February 2017 Newsletter

February 2017 Newsletter

A bi-monthly companion to Good Old Boat magazine

Editor: Michael Robertson (Michael_r@goodoldboat.com)
Web Editor: Jerry Stearns

What’s in this issue

This newsletter is available in a printer friendly version as a <PDF file>.

Want to look up a previous newsletter? We've added an <on-line index> of all the Good Old Boat newsletters.

Mail Buoy


I would like to thank Good Old Boat for publishing George Chase’s entertaining and informative piece on the “O” in GOB (“Classics in Waiting,” January 2017). I have thought so many times about the leap between “old” and “classic” that many of us work with in our life spans. Exactly when does an item go from one to the other and why?

1946 Navion

Frank Parish at the helm of his former good old plane, a 1946 Navion.

In 2001 I bought a 1975 Bristol 32 from its original owner. It had been a family boat, providing the needed retreat from the stresses of life and teaching their children how to sail and speak nautically. As time went on and life interests and demands changed she was neglected and sold. When I got her, all the parts were there and her intrinsic value certainly was still intact.

Since then I have, of course, spent several times the original cost of the boat. I used to be a boat builder so when I was younger my labor came easily. Now in my late 80s, she is again in peak condition and I am no longer so. I still have a Class-2 FAA medical and am a fully-rated pilot, but flying is a down-right sedentary activity compared to sailing and after more than 60 years of doing both I think it is time for me to give up sailing so, alas, Turtle is for sale. Will we get our money back? Of course not! But we have had her 16 years; she doesn’t owe us anything.

But the question which George Chase brings up is, “is it, or was it, worth it?” He refers to the expense and labor of maintaining and upgrading an old/classic. My answer: “Yes, of course it is.”

Back in the 70s I bought a beautifully maintained 4-place airplane, a 1946 Navion. Over the next 4 years I put 1,000 hours on her and a new engine in her, flying for business and pleasure. She was a first-rate bird and turned heads wherever we went. She was a joy to fly and the man I eventually sold her to paid my asking price without a murmur and flew her home that same day without an inspection. We both knew she was solid.

Last year a dear friend of ours sold us a 1979 Cadillac Coupe Deville. It was perfect in every respect with an original 55,000 miles on the odometer. We brought her home from her New Jersey garage and did what little had to be done to make her the real road machine that she was: a bath, new whitewalls, a new headliner, and some deep maintenance.
Yes, it was worth every cent and every hour spent. When we are ready we’ll look for someone that will appreciate her as we have. In the meantime my lovely wife and I drive her from here on the Chesapeake to Florida for a month of warm beach time every winter.

You don’t own these critters, you adopt them. Then they own you. They are like pets except they don’t have to be house broken or kenneled when you’re on a trip.

Expensive? Have you paid a veterinary bill recently?

George, good luck on your bike and your deck project. I’m sure you will love the time spent and the applause afterward as well. I have noticed that over the years I have always been happiest when I am learning. Working on these things is a constant learning experience. Knowledge is exponential. The more you know, the more you can and will know. Also, I have found it warms the heart. The French call it a raison d'être, a reason for being.
Frank Parish, Lusby, Maryland


Greetings! Bob Weismantel wrote a very good article on a no-mess means to change a horizontal oil filter (“No-Spill Oil Filter Change,” January 2016). For changing the vertical oil filter on our boat, I used a round, heavy plastic 1-gallon bottle. I cut the top off in such a way that most of the handle was still attached. I put the bottle under the oil filter and then un-screwed the filter. The oil and the filter went into the bottle. No mess and little fuss.
C. Henry Depew, Tallahassee, Florida


In the first two issues of my subscription I have found five project articles that inspire me to follow your author’s suggestions, as well as three very interesting/informative articles. This is not what I usually get from a magazine and I think it's a great payback.

Now I wonder what other gold is hiding in your back issues. Have you considered selling a CD or flash drive containing back issues? I would certainly be interested and I sure many more of your newer readers would be. Please, keep up the good work.
William Hanchett, Rogers City, Michigan


There is a lot of gold hiding in our back issues. We’ve created an index of every article published over the past (nearly 20) years. You can find our index at goodoldboat.com under Reader Services. From there click Articles List to browse a categorized list of articles, or click Articles Search to search by author, keyword, or issue.

Once you’ve used the index to determine which back issue you’re interested in, go to the Good Old Boat company store at audioseastories.com. Here you’ll find all our back issues available for purchase, either via download (PDF) or print. Look around to see if some of "that there gold in the hills" is what you are looking for!
Karen Larson, Founder/Editor, Good Old Boat


Robin Urquhart's article on assembling a DIY stainless-steel exhaust elbow (“DIY Exhaust Mixer,” November 2016) caught my eye. Just the month before I was wondering about that very part on the 5-year-old 3-cylinder Yanmar in my Morgan 33 O/I. While asking about stainless-steel fittings at the local chandlery, a clerk overheard me and cautioned me about hot stainless and chlorine. He used to work in a plant that used stainless steel pipe to carry hot fluid containing chlorine. Cracks would develop and the pipes had to be tested constantly for severe metal failure. When I appeared incredulous, he said "Google it." I did and found it in Wikipedia: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_corrosion_cracking>. It appears that 50° C (144° F) to 84° C (183° F) is the critical ingredient to the problem. Running for 10 years without failure sounds great, but to assemble this and forget about it is not wise. The system still needs to be monitored.
Dick Cartelli, Belfast, Maine


As far as I understand, most modern mixers/risers are constructed of stainless steel. Some of the bigger parts exhaust manufacturers, such as Scott Marine, IMCO, and HDI, make stainless-steel mixers. I'm not a materials engineer, but we can be sure that they hired them to design their exhaust mixers.

The Wikipedia article is a little alarmist in saying, “This limits the usefulness of austenitic stainless steel for containing water with higher than few ppm content of chlorides at temperatures above 50° C.” It is very contextually dependent. The Klc referenced in the article, for which I could not find a reference myself, is measured in MN, or Mega Newtons. A meganewton is 1,000,000 newtons. As an example, the thrust of an F-18 fighter jet is measured in kilonewtons (kN), and is about 100 kN or so. So we are talking extremely high values here for the stainless to start cracking.

As for sudden material failure after long exposure to chlorides, I don't know. It could be a problem, but then I doubt the big manufacturers would be making stainless mixers.

There are a few people who might object to stainless steel for the exhaust riser due to its relative plasticity to temperature differentials. But I looked hard into this before writing the article and was convinced that the shock of warm water on the hot riser would not be enough to cause any concern.

I think the cautionary note is a good one. I wouldn't leave anything for 10 years; I would check the riser every year.
Robin Urquhart, currently in Mexico aboard MonArk


In Robin’s article, he reports that he took his mixer apart after 500 hours to inspect it. He mentioned that his friend’s comparable solution lasted for 10 years. Empirical evidence is worth quite a bit. Perhaps the bigger problem — and common to any material used — is internal build-up of carbon and other deposits, as described by Ed Zacko in his Good Old Boat article "Dead in the Water," January 2015.
Jeremy McGeary, Senior Editor, Good Old Boat


I have been a Good Old Boat subscriber for a number of years and it is still my favorite sailing magazine. Lately, I have been sensing a bit of snobbishness on the part of Good Old Boat readers and contributors (“Mail Buoy: GOB is Relevant and Helpful in Norway,” January 2017). About the more recently-manufactured production sailboats, I’m hearing terms like “floating condo” or “big fat boat” along with derogatory comments about seaworthiness and sailing abilities. It is mildly reminiscent of when the boating industry migrated from traditional wood to fiberglass and people used derisive terms like “Clorox bottle” and “frozen snot.”

Not a condo, a Catalina 400

The Kempe's 1995 Catalina 400

Why does that concern me? Because our good old boat is a 1995 Catalina 400 that has great accommodations (condo) and a 13.5 foot beam with dual wheels (fat). My decision to go with this boat was not trivial. I have thousands of hours spent offshore on a variety of boats, I hold a USCG Master 100-Ton license, and I used to own a marine electronics company. Plus I spent 25 years rehabbing, maintaining, and upgrading my own good old boats, which I think gives me a fairly solid background in general boat knowledge. My wife and I purchased our first good old boat in 1989, a 1971 Grampian 26 that we sailed for 9 years. Our second was a 15-year-old 1984 C&C 35 Mk III that we spent many a happy time on over a 16-year period. Both of these boats seem to embody what the readers of Good Old Boat would consider as traditional and acceptable.

My wife and I are looking at retirement in couple of years and we wanted a boat that would play into that. We had spent a lot of time cruising the C&C around New England, but never for more than two or three weeks at time. It was perfect for that type of sailing, while still letting me indulge in single-handed racing. In retirement we are looking at different requirements. While I greatly admire the Pardeys and their minimalist sailing existence, it is not something that I want to emulate at this point in my life. I have worked hard, saved my pennies, and I like my beer cold. We figured that now was the time to find and rehab what will probably be the last big good old boat for us. We were looking mostly for added storage and better accommodations to support us and guests for longer periods of time. We also wanted a boat that was well built, and would safely deliver us to the places we wanted to go. And yes, creature comforts above and below decks.

Just because a boat is not a narrow-beamed, heavily-teaked “traditional” fiberglass boat does not mean it is inferior. Safety, sailing ability? Our Catalina 400 is IMCI certified with a class “A” Ocean rating and is ABYC- and NMMA-certified. While I wasn’t particularly looking for much in the way of performance, I frequently see 7.5 or 8 knots heading upwind. Ahh… the narrow-beamers mantra: “but you will get thrown across that big cabin and poke your eye out!” I don’t think so. There are plenty of handholds and the boat has a lot of initial stability with the wide beam. Of course in a severe storm, all bets are off for injuries on any small craft.

Hey, it is a 20-year-old boat that needs a lot of work. Not much different from how any other good old boat got started. Besides, it will never be as obnoxious or dangerous as those damned, cruising foiled catamarans…
Bob Kempe, North Kingstown, Rhode Island


Thanks in some measure to the spirit of Good Old Boat magazine, this emboldened, if foolhardy, subscriber/sailor is off on a trans-Atlantic trip tomorrow. I know voyaging is outside Good Old Boat's bailiwick, but I thought I'd mention it nonetheless as a testament to the gentle-yet-far-reaching influence of Karen and Jerry and all you other Good Old Boat-ites.
Chris Crilly, Havelock, Quebec

At press time, Chris’s trans-Atlantic trip on a Moody 40 is over, and it was shortened by gnarly conditions and significant systems failures. Chris’s riveting account appears in this issue of the Good Old Boat Newsletter, see “Trip, Interrupted.”  – Ed.

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Every so often we knight another contributing editor. This time we have tapped both members of a cruising couple on the shoulders with our ceremonial broadsword, making them our newest members of the Good Old Boat crew. From the moment they began submitting articles to Good Old Boat, Robin Urquhart and Fiona McGlynn have continued to impress us with the variety of subjects they are willing to tackle and the insights they offer.

Robin and Fiona

These two fixed up MonArk, a 1979 Dufour 35, and left Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2015 on a voyage that has been one part learning experience and one part adventure, as they aim their bow toward an eventual landfall in Australia. After that, who knows?

A building engineer in his former professional life and a builder and tinkerer always, Robin has written articles about stern tube repair (July 2016) and building a custom exhaust mixer (September 2016). Fiona’s contributions have included keeping greens alive longer in the galley (May 2016), thoughtful gifts cruisers can make aboard (November 2016), how needing parts in ports along the way has expanded their encounters with locals (November 2016), and how to make a leecloth from recycled sail cloth (January 2017). There is much more queued up from these prolific authors in upcoming issues.

They bring a delightful youthful perspective that we think just might be contagious. We hope other young sailors will follow in their wake.


At the end of 2016, long-time Good Old Boat Associate Editor, Pat Morris, retired. In addition to her role of issuing the final word on all questions of grammar (her absence has the rest of us dusting off our copies of The Chicago Manual of Style), Pat was the editor of this bi-monthly newsletter.

Without skipping a beat, Good Old Boat Managing Editor Michael Robertson has taken the helm and is off and running with this first issue of 2017. I think he’s going to do a fine job. I know he welcomes all kinds of reader feedback and critique, so let him have it!


Many thanks to Michael and Patty Facius, who produced the newsletter podcast for more than five years, as well as to a few others who preceded them as Good Old Boat “newsletter readers.” It was a labor of love. No one had more fun recording the podcast than Michael and Patty, but they have decided to discontinue these broadcasts while they’re still fun. Think of it as the end of an era.

Michael is still busy as Good Old Boat’s publisher and advertising manager and he and Patty will be sailing in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior this summer as usual. They just won’t broadcast from the boat in the summer or from their dining room table in the winter. We’re going to miss their bimonthly efforts.


It’s snowing in Minnesota and colder than usual across the entire continent on this January day as your editors contemplate the coming February newsletter and March issue of the magazine. On the bright side: the winter solstice occurred a month ago. Although we still wake up to dark and go to bed in the dark, the number of daylight hours is steadily increasing. Call us seers if you will, we predict the birds will begin to sing, the grass will be turn green, and there will be buds on the trees by the time the next newsletter is published. Bring it on!

Aloha, Good Old Boat

Here's how the email from the lawyer began: "Our Production is interested in obtaining permission to use [an] issue of Good Old Boat magazine (Issue 112, Volume 20, No.1) as a Prop for an upcoming episode. One of our main characters holds a stack of sailboat magazines as he laments over college tuition and his dreams of owning his own boat."

Hawaii 5-0

And that lawyer is the legal clearance coordinator for CBS Television, and the show in question is "Hawaii Five-O."

We said, "Sure!"

This sort of request is probably received regularly by makers of big-name consumer goods (remember the Reese's Pieces' cameo in E.T.?), but not so often by publishers of small sailing magazines.

So, dear readers, please give us a shout (karen@goodoldboat.com) if you actually see Good Old Boat flash on the screen while watching Hawaii Five-O. We've been told "our" episode is scheduled to air on March 31.

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Roger and the bowsprit.
  • We review the O’Day 25 and tell the tale of two Aloha 34s owned by two brothers
  • Ed Zacko is back to show us how to rebuild an aging Profurl headsail furler — using off-the-shelf parts available at any auto parts store!
  • Connie McBride shares the trick to mixing bottom paint in the yard, without making a mess
  • Fiona McGlynn offers advice for making night passages safe and pleasurable
  • DIY: remove, transport, and reinstall a Catalina 22’s 500-pound swing keel
  • Learn to make the best caulk removal tools ever, for pennies
  • A wistful sailor says goodbye to his first love, a 14-footer named Anoesis
  • Plus more including an extensive bow sprit rebuild, YouTube channels for sailors, and Karen Larson shares an ode to the value of learning to row

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After receiving Chris Crilly’s note (see “Trans-Atlantic Thanks” in this issue’s Mail Buoy), I checked in with him to see how he fared on his Atlantic crossing. He sent me the following account. I think it’s worth sharing.  – Ed.

I'm now back from my much ballyhooed and shortened Trans-At caper. The boat was a luxuriously spacious Moody 40 Centre Cockpit out of Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. She was sloop-rigged with additional inner forestay. As we were on a SSW run before the trades, we poled out the second foresail using the boom and preventer. This worked for a day or so, but the conditions got gnarly and even under bare poles we were doing hull speed. At no time while I was on the boat was the main ever deployed.

Unfortunately, because of wear and tear on the boat and a revision of the skipper's immediate priorities following a tough stretch from Pasito Blanco, Gran Canaria, to Mindelo (Cabo Verde), the trip was revised and I had to return to Canada. So instead of a 3000-mile trip we had a 9-and-a-half-day, 900-mile trip in winds up to 40 knots and following waves between 15 and 20 feet.

None of this was a problem (if you don't count fatigue) until we lost steering, GPS, and all electrical charging capacity (the Duo-Gen — designed to be held on to its bracket by one single half-inch bolt! — was knocked off the stern by a particularly spiteful wave and was only retrievable by hauling it in by its electrical wire! That’s when the engine alternator decided, according to the battery monitor, to start discharging instead of charging the batteries!). A small, but growing, tear in the genoa didn't add to the general cheer.

One great thing about the trip was that, despite two days of fairly horrible mal-de-mer, the skipper's wife maintained a three-squares schedule every day. Despite her being thrown violently around the galley, the meals were without exception superb. I took my hat off to her. There were also snacks and endless cups of tea.

You might be surprised to learn that this entirely Irish crew touched not a drop of grog while underway for over nine days. You'd have thought we were running a Yankee warship! (What we did once safely in harbor was, of course, nobody's business!) All of us were Irish speakers...to varying degrees of fluency. There were occasions when the conversation was entirely in Irish; possibly the only vessel on the Trades run in which you could have heard this. Truth be told, I was the weakest (read: shyest) speaker, so I would fall back into English all too often.

There were quite a few boats in the marina at Mindelo waiting for a favorable weather window to continue their crossings. By Christmas Day they had started trickling out of the harbor and I suspect most will be in St. Lucia within the next couple of weeks.

Our fourth crew member found a berth on an American ketch heading out Boxing Day. One Finnish captain appeared before we had even tied up, looking for a replacement crew for his 35-footer and several wiry and weathered young lads were seen hanging around the port hoping to scrounge a Caribbean-bound berth.

Russian, Norwegian, Swiss, and Dutch crews were everywhere and we were entertained by the frequent comings and goings of yachts in the 55- to 65-foot range being expertly parked with bow and stern thrusters, gracefully launched lines, and nary a bump or scratch to be seen. One gorgeous Island Packet from Freeport, Maine, (60 feet or so) came in real fast to a narrow and twisty spot between two equally-long boats. We were waiting for the shouting to start, or maybe the splintering, grinding sounds that sometimes occur when an expensive boat meets a heavy dock. But no. This guy was a pro. The big boat stopped on a dime and the cocktails didn't even spill. I hate people who can do that!

The European-style stern-to or bow-to docking system with slime-lines forces all boats to rig six- to eight-foot gangplanks or ladders for boarding. Of course, we had no such plank and so had to let the docking staff tie us well off the dock like all the others and then once they'd gone home we winched her in to within jumping distance. Not only do the NE Trades carry you SW, but they also keep the boats and docks in the marina dancing around and the sailors staggering like...well...drunken sailors. This jumping back and forth from bucking stern to bucking dock maneuver was what kept us alert. I'm told this continues unabated in Mindelo from November to September!

We all learned a thing or two and the boat will certainly be capable of resuming the trip after some work, but, with repair time growing, my teaching schedule, already compromised, was becoming a problem, so home I had to come. Unfortunately, I didn't get the ocean crossing thing out of my system.

Best wishes to you and the best sailing mag on the planet.
Chris Crilly, Havelock, Quebec

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Following is a list of 26 sailing aphorisms compiled by the good old folks who make up Sail Lopez, an all-volunteer maintenance crew for the youth summer sailing workshops offered by the Lopez Island Family Resource Center on Lopez Island, WA (http://www.lifrc.org/sailing). “We’re a dozen dedicated sailors who spend the fall, winter, and spring repairing the boats the kids destroy in the summer,” wrote Gene Helfman. Enjoy!

  1. The difference between an experienced sailor and an inexperienced one is that the former has made mistakes the latter can’t even imagine.
  2. Every solution introduces a new problem.
  3. If it ain’t broke it will be.
  4. The reason a part costs so much is because you need it.
  5. The best time to reef was 10 minutes ago.
  6. The best boat to race is someone else’s.
  7. A boat designed to sail efficiently and to motor efficiently does neither.
  8. Ferrocement boats make the best artificial reefs.
  9. An old wooden boat is the ideal work-release project.
  10. Duct tape is never the best solution.
  11. When you can’t tie a good knot, tie several bad ones.
  12. Never cut a rope. Except when someone is tangled in it and going overboard. Even then, reconsider.
  13. Many boat ramps and mooring balls were designed by divorce lawyers.
  14. The best sailing companion is a dog; they quickly forget being yelled at.
  15. Everything’s connected, except when a break occurs behind an inaccessible panel.
  16. To find something you have to move something.
  17. To fix something there is always something else that must be done before the fix can begin; before that, something else must be done before the preparatory fix can begin. And so on.
  18. Leaks, squeaks, and creaks seldom fix themselves.
  19. When you first think you’re almost done, you’re not even half done.
  20. The sailor who hasn’t gone aground has never left the dock.
  21. Sailing by the lee is synonymous with prepare to jibe.
  22. A boat under sail has the right of way over a boat under power, except always.
  23. A skipper under sail who demands the right of way against an oil tanker ignores The Rule of Superior Tonnage, which supersedes all other rights.
  24. If you draw 5 feet and the fathometer reads 4.5 feet and the tide is falling, it’s time to catch up on minor repairs.
  25. A halyard will not clang against an aluminum mast unless acted on by an external force. External forces are always present.
  26. The captain always goes down with the ship. Who the hell wrote that? An insurance agent?
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I’m a cruising sailor. My wife, two daughters, and I use our dinghy almost daily to schlep all of our food, water, and life’s sundries arrive aboard. Unlike most of our cruising peers, our dinghy is a hard dinghy—and we wouldn’t have it any other way…well, except when we’re 30 minutes into a 2-mile trip to a snorkeling site and a family anchored even farther away zips past us at what seems like Mach 2 in their 11-foot rigid inflatable boat (R.I.B.). With a 25-h.p. singing and the children’s hair blowing, it’s only a 5-minute trip for this waving, smiling family. We hang on in their wake.

But I got off track. I want to know (michael_r@goodoldboat.com) what kind of dinghy (if any) you use to reach your boat when she’s not tied to shore. Hard or soft? R.I.B. or roll-up? Rowing or motoring? And why? I’ll present your feedback in the next issue, like I’ve done below, for the halyard question we asked last month…

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In the December Newsletter, we asked folks to chime in on how best to quiet banging and clanging halyards that can drive a person mad in the middle of the night, whether on your own boat or a neighbor’s boat. We clearly touched a nerve. I received dozens of responses to this query, these included votes for tried and true approaches as well as some things I never expected.

Nearly all of the suggestions for eliminating halyard slapping can be categorized one of three ways:

Ting ting ting

Illustration by Tom Payne

  • 40% of you favor securing halyards away from the mast, either to a lifeline, a hard point (such as toerail or eye), or a dedicated strop (fashioned from either line or webbing) to which the halyard is attached.
  • 36% of you are bungee aficionados who use the shock cords to impose tension on halyards, away from the mast and toward a shroud.
  • 23% of you did well in trigonometry and favor simply pulling the halyard around the intersection of spreader and upper shroud, pulling it taut, and securing it back to the mast.

Greg Ross of Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island, is one of the outliers. He went old school and attached pin rails to Layla II, his Ericson Independence 31. “They make a nice accent and provide a very functional solution for clearing the mast of external clatter clutter!” Greg says. I guess his solution is simply another version of securing halyards away from the mast, but leaves me wondering why pin rails ever disappeared—though stainless versions are sometimes seen on mast pulpits of cruising boats.

Chris Faranetta of Tilghman Island, Maryland, Ben Bosher of Burlington, Vermont, and James Fall of Twin Lakes, WI, are like-minded sailors who each pointed out that slapping halyards are not just annoying, but that quieting them is a good preventive-maintenance habit. Quieter halyards suffer less wear and tear, reduce the risk of wearing or scratching the mast finish (which can lead to oxidation), and reduce the wear and tear on mast fittings and blocks.

Paul Maravelas of Mayer, Minn., is a contrarian who recalls childhood memories living near a marina on Lake Minnetonka. “To me, it was a thrill to hear the symphony of clanging halyards, and one could lay in bed at any hour and hear directly how calm or stormy the lake was. Of all the sounds we must endure in this world, the sound of halyards clanging has always been a joy rather than an annoyance to me.” Jack Summe of Alexandria, VA also wrote that he loves, “the ‘ting-ting-ting’ of halyards slapping metal masts.” But he adds that he understands that it annoys others.

Geoff Kloster of Galesville, Wisconsin, raised the issue of whether it’s appropriate to board an unattended boat to secure a halyard. Geoff wrote: “Long ago I read or heard that it is appropriate to board another person’s boat to quell a sleep-disturbing halyard slap. My marina manager thinks it is trespassing. Is there a general nautical ‘rule’ regarding this? What do other boat owners think and/or do?”

Greg Ross' Layla II

Pin rails are an obvious choice on a boat with lines like Greg Ross' Layla II.

On this point, Chris Faranetta says that if someone's halyard is banging on the mast of an unattended boat, Chris will board that boat and secure it. “My justification for trespassing is either: A) The owner does not care about his boat and won't care about me boarding it, or, B) The owner does care about his boat and will appreciate that I kept his halyard from self-destruction.”

Stefan Berlinski of California’s Moss Landing says he has donated several bungee cords to boats whose owners have left them to be nautical noise makers.

Robert Kidd of Logan, Utah, keeps his 1976 Catalina 30 on Bear Lake (freshwater lake that straddles the Utah-Idaho border) and wrote that he is one of the beneficiaries of a halyard-quieting stranger. He says, “Shortly after I placed my boat in the slip, I came down to find my halyards looped out around the spreaders and tied off back at the cleats on the bottom of my mast, so they make a large triangular shape instead of running down parallel to the mast. It stops all the slapping noise, and I have since taken to rigging my boat that way when I leave it.”

Carl Heintz of Leawood, Kansas, says that noisy halyards are why bungie cords were invented. He adds, “I always carry a bunch of spares. I have been known to boldly walk over to a clanging boat, board her without permission, install a bungie cord, and walk away. Nobody has ever complained.” But Carl isn’t just about quieting others’ halyards, he doesn’t like to see a boat neglected. Carl says that he uses household gutter screens aboard his boat as scupper screens. When he sees another boat in need, he’ll put one over their scupper. “It's a $5 donation I make to fellow boat owners who apparently can't figure out that from September to November, both leaves and rain fall from the sky.”

David Gilbert says that his marina in Cobourg, Ontario, has a whole different take on trespassing (and the permanent answer to halyard slap). “I sailed in there some time ago and there was a sign requesting sailors to ‘tie off your halyards. ’ Knowing how thoughtless some skippers are on this issue, I asked the marina operator what happens when they don’t do it. He told me it simply means that he’s just sold two of his $100 bungee cords.”

As a former California liveaboard whose boat was in a slip surrounded by boats that were often unattended for months at a time, I spent enough time adjusting fenders and slack docklines on windy days and closing forgotten hatches before the rains came, that I felt no qualms about securing halyards that might keep me awake. I simply treated others’ boats as I would want them to treat mine, even when I didn’t know the owner.

But maybe this ethics question is bigger than I assumed. In the next story, writer Jerry Thompson has some things to say about this.

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Writer Jerry Thompson conducted a bit of research and found an authority on this matter of halyards beating the mast drum: Queene Hooper Foster, author of Chapman Boating Etiquette (and co-author of the revised edition).  – Ed.

It occurs to me that some folks are oblivious to the need to quiet their halyards, and it may not be their fault. After all, who teaches sailors about these things? Where is it written that thou shall not allow one’s halyards to bang and clang and disturb thy neighbors?

In Chapman Boating Etiquette, that’s where.

I know, most of us do not relate the term “etiquette” to sailing, but do not allow the title to scare you away. Queene absolutely ties etiquette and sailing/motorboating together irrevocably. In 10 chapters she covers her “Ten Rules of Good Boating Etiquette.” Banging halyards fall under Rule 10, “Taut Ship.” Queene teaches that good manners on the water are a sign of common sense, experience, and seamanship. Her writing style makes for an enjoyable read, never scolding but rather showing the way to a safer, more enjoyable experience on the water for all.

If I were in charge of all things boating, sail and motor, I would decree that every boat purchased, new or used, power or sail, come with a copy of Boating Etiquette. And I would add Boating Etiquette to the Coast Guard’s required equipment checklist along with the first aid kit, flares and fire extinguisher.

OK, I’m daydreaming. But we could each give the gift of Boating Etiquette to someone in need of improving his or her boating manners. A gift out of the blue may result in a better marina experience for you and your marina mates. If you do not feel comfortable handing a copy of Boating Etiquette to an offender, leave an unmistakable message by dropping a copy (securely wrapped to protect from the elements) in the ill-mannered owner’s cockpit.
Boating Etiquette, despite its fancy name, can help all of us to become better sailors and seaman.

Jerry Thompson is an information systems professional who works and lives in eastern North Carolina. He learned to sail more than 25 years ago at the Armed Forces Recreation Center, Lake Chiemsee, Germany. North Carolina’s milder winters keep Jerry on the water year round.

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So I was recently eavesdropping on an email conversation between Founder/Editor Karen and a subscriber, Pye Hope Simpson. Pye has a 36-foot Allied Princess ketch that has an alcohol stove in the galley. He wants to ditch the alcohol stove and install a propane cooker and the necessary tank, lines, solenoid, and remote switch. He wondered if Good Old Boat had ever run an article about somebody doing such a thing, an article he could reference.

After digging around in the Good Old Boat articles index (under Reader Services at goodoldboat.com) and her memory, Karen said the closest thing she could find is a story that Hal Roth wrote for the magazine in 2006, “Galley Precautions,” about things to be cautious of with regard to propane use aboard. “But as for publishing an article about conversion from to alcohol to propane, we have not done so as far as I can remember.”

So has any reader converted his or her galley from alcohol to propane? Are you willing to contact a fellow reader an offer advice? If so, please email Pye Hope Simpson at eyp@aol.com. (And if any writers have successfully undertaken such a project and have good photos to accompany your prose, this might be a good story to pitch to Karen…)

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Do you file a float plan before leaving the dock? If you do, good for you! In doing so, you provide information that may be critically important to those looking for you when you don’t arrive at your destination or return home when you expect to. Perhaps you’re just drifting because the wind died and the outboard wouldn’t start, but perhaps you’re treading water after going overboard and the boat sailed on without you. Filing a float plan ensures that friends or family with whom you file have at the ready not just your itinerary, but a description of your boat, the equipment you carry aboard, and what crew you have with you—all the information the U.S. Coast Guard and other responders will need.

If you don’t file a float plan, it’s never too late to start—and it’s now easier than ever.

The United States Coast Guard Boating Safety Mobile app is a new app that allows you to file a float plan from your smartphone or other device. It’s Apple- or Android-compatible and free to everyone.

USCG Boating Safety Mobile App

After downloading the app, the next step is to create your User Profile. This includes all of your personal information that will appear on a float plan. Then you’ll need to enter the following information for every boat you own.

  • Official name
  • Hailing port
  • Document/Registration numbers
  • HIN
  • Year, Color, Make, Model
  • DSC MMSI number
  • Radio on board, type, channel monitoring
  • Hull material
  • Auxiliary propulsion
  • Fuel capacity

All of this data entry is a chore, but that’s the beauty of this app, you only have to enter this information once. Thereafter, filing a float plan involves entering only the information particular to that trip, such as itinerary and passenger info.

It’s important to clarify that float plans are not filed with the US Coast Guard. Rather, the app will email your float plan to up to three individuals you specify, and the app will remember previously used email addresses. Just for fun, I always try to send my float plan to a sailing buddy who is not able to sail due to work. Besides, I know he will be ashore in case of an incident or emergency. In addition to your float plan, the app delivers a detailed Boating Emergency Guide so that if someone is worried about you, they’ll have a list of steps to take and phone number to call, at hand.

If this app were simply a float plan app, it would be great. But the float plan feature is just one feature of the US Coast Guard Boating Safety Mobile app. Following is a list of the app’s additional safety features:

  • Review the latest safety regulations for the state(s) you are sailing in.
  • Request a vessel safety check from your local Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla.
  • Review required and recommended safety gear for your vessel.
  • File a float plan – real easy.
  • Review the Rules of the Road – includes graphics which helps to clarify the rules.
  • Check NOAA buoy data – press the closest buoy to receive data from the closest buoy to your location and to see other nearby buoys.
  • Report a hazard such as a missing navigation aid or new shoaling.
  • Report pollution – if you spot an oil slick or other pollution, simply touch the telephone number and read your coordinates which are listed for your convenience.
  • Report suspicious activity to America’s Waterway Watch System. I’m not real sure about what suspicious activities you may see, but just in case you have an easy way to report it.
  • Call for emergency assistance. Please note the app does not replace normal communications gear such as a VHF radio.

Now you really have no excuse not to file a float plan.

For more information and links to download the app, visit <http://www.uscg.mil/mobile>.

Jerry Thompson’s bio is included with the “Miss Manners” story, above.

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These reviews are also available online, along with all the reviews from past Good Old Boat newsletters.

Finding North: How Navigation Makes Us Human
BY GEORGE MICHELSEN FOY (Flatiron, 2016; 291 Pages, Hardcover; $25.99)


Finding North

In the wake of his brother’s recent death, George Michelsen Foy becomes interested in the fate of his great, great grandfather, Capt. Halvor Michelsen, lost aboard the Norwegian packet Stavanger Paquet when she went down under Havlor’s command in 1844. Hoping to understand something of the Stavanger Paquet’s loss due to a navigational error, Foy plots a course offshore from Hyannis, Massachusetts, to Maine aboard Odyssey, his aging Morgan 35 sloop, employing the same sorts of navigation tools and strategies his great, great grandfather would have used.

Over a winter spent readying Odyssey and himself for the voyage, Foy finds himself drawn deeper into the art and science of navigation, and the ways in which it informs and is in turn affected by almost all of our daily activities. In between dusting off his old sextant and making necessary repairs to Odyssey, he travels to the Caribbean to sail with a Haitian skipper who carries no compass; journeys to the Greek island of Samothrace to visit the “shrine of the megaloi theoi, the great gods,” where the ancient Dioskuri initiated would-be navigators in the magic art; consults with neuroscientists mapping those areas of the brain involved with navigation; and visits the “Dark Heart” of today’s GPS at Schriever’s AFB in Colorado. All the while, Foy finds himself navigating his own memories as well, especially those that now make up his relationship with his brother.

When it comes to what matters most in life, Foy realizes that “navigation and the disorientation that’s part of it have taught me: that we cannot live without loss.” And that when we lose those things that make us who we are, “we are forced to look hard around this world” to find our way, and ourselves, again.

Every sailor who's ever looked at a chart, tried to take a sight with a sextant, wondered how GPS works, or had to rely on dead-reckoning out of sight of land will enjoy Foy's examination of navigation's many fascinating aspects in Finding North. Those who have ever looked in the mirror, or into their heart, or the heart of another, to locate a different sort of fix, will discover even more.

Anne Bonny’s Wake
BY DICK ELAM (Brown Books Publishing Group, 2016; 232 Pages, Hardcover; $22.99; Kindle Ebook, $4.99)


Anne Bonny's Wake

Is it every sailor’s dream to rescue a mermaid, a topless lady in distress? What could be better? How about a somewhat modern slant on the mermaid theme…say, a mermaid who can get around on two good legs and who just happens to know how to hand, reef, and steer? Too good to be true? Perhaps. Imagine she comes aboard with a bushel-load of personal baggage she’s keeping secret and is stalked by bad guys who just might kill anyone who happens to be aboard?

Author Dick Elam captures readers’ attentions from the start, when Maggie Adelaide Moore, fleeing her tormentors, swims to the anchored boat of Herschel Barstow. What do you say to a semi-naked lady?

Hershel’s sentimental cruise on his former sailboat, now in charter, was meant to be a time of reflection in which he would spread the ashes of his deceased wife. When they weren’t working as CIA operatives, he and his wife had enjoyed their time on the Anne Bonny, a sailboat named for a well-known female pirate. But now the identity and motivation of his new crewmember, who arrived dripping wet in her cutoff jeans, was in doubt. Was she another female pirate or on the right side of the law? Which of her stories were lies and which were the truth?

There are enough twists and turns in this book that you can’t be sure. Suffice it to say that it’s a good thing Hershel has his CIA training and the ongoing friendship of his former trainer, who is now retired. The two are determined to learn Maggie’s secrets. But Hershel may die trying as he and Maggie sail the Carolina waterways to return the Anne Bonny to the charter company…always just a few strong strokes of a mermaid’s tale ahead of the bad guys.

This is Dick Elam’s first in what may become a series. He clearly is a sailor who knows good old boats. He doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining to the non-yachtsman among his readers what this is or what that means. A few lubberly expressions such as “Over and out” as a signoff on the VHF radio, and “bumpers” for fenders, made me think he had a bit too much “help” from non-sailor early readers or editors, because all the rest rings true and there is the occasional mention of “lines and fenders.” If you can overlook those trifles, you just might enjoy sailing along in the Anne Bonny’s wake, just so long as you are safely in your armchair and can’t feel the bad guys’ breath on the back of your neck.

Notable Boats: Small Craft, Many Adventures
BY NIC COMPTON, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY PETER SCOTT (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2017; 160 Pages, Hardcover; $29.95)


Notable Boats

This is an intriguing little book. Although it is titled Notable Boats, it really is the story of some extraordinary people. Compton, who is a past editor of the British magazine, Classic Boats, sets out to profile 36 small boats which he deems to be worthy of note, and his eclectic selection certainly provides interesting reading. The only trait that is common to his choices is that none have engines as their primary propulsion, with the vast majority being propelled by sail. Some, such as Huck Finn’s raft, have no propulsion system at all, and three are propelled by oar alone. The latter include the Tom McClean’s 20-foot dory, Super Silver, which he rowed across the Atlantic in 1969, Jerome K. Jerome’s Pride of the Thames from Three Men in a Boat, and Casanova’s gondola. Indeed, like Huck’s raft, some of Compton’s picks exist only in literature, such as Robinson Crusoe’s periagua. Some that he selects are well known to most sailors, including Joshua Slocomb’s Spray, Robin Knox-Johnson’s Suhaili, the Olin Stephens-designed Dorade, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV, Robin Lee Graham’s Dove, and, of course, the schooner yacht America and the iconic Canadian fishing schooner Bluenose.

The majority of the small boats that Compton profiles have completed some truly remarkable solo ocean voyages, a number of which I was either totally unaware or had only peripheral knowledge. A couple that truly astounded me were the 3,400-mile transatlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to St. Martins in 1956 by the young German doctor Hannes Lindermann in an open folding kayak — a voyage he made to test the bounds of human endurance — and the around-the-world voyage in 1999 to 2003 of Evgeny Gvozdev, in an 11-foot 10-inch boat he built on his balcony in Russia! The amazing thing about both these individuals was that these voyages were the second for each.

Through these often amazing little craft and their incredible voyages, Compton focuses on the men and women who sailed them. If you can argue that every boat has a unique personality, then it is no stretch to claim that in each of these boats that personality perfectly matches, and is even instilled by, that of the owner. Even in the case of Chichester and Gypsy Moth IV, a boat he claimed to hate, both the boat and the sailor are forever fused.

The format of the book is well structured, although the order in which the boats appear in the book seems to be totally random. Each segment opens with a page headed by the boat’s name, with a thumbnail sketch of the boat’s and owners achievements accompanied by a plan view drawing of the boat by John Woodcock listing its principal dimensions. The next page has a full color “sail plan” profile drawing of the boat in color by Peter Scott. Page 3 contains a color map of the voyage by Nick Rowland, along with a description of the achievement extending to all of page 4.

My criticism of this book that purports to focus on notable boats is that the information on the boats themselves is particularly sparse. The chapter on John Lennon’s 1980 voyage to Bermuda in the 42-foot Megan Jaye shows a sail plan drawing that could be a Tartan or Bristol, but the information on the boat does not specify either a builder or designer. The same can be said for Dove and Ellen MacArthur’s 21-foot Iduna, which she sailed around Britain in 1996, as well as Laura Dekker’s Guppy, which she sailed solo around the world as teenager. Each seems to be a fiberglass production sailboat, so I’m not sure why a builder’s designation was omitted.

I would have also liked to know a little more about the illustrators, particularly Peter Scott, who did all the colored sail plan drawings. The name (Sir) Peter Scott is already well known in sailing and ornithological circles. This is obviously a different, but also talented, Peter Scott.

This book is a teaser, giving just enough information to be illuminating, but in a lot of cases left me wanting to know more about some of these incredible boats and people. Fortunately, to satisfy that need, Compton supplies a two page “Further Reading” section at the back of the book. An impulse I had after reading this book was to think of boats that perhaps could also qualify as Notable Boats but that Compton chose not to include. John MacGregor’s Rob Roy sailing canoe, perhaps? Shackleton’s famous Endurance? Any book that leaves you thinking is a book worth reading, and this book does and is. It’s a very worthwhile addition to any sailor’s library. Thank you Mr. Compton.

Learn to Sail Today: From Novice to Sailor In One Week
BY BARRY LEWIS (International Marine/Mcgraw Hill, 2016; 195 Pages; $21)


Learn To Sail

Note: Editor Karen Larson asked Avital Keeley — a junior member of the Good Old Boat crew and an enthusiastic newbie — to review this book. What better opinion than one from a youngster who is very interested in becoming a sailor? Before she asked Avital for her thoughts about this book, Karen also read the book and offers her own review below.

To a beginner sailor, a book titled Learn to Sail Today: From Novice to Sailor in One Week sounds like a dream. And that it is.

Barry Lewis formats his book according to its name: it is split into seven sections with one section per day. He then divides each section into multiple steps, each adding onto the reader’s knowledge of sailing. Sometimes he includes vocabulary without a good explanation or breezes through a subject that might trip people up. It’s definitely not a book to read when you are tired!

Although it’s meant to be read as you spend a week sailing (and I’m sure that would be helpful), that’s not necessary. This book is incredible in the way that it is easy to understand, even when not aboard or near a boat. I read this book on various buses, before bed, and while eating cereal, yet I still learned more than a summer of weekend sailing trips could teach me (excepting a summer of weekend sailing trips with the amazing teachers I know).

Getting back to those vocabulary terms that were left dangling in front of me. At first they are like the words you can’t translate in a foreign language sentence, completely without meaning. But then you see the words elsewhere, in other contexts, and things click. I’ve already used my newfound knowledge, both in sailing conversations and in odd things in my everyday life.

I can’t wait to go sailing again to see how much this book has helped me (In the same way I’d love to go to France after studying French for years.) Learn to Sail Today not only teaches the terms and the science behind sailing, it teaches so much more. Lewis’ writing style is friendly and warm. It feels like he is right there telling you everything, jokes and all. It’s not a formal, informational book, and yet it relays the same amount of information.

Any beginner sailor should read this book, even if he or she has been sailing before. Experienced sailors might want to read this book as a refresher and to open themselves to a new perspective about sailing and learning.

Learn to Sail Today: From Novice to Sailor In One Week
BY BARRY LEWIS (International Marine/Mcgraw Hill, 2016; 195 Pages; $21)


Learn to sail in one week. “Yeah, sure,” I thought. This book claims to be the only book that can take you from landlubber to novice sailor, safely, today. “Ha! Prove it,” I said to myself as I picked it up.

Author Barry Lewis is a Good Old Boat subscriber and friend. He starts by encouraging everyone who has ever thought sailing might be fun to give it a go. Many have the dream but few pursue it. Why? Barry says there are no excuses. If you want to try sailing, there are ways to make it happen. He offers several ways to get access to boats, such as offering to crew at a yacht club or finding lessons near home or as part of a vacation.

Next Barry tells you how to prepare: what to bring and things to watch for and understand when you’re aboard, whether it’s a large or small sailboat. He discusses how to prepare a boat: rigging, basic parts, and a few knots to know. He explains how to be safe before you get aboard, how to step aboard, and what to be aware of once you are aboard. This is basic stuff, yes. But did anyone ever tell you on that first day that it’s a good idea to climb aboard with nothing in your hands and to look for strong handholds, not to pause with one foot on the dock and one on the boat, and -- if it’s a small dinghy -- to step into the center of the boat and sit down quickly?

No, they did not! Yet these are good things to think about and be aware of in advance.

Barry offers an overview of raising sails, talks a bit about tiller steering, discusses strategies for leaving the dock, and tells his readers about capsize recovery in small boats. He gives the basics on sail trim, steering, rules of the road, tacking, returning to the dock, and putting the sails away. He offers just enough that the beginner can be tuned into these activities even if he is not yet competent in any of them. The new sailor learns by paying attention. This book directs his attention to the activities going on around him. With this sort of background, he will not be a passenger but rather will become a willing participant.

What follows, once these basic concepts are covered, are the refinements: how to jibe, improving sail trim, crew overboard procedures, anchoring, and a few more knots. Not to overlook furling gear, use of the VHF radio, and navigation. He even touches on buying and maintaining a boat and adds an appendix section with the basics of first aid, potential emergencies, flying a spinnaker, cruising gear, and the physics of sailing.

Too much in a small book? Not at all. It’s just the right amount to inform a new sailor and to make him aware of the things that are there to learn. Give him this book and access to a sailboat for a week, along with some of your own gentle guidance, and I believe a new sailor will blossom. This might not be the only beginners’ book available. But it would be a good gift to anyone who has said, “I want to be a sailor.”

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To suggest events for an upcoming calendar, please contact Michael Facius at michael@goodoldboat.com.


February – April
New Bedford, Massachusetts

The New Bedford Whaling Museum promises to keep audiences at the edge of their seats as mariners tell their first-hand, gripping stories of adventure and travel.

  • February 2: Searching for Speed Join Brian Hancock as he describes his love of sailboat racing and the many adventures he has experienced while logging more than a quarter million offshore miles.
  • March 2: Labrador and Beyond John N. Garfield, Jr. shares his adventures sailing up the rugged coastline, deep fiords, hanging glaciers, and drifting ice of Labrador, Canada.
  • March 23: Once around the North Atlantic Sail with Victor Pinheiro aboard his Hanse 43’, Maravilha, from Padanaram Harbor on a 9,000-mile loop around the North Atlantic Ocean, making stops on the islands of Madeira, Gran Canaria, Saint Lucia, and Fayal.
  • April 6: The Great American Loop Relive the six-week journey of Sham and Josh Hunt, who traveled 3,370 miles on their Ray Hunt-designed, 26-foot Black Watch, sailing up and down the country’s most well-known waterways.

For more information visit http://www.whalingmuseum.org.


February 16 – 20
Miami, Florida

This five-day spectacular sailing event features everything from entry-level day sailors, cruising sailboats, racing boats and the mega-cats—plus nearly 150 booths and land displays featuring sailing gear, accessories, and hardware from the industry’s top suppliers, along with the latest charter information.

For more information: http://www.strictlysailmiami.com.


March 24 - 26
Portland, Maine
A gathering of the finest fiberglass and wooden custom boat builders on the East Coast. Also exhibiting numerous manufacturers of boating equipment. Sailboats, powerboats, canoes, kayaks, and rowing boats with the builders there to discuss and sell their work.

For more information go to: http://www.portlandcompany.com/boatShow.


March 17 – 20
League City, Texas

This event on Clear Lake, in Bay Area Houston, features boats ranging in size from 10 feet to 100 feet, both freshwater and saltwater, ready for boarding. On shore, over 200 vendors will offer a variety of services and products for the boating and outdoor lifestyle, including fishing gear, engines, apparel and outdoor equipment, in addition to a full range of marine electronics, sailing gear, accessories, and hardware from top industry names.

For more information go to http://www.southwestinternationalboatshow.com.


April 6 – 9
Richmond, California

This year’s show features increased exhibit hall space, with even more exhibitors from around the world, and a showcase of beautiful boats both in and out of the water. Boats of every size and for every budget will be on display, including high-end yachts, multihulls, sleek racers and fun day sailers.

For more information: http://www.strictlysailpacific.com.


May 20
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This year’s keynote speaker is Sheila McCurdy, a woman who has sailed over 100,000 miles offshore including a passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas in 2014, the 2015 Transatlantic Race, and 17 Newport Bermuda Races—skippering to 2nd place in class and 4th overall in 2016.

For more information: http://www.midwestwomenssailing.org.

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How to contact us

You can find all of the details on how to contact us on our website.

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