COILING ROPE: Figure Eights, Please

Figure-eight rope coil

Perfect O-shaped coils of rope look mighty nice when done up properly, and in many instances this is a perfectly appropriate way to make up and stow an idle line on a sailboat. But rope needs to be trained to do this well, and in some instances the training will inhibit the rope's ability to do its job properly when working.

This happens most often with lines that run through a multi-part tackle. If you take the tail of a line that runs through a tackle and coil it down in perfect ovals when stowing it, you'll soon find the line starts twisting up in the tackle when you're using it. Eventually you must unreeve the whole line from the tackle, untwist it so it runs fair again, then re-reeve it. To avoid this you should coil the line in a figure-eight pattern when stowing it.


Write comment (0 Comments)


Master Link BTM-III battery monitor

Some of you may be wondering what happened with that battery problem I was having.  As I mentioned briefly, I was hoping the crazy readings I was getting from my battery monitor were the result of a bad connection or some corrosion somewhere.

Back in the 1990s when I was cruising full time and living aboard Crazy Horse, my electrical system was dirt simple. I had two 100-AH wet-cell batteries, a battery selector switch, and a 30-watt flexible solar panel to help keep them topped up. When I wanted to know how the batteries were doing, I whipped out my multimeter and put the leads on the battery terminals to read the surface voltage. For more sophisticated analysis, I used a big eye-dropper hydrometer to test the specific gravity of the electrolyte solution in the battery cells.


Write comment (2 Comments)

WE LIVE ON A SCHOONER: By Elizabeth Jay Etnier

Stephen Etnier aboard schooner Morgana

(From the September 1934 issue of The Atlantic Monthly)

Tuesday, October 31, 1933

I sat on deck sewing as we went through Hell Gate, feeling very much the schooner house wife (Stephen called me 'Tugboat Annie'). We anchored off the New York Yacht Club at 26th Street, and Lucius came on board for lunch. He picked up a china plate to see the trade-mark on the back, noted the silver dishes, the candlesticks, and all other appurtenances of elegance, he tried the electric lights to see if they really worked, and departed--not without noticing that there was a slim volume of his own verse among the books. He asked me where we had found our steward-sailor, and I had to explain that he was the carpenter's son, that he had never cooked or been on a sailboat before, but that we had engaged him because he was so nice.

We continued down the East River, hugging close by the Battery, the New York sky line towering above us tremendous and impressive. There were boats passing in all directions, tiny little tugs maneuvering great rafts of railroad cars. I marveled that there were not constant collisions. We passed Governors Island, where I had been as a child to see Dad receive his Distinguished Service Cross. On that occasion I wore a new hat with blue wool flowers crocheted upon it, and I remember that I had great difficulty in deciding whether to choose blue for infantry or red for Harvard.


Write comment (2 Comments)


Round Island Regatta notice

Chas. "May I Cast Off Now?" Lassen, last seen on a luxurious catamaran off the island of Grenada as he sought to evade questioning regarding an alleged attempt to murder his wife, has returned to the United States and is now engaged in wholesome non-profit work. Or so he would have us believe.

As part of an ongoing effort to aid the Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, Lassen has taken command of the museum's Heritage House Program. In addition to dunning friends and neighbors for cash donations to support said program (unmarked bills preferred), Lassen has also organized a regatta (see up top for details) in which a wide array of vessels (human and wind propelled) will race around his vast island estate.


Write comment (0 Comments)

WOMEN IN SAILING: Is Comfort Unsafe?

Sailor Woman

Women have long complained about how the world is dominated by men. To most men, meanwhile, it is perfectly obvious that modern civilization is little more than a plot to make women comfortable.

The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. If it were true, as men aver, that it is women who rule the world, such atrocities as NFL football, pornography, and the Three Stooges clearly would not exist. On the other hand, if men really ruled the world, as women insist, society no doubt would be organized very differently. All the women and children would live in villages. All the men, meanwhile, would live in nomad biker gangs, roaming the planet at will. Every time a gang arrived in a village, the men would impregnate the women, fix anything that was broken, and then move on.

For many centuries, the sea was the one venue in which men might more or less realize this ideal existence. Substitute the term “port” for “village” and “sailing ship” for “nomad biker gang,” and you will quickly grasp the parallel.


Write comment (0 Comments)

HANS KLAAR: Released From Prison

Hans Klaar in custody

Hans Klaar, the legendary Swiss cruiser and boatbuilder who was jailed in South Africa on charges of rape earlier this year, was released from prison late last month and is now seeking to disseminate his version of the events that led to his incarceration. This comes to me by way of James Baldwin, who wrote a story about Hans that I edited for Cruising World magazine in 1998.

James has forwarded to me the following statement from Hans:


Write comment (2 Comments)

WEEKEND CRUISE: Cundy's Harbor

An afternoon sail on Casco Bay

I thought I might simulate a mishap or two while out and about on Lunacy this past weekend, just to maintain the theme that has developed here of late, but I was enjoying myself too much to bother. The boat and its systems (thankfully) performed flawlessly, and the weather was fabulous. We enjoyed a nice light-air reach across the breadth of Casco Bay on Saturday afternoon, then pulled into Cundy's Harbor and picked up a mooring for the night.


Write comment (2 Comments)

C&C LANDFALL 38: Cruiser With a Racing Pedigree

C&C Landfall 38 under sail

The Landfall 38 is one of a series of four Landfall models designed by Rob Ball and produced by C&C Yachts in Ontario, Canada, from the late 1970s into the mid 1980s. Unlike most C&C boats, which were designed as straight racers or racer-cruisers, the Landfalls were conceived and marketed as performance cruisers. They were a bit ahead of the curve and were not as commercially successful as they should have been, as many cruising sailors at the time still favored heavier more traditional designs.

The Landfall 38 was the most successful boat in the Landfall series--about 180 were built from 1979 to 1985--and today it makes an excellent choice for both coastal and bluewater cruisers looking for an older boat that is fast, comfortable, affordable, and well built.


Write comment (2 Comments)


  • Boats & Gear

    Evaluations of both new and older sailboats (primarily cruising sailboats) and of boat gear.

  • The Lunacy Report

    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

  • News & Views

    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.



Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here