means constructed or of whatever material, must have those qualities which will make for safe and economical use. Any material should be capable of reproducing the best efforts of the yacht designers and should be adapted to the construction facilities of the boatbuilding industry.

Cost has always been one factor which has tended to check a great potential demand for boats of all types. It has probably been the chief, if not the only, complaint which has never been satisfactorily met. If the potential customer has unlimited resources, a builder can produce whatever is designed. But, unfortunately, this happy condition applies to only a small fraction of those interested in boating and, therefore, it is necessary to design and build to a price which a greater number of the boating public can afford. We are, then, faced with two choices: 1, keep the same designed boat at the same price; or, 2, develop new methods for fabricating a boat’s hull which will give either a better boat in the prevailing price range, or a boat equal to those now in use, but at a cheaper price. From the work that has been done with Co-ro-lite up to the present, we feel that interesting possibilities are on the horizon when considered from the second hypothesis.

From the standpoint of the owner, the next most important item is the upkeep of a boat. Any plastic material must have the ability to “ take it “ over a long period of time, must be able to take and hold paint or have the finish molded on the original boat. It must be resistant to the inroads of the various marine growths and organisms which have proven so destructive to hulls made of wood. It should be completely inert, not susceptible to electrolysis. Boat hulls or sections made of a plastic should not warp. It also goes without saying that any such material should be leakproof, should be readily repairable, and should be capable of molding as nearly in one section as possible.

Building costs
Turning now to the builders’ requirements for boatbuilding material. First in importance, no doubt, is the relative cost of building by conventional methods or by the low-pressure method used in the molding of large sections of plastic material. One of the principal costs of building any fabricated part, be it a house or a boat, is the labor which goes into the part. When we speak of the new art of molding, it is not with the thought of cutting out the part of labor in the assembly, but of reducing the cost per unit, thus greatly increasing the number of units produced.

How will this reduced cost be brought about? As will be described later, the process consists of placing the preformed, impregnated sections in the mold along with the reinforcing members, and molding at a predetermined pressure and temperature for a specified time, which should average about 15 minutes. There are great possibilities that the finish can be put on the hull during this process. If so, such finish would be permanent and would require only slight servicing each year, but probably no more of the customary annual repainting. More likely, it would be similar to the surface of the modern refrigerator, requiring only the retouching made necessary by scratches and normal weathering. When the “cook” is done, it will be simply a matter of putting on the finishing touches, which is common to all boats.

Perhaps the next point of interest to the builder will be the possibility of introducing new ideas and new methods. Although time and the war effort have not allowed much in the way of development, it has been possible to make small sample pieces. Among such samples, is a rope rub strake, which can be made either as a permanent or a removable part. It is also felt that much can be done in molding in the chainplates, cleats, etc. It must be emphasized that so far only the surface has been scratched in this work. Given time from exacting war tasks, it is felt that the yacht designers can work many innovations from the plastics which will come from the laboratories of the war plants.

Doubtless, the builder who has keyed his war-time work to the building of all types of craft in the conventional manner will cast a questioning eye at this new method of construction. There is no question that the boating industry has done a marvelous job in making the nation’s sea arm strong. But the very fact that they were able to jump from a relatively small industry to a large one in such a short time, would tend to prove that new methods can be adopted without too much conversion. It is not believed at the present time that the cost of installing equipment to handle this new material will be excessive. Formerly, it was necessary to use a large autoclave, but developments now being used make it likely that newer and cheaper methods will be devised.

Resin and fiber
Some years ago, the New Products Laboratory of the Columbian Rope Company found that the addition of resins to a long staple fiber, such as a rope fiber, increased its strength many times. This applies particularly to tensile strength and resistance to shock. The resulting material was labeled Co-ro-lite and placed on the market, being sold to the molding industry as a conventional high-pressure molding material where high strength was needed.

The war has, of course, accelerated all types of research, and the plastics industry is no exception. Critical shortages in metals made it necessary for the aircraft industry to substitute other less strategic materials. Plastics were needed for the construction of larger objects in the aviation industry. Co-ro-lite was found particularly adaptable, as the basis of this plastic is a large sheet of felted fibers, the felting being accomplished without destroying the staple or fiber length. It should be remembered that strength depends on staple length as well as on the type of fiber used. Rope fiber, of course, is well adapted to this employment.

Picturing this blanket of strong felted fibers, in widths of 10 feet and continuous in length, we can readily visualize passing this material through a machine which distributes the resin thoroughly and evenly throughout the mass. Usually, powdered resin is used to eliminate drying and the loss of solvents. The next step is, without doubt, the most important. The impregnated felted blanket must now be cut or “clicked” into any convenient shape to form a “blank.” Processors of sheet metal will know the function of a blank in metal forming. The blank is laid in a forming press and drawn into any desired shape, called a preform, and is now ready for molding. This is one of the outstanding advantages of this material, and one can visualize a boat hull made from one piece of material with no seams, lap joints, multi-plies, or built-up construction. The molding is simply accomplished by placing in suitable molds and, with a short “cure” of as low as several minutes, the cycle is completed and the molded object ready for assembly.

War work has found many applications for Co-ro-lite. These have made it possible to make comparisons with more conventional materials. One of the largest uses has been in the manufacture of jettison tanks for the Navy.

Current applications
In case you do not know, a jettison tank is used by a combat plane as an auxiliary container for fuel until an emergency arises, such as an encounter with the enemy, in which case, the tank (carried externally) is jettisoned or dropped from the plane. In other words, a fighter, observation plane, or dive bomber has a much greater cruising radius with a jettison tank.

Tanks with a fuel capacity of 186 gallons and measuring 9 feet in length have been made on a production basis from this material. This is an interesting application for a high-strength material, inasmuch as the stresses of a jettison tank carrying 1,100 pounds of fuel riding on the outside of an airplane are very great. Changes in direction, takeoffs, dives, landings, will often build up loads as high as 7 “G,” or seven times the static weight. Aside from this, of course, the tank must be light in weight (approximately pound per gallon). The strength of Co-ro-lite is best demonstrated by the fact that the loads for this application were taken mostly by the shell proper, very little internal reinforcing being necessary. Production of these units has been in very large quantities as compared to that of boat hulls of a given design or to streamlined superstructures or boat fittings.

The physical properties of this plastic, as has been previously mentioned, center about its high impact strength and relatively high modulus of elasticity, particularly in flexure. Most readers of Yachting would be bored with a compilation of these figures, so we are content in this article to merely hit the high spots.

What can Co-ro-lite do for the boatmen of the country? A program has already been launched to find places for this new material in a post-war America, not the least of which is the construction of boats.

The jettison tank shells may have made us conscious of this when we first began to make them, for they are very similar in shape to a kayak, and requests from employees to take a rejected one home resulted in finding them in some lake or pond with a youngster at the helm. So we drew up the lines for an eight-foot dinghy and proceeded to build a 2 inch =1 foot scale model. This model created a great deal of interest, probably more than any other sample we have built. The fact that some of our organization were boatmen was another incentive, so the whole thing was a logical sequence. From this point on, we went to work in earnest.

Test boats
Last summer a catamaran was designed, using two rejected tank shells as pontoons. Because of the pressure of war work, it was necessary to send our prints to a local pattern maker. He did a splendid job and, about the first of August, the Co-Ro-Cat was launched in Owasco Lake with due ceremony. She was rigged with a Penguin mast and sail and was in service the balance of the summer. While not designed around nautical lines, we were interested in watching the material in action, noting how it stood up under rough handling. These pontoons were about 1⁄8 inch to 3⁄16 inch thick, 9 feet long and weighed 20 pounds each. Each pontoon was made airtight and was capable of supporting 500 pounds.

When the Co-Ro-Cat was hauled out at the close of the season, there were no visible signs of deterioration, abrasion, or water absorption. This winter she is being stored outdoors, “ pontoons up,” near the laboratory, where careful observation will be made of the effects of rain, snow, ice, and sunshine.

In the meantime, additional shells have been anchored off the Connecticut shore under the careful observation of a yachtsman. Model hulls are floating in test tanks of water under varying conditions, and these hulls are examined periodically. Accelerated tests in “ weatherometers “ have been under way for some time. We hope, therefore, by the end of the war, to predict fairly well what the owner of a boat made of this material may expect. We shall probably recommend for the present, at least, that hulls be painted or varnished with a good resin varnish. We think some boatowners will always demand color on their hulls, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that this color may be molded in and be quite permanent. This, however, would not prevent an owner from applying a new color scheme any time he chooses by using conventional present-day methods.

We are now constructing an outboard runabout in which the hull is molded in one piece, the deck and seats a second piece, and then the two are assembled into one box-like structure. We think this design quite practicable. In addition, a prominent naval architect is now designing for us a 17-foot sloop-rigged boat incorporating all of the curves so often desired, but so frequently sacrificed to reduce the expense in small boat construction. We hope to have one or two of these launched by next summer.

Repair material
Frequently, we are asked about repairs to damaged hulls. We believe that a hull with a hole punctured in it, through accident, can be temporarily repaired by covering the hole with waterproof cloth cemented in place. A permanent repair can be effected by rounding out the hole with a collar saw or knife and fitting a disc of the same material in place, holding it there with some of the newer plastic cements, such as Cycle-Weld or Reanite. While this plastic is harder than most woods, it can readily be machined and worked with wood-working tools, although it cannot be nailed. Drilling and tapping are quite practicable.

To summarize the advantages of a Co-ro-lite boat, we think they lie first in low initial mold cost, low production cost when volume can be had, and lightness of weight coupled with high strength. Metal fittings and extra ribs can be molded in place, becoming homogeneous with the hull. We hope also to be able to say that an unusually low maintenance cost may be expected, but we feel that this should be backed up with more experience in the water than we have yet had.

As a result of the foregoing discussion of what the ideal material should hold for the boat user and builder, and the experience which we of the Columbian Rope Company have had in the application of plastics to boats, the reader will probably ask: “What will this mean to the cost of boats generally?” or “What can you tell us about the size of the moldings that you can make?” Both of these questions are difficult to answer at the present time. As to the first, this will depend largely, of course, on the volume that develops. Much will depend on the costs of the raw materials in the post-war period. Also, much will depend on the type and character of the design and, therefore, the costs of making the mold.

Still testing
As to the size of the hull which can be made of plastics, and we realize that this is a subject of major interest to yachtsmen, this much can be said. In the first place, we have started with small models and have progressively worked up to the Co-Ro-Cat. Although not designed for the medium in which she was used, she did prove that she could “take it” in very heavy weather and was about as fast in light winds as a boat with the same sail area. Of greater interest, perhaps, was the fact that at the end of the summer, when hauled out, she had not taken in a drop of water. As has been mentioned earlier, a 17-foot Marconi-rigged sloop is on the boards, which should give us a good line on her performance against nationally known classes before another summer is gone. While, as yet, no work has been done on either sail, auxiliary, or cruiser hulls between 30 and 45 feet overall, we think that before long it will be possible to consider these fields. And, what is most important, we do know that 35’ plastic hulls are being molded today.

As in any line of new endeavor, the engineering problems which must be worked out are always perplexing and, although the progress at times may seem slow, it is often best to proceed with caution so that it is known with certainty that the final product is good. We, of Columbian, have a great deal of enthusiasm for this new material. We feel that “ ’ere many moons” a new chapter will be written in the old story of boat building.

Looking for

Fuji owners
I’m looking for Fuji 32 owners since I’m about to take possession of a (partially stripped) Fuji 32.

Brian Cleverly
brian-c at anzam dot com

Olympic 30 sailors
I just purchased an Olympic 30 sailboat. It was supposedly made by Olympic Yachts in Hellias, Greece. The company was supposedly based in Montreal, Quebec.

I am really curious about getting more information on this boat but have not been able to find any. Do you have any recommendations as to where I might look?

Jeff McGrath
mcgrathja at verizon dot net

Actually, Jeff, we’re big fans of the Mauch’s Sailboat Guides (these come in three volumes with a fourth about to be released) and Max Wade Averitt’s Boatwatch.

The Mauch’s guides are available on newsstands and from the Good Old Bookshelf (763-420-8923). They retail for $34.95 each. They’re the first place we look for sailboat information.

Boatwatch is available on newsstands and from the Good Old Bookshelf. There are four volumes that we know of: Boatwatch: Armchair Shopping 340 Sailboats 17-28 Feet, and Boatwatch: Armchair Shopping 340 Sailboats 29-35 Feet; Boatwatch: Pleasure Boat Identification, and Boatwatch: Master Guide to Sailboats of the World. The first two retail for $24, the pleasure boat book retails for $22, and the one we have in our office, the master guide, retails for $75.

Mail Buoy

The Barient Company
Bill Kuykendal expressed an interest in learning more about the Barient Company in the April 2004 newsletter. Mike Trueman responds with the following:

The name Barient is a combination of the names of the 1972 Sparkman & Stephens yawl, Baruna, and the slightly smaller sloop, Orient. Baruna and Orient were two of about a half dozen magnificent sailing yachts that raced on San Francisco Bay in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

For a time San Francisco Bay boasted that it had the finest fleet of racing yachts in the world. Barient eventually manufactured all kinds of winches from the small #10s on up to large three-speed pedestal winches. They offered winches in hard anodized aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, chrome-plated bronze, and bronze. The Barient headquarters was in San Carlos, California.

I’m not sure what happened to the company, but the winches were quality equipment.
Mike Trueman

More on Miss Kitty and Gunsmoke
To see Terry Thatcher urging us to use “salon,” rather than “saloon” was enough to give me a touch of the vapors and enroll me in the ranks of Brewer & Perry. While I can understand Terry being upset at “saloon’s” association with Miss Kitty’s establishment in Gunsmoke, surely that is more desirable than the “salon” image of a row of helmeted ladies having their claws sharpened, the better to prey upon innocent, susceptible sailors.

In our office we have, for several years, been urging clients to use “saloon.” Geography may play a part, for I do not believe I ever heard of a “salon” on a boat outside of the U.S.A. My nautical dictionary referring to “saloon” says: “A modern corruption of the term is salon, a word which should stay ashore.”
Bill Crealock

More vocabulary notes
I enjoy your publication immensely and commend you on trying to get it right recently with the use of “saloon.” I can add another example of its correctness from a 1934 writing by Maurice Griffiths, former editor of Yachting Monthly, yacht designer, and sailor. He wrote, “But this cold was growing more and more penetrating, and at the end of the two-hour trick, it was a relief to slip below into the comparative peace and warmth of the saloon . . .” To add another voice, “saloon” is correct.

In the same vein, I now challenge you to take on another more pervasive and even shameful error. Around the world people know what a dock is, but in our headlong rush to bastardize our language, we Americans insist on having people walking down the dock. The dock is the water, synonymous with berth — the place where a vessel floats while lying alongside some structure. A dock is not a thing, but a place. The same logic explains why some repair facilities are called dry-docks — a basin, fixed or floating, into which a vessel is pulled for bottom cleaning and repair. The water in the dock is pumped out to make the dock dry.

A boat is docked when pulled into its berth, and the lines that secure it to the fixed structure are not docklines, since you can’t secure the vessel to the water, but docking lines or lines used to assist in docking.

So if the structure secured to isn’t a dock, what is it? If the structure leads away from the shore to reach water deep enough for docking, it is a pier. If the structure leads along the shore or roughly parallel to the shore, it is a wharf. If you’re not sure what to call it, the universal generic term for any of them is a pier. If a bulkhead is built along the shore in water deep enough to allow dockage and then back-filled with stone and dirt, it is a quay (pronounced key). The quay may be paved for parking, have offices and warehouses built on it, or even have railheads laid to its edge. The quay is an extension of terra firma, while the pier is an open structure on wood, steel, or concrete piles. But none of them are docks.
James Neal

Freshwater cooling
I have an Atomic 4 engine and I want to change it from a freshwater engine to a saltwater boat. How would I accomplish this? What is the approximate cost involved to make this change and what materials are needed?
Fritz Jackson

Moyer Marine can help
Changing your A4 to freshwater cooling is a good thing to do even in non-salt operations. One vendor of the parts you need is Moyer Marine They sell the heat exchanger you need. There will also be an additional pump and an expansion tank and some hoses. The nice thing about dealing with Moyer is that they will talk you through this.

If you don’t have electronic ignition, that is also a good upgrade. On the other hand, I’ve started more than one reluctant A4 by sliding a clean business card between the points, and a clean business card is (depending upon how you look at it) cheaper.
Jerry Powlas, Technical editor

Your mooring came with a what?
I was looking for a mooring on Chesapeake Bay for my Kells when I found a great buy on eBay for a public mooring within 10 miles of Annapolis! I bought the mooring for $5,000 sightunseen and then found out it came with a sailboat on it! It included a good old boat, a 1954 Rhodes cutter that is 33 feet LOA (40 feet including the bowsprit). It is all steel framed with a wooden hull which makes a very light racer. It has an 8-hp Yanmar (a true auxiliary engine just to get her out of harbor not much else).

The hull is in great shape, but the interior is still very Spartan by today’s standards. Has very low freeboard so the headroom is low and beam is narrow. Majestic has three good set of sails and all new interior cushions.

I’ve always wanted a classic sailboat like this; she is beautiful! I feel so fortunate that I took the bold move to buy this mooring sight unseen for the asking price before the bidding started.
Lee Fox

Nautical terms
Just a quick note to give a suggestion for a series of articles that I would find fun and captivating to read. How about a column that teaches nautical terms: history, background, etc. For example:
• What’s the exact definition of a gunwale and why is it called that?
• Warships are named for men and other ships for women. Has this always been the case, or is it recent?
• Sloops typically have Marconi rigs named after the radio inventor because they look like radio towers.
• Where does the name “yawl” come from?
I didn’t grow up on the water, so I’m always hungry to learn new terms and history. This is just my two cents, you have shown great skill so far in selecting a nice mix of articles, and I impatiently await the next issue.
David Reno

A couple of books which might help
There are two books that we’re familiar with which focus on the origins of nautical terms. The first, When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There’s the Devil to Pay, by Olivia Isil, has been on the market since 1996. The second just came in for review. It’s called Ship to Shore, by Peter Jeans. Unfortunately I just looked up the words “gunwale,” “Marconi,” and “yawl” in each. Neither had a listing. But both have neat information on other topics (as I flipped through randomly).

Here’s an example of a listing from the Loose Cannon:
Down the hatch . . . (a drinking toast)
Cargo being lowered down a hatch into a ship’s hold inspired the well-known toast, “down the hatch,” which celebrates the act of drinking. The expression is thought to date from the early 1930s and has been attributed to author P. G. Wodehouse.

And here’s an example from Ship to Shore:
Scupper, to be on one’s scuppers
To be at one’s last resort; to be nearly scuttled; to be very close to financial disaster: “He had lost his job and was already on his last scuppers when his wife decided to leave him.” From the fact that when the sea is pouring in through the scuppers as much as it is pouring out, the vessel is in a parlous state.

Ship to Shore is a much larger (and therefore more complete) book. We’ll have a review of it in a future newsletter. Both books are available from our Good Old Bookshelf.
Karen Larson, Editor

Can’t scratch this itch
Our interest (in subscribing to Good Old Boat) was sparked when we just recently (three weeks ago) bought a good old boat. In our case, it’s an O’Day Daysailer, 1965 vintage, that of course needs some TLC. (You’ve heard this before?) I now understand the concept: a) a fixer-upper needs four times more time and money than you thought, b) there’s always one more thing that needs to be done before you can go sailing, and c) double those estimates!

So why is it, even though we haven’t put our boat in the water yet (soon!), that my wife and I are looking at classifieds and saying, “You know, I bet we could fix up that cheap-stored-outside-for-10-years-larger-boat and cruise offshore . . .”?

I now have an itch I can’t scratch.
Ed Humphries

Nimble 24
Excellent photos of my latest dreamboat, the Nimble 24 (July 2004). Ted Brewer’s design converted me to the yawl rig. Readers should appreciate the advantages I’ve discovered with a split rig, even on a pocket cruiser like the Nimble 24. The small mizzen allows the helmsman to balance the sails so easily that the tiller is an afterthought. I’ve had the mainsail shortened a bit to raise the boom enough for a proper dodger. Sailing under jib and jigger prevents the boom from crossing over when the furled main is raised with the topping lift. This makes standing in the cockpit possible, which is helpful for docking or anchoring. I would be interested in hearing how other Nimble or yawl sailors have fared in winds above 20 to 25 knots using the jib and mizzen (robtaylorsailor at aol dot com). My hat’s off to Ted Brewer and author Bill Sandifer.
Robert Taylor


The following was sent to Good Old Boat anonymously from a reader in Texas.

I’ve been sailing almost my entire life. From Day One, the family and I had fun. Not everyone was always able to come along, but we all had a great time: sunny days, sunsets, and laughter. As the years passed and members of the family grew up and went their separate ways, sailing became less and less frequent. Eventually, I was left to remember the good old days on the water by myself.

Then, as fate would have it, circumstances brought me together with a different group of sailors. Suddenly we were back on the water, happily sailing every weekend. New sails, new upholstery, a tuneup on the motor. Life was good once more. But again, as the years drifted past, interest was lost, and I was left alone to ponder the past once more.

This time, however, no one new came along to enjoy the water and sailing with me. Several more years passed, and things got a little shaky. My physical condition deteriorated, and I eventually grew unable to sail. Surely with some assistance, I could get back on the water and again enjoy sailing like I did so many years ago.

Alas, no one seemed willing to put forth the effort. This was beginning to look like the end of my sailing career.

Finally a kindly looking man in shorts and a wornout shirt noticed me sitting there in the corner of the storage lot and came over to see how I was. I must have been a sad sight: dirty all over, scruffy looking, obviously neglected, and in need of a little TLC. Nothing fatal, but I wondered whether he could see through all the neglect into the heart of a truly worthy sailor. Was he to be my salvation? Would he see that I truly was still a good old boat?

Ask the surveyor

Surveyor and Good Old Boat contributing editor Bill Sandifer is our answer man. To contact him with your questions, email Bill at devilsel at ametro dot net.

I have an 1985 Slocum 43 which I’ve been spending the last four years getting ready for a South Pacific cruise. Recently another Slocum owner sent me email with photos about how he had to change out his chainplates while in New Zealand. (One had lifted approximately 2 inches while in Fiji.) Unfortunately, to either inspect and/or replace would require removing all the cabinets, cutting away the teak-battened siding, grinding away the fiberglass in which they are encased, then somehow removing the two rubrails on the hull in which the bolts holding the chainplates are located. He suggested perhaps cutting a 6-inch viewing port with the hole saw, then drilling a 3/16-inch hole below each chain plate pocket to see if brine water pours out. I’ve consistently inspected the portion of the chain plate that is visual and see no cracks. Additionally, I keep a good layer of caulk in and around each chainplate.

Next to totally ripping out the inside of the boat and grinding fiberglass, do you have any recommendations? Should I be overly concerned or should I just keep vigilant and maintain proper maintenance? Definitely a very poor design flaw!

I agree with you that cutting the boat apart is a little extreme, but the chainplates are very important, and you could lose your mast and your life if one of them lets go. A preventive inspection by removing the cover plates of the chain plates, removing the caulking and checking the plates where they are below deck level should tell you something of their condition. If you can bend an icepick and work it down into the space, you could try to “feel” the surface of the plates with the end of the icepick. If the plates feel at all rusted or rough, then I’m afraid more stringent measures are called for. I’d not fool around with this problem but consult a shipyard and see what they would do to address the problem.

I live on Long Island Sound and have stored my Tartan 27 in a yard for several years. For many reasons, I intend to store in water next season. My club uses agitators in the harbor. I have barrier-coated the bottom, replaced the Cutless bearing, and installed a new seacock. The yard owner is warning me that there is a good chance that ice will work out a through-hull and down goes my boat. I would appreciate your thoughts or suggestions.

I’ve never heard of ice working out of a through-hull. Boats are stored afloat in Maine all the time and do not seem to have problems. By using a bubbler system, you should not have ice forming directly next to the hull. I’d give it a try. Just be sure the bubbler is working and visit the boat several times over the winter to check on it. One of the bigger problems is clogged drains in the cockpit. Be sure to keep the leaves out and the drains open. You’ll probably need to rig a tent cover over the cockpit and to keep it closed fore and aft to keep rain and snow out of the cockpit. Have a good winter. I don’t see a problem with good vigilance over the time period.



Calendar of events

McNish Classic Yacht Race
The 27th McNish race is Aug. 7 in Channel Islands Harbor, Calif. Contact John Dunbar, mobyjohn at aol dot com, 805-604-7497.

Metal Boat Festival
The 17th Metal Boat Festival will be held in Bellingham, Wash., Aug. 13-15. Contact mbsat teleport dot com, 360-695-4100,

Great Lakes Wooden Sailboat Society
The Wooden Sailboat Regatta is set for Aug. 13-14 in Huron, Ohio. Contact Sean or Jim Bryan, 734-675-4786, or Ruthie Goetz, 440-871-8194, glwss at yahoo dot com.

Boston Antique & Classic Boat Festival
The 22nd Boston Antique & Classic Boat Festival will take place in Salem, Mass., Aug. 27-29. Contact Pat, 617-666-8530, or Ann, 617-868-7587.

Herreshoff Museum
The Herreshoff Mueum invites classics on Aug. 28-29. Contact Teri Souto, t.souto at herreshoff dot org,

Good Old Boat Regattas September and October
The Good Old Boat Regatta in Annapolis is set for Oct. 2 and 9.
For more information, visit

The Heritage Series for Good Old Boats runs during four weekends of September and October in New York and Connecticut. Contact Jim Cassidy at 800-959-3047, jim at heritagemarineinsurance dot com, or Michael Brassert at 646-456-8288, mbrassert at houplastudio dot com.

Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup
Last year 450,000 people helped clean up the coasts. Contact Gregg Schmidt, 202-857-1685, gschmidt at oceanconservancy dot org.

The Mariners’ Museum Classic Boat Show
The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, has set its classic boat show for Oct. 15-17. Contact Justin Lyons, 757-591-7738.



Book reviews
Small Boat to Freedom: A Journey of Conscience to a New Life in America, by John Vigor (The Lyons Press, 2004; 288 pages; $21.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Small Boat to Freedom: A Journey of Conscience to a New Life in America is John Vigor’s tale of a wrenching lifestyle change made in 1987 at age 50. The South African government was crumbling as the anti-apartheid ANC became increasingly violent. Blacks and whites, regardless of political persuasion, were being lumped into color-coded groups, and the Vigors — who had raised their three sons in Durban and enjoyed good jobs for many years — were trapped in an uncomfortable position between the white Afrikaners and the black tribes, primarily Xhosas and Zulus.

John unravels the complicated politics of an unhappily multi-cultural society as he explains the desperate decision he and his family (wife and youngest son) made when they chose to leave their home and much of their accumulated wealth in order to start over in a place they hoped would allow them to live without fear. John’s wife, June, is an American citizen, and their two oldest sons were already in the U.S. when the threesome decided to sail from South Africa to Florida and not look back.

In addition to providing insight into the South African political turmoil of the time and the striking geography of the area, John offers information about stops along their journey north and a personal view of his innermost fears while charged with the responsibility of delivering his family safely across the ocean in a 31-foot sailboat. He also compares the voyages made by other seafaring authors who traveled the same route. They include Bernard Moitessier, Eric and Susan Hiscock, Joshua Slocum, Jean Gau, and the Polynesian navigators of long ago.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly even though John has told me his story briefly (Good Old Boat profile March 2003) and I have read an abbreviated version he wrote for Cruising World (January and February 1992).

Typically John’s sailing books offer nautical facts and technical advice for mariners. This book, showcasing his British sense of humor and wry self-deprecating approach to life, makes the reader appreciate John Vigor, the sailing journalist and author, in a new light: as just another sailor down the dock. Indeed, that is exactly what John Vigor is to the sailors in Bellingham, Washington, where he keeps Sangoma his current boat, a Cape Dory 27. The name is Zulu for natural healer, which is exactly what a sailboat should be.

Freelance, the Angelo Lavranos-designed Performance 31, which delivered John, June, and son, Kevin, to the U.S., was sold once they arrived in Florida, much to John’s eternal regret. He was saddened to learn that she had not been well cared for. But since the printing of the book, John has discovered that one more chapter has been written for the boat that he bonded with on his voyage. She is in good hands once more . . . a good old boat which will receive the good care she deserves.



A Cruising Guide to New Jersey Waters, by Don Launer (Rutgers University Press, 2004; 256 pages; $19.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

This isn’t so much a review as an announcement and endorsement. After all, how does one review a cruising guide except by using it for extensive cruising. (Humm . . . that does sound like fun, though, doesn’t it?)

Due to the many changes in the waterways, shore-side facilities, navigation, electronics, pollution regulations, and Homeland Security regulations following 9/11, Don Launer has just revised his A Cruising Guide to New Jersey Waters, originally published in 1995. This book remains the only book dealing exclusively with the navigable waters of New Jersey.

Don, a Good Old Boat contributing editor, holds a USCG captain’s license and brings many years of experience as a skipper of small boats to his nautical and historical guide to his home waters. If these are your home waters, or if you’re on your way there, don’t sail without Don’s cruising guide. It might be almost as good as having Don there in the cockpit beside you.




Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation, by Alan Gurney (W.W. Norton & Company, 2004, 307 pages, $22.95)
Review by Brian Koger
Newport News, Va.

Compass opens with a cautionary tale of a modern mega-yacht nearly coming to grief because of the builder’s (and the owner’s) over-reliance on state-of-the-art electronic navigation. When the electronics failed, there was no way to navigate — which very nearly cost the unlucky sailors both the boat and their lives. Although the owner of the yacht made it back (and immediately had a magnetic compass installed) Compass is filled with many stories of much less fortunate mariners and the long struggle to produce a reliable and affordable marine compass.

As with the search for longitude, there were many false starts and centuries of experimentation before people finally got it right. Alan Gurney chronicles the many trials, errors, missteps, and outright buffoonery that eventually led to the modern magnetic compass so many of us (including me, until I read this book) now take for granted. What today can be purchased for a few dollars and is considered little more than a child’s toy by many was so very precious during the great age of sail that anyone caught tampering with it would have his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger.

While reading the book, one can’t help but wonder how mariners in the Age of Discovery ever found anything at all. Some of the finest minds in European history — Sir Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley (the discoverer of the comet that bears his name), and even Captain James Cook worked for years — and with limited success — on the problems of magnetic variation (changes in the Earth’s magnetic field) and deviation (compass error caused by magnetic attraction to metals near the compass itself). Until reading the book, I had no idea just how lost most people were for so many years.

Compass is an excellent historical, adventure, and even technical book — and manages to cover all three areas well. Although the book has a heavy British emphasis (naturally enough, since Britannia “ruled the waves” for so long) and deals primarily with naval and merchant vessels, the stories are just as applicable to small boats regardless of nationality. It would be an excellent addition to the onboard library (to read during a passage or at night while at anchor) or to have at home to develop an appreciation for what it took to develop the compass we so often undervalue. I, for one, will never look at my compass the same way again.





Wind & Wave, a 2005 Calendar Celebrating Yachting, by John McVie (Wyman Publishing, 2004; $12.99 U.S., $16.99 Canada)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

John McVie, son of the internationally known photographer, Canadian Jim McVie, has just produced a calendar celebrating sailing and his father’s photography. Jim covered most major yacht races in the Pacific Northwest from the 1950s into the early 1990s. To see more of Jim’s work, have a look at John’s site The color photos John selected for the 2005 calendar are exquisite. He’s so inspired by this project he’s already working on 2006. The calendar is available in major bookstores and from Wyman Publishing in Ottawa, Ontario,




French for Cruisers, by Kathy Parsons (Adventuras Publishing and Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 352 pages; $29.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Jerry and I hope to transit the St. Lawrence within the decade ahead. When we do, he’ll be relying on my school-girl French to get us through Quebec. For my part, I’ll be relying on Kathy Parson’s French for Cruisers (along with another great little gem called Yachtsman’s Ten Language Dictionary, by Barbara Webb and Michael Manton) for the many words I’ve forgotten and for the hundreds more I never learned. How else will we shop for sandpaper, stove alcohol, and cotter pins? It seems like these words should have been covered at least by French 203. Perhaps they were taught the day I skipped class and went to the lake . . .

Kathy started out by creating Spanish for Cruisers in 2000. That book was such a hit with sailors, the French version was an obvious encore. The French book is divided into handy sections such as customs and immigration, sails and upholstery, emergencies, navigation, weather, engines, boatyards, talking to mechanics, and so on, along with the standard phrases available for non-boating tourists (shopping, directions, time of day. . . ).

In many cases, illustrations are also included for pointing out to locals when words fail (as they often do). It also includes an index/dictionary to help get you back to the section you seek when you see an unknown ingredient on a label, an unusual shop sign, or an unfamiliar item on a menu. To save you some thumbing through the book, well-used phrases are printed, conveniently, on the inside covers.

Before you begin using the book, it is helpful to acquaint yourself with Kathy’s handy chapters on pronunciation and grammar tips. This book is useful to any cruiser, whether he has taken basic French or not, who heads off to French tropical paradise locations as well as Quebec or the canals of France. From what I have seen of this book, I would buy Kathy’s Spanish for Cruisers in a heartbeat if I were heading for Spanish-speaking areas (even though I don’t have any school-girl Spanish to back that up). It may, come to think of it, come in handy in some parts of the U.S.A. when we do some sailing adventures with our trailerable boat.




Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor, C. A. Marchaj, (International Marine Publishing Company, 1988; 371 pages; out of print)
Review by Will Clemens
Los Altos Hills, Calif.

What have boat designs lost in the quest for windward performance? Has a century of yacht racing corrupted our ability to design safe, all-around cruisers? How do you quantify a yacht’s comfort and safety characteristics? Do boat owners even understand why their boats have certain features?

While addressing these questions in Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor, C. A. Marchaj attacks modern yachts and promotes the benefits of full-keel, heavy-displacement designs. He relentlessly criticizes the fin keel and skeg rudder and identifies well-known boat designers as charlatans. Marchaj casts doubt upon the entire enterprise of organized keelboat racing, noting the craziness of human ballast hanging on the rail and the inefficiency of extremely heeled light displacement-boats. More troubling, according to the author, are racing design features which make their way into general-purpose boats, where the quest for windward speed at all costs is not a legitimate requirement. Nonetheless the casual boater does not have the option of, nor understand, alternatives that would improve comfort, safety, and cost.

Marchaj supports his points with detailed math formulas, which may be incomprehensible to some skippers, but the accompanying graphs and pictures are telling and much more accessible. Be prepared for incredible detail, such as individual chapters on pitch, roll, and yaw. But with repetition and visualization, you may begin to literally feel as you read the complex motions of a boat underway. In particular, the drawings of a heavy displacement yacht leaning into waves, maintaining equilibrium, make imminent sense. The action pictures of modern designs will make racing seem needlessly dangerous, not exciting. Though most of the book analyzes hull design, Marchaj also has counterintuitive views above the waterline, such as his support of heavy masts and rigs to dampen roll.

Sailors typically think about wind, and it is easier to study rigs, deck hardware, and other visible features. The primary value of Seaworthiness is the intense focus on hull designs. Even weekend sailors will benefit from ideas from this book; they will understand characteristics that make their boats more comfortable in a storm and may start thinking much more about the hull under the waterline when they evaluate their next boat. Whether you agree with Marchaj or not, he offers a perspective on design that is not typically reflected at today’s boat shows.

Used copies of Seaworthiness can be found for $20 to $30. Contact BookMark at Good Old Boat for this or other out-of-print books: 763-420-8923.




Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales, edited by Hazel Hitson Weidman and Jacqueline Korona Teare (Trafford Publishing, 2003; 179 pages; $16.99)
Review by George Zimmerman
Olympia, Wash.

Are you a sailor who routinely undergoes the substantial effort required to take to your dog or cat sailing with you? If you answered yes to this question, then Wet Pets and Other Watery Tales is a book for you. Animal lovers who enjoy the antics of our furry friends will also find enjoyment in this book.

Wet Pets and Other Water Tales, edited by Hazel Hitson Weidman and Jacqueline Korona Teare, is a collection of 50 short stories about pets (mostly dogs, some cats, and one or two ducks) who “share water locations, waterborne adventures or have a special liking for water.” Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the No-Kill Animal Shelter operated by the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League. Owners, who love animals and cherish the way they enrich their lives, write the 50 stories. “Owners” may be the legal status for people in the people-animal relationship, but these pets are actually full status members of the family.

Pets are the stars of the book but, through the eyes and experiences of the writers, the reader gets a good idea of what day-to-day life is like in a rural town in Maine by the ocean. The visual scenes depicted by some of the better writers, the frustrations and joys of getting a pet used to sailing, and the far-ranging personalities of the pets make this book worth reading. Having spent many hours with my beagle-pointer dog, Whidbey, in, around, and on the waters of the Puget Sound, I could easily identify with many scenes in the book. The activity described by one author had particular meaning: “My dog and I discovered magic places in our bay and nearby islands, with soft moss underfoot, the sweet smell of balsam, the crash of waves against the rocks and the cries of gulls, tern and osprey.” In the 14 1/2 years, my dog has been with me, we have likewise discovered many of our own magic spots.

This book has special meaning to me as my dog is well into the twilight years of his life and our active life together has been replaced by time at home and providing him with comfort and care. Reading these stories brought me back to the days when a stick or tennis ball on the shores of Puget Sound meant hours of fun and companionship under a blue summer sky.

Wet Pets is not a book you want to read in a two or three hour setting. Rather, it should be viewed as a plate of 50 hors d’ouvers, which you can sample until your hunger for furry companionship is satisfied. And when hungry again, return and sample some more. Nicely done and done for a good cause. Enjoy it!



How to Rename your Boat and 19 Other Useful Ceremonies, Superstitions, Prayers, Rituals, and Curses, by John Vigor (Paradise Cay, 2004; 139 pages; $10.95)
Review by Karla Houdek
Minneapolis, Minn.

With the book, How to Rename Your Boat, John Vigor has concocted useful ceremonies, prayers, rituals, and curses for any boating superstitions you may have. I didn’t realize there are so many precautions that should be taken to avoid any negative superstitions from haunting you and your boat. This book is full of prayers and rituals that encourage safe and enjoyable voyages.

I was particularly entertained by the section on curses. Specifically, I enjoyed the curses designed for powerboaters leaving large wakes. John Vigor’s feelings about these boaters are fairly clear with this “curse”:

Woe to you, thou beslubbering speedhog!
May your filters choke and your injectors freeze.
May every ill befalling a boat bring you to your knees.
May you run out of whiskey and ice cubes, too.
May there be no more pleasure for you and your crew.
May all your bronze tarnish and your varnish all flake.
May your batteries die and your propellers shake.
May your anchors drag and your bilges overflow.
May you rot in a hell where they make you go slow.
Curse you! Curse you! My curse upon you wherever you go.

There are no laws stating that you cannot rename your boat. However, it is believed to bring bad luck to boaters who rename their boats without first completing the proper de-naming ceremony. Since you don’t want to take chances when it comes to bad luck, you should be willing to go through the proper steps or any type of ceremony when it comes to your boat. After all, it’s a big ocean out there.

This book was written specifically to assist you with renaming your boat along with curing any other types of boating superstitions you may have. Even if you’re not a superstitious person now, you might become one once something bad happens to you in those unknown waters because you didn’t take the time to follow through with proper ceremonial procedures as discussed in John’s book.

I recommend keeping a copy of this book aboard your boat. You never know when you’ll need to pray for wind, have a ceremony to bury a dead body at sea, cast a curse on an obnoxious powerboater, or simply need a good laugh.


Sailing quotes

The following quotes are from Cruising at Last: Sailing the East Coast, by Elliott Merrick, the story of a number of cruises on Sunrise, a 20-foot keel sloop that Elliott and his wife built themselves and sailed from Georgia to Maine and back again.

Sitting in a hollow of a dune facing the surf, a conviction comes to me that it is important to be here listening to the jumbled cadence of waves, trying to understand what the sea is saying. It takes time; it does not come all at once; perhaps it never comes. Only by being childlike, asking nothing . . . The sea in its great strength is not for us; we are for it. This lonely beach is full of whispering and wonders, and a black flock of geese stringing down the sky. We cannot know, we cannot understand, but that is no matter. We can be here watching the bent dune grass trace lines in the sand. We can examine a sand dollar, fragile, perfect, and see it shrink the affairs of men to pinpoints.

How is it, I wonder, that absolute essentials such as this interlude by the sea have become luxuries? Perhaps it is that we have gone and must go full circle. From primitive hunger needs, bark shacks, and skin clothes we “advance” to our present civilization. Whereupon we long for the wilderness, the wild ocean shore. Perhaps it is only by losing the primitive sense of oneness with nature that we can value it and learn to win back to perceptiveness again. Sometimes the hardworking things of my life seem valueless compared to this selfless, savage moment of being that can never be sought or bought, only listened for, opened to, humbly, rarely.

It didn’t seem possible I could do it [building a 20-foot wooden sailboat]. But you just begin, one step at a time. First you draw the plan full scale on old plywood sheets. Then you start making the curved tiller or the frames and knees. Pretty soon you’ve got such a stack of frames and parts, and ordered so much hardware, you can’t possibly quit. Drawing lines, making frames, building the boat becomes an absorbing, gladsome, instructive, satisfying aspect of your life. After a hard day at the office, trying to learn about forestry at the same time as teaching foresters to write, I’d go out a few hours. The work in my old shed full of shavings and wood bits made me feel that the day hadn’t been entirely wasted.

One supercilious soul said to me, “Messing about in boats is such fun, a lot of people would rather mess around permanently than sail them.” He was deliberately baiting and insulting me, and it hurt because I felt we had been at the dock fitting out too long. There is always something more you could do to prepare for storm or breakdown. I managed to mumble merely, “How true, friend. Have you made many voyages?”

Published August 1, 2004