Dogwatch (n): For sailors, either of the 2-hour watch periods between 1600 and 2000; For journalists, the period after going to press when staff stand by in case breaking news warrants a late edition.

An Exhausting Sail

By Bert Vermeer

We had been sailing the west coast of Vancouver Island over the past 30 days. Our final day dawned hot and sunny without a ripple on the water, and so we motored our 1978 Islander Bahama 30, Natasha, out of Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour. I briefed my wife, Carey, our granddaughter, Natasha, and Trixi, the dog, about what lay ahead. The forecast called for a light southeasterly wind later in the day. The tides would be the dominate factor for our 20-nautical mile trip home to Sidney, a huge flood tide would generate 4- to 6-knot currents in the narrow channels and 2+ knots would be the average push through the entire Haro Strait. A lack of wind had plagued us for days and we’d relied on our Volvo diesel for nearly the entire length of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As we entered turbulent Enterprise Channel just out of Victoria, Carey went below for a moment only to call up with frightened concern in her voice. “Smoke’s coming from behind the companionway steps!”

Coming About

By John Laskowsky

My wife, Rhonda, and I didn’t grow up around boats. But after moving to Florida and raising a family, we grew fond of the idea of buying a boat and perhaps one day sailing away. New to the world of wind and water, we started attending the sailboat shows. “How many miles does she have on her?” I asked at one time or another. If any of the boats we saw was on wheels, I’d surely have kicked a tire like I knew what I was doing. After looking for a few years, we’d gained some knowledge (not much, just some) and set our sights firmly on a new 2015 Beneteau Oceanis 35. I was enamored with its twin wheels and light-colored wood interior. Surely this was the boat of all boats, one that could take us anywhere and everywhere.

Morgan 32 sailboat

News from the Helm

The Morgan 32 is gone, more later…and we’ve got a great photo essay of a boatbuilding contest we’d love to enter someday…

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Mail Buoy

We wondered about steering cable failures and the folks at Edson chimed in with readers to give lots of info, and a generous offer…

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VHF and electronics panel on a sailboat

Put it to the Readers

Fact: LED lights are taking over the world and the incandescent bulb is dead. But not all LED lights are created equal and in addition to quality concerns (it varies widely, in our experience) and color considerations (warm or cool temperature light?), the US Coast Guard and others have been warning of the potential for LED lights to interfere with VHF radio reception and transmission. This is especially problematic at the masthead, where VHF antennas and LED anchor or navigation lights may be mounted in proximity.

We installed a SignalMate LED masthead anchor/nav light combo and never experienced any problems with interference over many years. We don’t personally know anyone who has experienced radio interference. But we keep hearing about the potential for interference problems, for nearly two years now.

So, I’m also putting it to the readers. Has anyone installed an LED light that caused problems with VHF radio reception?

Unsure? Here is a test the US Coast Guard recommends conducting:

  1. Turn off LED light(s).
  2. Tune the VHF radio to a quiet channel (for example, channel 13).
  3. Adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the radio outputs audio noise.
  4. Re-adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the audio noise is quiet, only slightly above the noise threshold.
  5. Turn on the LED light(s).

If the radio now outputs audio noise, then the LED lights are causing interference and it is likely that both shipboard VHF marine radio and AIS reception are being degraded by LED lighting.

Yes? No?

As always, I’m at

Book Review: Compass & Sextant: The Journey of Peregrin Took

This is author Phil Hoysradt’s memoir, covering the span of his life that begins in a Portland, Maine, classroom in 1968, when he dropped out of college to join the Peace Corp, and ends roughly seven years later, when he sailed into the Gloucester, Massachusetts, harbor aboard Peregrine Took, capping a near-circumnavigation.

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great canal journeys

Docu-Series Review: Great Canal Journeys

None of us is getting any younger, and some of us may have begun to ask ourselves how long we can continue a boating lifestyle. For an answer to that question I enthusiastically refer you to Tim West and Prunella Scales and their remarkable British television documentary series, “Great Canal Journeys,” now available on YouTube.

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Poem of the Month

An untitled rhyming haiku…

The wind, strength it brings.
We pull the many taught strings,
And will to great things.

Rhea Caswell is our Dogwatch Sailor of the Month. Her husband, Chris, wrote: “When we met, she was in high school and I was in college. I was also an ocean-racing sailor. When I needed to move my boat four hours down the California coast for a race the next day, my buddy and I decided to make it an evening sail with dates. I asked Rhea. Being suave, I brought a dinner of Dinty Moore beef stew and a screw-top bottle of red plonk. Rhea took charge of the galley and when she put some of the plonk into the stew, I realized two things: first, she was a true gourmet and second, I was hooked. That was 55 years ago and we’ve cruised the world, from Greece to Mexico to the Caribbean to the French canals.

“Here Rhea’s steering a chartered Morgan 44 out of Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, and I think she’s indicating she needs a glass of champagne. And she is a gourmet, has owned a couple of French restaurants, so we always eat well, never Dinty Moore and plonk.”

Have a favorite sailor you’d like to nominate? Get a good picture of them and send it to me; maybe they’ll be chosen.

As always, I’m at