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While Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) have been appearing on more commercial and recreational vessels, many sailors still find it to be cost-prohibitive. As an alternative, I recently used a combination of smartphone apps and AIS websites...

Extrasensory Perceptions

by David W. Shaw, Posted September 28, 2011
The night sky over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel flashed white with lightning, like a silent artillery barrage. The storms were so far up the bay the sound of the thunder never reached Sonata, the 1981 Pearson 36 cutter...

Do You Know Your Racing Flags?

by Sail Staff, Posted March 1, 2012
Everyone knows the Answering Pennant (AP or “Cat in the Hat” flag) means racing has been postponed and that the “P” flag means a standard starting sequence. But what about the “M” flag, an “N” flag over an “A” flag, or an answering pennant flying above Pennant 2? 

Judging Leeway

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted March 14, 2012
Any boat under way in a crosswind, whether it’s a rowboat crossing a lake or a powerful cruiser reaching along the coast, will be pushed sideways to some extent. The effect is called “leeway,” and even big ships are subject to it. Sometimes leeway is insignificant; often it is not.
There aren’t many sinking sensations to compare with the one you get when your GPS decides to take an unscheduled break, especially if you’ve been relying on an electronic chartplotter. One minute you know exactly where you are. The next you’re surrounded by a trackless sea, feeling distinctly insecure. 
Some might say that seamanship has been sidelined by technology, with safety and security more dependent on button pushing than sail changing. There may be some truth to this. But at the same time, there’s no question that today’s technology does fill some very real needs. 

Curse of the Cursor

by Peter Nielsen, Posted September 18, 2012
The first time I ever used a GPS on an offshore passage we almost lost the boat. The navigator, delighted with his new toy, had plotted a waypoint just off our destination, but somehow missed the long, low, unlit headland between us and it.

Cruising Tips - Navigation

by Sail Staff, Posted May 2, 2006
Chart Smart (July 2006)We arrived off Suva, the capital of Fiji, after a 10-day passage from New Zealand. While we knew the island of Viti Levu was about 5 miles off our bow, we couldn’t see it because of a heavy rainstorm. My husband, Bob, turned on the computer and looked at the electronic charts we had added to our navigation suite a few weeks earlier. We wanted to use them to
This month: coping with fog, inshore pilotingSeamanshipSailing in fogSummer sailing and fog seem to be inextricably linked in some parts of the country, and everyone who races or cruises will run into a bank of the gray stuff at one time or another. When you do, your priorities change from making good time toward your destination to not running into other

Cruising Tips - Visibility

by Sail Staff, Posted March 27, 2006
Signal Advantage (March 2006)If you have an on-the-water emergency during the day, keep in mind that a mirror is a very effective signaling device. If the weather is clear and there is sunlight, the reflection from a mirror can be seen up to 100 miles away. While it does need sun, a mirror doesn’t depend on batteries, satellites, or the electronic watchkeeping of a potential
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