"We publish this."
When we're out and about at anchor or on docks, Jerry and I often hand other sailors a sample copy of our magazine saying, simply, "We publish this." Since most people aren't publishers, the concept is a bit vague. We've all got an idea of what a doctor does, a teacher, a bricklayer . . . but even Jerry and I didn't know what a publisher did (humm, and NOW I are one!)
One definition might be the person who puts up the money for the cost of producing a publication and who then either makes what is left or makes up the difference. We understand both sides of that definition all too well!
Recently I handed one of our magazines to a promising young boater named Tucker, age 12. When I said, "We publish this," I wondered what that could possibly mean to a young person. In case he ever asks, I'm ready now.
It means we manage all the activities which must take place in order for our magazine to get out on time every two months. (So far we've done this right 27 times!) It means we decide what articles go into the magazine, what illustrations and photos will help tell the story, when they'll run, and how much space they'll get.
It means we manage all of the activities surrounding each subscriber's account, how many issues he has paid for, and how many he's received, whether she's been reminded at renewal time, and whether she's taken advantage of the free classified ad available to her.
It means we bring useful information together on our website as a way of helping more sailors (and in the hope that they'll discover Good Old Boat and subscribe), we promote our magazine as often and as creatively (read: inexpensively) as we can, sell ads to marine suppliers who want to tell good old boaters about their products, and make ourselves as available as we can to our readers and potential readers by email and telephone.
It's a daunting task sometimes, but it's one we enjoy. By serving together as the conductor at the concert made up of good old boaters, Jerry and I get a center seat within the community of sailors we enjoy so much. Since we are just a couple of sailors who decided to bring all these things together, we are challenged, amused, and educated every day. It's been a whirlwind so far, one we heartily enjoy.
What is a publisher in our case? One who has brought the
diverse skills of many sailors together for the benefit of the
entire group. We are conductors, and the symphony has never
sounded so sweet.
What's coming in November
We've got book
We told you the book reviews would move to the newsletter beginning with this issue, and so they have. It just so happens we got a bunch of them in at once (all our reviewers must have had the summer available for reading), so be prepared for some extended reading of your own. If you want any of these books for your own fireside reading, talk to BookMark:
Yogurt batches and bean sprout gardens
Jerry and I consider ourselves to be wilderness cruisers since we take our vacations on the opposite side of Lake Superior where there are few towns offering marine services. It's our goal to spend at least two weeks without replenishing ice, fuel, water, groceries, pumpouts, or needing civilized things like showers (with endless running water anyway), dinners out . . . that sort of thing. It works for us in our cruising ground. We have put a slide presentation together on the subject, which some of our readers have caught at one time or another, so I won't go into details.
In the magazine and in this newsletter in the past (magazines: January 1999 and March 2000, newsletters: October and December 2000) we've run bread recipes that vary from simple to ridiculously simple to cook aboard, some even meant for stovetop use if you cruise without the benefit of an oven. We've also discussed the discovery of UHT milk in the U.S. (Parmalat and Dairifair). Carrying on with that theme, this summer we learned a couple more new tricks worth sharing. Call our last vacation our days of bean sprouts and yogurt.
I had run across several sailing magazines and newsletters in the past year which discuss recipes for making yogurt aboard. Some talk about the need for refrigeration (to keep the active culture alive in a previously made yogurt, for storage of milk, and for storage of the yogurt after it has completed its miraculous transformation). But refrigeration and iced storage was not an option for us. Some sources believe you need a yogurt maker (not so), and others think the nice warm engine room would be a good place for maintaining a warm temperature for the culture (this one was written by a powerboater).
But one source discussed a method for making yogurt using powdered milk. Another noted that dry yogurt culture or "yogurt starter" was available at health food stores. And a third called for the use of a wide-mouth thermos for maintaining the temperature during the culturing process. Now we were in business. Combining a little from each source, we derived our own process which worked (as long as I followed the directions - we made yogurt five times in two weeks with one batch turning out as warm milk after I dumped the yogurt starter right into the hot milk without giving it a moment or two in a lukewarm brew).
What did we do with yogurt once we had it? I bought pie fillings (which are not as sweet as jellies and jams) to add to the unsweetened yogurt. We ate this as dessert after dinner, and the leftovers were good on pancakes in the morning. I brought vanilla along and plenty of sugar expecting these brews of plain yogurt to be horrible without help. The sugar was seldom needed.
We never opened the vanilla. Yogurt can also be used as a substitute for sour cream and as an ingredient in salad dressings and many recipes. You can also mix fruit, nuts, and granola with it. And much more. What other uses do you have for yogurt? Let us know.
The process we developed
Equipment: wide-mouth thermos, candy thermometer (or other thermometer capable of reading temperatures around 110-200 degrees F), yogurt starter, powdered milk, and water.
Boil water to preheat the thermos and for dissolving the powdered milk.
Measure 2 cups of boiling water. (To this you can add Knox gelatin if you want the yogurt to set up a bit firmer. We tried it without and also with the addition of 1/2 teaspoon and another time with the addition of 1 teaspoon, or a full envelope, of Knox gelatin. By the time we got to the addition of 1 teaspoon, the leftover yogurt and its whey had the consistency of Jell-O.)
Mix 2/3 cup powdered milk into the boiling water and stir thoroughly. (We also noted that evaporated milk can be used instead of the powdered milk, although we did not try this. Naturally, real milk, including UHT milk, can be used.)
Allow this mixture to cool to 110-120 degrees F. This is the temperature you will be attempting to maintain by incubating it in a thermos.
Meanwhile mix another 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk and add the yogurt starter to it. We only needed a half of an envelope of this starter for such a small batch. That was 1/2 teaspoon. The envelopes we found each contain a teaspoon of starter. You can also use about 1/4 cup of plain yogurt as a starter. This could come from a previous batch you've made or it could be purchased commercially (Danon Plain Non-Fat Yogurt, for example). It cannot be started with yogurt that contains sweeteners, fillers, or fruit. The yogurt culture must be active.
Pour the lukewarm yogurt milk into the larger batch when the larger batch has cooled to 110-120 degrees F.
Mix well and pour the whole thing into the pre-warmed thermos.
Let the thermos stand undisturbed for at least four to eight hours or so. Our sources said the tartness increases with incubation time, although I was not able to notice much difference between batches pulled a bit before four hours and those at the other end of the spectrum. Jerry felt that the early yogurt was milder, however.
This yogurt lasted just fine for a day after incubation without refrigeration. Our cruising ground is almost always cool, however. We don't know how well it would last without refrigeration in the tropics.
I should mention that all the fuss over thermometers and incubation times may be overrated. More moons ago than I can count I was a student at the University of Hamburg (Germany) on a junior-year exchange program. I lived in a dorm for foreign students. A couple of Czechoslovakian students there taught me to make yogurt their way. It's been a long time, but as I recall I heated milk until bubbles just began to form at the edges of the pot. Then I added some quantity of plain yogurt. Then I wrapped the entire pot up in a couple of towels and left it alone for some unknown and unimportant number of hours. Voilà! Yogurt. I don't recall that it ever failed.
Bean sprout gardens
Bean sprouts are much easier than yogurt making. What inspired the creation of our own little sprout garden? Janet Groene had an article coming up in our November issue naming bean sprouts as one of her top 10 take-along items for cruising. I bought some in order to illustrate her article. The sprouts were available at the same health food store where we bought the yogurt starter, but it helps to phone ahead to confirm that the store has these items. It took me several calls to locate both products.
Why make bean sprouts and what to do with them? Once the delicate vegetables and fruit are gone, and the lettuce has long since spoiled or been eaten, bean sprouts make a crunchy, healthy alternative. Jerry wasn't certain that bean sprouts qualified as "real food." They might be health food masquerading as something edible, he figured. But he enjoyed eating the products of my "bean gardens" as much as I did. They are particularly good additions to ham salads, chicken salads, and tuna salads (something we eat frequently as alternatives to lunch meat, since these meats are available in cans). I found other places to throw them in as well.
How to make bean sprouts:
Use a large canning jar or peanut butter-type jar. Some soup comes in jars these days, too. I believe a glass jar is better, but I'm not sure why this might be important, so perhaps it's not. Find a way to put a fine screen or piece of nylon stocking-type material over the end. I used a ring from a canning jar lid, but a rubber band would do. Buy some beans which are meant for sprouting or making soup (therefore not treated with pesticides). I got lentils and mung beans at the health food store. Almost any kind will work (alfalfa, barley, black-eyed peas, oats, peas, pumpkins, radishes, rye, sesame, sunflowers, wheat). It's possible that the beans for soups available at the grocery would work also. I don't see why not.
Put about a quarter inch of beans in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar with water and leave them for about eight hours (overnight works well). Pour the water off. Then about twice a day fill the jar with water and pour it off as a rinse for the beans. Watch them grow to fill the jar! It's an amazing and delicious process. The sprouts are ready in about three days. They last several days once they're to that point. You don't have to consume them immediately. Just keep rinsing them.
The other yogurt references I used.
Pacific Yachting, February 2002, "Yogurt," by Noreen Rudd and David Hoar.
Cruising Coasts and Islands newsletter by Tom and Mel Neale, "Galley Up: Yogurt," by Mel Neale.
Andrew "Aussie" Bray, in information sent to us personally.
Jane Brody's Good Food Book, 1985.
Yogourmet is the brand we found in Minneapolis. It is produced by Lyo-San Inc., 500 Aeroparc, PO Box 598, Lachute, Quebec, Canada J8H 4G4. 1-800-363-3697 (in Canada) or 450-562-8525. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. It appears to be imported in the U.S. by VMC Products, <www.vmc-health.com>.
Easiyo is a brand available in Australia and New Zealand, according to Aussie Bray. It may also be available in the U.S. and Canada.
More about UHT milk
This was also our summer to try using UHT milk on our vacations. I had been told by representatives at Parmalat that the milk was available in our part of the world (Minnesota) at K-Mart and Wal-Mart stores. So a couple of weeks before taking off, I dropped by a local Wal-Mart to pick some up. No dice. Never heard of it. Couldn't order it. I made a phone call to K-Mart. They could get it in for special food-related trade shows. But they couldn't figure out why anyone would want it. They certainly couldn't special-order it for me.
I called Parmalat (800-275-4645). I learned that one person does the special orders and that she was on vacation for a week. The day she got back I called Marianne Ramandala at ext. 1387.
Time was running out. But no problem. She said to send a check, and a case of milk would be delivered in time by UPS. Great. A box did arrive in the big brown truck on our final day before departure for the boat, making our local UPS driver a hero. Unfortunately the case of milk which arrived was chocolate and not of much interest to me for use on cereal or for making yogurt.
We vacationed without it. Marianne was apologetic, however. I did not have to ship the case back to her (weight is a factor in shipping milk around). She returned the check, and our neighbor boys got to drink chocolate milk.
Moral: If you choose to sample this product on your vacation, start early. And let us know how it went. It's still an unknown with us.
At Sea in the City, New York From the Water's
Edge, by William Kornblum (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,
2002; 232 pages; $23.95.)
Review by Lon Zimmerman, Anchorage, Alaska
At Sea in the City is no grim tale of surviving the savage sea, but a quiet journey through the spaces and history of New York City's archipelago. Author Dr. William Kornblum and friends sail a very old, decrepit Crosby Catboat from Long Beach to New York Harbor. His concern is that New Yorkers have turned their backs on their waterways. Life in gleaming high-rise condominiums keeps New Yorkers "physically and emotionally" detached from the important estuaries of their city. The purpose of his voyage, was to "make the waters of my own city into my home waters." The author received the Merit Honor Award for his work on planning urban national recreational areas. He is well qualified to investigate the importance of city waterways to urban life.
At Sea in the City is somewhat like a maritime version of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. William comments on habitat, wildlife, and the impact of man as he sails the Crosby Catboat along the edge of the city.
The sociologist comments on the history of the diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups struggling to find their niche in this large group of islands. An example of this is the dune grass invading an open beachfront of Arverne. Black and Puerto Rican families were relocated to the beachfront shacks in the 1950s. These people were displaced again to preserve real estate values, leaving the beach area that remains open to this day.
The book cover is graced by the author's old Crosby Catboat with tanbark sails, making its way before the New York skyline. Each chapter begins with a quote from Walt Whitman, Thoreau, Poe, or some other worthy person who reflects on the content of that chapter.
The maps included with each chapter are ambiguous sketches. Better maps that show what is water and what is land and where the reader is in relation to the journey would improve the journey for the reader. The description of locations along the route could have been supplemented with a few photos to help the reader see what the author saw.
Though not a page turner, this is a unique look at New York from the waterfront. Anyone planning an expedition through some portion of the New York archipelago will want a copy of At Sea in the City aboard. It is an information storehouse on the sociology, ecology, and history of this area.
By the Grace of the Sea, A Woman's Solo Odyssey Around the World, by Pat Henry (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2002; 351 pages; $24.95.)
Review by Steve Mitchell, Ellicott City, Md.
Most sailors have daydreamed about sailing away to escape life's inevitable troubles . . . point the nose of your boat toward the horizon and keep going. Pat Henry didn't daydream about it, she did it -- a solo circumnavigation in her Southern Cross 31 (named Southern Cross) . . . a feat for anyone, but especially for a woman who was 48 when she began the trip in 1989.
Pat was escaping quite a bit: two failed marriages, a failed business venture (and along with that the long arm of the IRS), and a dysfunctional family. She was married at 15 and a mother at 16. Her parents divorced, creating an almost total separation from her father, who agreed never to see her again. As a child, she was shuttled between her grandparents and her mother.
This telling of her eight-year voyage is far more than just another story of high-sea adventures. It's a personal account of Pat herself: her fears, desires, needs, and motivations. The book's appeal is how well her adventure promoted her self-discovery and healed her psyche. It gave her the sense of accomplishment that had eluded her since childhood. The book chronicles Pat's growth along the way as she developed the inner strength and insight to come to terms with "the real world."
The story is even more appealing given Pat's lack of funds to support her grand adventure. She worked hard during the voyage to develop her skills as an artist, showing and selling her paintings along the way to fund the next leg of the trip. She proves how resourcefulness and a marketable skill can enable someone to make such an adventure without a pile of cash. A highlight is how the cruising community comes together in foreign lands at times of need to help each other out.
Pat knows what her voyage means to dreamers. She writes: "The fantasy of 'sailing around the world' typically cast a dreamy haze over a person's eyes when we met for the first time. 'I've always wanted to do just what you're doing.' I'd heard it a hundred times. 'I know,' was always my response. 'My job is living everyone's dream. Someone has to do it.' They'd look perplexed, and then we'd laugh."
A refreshing contrast to Tania Aebi (another female
circumnavigator) is that Pat was not new to bluewater sailing when
she set out on this adventure. She had sailed some 40,000 open
ocean miles on other people's boats before setting out on her own.
She knew what she was getting into. Hardcore sailors will get
their fix of storms at sea and of exotic ports of call, complete
with local characters. Even non-sailors will enjoy Pat's very
personal story of coping with life's bumps and fulfilling dreams.
This book will make fine winter reading for all who dream of
pointing the bow for the horizon.
After the Storm, True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea, by John Rousmaniere (New York: International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2002; 337 pages; $24.95)
Review by Jon Paulus, Parma, Ohio
BOYS DIED IN VAIN TRY TO RESCUE DAD
This headline, from the July 2, 1935 Boston Post, chills the heart. It refers to the story of the ketch, Hamrah, and the Ames family, lost at sea during an ocean voyage. John Rousmaniere tells that story and 11 others in After the Storm. If you like sea stories, you'll love these 12 tales of nautical derring-do. John writes in a spare, evocative style. He provides us with an intimate look at people wrestling with the power of wind and wave. The stories range from the Biblical storms faced by the prophet Jonah and the apostle Paul, to his own discovery of a derelict sailboat in the Atlantic.
John combines meticulous research with his own storm experience to analyze each storm, each wreck, and each death. The case of the Mary Celeste has been debated since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his wildly fictionalized account of her abandonment. John carefully presents the major theories about the derelict including stories of aliens and the Giant Rat of Sumatra. He then offers the most plausible explanation.
This is not a dry reference book. Every paragraph shows the author's heart and soul as he discusses our complex relationship with the sea. His storytelling and analysis are superb. After the Storm is ultimately about the meaning of storms and about the emotional and spiritual aftereffects of disaster at sea. If you enjoy reflecting on the big questions of life, you'll appreciate the philosophical and theological reflection at the book's heart. John has been out there in good weather and bad. His experience in the 1979 Fastnet drove him to Union Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. This book comes from a place deep within himself. He draws parallels between storms on the deep and those other storms of life. He talks about the stages of recovery from tragedy and the disorders that trauma and stress produce.
The book includes a number of heart-stopping photos. Some of the most dramatic were snapped by John himself.
If you love a good sea yarn; if you care about the people who go down to the sea in ships; if you've ever pondered over your own storms, nautical or otherwise; you will want to get your hands on a copy of After the Storm. Read it a chapter at a time. Get the feel of the characters who inhabit the story. Vicariously savor their experiences. Let your mind go. Reflect, ponder, enjoy. You'll be glad you did.
Wooden Boats, In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard,
by Michael Ruhlman (Penguin Books, 2002; 326 pages; $14.)
Reviewed by Doug Cameron, Sewanee, Tenn.
More than a century ago some people opposed the use of fountain pens in schools because the art of using a pen knife to sharpen a quill would be lost. The boating community long ago quit using manila hemp in favor of synthetic (plastic) ropes, and I can think of no one who regrets the advance in technology.
To Michael Ruhlman and the characters of his story, Wooden Boats, fiberglass boats represent a throwaway, plastic, cookie-cutter culture and everything that is wrong with modern American society. They state that fiberglass boats cannot be repaired and fall apart at sea. In contrast, wooden boats are works of art in design and construction -- a series of problems solved; they are reliable and do not fail under adverse conditions. If not unique, a wooden boat is not a precise copy of others. Whether wood or fiberglass, it seems to me that there are ugly and beautiful, seaworthy and flimsy, boats in both categories. The author is not a sailor, and his whole experience is confined to an opinionated segment of the wooden boat community.
Nevertheless, Wooden Boats is a fascinating tale about plank-on-frame wooden boats and the artists and craftsmen who build them. Reminiscent of A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time (Douglas Whynott's story of Joel White's last boat), Michael tells an engaging story of the men who design and build these craft, keeping alive a lost art. He follows the owners of Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railroad in Martha's Vineyard through the design and construction of two major plank-on-frame wooden ships: a 60-foot gaff schooner and a 32-foot motor yacht. We see how a boat is planned -- discussions with the owner, rough drawings, detailed drawings and lofting, the search for the right wood, the steaming and bending of frames, and the fairing and squaring of the boards that are screwed to the sawn frames. Everything on a Gannon and Benjamin boat (excluding the mass-produced screws and a few parts salvaged from old boats) is designed and fashioned for a specific purpose on a specific boat, including blocks, cleats, and bow chocks.
Wooden Boats is also the story of the lives of Nat Benjamin and Ross Gannon. In trying to understand wooden boats, Michael follows the paths of many of the workers in the boatshop, including the man who finds the tropical hardwoods in Surinam. This is an interesting and varied group, bound by their love of sailing and the sea and of wooden boats. It is also the tale of a community of wooden boats that surrounds G&B Marine Railway and how the shop makes this community possible. It's a fascinating tapestry and, with the exception of the bashing of fiberglass boats, this is a well woven tale, especially to those interested in beautiful sailing craft and those who love and care for them.
Tropical Cruising Handbook, by Mark Smaalders and Kim des Rochers, (International Marine, 2002; 376 pages; $34.95.)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
One sailors' lament might very well be "so many sailing books, so little time." If time for reading them is not the issue, then space for storing them (particularly if you are cruising) will be. Mark Smaalders and Kim des Rochers offer assistance if you're heading toward tropical waters. Their book, Tropical Cruising Handbook, condenses much of the information you'll need into one compact source with some terrific references you'll want to look into before you go. I read this book -- meant for those cruising between latitudes 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator -- while vacationing at 48 degrees north. Even so, I found much of interest.
I was specifically interested in Mark and Kim's information about necessary customs and immigration permits and procedures and their list of resources which should be valuable to anyone planning a voyage. This is information which does not seem to be otherwise available in one neat package. This section also includes what you will want to know about immunizations and protecting yourself from tropical illnesses, infections, and poisonings which tropical fish, reptiles, and plants (sharks, alligators, and jelly fish, for example) can inflict. Like so many thrillers, you probably shouldn't read this section just before going to bed. There is also a section on the cultural exchange which occurs when North American sailors visit tropical communities in the Pacific and Atlantic.
Perhaps the best part for anyone considering a lengthy cruise is the comprehensive review of popular tropical cruising destinations including currents, geography, weather, culture, formalities, and health and safety issues. Areas reviewed in this fashion (with helpful planning charts for reference) include the West Indies, Central America, the Caribbean areas of South America, the South Atlantic, The North and South Pacific, the North and South Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The ever-popular Mediterranean is not included because it is not within the tropical latitudes of 23.5 degrees north and south.
The book provides a nice primer on tropical ecosystems (coral reefs and mangrove forests) and weather patterns along with storm tactics for heavy weather. It discusses navigation and anchoring strategies with a specific focus on coral reefs - perils for you and protection for them. There are basic discussions of sails, sailing strategies, route planning, passagemaking, and "green cruising." Another chapter sums up methods for providing ventilation, shade, and drinking water while also reviewing provisioning, laundry, and dealing with tropical pests such as roaches and mosquitoes. Mark and Kim also offer an extensive discussion of metal corrosion and a brief review of boat and engine maintenance and necessary spares.
It's cold up north where we sail, and we won't be going south anytime soon. If we were heading south, however, Tropical Cruising Handbook is one reference I'd study before leaving and take along with me when the docklines were finally untied.
Ready for Sea, How to Outfit the Modern Cruising Sailboat and Prepare Your Vessel and Yourself for Extended Passagemaking and Living Aboard, by Tor Pinney (Sheridan House, 2002; 240 pages; $23.95.)
Review by Giles Morris, Arlington, Va.
The highest compliment you can pay to some people is to say that they've never held down a job. For anybody with the goal of long-term cruising, the first question might be how to achieve that goal. That's not to say that Tor Pinney doesn't work. His brief autobiography in the introduction to this book is a description of a life of ease that sounds like very hard work. If you were wondering how you might prepare a boat for cruising, a good first step would be to ask questions of somebody who has done it. Tor Pinney has done it, and this book was written to answer those first questions. His credentials are impressive, and he presents his subject well.
Ready For Sea is rich in specialized information, and the subtitle describes it fully and accurately: how to outfit the modern cruising sailboat and prepare your vessel and yourself for extended passagemaking and living aboard. In the wrong hands, though, this book could be dangerous: if cruising is something you feel drawn to but believe it's something only "special people" can do, then you should be aware that Captain Pinney has the gift of making it seem achievable. You might well be left with thoughts along the lines of "I could do that." This is not to imply that he trivializes the issues involved or encourages inadequate preparation, but behind all the preparations he never loses sight of his own rules, his "tenets," and Tenet #1 is to have fun. That rule is summarized by his answer when someone suggests that he's going to do some really serious sailing: "No, I'm not. I'm talking about doing some really fun sailing. Serious is what I hope to leave behind."
This isn't intended to be a how-to book. If you want detailed instructions on all of the things that need to be done, you should look elsewhere. What you will find here is a description of what you should do, rather than how you should do it. Although it's clearly aimed at a specialized audience, any sailboat owner will find some ideas here, if only the idea that it's time to check your standing rigging ("Being dismasted is no fun, especially offshore. And that contradicts Tenet #1"). Tor shares my prejudices, but it seems to me that he believes in balance, with neither a hairshirt following of Joshua Slocum nor a belief in the need for every modern convenience. You will find a chapter on an Integrated Energy System, but also the suggestion that you don't really need one.
If you're planning on cruising, or dreaming of it, then this book should certainly be on your reading list.
A Year in Paradise: How We Lived Our Dream, by Stephen Wright Watterson (Eagle Cliff Press, 2001; 172 pages; $14.95.)
Review by Jerry Richter, Reading, Pa.
In Volume 6 of C.S. Forester's Hornblower saga, the hero cuts out a captured British cutter, the Witch of Endor, in Nantes harbor to complete his escape from the bowels of Napoleonic France down the Loire River to the welcoming arms of the blockading British fleet. In this book, Watterson recounts his and his wife Margaret's similar escape from the inland waters of Ohio to the sea (Florida Keys) on their own, ironically French-made Witch of Endor, a Beneteau 30.
While the Pardeys and Palleys write wonderful books about their full-time cruising lives, there are few sailors who can hope to emulate them. For many of us, the eastern shore of the Atlantic beckons, but the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake is reachable. Stephen is writing for us.
This book describes a trip from Lake Erie, through the Erie Canal, down the Hudson River, day-hopping down the Jersey coast, and the Intracoastal Waterway to Key West and back. The author and his wife are in their 60s and have owned sailboats for about 10 years. They are clear about their modest cruising goals, stating several times that they are not overnight sailors. As a result, the trip is described in the form of relatively easy daysails from point-to-point. Also refreshing is the frequent acknowledgment of the place of nervousness, or downright fear, in the life of the amateur cruiser even in such seemingly mundane activities as entering a strange marina. Stephen's careful explanations of such things as, "A boat changes direction by swinging the stern from one side to the other while moving ahead," and "Yanmar is a maker of sailboat diesel engines," show that the non-sailor, or absolute novice, is also part of his intended audience.
The day-trip pace and the number of stops makes this book an excellent companion to the traditional cruising guides for the various areas covered. Especially in terms of such long-term stops as Boot Key, the author paints a good picture of the social and cultural environment that evolves in a cruising anchorage. However, much of the book is derived from the couple's family newsletters. Readers who are not enamored of this writing style may find parts of the book tough going. The chronological and linear, rather than thematic, structure seemed to me to result in a choppy, at times turgid, narrative flow.
On the whole, this is a good book for a sailor's collection. It provides a realistic view of the coastal cruising experience fitted into the constraints of real life and a good description of various legs of the trip. I found the Erie Canal description to be especially interesting as I was preparing for the same trip. On the other hand, I would not pull this down from the shelf if I were looking for a good sailing yarn to wile away a cold winter night.
The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow, by A. J. ("Sandy") Mackinnon (Sheridan House, 2002; 356 pages; $19.95.)
Review by John Vigor, Bellingham, Wash.
When Sandy Mackinnon set out on a vacation trip down the River Severn, in England, he wasn't planning to be away more than two weeks. His boat, after all, was a 10-foot 10-inch Mirror Class dinghy that he could only sail or row. But somehow, as he says, things got out of hand, and "almost by accident" he found himself 3,000 miles away in Romania a year later, and still rowing. This book is about the adventures he had along the way.
Thirty-four-year-old Sandy, an Australian teacher of English and drama, somehow managed to sleep on the Mirror beneath a boom tent when he couldn't find a handy bed-and-breakfast place at night.
Sailing folk will cringe at the cavalier way he treated his boat, which he named Jack de Crow, and his inability to make repairs after the inevitable accidents. But when Sandy put yet another hole in the bottom, someone would magically appear with a workshop full of tools and marine plywood and fix the problem for him for nothing.
His sailing and navigation skills were rudimentary, which got him into a lot of scrapes, including getting lost on a solo crossing of the English Channel, but what he lacked in experience he made up for in guts and determination as he made his way at a snail's pace through 12 countries, passing through 282 locks on the way.
Sandy frequently exaggerates to bolster up the funny bits. Given some of the truly strange things that happened to him, it shouldn't have been necessary to exaggerate in parts and thereby cast doubts on the veracity of the whole. It was O. W. Holmes who said: "I never dare to write as funny as I can." That's a lesson Sandy has yet to learn.
Week after week, while he dragged, pushed, sailed, and rowed Jack de Crow across Western Europe, over the Alps and down the mighty Danube to the Black Sea, Sandy made friends with a fascinating variety of locals. His encounters with them make for rich entertainment.
Yet this book still comes across as curiously one-dimensional. For instance, Sandy makes no reference to the Vikings, who made that grueling trip regularly with their trading boats a thousand years before him, hauling the craft over river shallows and solid land on rollers as they made their way to the Black Sea. Neither does he mention the intrepid American journalist Negley Farson, who sailed the 26-foot yawl Flame across Europe from the North Sea to the Black Sea in 1924.
Nevertheless, there's still plenty of well-written substance here, plenty of vicarious thrills for anyone who wants to experience a hair-raising European rowboat trip without the bother of leaving the couch.
Used Boat Notebook, by John Kretschmer (Sheridan House, 2002; 240 pages; $29.95.)
Review by Karen Larson, Minneapolis, Minn.
John Kretschmer has just published a new book of interest to good old boaters, Used Boat Notebook, offering 40 reviews of good old boats which have been published in Sailing magazine over the past six years and reviews of 10 more which he considers to be great bluewater cruisers.
John begins the list of 40 with a 23-footer, moves through many of our favorite 27- to 30-footers, and winds up with the Whitby 42. His list of 10 great used boats to sail around the world goes as small as the Camper Nicholson 35 and as large as the Gulfstar 50. The list of 10 bluewater cruisers averages more than 41 feet. Clearly there is some bias here.
John states: "The choices for the 10 Best reflect the changing nature of cruising. Boats are getting bigger. Recent surveys show that the average bluewater cruiser is more than 40 feet long. It is easy to conjure up the dream to sail around the world, and rather straightforward to put together a plan to accumulate the funds for the voyage. Choosing the right boat to head off into the blue unknown, however, can be most confusing. The task is easier if you have 20 years of hard-won experience and an unlimited budget. While this book won't offer investment advice to enhance your budget, it can hasten your exodus if you are willing to consider an affordable boat instead of waiting for that perfect, yet more expensive, boat."
In discussing the selection criteria, John notes that he's talking about fiberglass cruising sailboats and states, "Most sell for less than $100,000 and some even sell for less than $10,000. Naturally some of the boats larger than 40 feet and some of the higher-quality boats sell for more. The bulk of the reviews, however, examine boats in the 30- to 40-foot range, with prices falling from $30,000 to $70,000."
Since it's unreasonable to review a book of reviews, I'll instead list the boats covered. If you're interested in seeing John's review of one or several of these, this is a book for you. His sections in each review called "Things to look for," discussing possible problem areas, will be particularly valuable.
20- to 29-footers
O'Day 23, Stone Horse, Cal 25, MacGregor 25/26, Contessa 26, Tartan 27, Pearson Triton, Sabre 28, and S2 9.2.
30- to 34-footers
Catalina 30, Olson 30, Cape Dory 30, Nonsuch 30, Pearson 30, Gemini 3000, Island Packet 31, Allied Seawind II, Westsail 32, Ranger 33, Irwin Citation 34, and Beneteau First 345.
35- to 39-footers
Niagara 35, J/35, Bristol 35, Ericson 35-II, Islander 36, Columbia 36, Tartan 37, Tayana 37, Endeavour 37, Swan 38, Baltic 38 DP, Morgan 382, and C&C 39.
40- to 42-footers
Valiant 40, Cal 40, Hunter 40, Bermuda 40, Morgan Out Island 41, and Whitby 42.
10 great used boats to sail around the world
Camper Nicholson 35, Alberg 37, Shannon 38, Fast Passage 39, Beneteau First 38, Tayana 42, Mason 43, Peterson 44, Stevans-Hylas 47, and Gulfstar 50.
Good Old Boat of the Year (with a twist)
It had to happen. Everyone else is doing it. We didn't want to be left out. How come Good Old Boat can't have a Boat of the Year Award, we wondered? In our January issue we will. But instead of reviewing the usual offering of indecently expensive boats, we're planning a lighthearted spoof . . . tastefully blended (we hope) with some serious discussions about the 12 feature and review boats that appear in our pages in 2002. In fact, OUR boat of the year is for the year 2002. Nevermind that it will appear in 2003! That's part of our "retro style"!
If you like a little humor with your sailing, you won't want to miss this lighthearted romp through some otherwise sacred sailing magazine territory.
You knew someone would do it.
While we're at it, we'll include the results of a serious opinion poll taken on the Sailboatowners.com website http://www.sailboatowners.com allowing visitors to vote for their favorite boats in these categories: trailersailer, coastal cruiser, and bluewater cruiser. You're invited to vote there, so go ahead. The polls are open and will stay that way for about a month. Look for the results in our January issue.
No bugs in Kentucky
Bugs? What bugs? I suspect that evolution dooms most flying insects to sea level air. They don't have the wingspan to fly at 600 feet above sea level.
Surely you jest, Peter. The area causing the editor's complaints is 600 feet above sea level. The bugs get to Lake Superior just fine, thanks, where they cope and manage to multiply with the greatest of ease.
Others are plagued
As I was growing up, my family would take a two-week cruise every summer on Chesapeake Bay, in the company of a couple dozen like-minded families. Starting from Annapolis, the fleet would head north one year and south the next. We kids loved the northern trips, because we'd get to the Sassafrass River where the water salinity was so low there never were any stinging nettles that can make August swimming in the Bay so painful.
We dreaded the trips south, however, especially when headed to the Eastern Shore. The surrounding marshlands produced visible squadrons of mosquitoes, legendary for their size and appetite. Only the liberal application of petrochemical repellents, the burning of citronella candles, and the aid of a small gale would make it possible to stay in the cockpit after sunset. I loved to sleep on deck, and as long as there was a good breeze in the anchorage, I'd be okay. But if the wind died in the wee hours, I'd spend the rest of the night sweltering as I huddled under my blanket, trying to avoid attack while the sounds of buzzing tuning-forks surrounded me.
One such night in Tangier Sound -- with the buzzing sounding like a chainsaw convention -- I heard two "thumps," and the stern of the boat dropped perceptibly. I was amazed to hear two mosquitoes talking as they perched on the rail.
"I bet there's a tasty lump under that blanket there!" said one.
"I think you're right," replied the companion. "Do you want to drain him here, or take him back to the marsh?"
"Oh, no!" came the quick reply. "If we take him back to the marsh, the big mosquitoes will steal him from us!"
Alfred "About a quart low" Poor
Trouble in North Carolina
Here in Eastern North Carolina, where summertime temperatures can reach the high 90s, we have mosquitoes, deer flies, yellow flies, gnats, no-see-ums, and ordinary biting house flies. We also have horseflies, black and yellow, which can reach 1 1/2 inches in length. They tend to come singly and make such an impact on landing that they are not much problem. Our solution, in addition to screens in all hatches and ports, is a foot rectangle of mosquito netting (corners rounded) with heavy brass bathtub chain sewed into the hem, which we spread over our Bimini. It completely covers the cockpit and hangs to the deck all around. It turns our Bimini into a screened porch. In a marina it also gives us a bit of privacy without being impolite.
Not all are plagued
Sailing with black flies, no-see-ums, mosquitoes!? You mean people actually do that? None here in the British Columbia Gulf Islands where we have been gunkholing our Freedom 32 (self-tailing -- no string pulling!) for a decade or so.
At certain times wasps join the party, but everybody knows how to fake 'em out with a crumpled paper bag hung in the companionway. No problem.
The only pests we have around here are fast powerboats that disturb the peace, quiet, and tranquillity . . . and spill the martinis.
Black flies, no-see-ums, mosquitoes? Next you'll be telling us you stop boating after Labor Day east of British Columbia?
So that's the West Coast appeal
I sail in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and we have no bugs at all -- no flies, mosquitoes, or no-see-ums. We don't need screens or air conditioners, but it doesn't hurt to ALWAYS have foulies ready. It's a tradeoff. No warm water and chilly air but no bugs (not even a roach).
For those who are battling the bugs, we have discovered head-to-toe netting. It's the only thing that saves Jerry's sanity. Called the Bug Baffler, it's a net shirt with a hood (which zips closed) and matching net pants. The Bug Baffler folks can be reached at 800-662-8411 or http://www.bugbaffler.com.
A good guide
This is probably already on your book list, but I highly recommend Richard Sherwood's A Field Guide to Sailboats for those wanting to see what kind of boats are out there (a good smattering of boats from 6 feet to 40 feet). The introduction is especially valuable because it goes over the terminology of various hull, stern, rudder, and rigging configurations and discusses the inherent advantages/disadvantages of each. This section of this book was the definitive chapter on helping me to learn about the sailboat hull. It proved invaluable in learning the basics and the true meanings of said terms before being subjected to the many loose interpretations circulating in the sailing community (for example, "topsides"). I wasn't studying to be a sailing "snob," but just as with any language, one should be as proficient and precise as possible to avoid confusion, right?
Another source for sailboats
We've recently learned that the Mauch's guides are available again. The last we'd heard one of the three-volume set was out of print and no one was in the business of printing, shipping, and updating them anymore. Happily, Craig Richards has brought them back. He writes:
I am actively selling the three volumes, and I am currently in the process of building an Internet version of Mauch's that will include brochures and other literature I have on individual boats. It will be called The Sailboat Guide (of which the URL is, logically, <http://www.thesailboatguide.com> or call 888-724-5672.
I am an avid boater. I enjoy boats of all sizes, shapes, and propulsion. As I look to retirement, I plan to focus most of my energies on the Guide and investing in real estate in the Abacos. Life just keeps getting more interesting and fun!
Thanks for the VHF
I was going through some papers and came across a reminder to email you. I wanted to thank you for hooking me up with Henry Bakewell of Old Saybrook, Conn. Henry sent me a beautiful VHF radio for my boat. Your "Radios Looking for a Good Home" project was a success. Maybe you could do it again next year.
Stan, we would if people had some free used stuff they'd like for us to mention in the newsletter. This began when one reader had two older model VHF radios at home collecting dust. We had one also and found a home for it, while we were at it. In all, I think we found homes for four or five radios. It was fun to do it. Thanks for bringing that up again. Who knows what will happen this time?
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
Gear for Sale
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
These were very out of date. We removed them to protect the innocent from search engine robots.
- Fred Street's favorite sailing quotes :
- "When I started sailing, I thought I only had to learn about my boat, so it would take me safely across the sea. But as I sailed, I realized I had to know the sea herself. My boat was a walnut shell in the hand of the sea, and I was even less.
- I learned to love the sea -- but no, that doesn't say it. Before I sailed I thought I was afraid of death. Then I learned something, somewhere among the islands -- I had actually been afraid of injustice, of being cheated out of life, say, by someone who couldn't point his car very well.
- On the sea I kept my boat in order and wore my safety harness -- so if I was swept away, it was the sea, the sea did it. As a result, as the days went by and I faced the risks of sailing, I cared less about death. I only had to avoid outright stupidity -- if the sea took me in spite of that, I was hers.
- Then, one day as I watched the waves, I realized I had surrendered to the sea -- in exchange for my knowing her, she could take me if she wished. I could have stayed on shore, but that would have been merely waiting for death. I had to sail.
- Before that day, I believed I could outwit nature, plea-bargain my way out of mortality. But I knew there was something I wasn't getting -- I could see it in the eyes of animals. When I looked into their eyes I realized they knew about death, but they didn't believe they could give it directions. I saw a resignation and a fondness for experience that I thought proved how stupid they were.
- I no longer believe I can save life up -- it has to be spent to have any value. And that in order to live, to have adventure, you have to be willing to die. The sea taught me this, and turned me inside out -- among her swells and islands I became an animal, an inhabitant of nature. You can see it in my eyes."
-- Sterling Hayden
- This sort of sea life is charged with an indestructible charm. There is no weariness, no fatigue, no worry, no responsibility, no work, no depression of spirits. There is nothing like this serenity, this comfort, this peace, this deep contentment, to be found anywhere on land. If I had my way I would sail on for ever and never go to live on the solid ground again.
-- Mark Twain, from "Following The Equator"
- "There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
-- John Ruskin
- It is always fair sailing when you escape evil.
-- Sophocles (497-406/5 B.C.)
- "The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea."
-- Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
- "For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea."
-- E. E. Cummings