WIND IN THE WILLOWS: Best Boat Quote

From The Wind in the Willows

It is certainly one of the biggest cliches in the literature of boating. What the Water Rat said to the Mole: "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

But here's a little tip. Any purportedly literate mariner who quotes that little snippet of Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows at you (it appears very early on, in Chapter 1, The River Bank) probably hasn't bothered to read the entire book. Because the very best bit--the part any cruising sailor, at least, will most readily relate to--doesn't appear until much later in Chapter 9, Wayfarers All.

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CRUNCHING NUMBERS: Brewer Comfort Ratio

Ships in a rough sea

It’s time to think a bit more about how we can use numbers and math to evaluate different sailboats. I’ve already explained the two most popular performance parameters--the displacement/length and sail-area/displacement ratios. These numbers, which estimate a boat’s speed potential and available sailpower, are the ones most commonly used to quantify how a sailboat behaves. They are often referred to in magazine articles and are often included by builders in a boat’s published specifications. But speed, as any cruiser will tell you, isn’t the only attractive quality in a sailboat. A boat’s motion, how it moves through the water while underway, is also very important. It is particularly important when seas get rough and stomachs start feeling queasy.

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OCEAN ORIGINS: Attack of the Frozen Ice Balls

The comet Hartley 2

Two-thirds of our planet's surface is covered with liquid water. This, of course, is good news for sailors. It means we have plenty of room in which to do our thing. Golfers and other dirt-dwellers, meanwhile, have considerably less square-footage in which to do theirs.

But where did all our water come from? You may be a little surprised to learn that the scientific debate on the topic revolves around two likely candidates--asteroids and comets. Way back when, about 4 billion years ago, during the so-called Late Heavy Bombardment, this ball of rock we now call Earth was furiously pummeled by both suspects. Both carried a fair amount of ice with them, and it seems scientists now agree this is where our oceans ultimately came from. What they argue about is which type of projectile carried the most.

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ANNAPOLIS SHOW 2011: Boats and Other Cool Stuff

Alibi 54 at anchor

Thought I'd share with you some pix of a few things that raised my eyebrows while I was in Annapolis, starting with this hot catamaran, the Alibi 54 (built in Thailand), which in fact wasn't even in the show. Multihull maven Gregor Tarjan of Aeroyacht, who represents Alibi in the U.S., snuck me out to the anchorage in a dinghy to take a peek. This is a prototype, which Gregor reckons isn't quite ready for prime time.

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BOAT SHOW DELIVERY: Sailing the Outremer 49

Sailing the Outremer 49

This year, for the first time, I got myself to the boat show here in Annapolis in the proper way--by boat. I only wish the entire passage down from Newport had been as a pleasant as what you see in the photo up top. Most of it instead was a mind-numbing motorsail dead to windward. But the boat, at least, was a worthy ride--an Outremer 49, a very interesting performance cruising catamaran from France.

What intrigued me most about it were the twin carbon-fiber tillers aft on each hull. I'd never steered a cat this size with a tiller before, and I was very curious to find out what it was like.

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CONCORDIA SINKING: Human Error NOT a Microburst

School ship Concordia

Canada's Transportation Safety Board has finally released its report on the loss of the school ship Concordia, the 188-foot square-rigger that capsized and sank off the coast of Brazil back in February of last year. I was more than a little surprised by its conclusions: a) there was no microburst, as was reported by the captain and crew of the vessel; b) the ship's officers failed to follow guidance on securing the vessel and reducing sail area prior to the capsize.

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CHASING BOAT LEAKS: A Noble (if Frustrating) Obsession

Edward Gorey drawing

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,

In a Sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,

In a Sieve they went to sea!

--from The Jumblies, by Edward Lear/Drawing by Edward Gorey

ONE THING I'VE NEGLECTED TO MENTION is that Lunacy has been plagued with a mild leak this past summer. I'd noticed that a small amount of water was constantly appearing in the bilge sump, and just as constantly I kept mopping it out with a sponge. Gradually the small amount got larger, until I grew steadily more worried about it.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon the source. While putting the boat away after an overnight a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the toilet's inlet hose was weeping where it is clamped onto a sea-chest fitting atop the boat's one and only raw-water through-hull inlet. Upon close inspection, I could see that one of the two clamps securing the hose had cut right through it.

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FIBERGLASS BOATBUILDING: Internal Hull Structures

Fiberglass sailboat under construction

We've already discussed how a fiberglass laminate is created: what fabrics and resins are used, molds, the problem of blisters, and how cores can be used to make a laminate both stronger and lighter. Now we'll consider how a simple fiberglass boat hull can be reinforced and strengthened by the structural elements within it. This is necessary, because in fact the molded glass hull of any boat much larger than a dinghy is not normally rigid enough to withstand much abuse. Without internal structures to help stiffen it, a large hull's laminate would otherwise have to be unreasonably thick and heavy.

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Subcategories

  • 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.

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