October 2006 Newsletter

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available as an MP3 audio download at AudioSeaStories.net. It is 1:24:09 min length and 19.2 MB in size. It is read by Laura Haug. We recommend a broadband Internet connection to download, since it is such a large file.

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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Try to remember…

those days of September

Ah yes, it’s the familiar rant from the editors of Good Old Boat: “Where’d the summer go (again)?” We’ll put a stopper in it right now before it gets out of control. After all, it’s been a lovely summer (again).

Our news with this issue focuses on our new relationship with SailNet and our latest audiobook releases.

SailNet and Good Old Boat
We’re happy to tell you that SailNet and Good Old Boat will be working closely together in the months ahead to bring SailNet community members more content from the archives of Good Old Boat, and to spread the word of Good Old Boat to SailNet sailors. What’s not to like about that? If there’s a sailor left out there who has not heard of Good Old Boat by now, we’re sure to find him (or her) with the help of SailNet. If you’re a member of SailNet’s forums or other community activities, look for Good Old Boat to be featured in SailNet newsletters and as the original publishers of some feature articles on the SailNet homepage. This is a partnership we’re proud to be a part of.

Audiobooks gain momentum
Our excursion into the world of audiobooks is taking on a life of its own. It all began last fall when we released Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World. We thought that was the place to begin since Slocum was the first solo circumnavigator, back at the turn of the previous century, and his newspaper columns and book grabbed everyone’s attention like never before.

Since then, we’ve released three books by John Vigor for children ages 8 to 12 (but the secret is that the whole family will enjoy these adventure stories). The first, Danger, Dolphins, and Ginger Beer, was printed in many languages. The second two are only available as audiobooks, so this is your chance to enjoy Sally Steals an Elephant and So Long, Foxtrot Charlie.

But there’s more! After editor Karen Larson released her free audio download called “Get off the Lake,” there was a general call for more stories like that. To hear that sample, visit <http://www.audioseastories.com/>. Karen got busy and recorded all the Good Old Boat “The view from here” and “Last tack” columns. Since we just released our 50th issue (September 2006), it seemed appropriate to stop there with 100 short, philosophical musings from the editors of Good Old Boat. These make a neat series of short commentaries that you can listen to on short trips (no long chapters here!). We think you’ll enjoy them, perhaps even more than when they were presented in print over the years.

All of our audiobooks have little free samples available for download. Visit http://www.audioseastories.com/ or http://www.audioseastories.com/. This second site is set up for audiobook listeners who are interested in tales of the sea but may not be members of the Good Old Boat community of sailors. (Think of them as our other target market.)

 

 

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What’s coming in October?

For the love of sailboats
• Allegra 24 feature boat
• Islander 28 review boat
• Pearson Triton refit
• The rebirth of Maruska (Pearson 365)
Profile of Bill Tripp

Speaking seriously
• Seasickness prevention
• Replacing chainplates
• Custom elbows for a dinette table
• Iron Wind 101
• Installing an anchor windlass

Just for fun
• Making rope mats
• A floating test-bed for cruising equipment
• Florida Keys center spread
• Tale of a cruising wife
• Two singlehanders, one adventure

What’s more
• Simple solutions: Secure fastenings; Better bilge access
• Quick and easy: Stowaway rubrail; Dinghy roller; Temporary fuel tank; Furling by the colors

 

 

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The nine-dollar French press

by Karen Larson

I’m amazed when I realize how one thing leads to another. This story has origins in my sailing life and the moral at the end applies specifically to the learning curve we all face as sailors. Bear with me.

It began when I called a catalog retailer to order a couple of pair of socks made of that warm fleece material. I intended to wear them on early spring and late fall cruises. Transaction nearly completed, they asked it I’d like to hear the week’s specials. It’s the McDonald’s approach of upselling: “Want fries with that?” They even do this at the post office: “Do you need stamps today?”

In this case I tumbled for the specials and wound up ordering a travel-sized French press for making coffee. It was only $9. How could I go wrong?

When it arrived, I learned to appreciate its virtues…although I decided that, on a sailboat, it wasn’t as good as our previous coffee-making process, using filters that contain the grounds and make cleanup easier.

With this particular French press, a little fine coffee silt is allowed to pass through a couple of fine screens and winds up at the bottom of my mug. I decided that a coarser grind would work better, but I’d never been one to grind my own beans. Too fussy. Too expensive. Who needs it? Coffee is coffee.

But those coarse-ground beans we ground at the grocery store did taste better and accidentally started me on the slippery slope. I decided thtat a grinder would be nice. If you want one that can make a coarse grind, that will be at least $100, I learned. So Jerry bought me a $100 grinder to grind expensive beans for my $9 French press. You know how these things go.

The ultimate insult was that, since then, I have been informed that perhaps my French press was inadequate. Not all French presses deposit a bit of silt in the bottom of a mug. Perhaps I should replace the $9 press with something in the $20-$30 range…

The loop reminded me of Jerry’s joke that we bought a big boat — in those days our 30-foot C&C was considered a big boat — because he’d found a great buy on a double block, but the block was far too large for his 19-foot racing dinghy. And so he went down a slippery slope of his own, aided and encouraged by yours truly.

But the new grinder wasn’t finished with me yet:
• Once, I left the dial set for fine powder and that’s what I got.
• Once, I forgot to put the ground coffee receptacle in before turning on the grinder…with predictable results.
• And once, intending to pour the beans into the grinder bowl, I could not even see the clear plastic lid and wound up pouring a scoopful of little coffee bean marbles all over the counter and kitchen floor.

There were at least three possible errors one could make when operating a simple coffee grinder. I’d made them all. But one morning I was able to remember and avoid all three and simply grind my coffee. I knew I’d arrived at a new level as an operator.

And that’s how it is with sailing. If sailors make enough mistakes, we soon learn how to avoid them. If it’s actually in the realm of moving the boat, using the wind, the wind will be a marvelous instructor: “Oh, so that’s a broach! I’ll take measures to avoid that the next time.”

If we’re working on our boat, a couple of disasters or near-disasters will help us get to a new level of appreciation for epoxy, varnish, or fiberglass. We won’t make those mistakes again, although there will be others.

The goal of Good Old Boat is to share those learning experiences among a wide segment of sailors. While firsthand disasters are the very best teachers, we hope to improve the odds a little bit for those, like ourselves, who putter about on boats…learning as we go.

 

 

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Honey, I want a shoal draft

by Mike Lippmann

I was in a hurry. I was rushing around trying to get my “to do” list done on Bear’s Mistress, our beloved Hunter 31 sailboat. On my list today was installing the folding propeller. I threw the folding prop in the back of the van with a tray of tools and away I went.

I arrived at the yacht club, quickly installed the prop and a new shaft anode, admired my work, then helped a buddy take off his strut. Once done, we stood around talking about our respective boats and projects.

Then I remembered that I had to get up on my boat and measure our opening ports so I could order replacement lenses. As I climbed the ladder, which was leaning against the starboard quarter on the stern, it wiggled a little as usual, but no problem.

While up on the boat I replaced the speed impeller insert and safety wired it in place (another story for another time), took my measurements and headed out into the cockpit to get off the boat. Another item on my list came to mind, “Grab the engine cover and steps” so they could be insulated. I quickly removed them and locked up the boat. Then I slowly and carefully backed out the stern rail and down to the top step of the ladder. As I reached over and grabbed the steps, the ladder wiggled…

Before I continue I have to describe the situation. My boat was on its beautiful, home-built custom steel cradle. This boat draws just about 6 feet. It sits so high that when I am on the deck I have a view into the next county. My 8-foot stepladder just reached the lower edge of the hull so I could climb up the swim ladder into the cockpit. You get the idea — it’s way up there.

In my 25-year career as an industrial construction electrician I spent a large part of my life on ladders, scaffolding, man lifts — all sorts of elevating devices. I have even fallen off of several of these devices, most times hitting the ground and having a laugh. Once, though, no laugh — broken arm, 6 inches of stainless steel and 17 screws.

I know all the safe procedures for setting up ladders and all the dicey ways. I also know the completely wrong ways.

The story continues…As my right foot bore all the weight while leaning over, the ladder wiggled, then decided to side-step right off of the transom of the boat into very thin air. Gravity being what it is and me being what I am (230 pounds along with a fairly heavy set of steps in my left hand), gravity won.

As I hit the soft ground I saw my buddy walking up, asking if I was OK. Did I need help? No, I was OK, I assured him. Not really true, but close enough.

I read an article several years ago about Lin Pardey coming off of a ladder while she and Larry had their boat hauled out. She spent many months recuperating from the fall. Her view was that when the boat is on the hard you are in significantly more danger than you would ever face at sea. I couldn’t agree more.

Ladders can be dangerous things. More to the point, the misuse of ladders makes them dangerous. Here are some important points to remember when using ladders:

1. Always use a well-constructed factory-built ladder rated for the weight that will be placed on it. Do not use home-built ladders. Most are flimsy at best and downright dangerous at worst.

2. Make sure the ladder reaches the rail of the boat at least, not part way up like my ladder. It’s too easy to slide away when just resting on the fiberglass and there’s usually no place to tie the ladder off.

3. When first placing the ladder, make sure someone holds it for you while you ascend, then tie the ladder off to the toerail or a nearby stanchion.

4. Do not ascend or descend ladders with armloads of stuff; hoist it up or down with a bucket tied to a line.

5. Make sure the ground where the ladder rests is solid and not prone to sinking. If it is soft, use a nice large piece of plywood as a base under the feet of the ladder.

6. Finally, don’t be in a hurry. Slow down and avoid the pain of the sudden stop. My mistake was being in a hurry. If I had spent 30 seconds tying the stepladder to the swim ladder (like I usually do) I wouldn’t be sitting here stiff and sore while writing this.

I was lucky. I can and did laugh about the fall almost immediately. It could have been much worse. Use your ladder safely, use the proper ladder and don’t be in a hurry. And once the boat is in the water, sail safe!

You thought this was on shoal draft boats? No, the reason for the shoal draft boat is when I get one I can use a much smaller ladder. My wife did point out to me that short of a sunfish sailboat, they don’t make a sailboat shoal draft enough — funny girl, my wife!

 

 

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A typical seaman, circa 1948

Some old (very old) copies of Rudder magazine were donated to the Good Old Boat archives some time ago. Here’s an editorial from the April 1948 issue that resonated with us.

The typical seaman has developed certain traits which set him apart from shoreside people. Let us see what they are, just for the fun of it.

Seamen as a class are not excitable people. Early in life they learn to cooperate with the inevitable. They avoid pounding windward work if at all possible, they anchor in a lee patiently waiting for a favorable slant, meanwhile resting, reading, playing cards, or just gaming.

The sailorman seldom hurries. He has learned the hard way not to run aboard ship, he has plenty of time to get where he is going, and on the way plans what he’ll do when he arrives. Those who run fall overboard, and need not further concern us here.

The sailor develops foresight. It’s essential for survival, and the skill with which long passages were planned is amazing to behold. Ninety percent of the success of a voyage is planning, the rest execution. This holds true of yachts today.

The seaman learns to get along with people. He is tolerant and understanding. Close quarters aboard, different races and nationalities in ports of call, make him a cosmopolitan, although he probably would resent this word.

Seamen are religious. They see the world on a large canvas painted with bold strokes and vivid colors. Proximity to nature at its best as well as at its most terrifying makes it absurd to doubt the existence of a Creator. The sun, moon, and stars are his signposts and his eyes are often turned heavenward. He has looked into limitless space and found understanding.

The seaman is philosophically inclined. Long silent night watches make him contemplative, and he is given to esoteric searching.

The sailor is self-reliant and self-sufficient. He can do everything himself and takes care of all his needs. The classic example is that when a sailor sews on a button, it outlives the garment every time.

The yachtsman who carries on the traditions of the sea develops these traits to a large extent and brings them to his shoreside existence, with the result that he takes life easier, does not get excited about unimportant matters, and differs from his fellows mainly in the evaluation of life’s incidents, which he tries to bring into proper perspective. Upon analyzing them he usually finds they are too picayune to get heated up about and, taking another puff on his pipe, focuses his eye on the distant horizon beyond, which he plans to sail soon…

 

 

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BoatU.S.: Top ten tips on how to store your boat ashore this winter

According to Seaworthy, the damage avoidance newsletter for recreational boaters from BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, the safest way to store a boat over winter is to bring it ashore. To prevent accidental damage, BoatU.S. has ten tips on how to do it the right way:

1. The best way to store your boat is in a steel or wooden cradle specifically designed for your boat. Never use a cradle designed for another vessel because it may not support critical load points.

2. If you’re using jack stands, there should be no less than three pairs of jack stands placed under boats larger than 26 feet, and additional support at long overhangs.

3. Jack stand pads should always be placed as far out from the keel as possible to provide the most stability. A boat that is resting on the ground or loose gravel should have plywood placed under the base of the stands. Without this, rain and frost could cause the stand to settle into the earth, causing the boat to tip over.

4. When positioned correctly, jack stands should not depress the hull or “point load,” where excessive weight at a single area can cause laminate failure.

5. Always use safety chains — never rope or wire — to tie pairs of jack stands together. Never tie a tarp to the stands as the tarp’s rope can pull the stands out.

6. Keels must be supported by wide, thick timbers. Never use cinder blocks as they are prone to failure. Engines and outboards may require additional support.

7. Boat covers must be supported underneath to prevent water from pooling, which can add considerable weight and put additional pressure on keel supports.

8. Boats should be stored in the level position to allow scuppers and bilge drains to be effective. Drains should also be left open and kept clear of debris.

9. Fixed-keel sailboats, such as club racers stored on trailers, are prone to being knocked over when wind is on the beam. Use jack stands to provide additional support.

10. Check your boat on a regular basis, as damage can be prevented by an occasional visit.

BoatU.S. — Boat Owners Association of The United States — is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters, providing its 670,000 members with a wide array of consumer services including a group-rate marine insurance program that insures nearly a quarter million boats; the largest fleet of more than 500 towing assistance vessels; discounts on fuel, slips, and repairs at over 835 cooperating marinas; boat financing; and a subscription to BoatU.S. Magazine, the most widely read boating publication in the U.S. For membership information visit http://www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.

 

 

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Calendar

Mack Boring diesel seminars
Multiple dates, October through June
Middleborough, Mass.
Wauconda, Ill.
Wilmington, N.C.
Union, N.J.

Dedicated to the education of its customers, Mack Boring & Parts Company again offers its popular one-day Basic Diesel Seminar and two-day Hands-on Diesel Engine Course. At these sessions, boatowners are given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their diesel engines and perform basic engine repair.

During the one-day seminar, attendees concentrate on the fundamental components and operations of diesel engines. They learn how to address common problems regarding maintenance of the lubrication, fuel, cooling and electric systems. Winterizing is covered, too. Mack Boring recommends students bring their engine owners’ manuals.

After participants have finished the basic seminar, they can enroll in the two-day, hands-on course. The class supplies information on properly executing basic maintenance and emergency repairs. With over 60% of the class focused on hands-on learning, work clothes are recommended.

The one-day seminar costs $195. The two-day course is $495; weekend seminars are $695. They include lunch and last from 8:30am to 5pm. They will take place at Mack Boring’s facilities in Middleborough, Mass., Wauconda, Ill., Wilmington, N.C., and Union, N.J. For more information or to register, call 1-800-622-5364 or visit http://www.mackboring.com.

 

Albery 37 Rendezvous
October 14-15, 2006
Kinsale, Va.

The Alberg 37 International Owners Association will hold its 14th Annual Rendezvous at the Assenmacher Dock, Hampton Hall branch, Yeocomico River in Kinsale, Va. For information regarding this event, please visit the Association website at http://www.alberg37.org.

 

International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference (IBEX)
November 1-3, 2006
Miami Beach, Fla.

This trade-only show will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center and is sponsored by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). For more information, call 312-946-6262 or go to http://ibexshow.com.

 

Strictly Sail
November 2-5, 2006
St. Petersburg, Fla.

The only “All-Sail” boat show on the Gulf Coast, activities include seminars, sailboat rides, and “Sailing for Miracles,” a joint fundraising event to benefit All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete. For more information, call Sail America at 800-817-7245 or go to http://www.strictlysail.com.

 

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Looking for

Sundance
Sundance sailboats were apparently built by El Mar Boat in Roseville, Michigan (circa mid-to-late 1970s), based on the few scraps of information I’ve received. I have a Sundance 23. I would like to gather more info about specs,etc.
Don Campbell

 

Gaucho
For a number of years I have been looking for a boat that sails the East Coast of the U.S. It has some notoriety, as a book was written about her initial voyage. The name of the boat is Gaucho (a 50' wooden ketch). I have the only replica and would like to contact the owner(s) for conversation and comparisons. I understand she winters in the Caribbean and sails back up the East Coast in summer. How can I find her?
Sy Richman
831-373-8848

 

Niagara 40?
I am trying to identify the boat in the attached photos. The boat is said to be a Niagara 40, but after a lengthy Internet search, I do not see that Niagara manufactured a 40' boat. Can anyone provide a clue? I am interested in learning the displacement and other detailed specifications of this hull.
Doug Brown
916-206-1389

 

 

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Book reviews

Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, Fl,by Mark and Diana Doyle (Semi-local Publications, 2006; 220 pages; $24.95, but Good Old Boat readers will receive a 20% discount on their products. When ordering, use the code 0GOODOLDBO26267).
Review by Vern Hobbs
Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Mark and Diana Doyle, authors of Managing the Waterway: Biscayne Bay, FL to Dry Tortugas, FL, point out that no less than 882 islands make up the Florida Keys. There have probably been just as many cruising guides written about this alluring chain of islands, but this one offers a fresh, new approach.

Mark and Diana address the mariner’s needs with their innovative “cruisers’ triangle,” a concept derived from the theories of famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow. Safety issues such as navigation, weather, and availability of anchorages and marinas are addressed first, at the bottom of the triangle. Comfort concerns, such as provisioning, follow at the next level as the triangle is ascended. Finally, tips on how to gain an appreciation of the locale through which you are sailing are detailed at the top of the triangle.

To achieve these objectives, Managing the Waterway employs an unconventional format. A rolling header across the top of each page lists pertinent navigational information, including the nearest Coast Guard station, the NOAA weather broadcast channel with the strongest signal, towboat operators in the proximity, and a synopsis of piloting details presented on the page. The outermost column of each page provides a highly detailed navigation log, designed to be followed from top to bottom by southbound voyagers, and bottom to top by those heading north.

The remaining columns satisfy the comfort and appreciation aspects of the cruisers’ triangle, with precise directions to shoreside services including markets, chandleries, banks, post offices, and medical and veterinary clinics. Also included is a wealth of information about local historical sights, cultural events, and the native wildlife.

Throughout the text, small lightbulb icons annotate helpful tips. Some are regionally specific, such as cautions about anchoring near coral or sea-grass beds, while others offer general maintenance suggestions or product endorsements.

Over forty pages of NOAA chart reproductions, with overlays of navigation data, are mirrored by county land maps denoting useful shoreside amenities. To ensure this constantly changing material stays fresh, the publisher offers bi-annual e-mail updates.

Managing the Waterway is not an armchair book. It is an essential cockpit reference, which combines, in one easy-to-use guide, the necessary information required for safe passage, while also providing a fount of local knowledge often omitted from more traditional publications. This marriage of convenience is well-designed and certain to ensure a far richer experience cruising the Florida Keys.

 

It's Your Boat Too: A Woman's Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, by Suzanne Giesemann ( Paradise Cay, 2006; 240 pages; $14.95)
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

Why is it that men predominate among sailors? Sailing a boat doesn’t take superior strength. It doesn’t demand a uniquely male skill. Having a Y chromosome is not required. Sailing isn’t about Mars and Venus. Suzanne Giesemann knows this and has become a one-woman band with the goal of bringing equality to our favorite recreational activity.

Suzanne’s new book, It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, was created in the hope of drawing more women into sailing . . . because they want to be there with their sailing partners . . . because they enjoy being outside on the water . . . because they love the lifestyle . . . because they are fully engaged and interested in the adventure of moving a sailboat from one place to another, perhaps from one country to another or one continent to another.

Call it an “Atta-Girl” book, if you will. Suzanne’s message is clear: other women do this; you can too. Here’s what you need to know. Let me talk you through this, sailor to sailor and woman to woman. Here are the skills you will need to keep yourself and your boat safe. Here are the vocabulary words and basics that will prevent you from feeling or looking out of place. Go out and practice. The rest of us will be cheering for you. Go get ’em, girl!

This book is divided into several sections. Part 1 deals with the concepts of women and boats as well as attitude and adventure. Here Suzanne invites her readers to join those of us who have already discovered the sailing lifestyle. Part 2 discusses the skills, debunks the mysteries, and prioritizes the basics. The author explains that there’s always more to learn, but here’s a good start. Part 3 focuses on handling the boat as a couple and having a full-fledged partnership in buying, owning, and managing a boat. She includes helpful information in the appendices. Perhaps best of all, this book opens with a foreword by Lin Pardey, a woman who has been actively sailing for 40 years. Lin tells of her own moment of truth: the day when she “truly realized that Seraffyn was my boat too.”

Wanting to become accomplished at anything that takes a bit of skill is 99-percent about attitude. It’s not easy for a female adult to make the inevitable mistakes that come with learning. It’s far worse to make these mistakes in a public place, such as a marina or anchorage. It’s humiliating if her husband or partner is unsympathetic. But as long as she still has a glimmer of interest in sailing, Suzanne can provide the female perspective and beginning skills the would-be sailor needs.

It wouldn’t hurt for any male sailor with a reluctant spouse to read It’s Your Boat Too: A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water. He should consider buying a copy for his wife or partner, if she doesn’t go out and get it first. After all, it’s her boat too. Helping her turn the corner from reluctant to enthusiastic will improve the time spent aboard for both members of any sailing couple.

 

The Voyages of Fishers Hornpipe, by Reuel B. Parker (Parker Marine Enterprises, 2006; 252 pages; $29.95)
Review by Richard Smith
Indianola, Wash.

L. Francis Herreshoff, in his introduction to The Compleat Cruiser, holds that there is no better way of instructing than “carrying on a narrative.” Parker’s story revisits 1970’s America and one man who, after Vietnam, finds solace in a California commune and redemption in building and cruising a ferrocement sailboat called Fishers Hornpipe — a fifty-four foot, Patrick Cotton-designed cutter — as beautiful as it is well found.

Thanks to Parker’s uncommon candor, we learn how Fishers Hornpipe works from a fly-in-the-cockpit perspective, wherein the nature of friendship, love, and sexuality is described with the same penchant for authenticity and detail as reefing too late.

Members of Parker’s illustrious and ever-changing crew are nautical equivalents of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters — young men and women with a devil-may-care zest for life that was unique to sailing during that decade or two that had many Americans reeling from a loss of confidence in authority and conventional lives.

We watch adventure-prone novices falling in and out of love with each other between tides, when they make sail changes and paint bottoms, bleed injectors at sea, anchor and drag and anchor well. We watch them navigate in the old way, anxiously piloting through coral heads to reach a safe harbor and struggle with the vagaries of customs martinets. Euphoria and unrequited love tumble in their bow waves and follow in their wake.

Parker takes us from California’s Half Moon Bay to Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal and into the islands of the Caribbean. We sail up to Florida, haltingly navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, and skirt the Gulf Stream to Maine. In spite of or, as Herreshoff would have it, because of the story that has us in its grip, we learn a lot.

Parker’s is a holistic view of life at sea — a life that sees boats as things that shape us just as surely as we shape them. He is a man who loves boats and everything that goes with them. And I mean everything. He doesn’t sacrifice truth to propriety, keeping “personal accounts” that will embarrass some and shock a few. But they are never gratuitous accounts and will interest those who wonder at the sea and its secrets.

The charts are refreshingly abundant as cruising narratives go. They are extremely helpful and well-integrated with the text. The frustration of constant back-and-forthing is unnecessary; what you want to see is right there next to the paragraph. Photographs are similarly unified and welcome the reader aboard; I found myself referring to them often and closely.

 

A Race for Real Sailors: Bluenose and the International Fishermen's Cup, 1920-1938, by Keith McLaren (David R. Godine Publisher, 2006; 250 pages; $40).
Review by Michael Maxfield
Gatesville, Tex.

By the early 1900s the U.S. and Canadian Grand Banks fishing schooners were among the last all-sail commercial fleets left in the western world. The lives of these fishermen were hard, cold, and dangerous. But these were hard, rough men, and they sailed their boats that way. Whenever two boats met, while going to or from the fishing grounds, it turned into an impromptu race. Gale-force winds were common occurrences in the North Atlantic, and racing in 30- to 40-knot winds simply added more fun and excitement for these guys as they bent on every inch of canvas they could.

In July 1920, the British (Shamrock IV) and Americans (Resolute) faced off for the America’s Cup. With the races tied 2 to 2, the fifth and final race was met with great excitement and expectation by watchers and racers alike. The race committee caused a great uproar by postponing the final race due to 20-knot winds. (The last race was held two days later to little fanfare.)

“Old salts and fishermen . . . want to see a real race — not a lady-like saunter of fair-weather freaks” read an article in the Halifax Herald. And from this ensuing hue and cry was born the International Fishermen’s Cup, “a race for real sailors” that promised the excitement and drama the America’s Cup race lacked.

The precursor race was held off Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 1, 1920, with nine Canadian boats racing. It was such a huge hit that the race committee issued a challenge to the Americans for a one-on-one race to be held October 30, 1920. The American schooner, Esperanto, set sails against Nova Scotia’s Delawana, and the first IFC went to the Americans.

The Canadian schooner, Bluenose, was launched March 26, 1921. The boat was so-named because the people of Nova Scotia were known on the East Coast as “bluenosers.” She was purpose-built to beat the Americans, and she dominated the races. This was a legendary series of races, especially in Canada, where a likeness of the Bluenose graces the back of the Canadian dime.

A Race for Real Sailors bills itself as a “fair and even-handed account” of this often contentious and often canceled race, and it lives up to that claim. This is an oversized coffee-table style book, liberally illustrated throughout with black-and-white photos, as well as a helpful glossary, maps, and appendix.

For anyone interested in the evolution, working and racing of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, this book is packed with all the information you could want. But if your interest is in light, entertaining sailing adventure stories, you should look elsewhere.

 

The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat, by Jack Becker (Sheridan House, 2006; 192 pages; $17.95).
Review by Karen Larson
Minneapolis, Minn.

You’re going to like Jack Becker. He doesn’t match the stereotypical sailor profile. He’ll leave you wondering why he’s made the choices he has. And when he succeeds against the odds, you’ll cheer this intelligent, honest, and personable man who is in the process of becoming a sailor the hard way. You’ll get to know — and like — Jack by reading his new book, The Lilibet Logs: Restoring a Classic Wooden Boat.

Apparently no one ever told Jack the meaning of the word “impossible” and so, with an incredibly supportive wife, he took on the restoration of a large 70-year-old wooden sailboat. He did it in two years (working right through one Minnesota winter) with what can only be described as lightning speed. Then he wrote a book about it. And he didn’t even know how to sail. What was he thinking?

Lucky for him and for his readers, who are soon rooting for him, Jack understood wooden boats. He’d restored and cruised aboard two beautiful powerboats. The first was a 1938 40-foot Matthews. That sounds ambitious until you hear what followed: an 85-foot commuter yacht built by Luders Marine in 1926. He and his young family lived aboard and chartered this boat for four-hour cruises on Lake Union in Seattle. So he surely knew what he was getting into, didn’t he?

Years went by. It was time for another boat, and this time Jack fell in love with a 42-foot racing sailboat drawn by Norman Dallimore and built in England in 1937. She was more than just a little run down and had been abandoned in the Chesapeake Bay area when Jack discovered her for sale on the Internet, trucked her home to Minnesota, then learned that wooden boats are unwelcome in many marinas and that a deep draft of seven feet will present problems in most of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. But he solved these problems and many more. Jack Becker thinks outside the box.

There is an artist in the soul of this man. He admits it. I suspect it was the artist who caused him to take a hard left turn from powerboat to sailboat, from urban dweller to boatyard bum, and from stable, predictable Jack to, well, something else entirely in the eyes of his friends and family. His concept of the left turn is hilarious. Left turns are those moments in life when an individual makes a totally unpredictable, illogical choice . . . and changes his life in a small way, or possibly profoundly. So it was that Jack Becker took on the restoration of Lilibet. You’ll enjoy his telling of her restoration. But he ends too soon. I have got to know: did the eventual sailing make it all worthwhile?

 

 

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Mail Buoy

Docking assistance we can live without
Excellent little piece on docking in the August (2006) newsletter. We’ve had similar experiences and no longer offer lines to people on the dock, not even friends. And no “passengers” are allowed to stand on deck while we dock — they get in the way on a Mac 26. On the other hand, I help plenty of other people getting in — as you suggest — by standing by to see if they need help first.

While I was in my little American 14 the other day, an “experienced” helper shoved me off from the dock while I was still standing at the mast hoisting the mainsail. I had neither centerboard nor rudder down yet and the wind dragged me around the end of the pier and downwind onto the other side, broaching and jamming the stern under the dock and nearly driving me onto the ramp and the nearby rocks! Thanks for the help, eh?
Allen Penticoff

 

Docking advice
I just read and got a good chuckle out of your docking etiquette note in the August newsletter. We have solved the docking problem, pretty much, by either having one crewmember step off or by handing the person at the dock only one line, which is attached to a midships cleat. We tell them to tie it off on the nearest cleat. Then all we do is put the engine back into gear, shove the tiller toward the dock, and the boat gracefully moves toward the dock and stays parallel to the dock. If we are not far enough into the slip, the crewmember steps off, loosens the line, and the boat gracefully moves forward, remaining parallel to the dock so long as forward power is provided. Then the crew ties off the stern, then the bow, and we kill the engine.

With no crew and no one on the dock, just tie a loop in the line and drape it over the end of a boat hook and drop it onto the cleat as you power by. (For an illustration of this method, see the article in the July 2002 Good Old Boat.) The key is a midships cleat; no other placement will work for this maneuver.
Mike Nelson

 

More on docking
Your comments in the newsletter on docking and the well-intended but misguided dockside help is right on. However, I question your comment on a single line never being able to hold a boat to the pier. I offer the following.

When chartering in Bayfield (from Sailboats, Inc.), we asked for a half-day update from an instructor. He taught us the technique of using a midships springline to control the boat at dock. We come to the dock slowly enough to stop with a brief reverse, but we leave the transmission in neutral. The first mate steps off and walks to the cleat at the outer end of the pier and places the midships line. She snugs it when the stern is at the end of the pier. As the boat slowly tensions the line, the skipper shifts to forward at idle speed. With the idling propwash against the rudder and holding the boat in forward, there will be tension on the aft springline. It is amazingly easy to position the boat at any angle to the dock and hold her there. Rudder to starboard (pier on starboard side) brings the bow up to the dock and the first mate can pick up the bowline easily and encircle, not cleat off, the line to the nearby dock cleat. Then rudder to port brings the stern to dock and the same process is repeated at the aft end. The skipper than positions the boat parallel to the dock using the rudder, and the first mate cleats off the bow and stern lines. All is done without hustle or peril to the first mate. With three lines fast, the engine is turned off.

A related technique learned from the above helps when leaving the dock. Engine running, all but the aft springline are removed. The transmission is then put in forward, placing tension (and stretch) on the springline. When the first mate is ready, place the transmission in neutral. The boat “springs” backward and glides out of the slip at a speed allowing the first mate to pick up the springline and calmly step aboard. Reverse gear is needed only if the wind is from the side you wish to back into.
Geoff Kloster

 

A related comment
The one area where the design of sailboats is commonly quite weak is in the strength of lifeline stanchions and the strength of their mounting in the boat’s deck. The mechanical advantage of a common claw hammer pulling a nail is around 17:1. The mechanical advantage of a lifeline stanchion pulled from the top, against its own mounting fasteners, is about the same. The average person has a pull of about 35 to 50 pounds in that situation. That calculates very roughly to an upward force on the fasteners of 500 to 850 pounds. The fasteners can stand that, but the deck can’t.

When a stanchion is pulled horizontally from the top, it tends to bend the stanchion, crack the stanchion base, break the seal of the caulking to the deck, crack the gelcoat and laminate and, over time, rot the deck core through the resulting leak. Ron Bohannon, a friend, designed and offered for sale lifeline stanchions that could withstand a huge horizontal load compared to other available tubes and castings. If these were combined with much stronger mountings to the deck, a clearly stronger and superior stanchion would result. The world did not beat a path to his door. Unless and until that happens, pulling on the top of a lifeline stanchion will damage the boat more than most people could possibly imagine. Never pull on a lifeline stanchion.
Jerry Powlas

 

The Spray design
I have been a subscriber for a couple of years now. I originally found out about Good Old Boat by surfing the net and reading the online articles. I liked what I saw and decided to subscribe. Great magazine with a wealth of knowledge for “restorers.” Keep up the good work; in the Aussie vernacular, “Goodonyamate!”

I write this reply to Ted Brewer’s article (July 2006) on bended knee and with much trepidation as I am a great admirer of Ted’s designs, especially his approach to proper pilothouses on cruising yachts. But I feel compelled to defend the Spray design as a true bluewater cruiser capable of taking its occupants comfortably and safely across any oceans on the planet. I would ask you if you have studied the plans of Ken Slack or Bruce Roberts-Goodson and read Goodson’s book, Spray: The Ultimate Cruising Boat, which delves into the technical aspects of the Spray design and the features that make it a very suitable cruising vessel. I have found that the “stretched” versions of the design do seem to be quicker and point higher than the originally proportioned vessel.

Personally, I love the stability of a Spray. That “concrete sidewalk” feeling is much safer when moving about on deck at sea. From the stories told by the members of the Slocum Spray Society of Australia http://www.slocumspraysociety.asn.au/, who have taken their Sprays across violent bars, through Bass Straight storms, and even to Antarctica, they never encountered a situation where the boat even looked like going over. The Spray would just heel over to about 45 degrees and slide down the face of the wave, her low draft keel letting go, unlike a deep keel which tends to “tip” the boat over. Anyway, I felt your article a bit harsh on “the old girl,” and would invite you to do an ocean passage on a Spray so you can compare firsthand the performance of this vessel.

I have a sneaking suspicion you actually admire her . . . why not design your own replica, incorporating the features you think Josh left out? Now there’s a thought! . . . preferably with a pilothouse.
John Barker

 

Ted Brewer responds
There are two reasons I do not consider a Spray to be a suitable bluewater voyager. First, she is very unlikely to right herself if capsized. Second, if her engine were disabled, I believe she would be in serious trouble if caught on a lee shore in a gale.

I agree with John Barker that a Spray’s shoal keel would let her tend to slide down the face of a steep wave rather than capsize. But that, of course, would be the case only if the seas were abeam. Tzu Hang, as you may recall, was capsized off the Chilean coast by pitchpoling, stern over bow, on a steep wave, not once but twice. Tzu Hang righted herself, sans rig, as she was of modest beam, deep draft, and had outside ballast. A Spray, on the other hand, is very beamy, shoal draft,, and with inside ballast. I am confident that a Spray would not right herself given similar conditions.

What John failed to point out is that the same shoal and inefficient keel that lets a Spray slide sideways down the face of a steep wave also lets her slide sideways on a hard beat to windward. If embayed on a lee shore in a gale, it is doubtful the yacht could beat out to safety without the help of a husky engine. That is not a safe vessel in my opinion.

Sorry, John, but I do not admire the Spray except as a coastal cruiser, a historical yacht, and a character boat. I certainly would not go to sea aboard a replica on a bet. Modified versions of the design may well be improved in hull form, rig, safety, and performance, but my article was about the original vessel, not some contemporary reworking of the old oyster sloop design.
Ted Brewer

 

Flying with inflatable life vests (or not)
I don’t know who wrote the tidbit, “Traveling CO2 cartridges” in the August 2006 newsletter, but I went to the Transportation Security Administration website http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1190.shtm, and it seems clear to me that the only acceptable cylinder is a USED one!

The site says: “Compressed gas cylinders are allowed in checked baggage or as a carry-on ONLY if the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e., the cylinder has an open end). The cylinder must have an opening to allow for a visual inspection inside.”

Note the wording “open end” and the last sentence. A new/unused cylinder has a sealed end and there is no way anyone can see inside it (they would be hard-pressed to see inside a used one for that matter).

“Our Security Officers will NOT remove the seal or regulator valve from the cylinder at the checkpoint. If the cylinder is sealed (i.e., the regulator valve is still attached), the cylinder is prohibited and not permitted through the security checkpoint, regardless of the reading on the pressure gauge indicator. Our Security Officers must visibly ensure that the cylinder is completely empty and that there are no prohibited items inside.”

Again, note the last sentence. So, unless I’m missing something, all that verbiage is just another waste of words. Who would want to transport an open/used cylinder?
Brian Cleverly

 

Thanks for the sweatshirt offer!
I had been receiving hand-me-down copies of Good Old Boat from my father for months until your promotional brainchild. Now I’m paying for my own subscription, and he’s the one with the snazzy new sweatshirt! Here he is at the helm of Ariel, our 1979 Cape Dory 36, departing Fish Creek Harbor in Door County during our summer cruise.

Thanks for a great publication — and one worth every cent.
David VanDenburgh
He looks great in that shirt, David. That’s exactly what we were trying to accomplish. Thanks for subscribing!

 

Water-based paints and Velcro hatch screens
Jerry Powlas asked about water-based paints. I have never tried water-based paints, but only because the Benjamin Moore exterior trim enamel we used on all wood and locker interior surfaces has never needed repainting.

Also, putting the Velcro loop tape around the hatch rather than on the screen may save pulled hair (as mentioned in the April 2006 newsletter) but, depending on the screening material selected, the hook tape on the screens is a bad idea. When the screens are stored, the hooks entangle themselves in the screening. We always mount the hook tape — dyed brown when it will be on a wood frame.
Don Casey

 

Geoffrey Toye responds to Steve Christensen
Thank you for your kind words about my article on coiling and stowing cordage (May 2006) and for contributing what I have already discovered was a most constructive criticism.

Coiling braided rope has not actually been a problem, although your comments made me aware that perhaps I might impart somewhat less of a twist and, I confess, I prefer traditional three-strand on my boat where possible.

However, with any rope, imparting a twist into each coil can create the problem of the remaining uncoiled line needing to be trailed over the stern or flicked off the deck to give it a chance to catch up with the twist going into the coil. This is only a real problem with rope of a length which is bordering on too long to coil in the hand, but I guess the alternate hitch method (shown in the May newsletter) would simply neutralize the problem.

I also took your advice and tried the alternate hitch on my own electrical cord, which I use to connect power tools to a generator when working aboard. The result was a revelation and a longstanding problem solved. Many thanks from across the ocean.
Geoffrey Toye

 

Surface-mounted ports, continued
I know that Steve Stoehr’s port replacement article has almost created too much interest, but I just replaced the ports on my 30-year-old Irwin with incredible results. I completed the entire project in one weekend, for less than $100, and without the slightest leak.

One deviation that seems to have worked was to cut short (3/8-inch) pieces of gas line hose to use as spacers around the screws. This allowed me to greatly enlarge the holes in the Plexiglas and provide lots of cushion for expansion/contraction. Thanks, Steve!
Terry Woeltge

 

And continued
I’m interested in further information on the gasket material mentioned by Steve Stoehr in his article, “Surface-mounted ports,” in the March 2006 issue. I am unable to find similar material in my town, Muskegon, Michigan. Perhaps Steve might share the name of his supplier.
Steve Salisbury

 

And Steve responds
The industrial rubber distributor I bought my gasket material from is Fournier Rubber and Supply Co., 1341 Norton Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212; 614-294-6453; fax: 614-294-0644; http://www.fournierrubber.com. They are listed in the Columbus Yellow Pages under “rubber products.”

This summer I installed four opening stainless-steel ports, again using some 1/8-inch rubber sheet stock as gasketing material. This time I bought EPDM sheet stock from Fournier because it is very UV- and weather-resistant. EPDM rubber is used for pool lining and for seamless roofing and can be very pricey ($4.25 a pound). EPDM stock is not foamed like the neoprene stock so it is harder than the neoprene stock. It would seal two smooth surfaces but may not seal irregular surfaces. But it should last forever. If I had it to do over I might use EPDM for the surface-mounted portlights. So far the neoprene material is holding up well, and there are no leaks.
Steve Stoehr

 

Heaving to
In answer to Lowell Bensky’s question and Jerry Powlas’ reply in the June 2006 newsletter, I would like to offer a system I have used in up to 58 knots of wind on boats with cutaway forefeet and fin keels. This was originally taught to me in New Zealand some 40 years ago, and I’ve used it many times as well as taught it to others.

This is maybe not a true “heave-to;” it is more like very slow fore-reaching. It does allow the boat to head close to the wind and provides sufficient way-on to handle oncoming seas while keeping the boat relatively upright at all times.
• Use a small jib, as big as the conditions allow, and a reefed main, if needed.
• Sheet the jib hard (flat) amidships.
• Sheet the main hard (flat) with the traveler slightly to windward.
• Bring the boat up into the wind, as close as you can without luffing.
• Set the rudder slightly to leeward.
• The main and rudder positions have to be played with to balance each other out to a certain extent.

What happens is that the jib catches pressure and the bow starts to fall off. That brings the main into play, and it provides some forward movement while bringing the bow back into the wind. The rudder now takes over, preventing a jibe, bringing the bow back down to where the jib catches pressure again. What you end up with is a series of very shallow “S-movements” ahead.

The actual forward speed is determined by the conditions and sail size. I find I get around 0.5 knots, but can make that increase if the sea conditions warrant it for safety reasons (powering over big swells, for example).
Brian Cleverly

 

Don’t know a fireman?
Rick Smeriglio’s idea of using fire hose as chafing gear (July 2006) is an excellent one for those who have access to such items. I have found that discarded garden hose also works quite nicely, if not as easily, to do the same job. The hard part with garden hose is the spiral cut from one end to the other to allow you to slip it over the anchor/mooring line. It takes a very sharp knife, steady hands, and some time to make the required cut for any reasonable length of hose. For the mooring lines, I hold the hose in place with an “old-timer’s trick”— a short piece of dowel (or ¼-inch line) stuck through the twist in the three-stranded laid line. You can also drill a hole in each end of the hose and use “small stuff” to secure the hose in place.
C. Henry Depew


 

Don, you’re reading too fast!
Enclosed is my check for a subscription renewal. This is my third renewal (second for two years) and I wanted to thank you for producing such a great publication. I pick up my mail at the post office, and it’s always a great day when I find the latest issue of Good Old Boat in my PO Box. Usually, I speed read the articles while sitting in my truck at the post office and then enjoy them again in detail when at home. Keep up the great work!
Don Westell
Thanks, Don, but maybe that speed reading class you took so long ago wasn’t such a good idea after all (for us, anyway). How will we ever stay up with you and still go sailing?

 

The way we were
I’ve already mailed my next subscription for another year of exciting stories, and boats for sale that I may actually be able to afford. We all appreciate your devotion to “boating the way it was and could be again.”

Please, please be aware that lots of folks out here in the hinterlands of boating cannot afford, nor are interested in, fancy expensive boats or gear, and must be content with “moving up” to a 28- or 30-foot 30-year-old Alberg while living on a fixed budget. Any corners you can cut, such as less expensive photos, layout, etc., would be OK with lots of us.

Great idea you have on the back issue CDs!
Gene Weeks

 

So, what’s it worth?
Your magazine is interesting and helpful in many ways. You cover the entire spectrum of sailing in boats around 30 feet and smaller. Which begs the question: why is it that in 99 percent of the articles in all sailing magazines there’s a big secrecy concerning the money it takes to accomplish the subject? Is it, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it; take up fishing from the shore”?

It could even be fear, on the part of editors, of scaring off potential readers. A case in point is the revealing, helpful article in the September 2006 issue, “Cruising Evolution, Part 2,” by Bonnie Dahl. The many modifications to Dahlfin II must have cost a lot of money indeed. It would be far more relevant and complete to be able to also read about an estimate of the costs required. Thanks for a great publication and thanks for listening.
Jim Graves
Jim, we could do a better job of imparting costs to our readers. Thanks for bringing it up. In the case of Dahlfin, those projects go back over 25 years or more. It would be tough to come up with relevant numbers today. But there are times when we clearly could offer the costs involved and didn’t think to ask our authors for that sort of information. We’ll try harder.

 

Zen and the tides
A couple of ideas floated by that I would like to share with you and the Good Old Boat community. I enjoyed the “Moonglow” article in the September 2006 issue but could not help notice that it did not mention the moon’s effect on the water, i.e., the tides. Some time ago I was looking at a tide chart and, knowing that the moon creates the tides, decided to study their relationship more carefully.

What I found was simple and useful. Here in Boston and on the outer New England coast, on the full moon and on the new moon, the tide is at noon and midnight (within minutes — check me out). On the first and last quarter the tides are a little before 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. So I came up with a simple rhyme to remember this: “Full moon, tide at noon. First and last, supper and breakfast.”

This only works here and only during daylight saving time. Other areas, notably the south coast of New England, will vary greatly. But with the knowledge of the phase of the moon and adding roughly 50 minutes each day, you can figure out the tide within a half hour and never need a tide table. You may need a new rhyme for your area.

On a completely different note, I recently re-read Robert M. Pirsig’s work, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This book made Pirsig famous in literary circles and has developed a strong following since its publication in 1974, but did you know that he went on to become a sailor?

Not only did he sail, he also wrote an article in 1977, “The Cruising Blues and their Cure,” which is published online at http://www.psybertron.org/stpaulnews.html#Blues (among other places, probably), that is absolutely in keeping with many of the philosophies expressed in Good Old Boat.
Homer Shannon

 

It looks good on your boat!
Our Good Old Boat pennant is proudly flying on Katelyn, our 1981 Hunter 22. The wind was near 30 knots at the time the photo was taken — our version of a hurricane, as we had tornado warnings as well. Katelyn is a good old boat and has had the rebuild treatment with upgrades. During the winter months she lives in my shop, where I do all that tricky fixer-upper stuff. Good Old Boat has stories to fit my interests as an amateur boat restorer.
Dick and Linda Pogue

 

 

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Sailing quotes

We just now crossed the equator. I am sure because Nancy was draining the galley sink when we crossed the line, and the water practically leapt out the sink in its haste to reverse its draining swirl to counterclockwise.
Herb Payson, 1990

The restive waters, the cold wet breath of the fog, are of a world in which man is an uneasy trespasser; he punctuates the night with the complaining groan of a foghorn, sensing the power and menace of the sea.
Rachel Carson
The Edge of the Sea, 1955

Seamen love their bellies above anything else, and therefore it must always be remembered in the management of the victualling of the Navy that to make any abatement in the quantity or agreeableness of the victuals is to discourage and provoke them in the tenderest point.
Samuel Pepys
Secretary of the Admiralty

It is difficult for a seaman to believe that his stranded ship does not feel as unhappy at the unnatural predicament of having no water under her keel as he is himself at feeling her stranded.
Joseph Conrad
The Mirror of the Sea, 1906

This is the pleasure of life at sea, fine weather day after day, without interruption, fair wind, and plenty of it, and homeward bound.
Richard Henry Dana
Two Years Before the Mast, 1840

Oh, give me again the rover’s life — the joy, the thrill, the whirl! Let me feel thee again, old sea! Let me leap into thy saddle once more. Let me snuff thee up, sea breeze, and whinny in thy spray.
Herman Melville
White Jacket, 1850

. . . it is not possible that any man can be a good and sufficient Pilot or skilful Seaman, but by painful and diligent practice . . .
John Davis
The Seamans Secrets, 1594

Among the most useful and excellent arts, navigation has always taken first place.
Samuel De Champlain

. . . he may have to steer his way home through the dark by the North Star, and he will feel himself some degrees nearer to it for having lost his way on the earth.
Henry David Thoreau

The acquisition of the knowledge of navigation has a strange effect on the minds of men.
Jack London

 

 

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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

 

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© 2006 Good Old Boat
Published: October 1, 2006