By Jim Trefethen ( International Marine, 2016; 244 pages, Print $25.00; eBook $15.99
Review by Wayne Gagnon, Antigo, WI
When author Jim Trefethen wrote Sailing Into Retirement, he combined some information from his previous book, The Cruising Life, first published in 1999, with a second, updated edition in 2015. But, in the author’s own words, “I have tried not to duplicate material…but to build on it, especially where specific subjects pertaining to elderly sailors are involved.” In the past 40 years he’s owned and sailed several boats on several oceans, so he knows whereof he speaks. He’s also in his 70s, which adds to his credibility, so being that I’m in my mid-60s myself, I felt it was worth a look.
BY MARY LAUDIEN, ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAVE ALAVOINE ( Createspace, 2016; 56 pages, Print $13.99; eBook $7.99)
Review by Carolyn Corbett, Lake Shore, MN
Who’s the Captain? is a 56 page picture book of sailing life according to Dad and his crew. The humor in the text is accentuated by clever, colorful cartoons. Older kids who are familiar with the ins and outs of sailing will appreciate the humor and little ones will love the cartoon characters.
BY BILL STREEVER ( little Brown, 2016; 308 pages, Print $26.00; eBook $13.99)
Review by Brian Fagan, Santa Barbara, CA
Bill Streever is a biologist and a well-known nature writer. He and his wife, Lisanne, are novice cruising folk, who boldly set off on a cruise from Galveston, Texas, to Mexico’s Yucatan with only a very brief sailing course under their belts. They set sail in a 50-foot yawl, which strikes one as foolhardy, until you realize that Bill takes weather forecasts very seriously indeed. They enjoyed a remarkably incident-free cruise, which speaks volumes for their calm acceptance of the vagaries of the sailing life.
About 27 years ago, a group of sailors at Yankee Point Marina, off the Rappahannock River in Virginia, decided that a sailboat race in November would make a fine climax to the sailing season. Some of these sailors were approaching a mature age, and so were their boats, so they reckoned they would elevate their chances of getting into the trophies by placing an age restriction on the designs of the boats invited to participate. So began the Turkey Shoot Regatta, named for its proximity to Thanksgiving, for any sailboat built to a design that was at least 25 years old. A boat still in wet paint from its builder qualified as long as its design qualified.
In the June Good Old Boat Newsletter Dave Lochner has an article (“DIY V-Belt Tensioning”) with an excellent idea about tensioning the alternator belt. On my Pearson 365, the access is one-handed or two people from different directions. David’s idea was good but seemed to need two hands. I created a one-handed way to tension the belt using a 5/16-inch galvanized turnbuckle from Home Depot and a couple of scrap pieces of wood. The wooden end pieces are about 1 ¾ inches by 3 inches by ¾ inch and tapered to fit into the pulley grooves. I sawed off the eye ends of the turnbuckle and glued them into the wooden blocks as shown. I place the tensioner between the pulleys and with one hand I can turn the body to lengthen it until it begins to tension the belt. A small screwdriver is necessary to get the proper tension. Thanks, Dave!
–Jim Shell, The Woodlands, Texas
Dave Lochner responds
Jim, thanks for taking the time share your thoughts. Yes, a turnbuckle would work and is a more attractive alternative. In practice, only one wrench is needed to adjust my tensioner. Once the tension increases, the pressure holds the other nut in place. And it takes only a few turns to reach the proper tension. The idea is to get the belt tension close to specs by hand and to then use the tensioner to add that little extra and hold everything in place while the alternator bolts are tightened. If you are lucky, the nuts are the same size as the bolts on the alternator and only one wrench needs to come out the tool box. I have a Yanmar, so I’m not that lucky as the bolts are metric. Hmmm, maybe I need to find some metric threaded rod.
I’m glad you found the article useful.
–Dave Lochner, Good Old Boat contributor
Leaping Like Gazelles – or like Karen
I can understand Jerry’s concern and Karen’s reaction to bringing all lines into the cockpit (“Put it to the Readers,” June 2017 Newsletter). I made that decision when I re-rigged my Down East 45, Britannia, from a ketch to a brigantine schooner. When I did that I changed all my sails to roller furling, including the squaresail on the foremast. It is certainly easier to unfurl and furl any sail, as opposed to hauling it up a stay or mast. It is also easier to shorten these sails, even if they don’t set so well. There are pros and cons to both systems of course, but I decided it was the least disadvantage to bring all my running lines back to the cockpit.
The problem I had was the sheer number of lines from five working sails—a total of twelve! And this number does not include halyards, because they are permanent on furling sails. As you noted, this number of lines in the cockpit presents both a handling and storage problem. Luckily the cockpit on my boat has a large flat area on both sides of the companionway.
To solve the line handling issue, I installed a bank of six rope clutches on each side, with all lines tailable to a common self-tailing winch on each side.
To solve the line storage problem, I turned teak belaying pins and mounted them on each side of our “rope deck,” as we now call it. This is better than trying to stow lines in a bin or bag(s) or all in a pile. (See http://schooner-britannia.com/running_rigging.html).
I would be lying if I wrote that this lot doesn’t sometimes get into a bit of a tangle, but we have learned to handle them, just as we would if they were on deck. For us there are a few major advantages we think worthwhile, apart from the obvious safety consideration of not having to leave the cockpit.
First, because the cockpit winches are self-tailers, we can use our fabulous Winchrite electric winch winder. We couldn’t use the Winchrite on the non-self-tailing mast-mounted winches because we can’t hold the Winchrite sideways and tail the line at the same time. For our worn-out hands that’s a God-send.
Second, the lines don’t necessarily have to be cleated off and coiled like they would were they at the mast. When we are in a hurry we simply lock them with the jammers and sort them out later.
Third, either my wife or I are able to work the sails and steer at the same time. Or we can switch on the pilot for a minute while we both do it.
Fourth, it’s always dry under the bimini.
All in all it’s the best modus operandi for us, but then, we’re both over seventy and no longer much good at leaping over the foredeck like gazelles—or like Karen.
–Roger Hughes, Orlando, Florida
Agree with Karen
I agree with Karen. (“Put it to the Readers,” June 2017 Newsletter)
My boats are set up so the only lines that lead to the cockpit area are the sheets and vang/preventers (when rigged). As Karen notes, she has to go forward to attach the main and jib halyards to the sails before raising them, then return to the cockpit to do so. If there is a snag, she might have to go forward again to clear it. So why not just work at the mast while there, taking fewer trips along the rail.
In addition, having the lines secured at the mast and coiled there eliminates a mess aft that can lead to slips and falls in a supposedly secure area, tangled lines when one doesn’t want them (perhaps in an emergency), and a cluttered work space which might lead one to grab the wrong line and do the wrong thing.
My belief is the rig should be as simple, clean, and uncluttered as possible as it makes for a more enjoyable sail.
–Mark Fontaine, HR 28 Marquesa II
Romance borne of infatuation
I read your “rant” about leading lines aft to the cockpit (“Put it to the Readers,” June 2017 Newsletter) with a few chuckles and a loud “Yes, I remember when…” Over our 30+ years of owning and restoring good old boats, we have romanced the idea of the safety and efficiency of having all lines led to the cockpit. However, like all romance instigated by infatuation rather than true love, we have realized that all lines led aft is not a great solution.
On boat #2, a 32 foot Pearson Vanguard, we led all lines aft so that we could be safely in the cockpit while managing the mainsail. We led the halyard, vang control line, and all reefing lines to the cockpit. We installed a winch on the cabin top under the dodger. Yes, we were able to control the mainsail from the cockpit rather than from atop the heaving and heeled cabin top. However, the jumble of lines in the cockpit was an issue that never could be ignored. We had 6 lines all residing in the forward end of our cockpit: halyard, vang line, 2 reefing lines for the tack, and 2 reefing lines for the clew.
We all know the truth about the legendary tendency of lines to self-tangle and perform the most complicated knots ever imagined all by their lonesome. Yep, those 6 lines became more than intimate in our cockpit. So that we could actually helm the boat, one of us had to coil those lines so they would be out of the way. Because we needed to be ready for any change of wind and sea conditions, we could not secure the neatly coiled lines.
On boat #2, having the lines led aft did make controlling the mainsail potentially safer, but also added challenges to cockpit organization. That mess of lines in the cockpit may have made our cockpit less safe. Those six mainsail lines always tried to hanky-panky with the headsail sheets. Yes, not unlike chaperoning a teenage dance!
On boat #3, our Westsail 42 Ketch, the only line led aft to the cockpit was the main halyard. We don’t have a boom vang yet, but all of the reefing lines, three in fact, reside on the boom. The main halyard was led to an electric winch for raising the main. The electric winch was a nice feature, but actually a luxury we rarely used. With a 50 foot mast, the amount of 1/2 inch line snaking around the cockpit was a mess. Moreover, reefing the main was a complicated dance between the cockpit and the mast.
We generally sail with just the two of us, and the constant moving back and forth between the cockpit and the mast only raised the risk of a stumble in rough seas. Moreover, with all the other reefing control lines at the mast, I questioned the sanity of having the main halyard led aft, even if the luxury of an electric winch would be forfeited. And there was another issue, of course! The amount of friction in the fairleads for the running the halyard aft massively interfered with a quick and smooth drop of the main. I had to literally drag the main down to drop it.
Solution? We put the main halyard back at the mast. What I didn’t say before was that our Westsail 42 has a mast pulpit within which one can safely work in most sea states. I can now reef simply at the mast and take less time to secure the tack and clew at each of the 3 reef points. When we drop the main, it now falls quickly to the boom. Note: we have a Dutchman system rather than lazyjacks and we are happy with how it works. Our cockpit is now only cluttered with headsail sheets for both the yankee/genoa and staysail, as well as the main sheet. Those are easily coiled on the cockpits seats and out of the way.
Okay, with my somewhat lengthy experience with leading lines aft, what is my final conclusion or assessment? Well, I would not advise anyone to lead lines aft. While controlling lines from the relative security of the cockpit is an alluring feature, the added complexity, friction, and general mess in the cockpit outweighs whatever benefits are perceived. I have realized that the ease and speed of controlling mainsails from the mast actually reduces risk when conditions require reefing. Moreover, all sailors should be able to secure themselves to the boat while working the foredeck, the mast, or the deck. While most boats do not have the luxury of mast pulpits, the ability to raise, lower, and reef the sail plan from the main mast quickly, and securely limits risk and maximizes safe sailing.
Yes, there are those newer boats that seem to operate and sail by just pushing buttons. While seemingly easy and potentially wonderful, these automated features actually insulate or remove one from the experience of sailing. Call me old-fashioned or a kook, but being able to participate in all the regimens of sailing a boat makes the experience joyous and full for me. One should seriously consider the plusses and minuses before leading lines aft to the cockpit, no matter what size boat one sails.
Tim J. Dull, Vice Commodore of the Tartan 34 Classic Association (http://tartan34classic.org/) let us know that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Tartan 34, S&S design 1904. The sloop version was released to production on April 28 1967 and the yawl on October 11 of the same year. Wow.
To mark this milestone, the association is holding a celebration at the U.S. Sailboat Show at Annapolis this year, October 5. The group will meet at the Port Annapolis Marina, at the Overlook Pavilion. To join the celebration, visit the group’s website for registration info.
Hall of Fame Inductees
The National Sailing Hall of Fame (www.nshof.org) recently announced eight new inductees that comprise the class of 2017. I’ll note that anyone who ever learned to sail in the venerable Optimist should celebrate Clark Mills inclusion, and many O’Day owners and sailors owe a tip of the hat to inductee Ray Hunt, who penned a great number of those designs, among others.
Bill Bentsen (Winnetka, Ill./Lake Geneva, Wisc.), a two-time Olympic medalist – bronze in 1964 and gold in 1972 – who has created an indelible legacy for the sport through his contributions as a racing rules and race administration expert.
1963 5.5 World Champion Ray Hunt (Duxbury, Mass.), the innately talented yacht designer of both sail and power vessels.
Boatbuilder Clark Mills (Clearwater, Fla.), best-known as the designer of the wildly popular Optimist dinghy used by children under age 16.
Windsurfing superstar Robby Naish (Haiku, Hawaii), who won his first world championship title at age 13 and went on to build a multi-million dollar watersports business.
Two-time Tornado Olympic Silver Medalist Randy Smyth (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), whose expertise as a catamaran sailor led to, among other things, work on major motion pictures.
Noted America’s Cup sailor Tom Whidden (Essex, Conn.), the industry giant who recently celebrated 30 years with global brand North Sails.
Avid sailor Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, Mich.), whose leadership roles in business and sailing – including the Presidency of the U.S. Olympic Committee – led to a noteworthy 10 years as Athletic Director at the University of Michigan.
Corny Shields (New Rochelle, N.Y.), winner of the inaugural Mallory Cup which earned him national recognition on the cover of Time magazine in 1953, who conceived the Shields one-design in 1964 and founded the I.O.D. class.
This group joins 57 previous inductees.
Eight Bells: Doug Peterson
Yacht designer Doug Peterson passed away in San Diego of colon cancer on June 26 at age 71.
I was aware of the boats that bore his name, the Kelly-Peterson 44 and Peterson 46 being the two I’m most familiar with. But I’ve since learned that Peterson designed two Americas Cup winners. That he was a Southern California native who had trouble in school for his inability to stop drawing boats. As a long-haired, bearded college dropout, Peterson apprenticed with designer Wendell Calkins before borrowing money from his grandmother to build his own 34-foot design. That boat was Ganbare and put Peterson on the world stage after she won the 1973 One Ton World Championships in Genoa, Italy.
Peterson’s work is reflected in more than the good old boats that bear his name. He also drew boats for Islander, Baltic, Hans Christian, Jeanneau, Tartan, and Bavaria.
Farewell Mr. Peterson.
Navtec Closes Its Doors
Navtec, the sailboat rigging company known to many for its Norseman brand of swageless (or mechanical) rigging terminals and based in Guilford, Connecticut, has closed shop. Hayn, a competitor in the standing rigging market and known for its Hi-Mod brand of swageless fittings, bought Navtec’s intellectual property assets at an auction in April. According to an excellent account in the July/Augusts issue of Ocean Navigator, Hayn’s General Manager, Brett Hasbrouck, said that Hayn’s plan for this acquisition is to “fill in the holes in our product offering to make it more complete…We will also be expanding to areas that Hayn did not offer. At some point in the future we will be offering a carbon rigging product.”
Navtec’s closure comes on the heels of another rigging manufacturer going out of business. Hall Spars & Rigging made custom and high-end spars for sailboat manufacturers and went into receivership in January. Ocean Navigator wondered whether these shut-downs are an indicator of the health of the industry. Thom Dammrich of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) cited data that suggests the industry is healthier than it’s been in recent years. He said that these two companies derived a lot of business from the high-end market and the strong dollar has made that business difficult to sustain in the U.S. Charlie Nobles, Executive Director of the American Sailing Association was reported in Ocean Navigator as saying he believes the sailing industry has stabilized after some tough years. He said his organization is training as many new sailors as they ever have.
Thou Shalt Knot: Clifford W. Ashley
There are still old knots that are unrecorded, and so long as there are new purposes for rope, there will always be new knots to discover. – Clifford W. Ashley
The New Bedford Whaling Museum celebrates the work of the master knot maker, maritime artist, historian, and author Clifford W. Ashley in a monumental exhibition opening in one of the Museum’s most prestigious galleries. The exhibition includes the premiere of a recent gift to the Museum of Ashley’s private knot collection with interpretative material from the Museum’s private collection as well as the artist’s paintings, prints, and works by other knot experts and artists inspired by his work.
Watch a first-time sailor on the trip of a lifetime, a sailing journey from New Zealand throughout the South Pacific. Ellis Emmett is a lifelong adventurer and his story is captured in the documentary, Over the Horizon. The first episode of the series was July 11 (with a new episode airing weekly thereafter). Outside TV Features is a new channel full of adventure-oriented programming, both shorts and features. Download their free app to watch anytime on your iOS or Android device, or watch on your TV via Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon. Check out the preview on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOp40zb_bQ4
Review by Karen Larson, Founder, Good Old Boat Magazine
Not in all the years that hundreds of sailing books have landed on my desk for review have I thought that a novel was destined for the leap from boating literature to mainstream reading and popularity on the big charts. This vault above all the rest of the books I’ve reviewed is all the more amazing because it is a first novel by a woman who has been a writer all her life but never the author of a book.
One night, about two years ago, we sailed Country Dancer, our Catalina 470, into a very narrow fjord just southeast of Thunder Bay, Canada. This little inlet was about 100-odd feet across, 25 feet deep, and had sides of near-vertical granite. As we had done before, we motored as far back into the granite gash as we felt we could and dropped our 73-pound Rocna anchor. It set immediately and we backed out of the cut a couple hundred feet to drop our 55-pound Rocna stern anchor. With two points established, we took the dinghy to the starboard shore and found a hearty looking little tree growing out of a nice crack and tied one of our long lines to the trunk. Three solid sets in a spot in which we could not turn our 47 feet around in seemed pretty secure. With 6-plus feet of draft in the cold fresh water, I had little fear of touching anything for the night. We pulled out our current reads, crime novels, to settle in with until nightfall.
BY VERN HOBBS (CREATESPACE, 2015; 316 PAGES, PRINT $9.95; EBOOK $4.95) REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON, GOOD OLD BOAT
Vern Hobbs’ third novel is his best one yet, and the other two are very good. An artist and contributor to several sailing magazines, including Good Old Boat, Vern began his journey as an author in 2010 with Flying Fish, a detective work focused on a Florida fishing community harmed by political whims in Tallahassee and a large firm seeking to develop a local casino. From there, Vern’s readers were captivated by the live-aboard community described in Mudfish Creek, published in 2013. This time the characters (and an interesting collection of salty caricatures they are) are brought together by the mystery left behind in the will of one of their former dockmates.
BY FIONA SIMS (ADLARD COLES NAUTICAL, 2017; 176 PAGES, PRINT; $20.00; KINDLE EBOOK, $9.99) REVIEW BY TOM WELLS, GOOD OLD BOAT, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
I read the title, The Boat Drinks Book: A different tipple in every port. I expected I’d find inside a cold and factual catalogue of all of the boat drinks I’d ever tasted, and perhaps a couple of new ones. As soon as I begin to read it, I remembered how very wrong first impressions can be.
BY SANDRA CLAYTON (MALVERN PARTNERSHIP, 2016; 264 PAGES, $14.95)REVIEW BY SUSAN LYNN KINGSBURY
“Initially a reluctant sailor, I fell in love with the cruising life…waking up each morning in a different place…Also the satisfaction of a life pared down to the essentials, yet all you really need…understanding what is most important in your life. What actually makes you happy.” –Sandra Clayton
Superb story-telling and perceptive descriptions hooked me and off I went on a pleasurable journey aboard Voyager, the author’s 40-foot Solaris Sunstream. It’s a journey that begins where the author left off in her previous book, heading out from the Florida coast for a winter in the Bahamas. From there she took me up the United States East Coast, from Florida to Nantucket and back, before crossing the Atlantic to England, by way of the Azores.
BY CRAIG PARMELEE CARTER (BEACHWRITES, 2017; 48 PAGES, PRINT; $8.95; KINDLE EBOOK, $3.99) REVIEW BY DON DAVIES
The Salty Bard makes magical moments.
For those who sail there are magic moments; and not all of them come with the canvas flying. While the swoosh of a hull slicing through white caps can quicken the pulse of any good old boater, there are other, equally unforgettable memories, only the sea-stricken share. Good times with family and friends conversing over a meal and beverage while tied to the dock. Diving off the stern into ice-cold water on a blistering summer day while your boat sways at anchor in a sheltered bay. But the moment the Salty Bard makes magical is that one we all know; huddled below decks in the dark of night as the boat dances on the hook, the wind and waves tossing our bodies and teasing our minds. Rain pelting a machine-gun melody on the deck over head and us wondering if that anchor will bite and stay…or drag and wander as we sit and ponder. It’s then…that moment when you call together your crew, young and old, and reach for the slender tome of poems, Up In Smoke, by Craig Parmelee Carter; or as he is better known…the Salty Bard.
BY ROB AVERY (JACK TAR PUBLISHING, 2016; 402 PAGES, PRINT $14.99; EBOOK $6.99) REVIEW BY MICHAEL ROBERTSON
EDITOR, GOOD OLD BOAT
Ever wonder why all Good Old Boat book reviews are positive? It’s not because all the books we review are good. It’s not because our reviewers are kind to a fault. It’s because when a Good Old Boat book reviewer can’t recommend a book, we don’t publish the review. This means that as reviewers, we sometimes wind up reading books we don’t like (or can’t finish). That’s our lot. But it also means that we sometimes get a jewel that seems to have been written just for us.
Close-Hauled was that kind of reading pleasure for me.
This is a crime mystery filled with Southern California liveaboards, sailboats, powerboats, cruising dreams, and a victim’s body, discovered by our protagonist off the harbor jetty in the opening pages.
From there, author Rob Avery unfolds a smart whodunit with impeccable timing, dead ends, creative twists, the right pace, and a cast of salty characters who propel the story with ample dialogue.
In describing Close-Hauled to family and friends, I’ve likened it to a John D. MacDonald read, except that 40 years have passed and instead of Travis McGee on the East Coast, it’s Sim Greene on the West Coast.
Greene is a compelling character, pulled along by his pursuit of the truth through a maze of others’ lies and corruption, a pull that doesn’t always align with his best interests. And along the way he’s torn between a settled life with a woman he loves, and his boat and a life on the water he’d have to walk away from.
BY BARRY LEWIS (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW HILL, 2016; 195 PAGES; $21) REVIEW BY AVITAL KEELEY
Note: Editor Karen Larson asked Avital Keeley — a junior member of the Good Old Boat crew and an enthusiastic newbie — to review this book. What better opinion than one from a youngster who is very interested in becoming a sailor? Before she asked Avital for her thoughts about this book, Karen also read the book and offers her own review below.
To a beginner sailor, a book titled Learn to Sail Today: From Novice to Sailor in One Week sounds like a dream. And that it is.
Barry Lewis formats his book according to its name: it is split into seven sections with one section per day. He then divides each section into multiple steps, each adding onto the reader’s knowledge of sailing. Sometimes he includes vocabulary without a good explanation or breezes through a subject that might trip people up. It’s definitely not a book to read when you are tired!
Although it’s meant to be read as you spend a week sailing (and I’m sure that would be helpful), that’s not necessary. This book is incredible in the way that it is easy to understand, even when not aboard or near a boat. I read this book on various buses, before bed, and while eating cereal, yet I still learned more than a summer of weekend sailing trips could teach me (excepting a summer of weekend sailing trips with the amazing teachers I know).
Getting back to those vocabulary terms that were left dangling in front of me. At first they are like the words you can’t translate in a foreign language sentence, completely without meaning. But then you see the words elsewhere, in other contexts, and things click. I’ve already used my newfound knowledge, both in sailing conversations and in odd things in my everyday life.
I can’t wait to go sailing again to see how much this book has helped me (In the same way I’d love to go to France after studying French for years.) Learn to Sail Today not only teaches the terms and the science behind sailing, it teaches so much more. Lewis’ writing style is friendly and warm. It feels like he is right there telling you everything, jokes and all. It’s not a formal, informational book, and yet it relays the same amount of information.
Any beginner sailor should read this book, even if he or she has been sailing before. Experienced sailors might want to read this book as a refresher and to open themselves to a new perspective about sailing and learning.
BY NIC COMPTON, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY PETER SCOTT (RIZZOLI INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS, INC., 2017; 160 PAGES, HARDCOVER; $29.95)> REVIEW BY ROB MAZZA
This is an intriguing little book. Although it is titled Notable Boats, it really is the story of some extraordinary people. Compton, who is a past editor of the British magazine, Classic Boats, sets out to profile 36 small boats which he deems to be worthy of note, and his eclectic selection certainly provides interesting reading. The only trait that is common to his choices is that none have engines as their primary propulsion, with the vast majority being propelled by sail. Some, such as Huck Finn’s raft, have no propulsion system at all, and three are propelled by oar alone. The latter include the Tom McClean’s 20-foot dory, Super Silver, which he rowed across the Atlantic in 1969, Jerome K. Jerome’s Pride of the Thames from Three Men in a Boat, and Casanova’s gondola. Indeed, like Huck’s raft, some of Compton’s picks exist only in literature, such as Robinson Crusoe’s periagua. Some that he selects are well known to most sailors, including Joshua Slocomb’s Spray, Robin Knox-Johnson’s Suhaili, the Olin Stephens-designed Dorade, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV, Robin Lee Graham’s Dove, and, of course, the schooner yacht America and the iconic Canadian fishing schooner Bluenose.
BY DICK ELAM (BROWN BOOKS PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016; 232 PAGES, HARDCOVER; $22.99; KINDLE EBOOK, $4.99) REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
Is it every sailor’s dream to rescue a mermaid, a topless lady in distress? What could be better? How about a somewhat modern slant on the mermaid theme…say, a mermaid who can get around on two good legs and who just happens to know how to hand, reef, and steer? Too good to be true? Perhaps. Imagine she comes aboard with a bushel-load of personal baggage she’s keeping secret and is stalked by bad guys who just might kill anyone who happens to be aboard?
BY GEORGE MICHELSEN FOY (FLATIRON, 2016; 291 PAGES, HARDCOVER; $25.99) REVIEW BY JAMES PAPA
In the wake of his brother’s recent death, George Michelsen Foy becomes interested in the fate of his great, great grandfather, Capt. Halvor Michelsen, lost aboard the Norwegian packet Stavanger Paquet when she went down under Havlor’s command in 1844. Hoping to understand something of the Stavanger Paquet’s loss due to a navigational error, Foy plots a course offshore from Hyannis, Massachusetts, to Maine aboard Odyssey, his aging Morgan 35 sloop, employing the same sorts of navigation tools and strategies his great, great grandfather would have used.
Over a winter spent readying Odyssey and himself for the voyage, Foy finds himself drawn deeper into the art and science of navigation, and the ways in which it informs and is in turn affected by almost all of our daily activities. In between dusting off his old sextant and making necessary repairs to Odyssey, he travels to the Caribbean to sail with a Haitian skipper who carries no compass; journeys to the Greek island of Samothrace to visit the “shrine of the megaloi theoi, the great gods,” where the ancient Dioskuri initiated would-be navigators in the magic art; consults with neuroscientists mapping those areas of the brain involved with navigation; and visits the “Dark Heart” of today’s GPS at Schriever’s AFB in Colorado. All the while, Foy finds himself navigating his own memories as well, especially those that now make up his relationship with his brother.
When it comes to what matters most in life, Foy realizes that “navigation and the disorientation that’s part of it have taught me: that we cannot live without loss.” And that when we lose those things that make us who we are, “we are forced to look hard around this world” to find our way, and ourselves, again.
Every sailor who’s ever looked at a chart, tried to take a sight with a sextant, wondered how GPS works, or had to rely on dead-reckoning out of sight of land will enjoy Foy’s examination of navigation’s many fascinating aspects in Finding North. Those who have ever looked in the mirror, or into their heart, or the heart of another, to locate a different sort of fix, will discover even more.
BY ANDREW EVANS (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION, 2015; 244 PAGES, SOFT COVER; $23.00, $13.69 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY WAYNE GAGNON
I’ve been sailing Tortuga, my 1969 Westerly Centaur, since 2003, and about 75 percent of the time I’m alone, so needless to say I was thrilled when asked to review Andrew Evan’s book, Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics. As it turns out, Evans has been sailing about as long as I have. True, he has a lot more miles under his keel than I do, but like me they’re mostly singlehanded, so in that respect I felt a kinship with his writing.
BY GEORGE BUEHLER (INTERNATIONAL MARINE/MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION, 2014; 400 PAGES, $34.00, $18.70 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY WAYNE GAGNON
I first got the bug to own a sailboat sometime in the late ’70s and for a while I toyed with the idea of building one. However, as the years went by and I came to understand myself more, I realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. The building, that is, not the owning. Anyhow, while feeding the fantasy I managed to accumulate a library of boat plans and how-to books, one of which was the 1991 edition of Buehler’s Backyard Boatbuilding, so when the opportunity to review the 2014 edition presented itself I couldn’t say no.
BY TOM CUNLIFFE (ADLAR COLES, 2015, 272 PAGES; $25.00, $11.13 AMAZON PAPERBACK; $13.19 KINDLE)
REVIEW BY DAVID MCDANIEL
In the Wake of Heroes: Sailing’s Greatest Stories is an apt title for this collection of excerpts from sailing adventures penned over the last century and a half. Tom Cunliffe provides a brief introduction to each chapter, creating an entry point from which we are thrust into extraordinary accounts of seamanship, sport, and often unbelievable courage. The stories range the entire scope of sailing — bluewater passagemaking, high-latitude exploration, daysailing, racing — all laced together with a shared spirit of adventure and, in many cases, a sense of urgency. Readers from all walks of life will find much to appease their inner sailor.
BY JAMES HALEY (G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS, 2016; 448 PAGES; $28.00, $14.99 KINDLE. TO BE PUBLISHED NOV. 1, 2016)
REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
Historical novelist James Haley has entered the crowded field of nautical fiction occupied by the likes of Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey-Maturin series), C. S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower), Richard Woodman (Nathaniel Drinkwater), Dewey Lambdin (Alan Lewrie), and William Hammond (The Cutler Family Chronicles).
Like William Hammond, with his excellent and nearly completed series, James Haley tells the story from the perspective of the American Navy. The first book of the series, The Shores of Tripoli, places young midshipman Bliven Putnam aboard the Enterprise en route to the Mediterranean, serving the flagship, the 44-gun frigate President. Bliven’s Enterprise is a 165-ton schooner, 85 feet in length with twelve 6-pounder guns and a crew of 90.
BY CARL BROOKINS, BROOKINS BOOKS, 2016; 239 PAGES; $13.95
REVIEW BY KAREN LARSON
Michael and Elizabeth Tanner and a friend charter a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy a typical cruise . . . that is, until the fog closes in and a large mystery boat attacks for no apparent reason. Eventually their charter boat is sunk and Michael regains consciousness sometime later on a beach. He later learns that his wife and their friend have both died in the sinking.
BY BOB AND KAREN JONES (PIANKATANK PRESS, 2016; 304 PAGES; $17.00, $4.95 DIGITAL)
REVIEW BY JAMES PAPA
Sailing Toward Sunrise chronicles the journey of Bob and Karen Jones, recently retired, as they travel from Corpus Christi to Chesapeake Bay via the Intracoastal Waterway in Watercolors, their 21-year-old Catalina 30. Lake sailors on small boats for most of their lives, two short charter trips in the Caribbean eventually set them dreaming of wider horizons and distant shores. So, done with their work lives, they bought a bigger boat, took some ASA courses, read a few books by bluewater sailors, and set a course for Virginia’s Cape Henry.
BY R. A. BARD (SMOOTH PASSAGE BOOKS, 2016; 194 PAGES; $9.99)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book! Red Flags in Blue Water is about assorted calamities R.A. Bard has encountered as a commercial fisherman turned delivery skipper. Most of his passages have proceeded smoothly, he explains in the foreword to the book, but he finds the attention span of friends and acquaintances wanders when he tells of those travels. So it’s the ones in which chaos looms — “When the weather snarls, when mechanical systems fail, when crew relations spiral into weirdness” — that are collected in this book.
BY PEGGIE HALL (SEAWORTHY PUBLICATIONS, INC., 2016, 114 PAGES;
REVIEW BY PAUL FOER
This book could be called the “Bible of Bile” or perhaps “Fifty Shades of Gray and Black Water” but its real title is longer than your boat’s sanitation hose. It is The New! Updated, revised and expanded! Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner’s Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor.
BY W. R. CHENEY (BREAKAWAY BOOKS, 2015, 240 PAGES; $14.00 PAPER, $7.99 DIGITAL)
REVIEW BY CAROLYN CORBETT
Penelope is a 22-foot Marshall catboat; Down East is the Maine coast for which W.R. Cheney has a passion and Penelope Down East is an engaging collection of their adventures together. It is not a ship’s log, nor a cruising guide. It is more like a love story with Penelope and a love story with sailing, if the author (and Kendra) will excuse that sort of description.
In Good Old Boat May 2016, Allen Penticoff reviewed the Westerly Pageant, a 23-foot twin-keel sloop built by Westerly Marine in England. The boat had been highly customized, so we cautioned readers that Ladyship, as she is named, is not representative of all Pageants. In fact, she is unique and well worked on, we thought readers would enjoy learning more about her refit from the man responsible. Here, in his own words, is Rob Hoffman’s story.
Ladyship started life in 1971 as a twin-keel Westerly Pageant 23, exported from England to a Westerly dealer on the lower Chesapeake Bay. She moved from there to an owner in Virginia and somehow ended up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she had a couple of owners. We suspect she might have been sunk at some point, possibly the victim of a hurricane, as we found hidden mud debris inside her that could not have arrived there otherwise.
When we found her, she had been confiscated for non-payment of yard storage and was in a salvage yard about to be scrapped. We bought her through an eBay ad. She had no trailer, but had her mast and boom, albeit in sorry shape.
I had been intrigued with twin-keelers for quite a while after reading about Lord Riverdale’s exploits with Bluebird of Thorne, his twin-keel ocean racer. I then read a treatise by Bray Yacht Design in Canada that further served to kindle my interest. This is perhaps the best argument in their favor and is well worth reading: Bray Yacht Design – Twin Keels.
From a practical standpoint, the Westerly Pageant also boasted interior accommodations still unmatched in any other 23-foot sailboat. It has more than 6 feet of standing headroom below and an enclosed head. The storage capacity is also comparatively large and, while not ever considered a “racer,” it was built in the early days of fiberglass boat construction under Lloyd’s Registry inspection. If anything, it is overbuilt by today’s standards and very solid, if comparatively heavy. My challenge was to see if we could substantially improve the performance of this very roomy, comfortable, but rather stodgy old British design and still retain most of her original character and benefits that are so enduring.
Making a plan
I retained the services of Cortland Steck, the same naval architect we had worked with before on our Alubat modifications (Good Old Boat, March 2013). Cort, who had been with Hunter Marine for quite a while, and I worked together to come up with this makeover of our Pageant 23. We decided to call her a Mark II version, as her changes were substantial enough to almost make her a different boat from the original Laurent Giles design. Westerly built 551 Pageants over about a nine-year production span.
There are always things that hindsight would dictate be done differently, but for the most part, we consider the project to be quite successful and the boat has performed well over several cruises and even in a regatta where she garnered second place on elapsed time in a field of about eight other sailboats of various designs, some of them much larger.
As well as generally cleaning and refinishing the boat, we made a number of major changes.
The rig was enlarged a little to add a bowsprit and a removable inner forestay. The new bowsprit is made of ipe, a hardwood that is considerably stronger than teak.
An inner “soft” forestay now carries a small soft-luff roller-furling (non-reefing) lapper jib that is sheeted to new inboard tracks on top of the cabin. It can be easily removed and stored below when we want to use the larger 130 percent genoa on the headstay roller furler.
We use the inner headsail in heavier wind conditions rather than reefing the big genoa, as it has a more efficient shape and can be sheeted closer inboard for higher pointing ability. It replaces the original baby stay, which is no longer needed since we added swept-back spreaders and moved the shroud chainplates aft. Sail area has increased a little as a result and the original tendency to carry too much weather helm has been eliminated by the bowsprit.
Hunter Riddle of Schurr Sails in Pensacola, Florida, designed and built the new loose-footed mainsail and both headsails. As cruisers, we do not normally carry a spinnaker, but the boat is rigged for one.
A new mast tabernacle was fabricated that allows the mast to be stored on the boat when in trailer mode. The pivot point is above the boom, which stays mounted to the tabernacle and does not need to be removed for travel. The original Proctor mast was reused, stripped of its gold-colored anodizing. It was refurbished with new swept-back spreaders that take the shrouds to new chainplates about a foot aft of their original position.
I’m a big fan of a sturdy arch assembly on the stern, and I’ve used one on both of our boats. In each case they were built strong enough to serve as the structural attachment point for a split backstay. In Ladyship’s case, the arch also holds an elevated top-mounted traveler that controls the boom and the mainsheet. The traveler and mainsheet lines are led down the sides of the arch into the cockpit through blocks and cam cleats. The top of the arch is a fine place for mounting larger solar panels, and Ladyship carries two 100-watt panels as well as antennas on fold-down mounts for travel. The arch also supports the boom and mast when the mast is down and Ladyship is in travel mode on her trailer.
The sides of the arch structure carry a swiveling outboard motor carrier for the dinghy, a hard-case LifeSling MOB (man overboard) device, a center-mounted block and tackle for lifting the main propulsion outboard motor out of its well high enough for service, and a solid attachment point for the lifelines. The “roof” provided by the arch also serves as a connector point for a canvas panel (removable and without any frame) that extends overhead coverage all the way aft from the dodger. All this makes the cockpit very protected and secure. LED lights mounted under the arch illuminate the cockpit at night.
The most invasive and extreme departure from the original design is the use of an outboard motor in a built-in well that allows the motor to be retracted vertically with a 12-volt winch motor, thus removing all prop drag under sail. A pair of spring-loaded bomb-bay-style door panels automatically close and seal the hull aperture as the motor and prop travel upward.
In order to build the motor well, the original tiller and rudder were removed and the stern cockpit locker and a portion of the cockpit were cut away. A new vertical workboat-type tiller controls a new transom-mounted blade rudder via a line-and-block system. The use of a vertical tiller that does not sweep across the sitting area increased the usable space in the smallish and deep cockpit.
Moving the rudder aft to the transom also required the fabrication of a new rudder mount and reinforcement of the transom to take the additional loads. The rudder’s new location places it in the propeller’s thrust stream power and makes turning in close quarters like having “power steering.”
Ladyship originally had a small Volvo MD-1 inboard diesel. The motor in use now is a 20-horsepower 4-stroke Tohatsu with a normal short shaft and a low-speed pusher prop. It has turned out to be more power than needed, but was originally selected for its larger alternator. In hindsight, I would now choose something smaller like a Yamaha 4-stroke 9.9 high-thrust motor, which would be smaller and lighter and still able to achieve hull speed. The trade-off for lower alternator output has been more than made up for by the 200 watts of solar panels we have on the stern arch.
Both sides of the new motor well are now lockers with removable tops for access. One of these lockers houses the 18-gallon gas tank and the other houses the 12-volt winch motor for the motor-lifting rig, the starting battery, and general storage for fenders and other equipment. Tracks on the tops of these lockers support removable one-person seats on each side of the center motor well.
Both of our boats have a very sturdy boarding ladder that’s permanently mounted on the stern and folds up vertically to be secured under the arch. These ladders can be deployed instantly and extend downward enough to allow the boats to be boarded easily and safely while on their trailers.
Down below, most of the original design and layout was retained. Because the boat no longer carries an inboard diesel, that space was used to install a Mermaid water-cooled air-conditioning system with vents that discharge into the saloon and, via ducting, into the V-berth area. This unit uses one of three Marelon below-the-waterline through-hulls to bring in cooling water for its compressor. As we sail mostly in southern climates, that makes Ladyship’s interior very comfortable on hot and muggy nights in a marina. We have no AC generator, so the air-conditioning is for dockside use only. At anchor, there is usually enough breeze to keep the cabin cool.
Ladyship has a small enclosed head compartment, which now houses a marine head from SeaLand that sits atop its own gravity-fed holding tank. It has no flush plumbing to clog, just a large foot-operated ball valve. It uses a little fresh water to flush. The tank is connected to a deck pumpout with a Y-valve, so the contents can be discharged overboard via a through-hull with a 12-volt diaphragm pump where that’s legal.
The original stainless-steel freshwater tank located under the V-berth was retained with the addition of a top-mounted inspection port for cleaning. It holds about 13 gallons and is filled through a deck plate. The boat had a foot pump that fed one fixture in the galley sink from this water tank. We added a small 12-volt pressure pump to power this system. It now also supplies flushing water to the head and also to a hose bib mounted in the cockpit for rinsing things (like dogs). This hose bib can be back-fed with a hose and pressure reducer from dockside if desired.
The galley is minimal and includes a small sink with one freshwater faucet. We did replace the old countertop with a new one of Corian. For cooking, we use a non-pressurized two-burner gimbaled Origo alcohol stove. For refrigeration, we carry a single 12-volt Engel MRO40F-U1 fridge-freezer recessed into a cutout in the port quarter berth top adjacent to the galley. We use neither of our quarter berths for sleeping and they now serve for storage only. To access the aft portion of these old quarter berths more easily, we installed a pair of aluminum hatches on the cockpit seats. We installed another matching hatch on the cockpit sole for access to the bilge pumps and the air-conditioner’s cooling-water pump. There is also some storage there for a toolbox.
Ladyship’s saloon has a new fold-up table that lowers into a double-berth position. The forward V-berths are also comparatively large and quite comfortable. We had new cushions made of 4-inch closed-cell foam covered with gray Sunbrella fabric.
The boat originally had a vinyl headliner with a foam backing that had been removed. We elected not to replace any of it, but instead we cleaned the surface and painted it with a single-part epoxy semi-gloss paint over a primer coat mixed with microsphere insulating beads.
As built, the boat had fixed saloon windows and only a pair of small round opening portlights in the head and locker areas. We removed the saloon windows and replaced them with smoke-gray Plexiglas panels that cover the entire area around the cutouts. Four new Vetus opening portlights with screens were then fitted in the Plexiglas. New round Vetus portlights were also installed forward along with a pair of rectangular side portlights for additional ventilation in the V-berth. A forward hatch over the V-berth was rebuilt, reglazed with gray Plexiglas and fitted with a solar-powered vent. New window and cabin interior trim was built of mahogany and stained to match what was left of the original interior woodwork.
The electrical system
The boat had no electrical system when we rescued her. There were remnants of old wiring that had to be removed before we completely re-wired her for both 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC circuits. Shorepower (30 amps) is brought aboard though an external plug aft that has a DEI Marine isolation device on the ground wire. The boat has several internal GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) AC sockets, and the air-conditioner has to have shorepower AC as well.
The boat has a Magnum MMS pure-sine-wave inverter/charger on the DC side that feeds a house bank of two GC-12 golf cart batteries. They give us a house capacity of 360 amp hours, which is sufficient for the electronics, Engel fridge, and all the LED lights throughout the boat.
Our electronic package includes a VHF radio and a GPS chart plotter with Wi-Fi capability. The entertainment system is a Tivoli CD player and FM-XM stereo bookshelf system mounted to the forward saloon bulkhead. The boat has active AIS (Automatic Identification System) installed and uses LED running lights. We have a tiller-pilot autopilot. The instrument package includes a conventional bulkhead compass in the cockpit and a single multi-function display head that displays information from the depth sounder and the masthead-mounted sensor for wind speed and direction.
A custom Blue Seas breaker panel controls both the AC and DC sides. The entire DC panel supply is fed through a DC-DC converter that stabilizes the 12-volt power and prevents any voltage spikes that might kill the LED lights. The boat has several internal 12-volt cigarette lighter outlets and a single fan in the V-berth. One of the 12-volt sockets has a cell phone USB charger built into it.
We use a Blue Sky Energy MPPT solar charge controller to handle the power input from our two solar panels that charge the house bank. Our charging sources for the batteries are the solar panels, the motor’s alternator output, and the Magnum inverter/charger when on shorepower.
We moved the house bank of batteries to a more amidships location and left a smaller starting battery aft for the motor. The motor is connected directly to this smaller 12-volt battery and, when it’s fully charged, the engine alternator’s output is then automatically directed to the house bank via a Balmar parasitic charger. The engine battery and the house bank are normally isolated from each other but can be combined in an emergency.
One of the cast-iron keels, the aluminum arch, and the lifelines are all electrically bonded to the mast for a lightning-discharge path to the water.
Rob cut about 6 inches off the bottom of each keel with a gas-powered concrete saw.
The sail area and the ballast/displacement ratio were recalculated to evaluate what could be safely done to improve performance. Naval architect Cortland Steck determined that our keels could be shortened by about 6 inches to give us a more favorable sail area/displacement ratio in the high teens and also to reduce wetted-surface area. These boats were over-ballasted to begin with and can benefit from some ballast removal. The specified cast iron (about 600 pounds) was removed using a gas-powered concrete saw with a diamond blade — not a job for the faint of heart!
To maintain and improve our pointing ability, we reshaped the keels’ airfoil profiles to make them slightly asymmetrical, as was originally desired in the Laurent Giles design but not implemented by Westerly due to production cost considerations. The inside surfaces of the keels were built up by about ½ inch at the apex of the chord section and the external sides were flattened some by shape sanding before all the corrosion pitting was filled. Both were then faired out and painted with an epoxy barrier. The resulting asymmetrical profile shape tends to lift the boat to weather and also reduces heeling a little.
The keels are attached to the boat with sturdy 1-inch-diameter stainless-steel bolts. We inspected them closely when we dropped the keels to clean and reseal the hull-to-keel joints with 3M 5200 and found them to be in great shape. Because the boat has no inboard engine and attendant prop shaft, Ladyship’s bilges are normally completely dry. The air-conditioner’s condensate never gets into the bilges because it is removed by a venturi suction device powered by the water stream exiting the cooling water circuit.
The boat has an automatic 12-volt bilge pump and a manual diaphragm bilge pump with the pump handle socket in the cockpit.
Externally, we were able to repair and refurbish the original teak rubrail while using an automotive spray enamel to repaint any of the deck and topsides areas that we did not cover with Kiwi-Grip non-skid product.
A new cockpit dodger was built by JSI in Florida, who also built the stern arch and mast tabernacle. They also did the new lifelines and supplied a lot of the running rigging and new standing rigging.
We carry three anchors: a primary Bulwagga, a second claw-style on the bow, and a single smaller claw as our stern anchor. I fabricated new PVC chain pipes for the two bow anchor rodes that are now led down into a separated stowage area all the way forward under the V-berth. The rode for the stern anchor is stowed adjacent to the fuel tank locker.
We carry Ladyship on a custom aluminum tandem-axle trailer with surge brakes. The trailer has an extending tongue that allows for launching at most ramps. After the modifications to the keels, the boat now draws 3 feet and, including the trailer, weighs in at around 7,500 pounds. We pull with a GMC 2500HD diesel truck.
The hull’s paint job was done by a friend and fellow sailor we met at Lake Havasu. Bill Barnhart is an internationally recognized fine artist, painter, print maker, architectural designer, and sculptor. He’s also a fine sailor and a boat restorer of considerable skill.
Good Old Regatta fun
Ladyship participated in the 2015 St. Petersburg Classic (Good Old Boat) Regatta, a charity event for Meals on Wheels put on every year by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and St. Petersburg Sailing Association. Bill Wright crewed for Gabi and me and we were amazed at how well Ladyship performed. We raced in the Good Old Fun class that consisted of older boats of many different designs. Our class was not under any handicap rules; the boats were placed simply on elapsed time over the usual triangular club-racing course on Tampa Bay. We came in second in a field of about eight other boats and even beat a few others on elapsed time that were in the faster handicapped classes. Most of the race was in light-air conditions in which any stock Westerly twin-keeler would have found herself barely able to finish. Many of the other boats were DNF due to light air. One skipper was certain we had our motor on — LOL. We had it fully retracted!
BY LINUS WILSON (OXRIVER PUBLISHING, 2015, 350 PAGES; $24.95 PAPERBACK, $9.99 DIGITAL EDITION)
REVIEW BY SUSAN LYNN KINGSBURY PORT LUDLOW
“Boredom drove me to boating. There was little else to do…the heat was oppressive . . . the water provided the best relief from the July swelter at 17 degrees north latitude.” Linus Wilson, During a vacation to Antigua
Linus and his then-pregnant wife, Janna, took sailing lessons in Antigua during one of their last vacations before the birth of their daughter. At the time, they did it out boredom and for relief from the heat, but in their quest to cool down and find something to do, they were hooked. And so the story begins.