by Peter Nielsen

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

Riding a BIG Whirlwind

by Peter Nielsen, Posted February 25, 2010
Like a Tornado on steroids, the all-carbon-fiber Extreme 40 catamaran weighs virtually nothing and goes in a matter of seconds from merely scarily fast to oh-my-god-we’re-going-over.Americans got a taste of them a couple of years ago when the Extreme fleet put on a barnstorming sailing exhibition during the Baltimore stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race.Imagine the same kind of

Installing a Water Heater

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 28, 2010
When replacing the pressure water system on our project boat, we thought it would be fun to install a water heater. But where to put it? Like most early ’70s boats, our Norlin 34 lacks interior volume compared to modern boats. The need for the heater to be mounted below the engine’s heat exchanger (to prevent problems with coolant circulation) further complicated matters.The only logical

Keeping the Sea Out

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 28, 2010
Out of sight, out of mind…That adage is so old it creaks, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It was especially true of the cockpit drain hoses and gate valves on our 34ft project boat. Back when we acquired the boat, the surveyor looked at the ancient hoses and corroded gate valves in horror and suggested that we replace them “before long.” Three years later, “before long” still hadn’t

Old Boat Nightmares #1

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
A few years ago I was seriously interested in a Pearson 10M that was on the market for a very reasonable asking price. I had looked it over pretty closely—or so I thought—and I had picked up on a number of faults, none of which were serious enough to put me off.Luckily, I had engaged surveyor Norm LeBlanc to check the boat over, and he found plenty more flaws. The biggest one can be seen

Backstay Tensioner

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
Easy Upgrades: #1 of a seriesEvery fractionally rigged boat will have (or should have) a means of adjusting backstay tension. Its main purpose is to flatten and depower the mainsail in stronger winds, putting off the time at which a reef will be required. Because very few masthead-rigged boats are provided with backstay adjusters, cruising sailors regard them with the

Bilge Pump Renewal

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
Before I laid the boat up, I had to replace a bilge pump that had mysteriously stopped working. This was a secondary pump, serving to keep the water out of a poorly drained part of the hull forward of the mast step. It was a good opportunity for a quick photo tutorial on connecting 12-volt wires together. Yes, this sounds remedial, but I have seen enough botched jobs on boats to know that you

Winter Battery Maintenance

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
A few years ago, I left my boat’s two lead-acid batteries on board over winter. It wasn’t intentional—an early snowfall led me to cover the boat up sooner than anticipated, and I just never got around to taking the batteries off.After three months of freezing New England winter, I suddenly remembered they were still on board. I snuck down to the yard one mild Saturday and hooked the

Cold Comfort Reading

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 20, 2010
This time of year, with the boats packed up and the waters iced over, we often become armchair sailors by default. There’s no better time to delve into that list of sailing books you've been dying to read. Start with these suggestions from SAIL editors and readers, and send us a few of your own. Get cozy – reading season has only just begun.Dallas

Tacktick T104 Instruments

by Peter Nielsen, Posted December 21, 2009
I’d been thinking about installing new sailing instruments for a year before I finally took the plunge. The difficulty of choosing between several excellent makes was one problem. Another was the hassle factor; the significant amount of labor involved in running cables around the boat and installing the display heads. This accounts for much of the cost of upgrading instruments. The more I thought
Dragonfly is a sweet 1983 Bristol 35.5, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She still sports most of her original deck gear and the old Merriman genoa lead cars and tracks, while still functional, had seen better days. Owner Tim Sheehy sails shorthanded and wants to get the best performance out of his new suit of North sails, so he decided to upgrade to Lewmar sliding bolt track and
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