It was 1991, and we were three fools fresh out of San Diego State. Brian had bought an old Catalina 30, and we spent six months fitting her out. Against my protests, Brian changed her name to Break‘n Wind, a boat name I’ve encountered several times over the years, and never liked any better.
Brian’s artist buddy painted the new name and hailing port on the transom, along with some sorry-ass blue palm trees. I asked the artist, “Isn’t break spelled B-R-E-A-K?” He’d spelled it Brake’n Wind. The paint had already semi-dried, so we ended up with one E wedged in there somehow, and another E rubbed out with acetone, and it never looked quite right.…
“Uh, how is the boat going to behave when that thing hits us?”
Contrary to all the focus on new boats, their features, and their performance, the captain’s knowledge and intimacy with said boat is probably more important. In fact, when it comes to heavy weather sailing, what resides in the captain’s head is probably the most important piece of safety gear aboard. What some might call “getting to know your boat” may accurately be called the most intimate relationship a human being can have with an inanimate object.
The Cliff Notes version of getting to know a boat is a shakedown cruise.…
For Christmas our house got the Nest thermostat and smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, smart devices that connect to a smartphone app via Wi-Fi. Such devices are part of the Internet of Things, in which the electronic things in our lives communicate with us and control themselves by learning our patterns and schedules.
Upon installing the Nest smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, I thought hey, I could put one if these things on my boat, and as long as it’s in Wi-Fi range it would send me a warning if my boat caught fire. At $100, with a free, slick app, this could be pretty cheap insurance.…
After Brian Hancock’s post on life jackets, To Wear Or Not To Wear, and his subsequent Mea Culpa, it may be very dangerous to approach this subject, so I will do so carefully.
In 1973, when I was a small child, the US Coast Guard changed the nomenclature for lifejackets and created the Special Purpose Categories, categorizing them from Grade I to Grade V.
We’ve all been confused ever since.
One thing seems to be here to stay from the 1973 standard, the term Personal Flotation Device, or PFD. Before that they were lifejackets, life vests, or life preservers.
The Coast Guard has now accepted that everyone has been confused for 40 years, and they’re changing the nomenclature once again:
“The purpose of this final rule, which removes references to type codes in our regulations on the carriage and labeling of Coast Guard-approved PFDs, is to facilitate future adoption of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that more effectively convey safety information, and to help harmonize our regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and in other countries.”
Once again they will be lifejackets, life vests, life preservers, or PFDs, if you prefer.…
When this story first came out there was some skepticism in the press because the guy looked too healthy. Now his story has been corroborated and confirmed, and he indeed survived 438 days in a panga, drifting from Mexico to an atoll in the Marshall Islands. A professional fisherman, adrift in a fishing boat, might have found some way to survive at sea, but his crew didn’t fare so well. The story is both sad and inspiring.
Writer Jonathan Franklin has turned José Salvador Alvarenga’s account into a book, an excerpt of which is printed here, in The Guardian.…
I practiced what I preached, and finally installed a diaphragm bilge pump to improve the situation in my deep and creepy bilge. I wrote about this in my bilge pump opus, All About Bilge Pumps.
The principle at play here is that the bilge pump that keeps your bilge dry may not be the same bilge pump that keeps you from sinking: Centrifugal bilge pumps, the workhorses of the bilge pump world, can’t pump all the water out and always leave an inch or more behind. To really get the water level down you need a diaphragm pump attached to a strum box (intake strainer), and with this arrangement you can get it down to a quarter inch deep.…
For anyone who whines about the cost of cruising, Tom’s story is inspirational, and perhaps instructional.
First expense, a 52-foot steel ketch, $1.
What was that? Yes, Tom saved this ketch from a trip to the scrapyard, which was just days away. He found her in Hong Kong in 2004, looking neglected, with a notice on her side for removal. He tracked down the owners and they agreed to let him have her for a symbolic dollar.
I know several people who have bought $1 boats, before I could tell them “Noooo! Don’t do it!” Tom was the former First Mate and later Captain of the 100-foot schooner RANGER, and knew he’d spotted a diamond in the rough.…
This video has been bouncing around Facebook, and the more times I watch it the more bizarre it gets. For example:
1. It appears that many of the people falling off the foredeck are naked, or at least the first guy is.
2. A man jumps from the bridge just after the people fall in, apparently to help people in the water. He appears to be wearing swim fins? Did he just happen to be wearing fins at the time?
3. There are screams and there is laughter and the footage is kind of grainy. It might be a “Funny party boat crash” or some of those people could have been really hurt.…
This summer Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, a battery large enough to power an average home with a solar system, and give this home independence from the grid. Elon Musk’s announcement was met with giddy excitement, and the batteries are already sold out for the foreseeable future.
I wonder how long before a Powerwall finds its way onto a boat? Tick, tick, tick.
Crunching the numbers, it may not make economic sense yet, but the price may come down in a few years. The Powerwall, the 7 kWh version, sells for $3000. The slightly larger 10 kWh Powerpack sells for $3500.…
Clark currently works as a marine electrician and has been an active contributor for SAIL for several years. During a multi-year circumnavigation aboard his 40-foot ketch Condesa Clark survived the Asian tsunami and being run down by a freighter off the coast of South America. In addition to following developments in the world of marine electronics, Clark still cruises and charters Condesa in the San Francisco area. Clark's blog is condesa.org.