From the Editor: when I First Met Don Street

SAIL Editor Peter Nielsen reminisces on first meeting Don Street some 25 years ago.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
Spread-DonStreet-SS

I first met Don Street some 25 years ago, when he accosted me about an article that had appeared in the magazine I was then working for—I think the word “bulldust” or something like it figured strongly in the conversation. It took me a few moments to register who this skinny character, wearing a crumpled blazer, paint-spotted khakis, a disreputable tie and an undisciplined beard, actually was.

A newbie boating journalist having his first taste of a major international boat show, I was more than a little star-struck to meet the man who’d written the book that I had recently read from cover to cover during a lengthy transatlantic crossing. I still have that first-run copy of the Ocean Sailing Yacht somewhere, water-stained, slightly mildewed and dog-eared, and the lessons I learned from it still stand me in good stead.

Then, as now, Street wasn’t afraid to voice his convictions, and now, as then, his convictions are strong and uncompromising. He still calls in or emails from time to time to let me know what’s wrong with boat design, boat building and the mindset of certain modern cruising sailors. You might not agree with everything he says, but then again you can’t deny the decades of hard-won experience—and, whether you admit it or not, solid common sense—behind his opinions.

Nowadays the market is saturated with how-to books on sailboat cruising, some good, others not, but at the time the Ocean Sailing Yacht stood alone. It appeared near the beginning of the golden age of sailboat production—the decade and a half in the 1970s and ‘80s when baby boomers took to the water in their thousands and boatbuilders proliferated—and it became the blue-water bible for countless dreamers and doers.

That first iteration of the Ocean Sailing Yacht now reads like a historical document, its pages packed with boats and rigs and gear that are long out of date, but Street’s pithy observations on seamanship are still as relevant as ever they were: “Many a good sailor knows his own boat very well, but if thrown on another boat finds himself completely adrift because he lacks seamanship.” “The good seaman…comes prepared to do not just what is required of him, but much more. A ship crewed by a group of seamen each pulling more than his own weight is a happy ship. By contrast, the poor seaman is a pain in the neck.”

Today, Don looks much as he did when I first met him, and whenever he drops by the office to castigate us about one thing or another, I’m just as impressed by his vigor and passion for sailing as I was a quarter-century back. Read Andy Schell’s excellent portrait of the man HERE, and then find a copy of the Ocean Sailing Yacht. Depending on your age, it’ll either awaken old memories or pique your curiosity. Either way, you’re bound to learn something.

Nielsen_Peter2014-250x

Peter Nielsen lives and sails in Marblehead, MA. He is SAIL's Editor-in-Chief. 

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more