My first boat was a poorly maintained Thompson 21 powerboat that broke down so often I decided to try sailing. After all, having wind as the motive power and an outboard kicker when that failed would, in theory, provide the redundancy to keep me out of trouble and my family safe.
A century ago, 300 individual communities dotted the islands of Penobscot Bay, Maine, each independently thriving off the land and sea. Today, the town of Rockland is one of 15 remaining communities, and it takes its role of culture-preserver seriously.
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?
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 FULL STORY
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 FULL STORY
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 FULL STORY
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 FULL STORY