Bad boat name

A rose is a rose, it is said, and smells just as sweet by any other name. Would that it were true of boats. In fact, it seems many boats these days have perfectly horrible names. Glancing around at transoms in marinas and mooring fields, I must blush and/or wince at half the names I see.

I realize this is a subjective topic and that one mariner’s bon mot is another’s bad joke. But based on my own observations, I’d say many of you boatowners out there have created very dangerous situations with your boat names, wherein your boat’s self esteem may be so threatened it might at any moment, out of sheer embarrassment, cease to be a boat. Needless to say, there could be grave consequences if you and your family happen to be on board when this occurs.


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TURBULENCE REPORT: Wind and Waves Increasing

Breaking wave

Good news for surfers… bad news for ocean sailors. The first long-term study of wind and wave heights to rely on satellite data rather than buoy reports and observations from ships has found that the ocean has been steadily getting windier and bumpier over the past quarter century. Unfortunately, little of this increase is translating into stronger wind when conditions are light (i.e., when it would actually be useful). Rather the increase is mostly in the gnarly end of the spectrum. That is, the big, ugly, scary winds and waves are getting bigger, uglier, and scarier.


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WHARRAM PAHI 42: A Polynesian Catamaran

Pahi 42 aground

The catamaran designs that British multihull pioneer James Wharram first created for amateur boatbuilders in the mid-1960s were influenced by the boats he built and voyaged upon during the 1950s. These “Classic” designs, as Wharram termed them, feature slab-sided, double-ended, V-bottomed plywood hulls with very flat sheerlines and simple triangular sections. The hulls are joined together by solid wood beams and crude slat-planked open bridgedecks.

Wharram’s second-generation “Pahi” designs, which he started developing in the mid-1970s, still feature double-ended V-bottomed hulls, but the sections are slightly rounder and the sheerlines rise at either end in dramatically up-swept prows and sterns. The most successful of these in terms of number of boats built--and also probably the most successful of any of Wharram’s larger designs--is the Pahi 42. It is an excellent example of a no-frills do-it-yourself cruising catamaran with enough space for a family to live aboard long term.


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Scurvy Bastard drawing

Editor's note: Recent developments in Libya and the ongoing piracy crisis in Somalia have sparked a revival of historical interest in the early 19th century U.S. war against the Barbary pirates. What follows is a recently discovered eyewitness account of certain celebrated events that took place in 1803-04.

AYE, Scurvy's me name. Lieutenant Scurvy Bastard, and proud to be serving in the United States Navy, thank'ee very much. I joined into the Navy back in 1798, during the war with France, when there weren't much navy to speak of. Me dad were anxious then for me to join a merchant vessel, as he had done, but I told him I saw no high adventure in it. With all the fat American merchantmen roaming the sea, I reckoned there was bound to be a real rat's navy to protect them all from the ravages of privateers and such.

The Frenchies proved me right, of course, and I saw a good deal of action aboard USS Constitution, commissioned new under Capt. Sam Nicholson. We cruised the West Indies mostly and I rose right fast and was commissioned lieutenant within two years. I put together a tough, hard-fighting crew that was among the best of man or rodent, and we had ourselves one hell of a time.


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RODE WARRIORS: Painting Your Anchor Chain

Marking a chain anchor rode

There all sorts of ways to mark an anchor chain so that you know how much rode you've let out when anchoring. Some people sew tufts of fabric webbing to the chain links at appropriate intervals. Some people attach colored wire ties to the links. Others trot down to West Marine and buy packs of those yellow plastic tags with numbers on them. There are even a few privileged souls who have machines installed on their boats that automatically measure chain for them as it goes overboard.

But most folks, I'm guessing, just paint their chain, dabbing on stripes of red pigment with a spray can every 25 feet or so.

So here's a tip for all you chain-dabbers: next time you want to freshen up the paint on your rode, the first thing you should do is dive into the nearest dumpster and extract a few empty cardboard beer cases.


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CRUNCHING NUMBERS: Sail-Area/Displacement Ratio

Hallberg Rassy under sail

We've discussed how to evaluate a boat’s speed potential, but this really only tells you half the story. A fast hull won’t actually go fast unless there is enough power available to drive it at or near its potential. Aboard sailboats, of course, the source of this power is the boat’s sail plan. The parameter designers normally use to evaluate a boat’s sail-power relative to its weight is called the sail-area/displacement ratio (SA/D ratio).  Like the D/L ratio, this is a “non-dimensional” value that facilitates comparisons between vessels of different types and sizes.


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FURLING HEADSAILS: Stowed Properly, Please

Shredded furling headsail after a storm

This is a common sight in marinas and mooring fields after some heavy weather blows through. Conscientious sailors either don't have time to strip their sails off their boats, or they figure the weather won't really be that bad. So they furl their headsails and take a few extra wraps around the clew to make sure the sail is secure. All is safe, they figure. But when they return they find their headsail somehow managed to shred itself anyway.


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