|NEWSLETTER -- December 2004|
Some will take a perverse glee in this revelation: as I write this in mid-November, I am reflecting that I have just spent part of the weekend working on the project boat . . . while wearing long underwear! What is wrong with this picture?
As the days get shorter and the nights get longer here in the north country, we become increasingly envious of our readers who are still sailing down south. Our boats are hauled and secured for the winter which must surely come. Sail on, those of you who can. We’re thinking of you!
Near the end of October, many of our readers got a message from us saying it was time to renew their subscriptions to Good Old Boat. Unbeknownst to us, that message went out, not to those whose subscriptions were expiring as we intended, but rather to all subscribers who had just received our previous large email announcing that the October newsletter had been posted.
That was a very large group to notify about resubscribing made worse by the fact that the vast majority did not need to renew anytime soon. Most of you caught the error and called or emailed us. By then we’d caught the error also and sent another email message asking you to disregard the previous message. Some of you sent another check and had your subscriptions extended. Some were given refunds. We spent a lot of time undoing that mistake and thank those of you who saw the humor in our computer glitch. Truly, although it was around Halloween, our Halloween prank was unintentional.
Just in time for holiday shopping!
Readers call and email the Good Old Boat editors frequently to ask for suggestions about which books might be helpful in certain circumstances . . . books to get them started if they’re buying a boat, for example, or books useful for those who are planning to go cruising. To answer these kinds of questions, we’ve grouped some recommended books into collections. It’s sort of a FAQ section for the Good Old Bookshelf. Here’s the address. See if any of these “book collections” happen to be just what you were looking for: http://www.goodoldboat.com/bookshelf.html
What else is new?
The cove stripes page we put up on our website a couple of months ago got a lot of attention and many fixes and additions. It’s going to be a very useful tool as it develops. In fact, it already has great merit. Check it out: http://www.goodoldboat.com/cove_stripes.html.
You already know about the deal in which you buy a Good Old Boat fleece sweatshirt or vest and get a Good Old Boat ball cap for half price ($8.35). That offer’s good until the end of 2004. You know about our CD which includes the first two years of Good Old Boat magazine. You must, because the CDs continue to fly out of here at an astonishing rate. (If you’re interested, they’re $29.95.)
What's coming in January
For the love of sailboats
• Cheoy Lee 32 feature boat
• Canadian Sailcraft 36 review
• MacGregor Venture 222 refit
• Cheoy Lee Pedrick 41 refit
• Com-Pac Company history
• Shaft Log 101
• Splicing and whipping (three-strand and double-braid)
• Mast and rigging refit
• Painting an aluminum mast
• Rebuilding Direction (Dave Martin's boat)
• Dinghy dilemma (Portabotes and Folbots)
• Teak mystique
• Signal mirrors
Just for fun
• What does woman want?
• Seabird rescue
• In praise of my old boat
• Gorgeous center spread illustrations (you'll see)
• Deciding to go
• Simple Solutions: Winch switch meltdown, Amazing knife handles, Dinghy keel extension
Boast names (of course)
Glen or Frank?
Frank Zoll writes: I have owned my Tartan 27, the Sea Glen, for 25 years. People approach me and say, “Hello, Glen.” My reply is, “My name is Frank, not Glen.”
They then want to know why the boat name. Answer: when you have a solid overcast sky with a hole in the clouds and the sun streaming through like a search light, that is a sea glen. Hence the boat is like a ray of sunshine in my life!
Bob Steward writes wondering about superstitions: “I have heard from many old sailors that a boat’s name should be no more than seven letters long. Is this a superstition in certain regions, or is it in fact an understood old-world maritime rule?” We figured that John Vigor, who wrote the book on maritime superstitions (How to Rename Your Boat) was the answer man for this one. But he responded: “I have never seen anything in print that indicated that a vessel name over seven letters long is bad luck. Some of the luckiest ships in history had names longer than that, and many of the most famous circumnavigating yachts also. So if there is a superstition about it, it certainly isn’t very well known. But, of course, superstition is a very personal thing, and if a sailor feels it’s bad luck, then it probably is, for him at least.
In the news
Better duct tape
3M has announced a new, improved duct tape that might be worth a second glance. Called Performance Plus Duct Tape 8979, this tape is supposed to have unique UV- and water-resistance properties for enhanced clean removal and extended service life indoors and outdoors. Here’s the part that got our attention: “For up to six months, the tape removes cleanly from most opaque surfaces, virtually eliminating the hassle of removing sticky residue.” Now that would truly be an improvement!
Congratulations to Hayn
Congratulations to our friends at Hayn Enterprises, the Connecticut-based manufacturer of rigging and lifeline fittings. The company was recognized in the IBEX Innovation Awards program organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Hayn distributes the Hi-Mod Rigging Insulator which won in the hardware category.
The folks at Hayn tell us, “This is the only insulator that utilizes the insulating material under compression, rather than under tension, making it less likely to fail. It also threads the stud into the main body and attaches a coupling nut. This means that if the insulating material should fail for any reason, the nut will back against the stainless housing. This assures that the insulator remains a structural member of the backstay, with only the electrical insulating capability being sacrificed. This is the only insulator on the market that can offer the reassurance of being failsafe while remaining competitively priced with the other products on the market.”
The Hi-Mod Insulator is produced by Petersen Stainless Rigging Ltd in the United Kingdom and distributed by Hayn Enterprises in the USA.
For more information, visit their website at http://www.hayn.com or call 860-257-0680.
Better plumbing connections
A couple of sailors have created a plumbing assembly, called Turncouple, that works in the way that a turnbuckle does. Page Guertin of Good Turns, LLC, writes: “Any boater who has worked on his own water or drain systems knows how difficult it is to get those hoses off of barbed fittings without ruining the hoses, which aren’t cheap, or his knuckles. Also the Turncouple parts are made from a very strong, durable and impact-resistant material called Isoplast, which is far superior to PVC, nylon, glass-reinforced nylon, or any other non-metal material used for hose connection fittings. Isoplast was developed as a metals replacement material and can be used with bronze, aluminum, and other metals.”
Page reports that she and Jed, her inventor husband, use Turncouples on their boat between the Y-valve and the overboard seacock for the head, on the manual bilge pump, and on the freshwater input hose. The section at the Y-valve allows them to remove a section of hose in order to be legal on Lake Champlain and to reinstall it easily for ocean sailing. The bilge Turncouple enables them to remove the hose to clear the pickup or to clear the bilge itself for maintenance. The freshwater system simplifies disconnecting the line in the fall to drain their tank for winterizing.
For more information, visit their site at http://www.turncouple.com or contact Page at goodturns at vtlink dot com.
Just another day on the lake
I generally sail the Widget, in a small lake completely enfolded by a city park. The lake is so small that it forms the water hazard of the nine-hole golf course that occupies the west shore. Still, it’s close to home, convenient, and has its own set of challenges — such as paddleboats operated by distinctly non-nautical types, fishermen, and the occasional bit of flotsam.
Sailing down the middle of the lake on a gentle ENE breeze, I hear a chorus of despair from a mélange of childish voices. I look over toward the picnic grounds. Yup, there, bobbing a few feet offshore, is a white-and-orange soccer ball. Standing on the rocks opposite is a stair-step of children, leaning out in frustration. I adjust my course to head generally for the scene of tragedy.
As I sail along, a series of shouts reaches me: “Excuse me? Excuse Me? EXCUSE ME! EXXXCCUSSSSE MEEE!!!”
This group, at least, is polite. Two or three of them are running along the shore, waving their arms over their heads to attract my attention. I wave back, to indicate that they need not shout anymore. This does no good.
“Hey Mister! Can you get our ball, please?” More excited pointing. I wave again. I can see that they are puzzled as to why I don’t just head straight for it, but the ball is almost directly upwind of me.
“I can’t go that way,” I shout back, “I can’t sail directly into the wind.” One of the boys thinks about this, nods. Who knows? Maybe a new sailor someday.
I head for a point where I can tack and run down on the ball as it bobs farther offshore. I eye my telltale, the ball, and the flag on the band shell. The ball is abeam now, but I want a little more room for leeway . . .
Just as one of the younger ones starts up again with, “Hey, can you get our ball . . .” I put the helm over. The Widget comes through the wind, and I pull the sheets tight. I’m now pointing as close as an O’Day Widgeon will go, and the ball is ahead, a bit to starboard. It’s scudding down the shifty wind, and I fall off a tad, but not too much . . .
Now I’m serious, not only because I don’t want to mess up in front of an audience. The object in the water has become the target of a man overboard drill. The plan is to come to leeward of the victim — poor practice, but I’m on the starboard side to hold the boat down, and I’ve got to see. Two boat lengths . . . one . . .
I pop the jibsheet and ease the main. The Widget’s speed drops, although not to zero — she loves to move, and it’s impossible to get her to stop completely. If I were rescuing a real person, I’d let my forward speed slide him back to the transom where I would have the best chance of hauling a human victim on board. Since it’s just a ball, different rescue methods are called for. I reach down with my right arm as the boat moves past the ball — jiggle the tiller a little, and — scoop! The ball is on board. A raggedy cheer comes from my new friends on shore.
I continue on starboard tack, close-hauled, with my rescued “MOB” in the cockpit. The kids run down the shoreline, pelting me with cries of, “Here!”
“No, not to him, he got it in the water!”
“I can’t come too close,” I tell them, “I’ll hit the rocks.”
Now the tricky bit — throwing a soccer ball, one handed (and the wrong hand at that) 20 feet to shore while sitting down. What really worries me is that if I don’t throw it far enough, one of the children will reach out and fall into the lake.
Just as the centerboard scrapes something below, I fling the ball shoreward. It lands a few feet inland, starting a scramble of small hands to trap it on shore. One or two of the children remember and shout, “Thank you!”
As I fall off and gain some sea room, I smile to myself. I have conducted a successful MOB drill, and I made some new friends happy. That’s a little bit more interesting than merely tacking back and forth across a small lake.
From behind comes the sound of a small splash! and another chorus of woe. A quick glance back, and I gybe to port, hoping that after this rescue they’ll take the darned ball up farther away from the shore.
If have to get it a third time, I’m keeping it.
Chas. Hague sails his O’Day Widgeon, the Widget, on that little lake you can see out the starboard side of the airplane when you’re landing at O’Hare.
A new product
I have an exciting new product that I think good old boaters will find very helpful and affordable. If you have considered adding a remote engine control and found them to be too expensive and cumbersome, read on.
As a good old boater myself, I’ve created a device I call the PowerTiller. My PowerTiller puts operation of the auxiliary — including throttle, shift, start and stop — on the tiller bar. It’s the perfect location when maneuvering. There is no groping in the footwell or reaching over the stern in a desperate search for the one thing that will keep me from ramming the dock or my neighbor: my engine controls. The PowerTiller makes engine control simple, intuitive, and convenient.
The PowerTiller is suitable for all tiller sailboats — outboard and inboard alike. It’s manufactured from high-grade hard-anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and UV-resistant polymers to resist corrosion. It is precision-machined to operate smoothly in all kinds of weather. My linear design and stainless-steel clamping mechanism make it very easy to install and maintain. One bolt clamps it to the tiller bar. Often, not a single hole in the hull is required.
Once installed, sailors know instinctively how to operate it. And when the sailing is over, the PowerTiller swings up and out of the way. What could be simpler? Check it out at http://www.PowerTiller.com or call me for a brochure or further information, 602-852-5707.
From the reception the PowerTiller received by those who have been exposed to the concept at the Good Old Boat headquarters, we expect that Bill has a real winner here. We hope this business does well for him.
Of boat dogs and West Wight Potters
Dwight Hightower sails his trailerable 15-foot West Wight Potter, Pilgrim, anywhere he likes, but primarily on Lake Tomahawk in Wisconsin and on Lake Michigan. The boat dogs, Emily and Katie, offer navigational advice (see photos below).
While recently visiting my son in Montréal, I read a copy of your magazine at Larsen Sail Loft. In 1968, my son and I started Larsen Sails, and it is still in business. I was amazed to see all the advancements in sail design and cutting. What used to take hours on the floor is now done on the computer and at waist-height tables.
I believe that people who have a dream to go sailing can if they buy a boat as shown in your magazine. Having sailed in many parts of the world, I found the people with the smaller, most modest, boats were having the most fun and worry-free lives. For example, Shrimpy in his 18-foot plywood boat who we met in Costa Rica on his third time around the world. Or a woman of 23 years who has just left Vancouver, British Columbia, on a non-stop round-the-world sail on a Columbia 34. See her website at http://www.roslinforrest.org. Good luck to her!
There are many people out there sailing simple boats. Keep up the good work, and please send a sample copy so I can order a subscription.
Pearl Larsen Critchlow
Good old boats
I’m sending two photos of what I consider good old boats. Knot Home, far left, is a Venture 23 circa 1974-76, and Genesis, at left, is a MacGregor 22 circa 1981. Both boats sail the Barnegat Bay out of Island Heights, New Jersey. There are quite a few good old boats in my home waters including some fine catboats and also the well known A-Cat (although the latter are generally a racing craft that are more often seen in regattas than just cruising or day sailing). I’ve been enjoying your magazine for a few years now not only for the boats but also the fine technical and how-to information it provides.
The Palmer P60 engine
We just bought another good old boat, a 1974 30-foot Islander Mark II, with a Palmer P60. After conducting a compression test and pulling the head, we found that Number 3 and Number 4 cylinders had frozen valves. After several days of trying different penetrating oils, my wife suggested using carb cleaner and in a short time those valves were working. We milled the head and installed new head gaskets, did a tuneup, changed oil. This engine now purrs like a kitten. We found that this P60 is actually a C60, Cub Case tractor engine, parts were readily available from a Case parts dealer.
Now we need some information on the transmission. It has no clutch; forward and reverse is accomplished by moving the lever on the transmission forward or backward through a control cable down through the wheel pedestal.
The Palmer P60 (aka M60) is based on an International Harvester FarmAll Cub tractor engine. It is not a tractor engine largely because it is set up to be seawater cooled and it has a marine reversing gear. The reversing gear is the same style as that used on the Atomic 4 and is a version of a Twin Disc reversing gear. Clutches engage for forward and a brake puts planetary gears in motion for reverse. The use of STP or any other additive is not recommended in that it can result in the clutches and brake slippling, and slippage results in wear.
I enjoy reading Good Old Boat magazine and have found many useful tips and products for my own good old boat Trav’ler, a 1974 Grampian 30 that my sons Travis and Tyler and I sail on Lake Huron out of the Port Huron Yacht Club in Port Huron Michigan. I’d like to share my own experience with what I believe to be a fantastic product called the Cabin Cooler, made by Kool-O-Matic, that I saw advertised in your magazine.
This product is unlike any other ventilators I have seen on the market for several reasons. Most other exhaust-type ventilators or “powervents” are solar powered and have a tiny fan motor and blades that do little to actually move air. These products really don’t even compare to the Cabin Cooler. The Cabin Cooler has a much larger 110-volt motor and fan blades that fill nearly the entire area of my forward hatch. It comes with a built-in infinitely variable speed control and thermostat. It’s rain- and leak-proof and has a nice appearance.
We leave the fan on automatic with the thermostat set at 72 when we have the boat in the dock. After a fun day of sailing and swimming off the boat or an exciting day of racing in the rain, we often leave wet life jackets, beach towels, or rain gear hanging in the boat to dry. With the Cabin Cooler, they all easily dry overnight. Interior seat cushions dry quickly after anyone sits down with a wet swimming suit. It has prevented mildew on our boat.
Sleeping on the boat is also more comfortable with the Cabin Cooler. We turn the temperature control all the way down low. The fan is extremely quiet at this setting and the thermostat turns the fan off during the night after the boat reaches the desired temperature.
The manufacturers of the Cabin Cooler are correct when they say, “You’ll have the driest boat in the marina.” I highly recommend the Cabin Cooler. For more information, see the Kool-O-Matic website: http://www.kool-o-matic.com or call 269683-2600.
Information on an Ed Monk design
We recently purchased a 1973 ketch/cutter designed by Ed Monk Sr. We are looking for information on any aspect of the boat: the yard that built her (Skookum), sisters, pictures, records. According to Bernie Arthur (one of the sons of the owner of Skookum), there were 55 of these hulls made. He also said that many went to work as fishing boats. Our boat has a raised poop deck, center cockpit, displaces about 22 tons, shares the same hull as the Skookums, and looks somewhat like a Vagabond. Monk designed her on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and our drafting pages indicate Tradewinds 47 as the model and Island Sails Inc. as the entity buying the boat. Again from Bernie Arthur, it seems there was a commercial pilot who also was a boater and who wanted to sell sailboats. He contracted with Skookum to build the hulls and some degree of finish. Because of this type of production, no two boats were the same. I have spoken with Julian Arthur who said he did the layup of the glass and resin. He has some paper records from those days. Maybe there is interest such in these boats that we can collect those documents for the future?
angel03 at charter dot net
Information about the Optima 28 Motorsailor?
My boss has in his “toybox” of collected items a Continental Sovereign Optima 28 sailboat on a trailer. She is a honey of a fiberglass boat with steering from an over-the-transom tiller or from a wheel within the starboard side of the deckhouse. And she is equipped with an inboard diesel engine, comfortable self-draining curved cockpit seats of teak wood slats (can’t sit in well water or sprayed seats you know).
When I climbed up into this boat for a look, I was struck by the quality of fit and finish. This boat has not been launched for 30+ years, and still she is a fine craft. I’d guess she was German built. Think you can dig up any info about this motorsailor Optima 28?
Presently I sail my boat Comfort and Joy, a Com-Pac 19 XL hull #588 out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I pick up every copy of Good Old Boat at our bookstore. Love the magazine.
owlsnest34 at hotmail dot com
Answers from the last newsletter questions
I just got the October Good Old Boat Newsletter. The first mystery boat (on Page 5 for those with a hard copy) is likely to be a Carter 33. I couldn’t find it in my files, but it has the look of a typical IOR boat of the time. I wish I could identify the other two boats:
1. My best guess is that the wooden boat is a home-built along the lines of a Wianno Senior (which is a bit longer than the one in the photo). Strip-built is easy to do at home.
2. The 26-foot boat is probably a kit. The fact that it has the arrangement of a Grampian 26 is not a clue because the arrangement is pretty standard. The rudder looks like that of a Pearson 26, but the keel does not. The newer Pearson 26 had a transom well for the outboard. The picture shows an inboard well. If it’s a fiberglass boat made as a kit, it probably has a hull identification number molded into the transom. That might give you a clue.
Good luck figuring it out.
Finding the Resolute
In your June 2004 edition of the newsletter, you printed a question from Jim Boernge asking about the Resolute. She is still sailing out of San Pedro under Captain Mike Fabian, son of Ed Fabian who probably was running the boat when you sailed on her. I’ve been sailing on her since 1973. Mike can be reached by email: resolute_sailing at yahoo dot com. She is a truly wonderful boat.
What a small world it is! Your editors have been working on the January 2005 issue which has a technical article by Michael Batham discussing the rerigging of the ketch he and his wife, Tere, have sailed for years. Both Michael and Tere grew up with cruising parents as cruising kids. We were intrigued and dug back to read an article Tere wrote for Cruising World on her life as a cruising kid. The article is posted on their website at http://www.geocities.com/bathamquest/page30.html. In that article Tere speaks of her parents, who were very adventurous for the times, and mentions that her mother’s brother was Ed Fabian, who “owned the beautiful ketch Resolute, on which generations of Los Angeles mariner scouts have spent an exhilarating holiday, that even today, under his son, Mike Fabian’s hand, still charters back and forth to Catalina Island.” So there you have it: the rest of the story!
Tere’s parents, by the way were Ruthie and Jack Carstarphen. They were among those who founded the Seven Seas Cruising Association in 1952 to provide cruising information to other “cruising pioneers” who were out there at a time when very limited information was available. The group is still going strong. For more information on the Seven Seas Cruising Association, go to http://www.ssca.org or call 954-463-2431.
Looking for information
I bought a fiberglass daysailer with the label Jack Salmon, a 14-footer manufactured by the Aero Marine Co. of El Monte Calif. How do I find out when it was built? Thanks for any info/links!
FLAMONS at sn dot com
Olympic Boat Company?
Have you ever heard of the Olympic Boat company or of a boat they may have built, Olympic Yacht, 33 feet, around 1975 or so? I’ve come across one that might be available, but have been unable to dig up any info about it. I’d appreciate any info.
PStein9422 at aol dot com
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.
Our Pearson 323, AnaMeg, is in our yard and will be for a while. She is undergoing a complete refit and is completely gutted right now. I’m new at this and have a few thousand questions, but I’ll ask just two.
Our sailing “type” will be Great Lakes cruising in retirement. Being conservative, we would like to prepare for the worst but will do everything possible to avoid it.
First, I have intended to put stainless-steel backing plates on the new stanchions and on all deck hardware. Presently, the winches have no backing plate but a thicker FRP and the stanchions have a 1/8-inch fiberglass backing pad. I’m assuming stainless is better but also expensive. Is thicker fiberglass adequate?
Second, I will be running all lines to the cockpit. There is a non-removable headliner under the aft coach roof that precludes through-bolting.
Should I cut it out, through-bolt, and install a new (and more attractive) wood liner?
The previous owner had a single small winch installed, but I assume it is attached with screws as I see no evidence of violation of the headliner in the past. Are screws adequate for the clutches, winches, etc. on the coachroof?
Fiberglass backing plates will be adequate if you can get some good, dense fiberglass to work with. By this I mean a piece of fiberglass that was produced by the SCRIMP process. You would want pieces about 6- to 12-inches wide and about 12 inches long.
The rope clutches and so on should be through-bolted. It may be possible to remove a circle from the headliner, through-bolt the fitting, and repair the hole with a nicely cut piece of teak cut to fit the circular hole. The teak could be bedded in 3M 4200. You would have to hold the teak in place while the 4200 set up. I suggest good quality masking tape for the job. I have done a similar job and cut -inch teak a little larger than the hole, cut down 3/8 inch to form a lip and bedded that. It looked like a factory job when I was done.
I have a 1975 Eastward Ho sloop 23.5 feet. The manufacturer’s plate states that it is the #1 hull. I have owned the boat for four years and sail it around New York harbor and New Jersey mostly in open water. To me, it is a great boat for its size and age. I know very little about the boat or company that built it. I would like more information if you have any.
The Eastward Ho sloop was originally designed by Walter McInnis for wood construction. It was reborn by the Portsmouth Yacht Co. in fiberglass. The boat is very seaworthy and big for its length. I understand the glasswork was done by the C. E. Ryder Company, and they were a quality builder. The outfitting was done by the Portsmouth Yacht Co. which did a fair job. (The outfitting leaves a lot to be desired.)
I believe the ballast became concrete vs. the designed-in lead, thus the center of gravity is a little bit higher than the plans called for, but the boats are still seaworthy.
Zebra muscles on the stuck centerboard
I have a C&C Corvette that experienced the same stuck centerboard problem (mentioned in the October 2004 newsletter), but it was not rusting. It was zebra muscles that prevented the board from coming down.
As the boat was in the water, I hired a diver who was able to slowly work the board loose as it increased the slack in the centerboard cable an inch at a time. Eventually the board came down. Now each fall I ensure that when the boat is hauled the board is lowered and the trunk thoroughly cleaned with a high-pressure hose. The board is also dropped in the spring and painted with anti-fouling. These two things seemed to have solved the problem. At least there has not been a recurrence in the last three years.
Your First Sailboat, by Daniel Spurr (International Marine/McGraw Hill 2004; 270 pages; $14.95)
Review by Michael Gude
There are many books on the market that can help you take your first steps on your sailing career. I personally have about three feet of shelf devoted to that subject. Dan Spurr’s Your First Sailboat differs because it not only tells you how to find the right boat for you, it tells you what to do with it afterward. Fiberglass or wood, size, hull design, how to assess a vessel’s quality, and more are all covered to some extent in these pages.
This book does an excellent job of alleviating some of the doubt a potential new sailor may feel while considering a plunge into the world of motorless boating. One of my favorite parts of the book was the “What if . . .” section that covers what to do in a variety of worst-case scenarios that novice sailors often worry about. Disasters such as dismasting to a full-blown sinking boat are discussed in a humorous way that puts them in perspective.
The information in this book is very general, covering the basics of what you would need to learn once you actually owned a sailboat. For example, the section “Handling Your First Sailboat” should not be looked to as a definitive guide to sailboat piloting. I am sure this is by design though, as this book seems intended as a sort of recruitment tool for potential sailors. I would view it as a guide to what you will need to know, not necessarily the detailed information itself.
While reading this book I often found myself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that before I bought my boat!” For that reason I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who already owns a boat (unless they are in the market for another), but if you know anyone who has expressed the slightest interest in getting into sailing, but is reluctant to take the plunge — get them this book.
Return to the Sea, by Webb Chiles (Sheridan House Inc., 2004; 224 pages; $26.95)
Review by George Allred
“… I walked the bow back until, when the shrouds were even with the end of the side tie, I stepped aboard. Nothing held to the country in which I was born almost 60 years earlier. I did not know that I would ever see it again.
With that, Webb Chiles departs Boston to complete his fourth circumnavigation.
Return to the Sea is a personal narrative of the completion of Webb’s fourth circumnavigation. And it is a very good one. It has no aspirations of being a cruising guide. As you read, you go where Webb’s mind and boat go.
The first part of the book is a brief introduction to the man and his travels: his wives and boats. He describes sailing around Cape Horn single-handed as the first American to do this. He describes his boat sinking off eastern Florida and how he acquires his next boat, The Hawke of Tuonela, and his next wife, Carol.
The reader sees a little bit of Webb’s internal turmoil when Carol joins him during his journey and becomes a part-time cruiser.
Webb is engrossing as he describes his visits to various ports along the way back to Sydney: the Azores, Portugal, and Gibraltar. He includes vivid accounts of places off the beaten path: the goats in Dakar, Senegal; Christmas in Salvador, Brazil; the luxurious Blue Train that travels between Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa.
As Webb crosses the North Atlantic to Portugal, the reader gets a glimpse of life aboard during ocean passages. Then he crosses the Southern Atlantic to Brazil and on to South Africa. Then there are five weeks traveling the last ocean from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia.
My one issue was that the end of his trip was lightly discussed. I would have preferred more. This book should be on the short reading list for every sailor who dreams of leaving. If leaving is not in you retirement plans, but living vicariously through others is, this book should be very entertaining. But be careful, the byproduct of reading this book could cause you to update that five-year plan to take off. I have.
Des Pawson’s Knot Craft, by Des Pawson (Paradise Cay Publications, Inc., 2003; 96 pages, $10.95)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
Select your Swedish fid, your heaver, and your marlinespike; gather up your gunk, goos, and tar; consider your cordage. Then tie into one of the 28 ropework projects packed in this practical guide. From a simple key ring utilizing a single yard of line to an ocean mat requiring more than 82 feet of rope, there are step-by-step directions and detailed illustrations to keep you on course.
Des Pawson, a professional ropeworker for more than 25 years, describes this book as a “recipe book,” rather than a “how-to-tie-knots” book. Knotwork is Des’ passion, and he has worked for years to compile the cuisine presented in this volume. Like any good chef, he encourages the reader/roper to order à la carte, to mix and match knots and techniques, to season the stew to one’s own specifications.
An impressive smorgasbord of projects is featured: fenders, binocular straps, tiller and boathook covers, belts, a whisk, and several types of deck mats, among others. It’s your choice: the blue plate special or haute cuisine. Each project is accompanied by an introductory section, a checklist of required materials, a rundown of knots used (with references to other pages in the book when necessary), and the method/directions, along with a selection of illustrations.
The book opens with a section covering tips of the trade: favored tools and knots, converting measurements to metric, and choosing the appropriate cordage. Appendices offer information on suppliers of cordage, the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and recommended reading on knotting. An index comes in handy, as well.
This is well-written, well-illustrated book, peppered with vocabulary sure to broaden the linguistic horizons of the non-knotter. I honestly found both the book and the projects appealing. That said, honesty also requires me to admit something else.
After receiving the book and scanning the menu, I promptly decided that a “simple key ring” was just what my life was lacking. I flipped to the first project confident that I could master what was obviously the most appropriate undertaking for a beginner. I spent several hours and a goodly allotment of my patience pondering the pointers and poring over the illustrations. I flopped. My soufflé fell.
No simple key ring with single and double boatswain’s whistle lanyard knots for this reader. No forward progression to the pretty port and starboard earrings I could have made with heavy red and green thread using the same knots. Definitely no grommet for a game of deck quoits!
My final assessment? I cheerfully recommend this book to every not-knot-challenged reader with an interest in rope crafts!
The Sailor’s Hornbook or ABC; With a Vermiform Appendix on Racing Terminology, by David O’Neal (Global Publishing, 2004, 138 pages, $15.00)
Review by Karen Larson
David O’Neal is a funny guy. He’s written a sailors’ lexicon that will make any sailor laugh. I imagine him sitting with friends over glasses of wine while dreaming up crazy meanings for sailing words and inventing nonsense words for sailing situations lacking a word of their own. It can’t be easy. I don’t think he could do this sort of thing in isolation. A few examples follow.
Mast – 1) A church service, where prayers are offered for those putting out to sea. Half-mast is a shorter service. Captain’s mast are special prayers for the captain. 2) A most excellent conductor of lightening. In this sense, half-mast is after the lightening has struck.
Dousing sails – Sails occasionally burst into flames by spontaneous combustion in equatorial climates. Therefore they must be doused with water now and then. If buckets or hoses are not available, turning turtle will suffice.
Reef – 1) A ridge at or near the surface of the water usually composed of dead coral, a few live creatures, and parts of boats. 2) To reduce the sail area in order to avoid being overpowered by the wind. Reefing is usually done with lines, rather than with knives or shears, so that the reefed sail, when shaken out, will be the same size as it was originally.
Causeway – A raised way of land connecting two islands. Under no circumstances is a causeway to be confused with a bridge.
BATERISTAAR – Abbreviation for Boat Aground, Tide Ebbing, Reef Increasing in Size, Tow Aground Also — Rats! — which succinctly describes this nasty situation.
Abaft – In a direction farther aft than a specified reference position, such as abaft the mast. Abaft the bowsprit is vague and rarely used.
Obviously Dave is not taking any of this, including himself, all too seriously. In his biography, he says, “Mr. O’Neal now resides on a houseboat in Florida . . . He lives with his wife, Velocity Swift, his salty dog, Wharf, and his parrot, Kidd. . . . A consummate liar, Mr. O’Neal has falsified his credentials and fabricated his sailing résumé. Currently he is operating as a delivery skipper under several assumed names.
I don’t believe any of this. I don’t think his dog is named Wharf or that Wharf makes a noise like that when he barks (although David might). Every sailor knows that wharf and woof are the horizontal and vertical threads in Dacron sails which begin life as bed sheets but are then dipped in vats of Dacron coating, making them impermeable to rain but fragile when exposed to sunlight. Therefore all sails should be kept covered all the time. Except at night.
Hey! This is easy, after all! Refill my wine glass; I’m just getting started!
Working Rope: Field Guides for Rigging: Basic Braided Splices, by Brion Toss and Margie McDonald (2004; 122 pages, $22.50)
Review by Carolyn Corbett
“It is the intent of this book,” the authors write, “to demystify and standardize braided rope splicing …We have done our best to avoid illustration shortcuts, so that every step is as clear as it can be; and the supporting text is meant to provide detail and advice where problems are typically encountered, yet stay out of the way when the illustrations can carry the load.”
Splicing is still a skill, they remind the reader, and mastery of this art requires patience, focus, and practice.
Brion Toss is not a newcomer to rigging. He’s written Knots for Boaters (Chapman Nautical Guide), The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice, and a selection of articles for sailing magazines, as well as producing The Master Rigger Video Series. This particular field guide on basic braided splices is one of a series of seven books in the Working Rope series he utilizes in his Brion Toss Yacht Riggers Apprenticeship program.
In this manual, as in the workshops he teaches, Brion combines the traditional art of the sailor with modern tools and technology available today. The spiral-bound handbook is user-friendly, offering a hands-off guide for hands-on tasks. Brion and co-author Margie McDonald provide a comprehensive list of splicing terms, recommend the use of a tool they manufacture called the “splicing wand,” and supply a measurement table indicating multiples of rope diameter.
The value of this manual unquestionably lies in the inclusion of tips, techniques, and shortcuts from professional riggers, along with information on the characteristics of each particular type of rope: durability, flexibility, elasticity, strength, ease of handling. An abundance of clear illustrations are large enough to refer to easily as one works. In the written text accompanying each set of sketches there are step-by-step instructions for splicing conventional ropes, like Dacron and nylon, as well as the new high-modulus lines like Spectra and Vectran.
This book, along with information on the other books in the Working Rope series, is available at http://www.briontoss.com. Hey, they’ll even autograph the book for you!
Chasing Dreamtime: A Sea-going Hitchhiker’s Journey through Memory and Myth, by Neva Sullaway (Brookview Press, 2004; 336 pages; $15.95)
Review by Joe Ditler
Driven. Haven’t you experienced the feeling? At some time in our lives, we’ve all been driven to exceed, to aspire, to love, or even to forget. Neva Sullaway sits today in her quaint cottage not far from the beach in San Diego. She has no boat now, but she has added a loving husband and two terrific children to her life. She is, as the neighbors say, “. . . a sweet, quiet young woman who fits in so well.”
Once, however, Neva was driven — driven to discover, driven to run. The part of Neva the neighbors don’t know is that she was also driven to escape. She has just released a new book about her travels across the Pacific, Chasing Dreamtime: A Sea-going Hitchhiker’s Journey Through Memory and Myth.
Neva lived the stories of Chasing Dreamtime well before her 25th birthday. Now, after 30 years, she lays out her wild adventures and personal journey for all to read. The introductory chapters create the backdrop for the story: an innocent voyage across the South Pacific. It’s the post-Vietnam era of the mid-’70s; a time well before cruising became the popular lifestyle it is today; a time before GPS and on-board electronics; a time when sea gypsies roamed the oceans.
Having failed in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around the world, Neva arrives in Tahiti, where she is soon placed in jail for a visa violation. From there, she embarks on another sea-going journey that takes her from one life-threatening adventure to another.
From sailing with island royalty, to meeting the legendary recluse and beachcomber, Tom Neale, who lived alone on Suvarov Atoll for nearly 20 years, Neva takes us back to the raw adventure and pristine beauty of the South Pacific. Even after being entangled in a drug-smuggling scheme and facing death several times while at sea, she continues her journey from New Zealand to Australia.
The story reaches a climax when Neva mistakenly gets a job on a prawn trawler in the far northern waters of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria, the stark and forbidding Never-Never.
She is held captive at sea, unable to leave the boat, and must rely on her own wits to escape. It is there, on a desolate island in the remotest region of northern Australia that Neva reclaims her freedom and finds redemption in the Dreamtime journey.
Neva Sullaway is the former Australian Women’s Sailboarding Champion, a title she successfully defended for four consecutive years. She built a career as a writer and photojournalist, covering sailboarding events in Australia, Europe and the U.S. She wrote One with the Wind: A Guide to Sailboarding in Australia. During this time she also created a magazine for sailors, Freesail Australia, which became Australia’s top-selling sailboarding magazine.
Neva also wrote Sailing in San Diego: A Pictorial History for the 1992/1995 America’s Cup. She continues to write, edit and shoot pictures with a maritime theme.
GPSNavX navigation software for the Macintosh, www.gpsnavx.com ($49.95)
Review by Karen Larson
If your computer (assuming you have one) is a Macintosh, you know how isolated we feel as magazine publishers using the last remaining Macs on the planet. Or so it seems. No software. No support groups. No viruses. (Wait! Maybe it’s not all that bad!)
When we decided to be Mac-based on our boat as well as in the office, we discovered that there aren’t too many Mac-friendly navigation programs to choose from. Then when we decided to change our cruising ground from Lake Superior to Lake Huron’s North Channel next summer, we realized that there were no charts available for our current navigation program. Time for an upgrade.
This sort of thing is a heartbreak usually. We hate learning to use new software. But Jerry found a program called GPS-NavX, which would run the new charts we’d have to buy for the new cruising ground. We tried the new program in October during our last two sailing weekends of the season.
Wow! Over the years we’ve used three navigation programs aboard Mystic. This is the best yet. The first system was an early version of Maptech running on a shipboard PC. (It was not easy to learn to operate, but once we had it figured out, we bonded. An unfortunate lightning bolt a few seasons ago took out the outdated PC, and nothing else would run the Maptech program.) Then we went Mac-based to a program called NavimaQ. (We never bonded. This system was cranky and clunky and crash-prone. It was difficult to learn to use.) So we were not looking forward to yet another version of so-so Mac software.
GPSNavX eliminated all fears. It’s intuitive, uncomplicated, sophisticated, excellent. We had to upgrade the operating system on our laptop to accommodate the new software. GPS-NavX works with OS X 10.3, Apple’s latest version of system 10. And we hate changing operating systems almost as much as we hate learning new software. But this time it was worth it. Soon after installation anyone who can operate a mouse and feels at home with a Macintosh can create waypoints, make a route, and leave a track showing where the boat has been. The operating instructions are short and easy to follow.
The software communicates well with a variety of GPS units and will even allow users who own Garmin and Magellan units (ours is a Raytheon unfortunately) to transfer routes to the GPS unit, avoiding the fussy stuff which happens when you try to type without a keyboard and do 250 functions with six to 10 buttons. If you’ve ever done this on a GPS, you know what I’m talking about.
I bonded with the GPSNavX software from the moment we had it connected to the GPS and was extremely enthusiastic by the time we’d arrived at the first waypoint. I can’t say enough good things about it except to add that the price is right — $50 — and the technical support has been prompt and helpful. We’re sold. I look forward to next spring and getting around in our new cruising ground with new software and charts with anticipation instead of dread.
The mini-index of articles for the years 1998-2000 is in the Octover 2000 newsleter http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/octnewslett14.html.
The mini indexes for the years 2001, 2002, and 2003 were printed in their respective December newsletters. Those web addresses are:
• http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/decnewslett27.html, and
We have a few printed copies of these indexes available for those who can not access our site. Just ask, and we’ll mail them.
To look up a list of previous newsletters, go to http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/newsletter_index.php.
These days, we also have the new CD available for sale with all the issues published in 1998-1999. That CD includes a search feature for those articles http://www.goodoldboat.com/#CD.
There is also a fully searchable article listing, called the Articles Index, on the Good Old Boat website. Search for article title, author, key words, publication date, and so on. That page is indexed from the Good Old Boat home page.
Ericson 29, Number 34, January 2004
Watkins 29, Number 36, May 2004
Spencer 35, Number 38, September 2004
Pacific Seacraft/Crealock 37, Number 39, November 2004
Pacific Seacraft 25, Number 35, March 2004
PDQ 32 and 36, Number 35, March 2004
Willard Horizon 30 motorsailer, Number 37, July 2004
Corsair 24, Number 38, September 2004
Pearson Vanguard, Number 39, November 2004
O’Day 23, Number 34, January 2004
Sirius 21, Number 35, March 2004
Wild Wind 20, Number 36, May 2004
Precision 23, Number 37, July 2004
Nimble 24, Number 37, July 2004
MacGregor Venture 25, Number 39, November 2004
Marine Subject 101
Diesel Engines 101, Number 34, January 2004
GPS 101, Number 35, March 2004
Steering Systems 101, Number 36, May 2004
Fiberglass 101, Number 37, July 2004
Seacocks 101, Number 38, September 2004
Bilge Pumps 101, Number 39, November 2004
Doctoring the outboard, Number 35, March 2004
Universal love (falling in love with an engine), Number 36, May 2004
Two-stroke vs. four-stroke, Number 37, July 2004
Choosing an engine/how much power, Number 37, July 2004
Materials, design, and construction
Building a skipjack, Number 34, January 2004
Berth design, Number 34, January 2004
Replacing a boom, Number 35, March 2004
Galley design, Number 35, March 2004
Rigging terminals, Number 36, May 2004
Cabin and dining area design, Number 36, May 2004
Moisture meters, Number 36, May 2004
Gandy Dancer dinghy (A John Gardner surf dory), Number 39, November 2004
Sealants and adhesives, Number 39, November 2004
Two headsails or one (sloops and cutters), Number 39, November 2004
Maintenance and upgrades
Dutchman refit, Number 34, January 2004
Cockpit grating, Number 35, March 2004
Engine access and recessed sinkboard, Number 35, March 2004
Emergency tillers, Number 36, May 2004
Replacing a fuel tank, Number 36, May 2004
Choosing fabric for cushions, Number 37, July 2004
Preventing leaks and drips, Number 38, September 2004
A lightweight floor covering in cans, Number 39, November 2004
In search of a boat, Number 34, January 2004
Chasing dreams, Number 34, January 2004
Choosing the right boat, Number 35, March 2004
Hal Roth on choosing affordable boats, Number 38, September 2004
Alden Challenger, Number 34, January 2004
MacGregor Venture Newport 23, Number 35, March 2004
Alden woodie, Number 36, May 2004
Westsail 42, Number 36, May 2004
Replacing the sole and making new ballast, Number 38, September 2004
Yacht Constructors (Cascade Yachts), Number 34, January 2004
Camper & Nicholsons, Number 37, July 2004
Karen Thorndike, Number 34, January 2004
Ian Farrier, Number 35, March 2004
Lyle Hess, Number 36, May 2004
Bill Lee, Number 37, July 2004
Garry Hoyt, Number 38, September 2004
Alex Tilley and his boat, Number 39, November 2004
Good old vendors
Alpenglow Marine Lights, Number 35, March 2004
Yager Sails and Canvas, Number 36, May 2004
Fitting a tripline, Number 35, March 2004
Brightwork, Number 35, March 2004
Insulated companionway flap, Number 36, May 2004
Wires: dressed for success, Number 36, May 2004
Marlinspike seamanship, Number 36, May 2004
Replacing the cabin sole, Number 37, July 2004
Adapting a light with red LEDs, Number 37, July 2004
Fighting fire, Number 37, July 2004
Figuring out electrical shorts, Number 37, July 2004
Restoring non-skid with Treadmaster, Number 38, September 2004
Restoring non-skid with Durabak-18, Number 38, September 2004
Using radar, Number 38, September 2004
Checklists for trailersailors, Number 38, September 2004
Winter boat enclosure, Number 39, November 2004
Making a lifeboat from a Fatty Knees dinghy, Number 39, November 2004
Cruising bit by bit, Number 39, November 2004
Armored portlights, Vern’s hatch improvement, Number 34, January, 2004
Deck repair, automatic fog horn, Number 35,March, 2004
Screen bags, simply clean, Number 36, May 2004
Springing the rode, electrical tips, fixing leaky ports, trailer tongue extender, Number 37, July 2004
Winter cover, Concordia seatbacks, navigation instruments to make yourself, Number 38, September 2004
Delamination repair, extra counter space, handy new tool: Clamptite, Number 39, November 2004
Quick and easy
Toolkit, LED light, Number 34, January, 2004
Unseen hazard, impeller access, fixing plastic scratches, making a jib downhaul, Number 35,March, 2004
Boxed lunch, easier haul-outs, improved spigots, bung trick, Number 36, May 2004
Dripless ice, clever mounting for a gimbaled light, Number 37, July 2004
Boltropes and tracks, air filter for vacuum dust, Number 38, September 2004
Got chamois?, hot melt solution, rail mounts for solar panels, Number 39, November 2004
The trailersailer’s galley, Number 37, July 2004
Point/Counterpoint: Essential cruising gear, Number 34, January 2004
Our magnetic earth, Number 34, January 2004
Hawaiian woman’s sailing group, Number 34, January 2004
Falling in love with a boat, Number 35, March 2004
Boat fairies, Number 35, March 2004
Guests afloat, Number 36, May 2004
Ka-ching, it’s spring, Number 36, May 2004
Teaching Willi, Number 36, May 2004
Overcoming fear of sailing, Number 37, July 2004
My boat is a she, Number 37, July 2004
Nautical superstitions, Number 37, July 2004
Love triangles, Number 38, September 2004
Morning sail (poem and drawings), Number 38, September 2004
The woodpile, Number 38, September 2004
Passage to San Diego, Number 38, September 2004
The perfect holiday, Number 39, November 2004
Navigation is easy. I shall always contend that; but when a man is taking three gasoline engines and a wife around the world and is writing hard every day to keep the engines supplied with gasoline and the wife with pearls and volcanoes, he hasn’t much time left in which to study navigation. Also, it is bound to be easier to study said science ashore, where latitude and longitude are unchanging, in a house whose position never alters, than it is to study navigation on a boat that is rushing along day and night toward land that one is trying to find and which he is liable to find disastrously at a moment when he least expects it.
from The Cruise of the Snark, 1911
At the last, when you have sailed long enough and far enough, you come to understand that the sea is everything. It is calm and restless, stormy and laughing, many-hued and one-colored, salty and fresh, warm and cold, an enemy and a friend, a help and a hindrance, a tragedy and a jest. Everything!
Albert Richard Wetjen
from Way for a Sailor!, 1931
Nothing will compare with the early breaking of day upon the wide ocean.
Richard Henry Dana
from Two Years Before the Mast, 1840
To me, nothing made by man is more beautiful than a sailboat under way in fine weather, and to be on that sailboat is to be as close to heaven as I expect to get.
In 1965 he crossed the Atlantic from the U.S. to England in Tinkerbelle, a 13.5-foot sloop, the smallest sailboat to successfully make the voyage
It is far better not to know where one is, and realize that one does not know, than to be certain one is in a place where one is not.
from Digressions sur la Navigation du Cap Horn, 1827
Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port, and the other was an atrocious liar.
Don Bramford, 1990