December 14, 2011 - Will Swagel, the engaging publisher of Sitka, Alaska’s classified ad circular, The Sitka Soup (motto: Hearty Ingredients-Tasty Leftovers-A Dash of Silliness), has given the Christmas poem “The Night Before Christmas,” an Alaskan twist. Illustrated by former fisherman and local Sitka artist and musician Colin Herforth, "The Bight Before Christmas" replaces reindeer with coho, hootchies, and humpies — and a glossary that explains what all of these are. It also introduces the bellyfish, which according to Swagel is “a made-up word because we needed a rhyme for jellyfish.”
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:39AM Comments (1)
December 7, 2011 - At the top of Tewes’ preferred list is a Fein Multimaster 250Q, a plug-in variable speed right-angle oscillating tool that accepts a carbide-tipped saw blade, wide array of triangular-shaped sanding pads and host of other cutting, scraping, and filing gizmos. The lock-and-load quick attachment process and the “long throw” of the oscillation cycle makes it a very efficient cutter, sander, or scraper.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:57AM Comments (5)
November 30, 2011 - As Moore’s Law insinuates itself into the sea, and the idea of a remote-controlled world cruise seems less sensational than steering by the stars, it is hard for some of us to avoid feeling nostalgic. As the last of the sextant-only sailors move into their retirement years, a new type of cruising tale is emerging—the maritime memoire. It's debatable whether the movement is a rebellion against the new wave of digitographic sailors or simply the result of too many old salts with too much time on their hands. Whatever their origins may be, these mildly self-indulgent sea stories offer a fun look back at a simpler time when young around-the-world voyagers didn’t want or need a sponsor, and GPS navigation was years in the future.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:46AM Comments (0)
November 16, 2011 - Some among our small group of less-hurried cruisers seethed quietly—mostly to themselves—that this rally business was a bad idea. Herding people in wagon-trains made sense long ago on land—but at sea?
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:26AM Comments (5)
November 9, 2011 - “The channel can be pretty tight at low tide,” the Admiral said before leaving me the keys. Or something like that. I was half-listening at the time. Ha! Like we were going to run aground with five depthsounders pinging away and Bill and I, with our thousands of miles under the keel, aboard. (We do not mention the many forgettable groundings.)
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:23AM Comments (8)
November 2, 2011 - After much persistent and gentle prodding of management, Practical Sailor converted to Macs last year. So, like millions around the world who rely on Apple magic to make it through the workday—not to mention our iPad-fueled weekends on the water—we were deeply saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple Inc. who died Oct. 5. One of the items of interest revealed in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs was that he had been been involved in the design of his custom 245-foot megayacht to be built by Feadship in the Netherlands.
Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 11:24AM Comments (4)
October 18, 2011 - We’ve been getting several e-mails from readers asking us what we think they should do with their recently purchased Rocna anchors in light of our report. Because every situation is different, and not all anchors are suspected of being below the published standards, we would recommend that anyone questioning the quality or construction of their Rocna anchor contact Canada Metals Pacific or their Rocna anchor retailer to discuss their options.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:47PM Comments (5)
October 12, 2011 - Putting together next month’s issue (November), I was struck by the stark contrast between our cover story on the Marshall 22, a no-frills catboat based on an iconic 19th-century design, and the cover story from the September issue, featuring Brad Van Liew’s Eco 60, Le Penguoin, bristling with all the latest technology used in the Velux Around the World Ocean Race. …
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:44AM Comments (2)
September 21, 2011 - If you had niggling leaks at your mast, your forward hatch, or deck hardware this summer, those niggles can become nightmares when freezing temperatures begin to do their sledgehammer work upon our boats—as well as our psyches—this winter. Once water enters the core of your deck through a small leak, it can often spread unnoticed. Bring on winter, and its freezing and thawing cycles, and the core begins to break down.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:46AM Comments (0)
September 13, 2011 - Some of the best sailing I ever had was September on Narragansett Bay, pretty close to heaven in my mind. But before we let a long September reach carry us away—and hopefully carry us through winter—it’s a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:12PM Comments (1)
September 7, 2011 - I know plenty of sailors who wouldn’t hesitate to curse a J\24. I should mention that these are mostly racing sailors, and they do a lot of cursing.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:39AM Comments (10)
August 23, 2011 - Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadn’t seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed—at least in the photo—pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker—the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:53AM Comments (2)
August 10, 2011 - In the wake of questions about the tensile strength of steel used in the shafts of Rocna anchors, West Marine has issued “product specification notices” to customers who have purchased Rocna anchors since 2010. The West Marine notification states that certain Rocna anchors were made with a “weaker grade of steel compared to that published on the Rocna website” and directs customers to Rocna for information regarding the materials and construction of the Rocna anchor. Under its “No Hassles Guarantee,” West Marine offers a full refund to owners who are not satisfied with their purchase. The offer comes after several months of heated online debate over the strength of the shafts of Rocna anchors made in China.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 12:18PM Comments (6)
August 2, 2011 - One of the difficult challenges faced by mast slides on full-batten mainsails are the side loads imposed when the sail is not feathered into the wind. In the event that the sail needs to be dropped (or raised) off the wind, the unequal loading on the batten cars can cause a great deal of friction on one side of the cars. If you are the owner of a smaller boat, however, your options for solving this problem are limited.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 10:31AM Comments (2)
July 26, 2011 - Commonsense would suggest that an auto-inflating harness/life jacket is the best choice for the cruising sailor. However, there are cases in which an inflated harness can be a hindrance—for example when you are trying to climb back aboard under a lifeline, or dive free of debris or rigging. And as our tests have shown, rain and waves can inflate some models, a nuisance that could interfere with handling the boat.
Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 01:55PM Comments (12)