Looking Out Through the Porthole

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:44AM - Comments: (2)


Putting together the November 2011 issue, I was struck by the stark contrast between the cover story on the Marshall 22, a no-frills catboat based on an iconic 19th-century design, and the cover from just two months prior, featuring Brad Van Liew’s Eco 60 Le Penguoin, bristling with all the latest technology used in the Velux Around the World Ocean Race.

Most readers’ interests lean toward neither of these extremes, but lie somewhere in the middle—a comfortable cruiser, a weekend daysailer, or a Wednesday-night racer. Still, it’s nice to be part of a publication that isn’t constrained by a narrow niche, one that can explore the boundaries of our sport. There are pitfalls to this free-range approach, of course.

Photo Courtesy of Marshall Marine

As much as we work to plan ahead, putting together an issue of Practical Sailor is a bit like sailing itself. Every now and then, we look out the porthole and something interesting catches our eye, something we think (hope?) is worth sharing. Such was the case of the Marshall 22, a boat that, in my view, we should have featured long ago.

These are interesting times to be a sailor. Once arduous passage-planning and weather-routing tasks are now a breeze thanks to the latest technology. The empty spaces of Planet Ocean are gradually being filled in not by trained surveyors, but by sailors like you and I. Information sharing that once took weeks or months now transpires in the blink of an eye.

Ultimately, however, the bulk of our work at Practical Sailor has changed little over the past 30 years. We test boats and boat equipment. This requires developing a protocol, gathering products, carrying out the tests, and recording the results. It is often laborious work that takes time and attention to detail. Technology has streamlined some aspects of the process, but for the most part, slow-moving humans carry out most of the work.

There’s a one-question poll on the homepage this month, asking for your input on what coverage you’d like to see in the magazine. I encourage you to participate. We’ve got some interesting projects in store for 2012, and I hope you can be a part. Let us know what's on your horizon, and we'll do our best steer that direction.


Comments (1)

How about doing a study of in-mast furling?? I'm about to make either a big purchase or a big mistake.
Sid Axinn
Tashmoo Traveler, a 31' Newport sloop

Posted by: Sidney A | October 12, 2011 3:15 PM    Report this comment

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