Rhumb Lines: Recognize the Limits of Modern Boat Plastics


I didn’t mean to buy an old wooden boat. At age 24, the 53-year-old Atkin ketch was what I could afford. But there was something else about Tosca that drew me in. The bulkheads groaned, the mast creaked, and in even in a tranquil cove, the barn-door rudder gently swung, as if she couldn’t sit still. Made mostly of oak, cedar, spruce and teak, the old gaffer was alive.

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Darrell Nicholson
Darrell Nicholson is Director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division and the editor of Practical Sailor. A lifelong thalassophile, he grew up sailing everything from El Toro dinghies to classic Morgans on Miami's Biscayne Bay. In the early 90s, he left a newspaper job to sail an old gaff-rigged ketch across the Pacific and has been writing about boats and the sea ever since. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.