13 Feb

Today, as I often do, I took off my wedding ring to put on my keychain before starting work. I knew someone once who welded their wedding ring, and their finger, to an engine, because the ring shorted the alternator terminal to the engine block.

I was walking along, slipping the ring onto my key ring, thinking don’t drop it, don’t drop it, whatever you do, don’t drop it, this would be a really bad place to drop it because it would go right in the water, so be sure not to drop it.

And I dropped it.

And it ...

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Dock Line Death Test

25 Jan

In the book The Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa, a character named Arquimedes has a preternatural ability to tell where breakwaters and groins should be built. He can tell just by meditating on the sea whether the breakwater will serve its purpose or make matters worse. The best hydrologists and engineers in Lima always hired Arquimedes, because if they didn't their projects often ended up as expensive failures.

Pier 39 Marina, where I keep my boat in San Francisco, did not hire Arquimedes. It's hard to figure out the mechanics, because there are breakwaters and sea walls every which ...

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BOATHANDLING: Secrets of a Sensuous Sailor

18 Jan

Couple sailing

It wasn't until I first sailed on a boat with an engine that I understood precisely what is most seductive about sailing. Any who have cursed the din of a motor while afloat will know exactly what I mean. We feel it the very instant we switch our engines off, as the awful over-riding sound of internal combustion dies away. I call it the orgasm of silence, that moment in which it seems all of our senses have suddenly been turned on.

Considered purely on an aesthetic basis the sensuality of sailing is hardly unique. Any mode of transportation, particularly ...

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A Very Calder Christmas

26 Dec
Esteemed author and boat-systems guru Nigel Calder 
mucks out my bilges. On Christmas Eve.

Happy holidays everyone! I haven’t managed a post in few days because I’ve been very busy with my family. My mom and dad are down here in New Orleans for two weeks and we’ve been spending the holidays in true Calder style, which is to say hard at work. We did manage to spend Christmas day at my Grandmother’s but still got in an overhaul of the boat’s head (toilet) which we hauled out to her house in the trunk of a rental car!

And ...

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Running and Broaching Video

22 Dec

This video is a great illustration of the mechanics of running with a storm. It's hard to see this kind of thing live, becaue nobody wants to get a camera out in these conditions,  plus they're hanging on for dear life and can't film. In this case another vessel was following them to capture the action.

The waves aren't that big, but they sure are steep. You can have huge waves out there, but if they're not breaking they pose no danger. These are short, steep little monsters, and the possibilities of pitchpoling or a knockdown are obvious. 

This boat ...

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Margaret: An Unusual Launch

20 Dec
Preparing Margaret for (re)launching

Welcome to SailFeed! The website launched today but as you can see most of us blogging here have already been going at it for a bit. My blog is one of the newest so if you’re interested it won’t take long to peruse my previous posts and catch up. At the moment it’s a bit technical as we’ve been chronicling progress on the refit of my Cape Dory 28 but in the spirit of SailFeed’s first day I thought we could lighten things up a bit with a launch story of my own.

Meet Margaret:
Margaret ...
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A Lot of Wind Video

19 Dec

As I've said many times, sailors are notorious exaggerators, and the wind and waves always seem to get a little higher and stronger after a few drinks. The video below is what I consider a lot of wind. I posted this video on YouTube a few years ago as an experiment, and I'm shocked that over twenty thousand people have watched it, which I guess isn't that many in the YouTube world.

To answer nitty-gritty questions, this was at Peninsula Tamar, at the Boca Occidental of the Straits of Magellan, with a typical low pressure system blowing through. Captain Slocum ...

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