by Tom Cunliffe
We thought it would be interesting to poll a number of SAIL’s writers to see what marine electronics they actually own and use. Their boats should be bristling with the latest and fanciest gear, right? Well, yes—and no…
“Send me an article on the essence of seamanship,” was the editor’s brief. I wonder what you would have included in this article if he had asked you. I can tell you, it isn’t easy.

Water and the Prodigal Crew

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted February 18, 2013
Pressure water is always nice on a boat, but when a landlubbing crew comes aboard it only encourages them to waste a precious commodity.

Parbuckling Dock Lines

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted January 14, 2013
If ever you find yourself with a heavy boat tied to a dock or wall, blowing off so that no amount of heaving will bring her in, you can always use the simple principle of parbuckling on your docklines.
North America is as big as its waters are varied. Some sailors inhabit a tideless world where 0400 departures to catch the south-going stream through Hell Gate are as foreign as flying to the moon.
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. 

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.

The Pier-Head Jumper

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted June 24, 2011
This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issueI don’t know about you, but although I much prefer to go to sea with tried and tested buddies, there are times when I end up shipping out with total strangers. You’ve met the type. They might be those credible people you run into in a waterfront bar with a tale to tell. “There I was, and the waves were 40 feet high…” And so

River Run

by Tom Cunliffe, Posted June 23, 2011
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issueHalf a century ago, sailing a full-sized boat up a tidal river was all in a day’s work. Today we rely on our diesel engines instead, but there is no gain without pain. Firing up an engine as a matter of course on entering a river is easy, but is hardly sporting. The skills needed to work up a narrow waterway under sail
Originally published in February 2009 issueWinter is biting deep now, and there isn’t a lot of sailing to be had in my local creek. It’s a grim scene in business too, so all I can say is thank goodness for the swinging oil lamp and the yarns that stand in for that stiff, cleansing beat to windward those of us in the north are missing so badly.Last weekend I was a guest at
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