Have we told you lately that we love you?
Since this newsletter goes to our subscribers and since it's Cupid's favorite month, for heaven's sake, let us stop the presses long enough to express our gratitude to our subscribers (yes, you!) Other magazines may send similar notes of gratitude to their advertisers (we certainly like our advertisers, too, don't get us wrong), but our readers are the heart and soul of Good Old Boat.
First of all, it is the readers who help us determine where we are going. From the beginning, your suggestions have helped us define our niche and decide what content was right for our publication.
Second of all, it has been your subscription dollars all along which paid for this magazine, particularly when advertising revenues were woefully slim. This magazine is still primarily subscriber-supported, although advertisers are beginning to help carry the load, too. You may have noticed (it is really obvious in the March issue which you'll be receiving soon) that advertisers are flocking to our doors. You'll notice that we've added more pages to accommodate the increased advertising, too. We're not aggressive about seeking marine suppliers and browbeating them until they finally give us a try. As our readers already know, that's not our style. But we're tickled when advertisers realize that we have a good market for them (you folks who are replacing and upgrading gear on your boats) and ask to be included. If they've got what you're looking for, we're glad to include them.
Third of all, you've made us feel very rewarded, personally, for starting the magazine "for the rest of us." It's been a lot more work than we anticipated (isn't that how every project goes?), but we wouldn't change a thing. Thanks for being a part of our community of sailors.
What's coming in March
Editors Jerry Powlas and Karen Larson are generally serious people. Karen can't tell a joke much less remember one. While Jerry can tell many a sea story (some of them legendary and often with punch lines), these stories are mostly true. It was, therefore, out of character for these two to do the spoof of boat of the year contests which appeared in the January issue of Good Old Boat . . . so out of character, it seems, that many readers believed events presented there (no matter how absurd) to be true.
Honor demands that we state now that nothing was true. There were no judges selected (although a few friends pretended to "serve.") There were no boat competitions. There were no races, sinkings, chain saws, or shenanigans at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. No judges were removed from the panel (since there was no panel). There were no French and Russian judges. No bribery. No Hyperbole and no Rangerette.
Honor demands that we confess that John Vigor did not slip into a wine-mellowed stupor speaking only of wine and women. There were no battles between Chris Bauer of Bauteck and John Harris of Chesapeake Light Craft. All three of these individuals were able to laugh at themselves and risk their public personae and corporate images to pretend to behave inappropriately. They (and we) had a good time, but they did not really behave inappropriately. We all had a good laugh. Some of our readers did, too.
Honor demands that we now thank them and admit that we made it all up. We'll stick to our more serious sides in the months ahead. It's more in character. Honor demands it, and it's what you've come to expect. The next time we want to get silly, we'll do it quietly . . . when no one's watching.
That said, we offer for you here what was intended to be used in the March issue as Part 1 of a gradually diminishing saga between the dinghy sailors. Sort of like "out-take footage in the movies," it's a little blurb that is destined for oblivion (except in these pages, of course). See Winner takes all.
What's in a name: A bird's eye view of boat names
by Tor Pinney
What's in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet. -- Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Jaques: I do not like her name.
Orlando: There was no thought of pleasing you when she was christened. -- Shakespeare, As You Like It
One phenomenon peculiar to boats and ships, which most of us have always taken for granted, reveals much about mariners. That is the universal custom we have of naming our watercraft.
The earliest recorded named boats were the Egyptians' Nile River boats. Since then, the tradition of naming boats has flourished. Some names have etched themselves indelibly into the annals of history. Who doesn't immediately associate Santa Maria, Niña, and Pinta with Captain Chris' grounding in America half a millennium ago? And one of the earlier sailboats to cruise the Med, Argo, is still remembered for helping Jason bring home the Golden Fleece. Bounty, Titanic, Spray -- each through its own good or bad fortune has earned its place in maritime folklore.
Just why we name our yachts today is hard to say. Of course, there's the tradition -- everyone else does it. And there's the Marine Patrol. They usually insist on something being written on the registration, even if it's "No Name."
But mostly, I suspect we do it because it's fun. We like to infuse our proud little ships with their own distinct personalities, often reflections of our own. It's a form of self-expression, like the message on a T-shirt, or a custom license plate on a car. A boat's name often gives a special insight into the personality, lifestyle, and values of the person doing the naming.
Whatever our reasons for naming boats, name them we do. There are funny names and cute ones, bold and audacious names and humble ones, too. Noble, proud, joyful, serious, functional, egotistical, ideological, meaningful, and meaningless. Historical, original, and just plain tacky. The sheer numbers of boats and ships, even with the occasional duplication of names, suggests the staggering number of appellations currently in use around the world. Multiply that by the number of different languages and, well, there must be millions!
As inventive as the names themselves, are the superstitions we attach to them. Barely a century ago, Old World sailors feared it was bad luck to sail aboard a ship with a six-letter name. But if the name had seven letters, the ship was lucky. Even today many who purchase a pre-owned boat are reluctant to change the vessel's name -- it's bad luck. Those fortunate enough to launch a brand new boat, whose original name they have chosen, do so with a "christening" ceremony. This unlikely ritual requires a bottle of champagne to be broken across the bow (usually by a woman, who pronounces "I hereby christen thee "so-and-so"), thus somehow ensuring good fortune to the boat and lending the name an almost divine significance.
Have you ever looked at a beautiful yacht and then been sorely disappointed when you read the name on the transom? Sometimes we can't help feeling that we could have come up with something much more appropriate had it been up to us. But with so many boats afloat, great names are getting harder to invent. How do you come up with a really good, original name for your boat when all the useable names seem to be taken?
Well, there are actually lots of places to look for a boat name. Books, for example -- both fiction and non-fiction, from which you can pick a favorite character (like Peter Pan or Crazy Horse). In fact, the name of any favorite person is a candidate -- Vivaldi, Rocky, or your sweet Aunt Sara. Another place to look for a boat name is in your family or ethnic heritage: La Bamba, L'Chaim, Leprechaun, Lagniappe. Flip through a dictionary or a thesaurus for ideas. Try military names: Legionnaire, Trooper, or Scout. Movies (take your pick!) Songs, animals, weather, colors -- all are sources for interesting and creative boat names.
Other possible sources (and examples) for boat names are:
- Mythology (Pegasus)
- Astrology (Scorpio)
- Astronomy (Arcturus)
- Religion (Shaolin)
- Television (Cheers!)
- Nursery rhymes (Rockabye Baby)
- Geography (Pride of Newport)
- Sports (Home Run)
- Biology (Blue Eyes)
- Native American (Cochise)
- CB Radio (Big Mama)
- Brand Names (Liquid Joy)
- Liquor (Tia Maria)
- Flowers (Yellow Rose)
- Other Languages (Ma Chere)
- Electronic (Wavelength)
A few other categories or feelings to consider are:
- Utopian (Endless Wave)
- Romantic (Sweetheart)
- Celestial (Moonbow)
- Patriotic (Old Glory)
- Sparkling (Bubbles)
- Noble (Valiant)
- Mischievous (Incorrigible)
- Boring (_____'s Dream)
Books that might be particularly useful in searching for a boat name are various baby naming books, Let's Name It: 10,000 Boat Names (Corcoran & Hackler, Seascape Enterprises), and How To Name Your Boat (Michael Deer, Western Marine Enterprises). All include many pages of name suggestions, one of which might strike your fancy.
At least as much fun as naming the boat is naming the dinghy, the ship's tender. Some of the best dinks bear names that complement the mothership's. A boat named Thunder would naturally tow a dinghy named Lightnin' (or Rumble or Thor). Pelican's tender might be Bill. How about Meringue and Foxtrot? Spring Fever and Summertime Blues? Windward and Backward! Dinghy names are sometimes more fun simply because we don't tend to take them so seriously.
There is only one certainty when it comes to naming a boat: Most other people won't really like the name you pick. They'll all have "better" ideas. Actually, their ideas won't really be better -- just different. As different as people's personalities, lifestyles, and values are from each other. The only ultimate criterion for your boat's name is that you like it.
Like the song said: "You can't please everyone, So you've got to please yourself." (Ricky Nelson, Garden Party)
Tor Pinney is the author of Ready for Sea. You can visit his webpage at: <http://www.tor.cc/index.html>.
The editors almost hesitate to bring up boat names (again) since boat names created oodles of mail in early issues of this newsletter. But good old boaters are fixing up and naming boats, so we have to be a sport about offering resources that will be useful. For John Vigor's celebrated naming ceremony, go to http://www.boatus.com/goodoldboat/naming.htm. This article was published in Good Old Boat in July 1999. If you'd like to see other articles we've published which are currently posted on the BoatU.S. website, go to http://www.boatus.com/goodoldboat/.
Book reviews- See our Book Reviews page for more.
Great Adventure Stories: Against the Sea, edited
by Louisa Rudeen (Hearst Books, 2001; 250 pages; $12.95).
and The Greatest Stories Ever Told, edited by Christopher Caswell (The Lyons Press, 2002; 286 pages; $24.95).
Review by George Zimmerman, Olympia, Wash.
Winter is here. For most of us that means our sailboats are under wraps and days on the water are only a pleasant memory. For those of us who would like a brief respite, two recently published books may take us back on the water, if only in our minds. Great Adventure Stories: Against the Sea and The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told are anthologies of boating stories, with each adventure just long enough to complete on the bus commute to work or as a quick read before going to sleep.
Against the Sea, edited by Louisa Rudeen, has 24 power boating and sailing (mostly power) stories, told by authors who experienced "when nature turns from a gentle companion to a wrathful enemy; when the going gets rough and there is no place to hide; when it all comes down to a man and woman against the sea." Taken from articles previously published in Motor Boating and Sailing magazine, the book chronicles the extremes of boating. The table of contents provides brief summaries of the stories, so you can pick and choose your adventure, be it crossing the Atlantic in a 26-foot skiff, getting pulled overboard while fishing for marlin, or surviving in a raft after your sailboat has been sunk by an enraged whale.
This book acquainted me with the broader world of boating. I found a marked difference in the mentality between the powerboater (conquer the sea) and the sailor (partner with the sea). This provides me with a better understanding of the powered partners who share our waters. In some of the stories, I felt the reason for being "against the sea" was due to poor preparation or a disregard for the awesome and destructive capabilities of the sea. This was disturbing. Other stories demonstrate that in the world of boating . . . stuff happens. As boaters, we need to know our boats, equipment, navigation, and the other aspects of boating that make for safe passages. It's a quick and adventurous read.
The Greatest Sailing Stories Ever Told, edited by Chris Caswell, consists of 27 stories (fiction and non-fiction) written by sailors. I felt more at home with this book, as the sailing mentality pervaded the book. I missed the brief summaries in the table of contents that was included in Against the Sea, however each story is introduced with a brief bio of the author and his/her relationship to sailing. The stories cover man's love affair with sailing and the depths and relationship we sailors have with our boats and the sea. Written by the infamous, famous, and the not-so-famous, the time frame ranges from the days of the tall ships to the modern racing yachts of today. Stories include works from the pens of Tristan Jones, Joshua Slocum, C. S. Forrester, and Sterling Hayden. After reading the book, I was impressed by the collection of stories that Chris Caswell had pulled together. These sailing authors described many feelings I have experienced but was never able to put into words. In his introduction, Chris says he pictures the "readers of this book enjoying it in one of two places. The first is in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire and the second is tucked in a cozy pilot berth aboard a sailboat, with rain pattering on the deck and the smell of coffee on the galley stove." My experience was that it was enjoyable in both places.
Salty & the Pirates, by Marie Delaney (Midnight Caravan Publishing, 2002; 213 pages; $59.95).
Reviewed by Maeve Espy Feinberg (age 9), New York, N.Y.
As you sail along with Salty and the Pirates, you'll set out to solve a mystery packed with adventure and friendship. When Salty and his friends discover the old lost treasure of the ancient Zapotecs, they come to understand the real meaning of the legendary "power of light." While making one of their frequent trips to their "secret cave," Salty and his friend, Katie, discover adult footprints leading up to the cave and then to the local marina. Has someone been following them? For what reason? Salty and Katie are set on finding out who the ominous footprints belong to. This mysterious sign triggers a major treasure hunt that eventually uncovers the apparently "lost" treasure of the ancient Zapotecs. Along the way the reader will encounter pirates, thieves, skullduggery, and even mermaids!
Salty and the Pirates is not just a book, it is a complete kit with accessories and activities such as: a glossary, songs to sing, pictures to color, logs to fill out, colored pencils with sharpener, and a CD ROM which contains music for singing and playing and also a computer coloring system. All it lacks for the perfect cruise is a personal flotation device!
This book/package is geared for 8- to 12-year-olds. Though I enjoyed the detective/mystery aspect of the story, older readers may find themselves wanting a higher level of suspense and danger. Younger kids who may have trouble reading it to themselves, or who are emerging readers, may still really enjoy the story and some of the activities. A helpful addition might be to include a reading of the story on the CD ROM.
Salty and the Pirates may be just the right thing for passing the time away when you're stuck in the doldrums. I recommend this enjoyable activity book for lads and lassies shipping aboard with their parents. And, ahoy mates, there's a Salty II on the horizon.
The Boater's Handbook, 3rd revised edition, by Elbert S. Maloney (Hearst Books, 2002; 304 pages; $19.95).
Reviewed by Carl Smith, Chesapeake, Va.
One of the challenges and pleasures, of sailing good old boats is that you run the boat yourself. A big responsibility, one which requires experience, skill, and knowledge of many things. Much of the knowledge required is of things we use frequently, so it is at our fingertips. But there are many bits of knowledge that are infrequently used, some (we hope) never. Yet this is information we must know about and be able to access quickly should the situation arise. When you are out on your boat and have to make a decision, you often won't have the option of asking for advice or technical information. Then you consult one of the references or guidebooks you keep aboard. Since space is limited on boats, we need to keep the few books that give us the most information in a format that allows us to make use of it.
The Boater's Handbook has several good sections that offer sound and clear advice and several useful tables. Unfortunately, some parts are unclear, outdated and, in one or two cases, poor information. The section on emergencies is adequate, as far as it goes. It does not address being towed and does not tell you what to expect in the event of a helicopter rescue. The radio procedures section has some good bits in it but is not presented in a clear form. The section on maintenance has some very useful parts. Full-size drawings of various screw sizes would enable you to stop guessing and save a return trip to the hardware store. Going through the list and noting engine and tank capacities and repair part numbers is a good idea and will occupy you on a nasty winter night.
The book has very few "don't do this" items in it. Cautions about staying away from tugs and tows and ships in channels should be very clear, but they are not. I don't know where the table of recommended anchor gear sizes came from, but you won't see my Tartan 34 anchored on a 3/8-inch rode. A reference to silicone and polysulfide rubber caulking compounds as "new" must be a carryover from the first edition. The flag etiquette section takes up space and has a lot of fluff in it.
Elbert Maloney's book is a useful collection of information that has some value for novices, but my choice for on board reference is still the venerable, but regularly updated, Chapman's.
Storm Tactics Video, by Lin and Larry Pardey (L&L Pardey Books and Videos, 2002; 84 minutes, $29.95 video or DVD).
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Lin and Larry Pardey will be the first (and certainly the most credible) sailors to tell you that you won't encounter many storms at sea. They want to encourage cruisers to go now, not to continue to put it off until they can afford the ultimate cruising machine and gee-whiz safety equipment. They worry about the hyper-emphasis placed on gear by overly zealous folks marketing marine products of all sorts. And yet, as they tell us in their newest video, when you're out there, storms will happen about three percent of the time, and really big ones will happen about one percent of the time.
I'm a coastal cruiser, so the Pardeys' idea of "really big" and their boat's capabilities will vary from my opinion of "really big" and my boat's capabilities. For Lin and Larry, "really big" is when you have to heave to for the safety of the boat and the crew, although they remind you that heaving to is also very useful in milder conditions. Since it's simple to do, heaving to needn't be reserved for really awesome storms.
In this new video, Lin and Larry discuss heaving to and describe the process visually, something they always felt was missing from their previously published Storm Tactics Handbook. Much of the footage used in the video was made during the Pardeys' recent rounding of Cape Horn and in South Africa showing sailboats involved in an extremely windy race.
I have often noted that each proponent of a storm tactic will tell you what works for him and his boat and will neglect to mention that different boats behave differently. So I was pleased to see that Lin and Larry have been sensitive to this issue in their video; they discuss heaving to with different keel configurations and sailplans. They also focus on the use and deployment of parachute-style storm anchors.
Most important, they don't try to bully or scare you into buying their video or some piece of safety gear. In between the discussions and the visuals, they run footage of beautiful places and beautiful boats sailing . . . as a reminder, no doubt, about why you want to be out there cruising in the first place.
Lin and Larry want to spread the word about the simple practice of heaving to, which they refer to as the "sailors' safety valve." They don't think enough sailors know about or have experience heaving to with their boats. In fact, Lin writes, "Eight years ago Bob Rimmers (along with his wife and child), on a boat named Quartermaster, got caught out in the Queen's Birthday Storm north of New Zealand. We were sent a copy of the tape from Keri Keri radio which contained Bob's last words. After suffering several knockdowns, during which his wife was badly injured and water began filling the boat through damaged cabin windows, Bob Rimmers asks, 'What can I do?' The radio operator says, 'You can continue running, or you can heave to.' Bob Rimmers did not know how to get his boat to lie hove to and said, 'I guess I'll just have to keep running.' Those were his last words. Since hearing those words, we have had a mission: to make this program."
I believe that those words indeed motivated the development of this video, and I applaud the Pardeys for choosing to illustrate their Storm Tactics Handbook so capably. I'll stop short of saying that you can't go to sea without seeing it. That sounds too much like the sort of safety gear hyper-promotion that the Pardeys are wishing all manufacturers would cease.
A Prairie Chicken Goes to Sea, by Margo Wood (Charlie's Charts, 2002; 180 pages; $16).
Review by Fred Jones, Elephant Butte, New Mexico
After reading Margo Wood's autobiography I feel she is someone I would like to meet. Her story, starting with the day she was born, is simply fun reading. I could put it down anytime and enjoy mulling over her experiences; but when I wanted to sit down and relax, I needed to read a couple more chapters. Perhaps when you are securely anchored in your favorite cove, reading the book would make your day even better.
Her writing style is not stilted or academic, just eighth-grade English with the nautical words defined in the back for those who aren't sailors. She isn't trying to impress anyone, and I enjoyed the depth of feeling I could read between the lines. Except for the death of Charles and her parents' ostracism, I could relate to all of her experiences, and I think you will admire her, too, for the decisions she made and the advice she asked for. As I read along, I kept wondering when she would tell about her business, Charlie's Charts. It isn't until the last third of the book that Charlie started making his charts, beginning with charts of the northwest passage. My wife insisted that we buy his northwest chart, when we headed north from Bellingham, even though I told her that Northwest Boat Travel and Waggoners were plenty. Then much to my surprise, we used Charlie's charts just as much as the others.
Seems like when your wife gets to know a little about sailing she sometimes becomes critical of certain things you do; something Margo admitted doing. She tells how Charles broke her of the habit when he told her, "On any boat there can be only one captain. If you want to be captain, go ahead and make the decisions; otherwise I'll be captain. When I say something, do it! I'll take the responsibility for the decision, and if it's wrong we can talk about it later, but don't argue about it at the time." With this statement she become "crew" instead of "wife."
Another passage gives a clear picture of a storm they experienced: "As it turned out, that one-day gale was just an introduction to what the Pacific Ocean would deal us. Soon after, we found ourselves in a three-day storm that threatened to blow us past our destination of San Francisco. In order to reduce our speed, we rigged a sea anchor and lashed the wheel. The sound of the wind in the rigging changed its pitch from soprano to a scream."
I really enjoyed reading this book.
The 12-Volt Bible for Boats -- second edition, by Miner Brotherton, revised by Ed Sherman (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2003; 194 pages; $16.95).
Reviewed by David Publicover, Beaumont, Alberta
I don't know about you, but ever since we bought an older cruising sailboat I've developed a mild addiction to books about 12-volt electricity. There are many books available on the subject, but so far it's been hard to find one that wasn't either too complex, too simple, too theoretical, or simply outdated.
The 12-Volt Bible for Boats promises to explain a boat's electrical system so you can understand how your system works and how to maintain it in good condition. It also promises information about how to recognize when you have an electrical problem, how to troubleshoot to locate it, and what tools and techniques you'll need to fix common electrical system problems. After reading the book, I'd say that it does a good job in delivering what it promises.
One of the more pleasing aspects of the book is the emphasis on keeping things simple. The explanations of the theory of electricity were clear, concise, and (thankfully) covered quickly. The use of "magic triangles" to determine the watts, volts, amps or ohms of a piece of equipment or circuit was a real treat. I'm amazed at how many times a book throws out half a dozen algebraic formulae and expects the reader to commit them to memory. The "magic triangle" method is very simple to use and remember.
The book emphasizes the relationship between the electric gizmos that we cart onboard and our need to generate the power to run them. While it doesn't suggest going without electricity, it does point out that poorly planned changes and additions to your system may result in far more effort and expense than the intended convenience is worth.
Author Ed Sherman covers the standard topics of battery selection, maintenance and charging, wiring, motors, lights, and electronics. Some subjects are covered in more detail than others, but all are discussed with a focus on practicality. Unlike many books where unlimited wealth is assumed, The 12-Volt Bible for Boats openly leans toward saving your money. The book advocates the simple and less expensive route whenever possible but not to the detriment of safety. One of the best features of the book is the troubleshooting section and the maintenance tips. It's like having your local boatyard guru at your shoulder.
No book is perfect. The methods of charging and isolating battery banks could have been more detailed, and some of the diagrams could have been bigger. I found it annoying that the author's name was misspelled on the back cover. But overall, the book was clearly written and useful. By the time I had finished, I was ready to dig out my multimeter and head to the boat.
Fort Ross: The Ship in the Shadow, by Roger McAfee (Nighthawk Marine Limited, Vancouver, B.C., April 2002; 130 pages, $24.95).
Review by Norman Ralph, Mandeville, La.
In Fort Ross: The Ship in the Shadow, Roger McAfee presents readers with a smorgasbord of nautical reading. The foreword raises the question, "What vessel first circumnavigated the North American continent?" This is not answered until the conclusion of the book. For the history buff, there is a bit of history of the Canadian Arctic and the role of the Hudson Bay Company and its arctic freighters that sailed the ice-choked Northwest Passage to service its far-flung trading posts. For the lover of wooden boats, there is the description of the building of the Fort Ross in 1938. And for the armchair sailor, there is the account of the trip in 1969 by the author and a group of friends to bring the Fort Ross from Nova Scotia on the Canadian east coast through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.
The aforementioned topics each could stand alone as a fascinating subject for a book. However, the author has used the Fort Ross to tie these subjects together into one narrative. At times the reader feels like he is foundering in a sea of interesting, yet unrelated, material. But at no time does one lose interest in the story.
The information given on the construction of the Fort Ross reveals a wooden vessel that was built for the rigorous demands of the arctic north. She was 127 feet long with a beam of 28 feet 5 inches. Her frames were 10-inches x 10-inches on 18-inch centers. This meant that there were only 8 inches separating them, and a sister frame was bolted to each frame further reducing the space between frames. Her keel was 12 inches wide x 36 inches deep, with a 3-inch-thick shoe of oak. She was sheeted inside and out with planking from 3 to 5 inches thick!
The background events covered in the book take place over several hundred years and the account of the trip on the Fort Ross from the east to the west coast of Canada was told from a 30-year perspective. The reader must familiarize himself with the times of the late '60s to fully appreciate the mindset of those on the cruise. An interesting feature in the narrative of the trip is the personal remembrances of seven of the members of the crew. The passage of time and the fading of details results in some insights that are enjoyable. One wonders what their comments would have been if they had written them at the conclusion of the trip.
This book has a lot to offer the reader who enjoys insights into events of our past as well as accounts of memorable cruises by those who don't claim to "know it all." Since few of us consider ourselves to be experts, we can relate with the events in this book.
Mean Low Water, by Eileen Quinn (Eileen Quinn, 2002; 42 minutes; music CD, $14.95)).
Review by Dan Spurr, Bozeman, Mont.
Anybody remember the '70s song, "The Mighty Quinn"? The artist was Manfred Mann. Quinn, of course, was an Eskimo, the polar opposite of sailing songwriter Eileen Quinn's subject matter. Forgive me the free association. And for playing "The Name Game." (Banana-fanna-fo Quinn.) Segue to the CD spinning in my Sony boombox, left of center on my old leather-topped desk.
Eileen Quinn's business card and letterhead is subtitled, "music for sailors . . . and normal people." Cruising sailors might be more accurate, and to this "un-normal" audience her lyrics fly to the heart like a . . . er . . . uncontrolled jibe? Mean Low Water is Eileen's third CD, preceded by No Significant Features and Degrees of Deviation. As in the previous two, the songs are mostly about the cruising lifestyle and are usually comic, often satirical, though always there is an underlying and deeply felt appreciation for the sea and the world around her.
"Come Back Dinghy" resonates with anyone who has ever looked over the transom to find the dinghy gone. Yikes! Eileen writes, "I know you're out there somewhere, just beyond my reach, probably drinking margaritas, lying on a beach." In "What Do You Do All Day?" Eileen answers this unimaginative question ("it's so hard to resist a gleeful grin, when envy tinges their lily white skin, they're imagining a booze and sun-induced coma, while hoping that your liver's shot, and you've got melanoma"), by saying she's really "busting my tail, a slave to a hunk of fiberglass." Ain't that the truth. So much for the romance.
But in "Building a Boat," she sympathizes with the dreamy, angst-ridden man who sees his life slipping away, wishing for something powerful and life-altering. "It's not that he's unhappy, with the farm or the wife, it's just that haunting feeling, that there may be more to life." He sends away for boat plans and spends the next six years building his dream, only to die with the boat on the hard, "with the tiller in his hand." The moral here is: Go now!
Most man-woman teams will relate to "If I Killed the Captain," because, let's face it, a boat is a mighty small space for two people to spend any length of time. And when one yells at the other for some trivial transgression, like coiling the halyard "the wrong way," well, "perhaps I'd better kill the captain before he kills me." There's a little more edge to these lyrics than the others ("all that it would take is a timely little shove"), enough to give you the creeps, if only because you know that once in awhile someone does indeed push his -- or her -- partner over the side. After sailing away, listening to the screams, how does one atone? This song gives the impression that Eileen will worry about that later. At the moment, she's ripped. "I mistook him for the lonely singlehanding sort, but there seems to be an ex-first mate in every single port."
Occasionally Eileen unleashes a deeper, more soulful and melodic voice that reminds of Cheryl Wheeler. It's as if this strong and beautiful other voice is half-captive inside her, yearning to get out. Maybe we'd hear it more often were she not so dependent on clever lyrics. (Hey, whatever sells!) Be that as it may, she is a talented songwriter with a sharp wit, a songstress who knows her audience and understands her material, perhaps too well (watch your backside!).
To hear audio samples, visit Eileen's website at <http://www.eileenquinn.com>.
Easing Sheets, by L. M. Lawson (Paradise Cay Publications, 2002; 230 pages; $14.95).
Review by Chris Delling, Sterling Heights, Mich.
Most of the reading that I do about sailing is of a technical nature, but reading about how to get the perfect coat of varnish, racing tactics, or high-latitude cruising can get a little dry. Once in a while I really want a diversion -- a good yarn to pass away the cold winter nights. This suspense thriller, which entwines a cruising couple in a murder mystery fit the bill for me. Easing Sheets may be what you're looking for, too.
The story starts with a couple setting off on their first extended cruise -- from the Channel Islands of California, to Mexico's Baja Peninsula. When they happen to cross paths with a suspicious group on a stolen boat, the excitement begins. In fact, they repeatedly cross paths during the trip south. The story culminates in an exciting conclusion in Cabo San Lucas.
Lori Lawson tells a credible, entertaining story, wrapped around the cruising life. Her experience as a sailor is obvious here. Her descriptions of boat handling, sailing, and the cruising community are accurate and are an enhancement to the story, rather than being the reason for the story. This is a contrast to some works that overemphasize the sailing content, at the expense of a good story.
Overall, this is a very entertaining book. It overcomes a somewhat slow start and quickly develops into a book that you will have trouble putting down. It's a book that will be appealing to anyone who enjoys a good thriller -- not just sailors -- which in my opinion, is an indication of a well-written book. The fact that it can help snowbound sailors survive the winter is just an added benefit. It's not a must read, but I would recommend it nonetheless.
How to Read a Nautical Chart: A Complete Guide to the Symbols, Abbreviations, and Data Displayed on Nautical Charts, by Nigel Calder (International Marine, 2003; 237 pages; $14.95).
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
Using GPS and a chart plotter for detailed navigation, I have become over-confident. Jerry and I refer to our boat's system as "Nintendo navigation." We can go to a small lump protruding from the lake bed of Lake Superior at a depth of 15 feet -- one of our favorite anchoring places -- and drop our anchor there every time. That lump isn't much more than 30 or 40 feet in diameter . . . not much longer than our boat. We couldn't do this without GPS and the depth sounder, even though we know generally where it is.
This unwavering faith in our electronic system is setting me (and other sailors who share my feelings) up for a big comeuppance, according to Nigel Calder. And he's right. His newest book, How to Read a Nautical Chart: A Complete Guide to the Symbols, Abbreviations, and Data Displayed on Nautical Charts is just what the title says and a whole lot more. It includes an improved version of Chart Number 1. For this reason if for no other, it belongs on your boat. But it's real value is in the first sections where Nigel tells us that the charts aren't as accurate as our GPS, that our satellite-based navigation equipment may be operating on different datum than our chart's datum, and that there are limits to horizontal and vertical accuracy in all charts. Read this thoughtfully before putting the book on your boat's bookshelf. Nigel's message in these early sections is clear: Let the electronic mariner beware.
He warns us from becoming complacent and from cutting corners too closely. Nigel is one of the most humble of the current group of sailing authors and experts in that he makes mistakes and admits them freely in his books and magazine articles. The man who researches and tells us about the pitfalls of charts and the limitations of chart surveying methods goes aground and tells us so. Not even Nigel can ignore the Siren's call of electronic overconfidence. In this book he prints a photo of his boat, Nada, hard aground on a rock ledge off the coast of Maine.
So study this latest Calder book before your next cruise and take it along as a reference on chart symbols and abbreviations. There will be many times in the future after avoiding an inconvenience or a tragedy that you'll be thankful Nigel wrote this book and brought some very important navigational information to your attention. He has removed my over-confidence and replaced it with caution.
Jack Corbett: Mariner, by A. S. Hatch (Quantuck Lane Press, 2002; 270 pages; $24.95).
Review by Ken Young, Cape Coral, Fla.
Have you ever wondered what life on a square-rigger was like . . . not as Horatio Hornblower, but as a sickly apprentice seaman crossing the Atlantic on your first voyage? How would you stand up to the cramped quarters and sail changes in all weather? Would you know how to "slush" when ordered?
Jack Corbett: Mariner can open your eyes to the seaman's life in the mid 1800's. In 1849, at the age of 20, Alfrederic Smith Hatch, went to sea in the hope of finding a cure for asthma. He met an old Irish seaman who took him under his wing and taught him to be a sailor. Jack Corbett would help this boy survive his first passage to England and back. Hatch, in return, opens Corbett's eyes to the idea that life ashore is more than spending your wages on "women and drink."
Hatch and Corbett make just one voyage together. The narrative of this voyage forms the centerpiece of the book. But there is more to the story than one voyage. Hatch leaves the sea and over the next 30 years becomes one of the movers and shakers on Wall Street. In time, he becomes president of the New York Stock Exchange. He has a wife and 11 children. Enter a much older Jack Corbett.
Hatch convinces Corbett to look after his children as he once looked after Hatch. Corbett will be an eccentric part of the family until his death. In his later years, Hatch was a principle figure in establishing havens for old sailors and those who were down on their luck. These early "shelters" were the models for many of the rescue missions that are still with us today. The New York City Rescue Mission was co-founded by Hatch in 1872. This same mission is still operating today and provided much relief to victims of the 9/11 attacks.
This book shows that not every ship was filled with a wretched captain and crew. It made me stop and think about the mentors I have known and the gifts of their knowledge. Who would have thought that the kindness showed by an old sailor to a young man would bloom into the concept of rescue missions that still serve others today?
After being out of print for some time, Jack Corbett: Mariner is back. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the New York City Rescue Mission in the name of A. S. Hatch. At the website, <http://www.jackcorbett.com>, you will found a ton of links to sites dealing with packet ships, seamen and other subjects touched on in the book.
The Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design, by Meade Gougeon and Ty Knoy (Winchester Press, 1973: 177 pages).
Historical book review by Will Clemens, Los Altos Hills, Calif.
How can a boat sail faster than the wind? What is the most efficient hull shape? Why does a tall, skinny Marconi point better than an old gaffer? The aptly titled Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design explains the economic forces and technical improvements that have shaped sailing vessels from the first Egyptian rafts to 19th century clipper ships to iceboats and experimental multihulls.
According to the authors, the most advanced modern designs are the result of the relentless quests to improve windward ability, increase speed, and lower costs of construction and operation. Smaller, quicker vessels have triumphed, making dinosaurs of large ships optimized for tradewind sailing or for hauling multiple decks of cannon. Modern design culminates in light boats capable of outsailing the wind, such as Marconi-rigged iceboats and experimental multihulls.
For example, the most efficient upwind sail, the ubiquitous Marconi, is the result of many inter-related innovations. The power-looms of the 19th century produced tightly woven sails, enabling greater precision of sail shape and eliminating a deficiency of earlier fore-and-aft rigs. Herrreshoff's invention of sail track created a more efficient seal between the mast and sail and allowed for taller masts through spreaders and struts not possible when sails were rigged with mast hoops. Lessons learned through airplane design were applied to sail shape. Hollow masts -- and later aluminum masts -- combined with the elimination of extra spars reduced weight aloft. Lighter rigs reduced ballast and streamlined hulls. By the end of the 20th century, for the vast majority of boats, the Marconi improved to the point where its benefits outweighed those of all other rigs.
In looking to the future, the authors use iceboats and experimental multihulls to illustrate their predictions, which now may seem farfetched. After all, most of us still plod around with our single-spreader sloops and consider the vang or spinnaker (which the authors regard as an inefficient compromise) to be our most sophisticated aerodynamic tools. We are not, alas, skimming along on double-Marconi proas or shipping cargo on hydroplaning commercial sailing vessels. However, the discussion of experimental materials and designs does generate provocative concepts, and the reader will learn a great deal about the benefits and limitations of multihulls.
Writing 30 years ago, the authors blame racing rules for inhibiting innovation. Perhaps the true barrier today is the economics of the yachting industry, which forces mass production. The result is a lack of experimentation in new materials and the standardization of designs based on the all-around family cruiser or charter-fleet candidate. Perhaps a combination of easily customizable materials, such as epoxy and plywood or sheathed strip constructions and "mass-customizable" designs based on rapid prototyping and computer-controlled cutting, will shift the economics back to favoring one-off, local and experimental designs.
The Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design, co-authored by one of the Gougeon brothers, is available on the used market for $10 to $30. (If you're looking for good old books, ask BookMark: Mark@goodoldboat.com.)
A night on Anclote Key
Henry Cordova sent this lovely piece from his past. We just had to share it here.
We had planned the sail weeks ahead of time. It had been scheduled for a long weekend; supplies and camping gear prepared and the weather forecasts eagerly consulted up to the last minute. But as lovers often do, we quarreled -- for the last time as it turned out -- and I found myself towing the Pelican to the Gulf and launching her without any help. The island was four miles offshore and the wind favorable; I was confident I could make it there and have camp set up in time to get some fishing in before dark.
I had often sailed with green crew but never by myself, and the experience was not quite what I had imagined it would be: not only was I truly alone on the water, but I realized I had no real business there. Any minor accident or emergency could easily turn into a catastrophe, and I found myself acutely aware of my precarious position. Alternating with this realization was the recurring memory of the unpleasantness of a few hours earlier . . . the harsh words and the missed opportunities. The sea also has a way of finding our weaknesses, and this trip was no exception. The wind died briefly, then shifted and kicked up into a brisk breeze from the northwest. The little sloop was committed to a series of alternating long and short tacks into a steep and whitecapped sea. By the time I made it to the lee of the island and anchored securely, waded ashore, and pitched the tent, it was well after sunset. I was exhausted and, although I had not been in any real danger, I was disappointed at my reaction to what should have been a very pleasant sail. The sea and sky had sparkled with a dazzling intensity, but I was alone, and I was afraid.
In those days, the island was known only to the locals and a few professional fishermen, so I had it all to myself. On the weather side stretched one of the world's great beaches: three miles of perfect white sand, a hundred yards wide. Except for an automated lighthouse, there was nothing there but natural vegetation and an astonishing number of birds. I decided to go for a walk along the shore and reflect upon the day's events.
It was almost totally dark by the time my stroll began and a dim glow in the west marked the sun's last light. A very young crescent moon followed it into the sea, and several planets marched in single file along the ecliptic, revealing perfectly the plane of the solar system. Walking into the night, the rotation of the earth became apparent and, as the sky darkened, the Milky Way appeared, knotted and clustered and so bright that those poor unfortunates not familiar with a truly dark sky could have mistaken it for a cloud. With only a little knowledge of astronomy, the great circles of horizon, ecliptic, equator, and Galaxy provided clear evidence for the three-dimensionality of the cosmos. There was the unexpected appearance of increasing star density toward the Milky Way, giving the illusion of depth, a perspective vanishing point along the Galactic equator. One did not just look up at this sky, it was possible to look into it. It all made perfect sense, like being inside an immense armillary sphere, except that the earth was not at the origin. In fact, there was no center at all, and the planes of earth's horizon, revolution, rotation, and even of the Milky Way itself were simultaneously obvious, yet clearly arbitrary. There was no up or down, just endless axes extending forever into infinite space.
It suddenly became clear how even my meager knowledge of astronomy made it possible to appreciate the vast mechanism of the sky in a way that had been impossible for the ancients. I was also aware that other levels of reality also lie beyond our sight and understanding, and that at other scales of time and space my perception is just as flawed and limited as theirs was. We all understand this, of course, but we rarely ever feel it emotionally. I realized I had never really experienced the universe all at once, directly. Suddenly, all those textbook diagrams became concrete. There were other insights too, the events of the day, the personal and intellectual experiences so important to me, meant nothing at all to this immense indifferent coldness. The universe is incredibly old, extravagantly large, and almost unbearably beautiful, but most of all it is primarily empty. It was a devastating insight for a young man, and it haunts me to this day.
In a little over an hour I had hiked the long length of the island and was gradually strolling off the end. I knew the tide was rising, and I was brought back down to earth with the thought that I had better get back to the beach before I was stranded on the flats and had to get my clothes wet wading back. I did not relish the thought of an hour's walk back to the tent with soggy shoes and wet jeans slapping at my ankles. For the first time I switched on my light to find the driest path; I had forgotten that the north end of the key was one of the few suitable spots on that entire coast for sea birds to roost.
In an instant the air around me was clogged with ghostly shapes trying to dart out of the beam of my light; a blizzard of birds, screaming and shrieking at my audacity at awakening them. For a moment I was so dazzled and startled by the explosion of life that I almost panicked. I ran back to the beach and sat down on the sand in the dark until the birds quieted down and I could see again clearly by starlight alone. Once again I had that disturbing feeling: that in spite of the beauty around me, I had no business being there. All the way back, the waves washed across my boots and I gazed, with dark-adapted eyes, at the sparkling phosphorescent micro-organisms in the sea, almost as numerous as the stars themselves.
Dates to know
Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2003
Strictly Sail Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
Feb. 5-7, 2003
IBEX (12th annual International Boatbuilders' Exhibition and Conference), Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Feb. 13-18, 2003
- Strictly Sail Miami, Miami, Fla.
Apr. 23-27, 2003
Pacific Sail Expo, Oakland, Calif.
June 20-22, 2003
North House Folk SchoolWooden Boat Show, Grand Marais, Minn.
June 29, 2003
Master Mariners Benevolent Association Wooden Boat Show, Alameda, Calif.
- Sep. 25-28, 2003
- New York/New Jersey Sail Expo, Liberty Landing Marina, New York Harbor (This is a new show!)
Innovative racing and tight competition between John Harris and Chris Bauer
by Jerry Powlas
Readers of the January 2003 issue of this magazine will recall that the Good Old Boat of the Year (GOBooTY) awards were not a great success. The judges' panel failed to reach a verdict in the midsize and dinghy classes. At the end of the competition, the editors proposed a race between the two nominees in the dinghy class to settle matters and to get the trophy out of the Good Old Boat office.
The race was held in frosty conditions in Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland. The two boats raced around the aircraft carrier Rangerette, which won the Humongous Category against stiff competition from the all-carbon-fiber yacht, Hyperbole.
The event was something of an innovation in match racing because the spectators and race committee viewed the race from the flight deck of the Rangerette, which was, of course, positioned inside the racecourse. The starting line was marked by the masthead and range lights of the carrier. The starting gun was a specially recommissioned 5-inch 38 twin-mount, firing surplus chaff rounds. The powder charges had gained strength with age, unfortunately. The start was spectacular with the muzzle blast from the two five-inch guns giving the inside boat a slight edge.
Captain Robert Ashley, owner and commanding officer of the restored Rangerette positioned the carrier dead in the water, port beam to windward for the start and then held station by skillful maneuvering during the race. Because of recent restrictions about how close vessels may come to a merchant or warship, Captain Ashley's maneuvering essentially created the first sailboat racecourse that had right-of-way over other vessels.
The first lap of the two-lap race went well, with the traditional tacking duel before the start and a short windward leg followed by a reaching leg, during which the lead changed several times. Unfortunately near the start of the second beat, fog rolled in along with a pronounced windshift. Skippers John Harris and Chris Bauer were able to maintain contact with each other, but lost contact with the Rangerette for several hours. By the time the fog had cleared, they were trapped under the starboard bow of the flightdeck in a large wind shadow from the carrier. Both contestants were completely becalmed and hidden from spectators on the carrier.
It is surprising that neither skipper hailed the race committee on the flight deck, but by that time they had been involved in several altercations and had been warned by the judges that the next outburst from either skipper would result in disqualification. Perhaps each skipper kept his silence hoping the other would hail the ship and be disqualified.
The race committee and spectators became increasingly distraught because there had been no contact with the contestants for several hours, and darkness was imminent. Finally Captain Ashley cleared the flight deck and launched an antique British Swordfish torpedo bomber to search for the racers. This was the only aircraft on board that did not require the carrier to steam upwind for a launch. Unfortunately the fog closed in again, causing the Swordfish pilot to divert to a commercial airfield where his unannounced landing between two commercial airliners caused the control tower some anxious moments.
Captain Ashley finally called the Coast Guard, who found the Rangerette after first stopping two other carriers. Upon arriving on the racecourse, the Coast Guard discovered the becalmed dinghies and gave out citations to all three vessels. The Rangerette was cited for holding a race without a permit, and the contestants were cited for not filing a float plan and for approaching a warship closer than the 1,000-yard limit. By the time all the forms were completed, it was too dark to continue the race.
Since the race was canceled, the race organizers are considering an offshore race in the near future to resolve the dinghy class competition. The animosity between these two well-known sailors continues. They, of course, agreed to the new offshore race.
We will keep you advised.
Expect the unexpected
Bill Sandifer shares these words of wisdom
Most owners of Good Old Boats expect the unexpected in certain areas and therefore are not normally surprised when problems occur. I daresay one of the most prevalent problems on my boat has been difficult to trace weeps and leaks every time it rains. I diligently removed all of the portlights and recaulked them, checked the vents and hatches on the coach house roof, re-bedded the slides for the sliding hatch. And still the boat leaked. This was a strange leak in that it would puddle at the foot of the mast but was not running down the mast support pillar. Its origin was unknown.
The only thing left on the coach house roof was the grabrails, but they all had evidence of caulking under them and were through bolted, so I had discounted their leaking until that was the only thing left unchecked. The grabrails were old and had weathered considerably. I was determined to replace them at some point in the life of the boat, and this was the time for the replacement. All the bolt holes were neatly plugged with teak bungs and appeared to be professionally done. The rails had been installed on the boat since it was built.
When I bought the boat, the broker told me about the leaks, and it was obviously from the amount of silicone caulking in various odd places that the previous owners had tried to staunch the flow.
With my usual gusto I removed all four grab rails. To my surprise, on the port forward rail there were six teak bungs, but when I removed the rail, there were only five bolts. One bolt hole was empty. There was a hole in the deck where the bolt should have gone that landed exactly on top of the aft head bulkhead, so it had been impossible to fit a bolt into the hole. The hole was uncaulked, and there was no screw. But there was no way to know this without removing the rail. This was the source of the mysterious leak. Obviously, some worker when building the boat had predrilled all the holes, tried to fit bolts into all of them, and when he could not fit this sixth bolt because of the bulkhead had carefully camouflaged his mistake with a teak bung and left the hole empty. The boat had been leaking through this hole for all 24 years of her life. I was lucky the water ran straight through the deck and did not invade the core. I have since removed all the rails, and this was the only omission.
In another area of the boat, the exhaust hose, which was wire-reinforced rubber marine exhaust hose, was showing signs of deterioration. It has been deteriorating ever since I bought the boat, and I have kept an active eye to be sure it was not about to burst or cause major problems. I had planned on replacing it the following year when I had the finances available. This exhaust hose costs between $5 and $10 a foot and, as I needed more than 10 feet of it, the investment was substantial. The other day, when checking the lazarette and the exhaust hose, I noticed several broken strands of wire reinforcing on the hose. The hose was telling me its time had come. Money or not, it had to be replaced before it ruptured and filled the bilge with engine cooling water, thereby sinking the boat. When I pulled the hose out from under the cockpit where it had been run, I found that the part of the hose that I was observing was the better part of it. Extensive deterioration of the wire reinforcing had occurred out of sight under the cockpit sole. I was fortunate to find the deterioration before it became critical. When I removed all of the hose, it was all in bad condition even though on the surface some it looked reasonable.
This should serve as a reminder that what you see is not necessarily what is there and that the hidden spots in a mechanical system's routing are where the problems are going to show up.
Hose clamps, stuffing box hoses, exhaust hoses, and all rubber and steel products have a limited life on a boat. I was wrong thinking I could get "just one more season's use" out of my exhaust hose. Preventive maintenance and diligent inspection of all components are a requirement for safe use of our boats.
I hope you don't have any of these unexpected occurrences whether from the builder or through age on your boat. Check carefully to avoid the unexpected.
In our earliest newsletters we collected a list of marine consignment stores around the country. Folks wrote in to tell us of stores they knew of in their boating areas. We learned of a new one lately, so maybe it's time to print the complete list once more. The new one is PS Boat Stuff in Kemah, Texas. If you're down that way, stop in!
If you know of others or have additional contact information for those listed here please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
New items from the Coast Guard
Life jacket law for kids under 13
The United States Coast Guard's Life Jacket Rule went into effect Dec. 23, 2002. The Coast Guard is now requiring that all children under 13 years of age wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets while aboard recreational vessels underway, except when the children are belowdecks or in an enclosed cabin. Penalties for a boat operator who fails to have all children under the age of 13 wear a life jacket are similar to those for failing to have life jackets on board. Penalties may be assessed up to a maximum of $1,100 for each violation.
This rule affects only those states that have not established requirements, by statute or rule, for children to wear life jackets. For the remaining states, the rule recognizes and adopts the existing state regulation, even if it is less stringent. States with no current regulation for life jacket wear by children include: Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, the Northern Mariana Islands, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Nav system interference
U.S. Coast Guard warns mariners that certain marine television antennas may interfere with the performance of GPS receivers. The interference can result in inaccurate position information or a complete loss of GPS signals. This is a potential hazard to navigation, for the operator of the vessel with the television antenna and for nearby mariners, as the interference is not limited to the GPS equipment onboard the vessel with the antenna. In some cases, vessels up to 2,000 feet away from an active antenna have reported interference. The Federal Communications Commission identified the following models of antennas as having potential problems during investigations of GPS interference:
If mariners experience outages or degradation of their GPS receiver operation, they should perform an on-off test of their marine TV antenna. If turning off the power to the antenna results in improvement in the GPS receiver performance, the antenna may be the source of interference. In that case, the mariner should contact the manufacturer of the antenna and identify the symptoms. It is stressed that the GPS interference problem may not be limited to the models listed above.
Gaffe, you say?
Why do we love our readers so much? Well because they notice our mistakes and are gentle with their corrections. In the first sentence (under a headline "To err is human . . . ) our December newsletter stated: "Many thanks to those who received our email message about our latest gaff and came back with condolences." Much to our chagrin, we couldn't even get THAT right! Frank Whaley took us aside quietly with an email message that said only: "Sure is. Gaffe was the word you wanted. Gaff is for sailors. Goes up and down the mast. Holds the sail up." We figure this is what comes of making our hobby a lifestyle and our business. We read way too many sailing books and magazines. Can there be any other kind of gaff? Thanks, Frank.
Bravo on your editorial ("Credit where credit's due," January 2003). You are talking about something called a paradigm shift. (Paradigm: Short change for a quarter.) That's what happens when technology changes the way we do something. Diesel locomotives replaced steam. Airplanes replaced trains. The Internet is replacing the post office. Curiously, the leaders in the last paradigm rarely even participate in the next one. Locomotive manufacturers don't build airplanes. It's bigger than that. The majority of the companies in the Fortune 500 during the Korean War are not in business today.
What does paradigm shift theory have to do with your editorial? Plenty. Sea Dogs were not held in high esteem for their ability to ride out storms. The boat did that. It was their ability to sail past the sign that reads "Beyond here there be dragons" and arrive somewhere near their destination that sets them apart from those of us who carry road maps and topos in our chart case. Sextant envy put them on a pedestal above mere coastals and river runners.
Today, the price of a plastic sextant will buy a handheld GPS and a bag of batteries that will beat the sun sights of any Sea Dog. And it will give you projected time of arrival, VMG on each tack, and play back the whole course to boot. For the price of a brass sextant, you can buy something with the charts of the world in it . . . and email, weather fax and slow scan images. Not only does the technology duplicate what the old technology can do, but it adds capability that the Old Salt could not even dream of.
What about breakdowns? Sextants fail, too. So do radios, watermakers, rigging, and engines. A handheld GPS and a pack of batteries are cheap backup.
An unknown philosopher once said, "Oceans don't kill sailors.
It's the hard bits around the edges that kill sailors." Technology
may have replaced the sextant. It cannot replace coastal
Signal Mountain, Tenn.
Three in one
Your Jan/Feb issue is an unusually good one (and that's in comparison to an already high standard). You've reached three subjects important to Babs and me in a single issue. We're 1) geriatric sailors in our seventies who find 2) water sources are the limitation that send us to civilization. We run a 3) good old motorsailer, a Gulf 32. Ted Brewer's article helps to inform our desire for a little more room. Great job. Thanks.
That said, I have to take exception to your editorial in this
issue. I think you've missed the point. Trying to establish or
even accepting other folks' establishment of a hierarchy of types
of cruising is contrary to what's important to most of us.
Voyaging just is. Inshore cruising just is. Trying to set one
above the other is like deciding whether roast beef is better than
apple cider. And on top of that, it's also contrary to what
Good Old Boat is all about. We don't compete; we just
Peter and Babs McCorison
You said it so very well. That is exactly what Good Old Boat is all about.
Change is not always good
We're so glad that Good Old Boat is working out because its format is so unpretentious, down-to-earth, and honest, and your refusal to use the cover as a contents promotion is heroic by today's standards. Over the past few years, I have watched Australia's only worthwhile magazine go upmarket and, in so doing, lose all its hard core readers. After a short honeymoon with new readers, it is now struggling. An exercise in futility has left both the publisher and its original readers floundering. Change is not always good. Which is my way of saying that I hope Good Old Boat never changes. It is unique in the world of boating mags.
Good luck buying your own trailerable boat. It's as near to
"instant cruising" as you can get. I confess, I sometimes envy its
Alan and Patricia Lucas
New South Wales, Australia
Alan has written several articles for Good Old Boat, most recently the refit of Renee in the January 2003 issue. He knows the editors have been looking for a trailerable boat to use when the northern waters are too hard for cruising. As this issue goes to press, we're fairly confident that the search has come to an end. More on that some other time . . . when we're sure . . . when we're a two-boat family (egaads)!
Your company is the best. I ordered two copies of The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow, one for my dad in Ohio, who convinced me as an 8th grader to buy a Mirror dinghy kit. (There was a big following in Cleveland, Ohio.) Then he convinced me to build the boat which we did over the next three years herky-jerky; I have been hooked on sailing ever since.
I found your mag and love it. I bought all back issues and
newsletters and am using them to redo my 1970 Sabre (UK) 27 that
Dad and I sail when he visits here in Rhode Island. Anyway thanks
for the quick correct reply. You would never get that from 99
percent of publishers . . . and on the weekend, too!
Rob was having trouble locating the Jack de Crow book about sailing in a Mirror dinghy on the Good Old Boat Bookshelf. It is there (along with nearly 3,000 more sailing books!) but when searching it's best to leave out "The" in books starting as this one does, The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.
A new Catalina 27 fleet
I am from West Vancouver, Canada, and I noticed that more than 20 Catalina 27s were in the vicinity. I have become an avid racer but I have noticed that most people have looked at racing as being just for people who are rich or own a raceboat. I am hoping to attract and organize a small C-27 fleet of people who want to race. We have a start with three C-27s. I am inspired by the Annapolis C-27 fleet, with the number that have turned out and with their well-organized webpages.
West Vancouver, Canada
Seafarer net changes
Thanks for making the sailing life even better for "the rest of us." That particularly applies to Seafarer owners, of course, since production stopped in 1985 and all our boats are good old boats. The website for Seafarer owners that I've hosted for the past two years just became easier to get to. The new url is <http://www.seafareryachts.net>. All Seafarer owners are encouraged to send along a photo of their boat to dock in our "virtual marina" online.
Looking for missing Tartan
We are looking for Tartan 34 owners who are not yet members of the Tartan 34 Owners' Association. We need information on their boat, its hull number, the owners whereabouts. If they just tell us who they are, we can get to them a copy of a profile form, add them to the association, and include them as subscribers to the yearbook. The link to the website for the association is: <http://t34.tartanowners.org>. Thanks for your help.
Glad I subscribed
Like everyone else who's new to sailing, I eagerly scooped up and read almost every available sailing magazine always looking for the one that simply "reads" right. Oh, there are plenty of them out there, most with good articles and even better photography . . . problem is I always felt a little "out of step" with what's inside them. Could it be because I'm not a millionaire and can't afford a 250k yacht or a new 3k inflatable with a 8k radar system? Maybe . . . also might be because I'm NO expert with 30 years of sailing and racing experience . . .
Then, I ran across your website with a offer for a free magazine. ordered it, and subsequently subscribed. BAMM! You people have it right . . . reviews, articles, and stories about things us "working-class folk" can relate to. You can bet I'll renew my subscription when the first year's up.
My version of a good old boat . . . after trying sailing for
one year to see if I'd like it (after nearly 15 years of REAL fast
power boats), I went from a Kells 23 to a Catalina 25 . . . bit
more room, better sailing. Well, I decided that I was REALLY
hooked and just moved up to a classic . . . Morgan 382! Bad part
is it's gonna' be on the hard until spring, and winters here in
upstate New York are long. Guess I'll have to do a lot of reading
I just signed up for a one year subscription after receiving my sample copy. Man! What a great and original boating magazine! I love the center graphical section in each issue. The articles are very useful and the website is a real gem. There seems to be a lot of care and thought in each issue, and the idea of creating a community with a magazine (as opposed to a customer database) is way cool. Very underground. I was wondering about the characteristics of "the rest of us." I decided that two characteristics might be: not a lot of money and no wood fetish.
Surrey, British Columbia
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
A letter from Pearlfish:
The day after Thanksgiving is cold, by New Orleans standards anyway. For a hellish couple of months Pearlfish was laid up with fuel pump problems, and I was likewise out of commission with breakdowns at work. We both languished. But we're together again, this time in a small river on Lake Pontchartrain's north shore. We are nestled in the cypress forest just a cable or two from the upscale weekend camps of New Orleans' well-to-do.
And it's cold; it has dropped to 45 or so in the cabin which, for this southern boy, counts as cold. Earlier today, I tried to finesse an invitation to tie up for the night from a man doing the brightwork on a really nice, 40-foot double-ender. You know the kind of boat, the ones most of us can't afford even to fantasize about. There he was in the late fall sun, lovingly varnishing an already perfectly varnished gunwale on the outboard side of his beauty. She was securely moored to a very long, very new, deepwater bulkhead guarding his weekend hideaway from pan-handling bayou tramps. All this tramp wanted was to borrow an empty 30 feet of bulkhead and only for a night at that.
"Maybe blowing a little sunshine up his dress will win us the invitation to tie up," I thought. So I complimented him on his boat while my 34-year-old Easterly 30 and I crept past. I says, "Your boat sure is a honey," thinking all the while the quiet burble of the Atomic 4 idling in gear at 700 rpm will seduce this guy, even if Pearlfish and I are both a bit down at the heel.
He looks me and my old boat up and down and comes back with "Just what kind of boat is that?"
I abandoned subtlety. "Do you know a good spot for the Pearlfish and me to tuck in for the night?" As I spoke, I eyed the long, empty bulkhead, built seemingly just to tantalize old men who haven't kept up with their own boat's varnish. He suggested a place about a mile upstream, "just past the swing bridge." Accepting defeat, we went. Sadly, that spot overlooked a junk pile. Ours today was not to keep the company of weekend retreats and fine yachts.
So Pearlfish and I anchored instead in the lee of a small stand of cypress and water oak surrounded by herons and cormorants, far from both junk and reluctant hosts. But, it is cold, and I write this missive while huddled over a small butane stove. Of course, what I really wanted was not just a spot along the bulkhead but for my fellow yachtsman to remark on "How cold it's getting . . . " and ask if I wouldn't like a power cord for my electric heater? And, of course, he rightly understood "If you give a mouse a cookie . . . "
So for tonight, my lot is a butane stove and a fuzzy union suit -- Oh, and a steak supper and a glass or two of the grape. I may be cold, but I'm not hungry.
New Orleans, La.