Peter Nielsen

A Sailor’s New Year’s Resolutions

2 Jan

What was that about reefing sooner, and just look at that dinghy…

Things undone, things still to do; what are your resolutions for the New Year? Here are some of mine.

1. Deep-clean the engine

OK, so this one was held over from 2017. And 2016.

2. Make it a rule to reef earlier

The screams and crashing of crockery from belowdecks get tiring after a while.

3. Don’t tow the dinghy in open water

Those oars were expensive.

4. Install a holding tank gauge

Do I really need to explain why?

5. Go up the mast to replace the ...

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A Singular Cup

6 Dec

The news that the America’s Cup is going back to monohulls for its 36th edition comes as no surprise to Cup insiders. I do not count myself among these, but even back in 2013, when the big AC72 cats were gearing up to transform multihull sailing forever, the whisper on the San Francisco docks was that if the Kiwis won, they’d do away with the multis.

Well, we all know how that turned out. Pride, fall, etc. Anyway, it came as no surprise to yours truly when, shortly after they took Oracle Team USA to the woodshed in Bermuda, ...

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A Cruel Blow

4 Nov

The trio of hurricanes—Harvey, Irma and Maria—that killed more than 200 people and made tens of thousands of people homeless in the Caribbean, Texas and Florida also did heavy damage to many wonderful sailing areas. Marine communities and infrastructure from Guadeloupe to Georgia were devastated, and it will take time and money to rebuild them.

The Florida Keys had just been reopened to tourists as we went to press, and the resilient Conchs were doing what they’ve always done, cleaning up and carrying on.

In the Caribbean, though, the picture was gloomier. Most of the charter businesses that have ...

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Informational overload?

13 Jun

I recently acquired a 30-year-old project boat whose systems are mostly original, except for the electronics, which had been updated in the early 1990s—the Jurassic era as far as modern electronics are concerned. In fact, I well recall installing that selfsame make of instrument on the boat I owned back then, and marveling at how wonderful it was to have a digital depth readout instead of a whirring dial and a couple of flashing lights to warn of impending collision with the sea bed.
This presented me with the rare opportunity to specify a new instrument and nav system from ...

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Sailing with Others

18 Apr

Sunset-on-our-cat

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 ...

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A Kindly Boat

8 Dec

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 ...

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Cruising or Racing?

14 Sep

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.
Plus, not all races are created equal. More and more clubs are responding to ...

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Going small, going now

25 Aug

Saffier-1024x649-1-1-1-1

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 ...

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Gone Sailing

15 Jun

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 ...

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Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Places

26 Apr

books

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 ...

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