Know-How

Busted!

by David Schmidt, Posted August 27, 2008
Sailors have been tying knots for millennia, and no doubt innovators have been trying just as long to invent both stronger rope and better knots. Yet the basic problem still remains: Every rope is weakened when its fibers are bent. Loading a knot with a large amount of weight creates a sheer force on the fibers; given enough force, the fibers break and the rope fails. Today’s
There are times when we find exactly what we aren’t looking for, and this was one of them.I was tired of technology and wanted to write a sailing story about the good old days, when a Windex was high-tech and real navigators dealt with celestial fixes and high-anxiety uncertainty. What better place to look for such things than at the annual Annapolis Classic Wooden Boat Regatta? Ambling
Most boats today have a single permanently hoisted headsail with a roller-reefing unit on the headstay. This arrangement works well, but becomes problematic when there is more wind than the sail on the furler can handle.
According to Boat US, boats sinking at docks account for a disproportionate number of insurance claims. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Even a modest boat often has six or seven through-hull fittings below the waterline. Should one of these fail, the inrush of water will swiftly sink the boat

Downwind Sails for Cruising

by Chip Lawson, Posted August 28, 2008
I’m a real fan of downwind sails because they add a lot of speed and fun. On my 40-footer I carry a 1.5-ounce symmetric spinnaker in a sock, a 75-ounce asymmetric, also in a sock, that I set on a collar around the headstay, and a 2.2-ounce Code 0 that I have mounted on a Harken furler. I use the symmetric when I have a good crew but leave it ashore when I’m sailing shorthanded. The Code 0 is

Too Hot to Handle

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 11, 2011
Anyone who has played with electrical gear for any length of time is familiar with the distinctive smell of burned windings. Unfortunately, this smell, wafting out of engine rooms from fried alternators, may soon become familiar to a much wider audience. Why might alternators, generally known for their reliability, become more likely to fail in the next few years?The answer lies in
A dinosaur of an engine that is over 70 years old can push a much larger boat than ours, weighing eight times as much, at similar speeds with more-or-less the same fuel consumption!
Why are so many cruising sailors scared of spinnakers? Today’s cruising A-sails are so forgiving and easy to deal with that there’s really no excuse for not having one on board.

Higher and Faster

by Kevin Montague, Posted August 28, 2008
Recently, a sailmaker called to inquire about upgrading the backstay system on his client’s mid-1980s 34-foot masthead-rigged sloop. The client was buying a slightly larger headsail that could cover a broader spectrum of wind ranges and thought that the standard backstay and turnbuckle just weren’t up to the task. The working range of the turnbuckle was 2 to 3 inches of length, and the time

Compass Truism

by Tim Bartlett, Posted September 14, 2009
Karl Westman of Ocean City, New Jersey, asks:"Is it all right to use magnetic headings on my chartplotter to adjust a new compass?"Tim Bartlett replies:In theory, definitely not. But in practice I'd have to give you a very guarded "maybe." The problem, of course, is that your heading is the direction your boat is pointing in. Your
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