Readers Write on the Essence of Seamanship

In our July 2013 issue, regular contributor Tom Cunliffe reflected on the essence of seamanship. We asked about your views on seamanship, and you answered. Here are a few reader-submitted takes on the essence of seamanship.
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

In our July 2013 issue, regular contributor Tom Cunliffe reflected on the essence of seamanship (see story here)We asked about your views on seamanship, and you answered. Here are a few reader-submitted takes on the essence of seamanship. Congratulations to Linda Jensen, Alex Blackwell and Daria Blackwell, who won SAIL swag!

Tom Cunliffe’s exploration of the essence of seamanship is hard to argue with, and he is right that the true essence is that of focus and presence. By “presence,” I mean fully understanding and reacting to situation you are in, whether it is enjoying a lovely, spanking breeze on a sunny spring day, or trying to make safe harbor while beating into the teeth of a Nor’easter. You can identify a true seaman by the calm, confident air with which he or she accomplishes tasks, no matter how great the danger.

Several years ago, my sailing partner, my landlubbing spouse and I were out on the Chesapeake for a day sail when we were suddenly beset by a violent squall. We were sailing on a run, heading home and watching the building of what is a normal weather pattern for the Bay in August—a chance of late afternoon thundershowers. The first indication of trouble was the mainsail slapping against the spreaders. Then, all hell broke loose. A sudden gust caused us to gybe as lightning struck down nearby. In the torrential downpour, we all quickly donned our PFDs, and my partner, Nan, and I trimmed the sails to keep our compass course. I asked my husband to close the companionway hatch and we all hunkered in the cockpit. I cautioned my husband not to touch any of the standing rigging, and we ruled out shortening sail, as the danger from lightning was worse than the likelihood that we would blow out a sail or get knocked down by the wind. The storm was violent, but Nan and I sailed the boat with confidence gained from sailing experience and our familiarity of the Bay. The squall soon blew past us and we were able to finish our cruise undamaged. My husband later said that he was never too worried, as Nan and I reacted with such calm competence that it never occurred to him that we were in any real danger.

In order to have seamanship, you must know both the big picture of sailing, such as weather patterns, your location and destination, as well as the specifics. Know where your gear and distress kit are, think about and practice emergency drills, pay attention to your surroundings, and mitigate potential dangers before they arise.

Linda G. Jensen,

Via email

________

Tips on Seamanship 

Although the governing bodies of sailing as a sport prepare detailed instructions for safety at sea, the rules are sometimes inadequate and unfeasible for cruisers and sailors who view sailing as a hobby, a pastime or a lifestyle rather than a racing sport.

Here are our top ten resolutions for practicing good seamanship and ensuring safety and happiness at sea.

- Conduct routine checks of engine, oil, through-hulls, rigging, power, radio and steering before every start and daily while underway.

- Learn and observe the COLREGs, keep a close watch, keep a detailed log, and practice navigation without GPS while underway to keep my skills honed.

- Know how to use a VHF radio appropriately and teach crewmembers to make a distress call should it ever be needed. Posting instructions and safety plans on board in case of an emergency is never a bad idea.

- Create a diagram of all through-hull fittings and install emergency bungs so if something starts to leak, you can fix the leak quickly.

- Practice heaving to and emergency anchoring under sail to learn how the boat handles.

- Ensure that the crew knows how to handle the boat should the captain not be on board. Have crewmembers practice boat handling and learn basic navigation skills.

- Practice emergency crew overboard procedures with the crew.

- Remember not to panic should something go wrong. Stay calm and work through the situation, giving the crew clear instructions instead of yelling at anyone.

- Clip the PLB to your PFD and wear it at all times at sea, so that if someone falls overboard, they can be easily found.

- Stay on the boat. Use one hand for the boat and one for you at all times. Offshore, clip the tether to a secure point before entering the cockpit. Do not jump overboard or clean fish aft while underway, and rig preventers to prevent being swept overboard in an accidental gybe.

Captains Alex and Daria Blackwell,

Via email

Related

01-Hanse_Emotion_6

Hanse’s E-Motion Electric Rudder Drive

When news that Hanse Yachts had launched a new form of electric-powered yacht first broke in the winter of 2016, it was widely reported. After all, Hanse is one of the world’s biggest builders of sailing boats, so this had the feeling of a breakthrough to it.After nearly a year, ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDefusing the Run It’s been said with justification that gentlemen don’t boast about how windy it was, but the shape of my ensign in the photo will give well-informed readers a fair idea. They will also ...read more

01b-Over-Loch-Scavig

Cruising Across the North Sea

Conventional wisdom says sleeping in the V-berth while offshore is a bad idea. It can be like a diabolical amusement ride that tosses a sailor to and fro, inducing stomach-churning weightlessness. And yet, here I am, nestled in the tilted corner created by my berth and the ...read more

GG17-SAONA47-DX0796

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Here’s a riddle: What is less than 50ft long, has two hulls, three big cabins and four decks? Answer: The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. In fact, it may even be five levels if you count the large engine rooms. This boat is a “space craft” in every sense of the word.DESIGN & ...read more

RichardBennettMIDNIGHT-RAMBLER3249x202

Storm Sails: Do you Need Them?

Many sailors embarking on ocean passages will take along the obligatory storm jib and trysail, with the vague idea that they may come in handy. Few sailors, however, have a real understanding of how and when to set them.It doesn’t help matters when we hear from seasoned sailors ...read more

IntheWater(1)

Boaters University Unveils Rescue Course

Boaters University has just announced its latest online course, Safety & Rescue at Sea, taught by Mario Vittone, whose name you might recognize from the pages of our sister publication, Soundings Magazine and his Lifelines blog.Mario Vittone is a retired U.S. Coast Guard rescue ...read more

IMG_20170920_132819

How to: Installing New Electronics

I had been sailing my Tayana 42, Eclipse, for a few years without any installed electronics on board. I’d gone pretty far up and down the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts with paper charts, the Navionics app on my Android phone, a hand-bearing compass and the ship’s compass. ...read more