June 2006 Newsletter
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Your editors have been spending time north of the border this spring, and we can’t contain ourselves any longer. It’s time to report on the beauty of our neighbor to the north. While our nearest (and favorite) cruising ground is the north shore of Lake Superior, we are currently enjoying an exploration of the North Channel of Lake Huron. Both gorgeous cruising grounds are in the absolutely huge and wondrously diverse province of Ontario.
The most recent trip to launch our boat in late April was the reason for this outburst of appreciation. We drove north through Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (both beautiful places in their own right), crossed into Ontario at Sault Ste. Marie, and drove along the north shore of Lake Huron. We watched the north country spring into bloom as tree leaves unfurled and daffodils burst forth. We gloried in a couple of sightings of sandhill cranes on both sides of the border.
After we launched the boat, the real revelation was the return trip. We drove (for the first time) on the northern half of the “Great Circle Route,” which loops around Lake Superior. This is Highway 17, also known as the Trans-Can. The scenery unfolded for us from east to west as if we were watching a movie. Geologic formations changed as we drove along: granite, sandstone, sand dunes, mountains, marshes, bogs, and a wide assortment of rock varieties that we could marvel at but not name. There were moose alongside the road, and soaring eagles overhead. It was as lovely as the cruising grounds we see so often from the waters’ edge. This time we were looking at it from the other side of the shore. We were transfixed. We were awed. We were impressed. “Oh, Canada,” as the national anthem states, “glorious and free!”
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In the news
You already know about the short reading done by editor Karen Larson called “Get Off the Lake.” This was offered as a free download and gathered up a great deal of positive comment (even Karen was surprised). Encouraged by that response, we have added another reading of a moving tale by subscriber and Good Old Boat contributor Don Davies. Don sent a wonderful piece about the loss of his friend and fellow sailor, Stan Appleby, as a possible article for the magazine. Instead, we asked him to record it for us. He did this beautifully. “Past the Yardarm: Remembering Stan Appleby” is available as a free download along with “Get Off the Lake.” Go to http://www.audioseastories.com/. The free downloads are at the bottom of the page. Caution: these pages are in the process of revision and anything can happen in the next month or two. Keep an eye on what we’re up to with our audio production. We’re producing new books like hotcakes!
We’re catching on to this “podcast thing” after some flubbing around with new technology. (We may be “early adopters” in some ways, but we’re certainly not all that early at comprehending all the fine details.) Want to take a look or a listen to what we’ve done so far and to find the podcast version of this June newsletter? Go to: http://AudioSeaStories.net/.
We realize this is a learning curve for all of us. We heard from Andy Goldsmith, who said, “I managed to get the April newsletter into my iPod but, I am certain, not in the correct way. Can you give 1-2-3-type instructions? I somehow managed to download it to iTunes into the music section, then to the iPod.”
We sent something that may have helped Andy but promised to put something together for “the rest of us” with the next newsletter. Andy suggested: “How to get the newsletter or book on tape into an iPod and at least one other type of device would be a good topic for the newsletter. As these get cheaper, I could see long-distance sailors having a spare, full of music and a number of books on tape, in a waterproof box. I am still struggling on how to do this smoothly.”
Good Old Boat pennant
Our first Good Old Boat pennants were delivered in the dead of a Minnesota winter. So the timing wasn’t quite right for shooting a good nautical image of a happy boat with pennant fluttering in the breeze. Spring has come and boats have been launched, but we haven’t been sailing yet (as of the writing of this newsletter). And we are finding that good photos of pennants/burgees are hard to get. So here’s the deal: buy one of our pennants (they’re $19; go to http://www.goodoldboat.com/navigation_tools/accessories.html), shoot a photo of it this summer and send us that photo. If we publish it in the magazine, newsletter, or on our website, we’ll send you a Good Old Boat T-shirt. We’d like good photos but we’ll publish quite a few. This won’t be like winning the lottery. Besides, we’ve got a bunch of T-shirts we’d like to get on our readers. So get some pennant photos please (try to say that three times quickly). This is Karen’s project, so all questions and photos should be addressed to her. Email Karen. While you’re at it, tell her what size T-shirt you’d like.
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What's coming in July?
For the love of sailboats
• Hughes 25 review
• Nonsuch 30 review
• Pearson 36 refit
• The rebirth of Maruska (a Pearson 365)
• Spray and other circumnavigators by Ted Brewer
• Navigating locks
• Living with propane
• Fixing a sticky rudder
• The evolution of a cruising boat, Part 1
• Mainsail Handling 101
• An all-purpose settee berth
Just for fun
• Maker of model sailboats, Will Lesh
• In love with LOWISA
• Transatlantic with eight kids (what was he thinking?)
• Lake Superior center spread
• Lin Pardey looks at long-distance cheeses
• Flyinga Jet 14
• Quick and easy: Curing anchor line chafe; Tool leash; Halyard chocks
• Simple solutions: Build your own cradle; Dealing with a downsized outboard
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In other news
Archives & Collections Society
Here’s a real find: Fred Street tells us about the Archives & Collections Society of Picton, Ontario, a not-for-profit, charitable organization devoted to marine education, conservation, and research. Sailor and sailing writer Paul Adamthwaite is the executive director.
What do they do there? For one thing, they’re archiving issues of Good Old Boat magazine and many other nautical publications. Their holdings (about 80,000 documents) mainly focus on North American maritime heritage and history. Some of the materials (books in particular) are duplicated there and they’re offering the extras for sale. Their website is very extensive; see for yourself the many gems they make available online at http://www.aandc.org.
Boaters have lobbying help on the web
Is a boat ramp closure being considered in your neighborhood? Is your municipal marina going to be sold? Does your town or county need public support to fund a new boating project?
Boatowners have a big stake in what goes on in their communities. Local ordinances passed in meetings that are poorly publicized, or unattended by recreational boaters, can have a major impact on boating. BoatU.S., the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters, believes boaters need to get involved to protect their lifestyle.
“While national associations can have a tremendous impact on Congress, local politicians want to hear from their constituents on local issues,” said Michael Sciulla, senior vice president of BoatU.S. government and public affairs.
To give boaters the tools to fight these local battles, the BoatU.S. Government Affairs team has developed the online “Grassroots Lobbying Tool Kit” at http://www.BoatUS.com/gov/toolbox. The toolkit won’t solve every issue, but it will give boaters insight on how government works and what they can do to effect change. The site includes information on local lobbying tactics, civics 101, writing to elected officials, forming coalitions and getting publicity.
Pains Wessex, of the UK, is recalling two batches of its White Collision Warning (MK7) Hand Flares. The flares, lots 2045 and 2046, were sold under their own name and as part of Collision Warn-Off Kits and ORC RORC Distress Kits. Lot numbers can be found on the tube of the flares.
Do not use the flares; return them to the place of purchase for replacement or, if that is not possible, take the flares to the nearest chandler. A 24-hour help line can be reached at +44(0)2392 623962 or go to http://www.pwss.com.
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Benefit for Children's Sailing Program
Sierra Nevada Community Sailing Corporation
June 10, 2006
Harrah's Resort in Reno, Nev.
Roy Disney and Leslie DeMeuse will be the guest speakers for this benefit. For details go to http://www.nvsailing.org or call Kerry Meyers, 775-425-3646 or Lori Jones, 775-852-2320.
Capri25s/American Diabetes Association Regatta
June 16-18, 2006
Wayzata Yacht Club, Lake Minnetonka
The third annual Capri 25 one-design championship will be held in conjunction with the Wayzata Yacht Club’s American Diabetes Association Regatta. Contact Dutch Bull at 651-778-3338 or go to http://www.wyc.org/capri25 for more information.
Celestial Navigation Celebration
June 16-18, 2006
Mystic Seaport Planetarium
The Celestial Navigation Celebration is devoted to preserving the art and practice of celestial navigation. Celestial navigation enthusiasts and practitioners, as well as professional and private historians of science, will be meeting to discuss the history and future of celestial navigation.
Events of the Celestial Navigation Celebration weekend are free of charge and open to all. If you plan to visit other exhibits at Mystic Seaport while you’re there (and you certainly should!), you will need to purchase regular museum admission or a museum membership. Some events during the weekend are sponsored by the Susan P. Howell Memorial Fund. If you’re planning to attend, please e-mail Frank Reed. Details can be found at http://www.mysticseaport.org or http://www.fer3.com/mystic2006.
June 17-18, 2006
Billed as “The Global Celebration of Sailing on the Solstice,” this 6th annual international event was founded to connect the global sailing community in a fun, creative, multifaceted, multi-location sailing holiday. Go to http://www.summersailstice.com for information about how to participate.
Master Mariners Benevolent Association
June 24, 2006
Corinthian Yacht Club
The Master Mariners Benevolent Association will hold their annual meeting and party at the Corinthian Yacht Club. For more information, go to http://www.mastermariners.org.
2006 Wooden Boat Show
June 25, 2006
Corinthian Yacht Club, Tiburon, Calif.
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
The annual boat show gives the Master Mariners a chance to show off their classic boats (there are generally 60 vessels on display in the show) and share their history with the public. A number of awards for boats will be given, including the Stone Cup. There will be activities for children on the deck, including model boatbuilding, making it a great outing for the entire family. Refreshments and a BBQ will be available. Boat show proceeds (there is a $10.00 entrance fee; children under 12 are free) go toward the Master Mariners Benevolent Fund, which provides funding for sail training scholarships or skills associated with restoring traditional sailing craft. For more information, go to http://www.mastermariners.org or email the boat show director or call (415) 364-1656.
Vessel Safety Check
May 20-July 9, 2006
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has announced its annual Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Mega Weeks will run from May 20 to July 9 this year. A VSC is a free check of any recreational vessel to ensure that the vehicle is in compliance with all federal, state and local equipment requirements. The dates, times and locations of the Vessel Safety Check stations will be available from your local USCG Auxiliary Flotilla. Schedule information can also be obtained at many local marine retailers and marinas, or you can contact a vessel examiner directly by signing on at http://www.VesselSafetyCheck.org and clicking the “I Want A VSC” button.
Cape Dory Rendezvous, Northeast Fleet
July 27-30, 2006
Watch Hill, R. I.
Contact Dick Barthel at 860-627-0840, email Dick; or Bob Emmons 609-758-7862, email Bob; or visit http://www.capedory.org for more information.
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April Fool's greetings to Geoffrey
I enjoyed the preview of the Narwhal in the April 2006 newsletter. Please convey my best wishes to Geoffrey Toye. I am very thankful to him for undertaking this fascinating research, which has, potentially, hundreds of applications. Think about dog-control fences around yards and all kinds of security applications.
My wife got her Ph.D. in physics from the Stockholm University and recalls some fascinating seminars with Dr. Loof Prila. She reports that years ago he was anything but transparent in his interests, was superb in both hot and cold liquid refreshment, and could very well have deliberately confused smorgasbord and steuerbord as a practical joke.
121 boats in 11 hours?
Don Davies (yes, the same of “Stan Appleby fame” mentioned earlier in this newsletter) threw an offhand comment our way recently. He said, “We launched our club yesterday; 121 boats on the same day. We start at 6:30 in the morning and usually open the bar somewhere around 5:30 or 6, after all the cradles have been stacked and the parking lot is cleared of winter’s debris.”
“Say what?” we asked. “How is that possible?” What follows is Don’s description of the most organized boat launch and haulout operation ever. The Highland Yacht Club is located at Bluffer’s Park, a protected harbor five miles east of Toronto Harbor on Lake Ontario. The Club’s website is http://www.highlandyachtclub.ca.
“It’s interesting that you ask because I’ve always been impressed with the way it’s done. The other clubs in our area are similar, but many hire people to do the entire operation.
“We have 121 boats strewn across our parking lot and out on a grass point that is a picnic area in the summer. All, except perhaps seven, are on cradles. Many are 38 feet or longer, and some are cement hulls that weigh a lot. (We have several boats that have circumnavigated or taken extended voyages.)
“The crane comes in the night before and sets up on its first lift. This is a position close to the water amid the yard full of boats. At 6:30 a.m. on launch day the first work crew, comprised of yacht club members, shows up. Each has a specific task.
“One person has the lift order list and a stick with a bright red arrow on it. In turn, he stands by each boat scheduled to go in the water so the crane operator and all the workers know which boat’s turn it is.
“One person is in charge of ‘tag lines.’ These are the lines connected to the bow and stern of each boat so it can be controlled while in the air. That person brings the lines to the boat.
“Two of the sling crew wear deck shoes and are designated to go up top. They put the tag lines on and also guide the slings around the bow and stern of the boat.
“On the ground we have five people, one for each corner of the boat and a crew captain to decide if the slings have to be broken and slipped through the cradle and under the boat or if they can go around each end. The four corner people make sure that the slings are on their marks and not in contact with cradle pads, through-hulls, or propeller shafts.
“Once the slings and tag lines are in place, the shift signal man signals the crane operator to lift the boat. The boat is airborne and two other sling crew members (usually the tallest in the club) control the boat by the tag lines so that it is headed for the water bow first.
“At the dock, another crew of five is waiting. They grab the tag lines and guide the boat into the water beside the dock and then scramble on board to release the tag lines and give them to the tag line runner (who returns them to the sling crew). The crewmembers on board guide the slings from under the boat, so they don’t catch on the rudder, and the skipper goes aboard, starts the engine, and motors to his slip. We also have a club towboat for boats with engines that won’t start.
“Following along after the sling crew is the cradle crew. They have wrenches and wire to tear down the cradles and wire them up for safe storage. Following them is a tow motor that takes the cradle bases over behind our workshop and stacks them up for work next year.
“We’ve been doing it for years now and, touch wood, never had an accident. It usually takes about five minutes or so per boat, and each owner is charged for the time his boat is on the crane. This is to assure that every boatowner has his boat ready with nothing loose on deck, sling positions clearly marked, and he or she is there to approve the placement of the slings before the boat is lifted. We have three different lift positions for the crane so it isn’t lifting too much weight over too great a distance. We have two complete crews. One works from 6:30 a.m. until noon and the other takes over until the last boat goes in and the last cradle is put away. This year the bar was open about 4:30 p.m.
“Haulout is the same operation in reverse, but it takes longer because the boats have to be positioned carefully on the cradles. That usually takes all day Saturday and half a day Sunday. It’s really a very precise, military operation, but everyone has a lot of fun. Coffee, doughnuts, lunch, and dinner are all prepared in the clubhouse and available for pennies at the appropriate times.
“So we’re all in the water. Now we’re concentrating on helping each other prepare and step our masts, using the club’s, mast crane. It’s a hectic time of year; I’m just on my way down now to see if I can step my mast and start rigging her.”
I have been receiving/reading your magazine for several years. It’s informative, useful, and a joy to read. Did you include an article on the technique of heaving to in a past issue? If so, can you please give me the issue number, month, and year?
Jerry Powlas responds
Heaving to is not simple or easy with most modern yachts. We have not published any articles on the subject.
Heaving to works best on boats that have full keels. What we call full keels today are boats that have a long keel, with a cutaway forefoot, and the rudder attached to the back of the keel. The full-keeled boats that have some hope of being able to easily heave to are the ones that do not have a cutaway forefoot. The Westsail designs are of this type, but most boats designed and built after about 1950 are not. After about 1960 they are rare indeed.
If you have a fin keel or a full keel with a cutaway forefoot, the problem is that the boats are not able to heave to with the bows pointed to weather, and they are not stable when hove to, no matter which way the bows point.
Having said all that, heaving to with the beam to the seas and wind is easy. Just luff all sails or take them down, and the boat will turn beam to the wind. When she has gotten there, put the helm hard over as would be done to turn her into the wind. The boat will lie ahull. Some people recommend this technique as a heavy weather tactic. I think it may not be a good idea, because the boat is in exactly the position where it is easiest to roll her under with a large breaking wave.
A better heavy-weather tactic is to use either a drogue off the stern or a sea anchor off the bow. These are very different devices, and each has its detractors and advocates. Lin and Larry Pardey advocate using a sea anchor off the bow with a second line and snatch block forming a bridle so the bow is intentionally held off the wind. One sea anchor manufacturer advocates this as well. Our fin-keeled 30-footer seems most stable with the sea anchor off the bow, no sails up, and the helm amidships. Oddly, each advocate of a particular technique seems to argue passionately that his method is best and the others will not work. This makes it hard to put complete faith in any of them.
If all you wish to do is heave to for a short time in wind and sea conditions that cannot capsize your boat, it is not difficult. Simply sail close-hauled. Then tack but do not release the jib. It will go aback, and the boat will slow and stop. You will have to experiment with the position of the helm and the trim of the mainsail to get the boat to stop and be stable. Generally, with our boat, after I tack and back the jib and the boat has lost most of its way, I put the helm over as if to tack back to the original heading. With little way on, the boat will not be able to turn through the wind. In some conditions I luff the main, in some I sheet it in a bit, in some I leave it where it was on the beat. What I try to do is give the boat just enough main to balance against the backed jib, but not enough to gain way. Lock the wheel or rudder, and you are hove to. The angle to the wind and seas will be very roughly 60 to 70 degrees, which is more comfortable than lying ahull, and the boat will be fairly stable.
By “fairly stable” I mean that we find that we may be able to leave the boat to herself for as much as 10 to 30 minutes in most cases. This is not a perfect method because, eventually, a wave or puff of wind will blow her around so the jib fills, and you will have to heave to again.
Lately, I have been experimenting with a variation of this technique using our double vang arrangement. With the jib struck, the vang set hard to windward, and the mainsheet set very loose, it is possible to have the top of the main drawing while the bottom is aback. This can stabilize the boat with the bow pointed much closer to the wind, perhaps as close as nearly close-hauled. You need a vang that is led to the deck edge, not the mast. We have two such and use them instead of a traveler.
The rule of thumb is that a boat can be capsized by a breaking wave that is as high as the boat’s beam if the wave strikes from abeam. That is the reason for not lying ahull.
Jerry Powlas, technical editor
Really, must you go?
After much soul-searching, I have decided it is time we put our relationship on hold for now. Please understand that it’s not you, it’s me. I am currently in a stage of simplifying my life, and most of my magazine subscriptions do not fit in my future plans.
Please know that I have not been seeing other sailing magazines during our time together — you are the best one out there for me. I just need some time on my own; seeing you every two months just reminds me of what is conspicuously absent from my life (a sailboat and time to sail it!). I hope you understand and that we can remain friends. I will still see you on the Internet, and — hopefully — our paths will cross again in the future.
What? There's more?
We thought that was the best farewell letter we’d ever received and asked Tom for permission to run it. He’s really very good at this sort of thing. His response follows.
I am glad you guys found the letter humorous. When I broke up with my girlfriend with a “magazine cancellation-themed letter,” she didn’t find it quite as funny for some reason.
You are welcome to print the letter — but please know that you are only salting my wound. No other magazine would be willing to print a non-renewal letter; yet another reason GOB is the best out there.
I am sure we’ll reacquaint in the future; I’ll be the guy two years from now signing up for a subscription and loading up on back issues that I missed, or paying exorbitant prices on eBay for ones that are out of print. But maybe by then I’ll once again own something that requires a mooring.
But there's hope!
We thoroughly enjoyed the sample of your magazine and wish we had known of it earlier in our youthful sailing days. It is with sorrow that we have retired from sailing our Bristol 27, having owned it for more than 39 years. We have found a young sailor who has just turned 65 and appreciates the quality of this boat. We will certainly be recommending your magazine to other sailors. Thanks again!
Better late than never
I have been dilatory in writing this note, but like all good intentions, it’s better late than never.
What a pleasure it was to meet [the editors] at the Strictly Sail Show in Chicago. The publication you have put together is a testament to the American ideal of quality with respect for the individual. As I walked around (for two days) and visited various booths, I could not help but notice the crowd that you had in your area compared to the other marine publication booths.
My subscription was due about the time of the show, and I was proud to hand you my check for another two years. What a delight it was when you gave me, in return, the CD from your original 9 publications (1998-1999) for renewing at the show. The first check I ever wrote to Good Old Boat was in October of 2000, and I have saved every issue since. Thus, it was great to get these back issues. I have printed out each one and had them spiral-bound to add to my collection.
In the process of reading the issues printed from the CD (starting with the first) I came across the Ted Brewer article (Pages 42 and 43 in the March 1999 issue), “What all these numbers mean for sailors.” Over the years I have always followed Ted’s articles as he compares the boat being featured. At the end of this particular article there is a footnote stating “Ted’s writing a full article on this subject for a future issue of Good Old Boat magazine. Stay tuned.” Can you point me to the issue that the “full article” is in? It might be worth republishing at this time since you have so many new readers who might not understand how the various ratios are figured and what they actually mean.
Thank you so much for creating a publication that truly is a pleasure to receive and read cover to cover.
For the sake of those who were not subscribers from the beginning and have not yet bought the CDs of early issues, both of those articles are posted online on the BoatUS website: “Brewer by the Numbers” was published in the July 1999 issue, http://www.boatus.com/goodoldboat/brewerformulas.htm. A second part followed in November 1999, http://www.boatus.com/goodoldboat/Helm_balance.htm.
Sometimes we have an impact
I thought you might appreciate knowing that the article you published in May 2005 on the restoration of my 1967 Morgan 34, Kalypso, had a practical and welcome outcome for Good Old Boat devotees. Bruce Gay of the Long Beach Boat Company in St. Leonard, Md., has been working on a (really aged) 36-foot Cheoy Lee since last fall. The teak deck has been torn off and replaced. The wooden mast looks like new. A lot of fiberglass and painting work has already been done.
The owner would probably have scrapped that wonderful old boat if you hadn’t published the article about Bruce’s work.
Raise sailors with joyful abandon
Shortly after putting our four children to bed, I was devouring the May 2006 issue of Good Old Boat on my front porch when I was overtaken with a combination of guilt and thanks. I have been reading your issues for two to three years and haven’t told you how much I appreciate your work. I’m sure I join many others in thanking you for not including a monthly review of the seven most stratospherically expensive yachts, a discussion of the 357th MAXI race off the coast of Bora Bora, or even a multi-page debate on the best chartering company to use the next time you want to drop five figures on a five-day sail.
Three of my children and I regularly sail our 1971 Sunfish (with joyful abandon) in a local watershed. My girls (4 and 6) man the bow; my son (7) mans the tiller, while I work the mainsheet. To be sure, we dream of larger boats (and multi-function chart plotters, 5-day downwind romps, and better diesel-engine-repair skills). We sincerely hope that we can raise our children around the wind and water.
I want to thank you for the common sense that fills your issues, for the I-have-to-live-on-a-budget approach that is so often taken, and for the haven you have provided for those of us who may dream of an Alberg 35 but are (hopefully only for the time being) strapping three children to a Sunfish and lifting a wet finger to find the wind. Well done.
(and Andrew, Sarah, Zuzu, and Lucy)
My second boat was a Sunfish. It was somewhat of an improvement over the first. The Sunfish washed up on the beach after a big storm and had a hole in the side. A centerboard had washed up some weeks before, so all I had to do was buy the rig and rudder. I have said for years that if you can sail a Sunfish, you can sail anything. You are starting your kids out right. Even if you stay with the Sunfish, you are getting a big bang for your buck and you are sailing with your kids while you are all young. Bravo.
Jerry Powlas, technical editor
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Cast Off for Catalina, a DVD directed by Ted Field and Mark Ritts (Mark Ritts Productions, Inc., 2005; 119 minutes; $29.95.)
Review by Ed Verner
Plant City, Fla.
Catalina Island is 20 Miles from Long Beach, 70 miles from San Diego, and 31 miles from Marina Del Ray, California. If you have considered taking a sojourn there, this video is well worth your money. It is a professionally edited and well-photographed look at the features that would call to a boater. With pleasing narration, ambient sounds, and occasional use of music, the information is easy on the senses.
Cast Off for Catalina features an on-deck view of the island during a counter-clockwise circumnavigation, and includes information important to any boater wanting to follow in the film’s footsteps. There are clear images of notable landmarks and descriptions of the plentiful small anchorages and their holding bottoms. The harbor master of Avalon discusses the mooring amenities and protocols, and some additional features from the island’s tourist sites. There is also good footage of the wildlife and feature photography from onboard looking to shore, as well as onshore coverage of various anchorages.
The DVD, which is not a sailor’s guide per se, would be equally valuable to a powerboater, a sailor, or a tourist hopping a ferry over for a short stay. Yet it is geared toward those who would wish to be on the water, as the greater bulk of the information is shown from onboard a center cockpit split rig. Plus, some of the videography and map animations by Jack Joe are really helpful in giving a feel for “getting there” as well as what you will see when you arrive. Additional inputs from Bill McNeely, author of Cruising Catalina Island, help paint the picture of this ripe overnight sailing destination.
Voyages to Windward, by Elsie Hulsizer (Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd., 2006; 216 pages; $36.95)
Review by Durkee Richards
The west coast of Vancouver Island is a grand, lightly visited cruising ground. Most sailors cruise this coast by doing a circumnavigation, going up the inside, and then sailing down the outside with the prevailing northwest winds abaft the beam. Elsie Hulsizer and her husband, Steve, did not have the vacation time required to do this during their working years. Instead, they would sail out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then work their way up the coast of Vancouver Island, sailing against the prevailing summer winds. Hence the title of her book.
The first nine chapters take the reader up the coast as far as the Brooks Peninsula, with chapters for each of the major sounds along the coast and Elsie and Steve’s personal experiences exploring intimate little coves, hiking up streams or walking on beaches. The final chapter, “Voyage Home,” captures the bittersweet feelings that often accompany the end of a great cruise.
Elsie is an accomplished photographer, and her pictures make this book enjoyable for a wide audience. However, what impressed me most was her deep appreciation for the history and diverse cultures of the island’s west coast. She and Steve formed strong friendships in many of the small communities along the coast; her book is further enriched by much of what they learned from these coastal residents.
We carry aboard a variety of cruising guides whenever we set sail on a cruise. At one end of the spectrum are what I think of as Pilot House Guides, the ones I reach for to refresh my memory about a tricky entrance to an anchorage or to find a protected cove nearby when the weather has turned foul. At the other end of the spectrum are the books that we read on a midwinter’s evening to begin dreaming about and planning our next cruise. Elsie’s book is a wonderful example of the latter. After reading this book, we too are now planning A Voyage To Windward.
Up the Creek: A Lifetime Spent Trying to be a Sailor, by Tony James (Seafarer Books/ Sheridan House, 2006; 279 pages; $14.95 U.S.A.; #9.95 U.K.)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
As is true with many books, the last page of Up the Creek is devoted to a brief biography of author Tony James. From this we learn that Tony James is a freelance journalist and writer . . . author of over twenty books . . . writes regularly for thirty publications worldwide . . . (and) still doesn’t really know why he goes sailing. In the Foreword Stephen Swann states that James’ book is a kind of sailing memoir. Indeed it is. It recounts how his life has: A) revolved around boats since the age of eighteen; B) landed him in some relationships that were headed for the rocks from the get-go; and C) given him something to write about.
James’ first boat occupied a space in his parent’s garden and never saw water as long as he owned it. But the dream was there. After sailing on other people’s boats for a number of years he managed to acquire the first boat that he actually sailed. Built in 1900, Shamrock was a sixty-foot oyster dredger that had been extensively refitted and restored by the time James became its owner. Many years, boats, and misadventures later, James bought Kittiwake, and finally had what he calls a sensible boat that can be sailed easily and safely. What happened between Shamrock and Kittiwake fills in the rest of the story and helps the reader realize that it’s no wonder James doesn’t know why he sails.
The book is written in the first person, obviously, and at times seems a bit difficult to follow. This may be due to the fact that James is from England and the English writing style itself is somewhat different from that of American writers. In addition, the British sense of humor is a bit more tongue-in-cheek than what we’re used to in the U. S. But if one is willing to overlook these minor obstacles, Up the Creek can provide the reader with some food for thought as he/she is reminded of his/her own errors in thinking when it comes to matters nautical and personal.
Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners, by United States Power Squadrons (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2006; 160 pages; $14.95).
Review by Glenn Kaufmann
The first watercraft were probably rafts made from fallen logs tied together with primitive rope and knots.
This early quote in the United States Power Squadrons’ (USPS) new book on marlinespike seamanship makes it clear that the unspoken foundation of sailing is rope, the control of which is bought and paid for with knots. As a non-profit educational organization with 92 years of experience and the stated mission of making boating safer and more enjoyable, the USPS seems the perfect organization to develop a book focused on knots and rope work specifically for sailors.
With sheets, lines, halyards, painters, bell and bucket ropes everywhere, there are countless ways ropes and knots are used aboard any vessel. This new book covers them all, if not specifically by name, most certainly by application. Designed for anyone who needs to practice their knot work with a constant eye on the diagrams, the publisher has thoughtfully given the book a spiral binding so it will lie flat. The drawings are generous in size, and clearly marked, with each knot broken down into manageable components.
It is, in fact, the discussion of these components that is the book’s greatest asset. By providing a clear understanding of bitter ends, working ends, bights, turns, and loops, the reader walks away with the building blocks and understanding necessary to not only reproduce any knot, but to understand why it is a good fit for a particular application.
With constant references to the onboard, dockside, or safety applications of every knot, the book carefully shows how each knot, from the practical to the merely decorative, can be realistically applied to the reader’s own needs. The section on splicing/rope repair, often given short shrift in other books, is presented in a manner that highlights the importance of proper line maintenance and repair. Finally, the section on decorative knot work offers sound advice for tidying up your lines and generally putting your boat in Bristol condition.
Whether you are a novice sailor, or an old salt looking for a few new tricks, Knots, Bends and Hitches for Mariners is a great way to develop and improve your understanding of how knots and ropes work on your boat. The clear and concise diagrams make it easy to use and maintain the gear you’ve already got in ways that will keep you safe and save you time and money down the road.
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What bliss to be in the cockpit with the sun and the warm breeze on one’s skin, just watching the sea, and the sky and the sails…
Sir Francis Chichester
Overhead, the white sails stretched their arms to catch the night wind. They were my sails — my wings — and they brought me to the sea of my boyhood dreams.
The ideal cruise requires a good yacht, pleasant company, and a strange coast with plenty of islands and rocks.
The fireside is nice and there are those for whom it will be the ultimate Utopia, but the fireside is nicer still when you can remember the joys of an offshore passage and dream of the time when you can go out and do it again.
It takes several years for anyone to learn to handle a yacht reasonably well, and a lifetime to admit how much more there is to learn.
The lovely thing about cruising is that planning usually turns out to be of little use.
There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting and enslaving than the life at sea.
The single commandment of anchoring is “Thou shalt create scope.”
As the miles bubble under the keel, sailors seem to shed skins one after the other until the scales so necessary for living in crowded cities and towns drop away, leaving just the human creature all but naked under the stars. For most, once those scales are gone, they never grow back quite as thick and hard as they once were.
What is there about a life afloat that has always appealed to men? It is cold, wet and uncomfortable, often accompanied by bad food and danger.
T. C. Lethbridge
When a man weighs anchor in a little ship or a large one he does a jolly thing! He cuts himself off and he starts for freedom and the chance of things.