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.

Deadly Magnificent

I was still green, having only a month ago traded my Great Lakes home in Michigan for the salty sea air and hot sun of the Caribbean. Now, here I was, crewing with a bunch of strangers aboard Windy and everything about sailing was new to me. And I had no complaints. Sunlight glinted on the tops of deep-blue waves while flashes of silver and a flutter of wings raced by the hull, a school of flying fish joining us on our 6-hour voyage.

Then we heaved to and the captain’s voice rang out from astern, “Hop in!” It was time for a quick cool-off swim.

Morgan 32 sailboat

News from the Helm

Giving away a Morgan 32?! (Deadline looming.) A serious warning to gasoline users, and pirates and outlaws and eye patches…

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Oak Harbor DIY Marina

Mail Buoy

DIY boatyard blues—and response, Bowditch reconsidered, and readers weigh in on their second choices in sailing periodicals…

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Put it to the Readers

Good Old Boat contributing editor Allen Penticoff is a private pilot, zips around in a Cessna 150. He sent the following question to Good Old Boat editors Rob Mazza and Dan Spurr and me:

“I have read numerous accounts in sailing magazines and books of steering cable failures and I began to ponder: Why do these cables fail? Airplanes are full of control cables that never fail. Yes, the loads are lighter. But that raises the question as to why marine steering systems are not designed for similar reliability. Is it the size and type of cable being used? (Aircraft use a fine cable that can all but be tied in knots without harm.) Is it the wrapping around drums? Turning pulleys that are too small? Too much tension load? Connection failures? Would lubrication help prevent chafe that leads to failure? For something so important, it seems the failure rate is way too high and these things always happen during the worst conditions and at the worst places. Fixing a hard-to-get-at cable becomes a life and death repair that most folks have not had to do before.”

Of course, there are differences between planes and boats.

I reminded Allen that planes receive mandated annual inspections, where cable wear may be caught proactively. But Allen says that plane cables are not commonly replaced for wear. He pointed out that many planes built in the 1940s are still flying with their original cables. Dan offered that cable ends on boats are often clamped and wondered how the ends were fixed on aircraft. Allen said they’re often swaged. Of course, many boats are in a saltwater environment that aircraft are not exposed to, accelerating corrosion?

We don’t have the answers. Rob suggested I talk to the folks at Edson, and I will, but I’m also putting it to the readers. I want to hear what you think, and I especially want to hear from readers who’ve experienced a steering cable failure; What was the cause? Do you have a photo? Maybe we won’t get enough responses to reach a conclusion, but maybe we will.

As always, I’m at

Book Review: Arrow’s Fall

Jared Kane and Danny MacLean are intrepid Canadian yachtsmen, sailing the ketch, Arrow, around the South Pacific. Although they are starting to run low of the funds they obtained from a previous adventure, described in the book Arrow’s Flight, they are not so bad off that they need to take on a charter from a pretty young woman, Laura Kennedy, to go looking for a lost shipwreck.

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Maiden documentary movie poster

Movie Review: Maiden: a Documentary

When Tracey Edwards and her all-woman crew showed up with a boat for the start of the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race, the ocean sailing world took their femaleness as an affront, and bet on how far the “girls” would get.

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dolphins playing

Poem of the Month


Joy incarnate
flashes cobalt into night
a bow pushes water
and the rush at cheek
is ours…
for a moment:

The constraints of life
are wires for sails.
We shape the air
of our paths
over time and distance
to harness an invisible
weight to cloth

Andy Williams owns a Luders 33 and daysails in Fishers Island Sound. While Black Arrow still owns his heart, offshore sailing has become his passion. On land, his work includes yacht carpentry and furniture design. He lives in Stonington, Connecticut.

Gunnar Vardaasen is our Dogwatch Sailor of the Month. While visiting from Grimstad, Norway, Gunnar (the Norwegian cousin) was kept busy at the helm of Tim and Mary Sheie’s San Juan 7.7, Restauration, sailing out of Bayfield, Wisconsin. By the way, Tim and Mary aren’t restauranteurs, their boat’s name is taken from that of the first ship to carry Norwegian immigrants to the US. Tim writes, “During Gunnar’s visit, we sailed around the Apostle Islands for several days. Sailing is genetic in the family, a long line of boatbuilders and sailors.”

Have a favorite sailor you’d like to nominate? Get a good picture of them (hopefully they’re not too busy or camera-shy like Gunnar) and send it to me; maybe they’ll be chosen. As always, I’m at