|NEWSLETTER -- October 2005|
Altered state of mind
These days I guess you’d call it a frame of reference issue. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the expression du jour was “paradigm shift.” And before that it was an “altered state of mind.”
I’m sitting in the cockpit at 0100 on an inky night as the sparkling hillside town of Duluth, Minnesota, grows small in Mystic’s wake. We untied the docklines at 2000 for our great three-week sailing adventure to a brand-new (for us anyway) Great Lake. That’s when it happened. A woman down the dock, a powerboater whose main weekend activity is sitting in a deck chair near her boat (cost of fuel these days, I guess?) said in utter bafflement, “Are you leaving now?” We assured her that we were, indeed, setting out on our 400-mile trip to the far side of Lake Superior and beyond. The weather was right. The food was stowed. Why wait?
“But,” she said with absolute sincerity, “Where will you dock tonight?”
It took me a moment to understand her meaning. There was that old frame of reference issue at work again. “Dock tonight?” I said. “We won’t dock. We’ll just keep on going.”
“So,” she speculated. “You’ll anchor somewhere?”
I finally realized that to this boater the very ordinary trip we were about to take was extraordinary. She couldn’t conceive of standing watches and probably didn’t have the equipment aboard to enable her boat to navigate in the dark. We do, and we can’t imagine boating any other way. Since sailboats go so slowly, they’re bound to travel at night if they’re ever going to get anywhere. Crossing a Great Lake is much like crossing an ocean except that the shores are nearer and the water is fresher.
But the concept was a revelation to this woman. She learned that day that sailors go off for days on end and never stop at a dock or anchor until they reach their ultimate destination. I learned, or was reminded anyway, that there are many non-sailors who are unaware of that idea and find even a short passage of several days to be an amazing feat. Extraordinary? I don’t think so. But to those for whom the idea is novel, perhaps it is. Perhaps we sailors are extraordinary after all.
Audio book debut
It was Jerry’s idea. Just when we think we’ve got all the balls in the air and the dishes spinning (as they apply to this little publishing business of ours), he goes out sailing and comes back with another big idea! Then we all scramble around to spin a couple more plates and juggle a few more balls.
So, at Jerry’s behest, by Thanksgiving time Good Old Boat will introduce the first of a series of classic nautical audio books that can be listened to as MP3 files. For those of you who are new to the term MP3 (as we are), this technology is being applied to the books-on-tape concept. Your editors love listening to stories as we drive to our boat, and even sometimes when we’re aboard in the evenings before bed. Many books have been available on audio tapes for years. Then, as you may remember, more books came out on CDs. But a file format called MP3 compresses music and voice recordings to something much smaller than ever before. This allows for more content on a disk and makes it possible to easily download what used to be mega files. If you’ve heard about the iPod craze that Apple Computer ignited, this is what it’s all about: quick and inexpensive downloadable music for the younger set. And the sound is good. They wouldn’t go there if it weren’t. Now that Apple has led the way, there are other players out there these days, which should be available to anyone, and fairly reasonably in terms of the hardware necessary to play the stories. The iPod, for example, is around $100, and the downloads are much cheaper than books on tape or music CDs (which then justifies the initial expense of the player).
Where we’re going with all this is downloadable nautical classics. For those who don’t like to (or can’t) download files, we’ll make our books available on CDs that can be delivered in the mail. We’re starting our good old collection at the beginning, naturally, with Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World. There will be commentary on this recording by your illustrious (industrious?) editors. In addition, John Vigor will talk about the impact of Joshua’s circumnavigation, and Ted Brewer will do a discourse about Joshua Slocum’s boat, the Spray. We’re going to keep these recordings simple and fun. Our webmaster, Jerry Stearns, will do the majority of the recordings. This first offering should be ready just after Thanksgiving from our site. We’ll have more about the whole concept in the next newsletter. There will be a webpage at http://www.audioseastories.com/ which will make it possible to pay a small amount to download the book, or you can call us at 763-420-8923 to order a CD.
Do you drive for miles in order to sail?
Tom Albright noticed (how could he miss it, actually) my grumbling about having our boat so far from home. We were driving 250 miles each way from Minneapolis to Bayfield, Wisconsin. That wasn’t enough for me. Of course not! That was a five-hour drive. Now our boat is 12 to 15 hours away in Blind River, Ontario! (Oh, excuse me . . . there I go again.)
Well, Tom picked up on that since he drives 250 miles to his boat. He says, “I’ll bet there are lots of us who struggle with issues of time and distance. For example, we can’t walk down to the boat each afternoon to empty a dehumidifier container, or slip out when the weather is nice to add another coat of varnish. In hurricane season, I must assume there will be a storm before I return, and leave her fully prepared.”
There are many who have a summer and a winter boat in two different locations. At least one of those must be a goodly distance from home. And there are many more who dwell in the interior but who sail on the East or West Coast edges or the Great Lakes of this big country (and the same goes for Canadians). So Tom wonders what complexities others face by living too far for a “quick trip” to the boat. Let us know what your problems are and what your solutions have been (if you’ve found solutions, that is), and we’ll pass that information along in future newsletters. For my part, I’ll try to restrain my grumbling.
Some Katrina relief
Hurrican Katrina was the biggest and baddest of them all, as of this writing. Those of us who are above the hurricane belt cannot begin to grasp the fury of these storms and the devastation that follows. If you have experienced damage as a result of the hurricane, we would like to express our sympathy in the best way we know how: by extending your subscription for a year. Contact Mark Busta, or call us at 763-420-8923 to have your subscription extended. It's our way of expressing our concern. We care about you.
What's coming in November
For the love of sailboats
• Cape Dory 25
• Tartan 30
• Seaward 22
• Nicholcon 31 refit (Part 2)
• Nautical compass 101
• Philosophy from Dave Martin
• Repairing a fiberglass hole
• Tilikum, Captain Voss, and sea anchors
• Reading weather maps
• Building a big bed in a boat
• Marine corrosion (Part 2)
• Boat details you should know
Just for fun
• Murray Davis profile (founder of Cruising World)
• Torresen Marine profile
• Photo spread of boats and their reflections
• Magical midwatch
• Let's go buy a boat
• Reflections: Mooring for life
• Quick and easy: Have your engine controls at hand
• Simple solutions: Bow-sculling; Gaining access to the engine
In the news
And you can sail it!
The newest Chesapeake Light Craft build-it-yourself boat is a beauty. It stows, rows, tows, and it has a sailplan! Called the Passagemaker Dinghy, this stitch-and-glue boat kit was created as a lightweight and tender which can be taken apart to make storage on deck possible. Here’s a way to toil away the winter messing about in boats and have a new and practical dinghy when the spring comes. For more, visit the Chesapeake Light Craft website at http://www.clcboats.com or call for information: 410-267-1037.
A sailing search engine
You don’t have to “google” everything, particularly if what you’re looking for has to do with sailing and sailboats. Try http://www.sail-search.com for a new look at our favorite niche. Alan Straton is the genius behind this search engine. Tell him we sent you.
Ask the experts
BoatU.S. is developing a new service called Ask the Experts on their webpage at http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/. This page will grow as more experienced boaters join the panel of experts. Keep an eye on this page as it expands in the year ahead.
Birds Off Boats
We just learned about a company which proposes to keep pesky birds off boats with a variety of interesting inventions (interventions?), all of which are easy to install and most of which can be removed quickly when you want to use your boat. These folks are going after this problem in a big way! Their products address specific roosting areas, such as railings, radar towers, booms, masts, decks, and swim platforms. To have a look at what they’re up to (and to see if any of their ideas could work for you), visit their site at
http://www.birdsoffboats.com or call 310-527-8000.
New Boaters Community website
The website http://www.boatersbasement.com has auctions, forums, education links and a store front.
United States Sailboat Show will be held in Annapolis, MD, October 7-10, 2005. This show is the nation's oldest and largest sailboat show. http://www.usboat.com or call 410-267-6711.
Atlantic Sail Traders is having a 20th Anniversary Party on Saturday, October 29, at their loft, 1818 Mango Ave., Sarasota, FL. There will be free drinks and eats and live entertainment from 5-9pm. Call 941-351-6023 for more information.
Weather Workshops, sponsored by Seven Seas Cruising Association, will hold a two-day Marine Weather Forecasting Workshop in Annapolis, MD, on October 10 & 11 and again, on November 15-16 in Vero Beach, FL. For details call 954-771-5660, or to get the registration form go to http://ssca.org.
Strictly Sail — St. Petersburg
is November 3-6 at the Vinoy Park and Basin. Call 800-817-7245 or http://strictlysail.com.
Bear Class sailboats
What has happened to the Bear Class sailboats? They were popular in San Francisco Bay from before the 1940s through the ’50s and beyond. They are sloop-rigged, about 25 feet long, wood-planked hulls. They usually used outboards as auxiliary power. My father built one in our basement in San Francisco in 1942-’43. His was Bear #25, and there were quite a few more built that entered the races thereafter. He sold the Bear and bought a Hurricane Class sloop in the ’50s. I’m curious to know if the boat he built still exists. I’m 74 years of age, and the boat would be about 62 years old.
Norwegian beauty (12.5 kvm)
We are a sailing club in Norway that sails a boat that is called 12.5 kvm (the name reflects the size of the sails). All these boats were built from 1930 up to 1960. Just 124 were built. Today we know the whereabouts of 80 of these boats. In our register there is one boat called C 89 (the building number) that was shipped to the U.S. We would like to locate it again.
Wilbur E. Dow, of New York, brought the boat to the U.S. in 1952. Here’s what we know about this boat:
Båt Nummer: C 89
Båt Navn(boat name): Lillegutt II
Eier (owner): Wilbur E. Dow
Sted: New York USA
Byggeår/sted: 1949/Holmen verft. Oslo
Material: Oregon Pine
History: 1949/1952=Lillegutt II, Per Klem, Viul.
1952/????: Wilbur E. Dow, New York, USA.
Thanks for any help in locating this missing member of our fleet! If you’d like to visit, http://www.125kvm.no/ is our website.
cell: +47 95255501
Company address: InterGas as, Furumoveien 10, 4950 Risør, Norway; phone: +47 37155530, fax: +47 37155124.
Cape Cod 30 (Blue Chip)
I own a Cape Cod 30, also referred to as a Blue Chip. The previous owner described her as being a Herreshoff design. I like the way she handles and there is a web site for Cape Cod Ship Building Company. Other than that, I know very little about her. If anyone has any information about the design or boat, please get in touch.
American Eagle 17
I’ve just come into a 17-foot full-keel sailboat that is titled as being built by American. She does look like a miniature 12-Meter America’s Cup boat, but she’s not what I call a Mini-12, a one person, sit-in boat with rudder pedals. This boat has a real cockpit with a sit-on sole for maybe two, perhaps three, friends. A rounded reverse transom, and a full winged keel about finish it out. Anyone know anything about the boat?
Who needs this Chris-Craft rudder?
I dug a brass Chris-Craft rudder out of a mud bank at a dried-up lake here in Michigan years ago. The rudder is about 14 inches by 6 inches and has the name Chris-Craft molded on it with the part number 6793.
I’m looking for someone who needs this rudder. I can’t sail anymore but still love the magazine.
256 W. Beverly
Pontiac, MI 48340
I’m looking for an owners’ association or others who are familiar with the Challenger 7.4 (24 feet) built in Canada in the early ‘70s. I’m restoring one and am desperate to find anything about it on the ‘Net. If anyone has or ever had a Challenger, please contact me.
Rawdon, QC J0K I30
Apache Boat Works boats
My dad, Ed Grube, had a small boat shop in San Diego, California, back in the 1960s, called the Apache Boat Works, where he built fiberglass Naples, Sabots, and Penguins and sold them all over Southern California, mainly in San Diego and the Newport Beach/Balboa Island area. Dennis Connor sailed one of my dad’s sabots when he was a kid. All of his boats had a small circle with an Apache Indian in the center wearing a headband with a single feather.
I’m trying to find out, first of all, if you’ve heard anything about any of my dad’s boats, or if you happen to know if any of them still exist. If nothing else, it would be great to locate someone who has a picture of one of his boats.
Dad did a great deal to further the love and sport of sailing here in San Diego. He was always loaning Sabots for regattas and offering to do whatever he could to help make local sailboat races fun and exciting. Later, he went to work for Bill Schock in Newport Beach where he helped develop tooling and other design elements for boats like the Lido 14 and the Schock 22.
If you have any suggestions as to how I can best search for photos or information on my dad’s boats, I’d really appreciate it.
10054 Paseo Montril #1006
San Diego, CA 92129
How well does Ultimate Sole work?
I finally have removed about 30 years of teak oil from my cabin sole using ZEP citrus degreaser from Home Depot. That worked pretty well. My sole is 1-inch-thick solid teak tongue-and-groove boards. The middle third of the sole consists of two removable hatches. One third on either side of this removable area is solidly screwed down to athwartship sole floors. My question is: how should I refinish the sole? If your vote is teak oil, could you please let me know of your experience, including brand name, and if the oil darkened or changed the color of the teak? Has anyone used Ultimate Sole? Would you expect any problems with the wood cupping or warping if the Ultimate Sole were applied only to the top surfaces of the non-removable sections? Thank you very much for your advice/response. I haven’t heard any bad things about Ultimate Sole from anyone who has tried it. My biggest concern is whether I have cleaned my sole enough of all the years of oxidized teak oil so that the Ultimate Sole will stick and will look good.
Do you have anything on a Portager 22? Supposedly, it was built by Sun Chaser in the mid-1970s. According to my information, though, Sun Chaser was building only powerboats (runabouts, bass boats, etc.). This may very well be a “splash boat” copied from the Venture 22, produced for maybe a couple of years or so. I think I recall that happening to the Venture 21s and 22s with a couple of builders . . . several lawsuits, etc. Anything you have would be useful.
Cleaning foulweather gear
I have tried OxiClean on several occasions and found one advertising claim that is certainly true. Since I’ve found it to be harmless to grease, grass stains, and food stains — heck, it’s even harmless to dirt — it must be harmless to the environment. Having said all that I did find the product useful for one thing. A few weeks ago, I was taking out the trash and found that one bag was heavier than the other. I took the unused portion of my box of OxiClean and added it to the lighter of the two bags. It balanced out the load perfectly.
A little aside: although it doesn’t clean anything but surface dirt, I have found ArmorAll — the stuff you use on vinyl car dashboards — to be good for keeping foulweather gear supple. It also helps keep it from sticking to itself when stored for long (winter) periods of time.
Cleaning other boat stuff
Just read your note of woe about cleaning wetgear (in the August 2005 newsletter). Try a cleaner called Awesome. I kid you not, that is the name. It’s available at Dollar Tree and 99cent Only stores. I picked up a reference to it on a newsgroup and tried it myself. It cleans vinyl wonderfully (see my before and after photos following a try using the usual cleaners).
I’ve since used it at home on a number of jobs, and it does what no other cleaner has been able to do. They have different “flavors,” but I used the concentrate. Give it a try.
A creative sale of a sailboat
Being an original subscriber (I still have every single issue of Good Old Boat) and a sometimes contributor, I could not just let my subscription lapse without a word to you. Our lives are changing rapidly. In response to a survey question awhile ago, I told you that we had a good old boat, All Ways, our restored Pearson Triton and a good new boat, Always & All Ways, our brand new Fountaine Pajot Belize 43 (two hulls, two names). Our five-year plan to sell everything and live aboard Always & All Ways is progressing.
As a result of all the changes, little All Ways has spent way too much time at the dock and not enough time sailing. Where we used to take a week or two cruise on her about the Narragansett Bay/Cape Cod region, we now fly to Belize to sail big Always & All Ways. The result was that we found we were spending over $4,000/year maintaining a boat we used only three to four weekends. That, obviously, doesn’t work, so with heavy hearts we decided to sell little All Ways. We figured $12,000 was a fair price considering all the work we had done on her. (She was surveyed at $15,000 in 2001 after her first season back in the water.)
As we were making our For Sale signs, an idea hit me: Don’t sell her, give her away — but with “strings” attached. Do the math. If we kept All Ways for three more years (the time we have left before leaving on our great adventure), we would spend $12,000 in fees, sell her for $12,000 (hopefully) and end up at net zero. If, instead, we gave her to someone with the “string” that she needed to stay in Narragansett Bay for three years, and we got to use her for three or four weekends each year, the outcome would be the same, except that we would be able to choose All Ways’ new owner more carefully.
We posted an ad on our website and sent an email describing the offer to the Triton newslist. We immediately got enthusiastic replies from folks who would be good custodians for All Ways. One response took me completely by surprise, however. Our very good friends, Ray and Nadia MacStay, asked if they could buy All Ways. They love good old boats and own a Bristol 26 but were looking to move up. They had been looking at 30- to 32-foot boats and knew All Ways well. They decided she would suit them just right. Ray had spent endless hours helping me restore All Ways — both in the actual labor (bending that toerail into place was no mean feat for two people, nor was removing and reinstalling the Atomic 4 engine!) and also in the “noodling process” over a brew or two. We are delighted to report that Ray and Nadia have bought All Ways with a shiny 1921 silver dollar which will be framed and kept with our other memorabilia.
So that brings us to “good-bye.” We are moving from a good old boat to a good new boat and focusing our energies on preparations for long-term cruising. With all the other pressures in our lives, I find less and less time to read Good Old Boat when it arrives, and so I am going to let my subscription lapse. It is not due to any editorial change or problem with your fine magazine, just our life changes.
Does your dream boat exist?
In response to the Brooke Babineau letter (August 2005 newsletter) regarding an inexpensive 30-ish-foot boat with good sailing and other characteristics, I enthusiastically recommend the Freedom 32. She’s an aggressive sailor, but the cat rig and self-tending boom make her easy to singlehand. She’s got good headroom (I’m 6 feet 4 inches), a large aft head, good lazarette space, sizeable V- and very nice quarterberth, sufficient galley and reefer, and inboard diesel with wheel steering. If it weren’t for the fact that we’re cutting the cord, that boat was high on my list for us to live aboard and cruise.
Dream boats redux
I would respectfully differ with some of Brooke’s implicit conclusions (in the August 2005 newsletter). First, in the 30-foot range, a tiller is not necessarily and should not be a painful method of steering. In the case of a properly designed, rigged, and sailed boat, the tiller should provide direct and simple steering with distinct feedback and little effort. A tiller certainly avoids significant mechanical complexity. Some popular boats, like many Catalina 30s, seem to have a reputation for rapidly building weather helm, which probably causes many conversions to wheel steering and only covers up basic problems by adding leverage. In some cases, the boats need slight rig changes to provide a better balance of effort and lateral resistance. In others, the weather helm is telling the skipper that he needs to depower, reef, or otherwise manage the boat better. The existence or absence of a balanced spade rudder isn’t the only determinant, either. My Tartan 30 has an unbalanced barn door of a rudder on a full skeg but, when sailed correctly, has a delightful helm with just the right feedback under nearly all conditions. I helped deliver a Pearson 28 that had wheel steering which turned an otherwise very nice boat (spacious, decent sailer) into a wandering “numb trial” to steer. Some designs, alas, may simply be destined for heavy helms, but I would likely avoid most of those anyway.
Interior room in a 30ish-foot boat will always be a tradeoff, but don’t make headroom a major criterion unless you are living aboard. I am about 6 feet 1 inch, and while I have just enough room to stand fully in my Tartan 30, I have accepted that I will occasionally whack my head if I don’t pay attention. If room below is reason number one, you will be forced to the high end of the size bracket at the least, and probably give up something in external esthetics and/or sailing performance. I might suggest the old Bill Tripp Columbia 34 with the flush deck and bubble top. My father bought one to accommodate his greater height, although only the bubble could give him full headroom at 6 feet 7 inches. It was stout and sailed okay as well but was not as weatherly as one may have hoped.
Forward heads were placed near the maximum beam of a boat in the good old days when the plan view of a boat was more tapered and less like a slice of pizza. It was an arrangement that gave the designer the room to place a head and still work in a passageway and storage. It worked well for luminaries from L. F. Herreshoff to Olin Stephens, so I’d be the last to gainsay the arrangement. That said, a wet locker right by the companionway would be nice . . . if you have the room. Again, moving to the big end of the spectrum helps.
As for interior system concerns, there will always be compromises between cost, space, access, and design. I have a boat with an interior GRP liner that tends to complicate maintenance and modification, but that liner allowed the builder to provide reasonable accommodations while saving money. In some ways, an old, properly built wooden boat might be best in that respect, as you seldom want to enclose any more of the interior than necessary, to allow air to circulate throughout the hull to keep rot at bay. So what if you have to look at wire bundles and hoses clamped to the frames?
I guess I’d answer Brooke’s question as, “Yes, there are good affordable boats in your price and size range.” If I had to name names, I’d stick to the big classic names like Cal, Tartan, C&C, Ranger, Islander, Pearson, Alberg, Sabre, Bristol, etc. Think of the classic designers like Sparkman & Stephens, Mull, Luders, Rhodes, Perry, Tripp, Herreshoff or Hood. Good boats by these designers and builders are easy to find online in the price and size range specified. They represent a wide range of design goals and esthetics.
However, no boat will be perfect. That is the job of the new owner, to more closely approximate perfection every year.
Scammers and spammers
And while we’re having fun, our readers haven’t quite finished poking fun at the “goofy ad” on our website’s classified ads page. This ad is intended to see how many spammers and scammers are sending messages to our legitimate advertisers of real good old boats and such things. The ad reads like this:
Used 7.13 Meter
Ferrocement over corrugated galvanized sheet with carbon fiber toerail and keel. Needs work. Deck, hull and spars accidentally crushed by bulldozer. A very unusual vessel, perhaps the last of its type. In Zamboanga. $248,947.13 firm. Serious inquiries only.
So Earl Weintraub writes:
Zamboanga? Carbon fiber? Needs work? Serious inquiries? You’re killing me! Keep up the good work, but you really shouldn’t encourage me to stay up late surfing the website for these things.
And Paul Brook says:
I think you are mistaken about the carbon fiber keel. I am familiar with the plans for this boat and I know for a fact that the keel is specified as platinum — which may explain the price. Either that or the decimal places are off by a couple of spots. Sorry to hear about the bulldozer.
And now you know why we just love our readers. Bless you, every one!
One big sailing family
Additionally, I have to say I have been a reader of Cruising World and Sail for years and I enjoy them, but your publication is so satisfying as the repairs are real, the boats are within reach, and the spirit conveyed is one of a big sailing family . . . not exclusivity.
No! NO! We can’t go there, Rick!
Rick, If this were a monthly publication, we’d never get to go sailing. And what would be the use of that?
Rigged just right, he says
Having just gotten back into sailing after a 25+ year hiatus (the now ex-wife never shared my passion), I just purchased my first copy of Good Old Boat, May 2005 issue. You’re publishing a fine magazine, which I shall subscribe to soon. I particularly enjoyed your editorial, “The view from here.” So, what’s wrong with tools and spare parts in the closet and clothes in a duffle? Your Mystic sounds like it’s rigged just right to me.
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Ghost Ships: Tales of Abandoned, Doomed, and Haunted Vessels, by Angus Konstam (Lyons Press, 2005; 144 pages; $24.95)
Review by Dennis J. Figley
“The notion of the ghost ship has long caught the imagination of the public . . . this popularity reflects our abiding interest in two linked phenomenon; mysteries of the sea and inexplicable, apparently supernatural events.”
This observation by the author rings true for me. While on summer vacation on Manitoulin Island, I had the opportunity to pick up this book and read it. A couple days of rainy weather made a perfect setting for the subject as the fog and mist rolled across the tiny lake. And what could be more perfect as Halloween is on our minds this month?
For this book, Angus Konstam has gathered stories of ghost ships, haunted ships, ships with bad luck, and even ships that were considered lucky ships but still met tragic ends. Some of the events are well known, such as the discovery of the Mary Celeste adrift and apparently abandoned in 1872 some 600 miles west of the coast of Spain. This mystery still goes unsolved. And, of course, the Flying Dutchman legend is the mother of all ghost ship stories. One event that I vividly remember was the loss of the U.S. Navy’s new nuclear submarine, USS Thresher, in April 1963.
Other stories and events were new to me. I had heard of the SS Queen Mary, but I didn’t know she was thought to be haunted. I’d never heard of the haunted ships HMS Asp, SS Great Eastern and SS St Paul. The book covers some of the tragedies that have given the Bermuda Triangle its notoriety. Also, there are several stories of submarines that are still “on patrol” as they never returned from their final missions and left no clues as to their fate.
The author states, “I freely admit that I am highly skeptical of any suggestion of supernatural forces at work.” Likewise, I am skeptical of attributing these mysteries to supernatural causes and find it refreshing that he is not quick to go down that path. But he also freely admits that the evidence in some of these stories defies logic even though much of it is presented by very credible witnesses.
Angus Konstam was born and reared in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. He has been curator of several museums in the U.S. and Europe including the Tower Museum in London and Mel Fisher’s Museum in Key West. He has more than 60 books to his credit, mostly dealing with military and nautical history. The list of his titles has whetted my appetite to read more of his works.
I really appreciate that Angus put his museum curator experience to work and incorporated many fine old engravings, paintings, and photographs in this book.
I did find several errors, typos, and contradictions in the book. There were several dates listed for the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. He stated the length of the USS Maine, destroyed in an explosion in Havana in 1898, as 919 feet when she was only 319 feet long according the U.S. Navy historical website. The map that goes with the text of Donald Crowhurst’s hoax states he spent his time in the South Pacific when, according to Crowhurst’s own logs, he spent eight months sailing around in the south Atlantic while his competitors were busy singlehanding their boats in the Golden Globe Around the World Race. These are merely production errors, I’m sure.
If you have, as I do, an abiding interest in the mysteries of the sea, I recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.
Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing, by John Vigor (Sheridan House, 2005; 208 pages; $17.95)
Review by Karen Larson
With his newest book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing, John Vigor alternates between being a wise old salt, a nautical curmudgeon, a patient teacher offering safety tips to a new sailor, and the next sailor on the dock who cheerfully spouts his own take on controversial sailing subjects.
The problem is that there is no lack of sailing information out there; the docks are awash in opinionated sailors. As John says, “It can be very frustrating trying to get the information you need because the advice you receive from one sailor often conflicts with the advice from another. Unfortunately, what works for one sailor on one boat might not work for another on another boat.” How true. For instance, John explains that your keel shape should dictate your storm tactics. You’ll find it hard to locate that oh-so-true advice anywhere else. For my money, John is one of the best of the breed, so sailors would do well to pay attention to the opinions expressed in this book . . . even the curmudgeonly ones.
Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing is organized alphabetically by topic with a tip at the end of each entry. For example, John explains about fear and anxiety as normal and important emotions and winds up with the following tip: “Apprehension before a voyage often disappears the moment you get under way and always diminishes with experience.” Or take binoculars. John advises the sailor to “be content with a modest magnification” because anything more powerful than 7 x 50 is a waste of money. He concludes with this tip: “Good binoculars are expensive. Guard yours carefully and buy a second, cheap pair for visitors who keep changing your settings and dropping your glasses.”
There now. That was an example of John when he’s both wise and curmudgeonly. You want controversial? John will explain why you don’t need battens in your mainsail. That is sure to start an argument on the dock. And he tells his readers that gasoline engines have many advantages over diesel. He’s right, of course, but you’ll never read those words in any of today’s sailing magazines, which have apparently agreed — in some behind-the-scenes meeting — that gasoline inboards are the number one danger to sailors.
The teacher providing safety tips is there in John’s thoughtful advice about climbing the mast and about the dangers of dinghies. When it comes to climbing the mast, he points out that the height is enough that a fall could kill you, so don’t hand over the responsibility for your safety when you go up the mast. “It’s your life and your responsibility,” John says and then tells you what precautions to take. There’s good advice from a seasoned seaman on the subject of dinghies also. John notes that hard dinghies can capsize and that inflatables can be blown out to sea. He says, “Make up a small safety pack for your dinghy (besides oars and lifejackets): flashlight, compass, bailer, and a spare drain plug. A hand-held VHF radio could be a lifesaver.”
This book is easy to read. It imparts some very valuable information in a fun package (particularly with the marvelous and zany illustrations by Tom Payne). Get it for the newbies in your family or on the dock. Hand it to friends who plan to come sailing with you. As John says, “If this book has a goal, it is to encourage beginners of all ages to start sailing with confidence and to dispel some of those persistent myths prevalent among many experienced sailors.”
At the end John adds an appendix with the most useful tables and formulas compiled from many of his other best-selling books. This, he says, is the information “I wish I’d known about.” And he adds a list of the books he wishes someone had told him to read. Following this advice would do us all good. Buy the book and pass this sort of wisdom along.
The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat – The Definitive Guide for Liveaboards, by Mark Nicholas (Paradise Cay Publications, 2005; 284 pages; $17.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.
Mark Nicholas is an expert. He’s lived the life and learned many lessons the hard way. His goal in writing The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is to share with readers all it takes to live aboard wisely and enjoy it. How? By being prepared. He believes there are essentials to living on a boat, so why not know what those basics are before embarking on the life?
You’ll find guidelines for choosing the right boat, purchasing it, and moving onboard. Whether or not you are a seasoned boater, you may find the pages covering general boating terminology a helpful way to make sure you know your boat. Next, examine the section on choosing a marina.
I found “Estimating Costs,” to be one of the most useful chapters in the book. Why make any kind of move without knowing what the financial outcome will be? Numerous easy-to-read comparison charts are accompanied by text explaining itemized costs. For example: The monthly cost comparison table is a real eye-opener. Want-to-be liveaboards are presented with the possible costs (for varying types and sizes of boats) that come along with the lifestyle — everything from your boat payment, insurance, slip fees, utilities, storage, parking, and more.
Read on to find out how to prepare to live aboard, and things to look at when families, children, and pets live aboard. This really makes one think. For instance, how do you keep cat litter contained?
In his chapter titled “Government Oversight,” Mark reminds us that government regulations require our homes (boats, in this case), be open for inspection. While many may consider the liveaboard lifestyle a way to get away from society, the effects of terrorism, and the state of the world in general, does impact life, whether we are land or sea dwellers. This section is a must-read for all. Some of the topics covered are:
• General boating requirements when on the water
• Safety laws
• Alcohol and drug use
• Search and seizure
• International law
Whether you are planning to move aboard, spend extended long vacations aboard, or already are a liveaboard, The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is a great addition to any boat book library. Nicholas does a great job preparing us to enjoy living aboard — wisely.
Ships’ Figure Heads in Australia, by Gordon Marshall (Tangee Publishing, 2003; 126 pages; $30)
Reviewed by Vic Chambers
Junction City, Ore.
One can’t read Ships’ Figure Heads in Australia without falling in love again with the great era of sailing that laid the foundation of many civilizations over the past 4,000 years. Author Gordon Marshall has brought us a book that inspires and educates at the same time. When you start reading, you’ll be engrossed by the pull of the past and perhaps find yourself hoping that the grand ships of the world will someday again be adorned by figureheads.
According to the author, more than 500 figureheads were made in Australia from the earliest recorded one, built in 1832, until the last one, built in 1903. Of such an art and dedicated craft only 14 are known to survive. Of the aboriginal figureheads, the only Australian type to survive is one from the Boomerang of 1889. It is now housed in the Polly Woodside Museum in Victoria. Until the modern revival, the last figurehead made in Australia was for the ketch, Alma, in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1903. Gordon records that, of the figureheads made in New South Wales, the last one was of a dog fitted to the 56-foot schooner, Talbot, in 1896.
A registry of ships built in Australia and the figureheads on them shows a small number of ships were fitted with figureheads and very few of these have survived. Billetheads (ornamental carvings) were fitted to many ships as alternatives to figureheads from as early as the mid-1700s, some for economic reasons and others because some believed figureheads to be idolatrous. Figureheads were much more than ornamental, they embodied the eyes and served as the protectors of their ships.
Wherever they went, “Neptune’s wooden angels,” as the author calls them, attracted attention and built romantic ideas. If they could talk, oh the tales they’d tell! Instead, Gordon Marshall tells us their stories.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of ships’ figureheads and the call and romance of the sea. Gordon has compiled a large volume of information into a very readable format, both for the serious researcher of ships’ figureheads and for the armchair sailor. As for the layout of the book, however, I found not having the photos and text together a little disquieting since the reader has to stop reading and turn a page or two to see a photo before returning to the text. I’m sure if it had been possible, the author and publisher would have put text and photos on facing pages.
With that noted exception, I can truly say that Gordon Marshall has done a valuable service for the sailing family. He has brought us in touch with our past. Well done, Gordon, well done. This book is available directly from Tangee Publishing. Contact them by email, http://www.tangeepublishing.com, or call +61 8 9293-1915.
Fiberglass Repair: Polyester or Epoxy, by David and Zora Aiken (Cornell Maritime Press, 2005; 120 pages; $10.50)
Review by Bill Sandifer
Fiberglass Repair: Polyester or Epoxy is a useful book for anyone who is considering fiberglass repair, whether novice or old pro. It’s full of valid techniques that will yield a professional job if the directions are followed exactly. There are chapters on materials, tools, cautions (safety), methods, touch-ups, holes, cores, blisters, stiffeners, and many other applications. There is a glossary, a problem-solving section, and an index. The book is very complete, and I recommend it.
However, I have a few minor suggestions that should not diminish the overall value of the book as a resource. There are a few things that might confuse the novice, for example. The authors start out discussing “woven fabric” and promptly begin to substitute the term “cloth.” I’m not sure the novice would make that transition in terminology. I would also like to see the statement that fiberglass is comprised of fiberglass and resin more clearly defined. Without a catalyst, this is going to be a very sticky mess. While they’re at it, the authors discuss the need for a catalyst briefly but do not point out that more is not better and that more may react too fast for usefulness, burst into flame, or not harden at all. Epoxy resin, if mixed with too little catalyst, will eventually harden; polyester resin with too little catalyst may never harden.
There is a good chapter on cautions that contains safety information which could perhaps even be further emphasized. The authors do not describe what happens when you over-catalyze a pot of resin or simply leave it in the mixing can in the sun too long (it will burst into flame and give off noxious gases). The book discusses smoking catalyst but does not say it will burn. Polyester resin is an oil-based product; when it flames, it is equivalent to napalm in the boat.
The book treats polyester resin in depth but does not go into as much detail about epoxy resin. For good old boaters, epoxy resin and catalyst is the preferred — although more expensive — product to use for repairs. Epoxy will adhere to most surfaces for as long as desired. Polyester has a harder time adhering to the old fiberglass you’ll face in any repair situation.
Those minor quibbles aside, this book belongs in every toolbox for the fiberglass repairer. Buy it and keep it handy.
Managing the Waterway, by Mark and Diana Doyle (semi-local publications LLC, 2005; 172 pages; $24.95)
Review by Greg Mansfield
When I received this waterway guide, I wondered how it could be different from the others I’ve seen and used. Well, believe me, it is different. Managing the Waterway contains all the information (except the charts) that you would like to have to travel the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk to Biscayne Bay. In addition to the usual anchorage, marina, and piloting things you need to know, the authors included things you want to know from many sources. The authors call their publication “an enriched guide.”
And enriched it is, especially in the organization of information. Mark and Diana Doyle have used layout to help organize and present the ICW information in a style that makes this guide exceptionally easy to use. Like most ICW guides, the information is presented in the order of travel, in this case north to south, state by state. Each state section begins with a state big picture and a state introduction.
The big picture contains the navigational information — a map of the coastal part of the state showing the ICW track, the charts required for this section, and a bridge summary. Another enrichment is the inclusion on the map of the names of cities, counties, NOAA towers, and other geographical features used in NOAA weather broadcasts. These help with interpreting NOAA weather broadcasts.
The state introduction gives us reference and advice for that section of the ICW. Included are regional characteristics and navigational concerns for the upcoming section of travel.
At the top of each navigation page is a rolling header that includes USCG and towboat VHF channels and telephone numbers, upcoming bridges, and NOAA weather stations. The side margins detail bridges, anchorages, and marinas, complete with GPS coordinates and tidal ranges. The page body contains local lore and color — an enrichment of 266 interpretive vignettes and 200 pictures and illustrations.
The end of each section has tables that list marine facilities and retail chandleries within easy reach of marinas. Of particular note are the pages with waterway business cards that you can photocopy and take ashore with you.
My wife and I have only traveled the ICW between Norfolk and Morehead City, so I checked the information for this part against our experience. The transit, anchorage, and marina information matched what we have found along the way. The guide is spiral-bound to lie flat and has a UV-coated cover. If you are in the market for an ICW guide, this is the one to get. Publisher Mark Doyle has even made a special offer for the readers of Good Old Boat. Save $5 off the cover price by logging on to this page: http://www.managingthewaterway.com/goodoldboat.htm.
After Captiva, by Charles House (Pub This Press, 2005; 294 pages; $16.99)
Review by Karen Larson
Charles House has been widely praised for his biographical book, The Outrageous Life of Henry Faulkner. His second book, a novel, will appeal to a more limited audience. His main characters are sailors who spend a portion of their time aboard, an activity which narrows the audience, since sailors — as a segment of the population — are few and far between.
The sailing takes place off Florida’s West Coast. Other settings include the Kentucky hills, with their captivating charm, and Cincinnati, Ohio, at its wintertime dreariest. Charles has a way with words and can paint a beautiful scene, whether it is the mountains’ morning mist or the sea. He’s a graphic artist whose eye for imagery is very well developed. And he does another thing delightfully well: he takes his reader inside the head of an art professor who visualizes the scenes that unfold before him as they might be painted by artists he has studied. A very interesting perspective.
Charles made me laugh out loud with his description of a jibe with a sailor at the helm assisted by a brand-new recruit:
He sucked up his nerve and pushed the tiller all the way to the left, making the bow turn to the right. With the side of the main now exposed to the wind Bolero heeled so far that the water was up to the starboard ports. Shiloh had both arms wrapped around the mast. His feet were in the water.
“Hang on,” Homer yelled.
As the boat continued its turn to the right, the wind, now behind them, caught the main from the other side. It slammed the boom so hard to the left that it jerked the mainsheet out of Homer’s hand. The boom caught up at the end of the mainsheet and stopped so abruptly the boat shuddered from stem to stern. Now the boat was thrown on its left side. Shiloh, arms still wrapped around the mast, swung like a rag doll to that side, again soaking his pants to the knees in the water that was swirling down the port sidedeck.
The boat righted itself without help from Homer. He stood white-faced in the cockpit while Shiloh pulled himself back to the cabintop.
“What did you say that was?” he said, his color almost as white as Homer’s.
Shiloh pondered that for a moment. He sat still on the cabintop as Homer reined in some of the mainsheet and let the wind blow them up the channel on a run. The crashing and banging had been replaced by a slippery, wallowing movement that was much easier on the nerves.
“How often do you reckon you have to do that jibe?” Shiloh asked.
“Never again, I hope. Not like that anyway.”
“You know,” Shiloh said after a pause. “I thought this sailing business was for mild-mannered fellers. Looks to me like a feller could get hisself killed out here.”
Unfortunately, Charles’ characters are too dysfunctional for my taste. They’re not as interested in what’s going on around them as they are in what’s going on inside them. They spend too much time in bars and have too many hangovers and too many infidelities. Nonetheless, some sailors will enjoy the sailing in this book, and artists will enjoy the visual and literary descriptions.
Charles is breaking ground in print-on-demand publishing. You can order his book at http://www.pubthis.com or ask any bookstore to order it for you.
Sailing Dreams: Volume One (Beowulf Press – SetSail.com, 2005; 1.5 hour DVD; $12.95)
Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
Moreno Valley, Calif.
Do you dream of sailing? Maybe you’re a seasoned sailor . . . or a novice who simply loves the water and the very thought of sailing. The only prerequisite you’ll need to enjoy this DVD is a desire to experience the sights and sounds of sailing the open sea.
“If you’re stuck behind the desk but yearn for the sights and sounds of the open ocean, this DVD was designed for you,” Linda Dashew states. Linda and her husband, Steve, filmed the scenes for Sailing Dreams while cruising over 200,000 miles.
Meant to “soothe, invigorate, and inspire,” sections include Beowulf, Australs, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Marquesas to San Diego. If you want to relax, it’s recommended that you set Sailing Dreams to Beowulf and Fiji to enjoy the rustling of the sails and rush of water as you cut through the sea on your sailing vessel. The colorful spinnaker against the white sails and blue sky is a sight to see. And if you look forward to more exciting footage, the Australs or Tonga sections fit the bill, with rougher seas and salt spray you’ll swear you can feel on your face.
This “sailing movie” (sailing scenes sans plot) is perfect as background, playing on a big screen TV at parties, or for watching before falling into a peaceful slumber at night. You’ll be treated to a multitude of views encompassing incredible scenery, from every imaginable angle. Just when you least expect it, a sunset fills the screen with awesome oranges and pinks. You might want to hit the freeze frame so you can enjoy the sight just a few seconds longer.
What’s lacking? I wanted to feel the wind as it blew — strong gusts or small puffs. I wished to feel the hot penetrating sun of Tahiti or the rain the thunderheads promised to deliver on my skin. To imagine the swaying of the vessel as she gracefully flew over miles of ocean just wasn’t enough. I wanted to be there — adjusting the mainsail or rolling out the jib.
Perhaps the Dashews’ objective was to entice the observer to want more. If that’s the case, they definitely accomplish their goal with this DVD.
Get Ready to Cruise and Get Ready to Cross Oceans, 2 DVDs by Lin and Larry Pardey (L&L Pardey, 2005; 90 minutes each; $29.95 each)
Review by Karen Larson
If you enjoy time with Lin and Larry Pardey (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to view their two new DVDs, Get Ready to Cruise and Get Ready to Cross Oceans. These professionally produced disks are the next best thing to a visit aboard Taleisin and the Pardeys’ second boat, Thelma, a 110-year-old racing yacht which they are restoring.
This dynamic sailing couple, veritable Energizer Bunnies of the cruising set, just keep cruising, learning, and passing along what wisdom they have acquired. With more than 65,000 miles of voyaging on Taleisin alone, that wisdom is remarkable.
When it comes to teaching others what they’ve discovered, Lin and Larry can’t help themselves, and we’re all grateful that their “as long as it’s fun” condition on their own cruising has not yet expired. They, in turn, make it fun for those who dream of following in their wake, as well as those who have a cruising vision of a completely different hue.
Whatever your sailing goals may be, Lin and Larry take you aboard and show you what they’ve found that works for them. They don’t claim that you must do it exactly their way. You need not build your own boat first or head out without an engine. They don’t preach, and they don’t condescend. They tell it like it is for them, with the full awareness that your boat may be built of fiberglass, have a different keel configuration, and offer a suite of electronic navigation devices. You’ll find much in common with these fellow sailors, just the same, and you’ll enjoy the virtual time you share together. I guarantee it.
These DVDs offer fresh information and an introduction to the Pardeys’ new love, Thelma, while delivering some of the highlights of previously filmed material from their video collection: Cruising with Lin and Larry Pardey, The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, Voyaging Hints for Upgrading Your Cruising Boat, and Cruising Coral Seas.
These disks are high on my list as potential gifts for sailing friends as the holiday season approaches. I have a hunch you’ll agree. Or treat yourself. That’s allowed also.
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Mystic meets her maker
One of the perks of being the founders of a sailing magazine is the extra status conferred on those founders. Nine years ago I was just Karen, still a relatively new sailor married to Jerry, a bit of a salt on the racecourse, but somewhat new to cruising. We’d been cruising our C&C 30 for only five or six years — with no major mishaps, I might add — and we were not extraordinary in anybody’s eyes. We were developing as a sailing team, learning the ropes, and enjoying the journey.
Whether deserved or not, start a sailing magazine and keep it afloat for seven years and you will be elevated to a new level — at least in some people’s opinion. These days, people who appreciate our “magazine for the rest of us” will sometimes stop to thank us for taking the initiative for starting Good Old Boat and for pulling it off successfully. It’s a very gratifying aspect of the job.
Still, our status as a couple of cruisers hasn’t changed all that much. We’re still developing as a team, still learning, and still enjoying the journey. We haven’t yet learned to walk on water, and we’re as likely as the next sailors to have our off-moments when nothing seems to go as planned. When those events unfold, however, we’re more likely than the next sailors to feel the pressure if folks are watching. That’s one of the not-so-gratifying aspects of the job.
We’ve had some marvelous surprises along the way, having to do with the people we’ve had a chance to meet. When Lin and Larry Pardey asked if they could drop in and stay with us one winter on a cross-country trip, we were amazed and delighted. This was very early in our publishing career. We considered having the bed they’d slept in bronzed!
Over the years since then, there have been opportunities to meet other heroes and leaders within our little sailing niche. One of the nice things is that because our niche is so small, none of the leaders in this field has developed an excessively large ego. Among sailors, they are somebodies. But there aren’t all that many sailors . . . a humbling fact. So each continues to operate as an individual with occasional celebrity status when a sailor happens by. It’s a friendly community of salty folks. Good people.
One of our personal heroes is George Cuthbertson, the Canadian naval architect and designer of C&C and some other well-known good old boats. We think so much of the good habits of Mystic, our C&C 30, that we agree (between ourselves anyway) that George must surely walk on water.
So imagine our surprise when he contacted us to say he’d like to meet us if we could arrange it. We were to be cruising the North Channel in the coming summer and George suggested driving up from his home near Toronto to visit us. We were delighted . . . then panicked! Would he be interested in seeing how well his 1970 design was holding up or how well we were caring for a 30-year-old example? Would he want to know what modifications we’d made and why or would he be disappointed to learn that we’d changed anything at all?
“Mystic,” we told our beloved boat, “you’re going to meet your maker!” We scrubbed and polished and prepared for our journey to the North Channel and for the planned meeting with a real hero of ours. When George arrived, along with his wife, Helen, granddaughter, Heather, and dog, Maple, we learned that he was curious not about how Mystic was faring but rather about how a couple of sailor folks from Minneapolis (of all places) could have founded a sailing magazine. He was curious about our backgrounds, education, and motivations.
We enjoyed a delightful couple of hours with the master. And we haven’t yet bronzed the boat.
The sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats.
A tradewind starts gently, without gusts — a huge ocean of air that slowly and resolutely begins to move with ever-increasing strength. Suddenly everything comes to life. Spirits rise as the sails fill. The boat heels slightly and moves ahead. The almost oppressive silence gives way to the sound of the bow cutting through the water. Gone is the sea’s glassy surface, and with it the terrible glare. Close the hatches and ports! We’re sailing again!
Jim Moore from By Way of the Wind, 1991
The cure for anything is saltwater — sweat, tears, or the sea.
Sailing became a compulsion; there lay the boat, swinging to her mooring, there blew the wind; I had no choice but to go.
E.B. White from “The Sea and the Wind that Blows,” 1977
It is impossible not to personify a ship; everybody does, in everything they say — she behaves well; she minds her rudder; she swims like a duck; she runs her nose into the water; she looks into a port. Then that wonderful esprit de corps, by which we adopt into our self-love everything we touch, makes us all champions of her sailing qualities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson from English Traits, 1865
A ship is like a lady’s watch, always out of repair.
Richard Henry Dana from Two Years Before the Mast, 1840
The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful, and varied.
Henry Beston from The Outermost House, 1928
I wish to have no connection with any Ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.
John Paul Jones, 1778
Published October 1, 2005