June 2007

What’s in this issue

Click on the to go to the top of the page.

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at AudioSeaStories.net. It is read by Michael and Patty Facius. We recommend a broadband Internet connection to download, since it is a large file.

Download a PDF version of this newsletter here.

Want to look up a previous newsletter? We’ve added an on-line index of all the
Good Old Boat newsletters at: http://www.goodoldboat.com/newsletter/newsletter_index.php


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A sailor's guide to the digital sea

Step 1: Buy boat.
Step 2: Put boat in water.
Step 3: Sail.

For the knowledgeable, experienced sailor, it might seem that simple. A novice, on the other hand, would benefit from a more detailed breakdown of each step.

That’s just what we’ve done for you at AudioSeaStories.com. When you visit the site, you will see three new links on the homepage: Buy an iPod, Download iTunes, and Make ’em Talk. Behind each of those links are several step-by-step tutorials for Mac and Windows users. These free tutorials feature screen-shots of each step so you can visually confirm that you are on the right track.

In addition to creating new tutorials, we also have added links that will take you directly to the Apple site, where you can purchase an iPod and download iTunes. We arrived at this point with the help of three faithful guinea pi…, rather, subscribers: Kim Ode, Bill Sandifer, and Don Chambers. The mission: each was to purchase an iPod, download an audiobook from AudioSeaStories.com, and load it onto the iPod. After completing this mission, they each told us at which points they could have used additional help (in other words, at which point they broke down and called the teenager or the grandchild).

Sail on over to http://www.AudioSeaStories.com where old friends like Joshua Slocum, inspirations like John Guzzwell, and new friends like Geoffrey Toye are waiting to tell you their stories. We’ll be there with you every step of the way.

Calling all sailing youngsters
We’re looking for photos of your cute 8- to 12-year-old sailing children and grandchildren (they’re all cute, aren’t they?). We’d like to run an ad in one or more of our issues reminding sailing parents and grandparents about our four audio CDs for youngsters (three by John Vigor and a new fourth, A Year in a Yawl by Russell Doubleday). A photo of some sailing youngsters would sure help. For more on these, visit our audiobook site: http://www.audioseastories.com.

This sounds intriguing
We received a news release from Team Parasol at http://www.parasolinc.com mentioning Alsiflex, which they say “is the only flexible metal filler on the market.” They also say that Alsiflex is an excellent finishing filler that can be used on very thin surfaces that are subject to shock. Once cured, it will not crack, shrink, or absorb moisture. If you try it or have tried this product in the past, we’d be interested in your report.

They're at it again
The very busy folks at ManagingTheWaterway.com never sleep (or so it seems). They’ve produced an electronic charting fundamentals article, which will be useful to many readers. Called “Get Onboard with Electronic Charting,” it’s available at http://www.managingthewaterway.com/ecs.html. They’ve also created a help file with specific instructions on loading the Managing the Waterway electronic charts into today’s leading charting and navigation applications. Here’s where to go for this one: http://www.managingthewaterway.com/electronic-charts.

Sailor publishes new e-book
Sharon Kratz, the author of a cruising book, All the Time in the World, has written another book that may be of interest to readers. This one is not so much about sailing as it is about adoption and grandparenting while cruising abroad.

Sharon and her husband, Joe, were cruising in Guatemala when they learned that their daughter would be adopting a Guatemalan baby and needed to have that child in foster care in the country for four to six months while the adoption papers were processed. Guess who was the likely foster care couple? Sharon’s book tells about the foreign adoption process and the humor in becoming the parents of a newborn in a country in which they don’t speak the language. For more, visit http://www.escapeartist.com/e_Books/Nieto/Nieto.html or email Sharon.

Continuing education program through Westlawn
The Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, together with the American Boat and Yacht Council, has announced a joint continuing education program with the SUNY Maritime College to serve the boating industry’s need for highly trained workers. The courses cover subjects such as fundamentals of boat design, maintenance and repair, marine surveying, metal corrosion, and even training for a captain’s license and radar recertification. These courses are available through distance learning. For more, visit http://www.westlawn.edu.

2001 back-issue CD now available
Hot off the presses is the third CD of back issues of Good Old Boat. The 2001 back-issue CD, like the other two (1998-99 and 2000), are space-saving and impervious to mildew. All three are in PDF format, are searchable, and are Mac/PC compatible. One CD is $25, buy two for $45 or three for $65. Call 701-952-9433 or go to http://www.goodoldboat.com/backissues.html#cds to order your CDs.


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What’s coming in July?

For the love of sailboats
• Allmand 31
• Allan Nye Scottt profile
• Beth Leonard on bluewater yachts
• Hunter 28.5

Speaking seriously
• Engine lubrication
• Insulating the hull
• Highwayman's cutaway knot
• Dockside air-conditioning
• Satellites and the sailor
• Wind Terminolgy 101

Just for fun
• The case for a hard dinghy
• Tartan 34 C anniversary
• History in the bottom paint
• Solo sailing center spread
A Voyage Toward Vengeance book excerpt
• Baking aboard
• Knowing her inside and out

What’s more
• Simple solutions: Fuel-can caddy; More galley space
• Quick and easy: Sideways clinometer; Companionway vent



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Mail buoy

Additional thoughts on anchor sentinels
The May 2007 “Anchor Sentinels 101” article by Don Launer was excellent. I got a lot out of it even though I have used a sentinel for many years.

One thing to add: an excellent weight is a 15- or 20-pound cast-iron mushroom anchor, often used by fishermen on small lakes and other calm waters. They are available through outdoor outfitters and surplus stores. On my Santana 27 I use a 15-pound model that clips on the rope rode using a stainless carabineer hook. Not only a fine sentinel, it is handy as a lunch hook and a dinghy anchor too.
Jimmy James


While we’re on the subject…
Regarding the article on anchor sentinels, it has always seemed odd to me that sentinel instructions have you deploy the sentinel so it’s hanging from the bow and suspended above the bottom. It seems to me that this technique loses approximately half of the sentinel’s potential holding power. I rig mine to a floating fender, using a line slightly longer than the water is deep. As the sentinel works its way down to a large shackle at the anchor end of my nylon rode (where the chain begins), the float works its way out to approximately the location of the anchor. Rigged this way, the entire weight of the sentinel is pulling down on the anchor rode once rode tension gets high enough to lift it off the bottom. When rigged as described in your article, the line to the bow supports approximately half of the sentinel’s weight once it comes off the bottom.

My sentinel is made of an old tire chain stuffed into a 2-liter soda bottle with mortar mix to set it up solid. I left one of the cross chains hanging out of the top of the bottle as a point to which to connect a shackle. It will slide down the nylon to the chain splice about 15 feet from my anchor and hang on that splice.

My calculations indicate that a pound of steel rigged in this way has the same effect on required scope and range as about 2 pounds of steel distributed over the length of an all-chain rode (and a lot less weight in my bow locker). Note that concrete by itself will not work well because its weight under water is approximately half of its weight in air. Steel, however, retains almost 90 percent of its weight when under water. Things get even better with materials like lead or tungsten, but they are harder to come by.

I suspect this is one reason for the common wisdom that sentinels don’t work when the loads get high. If you had a concrete sentinel suspended off the bow, rather than hanging entirely on the rode, it would be about 25 percent as effective as an equivalent weight of linear chain.

If you want to avoid keel wraps when winds are low, slide a large shackle down the rode on a check line. If you want to increase your anchor’s holding power, hang the entire weight of a dense sentinel on the lowest point of your anchor rode.

Caveats: Things get somewhat ridiculous in deep water. If you wanted to replace 300 feet (= 300 pounds, say) of chain, you would need 150 pounds of sentinel to anchor equivalently in 100 feet of water. This gets difficult to rig and retrieve. It probably makes more sense to figure that you more typically anchor in less than 20 feet and need 60 feet (pounds) of chain or 30 pounds of sentinel.

Increase scope somewhat when anchoring in water more than 20 feet deep. Chances are that you will have room if it is that deep anyway. In such cases you may want to forgo the float line and just haul up the sentinel with the anchor. It is still considerably lighter than 300 pounds of chain.

I have a 25-foot boat. I carry two 16-pound anchors, 15 feet (pounds) of chain on each anchor, two 15-pound sentinels, and about 400 feet of nylon rode that can be used on one or two anchors. Of course, I don’t often use all of this, but that is one of the benefits of having more options. I do sleep better when the sentinels are down.
Jim Moore


Brand-new Flicka
My daughter, Heather, has sold her real estate business and is liquidating everything to commence a protracted solo circumnavigation in her new Flicka 20. And when I say “new,” I mean new!

Hull #434 was the last Flicka produced and the elderly owners, a lovely physician and his wife from Balboa, California, have always kept the boat under full cover. Once a week during these nine years, they have had a professional detail, polish, and wax it stem to stern. Once a month they have had a diver clean the bottom. The sink, refrigerator, and stove were never used.

Heather is getting the boat out of the water onto a new trailer and then onto a flatbed for shipping to Florida, where I’ll be helping her install a Monitor, AIR-X wind alternator, C.A.R.D. radar detector, external sat phone antenna, etc.

Come New Year’s Day she’ll be departing Steinhatchee, on the Gulf Coast, for Panama and parts west. Her embryonic website tells at least the beginning of the story at http://www.solo-sailor.com.
Gene Neill


Folding dinghies continued
I haven’t seen Handy Andy mentioned so far. Here is a link that might be of interest to others: http://www.svensons.com/boat/?p=RowBoats/HandyAndy.
Darren Bos


Build a Pelican
Always wanted to build a San Francisco Pelican? Our new easy-to-build kits can be shipped to your door at minimal cost! Everything is pre-cut, ready to assemble, made from the highest-quality marine plywood, mahogany, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir. And we provide easy instructions. Contact us.
Jeff Lehman
The Boatshop at Stillwater


Penetrol continued
In your January 2007 issue, the virtues of using Penetrol are accurately described. I lived aboard a boat for a decade that we kept looking like it was varnished when, in truth, it was a modified Penetrol finish, Deks Olje, also made by the Flood Company. During that time we bought an old car with a faded maroon paint job. Wiping it down with Penetrol restored the color and gave it a real depth of finish again. We also had a neighboring boat that had a faded powder blue gelcoat. To the owner’s delight, doing a treatment as described in your magazine restored it to a bright blue again. The one caveat that should be pointed out is that, when used on white gelcoat, it can take on a slight yellowish cast. Over colors this was not noticeable.
Jay Benford
Tiller Publishing


A simple name change
We bought a new (to us) good old boat last year. We are letting her keep her name, Argo, but we do need to put a new hailing port on the transom. We found Chris Verra’s article on changing a boat’s name to be very helpful (March 2007). It is quite detailed and comprehensive. But as is typical in boating, there is always someone who will come up with an innovative solution to old problems. As you can see in the photo, someone in our boatyard took a very simple, imaginative approach to boat renaming.
Eric and Jackie White


Consignment shop in Kemah, Texas
We exchanged emails a few years back when I first opened my business, Virtual Harbormaster. Since then, we have opened a consignment store specializing in used boat equipment and small boats.

The business is Boaters’ Resale Shop of Texas. We’re based in Kemah, Texas, on the Galveston Bay about 30 miles southeast of Houston. The Galveston Bay area has the third largest concentration of pleasure boats in the U.S. Within a 20-mile radius of my shop there are an estimated 10,000 boat slips in marinas, canals, yacht clubs, and on private waterfront property.

We are a consignment-based operation selling used boat equipment and small boats, as well as nautical decor, books, videos, charts, and just about anything used on a boat, around a boat, or about boats. We are also a dealer for Garhauer, Tohatsu, and Victory Products.

In addition to selling from our store, we are registered eBay trading assistants and are a silver-level power seller. There’s more information about us on our website, http://www.boatersresaleshopoftexas.com, 713-614-8884.
Paul Yirga
Boaters’ Resale Shop of Texas


Don’t count on lifelines
I think the lifeline discussion in the April newsletter misses the point. Yes, wrapping your boat with a 5-foot chain-link fence will keep you on board, but I don’t believe that this is really the function of lifelines. Ted Brewer could speak more authoritatively on the subject, but I believe they exist largely to mark the boundaries of the deck, with only a secondary purpose of actually keeping things onboard. In fact, I was taught, and teach others, not to rely on the lifelines to keep you aboard any more than you would a closed car door to keep you in the car. Don’t lean against either one without taking into account that either could give way without notice. If you want to stay on the boat, rely on a safety harness and a tether, which are designed to resist the force of a 200-pound object being hurled toward the sea. Lifelines are not meant for this purpose.
Alfred Poor


Compas pelorus
A question for John Vigor: in the April 2007 newsletter there was an excerpt from your Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, plus advice on the importance of constructing a compass deviation card for your boat. I realize dead-reckoning is old-fashioned but somehow I can’t leave port without chart-plotted courses. I’m uncomfortable relying solely on GPS for all the reasons I know you know better than I. You’ve given good advice but I have three questions about constructing a deviation card.

1. Where can I find that elusive inexpensive pelorus referred to in your statement that you can get an “ … inexpensive pelorus from a marine hardware store…” ? I surely wish it were true but I couldn’t find them in the many marine catalogues I have, i.e., all the way from West Marine to the New Brunswick outfit called Mackie. I finally found one on eBay, a wonderful old antique that I thought I could steal but I gave up when the bidding went beyond $100. Sigh.

I discovered when running one chart course (range) against the readings on my new bulkhead-compass that it was as much as 23 degrees off. I moved some wiring and the deviation reduced to 17 degrees. Better, but still not satisfactory. I even built a “sun-compass” but couldn’t get reliable readings from it as both the boat and the compass bounced so much. Even on a calm day inside the marina the deviation readings for the same headings were totally inconsistent between successive observations.

2. Reducing deviation to 5 or 6 degrees is what you recommend as “good as possible.” Sounds right to me but what would that give you in terms of destination error over, say, a 20-mile course on one heading? I vaguely remember reading an estimate of about “a mile for every 5 degrees” of compass error. Sound right to you?

3. My new Ritchie compass manual says, if I recall correctly, that when deviations get beyond 12 degrees, correcting them has extra difficulties and a new place should be sought for installing the compass. Ooooh, I hate to think about all the work involved in that! And, though a coastal cruiser, my boat is small and the options for compass location are limited. Do you have opinions about correcting that much deviation in a compass?
Don Chambers


John Vigor answers
The Davis Instrument Co. of California used to make an inexpensive plastic pelorus. They no longer do so. To their shame, nobody I spoke to there even knew what a pelorus was. Nevertheless, eBay was offering a Davis Pelorus with a starting price of $65 when I looked on April 5. They are out there.

Alternatively, you can make your own. Cut out the compass rose from an old chart, mount it on a flat piece of wood and use a piece of wire, bent up at both ends and wound around a screw in the middle, for sight vanes. You will find instructions on the Internet. See http://dan.pfeiffer.net/boat/deviation.htm.

If your new compass is 23 degrees off, and there are no DC wires or lumps of ferrous metal within 3 feet of it, send it back. One thing you might try first, however, is to remove the correcting magnets and see if that makes a big difference. If your compass is misreading by 5 degrees, you will be one full mile off course for every 11.5 miles run.

Incidentally, be sure your sums are correct. When you say your compass is off by 23 degrees, compared with the range shown on a chart, are you converting your compass reading to the true reading shown on the chart? That is, are you correcting for the magnetic variation in your area? I can’t believe a new Ritchie would be so far out, even with incorrectly adjusted deviation-compensation magnets.

The quickest and easiest way to get a rough check of the accuracy of your bulkhead compass is to stand far aft with a hand-bearing compass and sight down the length of the boat “through” the middle of the mast to the forestay. The reading should be within a few degrees of your main compass reading.
John Vigor


Finisterre and the Nevins 40
In the February 2007 newsletter John Pruitt suggests that the Nevins 40 preceded Finisterre. This does not seem to be the case as Finisterre is design #1054 of 1954 while the subsequent Nevins 40s is design #1068 of 1955. Although Rhodes had, early on, been into C/B designs, this was really the specialty of Aage Nielson, who ran the Boston S&S office from just before WW II. He designed the first solution and his C/B expertise filtered down into postwar C/B designs such as Revenoc and White Mist. The lines were always specified by Olin Stephens, starting with the mid-section. Al Mason, at this point, would have done the drafting.

The Nevins Type A or 40s came into being apparently because Carlton Mitchell had insisted that Finisterre must be a custom “one off” and that the precise lines should not be replicated. The lines were slightly tweaked and the hull extended in the Nevins Type A to distinguish the new hull from the earlier model, not vice versa.

Finisterre is now based in the Adriatic where she is raced. She is a heavy boat and, under the current classic rules, never does as well as she did under the magic touch of Carlton Mitchell in conjunction with the CCA rule. Despite the existence of design 1068, several Finisterre-type clones were, in fact, built. Two were built using the strip-plank system in Florida and are about 1,000 pounds lighter and, consequently, faster.
Patrick Matthiesen


Sailing with one sail
Just got around to reading your article on sailing with one sail — main or jib — with a masthead rig. I didn’t get around to experimenting with this on my Hunter 28.5 until last summer. I guess the reason is that I basically roll up some genoa when the wind comes up and I need to reef or otherwise shorten sail. I know I should reef the main first, but when sailing alone, rolling up some headsail on a furler is a lot easier and safer. And contrary to the popular philosophy that seems to state that you can only roll up about 30 percent of a big headsail and still get performance, I’ve found that I can roll my big genny up to just about any size and still go upwind nicely. That may be due to having a foam luff, but I think it’s just a case of when the wind is howling, just about any shape of sail will work.

Anyway, I tried sailing with the genny alone last season when the winds were about 18 knots or so (my critical point to reduce sail area). I found my experience confirmed just about everything in your article. The boat sailed well, had little or no weather helm, and was easy to tack and jibe (although that took a bit more prior planning to execute). Same thing with the main. Yet I actually preferred the headsail alone as it seemed easier to control.
Warren Milberg


Further thoughts on one sail
I really enjoyed “Sailing with One Wing,” by Jerry Powlas in the March 2007 issue. I’ve had the opportunity to own an Ericson, a Cherubini-designed Hunter, and an Islander to cruise the ditches here on Florida’s Gulf Coast. All these good old boats were mastheaded with roller-furling genoas, and got a lot more use out of the headsail than the main.

It can be of some frustration to traditional folk who try to sail these waters that they have to motor for miles before they get out on the Gulf of Mexico and really sail. I can be at peace with “sailing in the ditch.” From Lake Okeechobee around Pine Island up to Tampa Bay there is a lot of really wonderful “sailing in the ditch” to be enjoyed by just reaching for the jibsheet whenever the breeze isn’t right on her nose. Once you pull out the headsail a little, you can feel her heel a bit and the motor lighten its load.

Round the marker, come up on the next bridge or lock, douse her, and motor on. It is amazing how well a jib-driven boat can sail with just that, the jib…often without the motor if you tweak the rig for it.

One point that I think is missed by those who haven’t made this their norm is the increased load that the backstay is subject to with this type of sailing. In the February issue of Sail Win Fowler also discussed sailing with just the jib and cautioned the loading on the mast and shrouds, but not a word about the backstay.

A lot of downward force is generally loaded on the mainsheet on all points of sail that the backstay has to be able to absorb if the main is not flown. The shrouds still have the same job to keep the mast athwartships, but the backstay has some new challenges. The masthead will go forward in gusty conditions, and some large chop on the water doesn’t help. The Ericson would sing out a complaint when the backstay suddenly stretched, then vibrated like a cello string, resonating through the hull. The dynamics of the other boats didn’t suffer from such resonance, but good well-maintained backstay hardware and tensioning is a high priority for serious headsail-sailing in the ditch.

The boat I’m working on now is an Allmand 31. And yes, she will have a good-sized roller-furling genoa, a stout backstay, and good mainsail cover.
Rob Coffee


I thought I was the only crazy fool!
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated and enjoyed the article “Sailing with One Wing,” by Jerry Powlas in the March 2007 issue.

Starting two summers ago I began experimenting with reducing sail at the first hint of stronger winds. When leaving the sailing club I would look out to the lake to evaluate the condition of the water. If there was a hint of a whitecap I would automatically put the first reef in the mainsail. Then if the wind picked up, I would not have to go up on deck and put the first reef in the main. With a roller-furling jib and a reduced mainsail, it was easy to sail in stronger winds. By the end of that summer I was experimenting with putting the second reef in the mainsail. This worked great in really strong winds. I know this is basic sailing but sometimes we fail to realize how easy the boat handles with reduced sail.

Last summer I started to experiment with sailing with just the jib when the wind picked up. I used the same approach. When leaving the club, if there was a hint of a whitecap, I would not put the main up and sail only with the jib. With the jib only there was a tradeoff, easy sailing but losing a slight amount of speed and the loss of a degree or two in pointing.

In addition, I should mention that I have altered the shape of my jib. I sail by myself most of the time, and trying to see around the jib for other boat traffic is awkward at best. I had the foot of the jib cut so the clew is the same height as the boom. Now when sailing, even when the boat is healing, I can look under the jib and check for boat traffic. A word of caution: if you are considering raising the clew of your jib, remember that the sheeting angle will change. On my Catalina 25 the jibsheet goes to the back of the boat and you have to turn the jibsheet to go forward to the winch.

If you can overcome the racing mentality, you can enjoy easy sailing by reducing your sail (sailing with one wing) and changing the bottom shape of the jib.
Orville Edwards


Good Old Boat in Japan
Tuesdays are great. The office and yard shuts down and there is no one around. Found time to get the burgee up and take some snapshots. Good Old Boat is officially in Japan.

You may be interested in my website: Bill’s Little Informal Sailboat School http://www.bliss-osaka.info.
Bill Payne


Runaway diesels
I have never written to any publication before. Several letters in your March 2007 issue prompted me to reply due to the well-intentioned, but potentially incorrect, remedies supplied by readers. The suggestions made to stop a runaway diesel could result in injury and/or a “blown engine.”

Some years back I ran a VW repair shop. Many VW Rabbits and a substantial number of German cars were equipped with diesel engines. My wife’s car and my Dodge pickup are diesels and I have also had several diesel inboard sailboats.

The readers are correct that a diesel engine needs compression (heat), fuel, and oxygen for combustion. They are, however, making several basic and potentially disastrous assumptions. These are that the diesel injection pump is the only fuel source and that the compression release (if so equipped) will release enough compression from a screaming diesel engine to stop it. Both of these assumptions are not necessarily true!

A diesel engine will run on just about anything that is combustible. (The very first one invented ran on coal dust.) They will run on diesel fuel, kerosene, vegetable oil, motor oil…just about anything combustible that you can introduce to the combustion chamber.

Here is the scenario for disaster: in an older, possibly somewhat worn and/or smoky exhaust diesel engine (that still may be doing a decent job of pushing the boat), the valve guides and seals are a bit worn and leaking. The motor oil lubricating the valve train is seeping into the combustion chamber via the intake valve stems. Now we have what the diesel engine perceives to be additional fuel; an increase in RPM is the result.

As the revolutions per minute increase, so does the “sucking” of the lubricating oil from the valve stems, which again increase the RPM. In a somewhat worn diesel engine the motor oil may already be diluted with diesel fuel that has leaked past the “somewhat worn” piston rings. This makes the lubricating oil a more attractive fuel than just plain motor oil, and also somewhat thinner.

The fuel-injection system on most diesel engines is “somewhat” self-RPM-limiting in that it can provide only so much fuel via the fuel injectors. In our scenario, however, the fuel is now the engine’s own lubricating oil and is not being introduced to the combustion chamber by the injection pump/injectors. Several bad things are very rapidly happening at this point. In a matter of seconds, revolutions can accelerate to hundreds or even thousands of RPM beyond the engine’s capabilities and at this moment of extreme mechanical stress, when the engine needs maximum lubrication, its lubricating oil is being consumed as fuel at an alarming rate. The engine is actually out of control, feeding on itself and its own fluids. Cutting off the diesel fuel supply at this point will do nothing! Lifting a compression release lever (if one exists) will also probably not have much effect.

The engine will scream out of control beyond its design parameters and, if not stopped in a matter of seconds (not minutes), will either “blow up” due to failure/breakage of a mechanical part, such as a connecting rod, or “lock up” due to seized pistons and/or bearings. I have seen this scenario on several occasions.

On a car or truck it may be possible to stop the runaway engine by applying an immediate heavy load (put it into high gear with brakes to slow). On a boat the prop’s “grab” on the water is not like a tire’s friction with the ground. Also, any attempt to even get into gear would almost certainly result in drivetrain damage.

On a boat the only viable option is to shut off oxygen immediately. Cutting off the air supply is the most expedient way (in fact the only way in this scenario) to avoid a ruined engine. I would suggest to diesel-equipped boatowners concerned about the possibility of this occurrence that they keep a rubber plug of some sort that fits their particular air intake (a rubber ball may suffice) tied nearby, much like we tie tapered wooden plugs near through-hulls.

If a diesel is in a runaway condition in the manner I have described, it will be “toast” by the time one tries to shut off the normal diesel fuel supply or stop it with a “start assist” compression release.
Bud Suter


Where were you when I needed you?
I can’t tell you enough good about your magazine. It has so many useful articles and is a worthwhile read. I also like the fact that it is not full of useless advertising. I only wish that I had discovered this magazine long ago. I am currently restoring a C&C 31-foot Corvette.
Mark Glover


Available at the cigar shop
Thanks for all you do for us boat dreamers. I subscribe to a couple of sailing rags, cruise the ’net looking at “boat porn,” and read Good Old Boat faithfully. I choose not to subscribe for one simple reason. I use the much-anticipated occasion of the new issue to buy it at my local cigar store. I ducked out of the office today and grabbed the new issue and a fine cigar. I stood on the corner, listened to the street musicians and read. It was heavenly.
Dan Bessmer


Good New Boat magazine?
I’ve looked around. Seems like yours is the best publication I can find for the brand NEW boatowner — a 2006 Hunter 27. One day she will be an OLD boat, hopefully seasoned but in great shape! The joy will be in the journey.
Mike Balsan


And thanks for the podcasts
I received the sample copy and I am hooked. Such a good publication for the rest of us. I am looking forward to the next issue. Keep up the great work. P.S., the podcasts are great!
Peter Hibbard



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Cape Dory July 4th Float-in
July 4, 2007
Oyster Bay, N.Y.

The Northeast Fleet of the CDSOA’s July 4th Float-in is at Oyster Bay, N.Y. Contact Cathy Monaghan at 732-381-3549 or email Cathy Monaghan , Warren Kaplan at 516-623-9044 or email Warren Kaplan; or http://www.capedory.org.


Morris Boat Show
July 20-22
Bass Harbor, Me.

As a part of its yearlong celebration of its 35th Anniversary, Morris Yachts will host the 2nd annual Morris Boat Show in Northeast Harbor, Maine, July 20-22. Open to the public for three days, dozens of Morris Yachts will be on the docks and in the sheds.

For more information: Morris Yachts, 53 Granville Rd, Bass Harbor, Maine 04653; 207-244-5509; email or http://www.morrisyachts.com.


Cape Dory Northeast Fleet Rendezvous 2007
July 29-31
Essex, Conn.

The Northeast Fleet’s annual rendezvous, July 29-31, is at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club on the Connecticut River. Email Bob Emmons, or call 609-758-7862; email Joe Montana, or see http://www.capedory.org.


Castine Race Celebrates Sparkman & Stephens
August 1-4
Castine, Me.

The Castine Yacht Club of Castine, Maine, and Sparkman & Stephens will celebrate the launching of the new S&S-designed 56-foot sloop Anna and the return of its historic precursor, Dorade.

Dorade and Anna will be on public exhibition in Castine, with Olin Stephens, now 99, presiding. This celebration, on August 1, will precede the 8th annual Castine Classic Yacht Race to Camden on August 2, the Camden to Brooklin Feeder Race on August 3 and the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta on August 4. More information is available on the Castine Yacht Club website, http://www.castineyachtclub.org.


Cape Dory Maine Cruise
August 13-17
Maine’s mid-coast

The Northeast Fleet of the CDSOA is holding its annual Maine Cruise this year in the waters off Maine’s lovely mid-coast region, August 13-17. Registration deadline is August 8th. Contact event organizers: email Cathy Monaghan, or call 732-381-3549; email Carl Thunberg, or call 603 226-4638. Visit http://www.capedory.org for a detailed itinerary.



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Book reviews

A Berth to Bermuda – 100 Years of the World’s Classic Ocean Race, by John Rousmaniere (Mystic Seaport and The Cruising Club of America, 2006; 206 pages; $50.00)
Review by George Zimmerman
Olympia, Wash.

In order to encourage the design, building, and sailing of small seaworthy yachts, to make popular cruising upon deep water, to develop in the amateur sailor a love of true seamanship, and to give opportunity to become proficient in the art of navigation, an ocean race has been planned…

(Preamble to the notice of the Bermuda Race in 1926 and years thereafter)

In 1906 Thomas Fleming Day organized a race that began in Brooklyn, New York, and headed east-southeast over 700 miles of blue water, crossed the Gulf Stream, and finished in Bermuda. The revolutionary thinking behind the Bermuda Race was his idea that ocean racing was not just for professional sailors in large vessels sponsored by wealthy tycoons, but rather “the ocean is a playground where amateur sailors cannot only sail small boats, but race them offshore.”

Thomas Day felt that “small vessels are safer than large, provided they are properly designed, stoutly built, thoroughly equipped, and skillfully manned.” His idea was met with skepticism, ridicule, and fear. Those fears were heard. Of the five crews supposed to compete in the first race, only three started. Rumors had it these boats had funeral wreaths delivered to them so the sailors could have a proper burial at sea. All three sailboats finished the race and all crewmembers survived. A tradition had been started and the race to Bermuda continues to present day.

A Berth to Bermuda chronicles each race (usually every two years) that has been held over the last 100 years. It also describes how the races taught yacht designers and builders, sailors, and navigators about sailing small boats on the open ocean. With his thoughtful analysis and commentary, author John Rousmaniere shows how the lessons learned from each race promoted changes in every aspect of sailing: yacht design and construction, sail making, racing tactics, seamanship, safety requirements, and navigation. The many photographs highlight these changes. They also show, from a historical perspective, how during the 100-year history of this race, sailing has changed from a sport reserved only for the rich to a sport of the common man. By the end of the book, it is readily apparent that one man’s idea and an ocean race played a significant role in creating the modern sport of sailing.

John Rousmaniere, author of 22 books, has sailed more than 35,000 miles, including seven Newport to Bermuda races. He is a member of the Cruising Club of America. His knowledge of boats and seamanship are put to good use in the organization and writing of this well-written book. The many photographs and detailed historical accounts of each race bring to life the sailors, racing tactics, and sailboats that participated in this challenging race. The reader is transported through time into the cockpit of ocean-going yachts racing through the Gulf Stream, while being informed of how the sport of sailing reinvented itself. It is an important book for the serious sailor as well as the curious sailor who wonders about the “why” and the “how” of the sport that occupies so much of his life.



Dictionary of Nautical Acronyms and Abbreviations, by Donald Launer (Sheridan House, 2006; 145 pages; $13.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

SYWNTB. After paging through Dictionary of Nautical Acronyms and Abbreviations, by Donald Launer, that’s my new acronym for Someday You Will Need This Book. Count on it.

This book, published by Sheridan House, may keep you and your boat out of trouble if you don’t recognize an unusual notation on a nautical chart. Or it may end an argument regarding the true meaning of a familiar and overused acronym. If nothing else, it will expand your nautical gray matter with useful and trivial tidbits.

Donald Launer compiled all the relevant nautical acronyms and abbreviations because he wanted a reference of this type for his own use. And he was kind enough to share it with the rest of us.

Don says, “Today, abbreviations, acronyms, and truncations are being used with increasing frequency. This is partly due to the widespread use of more sophisticated equipment on board, along with their associated complexities, and partly due to the sometimes mistaken belief that these abbreviations simplify explanations and identifications.

“For those new to boating,” he continues, “this problem is especially daunting, since it seems as if they are listening to or reading a foreign language. While many nautical terms, in themselves, can be confusing, some of the acronyms and abbreviations can be bewildering, and the many new abbreviations dealing with modern electronics can be mystifying, even for old salts.”

This book is organized in two parts. The first is an alphabetical listing of acronyms and abbreviations, as you would expect. It includes NOAA chart notations (in a much more convenient organization than the one offered by NOAA, which requires you to search for a notation such as dk or bu section by section). The dk means dark, by the way, and bu means blue. Black had already taken bl. Don lists these notations in italic type, as shown here, according to NOAA chart protocol.
The second part of this book is an annotated version of Chart No. 1, in case you really do prefer to search for dk section by section.

This book provides helpful illustrations as well for abbreviations such as CB for center of buoyancy of a boat or Dec for declination of a celestial body. What do the words really mean? The illustrations will come in very handy. In fact, this entire book will come in very handy when you need it. What did I say? SYWNTB. Someday You Will Need This Book.



Outboard Motors: Maintenance and Repair Manual, by Jean-Luc Pallas (Sheridan House, 2006; 112 pages; $23.50).
Review by Will Sibley
Shady Side, Md.

In this volume, which includes a profusion of diagrams and photographs, Jean-Luc Pallas, professor of Recreational Mechanics at La Rochelle Technical College in France, provides a most valuable resource for all outboard engine users, ranging from those who allocate all maintenance and repair to others to dedicated do-it-yourselfers willing to tackle serious maintenance and repair tasks themselves. My comments are from the perspective of a long-time sailboat owner who now operates a small-scale solo sailboat repair business on Chesapeake Bay.

Though individual engines may vary, general principles governing the care and feeding of the numerous brands of both 2-cycle and 4-cycle outboards are much the same. Wise outboard owners will, in addition to owning useful volumes such as the one reviewed here, purchase engine-specific repair manuals to supplement the meager information supplied when most engines are purchased. The more information one has, the less likely one is to be taken in or cheated by less-than-straightforward mechanics or repair facilities.

This book begins with information on the theory and operation of 2- and 4-cycle outboards. Their anatomy, operation, and terminology are explored thoroughly, supplemented with numerous diagrams, photos, and drawings. Essays on fuel, ignition, cooling, drive systems and lubrication are included among the topics covered.

Following the theory and operation section is an extensive review of maintenance issues, including instrumentation, noise analysis, cooling and fuel systems. Then comes a section on scheduled maintenance, along with an extensive list of hands-on tasks, ranging from checking and changing sparkplugs to carburetor adjustments to battery maintenance.

A chapter on breakdowns follows. Such events always seem to occur at the most inconvenient times, making this portion of the book among its most useful. The breakdown tables provide a list of problems, along with listings of probable causes for each problem area. The repair solutions suggested provide a good troubleshooting guide to getting oneself out of difficulty.

The volume ends with an extensive, illustrated essay on laying up and storing the outboard at the end of a season. A conversion table for commonly used units of measurement (lengths, liquids, capacities, weights, etc.) provides an endpiece for this useful book, along with a useful index.

This reasonably priced volume would be a worthy addition to any outboard owner’s bookshelf!



Blue Water Odyssey, DVD produced by Robert G. Driscoll (CustomFlix, 2006; 90 minutes; $19.95)
Review by Sylvia Horvath
Vancouver, BC

Blue Water Odyssey is a top-notch “home movie,” in which the viewer is invited to share the adventure of a family’s five-year sailing voyage around the world. A wooden gaff-rigged Sea Witch ketch, 36 feet on deck with a 13 foot beam, certainly qualifies as a good old boat. She carried this family of five from San Diego, California, across the Pacific to Hawaii, touching some islands off the beaten track in the South Pacific, then down to Australia. They passed to the Indian Ocean via the Torres Strait, then to South Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope. They crossed the Atlantic to the Caribbean, stopping at St. Helena, some islands near Brazil, then through the Panama Canal and home.

From their mention of the Gilbert Islands’ becoming independent, the voyage must have taken place some time in the 1970s. Therefore, as a travelogue, it may well be outdated. However, the portrayal of exotic native ceremonies and practices is interesting and informative.

There are some beautiful scenes and fun family times at sea and at anchor, well photographed but poorly edited. The music, which is original, seems to dictate the length of the scenes, rather than being used as background to enhance the mood. Consequently, most scenes run on too long and this viewer’s interest soon waned. Compounding this is the uninspired narration. Since it has apparently been transcribed from the original film to a digital format, there are some technical film glitches and the quality of the color is inconsistent.

Compared to most home movies, however, this one has some excellent amateur cinematography and interesting scenes that — with some judicious editing, improved narration, and background music — could be of interest to cruising clubs or armchair cruisers. As it stands, it is sure to be a treasured record of this family’s unique adventure for generations to come.



The Working Guide to Traditional Small-boat Sails: A How-to Handbook for Builders and Owners, by David L. Nichols (Breakaway Books, 2006; 96 pages; $21.95)
Review by Glenn Kaufmann
Bloomington, Ind.

As a result of class and regatta handicapping requirements, the Marconi rig has more or less evolved into the default modern-day sail plan. But for many boatbuilders and sailors, a triangular jib paired with a larger triangular mainsail may not be the best choice, either aesthetically or for reasons of efficiency.

In this new volume from Breakaway Books, veteran boatbuilder David L. Nichols counsels that the best way to move your boat forward may be to look backward, to the sailing rigs of the past. As a boatbuilder and sailmaker with more than 15 years of experience, Nichols has put together a nuts and bolts guide to traditional sailing rigs that thoroughly explores the sails, spars, and rigging of numerous traditional sail plans.

Beginning with a basic treatise on sail anatomy and aerodynamics, the author establishes a fundamental understanding of the working properties of sails, before launching into any serious design discussion. This introductory section is followed up with an equally well-founded chapter on the importance of sound marlinespike skills. Nichols explains that from whipping a line to seizing an eye, good marlinespike skills may not only save you money, but could save your bacon when rigging fails.
The book’s greatest asset is its detailed discussion of how to replace a modern sail plan with a traditional rig. In particular, the author includes the measurements and calculations needed to figure the Center of Effort for both modern and traditional sail. He then explains why this information is important, and how to use these figures to efficiently design your rig.

Specific sailing rigs covered in the book include the sliding gunter, sprit sail, a variety of lug sails, gaff sails, and a section on variants of traditional designs. In discussing each of the designs, the author stresses that they all represent a compromise and offer a unique set of tradeoffs. While he does discuss the advantages of different rigs and how they were originally used, Mr. Nichols is careful not to definitively discuss which sails work best on particular boats. He leaves it for the reader to decide which rig will fit his or her own vessel.

In the end, though the book has quite a few typos and small editorial glitches, it is packed with lots of clear photos, detailed instructions, and is a good first reference book for anyone wanting to study traditional sail plans. Mr. Nichols does an excellent job of explaining the fundamentals in terms that are useful to old salts looking to tweak their rigs, builders trying to figure out what’s next, and admirers of traditional design.



Trekka Round the World, by John Guzzwell, audiobook narrated by the author (Produced by Good Old Boat, 2007; 9.7 hours; 2007; $25.)
Review by Durkee Richards
Sequim, Wash.

This audiobook should come with a warning: may be life altering! It is inspiring to “look over the shoulder” of a recent immigrant lad as he proceeds quietly and surely to make his dreams a reality. The adventures he relates and the word pictures he paints of places and people encountered during his voyages may awaken an urge in the readers to pursue their own dreams.

I was immediately engrossed in this tale. However, being constitutionally unable to sit for 9+ hours by the computer, and being among the last of my generation to navigate life without an iPod/MP3 player, I burned a set of the expanded files to CDs (nine of them) that I could listen to while driving. I soon found myself driving to distant chandleries, and making frequent trips to the marina for small boat projects (“life altering” comes in many forms).

John Guzzwell arrived in Victoria, Calif., a young man in his early 20s, with a small satchel of clothes and a box of woodworking tools, a love of the sea inherited from his father, and a dream to make a long voyage in a boat of his own. He quickly found work using his skills as a ‘joiner.’ With a profound but quiet sense of self-confidence, he set about his dream of a small voyaging boat. John corresponded with J. Laurent Giles, who agreed to design a suitable vessel. Next, John found a space for rent where he could begin construction of Trekka — a storeroom behind a fish and chips shop. He purchased wood with savings from his various day jobs and made surprisingly quick work of Trekka’s construction, completing her hull and deck in nine months.

John launched Trekka into the inner harbor of Victoria in August 1954. Her masts and rigging were in place the next spring so that John and Trekka could learn one another’s ways. On September 10, 1955, well down on her lines from the stores aboard, they headed out the Strait of Juan de Fuca en route to Hawaii. A diversion to San Francisco for minor repairs proved fortuitous. There, he met Miles and Beryl Smeeton and their daughter Clio, who were cruising aboard their wooden ketch, Tzu Hang. A strong friendship quickly developed. They agreed to sail in company to Hawaii, and then on to New Zealand, arriving in May 1956.

In New Zealand, a new plan developed. John had Trekka laid up so that he could sail with the Smeetons on the square-rigger route around Cape Horn. On February 14, 1957, while running before an awesome sea, about 1000 miles west of Chile, Tzu Hang pitchpoled. John quietly recounts their combined efforts to make Tzu Hang watertight again and construct a jury rig with sufficient sail to make landfall in Caronel, Chile.

Once reunited with Trekka back in New Zealand, John felt confident in proceeding on around the world. He and Trekka crossed their wake in the Hawaii Islands on July 27, 1959. His was the first circumnavigation by a Canadian, and for a while,Trekka was the smallest boat to circumnavigate.

This book is an acknowledged classic that has already inspired other cruisers who are now well-known for their own accomplishments. Hearing the tale told by the author makes this book an especially welcome addition to any library. John concludes with a final caution of sorts: “The sea has an enchantment that may captivate you and make you a bit of a misfit on land.”



Travels With Yeti, by Hiram Connell (Back Channel Press, 2006; 200 pages; $24.95)
Review by Donald Chambers
Lawrence, Kan.

Here is the story of an enthusiastic sailing couple and their five-year wander down the Atlantic Coast and through the Caribbean to Venezuela and back. You get the complete story, starting from their very first dinghy sail to the final, sale of Yeti, the sailboat that entwined their lives over so many years. It would be a character-building read for those who have been tempted to do something similar; your heart will warm toward an author who spares us no details about the mistakes he makes along the way to becoming a seasoned cruiser. And there are some exciting descriptions of sailing in rough weather, including what it is like to have your mainsail split by high winds while in the middle of the ocean.

There are odd characters met on the beach, odd goings-on in strange boats in the middle of the night, the great (and miserable) food, and the frustrating encounters with local Caribbean police and customs officers. There are brief descriptions of islands and anchorages and lots of judgments about good ports-of-call plus some details about those a person might want to avoid. And while there was probably too much on dealing with engine problems, it was comforting to learn that other people also had these things happen to them at the worst possible time.

While the book is worthwhile, it sometimes can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a cruising guide or a memoir of a wonderful cruise of a lifetime. An author probably can’t do both in the same book, so it’s sometimes a bit short on both counts. The details about anchoring and navigation aren’t sufficient and there often is not enough about the people and their stories. One missing detail: while Hiram Connell’s wife, Helen, was an integral part of this adventure, I feel like I know almost nothing about her. Of course, he gives her heartfelt acknowledgments along the way but I wish he’d also given her a voice.

Other things could have been left out — perhaps half of the pictures and almost all of the editorial asides on the politics, the poverty and the graft in third-world countries. I suspect most readers know those facts already.

But there were some nice stories in the book: the spontaneous operatic concert in the Puerto Rico restaurant, the 25th wedding anniversary on some isolated island, the evening with Earl and the poetry and the waltzing. Yes, yes, author, give us more!



Joseph Conrad, Master Mariner, by Peter Villiers (Published in the UK by Seafarer Books; published in the USA by Sheridan House, 2006; 129 pages; $19.95)
Review by Stephen Blair,
Córdoba Province, Argentina

Joseph Conrad, the 19th-century novelist, was a master mariner whose life at sea was nearly as eventful as his novels. That is the premise of this exquisitely written biography of Conrad, which breaks new ground because it was based on a hitherto unpublished study by the expert sailor, Alan Villiers, whose work was completed after his death by his son, Peter Villiers. Although the book mentions points of contact between Conrad’s life at sea and his novels, the focus is firmly on Conrad as sailor, rather than as a writer. One need not like Conrad’s novels to enjoy the biography.

Despite the book’s wealth of detail about 19th-century sailing, it’s very accessible. The book includes a glossary of sailing terms and is illustrated by color reproductions of paintings of ships on which Conrad sailed. As a scholarly book with color reproductions, it would be equally at home on a coffee table, on the shelf of a yacht or in the office of a Conrad scholar. The book, however, contains no charts, so paragraphs on navigational routes will require some readers to consult a globe.

Conrad, after commanding a deep-water ship, took on a very different navigational task. In 1890 he steered a boat on Africa’s hot, dangerous Congo River, with which he had no familiarity. Conrad was appalled at the Belgians’ exploitation of Africans and this experience led Conrad to write the pessimistic, nightmarish novella Heart of Darkness. Any sailor with a genuine interest in the realities — economic, navigational, and experiential, of 19th-century merchant sailing will enjoy this book.



Dancing With the Wind: A Musical Meditation on the Romance of Sail, by Ed Verner (a Wind Ketcher production, 2007; 28 minutes plus extra footage and an original musicsound track CD; $19.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Dancing With the Wind. I can’t decide about this new video produced as a DVD…is it the romantic sunset scene or the easy galloping motion of a vessel described through music? Perhaps it’s capturing the pleasure of leaving the dock in the morning or the pelican’s startled response to the oncoming sailboat. Maybe it’s the afternoon thunderstorm or the impromptu man-overboard drill. I’m a big fan of dawn and sunset moments. Perhaps that’s it! Or maybe it’s the poetic aerial shots of the easy motion of a sailboat as it meets each wave.

These scenes and all the rest are set to original music that effectively captures the spirit of sailing and draws the viewer in. There’s no need for talk and patronizing descriptions. Any-one can see the sailors on Wind Ketcher are having a good time. Any sailor will see this video and long to be aboard this or his own sailboat. Any non-sailor will ask, “Where can I sign up? How can I do this?” Ed says this video is not so much about how to sail; it’s about the why of sailing.

Come sailing with Ed and Amanda Verner and their sailing partner, Gil Gott. With Ed’s beautiful soundtrack emphasizing the rhythm of the sea, these three make sailing look easy and enjoyable. Ed is an accomplished musician, sailor, and movie director. He has assembled his love of sailing, of his classic sailboat, of his new wife, and of music into something that simply hasn’t been done before. He created a new kind of sailing video, and with it may very well have piloted a new genre of sailing DVD.

As I watched I couldn’t help but wonder whether Ed wrote the music to go with the footage or created the footage to go with the music. The two are perfectly matched. The answer lies in the behind-the-scenes description of the production. He created 28 minutes of music and crafted the scenes to match the mood of the melodies. My hat’s off to Ed Verner for this incredible performance. Bravo! Encore!

Ed will share the proceeds of the sale of this DVD — which has been packaged with an audio CD of the original music soundtrack — with three charities. Get your copy at http://www.dancingwiththewind.net, Ed’s equally professional website. Ed Verner is a published author in Good Old Boat and a good old boater in every respect. We’re proud to count him as one of “the rest of us.”



Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, by Joan Druett (Algonquin Books, 2007; 284 pages; $24.95)
Review by Victor Schreffler
Walnut Creek, Calif.

Island of the Lost is the well-written account of the fate of two sets of castaways on the Auckland Islands in 1864 through 1865. Remarkably, neither knew of the other’s existence as both groups struggled for survival through the many months, including a sub-antarctic winter. Though fewer in original number than the 19 initial survivors of the Invercauld, the Grafton’s crew faired much better due, in large part, to the courageous decision of one man to choose hope. His determination to recognize a greater providence, a commitment to egalitarian society, and his consistently upbeat leadership were essential to the survival of the five-man crew.

For those who need an excuse to enjoy a good book, the leadership principles throughout the work are very insightful. For others, the ongoing ingenuity and survival tactics recounted will prove informative. The construction of a sturdy lodge by the Grafton crew, the sod house on Rabbit Island by the ever-dwindling members of the Invercauld, and the eventual creation of a functional metal forge (using copper sheathing and charcoal) were interesting and inspiring solutions. If I’m ever shipwrecked…

Joan Druett has done a superb job of weaving together excellent research into a highly readable and fascinating account of survival and the sea. She writes with a thorough knowledge of the period and even her narrative interpolations reflect a stylistic consistency with the period. It is a fun read of an absorbing tale which, though a work of nonfiction, moves along at the pace of a good novel.



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Looking for

Here’s a photo of the sail logo on an old 8 foot-ish dink we restored. Anyone know what it is? We’d sure like to know.

Thanks in advance.
S/V Mabena
New Orleans


…and possibly found
David Pratt suggests that the type boat that goes with the mystery sail logo of a bird, such as a tern or swallow, in the April newsletter might be similar to that of a fleet of Seabirds seen at the IIRC, Sewanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in the late 50s and early 60s.



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Excerpts from The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating

by John Vigor

Pan-Pan Calls
Asking for help or warning that you’re in difficulty

A system of priorities in marine radio communication has been established to ensure that the three most important types of messages take precedence. They are preceded by the words Mayday, Pan-Pan and Sécurité. Of these, Pan-Pan is probably the least understood by amateur sailors.

Mayday refers to distress messages and Sécurité refers to details regarding nautical hazards and the safety of navigation in a given area, or it may constitute general warnings about bad weather. Pan-Pan (repeated three times) indicates that an urgent message is about to follow. However, different people have different ideas about what constitutes urgency. To avoid clogging the airwaves with frivolous Pan-Pan calls from boaters, urgent messages are restricted to those concerning the safety of your boat or someone on board. They also apply to the safety of someone you might spot in the water.

For example, you could put out a Pan-Pan call on channel 16 VHF if your engine broke down and a current were sweeping you toward some rocks a few miles away. At the present time, your situation would not warrant a distress call, for Mayday indicates immediate danger, whereas a Pan-Pan call would alert authorities that a rescue might be required in an hour or two. You would keep in touch on a working channel and periodically inform them of your situation, as mutually arranged.

If you found yourself in dense fog in a narrow channel and you heard a large ship approaching, you could put out a Pan-Pan call identifying yourself and giving your position.

You could also instigate a Pan-Pan call for medical advice if a person on board fell ill or suffered a non-life-threatening injury. You could receive instructions on which medication in the first aid kit to use, and so forth. Of course, if immediate assistance were required, you would preface your call with a Mayday instead.

A final word: the standard instruction is to pronounce the urgency tag as Pahn-Pahn.

John Vigor’s book, Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, is available from the Good Old Boat Bookshelf at $29.95; 352 pages (hardcover).


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How to contact us

Good Old Boat Magazine
7340 Niagara Lane North
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
763-420-8923; 763-420-8921 (fax)

Michael Facius, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Mary Endres, Design




© 2007 Good Old Boat
Published: June 1, 2007