Cruising Tips

Pole Up, Ge'nny Out

by David Schmidt, Posted May 11, 2009
Spinnakers and asymmetricals are great for ticking off miles when sailing downwind, but they can be a chore to handle shorthanded. They require constant trimming, and there’s always the possibility of a crash gybe or a knockdown. For a fully crewed raceboat this isn’t a concern, but for cruisers it can be daunting enough that many simply roll out their headsail instead and call

Extending whisker poles

by Peter Nielsen, Posted April 20, 2009
A standard spinnaker pole is as long as the J measurement on your boat – that is, the distance from the base of the mast to the forestay chainplate. This is purely a racing rule requirement; longer poles are penalized under PHRF rules. If you’re cruising, your whisker pole can be any length you like.On a couple of occasions when I’ve wanted to run downwind with

Positive control astern

by Sail Staff, Posted April 6, 2009
Because a sailboat without a bow thruster lacks positive directional control when going astern at slow speeds, many skippers choose one of three options when it’s time to go into a slip. They go into the slip bow first; they stop at a right angle to the slip and then use dock lines to pull the stern in by hand; or they back down with enough speed on to maintain control.The first option is

Dreams at Sea

by Dave Welch, Posted March 11, 2009
At sea I remember my dreams; at home I rarely do. Awakened frequently by a new sound or unexpected movement of the boat, I pop to attention with a dream still running in my head. I have to; my world floats just above the surface.On a recent delivery from Charleston, South Carolina, to Tortola, BVI—eight days, but it felt more like sixteen—we pounded east and then south

The Zero Knot Sailor

by Sail Staff, Posted February 5, 2009
High and dry in the unchanging latitude of my zero-knot armchair, I was an excellent sailor. Always at the ready, nimble and knowledgeable, never seasick or tired—I was eager, eternally young, and unafraid.You need only ask some of my former illustrious shipmates. Joshua Slocum, Sailing Around the World Alone, found me a stalwart companion. With Richard Henry Dana, Jr., I spent

Personal Bests

by Wally Moran, Posted November 21, 2008
Ask any two sailors what they like most about traveling the Intracoastal Waterway and you’re unlikely to get much, if any, agreement. We can all gripe agreeably about the downsides of the Ditch—long turns at the wheel, shoaling, brutal currents, inconsiderate boaters—but rarely, if ever, do you hear the upsides of one of the most fascinating water routes in America.Do we snowbirds ever

Avoid a GPS-induced incident

by Steve Henkind, Posted November 21, 2008
GPS has greatly simplified certain aspects of navigation; at the mere touch of a button, a boat’s position can be determined within about 30 feet. Despite the reliability of these devices, boats are still being damaged because of navigational errors. After several decades of both navigating and teaching navigation, I’ve suffered a few close calls of my own and can recommend some ways to use your

Chartplotter Protocols

by Steve Henkind, Posted November 20, 2008
Chartplotters are powerful extensions of GPS technology and provide tremendous convenience, but they can get you into trouble if you’re not careful. While my focus is on vector-based plotters (digitized charts, which are the ones typically found on recreational sailboats), most of my observations also apply to raster-based (scanned charts) plotters.Scale change matters.

Cruising Cat: Performance Primer

by Richard Woods, Posted August 26, 2008
Follow these performance tips to get the most from your cruising cat.By Richard WoodsI’ve been sailing and designing catamarans since 1976. I’ve cruised tens of thousands of miles and have won several national titles in racing boats. Years of experience have taught me how to maximize sailing performance. For starters, nothing turns a cruising cat’s polar potential

The Shipping News

by Sail Staff, Posted August 21, 2008
When our wind generator stopped spinning in Fiji, we wanted to have parts sent to us by the manufacturer. Then several friends told us they were having trouble getting gear sent from overseas; the problems ran from having packages stopped in customs to shipments that never even showed up. So instead of having our purchases mailed directly to us at our marina, we asked a local chandlery that
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