Stocking Stuffers for Sailors: December 2016

The holidays are upon us, and if youve waited until the last minute to get your gift shopping done, fear not; weve got you covered. Here are some great stocking-stuffer ideas that any sailor would love to unwrap.

Cruising Guides

Since our last review of cruising guides for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Bahamas, weve come across a few more resources worth adding to the list, and one of our top-pick cruising and anchoring guides has ceased publication. Heres the latest on cruising guides and resources.

Escape with a Good Sailing Book

Weve compiled a list of books fit for summer reading, whether youre relaxing in the cockpit, hanging in a hammock on the bow, or parked on the beach. The list includes page-turning tales of adventure and survival, and lively accounts of maritime history.

Resources for Cruising to Cuba

Although Cuba is terra incognita for many Americans, it has been a popular destination for Canadian and European cruisers for more than a decade. Here, we look at some resources for cruisers planning-or dreaming of-a cruise to Cuba.

In the Perfect Position to Fail

For centuries, navigators have been coping with two key variables that convey major consequence. The first is the quest for an accurate position fix, and the second is the hope that the chart theyre using is an accurate representation of their surroundings. Up until a couple of decades ago, cartographers were winning out and chart accuracy trumped sextant-derived fix accuracy. The tide has turned.

USCG Now Allows Digital Instead of Print Charts

Heralding in a new era for electronic navigation, the U.S. Coast Guard recently published guidance that allows mariners to satisfy chart-carriage requirements using electronic charts and electronic publications instead of paper ones.

Nautical Chart Accuracy

I often worry that the topic of chart accuracy, which we revisit in this issue, obscures the importance of other skills, published sources, and equipment we should use to solve a navigational puzzle. A recent bottom-bumping cruise along the changing coast of Southwest Florida reiterated some key points regarding coastal navigation.

New Marine Reads for a Salty Summer

From the roster of recent new releases, Practical Sailor editors have compiled a list of books fit for summer reading, whether youre relaxing in the cockpit, hanging in a hammock, or parked on the beach. The list includes several how-to books, a cookbook, and travel narratives, along with new titles in historical fiction, high-seas thrillers, and adventure.

Top Cruising Guides for the Bahamas

The Bahamas are often viewed as the Holy Grail of East Coast cruising due to their beauty and proximity to the Florida coast. Although they appear tantalizingly close (particularly when viewed on those nautical chart-themed placemats down at the Oyster Shack), make no mistake about it: A cruise to the Bahamas is an open-water passage that demands both attention to detail and proper safety precautions. Planning and executing a successful cruise to the Bahamas can be an extremely rewarding experience, one that provides ample opportunity to test preparedness of both boat and crew, while offering a reasonably do-able taste of bluewater cruising.

New Sailing Books for a New Year

There are approximately 32,000 species of fish, including 60 to 70 species of flying fish. Although our interactions with these flying wonders may be limited to deck-clearing duties on the sunrise shift or a thwack in the face during the dog watch, renowned naturalist Steve N.G. Howell dedicated several-hundred hours perched on the bows of boats in the sweltering tropics to capture the unique images featured in the informative The Amazing World of Flyingfish (Princeton University Press, 2014, $11). With 90 color photos shot mainly in the western tropical Pacific and in the Gulf Stream near Cape Hatteras (using a Canon 20D), Flyingfish differentiates two-winged and four-winged flyingfish from fish that merely jump; it outlines species, habitats, and sizes, analyzes flight methods and colors, and offers tools on identifying these butterflies on the water. Howell-author of a half-dozen books on birds, including Hummingbirds of North America and A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America-has been affiliated with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory for 20 years and is currently a senior birding tour leader for WINGS. Howells Flyingfish also addresses the environmental challenges our oceans face and encourages readers to promote environmental awareness and protection. Flyingfish is a good read for information hounds and marine biology buffs.

Too Many Layers of Bottom Paint?

So, a couple of years back, you acquired a good old boat at a pretty good price-thanks to the market-but now youre wondering how many coats of bottom paint it has. And what kind? Youve put on a few coats of ablative antifouling since youve owned the boat. It has adhered well and has done its job. But each year, the bottom looks rougher and rougher-with big recesses where paint has flaked off. You sweated out some extra prep-work this season, and thought you had a nice, durable subsurface for painting, but each pass of the roller pulls up more paint. Whats going on here?