Cruising Tips

Night Flight

by Patrick Childress, Posted July 7, 2009
Not a sliver of moon nor a single star could pierce the thick clouds. We were sailing, levitating, in total darkness. Keeping Brick House, our Valiant 40, just half a mile off the unlit rocky shore was the only way to stay out of the swift counter-current as we fought our way south along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. It was important to sail all night and make good time

Cheap geezer logbook

by Chip Lawson, Posted June 22, 2009
My sailing philosophy is, “when on watch, stay on deck”. I have made many changes to my boat to reduce the need to go below. One simple change was to create a waterproof logbook that I could safely leave on deck in any weather without fear of damage. A side benefit is that it is inexpensive as well.Using spreadsheet software I created a logbook format I liked. I purchased

Seamanship: Twin power

by Chip Lawson, Posted June 19, 2009
I was looking up at the masthead from the deck trying to see how the main halyard and the mainsail’s headboard were interacting and how the upper swivel for the jib furler was aligned. I took my 7x50 binoculars but I was still unable to get the close-up view I wanted. Then, in a eureka moment, I pulled out my digital camera, with its zoom capability, and put its lens to one of the binocular’s
Having a long length of line ready to use at short notice is always a good idea when cruising. You never know when you may have to run out a long mooring warp or set a kedge anchor. The trouble is that such a seldom-used line often ends up under piles of gear in the cockpit locker. This is a bad arrangement, because when you want a long line you often need it right now. You don’t want to waste

Boathandling: How to wind winches

by Charles Mason, Posted June 19, 2009
If you have invited guests aboard for an afternoon sail or for a cruise and you know they have limited sailing experience but want to be involved on deck, here’s a way to get them working that lets you be sure things are in order. Cut out some circular plastic rings that will fit snugly around your winch bases. Then put a series of arrows on the upper ring face—you can either use decals or draw
My initial reaction when I first saw a bow thruster on a 40-foot sailboat was to laugh my docksiders off. I’d spent a lifetime threading awkward boats with single props into tricky berths and could imagine no sensible reason for compromising sailing performance by drilling a hole the size of a baby’s head through the bow of a perfectly good boat. As thrusters became more common and I watched

Diesel in a bag

by Richard Probert, Posted May 18, 2009
Halfway between St. John, New Brunswick, and Digby, Nova Scotia, a passage of about 30 nautical miles, the diesel in my Cape Dory 270 stopped. With 40-foot tides creating sluice-like currents, entering most harbors on the Bay of Fundy requires careful timing to arrive at slack water or when the tide is flooding. If you arrive late, you have to wait for the tide to change while being tossed about

Industrial strength safety

by Sail Staff, Posted May 18, 2009
Rope clutches, or stoppers, are wonderful items to have on board. Not only are they quick and easy to operate, they eliminate the need for extra winches. But each one must be labeled so the trimmer can see immediately what line that particular stopper controls.When San Francisco sailors Russ Irwin and Fay Mark labeled the clutches on their brand new 52-footer New

Refreshing Pause

by Steve Henkind, Posted May 18, 2009
This summer, many sailors will embark for the first time on a long, non-stop coastal or offshore passage that involves one or more nights at sea. If you are sailing a long distance, you should set and follow a formal watch schedule. Some boats utilize a “catch as catch can” approach—but this can lead to exhaustion and is a recipe for disaster. Watchstanding routines can range from a very basic

The Z factor

by Steve Henkind, Posted May 18, 2009
The first night on your boat after a long winter is always an education. You learn that the gentle rocking of a boat in a slip or at a mooring can be mightily effective when it comes to curing insomnia. You also learn, as the slightest of rolls sets crockery a-clinking and cans a-clanking, that you haven’t done a very good job of stowing the odds and ends that you’ve just put
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