Flooding or ebbing?

Flooding or ebbing?

Sadly, I’ve recently realized that, sailing out of Los Angeles, I don’t think as much about the tide as I should. The changing of the tides has little impact on our Wednesday night races, and being tied up to a floating dock in the very sheltered Marina del Rey basin means my boat always feels to be in a safe place. There have been times when I had to be very aware of what the tide was doing, like when sailing along the southern coast of England or crossing Long Island Sound. Growing up in Connecticut, I was taught that…
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Log books

The first thing I ordered when I purchased my boat were two log books: a general log and a maintenance log. The general log book is where I record the underway activity of my boat. A short afternoon sail will get one log entry when I return to the dock, but an extended distance sail like a race around an island may get entries every few hours. My maintenance log is where I record all maintenance and repair activity. In the front, I record chronologically the work done and the related cost. This could mean replacing a turnbuckle or having…
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Seamanship & Navigation, November 2021

Seamanship & Navigation, November 2021

Stories of repairs at sea always make for fascinating reading. Not the fairly routine substitution of a spare part but rather a failure so horrendous that great ingenuity was called for to get the ship to port. You can learn a lot from these episodes; many yachts have made it safely back to land with jury-rigged masts, usually broken offshore in heavy weather. Miles and Beryl Smeeton lost their masts twice during an attempt to round Cape Horn from the Pacific in a 46-ft ketch, Tzu Hang. They made it back to Chile both times to effect repairs. The first…
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Seamanship & Navigation, September 2021

Seamanship & Navigation, September 2021

Buoys have been used by mariners since the 1500s to guide them been past shoals and rocks, with early buoys being no more than large pieces of timber strapped together, topped with a marker, and anchored in position. Modern buoys are brightly painted and labeled, can show a variety of light characteristics, can produce distinctive sounds. In the U.S., the Coast Guard is responsible for buoy placement and maintenance, and it uses a prescribed procedure for determining where buoys will be placed and what shape, light, sound and electronic signature they show. Buoys come in a wide range of shapes…
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Being seen is critical to being rescued. Even if you are equipped with a modern EPIRB that can get rescuers very close to your position, the rescuers still must see you to pick you up. This can be challenging when weather conditions are extreme, it’s nighttime, or if a rescue aircraft or ship has limited on-scene loiter time.  A person overboard faces a rescue dilemma similar to that of a crew of a sinking boat, even if it occurs from a slow-moving vessel. At six knots a boat covers 200 yards, or 600 feet, every minute. If it takes a…
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Any sailor who ventures out on the ocean will very quickly find himself standing on deck with a length of line in his hand facing the need to fix, adjust, repair or lash some crucial item of equipment. No matter how much gadgetry is aboard, the harsh environment of the open ocean will soon reduce things to the lowest common denominators: a sailor, the sails and the rope. A sailor needs to be able to tie a variety of knots, perform a simple eye splice and be capable of intelligently lashing one item to another. The Ashley Book of Knots…
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After a second reef is tied in to a yacht's mainsail, the next step in sail reduction is a storm trysail. Many offshore sailors feel that a triple-reefed main is not effective, inducing too much distortion and stress to the sail and not providing sufficient support to the boom. While not all modern yachts carry a storm trysail, those undertaking ocean passages should have one in their inventory. In truly heavy weather conditions, a storm trysail not only offers an opportunity to fly a still smaller sail but it also will help reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the vessel's mainsail which has already been buffeted and battered enough withstanding the wind and stresses of…
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