Safety & Seamanship

Mailport: anchoring etiquette, stern-tied boats, and wind generators

I really appreciated the article Anchoring in Crowded Harbors (see Practical Sailor, June 2019). The difficult and critical part is always estimating distances, and the guides you gave (two-to-three mast heights, using fractions of a nautical mile, etc.) can be difficult to do accurately in a crowded harbor with the sun setting, with some of that information available only at the helm, and multiple boats moving to anchor. As a bow hunter, I am…

Form Won’t Matter if it Doesn’t Fit

Even the best helmet will fail if poorly fitted. Expect this to take some time. Measure your head and get the right size. Loose is no good, and too small will sit high or give you a headache.

Protecting the Sailors Pumpkin

Head protection has become a hot topic among sailors. Volvo Ocean Race helmsman wear surf helmets with retractable visors. Americas Cup crew wears them, along with body armor and breathing equipment. Amateurs in high performance beach catamaran and dinghy classes are adopting them in big numbers, and some youth, college, and Olympic sailing programs have made them mandatory, like PFDs. Even cruisers are beginning to wonder about trips up the mast, heavy weather sailing, and even routine bumps. Is it the new thing, or just transition period until we work out where they make sense?

Inflatable PFDs Wont Save You Without Proper Care and Use

I recently interviewed Mark Bologna of Landfall Navigation. Hes a safety expert, major supporter of safety training and has decades worth of experience selecting and servicing inflatable PFDs. The first thing I asked Mark was whether or not I was overly concerned about the inflatable lifejacket issues mentioned above. His unequivocal No, and follow up advocacy for training and regular gear inspections paralleled most of the opinions above.

Rethinking the Use of Inflatable PFDs

In the early 1800s Norwegian sailors started wearing cork filled vests dubbed the Seamans Friend. And over the next two centuries, life jacket design and the materials used have continued to evolve. One of the most promising offshoots has been the inflatable personal flotation device (PFD)-invented and patented by Peter Markus and one thats drawn our interest for over three decades.

Luck and the Urge to Duck

At night, when only the counted seconds between the lightning flash and thunder-crack offer any clue of what is to come, the intertropical convergence zone seems otherworldly.

Prevention Plan for Finger Tendon Injuries

As an avid climber I pay attention to my aches and pains. To blindly ignore them puts myself and others at risk. The same is true for sailing.

Anchoring in Crowded Harbors

Stagger while you anchor? It sounds like Ive either been drinking too much or sailing too long. Bear with me.

Anchoring Legal Responsibility

We often get questions about anchoring rights. While it is commonly understood that the first boat arriving in an anchorage has privileges, many see this as a matter of etiquette, but it is also a legal issue. The below citations are from the case Juniata 124 F. 861 US Admiralty Court, E.D. Virginia, 1903. Other rulings we reviewed generally agree.]

Ditch Kit for Small Sailboats

When we had a larger boat and made offshore hops, conventional ditch bag thinking made sense. But when I downsized to a 24-foot trimaran, it dawned on me that with just a little adjustment, my day bag could ably serve my near-shore sailing needs. (See What to Pack in a Ditch Kit, PS May 2014, Abandon Ship Bags: Dont Leave the Boat Without Them, PS March 2001, and Bags Fit for Sea Life, PS December 2012, and The Get Home Toolkit, October 2018.)

Sizing Up the Autumn List

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-its a good time to take out a pen and pad, and start to build the winter work list.