|NEWSLETTER -- October 2004|
It’s been a particularly tough year for our southern subscribers. The rest of us can only watch with sympathy as blast after blast targets and locates the Florida Peninsula and Gulf Coast. We can’t say that we “feel your pain” (as some politicians have been wont to do), because we’ve never been through anything like what you’re experiencing. We’re aware of several readers who have lost boats, but there are surely others who have suffered or will suffer losses or damage from Charley, Frances, Ivan, or others yet unnamed. We’re offering a one-year extension to the subscription of anyone who has sustained hurricane damage or loss. It’s not much compensation in the grand scheme of things, we know, but it is something we can do to let you know we are thinking of you and wishing the hurricanes would go blow themselves out at sea. Get in touch if you’ve taken a direct hit from one of the tropical storms big enough to earn a name and a place in history. (More on this subject on Page 4.)
Marine engine parts list
Torresen Marine discovered the world of high-tech marine connections while the Good Old Boat editors were still in the Dark Ages (actually we still are, and we kind of like it here). Several years ago, while we were struggling to keep our marine links up-to-date and slowly realizing the futility of even trying, Torresen offered to keep a great list of marine links up-to-date for us. All we had to do was link to Torresen as our links page source. They simultaneously took over our existing links and our headaches. What a great job they’ve done ever since! Meanwhile back at the Good Old Boat headquarters, we turned our attention once again to making magazines.
Now the Torresen folks have done another wonderful electronic miracle for the sailors of good old boats. They’ve created a database of marine engine part catalogs for Universal, Yanmar, and Westerbeke engines. And if you think this is great, they’ll add to this rather amazing collection as time goes on.
As it turns out, an amazing number of engines exist and each has an amazing number of parts. To get a look at this mammoth online undertaking, go to http://www.marinedieseldirect.com/catalogs/?owner=goodoldboat.
For dockwalkers everywhere
We have noticed, when looking at boats as much as we do, that some of the sailboat manufacturers of yore adopted an identifying mark which helps the initiated look like veritable wizards of good old boats. The mark is most often part of the cove stripe. Now that we’ve caught on, we’re running a series of photos on our website to help others figure out what’s what down at the docks.
And since we’re still collecting this little gallery of photos and information, we’d appreciate it if you add to it. Tell us where we’re wrong. Help us identify the coves which are recognizable (but we don’t know what type of boat they’re on . . . mystery coves). Send photos of coves that we don’t have posted yet. Take a look at what we’ve started and lend a hand. It’s posted at http://www.goodoldboat.com/cove_stripes.html. Let’s make this yet another valuable resource “for the rest of us.”
Holiday special on fleece and ball caps
Now that fall is in the air, the holiday season is upon us. We’ve decided to move our warm (and very well-made) fleece sweatshirts and vests from our shelves to the bodies of subscribers by sweetening the deal just in time for Christmas.
So now until the end of the year, buy a fleece item, and we’ll send along a Good Old Boat ball cap for half price ($8.35). This deal (since it’s a limited-time offer) isn’t available on our website. Call us up or send a letter with your check or credit card number to buy a fleece vest or shirt with the ball cap deal.
Gloating a bit
While we’re discussing deals in our store, we’ll take a moment to gloat over the sales of our CD of the first two years of publication. These early issues (published 1998-99) have been sold out for years. So we brought them back in the pdf format on CD. The CDs, at $29.95, have been flying off the shelves. Gosh, we like publishing on plastic — what a concept! There’s no danger of selling out this time around. We’ll simply go make some more when our first batch of 500 is gone.
What's coming in November
For the love of sailboats
• Pacific Seacraft 37/Crealock 37 feature boat
• Pearson Vanguard review
• MacGregor Venture 25 review
• Gandy Dancer, a special dinghy
• Bilge Pumps101
• Flooring in a can
• Sealants (what to use where; more importantly, what not to use where and why)
• Cutters and sloops
• Winter tarp system
• Dinghy life boat
Just for fun
• Alex Tilley's boat
• Cruising bit by bit
• The perfect holiday
• Pacific Northwest photo spread
• Forgotten promise
• Simple Solutions: Hatch cover repair, gaining extra counter space, Clamptite
• Quick and Easy: A better towel, rail mounts, hot melt trick
In the news
Mast and rigging self survey
BoatU.S. has announced the availability of a new guide, “Inspecting Your Boat’s Mast & Rigging,” which can be obtained by calling 888-830-2628 or by going to http://www.BoatUS.com/Seaworthy. The booklet discusses fittings, chainplates, turnbuckles, terminal fittings, and other mast-related issues such as welds, rivets, galvanic corrosion, and mast steps. It also talks about inspecting stays and shrouds.
Useful deck log
Ontario sailor Bill Henry has created a personalized deck log which works for him and may also work for others. After going to a lot of trouble to create the templates, he has made them available in pdf format for other sailors to download and print at no charge. To take a look, go to http://www.venturesail.com and click on resources.
Patriotic Flying Scots
Flying Scot, Inc., makers of the award-winning Flying Scot sailboats since 1957, has launched a red, white, and blue hull, affectionately dubbed the “All-American.” In spite of the name, Flying Scot, these boats are made in America, and the builders are proud of it.
The Flying Scot is ideal for family daysailing, single-handed fun, and out-and-out racing. The Scot is a One-Design class built from the start with a balsa core, impregnated fiberglass hull, and aluminum spars. The first Scot, built in 1957, is very much the same as a new Scot built today. The Scot’s stability is due to the weighted centerboard, slightly tunneled hull design, wide waterline beam, and hard bilges. The wide side deck and molded-in seat make the boat easily righted.
“Flying Scot sailboats are family-oriented, infallible, and truly one of a kind . . . like America,” said Harry Carpenter, owner of the company. “We believe this special-edition hull will commemorate sailing with true American spirit.”
The Flying Scot company has also been designated a “Plank Owner” for the 2004 Annapolis Boat Show, October 8-11, in Annapolis, Maryland. “Flying Scot has been an exhibitor from the beginning back in 1970,” explains Rick Franke, public relations director for the show. Flying Scot will mark its 34th year in attendance.
Founded in 1957 by sailboat designer Gordon “Sandy” Douglass, Flying Scot is headquartered in Deep Creek, Md. Owners Harry and Karen Carpenter have been instrumental in helping to increase the business steadily. With nearly 50 years of production, Flying Scot has proven to be a tradition with sailboat enthusiasts. For more information, contact Harry Carpenter, 800-864-7208.
(Note: For our readers [who must visualize this red, white, and blue Flying Scot when reading the hard-copy version of our newsletter in black and white], let us fill in the details. She’s a deep blue on the topsides with a white bootstripe and dark red bottom paint. Lovely. –Eds.)
Life jacket debate deflated
BoatU.S. reported in late August:
A major national debate on whether recreational boaters should be required to wear a life jacket while underway in a boat ended last week with little support for the proposal. During a public forum conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), nearly every sector of the recreational boating community — from the boating consumer to the boatbuilder to the boat dealer to life jacket manufacturers — expressed strong opposition to a governmental mandate or failed to embrace the idea.
Speaking before a crowded auditorium filled with boating safety experts, federal and state officials, and interest group representatives, Jim Ellis, president of BoatU.S., argued that a new generation of inexpensive personal flotation devices that boaters would actually wear, rather than stow in a locker on board a boat as is now the case, is what is needed to reduce the number of drownings.
Of the approximately 700 boating fatalities each year, about 400 of these are drownings in which the victim was not wearing a life jacket. It is estimated that as many as 75 million Americans go boating at least once each year and that the cost to the boating public of having to purchase a comfortable life jacket to wear could exceed $1 billion.
“Forcing all boaters to wear an uncomfortable life jacket on a hot day when there is no perceived risk has little support among the boating public,” said Ellis, in releasing the results of a survey conducted last month by the Recreational Marine Research Center of Michigan State University at the request of BoatU.S. According to the survey of nearly 10,000 boaters, 86 percent of those responding opposed a mandatory life jacket requirement. “A broad-brush, one-size -fits-all approach will not solve this problem,” Ellis said.
Westlawn is seeking former students
The Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is planning to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2005 and would like to locate alumni to share the occasion. The gala is set for February 17, 2005, during the Miami Boat Show.
“Our alumni are our thread to the past — not only to our history but to our industry as well,” states Dave Gerr, organization president. “I received an email this summer from alum Thomas Charles Windsor who enrolled in Westlawn in 1930 and was granted his diploma in Advanced Design June 15, 1939. His email recounted some of his experiences designing patrol boats during World War II and his subscequent design career . . . fascinating!”
The Westlawn Institute was founded in 1930 and is the only nationally accredited and state-certified distance-learning school of small-craft design in the U.S. Its primary function is to assure a continual source of skilled designers to the marine industry.
To get in touch for the anniversary celebration or for more information, call 410-956-7100 or visit the organization’s website at http://www.westlawn.org.
America’s Boating Course (ABC)
The United States Power Squadrons have produced a computer-based boating course intended for family use. People can call for the CD or sign up and go through the course online. The cost is approximately $40. For more information, call the ABC Central: 866-262-8222, or visit their website http://www.americasboatingcourse.com.
End of a paper era
We hear that the U.S. Coast Guard has eliminated the printed version of its Local Notices to Mariners. For this reason, the bulletins are now available electronically. For more or to sign up for the electronic bulletins, visit the Coast Guard Navigation Center website http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/lnm/default.htm.
And a few products worth mentioning
We were intrigued by the announcement of some new stretchy sailing cords in different weights that work for everything aboard from boom preventers to tethers (even tethers for the dog) to tool retainers. To have a look at what these savvy marketing geniuses and sailors have come up with to improve on the common bungee cord, go to http://www.shockles.com/. Their phone is 888-557-6464. Best of all, in checking out their site just now, I see that they gave Good Old Boat magazine’s site a link. Our thanks to everyone at Shockles!
Dri-It, from Süd-Chemie Performance Packaging, sounds interesting. This “desiccant with a twist” helps users prevent moisture damage, regardless of season. Unlike traditional desiccants, Dri-It works to moderate relative humidity levels and prevent condensation that develops during day-to-night temperature fluctuations and extreme temperature changes. Capable of absorbing up to 280 percent of its weight in moisture, Dri-It turns water vapor into a thick gel that does not leak or escape. While other humidity absorbers risk spills that could damage the boat’s interior, Dri-It remains sealed during long periods of unsupervised storage. For more on this product, call 800-966-1793 or visit http://www.Dri-It.com.
Gloves in a Bottle. Hype? Or not?
I wondered about the accuracy of the claims for this new product when the manufacturer sent us a couple of packets of hand lotion to try out. Claims like: protection against cracking and drying from cold or harsh weather (had they been sailing on Lake Superior too?). Claims like: the outer layer of skin begins to work to retain moisture and to resist the absorption of irritating chemicals. Claims like: the retention of this lotion; it’s not washed off when wet, rather it comes off naturally with exfoliated skin.
Since they’re touting its use for sailors and others who have outdoor and wet jobs, I used Gloves in a Bottle during a couple of recent three-day sailing weekends. I figured the supreme test was when hauling in 200 feet of soggy, cold, sandy anchor rode (the total length of the two rodes we use each time). Jerry has hurt some joints, so I’ve got “anchor duty” lately. Naturally the rodes were still cold (it’s not like real gloves in that regard), but I felt like my hands were unharmed afterward. Maybe this lotion had provided some sort of protection.
Next I did the dishes. I know, that’s a “pink job,” in our parlance. If I got the “blue job” of anchor duty, why the “pink job” also? It was Jerry’s birthday. The Gloves in a Bottle seemed to work up to, during, and following dish duty also. Is this just marketing hype? Am I being drawn in by the claims? Maybe. I have no way to test it scientifically.
But I will continue to use Gloves in a Bottle aboard. I went out and bought some. It seems to have healing and, possibly, protective properties. It’s available in pharmacies. For more, call or visit their website: 800-600-1881; http://www.glovesinabottle.com.
Ivan takes his toll
My good old boat, Mata Kechil, is no more. My boat was a 1976 Bayfield 32; my nephew’s was a 1966 Columbia 36. Our marina is completely gone. I will buy another boat once the infrastructure is rebuilt. Thanks for your wonderful magazine.
The NAS Pensacola Yacht Club was a very large marina that used a floating dock system; the docks would float up and down with the tide. The surge from Ivan elevated the retaining mechanisms over the pilings releasing docks and boats into the maelstrom. My boat was safely anchored and weathering the storm well about a mile away until she was obliterated by the mass of boats and docks that were hurled upon her. She was the last one to hit the beach and no doubt fought to the end. The big blue sailboat and attached dock you see in the picture worked in tandem to shred her anchor lines and crush in her port hull. Notice the mess at the bridge (below). The boats came in one on top of the other and were pulverized. My nephew’s boat was moored at our tiny marina and pulled six pilings and two finger piers with her. She seems to have sustained no structural damage, this is one hell of a strong boat. Our dilemma is how to get her back in the water.
Our family and friends are safe and in good health; that is the most important thing.
S/V Mata Kechil
Frances was here
[After the storm had passed] I found my boat, Parnassus. But not before bottom-feeding scum scavengers found her first. In a state where “wreckers” still rate high in the folklore history of Florida pioneers, it should have come as no surprise that where lawmen fear to tread or risk a grounding by taking their boats too close to the shoreline, crack-heads and cutthroats could plunder unheeded.
She was upright, sitting on her slightly starboard-listing keel in mud and mangrove roots. Her mast, snapped at the cross-trees, apparently did not select the highest arch of the bridge crossing the ICW to pass through. Her stainless-steel pulpit had been transferred from the bow to the cockpit. The 9.9-hp Mercury engine was gone from the bent outboard bracket. Telltale throttle and gear cables to the cockpit-mounted controls hung loosely from her stern. Evidently not lost due to grounding.
A tangle of stays wrapped around the mast halves and mainsail on her boom may have prevented the looters from stripping the sail off. Its combined weight pressing down on the hatch cover, still with clasp-lock intact may have blocked easy entry to the cabin below. But the smoked-glass skylight on the forward hatch was pried off, which did allow access to the head and V-berth. Naturally, it was left off to allow a week of torrential rain to pour inside.
Sails gone. Most small objects gone. Tools gone. Hand pump gone. Bilge pump gone. The contents of an emergency watertight kit, except for the flares, gone. The flares cluttered the head sink, leading me to believe adults, rather than skylarking kids, methodically worked the shoreline wrecks. Kids probably would have flambéed Parnassus for kicks, just to watch the sparks and flames spread.
Amazingly, the balky cockpit aluminum-frame and canvas canopy, stowed below through the main hatch with great difficulty prior to the hurricane, was somehow maneuvered out through the forward hatch. The folding table, wrenched from its bulkhead fitting, lay half-submerged in water covering the teak-and-cherry cabin sole.
According to state park officials, who kindly opened the gates and loaned me a kayak (sans paddle) to tour the shoreline, the next full-moon high tide might allow Parnassus to be pulled into deep water. Super!
No engine, no sails, no mast, and no anchors — except an overlooked picnic hook, up in the pointy end. The perfect recipe for my next boating adventure. I’ll think about it tomorrow!
And there was Charley, of course
Kevin Hughes’ tale has to be read to be believed. He wound up trying to return to his home base in the Tampa Bay area from a trip to the Dry Tortugas via Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. There were some equipment failures, the bridges on the ICW were closed to boats (to permit evacuations by automobile), and Kevin and a friend were essentially left aboard in the eye of Charley. Their anchor dragged, and they got an unforgettable storm experience. Read about it and appreciate Kevin’s powerful photos at http://www.ciekurzis.org/Charley/Charley.htm.
the editors on behalf of Kevin Hughes
S/V Windigo III
Clearwater Beach, Fla.
First, the primary sailboat shows for the next two months:
Annapolis Sailboat Show/U.S. Sailboat Show
Annapolis, Md., October 7-11
October 25-27, Miami Beach, Fla.
Strictly Sail St. Petersburg
November 4-7, St. Petersburg, Fla.
However, life is not just about boat shows. Here are a few other upcoming calendar events of interest:
Maritime Heritage Conference
This sounds like a very interesting conference. It is held every four years.
October 27-30, Norfolk, Va.
hnsa01 at aol dot com; 757-499-1044
Schooner Virginia launching
This is the launching of the wooden tall ship pilot schooner, Virginia, a replica of the 1917 vessel of the same name. The schooner has been under construction for 18 months. The launch is free and open to the public.
December 10, Norfolk, Va.
Other boat shows on the horizon
And finally — while you’re organizing your calendar — here are the other upcoming sailboat shows:
Toronto International Boat Show
January 15-23, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Strictly Sail Philadelphia
January 20-23 , Philadelphia, Pa.
Strictly Sail Chicago
February 3-6, Chicago, Ill.
Vancouver International Boat Show
February 9-13, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Strictly Sail Miami
February 17-21, Miami, Fla.
Strictly Sail Pacific
April 13-17, Oakland, Calif.
Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show (MAATS)
mid-July each year, Las Vegas, Nev.
Watermaker — did it yourself?
It would be interesting to hear from people who completed your watermaker project (January 2003 issue) and to learn of their trials, tribulations, and successes.
kim dot efishoff at Oak dot doe dot gov
Nice article on the Treadmaster (September 2003). Has anyone tried the spray-on bed liners that are used in pickup trucks? Rhino is the name that comes to mind. I’d think that might work well also, but I have no idea how the weight would compare with that of the Treadmaster.
dcannell at unix01 dot voicenet dot com
Carver seems unlikely
I’ve been doing research all day and bumped into the Good Old Boat website. I’m very excited about this site for two reasons.
First, my husband and I recently acquired an old sailboat (see photo). Second, we may need lots used items and help/opions/suggestions on restoring the boat.
She’s a 1971 model 33-foot sailboat listed as a Carver at the boatyard where we found her. All my searching for a Carver sailboat gave me only motorboats, so I believe it’s something different. Another clue was imprinted on the instrumentspanel inside the boat. It said “Imperial Yachts.” The beam on the boat is 10 feet. It is a very rounded hull with a fin keel. We think she draws up to 5.5 feet or more.
This is going to be quite a restoration project. Wish us luck! My husband says the project will be completed in three months, I say a year or two is more likely!
Thanks for any help or suggestions.
Julian and Karolina Linares
julianl at prodigy dot net
Congratulations. The two of you have been “adopted by a boat.” One of the best things this community of sailors can do is help sailors figure out what their “mystery boat” is and what needs fixing (along with how to fix it). Glad you found us. We hope our subscribers can identify your new baby. Read on. We have several mysteries this month.
Another mystery boat
My brother-in-law and I are avid readers of your magazine, and we figured if anyone could identify our good old boat in waiting, it was you or your readers. We saw the boat for free in a local classified bargain magazine, went to see her, and brought her home. A new deck and cabin are in the works, but it includes the cradle, mast, boom, all the standing rigging (all stainless), and boxes of parts. She will be shared and loved by both of our families, but it would be really helpful if we knew what she started out life as. The interior layout is still visible and is identical to a Grampian 26, but the hull does not match. She has an aft lazerette with provision for the outboard. LOA is 25 feet 10 inches, beam is 8 feet 4 inches. Any ideas? There are no ID plates anywhere.
Later Greg writes: “No real answers yet. The Grampian 26 interior layout continues to confound us, but nothing else seems anything like a Grampian. If you could include it in your newsletter it might be most helpful. So far it looks like a blank canvas, but it would be nice to know maybe what it started its life as.”
gbarber at rogers dot com
Thought you might be able to help identify my new (old) boat. She has LOA 20 feet, LWL 18 feet 6 inches, beam 6 feet, estimated freeboard 16 to 18 inches, draft with the swing keel up an estimated 12 inches, down 30 inches. She is planked with 3/4-inch-thick mahogany including the deck, with nails driven from plank to adjacent plank.
She appears to be old (1930s) as flathead screws were used, and the planking is nearly full length (20 feet). She has a swing keel about 150 pounds and appears to be a racer/cruiser as she has a large horseshoe-shaped removable seat that fits down onto rib extensions with a separate post to support the forward, inner corner. All the seat bottoms and sole plate sections are marked with “C-270,” and “270” is routed into the inner keel board.
It appears to be professionally manufactured, but I cannot find any other identifying marks. What do you think?
whmcginn at warrantydesign dot net
Surveyor and Good Old Boat contributing editor Bill Sandifer is our answer man. To contact him with your questions, email Bill at devilsel at ametro dot net.
I have a Grampian 26 swing keel with the centerboard stuck up inside the keel housing do to rusting inside. Do you have any information on freeing it?
I’d have to have a little more information about the boat, but I would see if there is a removable top to the keel case. If so, the easiest thing would be to remove the top and work a hacksaw blade down between the board and the case to try to free the board. If the top does not come off, you’ll have to work the blade up from the bottom with the boat up off the ground. This is dangerous as the board could come loose at any time. Be sure to stay away from its potential drop zone when working. Have you checked the lifting mechanism? It might be frozen and not be the board at all. It seems like a lot of rust would be needed to hold the board in place. Another suggestion would be to rent a power washer — the most powerful you can get — and blast all around the board to try to remove the rust that way. I’d start with the lift mechanism, go to the water blaster next, and use a hacksaw blade or similar as a last resort.
I’m in the market for a boat and like all I read and learn about the 28-foot Pearson Triton. I like concept of an older boat. (I’m older myself.) My questions are: What is the service life of the hull of a 40-year-old Pearson Triton? Will it last another 15 or 20 years with care? And if the boat was refurbished and extensive equipment added, what is market value of such a boat? I intend to do coastal crusing. It is offshore-rigged.
I don’t think anyone actually knows the life of fiberglass. An older boat like the Triton was built when more glass was considered better. I owned a 1961 Pearson Ariel, the little sister to the Triton, and the hull was great. The decks were not so good, but I was able to repair them. You have picked an excellent design. The Tritons are sweet-sailing boats. They are moderately stiff, good sea boats, and responsive. The sales listing seems to imply that this particular boat has been upgraded and is in good condition. Tritons can range in price from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on condition. I’ve never seen one over $20,000 no matter how much equipment it has on it.
Speaking of equipment, this one seems to have everything you would ever need. I can’t see the need to add anything. Tritons are still small boats, and too much stuff will just clutter it up. It is almost at that point now. There are some things that could be added — like roller furling for the jib and a propane stove, rather than alcohol.
I’d get a good survey of the boat to see how good its condition really is. A moisture meter should be run over the hull and deck. The rudders on the Tritons were wooden, and many have worms. This needs to be checked when the boat is out of the water. Other areas to look at are hardware backing plates, chainplates, standing rigging, and through-hulls. This sounds like a good boat at top asking price. Check it out thoroughly before you buy it. It is not an investment at the asking price. I would say the owner is trying to recoup the cost of everything he has put into the boat. I’m sure you could find a Triton at a substantially lower price if you want to add all of your own stuff. This one is set up for ’round-the-world cruising, and you may not need all of its equipment for coastal cruising.
Thanks for taking the time for our questions. I store my boat on the trailer. It will maybe go in the water for a week at a time, then back to the storage lot. I want my boat to look nice, but I don’t want to spend a thousand dollars on a bottom paint job. What type of paint could I use to make my boat look nice in and out of the water that won’t break the bank?
There is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on bottom paint. I suggest that you select an ablative type bottom paint that is recommended for multi-season wet and dry use. This should cost about $150 a gallon plus or minus and, unless you have a huge boat, a gallon goes a long way. The beauty of an ablative paint is that when it is in the water, it sloughs off so you don’t get a huge buildup as you would with a modified epoxy. When you can see the gelcoat underneath the paint it’s time to get another coat.
They have “no sand” roll-on type etching material that you can use underneath the bottom paint to save you the trouble of sanding. Before you do anything, make sure you use a de-waxer on the hull to get all the mold release compound out of the gelcoat.
What is your general impression of 27-foot Hunters built in the early 80s? What are the major problems you have encountered as a surveyor?
Some of the early Hunters suffered from delamination between the gelcoat layer and the structural build of the hull. This was caused by shooting the gelcoat layer late in the day, putting a layer of mat over it, and coming back the next day to complete the layup. They apparently did not sand the “cured” layer before laying in the rest of the laminate. There was no bond between the layers. I saw a boat that was involved in a collision, and the gelcoat layer peeled away from the structural layers as clean as could be. It peeled away far in excess of the collision area.
Another problem is the lack of chainplates in early models. They used U-bolts through the deck, rather than conventional chainplates. Some of these bolts later pulled out.
You need to realize that the Hunter is a “price boat” and therefore not built like a Hinckley. That said, there can be a lot of boat for the money in a Hunter, just be aware of the shortcomings and get a knowledgeable surveyor who will comment on the structural shortcomings as well as the actual condition of the boat. Some surveyors will only tell you what the condition of the boat is, as opposed to the original specifications. These surveyors will not tell you the specifications were incorrect to begin with.
More boating history
Your editor continues a review of old issues of Rudder and Yachting (this time the years 1945-1949). Observations about the times and an editorial which struck a chord:
• The war was over, and everyone wanted to get out on the water. Yachting, it seemed, was about to become a passion of everyman, rather than a rich man’s pastime. An editorial in Yachting in May of 1946, says, “Never have so many persons wanted to get afloat, never have boats been in such demand. The pent-up enthusiasm of five years is finding its expression this season.”
• In March 1947, Olin Stephens writes that “wood is beginning to meet some competition from other construction materials: 1) molded plywood, 2) plastics, 3) heavy metals, including steel and wrought iron, and 4) light metals, such as the aluminum alloys.”
• Some of the advertisers of the time that we recognize today include Danforth anchors, Ritchie compasses, Woolsey Paint and International Paint, Wilcox-Crittenden (toilets, cabin heaters, fittings), Sperry Topsiders, Folbot folding kayaks, Ratsey & Lapthorn Sailmakers, and Chris-Craft (although they have yet to discover sailboats).
• Rudder is full of designs by names we recognize today (and many more as well). Here are a few: the Sparkman & Stephens firm, Bill Tripp, John Brandlmayr, Henry Scheel, Edson Schock, the Eldredge-McInnis firm, William Garden, Edwin Monk, Philip Rhodes, Thomas Gillmer, S. S. Crocker, John Alden, Aage Nielsen, Carl Alberg, George Stadel, Maurice Griffiths, and Frederick Geiger.
Editorial in Rudder, April 1947
Pleasure boats, as the term implies, are created for the purpose of giving the owner pleasure and enjoyment. Under such circumstances our considerations of the monetary value of boats must be applied with a different yardstick than is customary in everyday usage.
The necessities of life are fundamental requirements and are purchased on the basis of efficient performance per dollar unit. A boat obviously falls into a different category. Normally you don’t use her for transportation. There are faster and cheaper means of getting to a destination. Neither do you acquire her for shelter from the elements. In the final analysis she is a personal possession with the ability to give you happiness limited only by your inherent capacity to absorb it.
No boat will give you more than is in you. But she will stir dormant traits, she will stir your imagination, your spirit of adventure and romance, your natural and instinctive love of freedom. She will bring nature closer and will splash brilliant colors on the gray canvas of daily life. What a boat gives you cannot be expressed in dollars and cents any more than you can put a cash value on health, happiness, or the charm of a peaceful evening in a quiet cove.
Therefore when you contemplate the purchase of a boat it isn’t merely so much bronze-fastened lumber skillfully made into an efficient water-borne shape that you are looking at. Rather you are looking with your inner eye at what this yacht will do for you and yours in the intangible values which are the warp and weft of life itself.
The boat gives you eager anticipation before you get her, happy realization when you own her, and vivid memories after she has gone. And what a thrill you get if many years after you sold her you see her again, with a new owner getting the same enjoyment you had a long, long time ago.
Today boats are not cheap, but they never have been. Yet when you consider what you and your family would do for amusement without a boat and add up the cost, you might realize that a boat pays for herself too. The invisible amortization, although not clearly considered, is still no less real.
A new car driven home from the showroom immediately sustains a sharp drop in value, while a well-designed, built, and cared-for boat will retain her value for many years and often will bring a better price than the original cost.
That boats differ from anything else made by man can be demonstrated by a simple test. Just tell the average yachtsman that his boat is an inanimate object. He will stare at you first with silent astonishment, then with disgust and pity.
Capt. Tolley’s acclaim
More kudos for Capt. Tolley’s Creeping Crack Cure (mentioned fondly in the November 2003 issue). For 20 years — even when brand new — the butterfly hatch on our Baba 30 leaked, nay funneled, rainwater onto the table below. No more! Thanks to the Captain’s magical elixir.
What was that boat on the cover?
Several readers asked what that boat on the cover of the September 2004 issue was. If we had known, we would have mentioned it. But we were clueless as well. Los Angeles sailor, Simon Golledge, who is a new owner of a Sparkman & Stephens 34, solved it for us. He notes, for starters that the double S on the cove stripe is the S&S monogram and continues with the clear indicator (something we and others had wondered about): the exhaust coming out of the port side approximately amidships. We asked about that. Simon writes:
The engine is situated just aft of the keel-stepped mast, so it is located in the cabin! The (only?!) advantage of this is that the engine is centrally placed so it does not mess up the trim of the boat. The exhaust outlet is therefore located on the port beam, which is how I recognized that the boat on the front cover was an S&S 34. These yachts have a good sailing pedigree. In the early 70s, Ted Heath (then British Prime Minister) won the Sydney-Hobart race in Morning Cloud, an S&S 34. Since then, a number have completed circumnavigations, often singlehanded. I think there were two completed in the late 90s. The S&S 34 is still made in Australia, though with a modified coachroof/cabintop. The original versions (1970s) were made by Aquafibre, England. My own (Lina II) was built there in 1970 and was sailed from Belgium to San Francisco in the ’80s. I am currently fitting her out and plan to sail back to England from LA.
Buying used cruisers
Hal Roth’s piece “Making the dream come true” (September 2004) was excellent. I’d add two comments. First of all, I’d never buy a new boat “off the shelf.” Who knows if the laminator was having a bad day, someone forgot to tighten something, or whatever? If you’re going to buy “new,” hire a surveyor to oversee the building of the boat. Gelcoat and teak can hide a lot of mistakes.
In writing about buying used cruisers, Hal didn’t mention that some of the older cruisers can be purchased for far less than $75,000. These boats, such as the Islander 29 and 32, Pearson Tritons and Vanguards, the Rawson 30, Columbia 29s, etc., are all proven bluewater boats that often can be bought for less than $10,000. Add Hal’s “preparation budget” of $16,500, and you can go cruising $50,000 sooner! They’re just as safe, seaworthy, and fast as the more expensive used cruisers!
Bravo Zulu, David
Gotta give a Bravo Zulu to David Satter for the great forward hatch he made for his good old boat (shown in Mail Buoy, September 2004). We need you to settle a bet (dinner is on it). I say David’s boat is a Bristol 30; my wife says I need glasses.
It’s a Bristol 30, Gil. You don’t need glasses yet.
In the August newsletter David Reno asks about the origin of the word gunwale. The gunwale (usually pronounced “gunnel”) is the upper edge of the side of a vessel. The word is made up of two parts: gun and wale. In early armed vessels the cannon (guns) were carried on the main deck — this was the gun deck. Wale is a bracing beam, usually horizontal. If you look at a bulkhead along the waterfront, you’ll see horizontal beams that are in front of the vertical planks of the bulkhead — these are also wales. The word wale comes from the Old English word walen, meaning ridge. Thus, the gunwale is the top horizontal plank on the gun deck (top deck).
A book which might help
In your current newsletter, August 2004, David Reno enquires about nautical terms. You replied that your two books didn’t include the words gunwale, marconi, and yawl. Let me suggest another book I just got at Mystic Seaport: Origins of Sea Terms, by John Rogers, published by Mystic Seaport. It has entries for all three of these terms, for example: “The upper edge, or low bulwark, on the side of a vessel. The definition has varied over the years with changes in ships’ and boats’ design. Earlier, and generally, it was the top of the bulwark structure, the guns being carried on the main deck. Often contracted to gunnel.”
I have found this book to be interesting reading. Yes, I know it sounds funny to say you enjoy reading a dictionary, but you know how we sailors can be . . .
Dutch nautical terms
I thought everybody knew that the term yawl was from the Dutch word jol, which is pronounced yawl. It also came down to us in English in the jollyboat. Boom and sloop also spring to mind. You have to remember that many of these words have a common derivation in our Germanic languages. Dutch is a form of Low German and, of course, Old English was largely Germanic, from the Saxons. Strangely enough, Old English has words almost exactly the same as the newest Germanic language, Afrikaans.
Everybody who sails surely knows by now the derivation of yacht from the Dutch jaght, short for jaghtschip, a vessel for chasing: from jagen, to hunt.
The word boom in Dutch (and in Afrikaans) means tree, but also a pole. The word boom evolved into beam in English, which absorbed a lot of Francification after William the Conqueror in 1066.
Sloop comes from the Dutch sloep, from the Low German sluup, which was akin to the Old English slupan. That meant to glide.
Buoy is another word that probably comes from the Middle Dutch boeie but it probably started off even earlier with the Latin word boia, meaning a fetter or a neck collar. The experts believe that was originally a reference to the chain that held the buoy in place.
I imagine there are many nautical words we’ve borrowed or adapted from the Dutch, as they have from English, but it’s always very difficult to pin down absolute sources when languages with similar backgrounds are evolving simultaneously.
Docks you can walk on
In the most recent GOB newsletter (August 2004), you printed a letter from a fellow who took you to task for using dock as the term for something that one can walk on. I find he is about 200 years behind the times. I consulted the Oxford English Dictionary, which most etymolygists accept as the premier authority on the history of the use of English words. Definition 1b provides the sense that your writer insists is the only proper use, “The body of water between adjacent wharves.” But Definition 6 reads, “A wharf, a pier. Orig. US E19.” Translated, the last part of that means, “Originated in the U.S. in the early 19th Century.” Your writer is getting hung up on a difference between British English and American English. Clearly “dock” is one of these terms.
So keep on doing what so many of us enjoy: walking along the dock, comparing the lines and structures of different sailboats. And let your writer, who identifies himself as American, learn to speak his native language. Next thing we’ll hear, I suppose, is his opposition to all those Dutch sailing terms that have infiltrated English. No more sloop, ketch, or yawl?
Often at the end of a day on the bay, after we’d nudged our beloved Crealock cutter alongside a pier (or less frequently a wharf and even once or twice a quay), we would retire to the privacy of our saloon and wryly remark upon those who would call a dry thing, like a pier, by the name of a watery place, like a dock. Hooray for messrs. Brewer, Perry, Crealock, and Co. for lining up on the side of what is good and right, and a gentle reminder to James Neal — who is otherwise entirely on course — that “none” (as in “none of them are docks”) must always be followed by a verb in the singular form.
Many thanks for your excellent publication, which also appears to be entirely on course.
In response to the question about nautical terms, David Reno was asking about naming warships. Many U.S. warships are indeed named after people (usually destroyers, a cruiser, aircraft carriers, and several submarines). In 1997, the Navy commissioned the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer homeported in Pearl Harbor that is named after Rear Admiral “Amazing” Grace Hopper, the co-inventor of COBOL (common business-oriented language). This is the first time since World War II, and only the second time in Naval history, that a warship has been named for a woman from the Navy’s own ranks. Also we also use the familiar “she” to talk about a warship in a personal sense, i.e. “She handles well with full rudder on” or “She was my first ship.”
CMDCM(SW/AW) Bill Neubauer
USS Mobile Bay (CG 53)
What about overlarge fuel tanks?
I have a Gulf 32 Pilothouse with a 75-gallon fuel tank. In the 10 years that I have had it, I have never used more than half a tank of fuel. I’m in Kenosha, Wisconsin, so I have a 15-minute motor out of the marina until I have the sails up. My question is, how long before the old diesel fuel starts to cause problems? I have a Racor filter system. Thanks. You have a great magazine.
On the question of how long fuel will last before it goes bad, I have heard several answers and have no way of knowing the truth of the matter. The most common answer is about one season. This is the answer espoused by the suppliers of various additives for diesel fuel as well as at least some engine mechanics. Against this I recently met a well-versed person who said that diesel fuel for emergency generators is kept for many years and is still usable. In this situation, the fuel is regularly cleaned and polished, which is the buzz term for pumping it out of the tank, filtering it to remove water and solids, and adding biocides to it. His comment was that the molecules are already millions of years old.
It might be difficult to generalize about this, as all engine fuels become less natural and more blended under the pressure of tighter regulations aimed at curbing pollution. As lawyers and regulators design fuels that engineers never dreamed of when they designed what are now old engines, the older engines will suffer. Aging adds another variable, which is certainly not the main interest for most of the players in this game.
Certainly you should clean and polish the fuel in a tank that big. Marine fuel is supposed to have dye in it to indicate that road tax has not been paid on it. Some of the fuel we see is dyed and some is not. If your tank contains no dye, you could give some very high percentage of it to someone with a truck or farm machine. Legally, since no road tax has been paid on it, it should not be used to power a vehicle on the highway. The dye is used for enforcement of this.
Common wisdom is that we should store our boats for the winter with a full fuel tank so there is no air space to collect moisture. Naturally if you do this, you will never have fresh fuel, unless you find a way to give it away once a year. I have considered several schemes for storing my boat with a tank that is not full, but I don’t have anything I trust enough yet to recommend to others. The problem is that the tank is vented and, as ambient temperatures vary, it breathes in and out, takes on new water from the air, and condenses it in the tank. As much as you might like to, if you plug your air vent for the winter, the tank may experience enough negative pressure to damage it.
Expensive, but worth it
Just a note of interest: when GOB first hit the market with subscriptions at $40+, I was skeptical. However, I bought my first couple of issues off the magazine stand and quickly became hooked. What I realized was that Good Old Boat was the first publication to seriously address an area only half-heartedly pursued by other past and present boating magazines. That is the do-it-yourself boatowner.
It was always a surprise to me that no boating magazine was seriously exploiting this area. From what I could see, there are vast numbers of do-it-yourself addicts restoring good old boats at every marina I visited, and these people love nothing more than telling anyone who would listen about their current boat project or listening to similar stories told by others.
Being one of these people myself, I had always been frustrated by the fact that there were no periodicals on the market that devoted serious space to this subject and quickly realized that the uniquely detailed information provided in Good Old Boat was well worth the higher-than-average subscription price. I would compare the information value found in Good Old Boat to be equal to that found in another popular publication (Practical Sailor) priced at $40+ per year, though the approach taken is different.
What clinched it for me were two articles in particular, one detailing the construction of a do-it-yourself watermaker and the other showing the construction details for building a hardtop dodger. These are serious do-it-yourself projects the like of which had never been addressed in any of the popular publications that I regularly read. Good Old Boat had my undivided attention and interest.
Thanks for filling the void. I look forward to each new issue in anticipation of discovering what new projects are detailed. Congratulations on reaching your six-year anniversary, and keep those great articles coming!
Tearing the pages out
I tear the pages and file what I want to keep [from magazines] and then “bin” the rest. Your magazine is always the thinnest! I like the emphasis on affordability, 26-foot-type boats, and their upkeep. I appreciate the tone: brotherly not hectoring. Poetry often, too, which is lovely. You’ve carved a niche. If you’re happy, and it’s going as you wish, I would say, “Don’t change a thing.”
Has that man no shame?
My husband is still sneaking my new issues. He says that your magazine is the best he has ever read on boating. And, he gets them all. I may have to get a post office box if I want to be the first to read it. Keep up those wonderful stories.
Marlene wrote in the March 2004 issue that she was considering buying her husband a subscription of his own. Perhaps we should make couples like this a special two-fer deal. We know of others who are facing similar problems. If you need two copies delivered to your home, get in touch. We’ll see what we can do.
“Why are we here? . . . We want to start people caring for the environment as it must be cared for . . . We want to make a difference.” – Sir Peter Blake
This large-format book documents the voyage of Sir Peter Blake and crew of Seamaster, from Auckland, New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic Peninsula and then to South America and up the Amazon River. It is a beautiful book about an amazing man on an incredible voyage in a most unique sailboat. This is the ultimate coffee-table book. I tested it on unsuspecting friends. Not one could resist picking it up, and all were intrigued. The ensuing conversations inevitably turned on the voyage of Seamaster.
Seamaster is a fascinating boat, a vessel designed to safely bring her crew from the Antarctic to the Amazon and yet model how wastes can be managed in an environmentally sound manner. Sir Peter Blake received two Sportsman of the Year awards, four Yachtsman of the Year awards, and the Prix de L’Aventure Sportive. He was named Member of the British Empire (MBE) and Officer of the British Empire (OBE). Sir Peter was Special Envoy of the United Nations’ Environmental Programme (UNEP). He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 1995, and was considered “ a good Kiwi Bloke” by his mates.
He sailed Sydney-Hobarts, Fastnets, the Doublehanded Round Britain Race, Trans-Tasmans, a trans-Atlantic race, and the two-handed Around Australia Race. He won the Whitbread, the Trophée Jules Verne, and the America’s Cup. With six trips around the world, Sir Peter logged more than 600,000 sea miles.
Sir Peter became aware of damage to the oceans while racing around the world. He noted a decline of the giant albatross from the 1980s. The seabirds become entangled in the enormous fishing nets deployed by commercial fisheries. He was concerned by the trend in commercial fishing that target and remove entire fish stocks. “Incidental catch,” such as an albatross, is discarded by an industry too focused on the bottom line.
When reading Sir Peter’s log book, it is easy to forget that he is gone. I enjoyed the daily progress of Seamaster and her crew. Each daily log has entries for: latitude, longitude, course, sea, air temp., sea temp., barometer, and location. This data is followed by Sir Peter’s narrative about events on board or comments on the history and geography of the region and notes on the wildlife observed. Sometimes the narrative comes from crewmembers discussing an area of special interest. Narrative is always accompanied by photographs, some spanning two pages to increase their dramatic effect.
Sir Peter’s comments bring to mind the ideas of Jacques Cousteau. That is not surprising. Sir Peter assumed leadership of the Cousteau Society in 1997 after Jacques’ death. He left the Cousteau Society to form his own organization, Blakexpeditions, to educate and motivate the young about ecological causes, especially the state of the world’s oceans.
When Seamaster turns to begin the journey back down the Amazon, I feel a sense of sadness, knowing the adventure must end with the murder of Sir Peter by river pirates.
Sir Peter did make a difference. The Last Great Adventure of Sir Peter Blake does make a difference. This is a great book. As a gift, it would surprise and delight a friend.
Ship to Shore: A Dictionary of Everyday Words and Phrases Derived from the Sea, by Peter D. Jeans (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2004; 433 pages; $18.95)
Review by Pat Morris
St. Paul, Minn.
It seems fairly logical that words like “launch,” “moonlighting,” and even “nausea” (more about this one later) would have nautical origins. But what about “billboard,” “flimsy,” or “ringleader”? Those words and many other words and phrases that are regularly used by English-speaking sailors and landlubbers alike also originated on or near the sea. “Ringleader,” for example, came from the “round robin” concept, meaning a “petition or protest written in circular form so that no particular signature heads the list and therefore no one person can be singled out as a ringleader . . . originally used by sailors when urging a formal protest or claim on their superior officers.”
Ship to Shore’s author, Peter Jeans, is an English teacher and sailor who has an abiding interest in history, which is what makes this book far more than just a dictionary. It’s a fun read as well as a wonderful resource and would make a great gift for any sailor or even a non-sailor who is interested in nautical history, etymology, or trivia. The author is clearly passionate about words and all things nautical. It is easy to tell that he enjoyed doing the research and writing this book.
The entries for each word often give more information than is offered in an ordinary dictionary. You may already know that the word nausea came from the Greek nausia, seasickness. But where else are you going to learn that when “nausea is combined with a drunken headache, the resulting condition is nicely expressed by the word crapulous.”
The Lo-Tech Navigator, by Tony Crowley (Sheridan House, 2004; 148 pages; $17.95)
Review by Durkee Richards
Tony Crowley has provided boaters with a enjoyable book that contains instructions for building a variety of useful navigation tools. It combines these with reminiscences, rules of thumb, and even a recipe for Spanish Armada omelet. Some of the navigation tools would make great projects when working with student mariners.
Tony has spent a great deal of time at sea, both as a former British merchant navy officer, and later as a sailor. This book shows that he clearly enjoyed the art of navigation and found satisfaction in revisiting and improving historical navigation tools and techniques. The largest portion of this book deals with astral navigation.
Topics range from a “sun compass” — a handy technique for using the early morning sun to find true east or the late-day sun for finding west — to a lengthy chapter entitled “Sun Navigation in a Nutshell.” This chapter starts with the basics of sextant sun sights and includes a poem to help guide the student through the steps of sight reduction. It then continues with construction projects for a mariner’s quadrant, a cross-staff, an improved back-staff, and an octant.
The final part of the sun navigation section is entitled “Dire Straits Navigation.” It features a clever way to construct a quadrant using only a sheet of paper, a small board, and a few pins. Then the author gives some rules of thumb to help calculate the sun’s declination and the time at which the sun will cross the Greenwich Meridian. He again uses a poem as a memory aid and attributes David Burch’s classic book, Emergency Navigation, as his inspiration.
Use of some of the navigation tool projects, such as quadrants and the cross-staff, require sighting directly toward the sun. And these instruments traditionally do not incorporate sun shades. Cautions about taking sufficient measures to protect your eyesight are a bit understated. Please take particular care, especially if working with young mariners.
Sailors who cruise in waters with significant tidal currents will especially enjoy the chapter called “The Magic of 6°,” which gives an easy rule of thumb for computing the course correction required to compensate for currents. Tony also includes a very nice discussion about how to visually detect currents that he calls “Reading the Sea.”
This is an appealing book that includes an eclectic range of topics. Some are interesting variations on known themes, others are included to amuse, and some provide unexpected insight into the art of navigation (such as using the motion of Kochab around Polaris to find longitude).
She’ll Cross an Ocean, If You Will, by Dan Smith (Kohinoor Press, 2004; 282 pages; $34.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Dan Smith became the de facto historian of the Allied Boat Company as the corresponding secretary of the Allied Seawind Owners’ Association. The cartons of documents which came with the job elevated his interest in the company which had gone out of business in 1984. Soon he was searching for more information about the company. The rest, as they say, truly is history . . . a history book for the owners and lovers of Allied Boats, the Seawind 30 in particular and other boats by Tom Gillmer.
She’ll Cross an Ocean If You Will is Dan’s summary of his research conducted over many years, the story of his own Seawind 30 which was damaged beyond repair in a hurricane, the stories of two famous Seawind sailors (Alan Eddy and Dan Jelsema), and background about the Seawind Owners’ Association.
Most importantly though, Dan’s book presents the history of the Allied Boat Company and a profile of designer Tom Gillmer. For Gillmer fans and those who are passionate about the Allied boats (most of which have something akin to cult status) this book will be invaluable. Due to Alan Eddy’s historic first circumnavigation between 1964 and 1969 in a fiberglass boat — the Allied Seawind 30 — this book is relevant to all those who now follow behind so willingly in fiberglass boats whether on bluewater passages or coastal cruising. We have the fiberglass pioneers to thank for our boats today.
The Allied Boat Company, designer Tom Gillmer, and Alan Eddy are our heroes, and we can thank Dan Smith for telling their stories in She’ll Cross an Ocean If You Will.
A Complete Cruising Guide to the Down East Circle Route, by Cheryl Barr (Yacht Pilot Publishing, 2004; 198 pages; $44.95)
Review by Bill Sandifer
After reading two articles about the Down East Circle Route, I decided I needed to know more about this cruise and the book about it by Nova Scotian Captain Cheryl Barr. When I got the guide, I was hooked on the guide, which is almost as good as I think the cruise will be. Best of all, you can enjoy it in the comfort of your easy chair.
The book is well written and is not so much a cruising guide as a narrative of the things you can see and do on the cruise with navigational information included. It takes you from New York Harbor up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, through the Erie Canal to Oswego to Kingston, Ontario, through the Thousand Islands, out the St. Lawrence around the Gaspé Peninsula, back through Nova Scotia, Maine, the Cape Cod Canal, and to your point of origin in New York. Each segment is illustrated with pictures, charts, and an excellent description of what you will encounter along the way. There are excellent recommendations for places of interest, methods of handling the tides, currents, and locks and small, detailed descriptions of why “bluenoses” are called “bluenoses.”
All in all, a most enjoyable cruising guide that is much more than just a guide but an excellent narrative, well written and entertaining in its own right.
Unfurling the Heart: Love’s Persuasion, by Susea McGearhart (Whitecaps Publishing, 2004; 316 pages; $14.95)
Review by Theresa Fort
Unfurling the Heart is the story of the making of a cruising couple through a four-month “seabatical” to the Bahamas told from the wife’s perspective. The author bares all and is candid about her fears and desires. She learns that cruising is not done for fun but for its liberating lifestyle. She learns how smiling and forced bravery can lead to a positive attitude when times get rough.
And, even though the time span of the cruise is only four months, the couple deals with many of the situations that some long-term cruisers experience: the work required in living aboard and cruising, concerns and health issues with a pet on board, the loss of a parent while cruising far from home, and the anxieties and realities of staying in touch with loved ones. Susea, by the way, already has one book under her belt. She is co-author of Red Sky in Mourning with Tami Oldham Ashcraft.
The cover and title worried me. I was suspicious that this would be a fluffy book about love and cruising. In fact, I was biased against it in the beginning. But even though there are a few too many metaphors connecting love to sailing and cruising, I was drawn into this couple’s story and found myself wondering what would happen next. Susea’s story was worth telling. This book has honest information about what women sailors experience and how they feel about life while cruising.
Some readers may find the detail a little monotonous because it is an almost daily account of Susea’s first cruise. But there is value in all that detail. I found it to be a good example of just what a first cruise is like for a couple with a pet dog exploring a new country. In actuality, cruising itself can be monotonous at times.
The great number of photos throughout the book help illustrate the couple’s experience. I enjoyed reading about and getting to see many of the places our family visited several years ago on our own cruise to the Bahamas. In fact, I found the book to have excellent and useful information about cruising in Bahamian waters; it would be fun to bring it along to read while sailing there.
Susea McGearheart covers the emotional aspects of cruising that pre-cruisers and beginning cruisers need to know before setting sail. Through the eyes of the wife, Unfurling the Heart is a warm and sometimes tumultuous sail through the initiation of a cruising couple.
Ham Radio For Dummies, by Ward Silver (Wiley, 2004; 380 pages; $21.99)
Review by Jon Paulus
So you’d like to venture out farther into the world of two-way communication? You say the FRS radios you bought to keep track of the kids and your marine VHF aren’t enough? You’d like to become a licensed amateur radio operator, but haven’t a clue where to start? Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky? Well, never fear, Ward Silver has written a book for you!
In his book, Ham Radio For Dummies, Ward clearly presents, with technical precision and a dash of humor, everything you need to know to gain licensure as a ham operator. Be aware that this book will not, by itself, prepare you to get your license. Instead, it will tell you how to prepare, what resources you need, and where to look for them. The book does not, for example, teach you Morse code. Instead it guides you through the process of finding the best way to learn it. For each step of the way, Ward discusses the options, tells you the best ways to get through that step, and offers sound reasoning as to why this is the best path to choose.
This book is very easy to read. The folksy, conversational style, common to other books in the Dummies series, is prevalent here. Sidebars explain concepts in depth while bullets highlight important details. Technical jargon is defined in common terms. Ward becomes your “Elmer,” the ham radio term for a trusted friend and mentor who tells you what you need to know to enter this world and make it yours.
If you’re interested in becoming a ham operator, buy this book. Read it, and the process of becoming a ham operator will move from daunting to doable.
Ralph Stanley: Tales of a Maine Boatbuilder, by Ralph Stanley and Craig Milner (Down East Books, 2004; 160 pages; $25)
Review by Bill Hammond
When I was asked to review Ralph Stanley: Tales of a Maine Boatbuilder, I was already prone to like the book. First, I love wooden boats. Second, I have met Ralph Stanley — or, more precisely, seen him in action. My family has a place across Frenchman Bay from Mount Desert Island where for more than half a century Ralph Stanley has plied his trade. I have stood on hallowed ground in Southwest Harbor — the air rife with scents of freshly hewn timbers — and watched as he planed a garboard plank intended for a Maine lobster boat and inserted a “fashion piece” onto the stern of a nearly completed Friendship sloop. He and his associates went about their business that day as though on a mission. Nonetheless, they were more than hospitable to gawkers wandering in from the street and all but blushed with home-spun modesty whenever one of us commented on the beauty of the boats they were building.
So I had high expectations for this book and was not disappointed. The book, written in cooperation with journalist Craig Milner, is a gem. It matters naught whether or not the reader has an interest in how wooden boats are designed and built. There are several chapters devoted to these issues but, as with everything in this book, they are written in classic understatement.
The remaining 27 short chapters carry the reader through the life of this Renaissance man and the many influences that have fashioned his career. We meet his family. We meet summer people “from away” who take young Ralph under their wing. We even meet Hillary Clinton and other government dignitaries when Ralph is summoned to Washington to receive a highly coveted Master Artist award from the National Heritage Fellowship.
But it is when he is describing his boats that the essence of Ralph Stanley emerges. In the back of the book is a list of 60-some vessels that have come out of his shop, including the names of people for whom they were built, starting with a lapstrake dory in 1946 and ending with a Friendship sloop in 2004. It would be no different for a parent describing his children or an author or artist profiling her portfolio of creativity. All are labors of love.
In current world, where people seem obsessed with material possessions and a “me too” mentality, it is refreshing to meet a man of substance and genuine humility for whom shallow emotions are unfathomable. They simply aren’t part of who he is, never could be.
Ralph’s view of life is his work, his desire to make a design already appreciated into something perhaps a little bit more appreciated. His life is a testimony to the values of old-fashioned work ethics, genuine humility, and a constant striving for excellence. You can almost hear him add: “Ayuh, building wooden boats is what I do. What’s all the fuss about?”
The Biggest Boat I Could Afford: Sailing Up the U.S. Coast in a Dinghy, by Lee Hughes (Sheridan House, 2004; 304 pages; $19.95)
Review by Wayne Gagnon
What do you get when you combine an undeniable fear of the ocean, a healthy dose of mid-life crisis, and a serious case of open-mouth-insert-footitis? Why, the makings of a cruising memoir, of course. Even though Lee Hughes grew up in New Zealand, where boating is a national pastime, he reached adulthood with a very real and unexplainable fear of big water. The other two ingredients can be attributed to the male ego and testosterone, which tend to reinforce each other.
Hughes has published two other books in New Zealand: Straight From the Horse’s Ass, in 1995, and Shooting From the Lip, in 1999, which, in his words, “dealt with my nine years in the New Zealand army and the disasters I inflicted on myself and my fellow officers.”
In this book he makes reference to a woman he had had a relationship with years before. Somehow, after almost suing him for slander, they end up in a romantic relationship in which Lee conversationally paints himself into a corner that leads to his minimalist’s sailing adventure from Key West to New York via the Intracoastal Waterway, in a 16-foot Wayfarer dinghy named Wanderer.
The first half of The Biggest Boat I Could Afford tells how Lee decides to make, or gets himself trapped, into making the voyage then details how he travels from New Zealand to Fort Lauderdale, via Wyoming and Canada, to pick up his boat, which he bought sight-unseen over the Internet from the owner who was in England. At this point you may wonder when, or even if, he is ever going to get down to sailing.
He does indeed in the second, more serious half of book. After outfitting Wanderer in Fort Lauderdale, he sails to Key West where his trip officially begins. He deals with his fear, the weather, tides, loneliness, and inexperience. He meets total strangers who come to his aid when he has equipment failures or simply needs directions.
Lee’s style is straightforward and humorous, and he’s more than willing to laugh at himself. If you’re in the market for a semi-serious treatise on one man’s struggle with mid-life crisis or would like to see how little equipment some people need, you would probably enjoy The Biggest Boat I Could Afford. It’s also a welcome reminder that, more often than not, a journey is much more than simply going from point A to point B.
Escape from Someday Isle, edited by Linda Ridihalgh (Living Aboard; 2004; 226 pages; $18)
Review by Karen Larson
Anyone who hopes to live aboard or cruise full time someday will want to talk to others who have already lived this dream. Lots of others . . .as many as possible . . . with all kinds of opinions. For the “someday dreamers,” the editors of Living Aboard magazine have organized a large gathering of liveaboards who have been there and done that and, in most cases, made it look easy.
And they’ve invited the dreamers among us to the party. Even better than a party that might not fit our time schedule or be held in location near home, this gathering of singles, couples, and families who made the transition to living aboard is available in the pages of a book, Escape from Someday Isle, a collection of the best articles printed over the years in Living Aboard magazine.
As attendees at this elite gathering, we can “explore” the boats of liveaboards learning about their solutions to problems and gathering tips. We can delve into their minds asking how and why and why not. Unconstrained, we can ask about money issues, about lack of privacy, about personal issues. And we can do all of this at a pace that works for us. They’ll answer our questions (the ones they’ve heard a thousand times before), tell us what worked for them, reminisce about the good and the bad parts of making the transition and living it, and reassure the timid among us.
The pages of Living Aboard magazine are replete with the stories of making the move: before, during, and after. It’s told by many boaters with varying opinions. They sing the siren song with hundreds of voices. This book gathers the best of the advice and observations and makes it available to those who would do likewise. If you’re planning, hoping, or dreaming of a liveaboard lifestyle, this is one book you don’t want to miss. You don’t need a special occasion to add it to your bookshelf. You’ve been invited to a gathering. That’s special occasion enough. Don’t miss out.
A Voyage Toward Vengeance, by Jule Miller (Paradise Cay Publications, 2004; 336 pages; $14.95)
Review by Jon Paulus
Are you a fan of nautical fiction, particularly adventure or murder mystery stories with a nautical twist? You likely know that it’s been a while since Sam Llewellyn has cranked out one of his sailing thrillers. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series is a limited set. What’s a sailor to read? Jule Miller, a retired engineer and sailor who lives in the Caribbean has stepped in to fill the void. His book, A Voyage Toward Vengeance, is filled with all of the elements that lovers of mysteries and nautical fiction enjoy. Detailed descriptions of sailboats, weather, landfalls, and the beautiful Caribbean locales will keep the winter armchair sailor satisfied. The story, complete with missing persons, murder, sunken vessels, unlikely comrades, and a couple of real sociopaths, will entertain the mystery/adventure lover.
The main character, Bill Stroud, is newly retired. He’s a fellow who also has recently suffered a number of losses. He is emotionally adrift and purposeless in New England. Even his beloved hobby of sailing has no meaning. He is on a downward spiral until he sees a picture postcard of a Caribbean marina which contains a boat that looks just like the one owned by his daughter and son-in-law. The problem is that they were lost at sea, presumed dead and their boat sunk.
He leaves New England in search of the vessel and the answers to questions about what really happened to the boat and crew. Along the way he teams up with a woman who has similarly lost her parents. Their pursuit of the truth and wrestling with ethical dilemmas along the way, drive the story. Slowly they uncover the truth, and slowly Bill rediscovers himself along the way.
This is the first non-fiction effort by Miller, and it’s a good one. He includes lots of nautical detail — enough to satisfy the sailor. The depth of this detail was daunting to a non-sailing reader with whom I shared the book. Miller knows what he’s talking about when it comes to sailing, and his descriptions of nautical scenes are excellent. As far his general writing is concerned, there were a couple of times when he telegraphed the story line a bit too broadly. This is a small fault, however, and the book is a most enjoyable read. The adventurous reader might find himself or herself drawn to sail the idyllic Caribbean. The reader with a vivid imagination might also find himself or herself imagining pirates lurking in every anchorage.
This time our quotes are from Trekka Round the World, by John Guzzwell.
“. . . it was not too long before just the staysail and mizzen were too much sail area, and we were reduced to riding the swells under bare poles with only a solitary albatross for company. I stood in the hatchway watching him soar above a crest and then glide down the lonely valleys, the perfection of flight as performed by the king of all birds. I have watched them for hours, endlessly wheeling and banking, sometimes with a wingtip just brushing the surface of the water, then doing a half-roll to disappear behind the ridge of the next swell. What do these remarkable birds feed on? I have never seen them eat anything apart from scraps thrown overboard from some passing vessel. They are big birds, with a body as large as a goose, and must require plenty of food, yet they never seem to feed off sea life as other ocean birds do. No bird except the southern albatross can make flying look so easy, such fun, or such a beautiful thing, and if the Good Lord allows me to come back to earth in the guise of some animal, I shall ask to return as an albatross and let my spirit roam the reaches of the Southern Ocean.”
“I celebrated my 29th birthday with an evening meal of canned steak fried with onions, followed by one of the cans of Australian Christmas puddings with custard. Coffee was served in the cockpit as the sky faded, and I was treated to a wonderful tropical sunset that would have measured Force 8 on the Richter Scale. The stars began to wink one by one, and I sat there leaning against the upturned dinghy, very much at peace with myself. It is impossible to describe the beauty of these sunsets at sea when the boat is steering itself and everything is well on board. When I am away from the sea and caught up in the rush of everyday life, I shall try to remember these moments, for they are among the most beautiful I have known.”
“It was not easy parting with Trekka after all the adventures we had shared together. She had taught me lessons in seamanship and self-reliance and had shown me what a wonderful lifestyle cruising under sail can be. They were lessons that would enhance me and my career in the years ahead when the course was sometimes difficult to steer.”
And finally, of a passage made not long ago, at age 68, John writes:
“It was an emotional and nostalgic passage for me because I realize there cannot be too many more of these ocean voyages left on my calendar. I was also very grateful to the Good Lord in allowing me the space, ability, health, and time to successfully complete the entire summer’s voyage. Few are so lucky.”