Shopping for Safer Boat Care

Shopping for Safer Boat Care by Neil Smith, Phil Troy, and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation

For anyone who has ever wondered just how bad it is to breathe fumes from bottom paint or epoxy this comprehensive, easy-to-use safety guide to boat-maintenance products should help. This pocket-sized book illustrates potential hazards to health and to the marine environment with recommended precautions for each product.

Each page is dedicated to one product with a scale describing the nature of the threat, how to avoid dangerous contact, and safe-disposal suggestions. The guide is also useful for making informed decisions about use of boat products for mariners concerned about possible harmful effects on marine life. The book covers most products used in boat maintenance and boat repair, including adhesives, varnishes, paints, bilge cleaners, and refrigerants.

The soft-cover guide has 160 pages and costs $13.95, and is available through International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, Camden, ME 04843.

Hurricane Survival Guide for Mariners by Herman van der Heide

This 75-page softcover book is intended to provide enough hard-core information, data, explanation, history, and personal experience to convince yacht owners that there’s no messing around with hurricanes.

Van der Heide will most likely succeed in scaring anyone who reads his book into a new level of respect for even low-rated hurricanes and tropical storms. For a vessel anchored, moored, or docked near shore, he makes clear, the experience of going through a hurricane will be nothing short of “sheer terror.” The author firmly believes that no one should attempt to ride out a hurricane on his or her vessel, at least not in the tropics, and he has little difficulty convincing readers that he is right.

Published by Hurricane Press, St. Thomas, USVI, the Guide can be purchased for $14.95 plus $3.00 for shipping by calling (809) 776-5401, or it can be ordered directly from Nautorama’s distributor in Florida: 954-522-1422; fax 954-522-5174. Also, the author’s homepage ( lists all the bookstores where the Guide is currently available.

Images in Weather Forecasting: A practical guide for interpreting satellite and radar imageryby M.J. Bader, G.S. Forbes, J.R. Grant, R.B.E. Lilley, A.J. Waters

This 500-page, large-format (11-by-11) manual provides full-color satellite and radar images of midlatitude weather systems matched to weather models, charts, diagrams, and easily understood explanations. Written to accompany each image, rather than being laid out in standard textbook style, it allows users to easily and quickly identify and interpret patterns. Material for the book was gathered from North America and Europe by operational forecasters, training establishments, and universities. This book is a must for any sailor/tactician/navigator interested in fully understanding and using satellite and radar imagery.

Published by Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th St., New York, NY 10011-4211.

Sail Performance, Theory and Practice by C.A. Marchaj

In 1964, aero-hydrodynamicist C.A. Marchaj published Sailing Theory and Practice, his first definitive, scientific book describing what makes sailboats go. Thirty-two years later we know a lot more about sailboats, and Marchaj has updated much of the science in his new book, Sail Performance, Theory and Practice.

The title change is significant”sailing” is changed to “sail.” The first book was devoted to the study of both sails and hulls. The hydrodynamics and stability of the hull are important and necessary elements to the performance of sails. However, the new edition is devoted only to sails and their aerodynamics. So, if you have the original Sailing Theory and Practice, don’t sell it to the nearest used book dealer. Some of the text of the first book is republished verbatim in the new edition, but there is also a lot of new material that discusses wind-tunnel research done by the author and others in the intervening three decades.

Marchaj’s message, which he first stated with mild emphasis in his Aero-hydrodynamics of Sailing in 1979, reverberates in the new book in 1996: “. . . the ubiquitous Bermudan rig of sailing boats is not necessarily the fastest.” Indeed, he says that the basic triangular shape of the Bermudian rig is “the worst imaginable planform which the aerodynamicist could possibly invent.”

Why is this so? “For some strange, incomprehensible reason,” Marchaj explains, “this [Bermudian] sail planform is considered by rule-makers as sacrosanct,” and as such, yacht design and handicap rules have “practically precluded development of any other sail configuration.” Thus, “experiments with unusual rigs are effectively discouraged,” and, “people regretfully abandon any hope of developing other types of rig under current rules.”

In fact, Marchaj shows that the fishing fleets of developing countrieswhose ancient rigs evolved over the millennia in response to the laws of nature, not the artificial laws of measurement rulesare more efficient and powerful than the most advanced rigs of modern civilization. Indeed, the crab claw rig of western Polynesia extracts nearly twice the power and driving force from the wind than does the Bermudian rig.

The book describes the basic aerodynamics of sails without many equations and numbers. Graphs and photos elucidate the text so that the material is easier to absorb than a textbook. Recent America’s Cup developments serve as examples for discussion (e.g., Lionheart’s bendy mast of 1980, designed by the author, and the wingmasts of 1988’s Stars and Stripes catamaran). Interference between the hull and the rig is explainedkeeping the boom close to the deck to achieve end-plate effect does not really work, so it is pointless to try. Sail interaction between the main and jib is also brought up to date, and we see that keeping the jib tacked to a hull’s centerline does not make any sense. The research says that you should move the jib tack to leeward when sailing on the wind because lift is greater, drag is less, and your boat will sail faster. The book finishes with a discussion of the nature of wind and how it can influence tactics. Interestingly, gusty, unsteady wind actually makes aboat go faster than a steady wind of the same average speed. Known as the Katzmayr effect, it was discovered more than 70 years ago.

Sail Performance, Theory and Practice is a nice addition to the Marchaj collection.

Published by McGraw-Hill (TAB Books), New York, 1996, hardcover, 401 pages, $54.95.

Eric W. Sponberg

By Ocean Navigator