Cruising Tips

Calling for Help

by Peter Nielsen, Posted August 18, 2009
The three boats in Tom Cunliffe’s scenario all found different ways of coping with difficult weather conditions, and all made it to port with little or no drama. But what if things had turned out differently? How would they have called for help?Visual distress

Weather Tactics

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted August 18, 2009
Modern weather forecasting is so good that we aren’t often caught out, but we all take a chance once in a while, especially when we’re under pressure to be somewhere else. Coastal sailing in near-gale conditions isn’t the same as ocean storm survival. Instead, we have to think hard about possible shelter and local dangers. Different boats have varying abilities. So do crews. Here’s a hypothetical

Dinghy Seamanship

by Fay Mark, Posted August 18, 2009
There’s an old saying that some of the most dangerous moments in sailing occur when people are in their dinghies. Over the years we’ve had lots of opportunities to see dinghies being handled well and poorly, and we’ve seen a lot more good and bad examples since we have been cruising in the Caribbean aboard our 54- foot cutter New Morning. We carry an 11-foot Zodiac

Safe Anchoring

by Jan Irons, Posted August 18, 2009
Even in the most idyllic of anchorages, the wind can come up in the middle of the night and cause trouble. At times like this we always have an action plan to follow if our anchor begins to drag. Experience has convinced me that when something goes wrong while a boat is at anchor, trouble is caused not by the conditions, but by how the crew responds to those conditions. Having

No-risk mast climbing

by Peter Nielsen, Posted August 5, 2009
Most halyard winches are not powerful enough to hoist a 200-pound sailor up a mast, so you need to find a way to let your primary winches take the strain if you need to hoist someone up the rig. Here’s what we do on our boat, where the main halyard runs via a rope clutch (not seen in the photo) to a small winch on the mast. First, we loop a spare length of half-inch line a few times around the

No-foul jib sheet

by Peter Nielsen, Posted August 5, 2009
The bowlines used to attach sheets to the clew of a headsail have an annoying habit of catching on inner forestays, babystays, and shrouds. Here’s a why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before idea: if you’re replacing your headsail sheets, don’t cut them in half. Double the sheet over and thread the looped end through the clew. Pass the tails through the loop and draw tight. Then say goodbye to those

Wireless thermometer

by Don Casey, Posted August 5, 2009
If you know how cold it is inside your refrigerator, you can perhaps troubleshoot an electrical or mechanical failure in time to save the box’s contents from spoiling. A thermometer inside the box doesn’t tell you anything unless you open the box and check it. That’s why I like to use a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer of the type that’s readily available in most hardware stores. I put the

Easy-clean anchor chain

by Sail Staff, Posted August 5, 2009
If you spend any time anchored in warm water, your anchor chain will attract enough growth to make bringing it back on deck a messy operation. I’ve watched cruisers whose anchors have been down for a while take a full day to scrub each link of chain clean. I have a better and easier way.Because growth on anchor chain will be limited to the section of the chain that extends from the surface
We used to have to scrub our deck to remove the rust bleeding off the base of our steel propane tank. Then my husband, Dave, cut a piece of garden hose long enough to completely enclose the tank’s circular base. He slit the hose lengthwise and fit it over the lip of the tank base. The hose keeps our deck free of rust and protects it from getting dinged by the metal tank. Don’t forget to remove

Safety: Twist and shout

by Charles Mason, Posted August 5, 2009
Here’s a maneuver that can make it easier to get someone who is not injured out of the water. First, have the person in the water is face you, and then ask them to raise their arms straight up and cross them over their head. When their arms are crossed, grasp their wrists firmly with your hands—put your right hand on their right wrist and your left on their left. When you pull up on their wrists
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