Is the water potable? How’s the holding? Where’s the nearest chandlery? These are no longer the first questions posed by cruisers arriving in a new port. Nowadays, our first questions revolve around a more crucial topic: the Internet!
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 FULL STORY
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 FULL STORY
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 FULL STORY
Sailors and non-sailors alike respectfully refer to the ocean beyond my home waters of San Francisco Bay as “Outside the Gate.” Along the northern California coast there are miles of rocky coastline separating the few harbors of refuge, which often have challenging entrances. Along the way you had best be prepared for strong winds, fog, and sizable seas. Of course, it may also FULL STORY
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