by Peter Nielsen

Peter Nielsen is SAIL’s Editor-in-Chief.

Not all boats are created equal. Some are built to high standards by people who care about what they’re doing. Others are not. This is as true today as it was half a century ago, when boatbuilders took their first tentative steps along the untrodden path of fiberglass construction.Because their builders erred on the side of caution with this new and strange material, those early fiberglass

Beat the Wrap

by Peter Nielsen, Posted April 12, 2011
The last thing you want from your furling gear is for it to jam up in a rising breeze—or ever. I must be some kind of roller-reefing Jonah, because it’s happened a few times on boats I’ve been sailing aboard. On two of those occasions, halyard wrap was to blame.Halyard wrap sounds like something you’d tear off a new piece of rope, but it’s actually the most common cause of

The Family Way

by Peter Nielsen, Posted March 11, 2011
Before I actually took my family on a flotilla vacation, I couldn’t understand why anyone would take their family on a flotilla vacation. The mere thought of sailing along in a group of a dozen boats, being herded like sheep into marinas by some officious lead skipper, not to mention the forced jollity with total strangers, filled me with horror. After all, one of the reasons I go sailing is to

Old Boat Nightmares: 2011

by Peter Nielsen, Posted February 17, 2011
One of the unwritten laws of project-boat hunting is “pick your battles wisely.” Most project boats come with their fair share of flaws—otherwise they wouldn’t be project boats, would they? The trick is to know which flaws can be dealt with relatively easily, and which will involve countless hours of hard work and heartbreak. In other words, what kind of flaw is a deal-breaker.Consider a

A New Traveler

by Peter Nielsen, Posted February 17, 2011
I love the fact that an old boat can give you as much sailing pleasure as an expensive new one. The only proviso for me is that the sail handling systems be absolutely top-notch. Replacing hardware like mainsheet travelers, genoa lead cars, boom vangs and lead blocks with new, low-friction gear will repay you many times over in ease of handling and improved efficiency.A case in point was a
For cruisers bound south from points north, the long slog down the Intracoastal Waterway often ends at Beaufort, North Carolina, on the Crystal Coast, at the southern end of the Outer Banks. For some weary sailors, this backwater (in the best sense of the word) provides a chance to recuperate, repair, regroup, refuel and re-provision before firing up the diesel once more and plugging on down

Three Hulls on the Road

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 5, 2011
To Tony Smith, the word "retirement" doesn't have quite the same connotation it might have for less energetic people. There'll be no pottering around in the garden for this longtime boatbuilder and designer. Instead, Tony and his wife Sue are heading for the Pacific Northwest, towing a 28ft Telstar trimaran that's been modified for an unusual cruise.For nearly 30 years Tony owned

Winter's Woes

by Peter Nielsen, Posted December 29, 2010
January means various things to a sailor. If you live in the southern regions it probably means that you don't sail as often as you might in, say, milder months like December or March. If you are a snowbound northerner then you are almost certainly counting the weeks until the cover comes off the boat and life can get back to what you wish was normal.The only consolation about cold winters

The Year That Was

by Peter Nielsen, Posted December 29, 2010
So it’s goodbye to 2010, a year that was a vast improvement over its predecessor in almost every respect. In looking back I find few causes for complaint, which is a rare thing indeed for a sailor in the Northeast.A suspiciously warm spring meant that the essential boat projects got done and the non-essential ones got half done; already I was way up on 2009.Spring merged into summer

Wacky Boats

by Peter Nielsen, Posted December 8, 2010
The Lemsteraak The shouts of the crews mingle with the sound of timber meeting timber. Eased-out booms sweep across decks, grinning sailors ducking as the treetrunk-sized spars brush their scalps. On shore, screaming spectators wave banners and urge on their local heroes. As the fleet approaches the mark, the race turns into a barging match—literally. For we are on the
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