A long time ago in an office far, far away, I received a typewritten manuscript that told a harrowing tale of a transatlantic voyage gone horribly wrong. The author and his girlfriend had answered a magazine advertisement for crew (yes, it was that long ago) for a bluewater passage on a 40ft sloop owned by a genial Slav. All was well at first, but then, as the tradewinds failed to materialize and the daily runs dropped into double and sometimes single digits, the skipper grew increasingly morose and spent most of each day in his cabin, emerging only to eat ... Read More
A recent offshore delivery on a high-performance catamaran got me thinking about the things that really matter in a sailing boat—specifically, the design, build and equipment elements that combine to make a boat a pleasure (or not) to sail. For a cruising boat, especially, these attributes are encompassed by the term “seakindliness,” which is not quite the same as “seaworthiness.”
When creating a new boat, a naval architect first provides a hull form that will give the best all-round performance possible under the terms of the design brief provided by the builder. The builder then makes sure the ... Read More
We’ve all heard the old saw that all it takes to turn a cruiser into a racer is the sight of another boat catching up to us. Sometimes true, sometimes not. Casting a critical eye up the sails to check the trim is hardly racing, it’s sailing your boat well. In fact, the very mention of the R-word leaves many sailors cold, which is a shame because you can have an awful lot of fun getting out on the water in the company of like-minded souls. Read More
Plus, not all races are created equal. More and more clubs are responding to ...
Aside from one rather unfortunate dinghy-sailing adventure as a teenager, I have managed to steer clear of smaller boats for most of my life. This was a conscious decision; I didn’t defect from power to sail till my late 20s, and since I learned on a J/24 and not a dinghy, I quickly became accustomed—not to say addicted— to the feeling of security engendered by a large lump of lead counteracting the forces of wind and waves. The boats were sporty enough to be exciting, especially in a big breeze, and there seemed little chance of going for an involuntary ... Read More
As far as I’m concerned, June is the best month of the season—with the usual caveats, familiar to all who sail in the Northeast. First, the boat must have been launched on time, which presupposes a mild winter; all it takes is the usual January/February freeze followed by a couple of late snowstorms to throw everything into disarray. Watching your launch date come and go when there is still a couple of feet of snow in the boatyard is a mortifying, but sadly not uncommon, scenario. Worse still is the knowledge that you’ve not even had a chance to paint ... Read More
The definition of cruising as repairing your boat in exotic places entered the realm of clichés long ago, but that doesn’t make it any less true. There’s no end of irony in the fact that while you can pay $20,000 for a new car and be shocked and upset if it breaks down a few days later, no one is really surprised that a boat that costs as much as a house, in some cases a mansion, can have technicians swarming over it for weeks after it’s launched.
The aptly named punch list—so called because an owner feels like he’s ... Read More
Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi
Even people who couldn’t give two hoots about sailboat racing have heard about the brutal beatdown that is the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. Every year, on the day after Christmas, a hundred or so boats thrash their way down the Australian coast and enter the Bass Strait separating Tasmania from the mainland. There, they almost inevitably receive the kind of spanking that breaks boats and spirits and occasionally kills people.
It’s the kind of sailing that landlubbers just cannot get their heads around. Nor can many sailors, come to that. It’s one thing to deal with ... Read More
Do you remember how old you were when you first dreamed about running away to sea? Me neither, though I expect it was after some parental discipline regarding tormenting younger siblings or eating all the cake. What I do recall is gazing out to sea during beachside camping vacations, watching ships and sailboats disappear over the horizon, wondering where they were bound and wishing I was going there too.
It seems to me that the call of the sea is heard more strongly by some than others. Had I grown up in a Midwest farm town, with the wind blowing ... Read More
Image from Jeanneau
My thoughts on labor-saving devices a couple of issues ago didn’t go down too well with a few of our readers, who all but accused me of encouraging slothfulness among sailors. Too much button-pushing, they opined, would turn the lot of us into stick-legged, slack-muscled, beer-bellied slobs barely able to unbutton a sail cover, let alone hoist a mainsail or lift a case of rum over the lifelines from a bouncing dinghy.
Which is why I had to stifle a grin at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis this past fall, when deck gear makers Harken and ... Read More
Way back in the dark ages of the early 1980s, when I first happened upon a skipper foolish enough to take me offshore, there were few labor saving devices on your typical cruising sailboat. In fact, I was one of them. There was no roller furling on that particular 47ft cutter, just a seemingly bottomless stack of hanked-on sails that lived in a dank lazarette reeking of mildew, turpentine and diesel, the kind of cocktail that only wooden-boat lovers find intoxicating.
The boat was “handraulic,” as the skipper loved to say, and a heavy beast she was to work, too; ... Read More