Rhumb Lines: Saluting the Practical Sailor Staff

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It’s that time of year when I express my heartfelt appreciation for people behind this magazine. This year, I’m especially grateful for two sailors (and their better halves who keep them on course) who embody the essential characteristic of a PS contributor—namely, being old curmudgeons. You can’t be a people-pleaser if you’re going to stand up against “traditional wisdom.”

Rhumb Lines: Saluting the Practical Sailor Staff
Ralph Naranjo, author of “The Art of Seamanship” keeps an eye on safety and seamanship topics for Practical Sailor.

When challenging outdated safety assumptions, we depend on Ralph Naranjo to present an honest assessment of a product or technique. Ralph is the author of the Art of Seamanship from McGraw-Hill, a must read for any voyager. During his ten-year stint as the Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, Ralph augmented safety and seamanship training and played a key role in the development of the Navy’s 40-foot new sail training sloops. His background includes a five-year family voyage around the world and the management of a full service boatyard.

He and his wife Lenore have made two other lengthy cruises aboard Wind Shadow, a 41-foot sloop the Naranjos have owned for over three decades. An adjunct lecturer at the Annapolis School of Seamanship who has taught safety and seamanship workshops around the country, Ralph has developed a series of lectures especially for Zoom. If you or your sailing club are interested in one of Ralph’s Zoom lectures, drop me a line at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.

Rhumb Lines: Saluting the Practical Sailor Staff
Lenore Naranjo confirms the weather report.

The heaviest lifter (literally and figuratively) is Technical Editor Drew Frye and his wife Laura, who assists him in the field and proofreads his reports before they come my way.

Rhumb Lines: Saluting the Practical Sailor Staff
Laura Frye tends to a fleet of kayaks during testing.

A rigorous examiner of anything having to do boats, Drew has 35 years experience as a refinery engineer and has been sailing for more than three decades. His reports have influenced the new and improved designs of multiple marine products, and inspired new protocols at the American Society of Testing and Materials. He has conducted dozens of test for Practical Sailor and is the author of Rigging Modern Anchors, a book that revolutionized the way we look at ground tackle. Apart from the astounding volume of testing he does each year, Drew has an uncanny ability to isolate the features that matter to sailors. He blogs at www.sail-delmarva.com.

Along with the experts listed on page 2 of every issue we also have a veritable armada of experts to tap into according to need. I wish I could promise them smooth seas for 2021, but when you’re beating upwind against preconceptions, a lumpy ride is to be expected. If you think you have what it takes to contribute to our mission, you can reach me at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. 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.

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