New approach to collecting ocean plastic

New approach to collecting ocean plastic

It’s perhaps the largest global cleanup initiative in human history, one that will eventually benefit the health of almost every living thing: ridding the world’s rivers and oceans of the discarded plastic that flows into the water at an ever-increasing rate. Every day about 2,700 tons of plastic enters the ocean; much of that washes up on beaches, but a significant amount catches a ride on ocean currents and makes its way to the most remote spots on the planet. On its way it breaks into progressively smaller pieces until it becomes micro plastics which are ingested by many pelagic…
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Big Mama the cruising spider

Big Mama the cruising spider

Our first week sailing our Sabre 30 Ora Kali home to Maine, we noticed a web in a corner of the Bimini frame. At sunset a spider appeared and when she was done with repairs she sat in the center of a beautiful creation, swaying gently on the zephyr which was all we got on those heatwave days of mid-July 2021. By morning she had disappeared and the web was bedraggled. We traversed Long Island Sound and after we dropped anchor, she reappeared. Exactly when she signed on is unknown though she likely climbed up from the dock before we…
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Owning an  inspected tour  boat

Owning an inspected tour boat

Back in 1999, when I had the hare-brained idea that I wanted to operate a tour boat in Greenport, NY at the northeastern tip of Long Island, I already had enough experience working as crew on other boats to know better, but I didn’t heed that knowledge! I also knew that the Coast Guard allows a tour boat to only carry six passengers if it is uninspected and carrying six passengers, unless I charged outrageous amounts, wasn’t going to pay its way. Though I already held a 200-ton master’s license and had been involved in the charter world both inshore…
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In praise of the boom tackle

In praise of the boom tackle

In 2016 my wife and I bought a 34-foot Cabo Rico, upgrading from the 27-foot Albin Vega we’d owned for 16 years. While we certainly appreciated the increase in speed, sea keeping and accommodation, gybing the big boat was a real challenge. We have solved that problem with twin boom tackles, one to port, one to starboard. Not only do these let us simply ease the boom over when we gybe — no need to touch the main sheet — but each tackle acts as an instantly available preventer against an accidental gybe. The tackles let us haul down on…
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Head games

Head games

The excitement of being new sailboat owners was wearing off quickly. My wife and I had been aboard our new-to-us 2000 Beneteau Oceanis 381sailboat for only a few hours when we made an unpleasant discovery: the forward and aft head holding tanks were both full; moreover, the blackwater hoses leading away from each tank were solidly sclerotic. Our blackwater plumbing was constipated.  Up in the cockpit, the starboard lazarette, where the aft holding tank was mounted, had been torn apart. Fenders, lines, and spare anchors littered the space. My wife and I looked around, dazed. We were on a mooring…
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The wreck of Starlight

The wreck of Starlight

My wife Anne and I were aboard our 26-foot sloop Starlight of Mersea, sailing fast through the Caribbean night, reaching along parallel to the waves with the self-steering wind vane working hard to keep her on course in the boisterous seas. It was about five in the morning. There was no moon but from the hatchway I could see the sails and steering gear by the faint starlight and the luminescence of the breaking wave crests. A few years before we had found Starlight in Bob Vowell’s yard in Pwllheli in Wales and bought her for £1,600. Starlight was a…
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Eight license renewals later, still proud

Eight license renewals later, still proud

Inspired by the COVID 19 lockdown, I began cleaning house in a major way. That meant going into drawers and cabinets seeking out items that I no longer needed. Inevitably my purging led me to a cabinet drawer full of files that I hadn’t seen for years; old stories never completed, postcards from forgotten friends and in one file, bursting with the girth of a snake swallowing too big a meal, a treasure of long-forgotten information labeled “Captains License.” I hadn’t looked at that file in at least 15 years but it was taking up a lot of room and…
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The lost harbor of Christopher Columbus

The lost harbor of Christopher Columbus

A lone tourist excursion boat anchored off Jackson Beach while her passengers relax on shore. Sooner or later anyone who relies on navigational charts finds mistakes. The “magenta line” for the Intracoastal Waterway takes them aground. That shoal is actually 100 yards from where the chart says it should be. Or the chartplotter depicts your boat actually moving over land somewhere. Most of these cases are errors of measurement, and they usually involve underwater features.There is, however, an exception. It is an unusual case in which the world’s most prominent mapmaking agencies have failed to acknowledge the disappearance of an…
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Evicting four-footed stowaways

Evicting four-footed stowaways

My first experience with rats onboard happened years ago when I borrowed a friend’s Catalina 28 for a long-range cruise. The first night out my girlfriend heard strange clicking noises coming from the bilge and was convinced we had a rat problem. I set a trap and spent hours searching every nook and cranny — I found nothing but a rusty screwdriver and a can of beans. I told my problem to an old salt I knew and he laughed, “those were mating shrimp you were hearing, Rookie!” Though somewhat embarrassed, I was still happy there were no rats on…
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Classic Pearson Electra goes electric

Classic Pearson Electra goes electric

My Pearson Electra, sleek as she is, weighs a little more than 3,000 pounds and is propelled by a three horsepower Torqeedo electric motor. I captain her along the May River in South Carolina’s low country, which stretches with miles of tidal creeks and rivers from Pawleys Island to the confluence of the Savannah River at the Georgia border. I’ve had no problem powering through the strong tides, what are regarded as one of the Eastern seaboard’s greatest differentials with surges of up to eight feet.  I fell in love with this 58-year-old boat, named Sea Gypsy, when I first…
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