The decision on whether to carry a life raft and what kind of life raft that should be can be a challenge for sailors. New six-person, non-commercial life rafts cost at least $1,700. Used life rafts can be a relative bargain, but all rafts need periodic maintenance. The decision on what is right for a boat can hinge on factors as varied as budget to the kind of sailing you do.
We’ve been to plenty of concerts but never by sailboat, so when our friends in Florida called to ask if we wanted to join them to see the Dave Matthews Band via boat, we grabbed our bags and headed for the airport.
In the winter of 1956-1957, my grandfather commissioned a small sailing craft and named her for the young girl in Charlotte’s Web. He had been dreaming about small boats for some time and the popularity of his second children’s book made the project possible. He had owned other boats, including, a 30-foot double-ended cutter called Astrid, but Fern would be the first boat built for him.
The sailing world is flush with professional races that operate like finely tuned machinery. So when a truly grassroots competition arrives on the scene, it’s a breath of fresh air among intrepid pull-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps adventurers who make up for their lack of deep pockets with their courage, persistence and irrepressible good humor.
It was hazy, hot and the air was still and the seas were calm; certainly not the conditions we were expecting as we motored down the narrow channel toward the northern city of St. Petersburg on the eastern edge of the Baltic that so many of us had traveled so far to visit. But the uncharacteristically warm and sunny weather was only the first salvo of what proved to be a barrage of sensory overload that no reasonable expectations could live up to.
Francis Lee was named in honor of a father’s boating lineage, but everyone knows her as Sliver. To the dockside crowd of sailors who reveled in the champagne-soaked launching, Sliver was celebrated as a hometown wonder designed and built in the Pacific Northwest. The wood composite 62-foot double-ender was designed by Bob Perry and built at Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building.
Folding a sail is a task that sailors do every day, on the dock or on the deck, and while it won’t make or break you as a sailor, knowing how to fold a sail correctly will make your sails last longer, make them easier to set and ingratiate you to the rest of the crew.
The crash may not have been heard by all the competitors as the two A-Class catamarans collided at the windward mark on the first day of racing, but by the time the boats hit the beach, every sailor in the fleet was ready to help repair the damage.It’s clear to even a casual observer that there’s something special about the people in the singlehanded A-Cat class. During a break in the action at the class’s North American Championship in Panama City, Florida, the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club lawn was crowded with sailors helping patch up the boats damaged in the collision earlier in the day.
Careers and years have a way of tugging friends apart. So photographer Bob Grieser’s 29-year-old godson Sean, who had a landmark birthday looming, resolved to gather his pals from all corners of the continent for a tropical vacation. The trip would launch from Grand Abaco Island, one of the Bahamas’ 700 islands and cays that sprawl across 80,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean.
All sailors are used to tacking upwind. And if you think about it, it seems fair that if you have to tack up wind, you should also have to tack down wind. But when your destination is straight down wind, it’s almost irresistible to resist the urge to aim right at it. The problem is that when it’s windy, dead down wind is dangerous, and when it’s light, it’s slow.
Most people are familiar with the three largest islands claimed by the United States—Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Kodiak. In fourth place is Prince of Wales Island, located on the south end of Alaska’s inside passage, and I am grateful for the relative anonymity of this remote Alaskan Island.