Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 04:35PM - Comments: (0)
The past few weeks have been a hectic, productive time at Practical Sailor. The big news was managing editor Ann Key and her partner Capt. Britt Matthias gave birth to a baby girl, Kailee Key Matthias in August. I know the experts say infants can’t see more than a foot or so, but Kailee sure appeared to be casting a longing eye toward some Billy Black sailing photos in my office when the family stopped by last week. As I try desperately to keep up with emails and product ordering in her absence, I am counting the days until she returns to work on the first of November.
Second in the exciting news department is that Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s new book, “The Art of Seamanship,” is rolling off the presses at McGraw-Hill. Although the work is being billed as a textbook (it will be used to support the educational programs that Ralph teaches at the Annapolis School of Seamanship), Ralph has done a terrific job of interspersing meaty instruction on everything from anchoring to riding out a gale with real life stories that Ralph has collected over the years.
Having worked with Ralph for fifteen years, my bias is obvious, but I think that even the most objective, critical observers will say a comprehensive book of this nature has been long overdue. While current offerings such as the "Annapolis Book of Seamanship" offer cruising sailors a good starting point, no text until now has addressed the many dimensions of seamanship in great depth. Ralph's project is a timely book, written at a moment when many of us worry that technology is becoming a crutch, and supplanting basic seamanship skills
Our work at Practical Sailor naturally focuses on gear and equipment, but Ralph’s emphasis on seamanship skills informs all of our test reports. As our technical editor, Ralph helps develop test protocol and reviews each test, often pointing out ways we can highlight essential seamanship skills as we evaluate gear. To state the obvious: the best equipment is useless unless you develop the skills to use it.
Ralph also carries out a large portion of our testing, including nearly all the tests of sailing hardware. In this area he is especially valuable. He brings not only his experience as a circumnavigator, but also ten years as the former Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy where he oversaw the sail training program at the Academy and was the lead agent in the development of the new Navy 44 sail training sloops. Prior to that, he spent ten years running a boatyard, an experience that gave him an intimate familiarity with the troubles that plague old boats and rigs.
For those who have yet to see one of Ralph’s engaging presentations, and would like to meet the author of “The Art of Seamanship,” he will be in giving a free talk on weather at the U.S. Sailboat Boat Show on Saturday, October 11, at 2 p.m, and another talk at 4 p.m. the same day at the Annapolis Marriott.
“The Art of Seamanship” is now available in our bookstore.