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As the fastidious English costumer doffed me with a three-corner hat and deemed me the rank of warrant officer, the responsibilities of my position came upon me, and I realized I had a job to do. Johnny Depp seemed like a nice enough fellow, but pirates were now my enemy. Travel may broaden the mind, but every time I go to the Caribbean, life seems to come about onto a new tack. Thirteen years ago, those warm trade winds brought the first internal yell of “hard a lee” when a day sail from St. John to Jost Van Dyke aboard a pretty little yawl named the Hirrondale juxtaposed so strongly with my life, then owning and managing a nightclub. When coursing over those blue wave crests, it became clear to me that working for three years straight without weekends off to get Nirvana, Widespread Panic or Country Dick Montana to play before four hundred drunks might not be the best life has to offer.
I bought a twenty-seven-foot sailboat two weeks later. Four years later, I moved aboard my Pearson 39, had my captain’s license and was working as an ASA Sailing Instructor. That new plan worked well and my worry lines turned to smile lines as the years slid by on a beam reach sailing the waters of the San Juan Islands and the Pacific Northwest. Only one thing was missing, but it took eleven years of gray wet winters before its lure pulled me back to the warm trade winds and blue waves where it all began.
Vegas to Vincent
An opportunity to instruct sailing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that probably had been available for years suddenly appeared before me like a Las Vegas marquis, and a week later I was circling above the airport of St. Vincent while down below, ground crews were chasing a dog from the runway. The door to the plane opened, and I felt the collision of two worlds: the dry, air-conditioned, body-odor-filled plane air easily gave way as I stepped into the fragrant blast furnace of the Caribbean. Stepping out and crossing the hot tarmac to meet or leave a plane really puts air travel into proper perspective when a body can stand next to the whining, dripping, searing hot machine that hurtles one through space in its comfy belly. I always have to mutter humble thanks when I survive.
St. Vincent is a lovely volcanic island that hasn’t ever really hit big on the tourism radar. Black sand beaches may not draw in the tourists, but nowhere else have I ever been as amazed at the scenery from a bus stop. Many old cruisers say that from St. Vincent south to Grenada is the last of the “old Caribbean” where the locals are quick to engage if you say hello or goodnight, and evidence of crack cocaine is still rare. Having sailed most of the Caribbean since then, I realize that I saw the best part of the Caribbean first.
After being on St. Vincent for a short while, I’d become so used to being a minority as a Caucasian that it became surprising to me when I would see other Caucasians, in fact I began to be surprised when I’d see myself in the mirror sometimes! I was quick to notice when a group of guys who looked American showed at the local Jump Up (street party) and found out they were building a set for the film Pirates of the Caribbean. They informed me that Disney was looking for extras and suddenly my life changed tack again—I was going to be a pirate!
Avast, ye landlubbers
Here was an opportunity for adventure and maybe even stardom that even Jimmy Buffet surely would not pass up. A week later, I’d made my way far up the coast to Disney’s makeshift offices at Chateaubelair where tall ships assembled and the ghost ship, The Black Pearl, was being constructed on top of a barge. Life was looking good as I met a few other excited would-be pirates and we tracked down the right person to speak with regarding our new careers. Most pirates I’ve come to learn had a pretty short stint at it before they met some gruesome fate, and my piracy too was delivered a full broadside and sank in flames in short order when casting informed us would-be buccaneers that the pirates were all being flown in from Los Angeles and we would be filling out the ranks of the British Navy and Royal Marines. Now swinging from the footropes of a tall ship as she plowed through the seas didn’t sound all that bad, and I figured it would probably look better on my sailing resume than pirate so I said, “I’ll be a sailor then!”
A month later, rowing training commenced, and the bustle of the British Navy seemed nearly real as sailors from all over the Caribbean assembled to do their duty and learn to row the jollyboats under the direction of the real sailors who’d brought the tall ship The Lady Washington down from my home state to be the featured ship in the film as The Interceptor. Having rowed in the sun for three days until we were finely honed to respond in perfect unison to the Boson mate’s formal commands of rowing a boat, we’d made the grade of sailor and come to accept that the footropes of the tall ships had also eluded us. Still my new mates and I merrily showed up at costuming on the given day where we fell under the close scrutiny of Disney’s campy British costuming department.
Pre-soiled and stained garments began transforming my mates as we stood before them but they only circled around me muttering to each other “Oh yes, this one, he’ll do nicely!” They were courteous enough to ask me if I’d be a naval officer, and I felt at first another broadside coming after all the training and camaraderie found with my new mates, but as he doffed me with a tri corner hat and said with a wink that I’d have more scenes than Johnny Depp, the lure of rank and a real sword set my jaw resolutely to the administration of my new rank.
The joy of fame
Rank unfortunately has its pitfalls and mine came in the form of a high-collared shirt, wool vest, stockings, wool breeches, three-quarter length heavy blue wool coat, a wig of real hair and, of course, the tri cornered hat under the tropical sun with temps hovering around 90 degrees.
My first command was of a Jollyboat that rowed across the background of a scene with Johnny Depp entering Port Royal. It did not seem that this officer was headed for glory any time soon, so I took the only course of action available: always be the first officer to show up when there is a call. This, of course, required me to keep my uniform on most of the time and kept me out of the ongoing card games in the extras’ tent, but I knew that Disney is scrupulous when it comes to continuity from scene to scene, and therefore I just needed to get in front of the camera once and I’d be entrenched in the heat of the action. Blood, sweat and tears, fortunately, were not necessary to claim my prize, only sweat; but my campaign was victorious and I became Commander Norrington’s left-hand man for days of filming.
Three weeks later and many other adventures on and off the set, the filming wound down. After all that film time, my mates and I were sure we filled half the movie and we began to hint that we’d be willing to show up at the premier. Disney never sent our tickets to the premier; and, unfortunately, the pirates ultimately won the battle as most of the British navy died under soft focus or as background fodder. My own mother couldn’t find me until I pointed myself out. I only counted four good mug shots of myself, and the main protagonists seemed to always get the pirates’ share of attention in each and every scene, but my mom claims six sightings now. Who am I to burst her bubble? Besides, she’s seen it ten times more than I have anyhow.
Hollywood, even in the Caribbean, is a political lot, with a distinct caste system that I have little desire to be a part of, but I will say that Johnny Depp and most of the lead actors and directors were quite approachable and fun. Depp’s immersion into character was fascinating to watch, and I believe the strong role he takes in directing films that he stars in makes his films uniquely like him. I was most impressed at how well he could hand roll his Bali Shag cigarettes with one hand on French chocolate papers. In the end, most of us sailors tacked back to where we were headed before, but the memory will always live on of the pirate’s life we had.
My life was dramatically changed for the better by getting out of the nightclub business those many years ago. Being a part of the making of Pirates of the Caribbean was a fun, eye-opening experience, but was nothing compared to the day-to-day experiences I’ve had on the water. It’s hard to say which has been more spectacular – being soaked by orca whales launching themselves from the sea, watching dolphins swim through phosphorescence at night in the middle of the ocean, the wonderful students I’ve had and become friends with all over the world, or simply feeling at home in my boat where ever my anchor sets. I’ll never regret listening to those warm winds, and letting a good tack go in favor of a great one.
Nathan Lowe is a US Coast Guard Licensed Master, ASA Instructor and Sailing School Director for Orca Sailing, an ASA school specializing in the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Croatia and the Pacific Northwest’s San Juan Islands, with options for private charters, chef service and family learning vacations. See www.OrcaSailing.com or call (800) 664 6049 or (360) 671-4056.
The American Sailing Association is pleased to announce that we have finalized plans to repeat our successful week-long ASA member’s sailing week in 2006 in the Caribbean! Next year’s event will take place from Friday, June 16, through Friday, June 23, 2006, and will once again be held at Sunsail’s exotic destination resort, Club Colonna, located on the northern end of the island of Antigua.
ASA Executive Director Charlie Nobles added, “What’s great is that next year’s event will be even better. Sunsail has improved their offering by agreeing to provide ASA guests access to some of the largest and best keelboats from their charter fleet, once again at no additional costs to ASA members. They have also switched the resort to an ‘all-inclusive’ format, so all meals and resort activities will be included in this year’s price.”
The cost of the weeklong, all-inclusive event will be only $890 for ASA members. This price includes all meals, lodging, standard resort activities, ASA welcome gifts, beach-based small boat sailing, and sailing aboard 48- foot Sunsail charter boats.
The non-ASA member price for the resort is in excess of $1,000 and does not include the use of any keelboats that normally cost several thousand dollars per week, ASA welcome bags for each attendee which contain well over one hundred dollars in free products, or the ASA-specific events and parties throughout the week.
Space at the resort is limited. Everyone interested in attending should call Sunsail at (800) 327-2276 (event code: ASA 606). For more information on next year’s event, visit www.ASA.com and follow the member’s event links.
Lake Huron’s North Channel, a virtual unknown in sailing circles, is rated one of the top ten sailing destinations on earth. It and adjacent Georgian Bay have over 32,000 freshwater islands to explore. Yes, that number is correct! Nearly all of these islands are public, with more wild blueberries to pick than your crew can eat. That’s why we San Diegans have swallowed our hitch after decades of trailer-sailing, and plan to cruise the North Channel until death do us part.
This is wilderness cruising, an idyll of anchorages and village ports of call. The North Channel is a rhapsody in rock and pine, high bluff and deep bay, orchestrated in its own key. The elevations are dramatic, the daylight long and sharp, and the northern lights brilliant against the night sky. Monarch butterflies hang glide in your wind wake, while the call of the loon resonates in your soul.
Nearly all of the North Channel is in Canadian waters. Its hospitable, generous people bid you most welcome. Swim every day in ten feet or under where the warm water has been baking on hot rocks … there are no tides! And the sailing, it is a dream come true. Winds from the west typically clock in about 11 a.m., peak at 20 knots around 3 p.m., and are gone by dinner at six. The sun sets about 10 p.m., a serene afterglow to your sailing adventures. Just how adventurous can it be? There is a large bay with hundreds of islands inside the North Channel that got its first chart in 2002. There are even parts of the North Channel and Georgian Bay that remain uncharted!
Here are some of the most famous destinations in the North Channel. Baie Fine, a true fjord set deep into the La Cloche Mountains, ending in “The Pool,” celebrated by the Group of Seven Painters. The Benjamin Islands, whose rocks are as startlingly pink as a brand new infant, with serene single-slot gunkholes. Oak Bay, multiple majestic anchorages … you could spend a week here and just scratch the surface. Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island and location of some of the North Channel’s most charming ports-of-call: Gore Bay, Kagawong, Little Current and Meldrum Bay. There you can stock up at farmers’ markets, go to summer theaters and gorge on ice cream that does not come in measured scoops.
If you can’t get your own boat to the North Channel, consider chartering from several small Canadian companies. You pay in discounted Canadian dollars! Sleek Mackinac racers mingle with small, trailered sailboats and Great Circle Loop cruisers in a destination so abundant you will not outlive its offerings. And the North Channel stories and tales that come with it are enchanting … “The Great Sawmill Robbery,” “The Curse of the Bearwalk,” and more. Obviously, we are in love and have built a barn in Upper Michigan where Ensemble, our 24’ Pacific Dolphin sloop, waits for us to come back next summer.
For details and recommendations galore, please see our cruising guide, which is a new edition of Marjorie Cahn Brazer’s classic: Well-Favored Passage – The Magic of Lake Huron’s North Channel, available at www.SeaFeverGear.com. You can reach us directly in San Diego at (619) 222-7074 or PixieH@Mailstation.com.
When you think of the Coast Guard, what comes to mind? For many, the orange and blue racing stripe; others talk about how the Coast Guard does maritime search and rescue missions.
While the Coast Guard and Auxiliary do practice and hone their search and rescue (SAR) techniques, we are even more interested in preventing the recreational boating public, as well as commercial boaters, from getting into situations where SAR is required.
For recreational boaters, we have developed a simple five minute form that can literally save your life. Every parent I know, when they leave their children with a babysitter, asks the following question as they walk out the door: “You have our contact numbers, right?” As a boater, why not do the same? A float plan is a simple to use form that, like the telephone number you leave the babysitter, is a means for the Coast Guard to know who to look for, where to look, and what type of boat you’re on, in the event that you don’t return home when you planned.
What is a Float Plan?
A Float Plan is similar to a pilot’s flight plan in that it is a simple form that lists the information about you and your vessel. The difference is, unlike a flight plan, which is filed with the FAA, the float plan is not filed with the Coast Guard. However, the Float Plan asks the questions that will assist the Coast Guard, should your vessel fail to reach its intended port at the appropriate time.
BOSTON June 13th- Coast Guard First District received a call at 3:15 p.m., today from the brother of an overdue boater aboard the sailing vessel Exody who was expected to arrive in Bass Harbor, Maine, at the Morris Yachts.
Steve Willingham, 57, left the Long Wharf in Boston for Bass Harbor, Maine, in a 26-foot sailing vessel Exody June 4. Willingham last communicated with his brother from his cell phone while he was in the vicinity of Gloucester, Mass. No one has since heard from Willingham.
This press release was submitted shortly before this article was written. This is a perfect example of how a Float Plan can be of major assistance to the Coast Guard. A Float Plan asks the following types of questions: The vessel’s name, type, propulsion, types of electronics (radio and navigation), safety and survival equipment, the crew, (who are they, where do they live, etc.) and finally, the vessel’s itinerary.
What do I do with my Float Plan?
The Float Plan is given or sent to those people who are expecting the vessel at each stop on its itinerary. So you would give a copy to a neighbor who would expect you home at a given time, a marina that you headed to as either a stop over or even a major fueling point, and your final destination.
You will note that we do not tell you to give a copy to your local law enforcement or Coast Guard, as they do not have the resources to track this type of information, but your friends and destinations do, because they are expecting you.
The people to whom you give your Float Plan, must be instructed to wait so many hours (discuss what a reasonable time would be with each person) before they contact the Coast Guard or local law enforcement in the event that you don’t arrive, or don’t make contact with them.
In short, the Float Plan will provide most of the information that will be needed by the Coast Guard or local law enforcement to start a SAR mission. Without a float plan, a SAR mission is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Where do I get a Float Plan?
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary has made that as easy as click and print. We developed Float Plan Central at http://floatplan.uscgaux.info/. There you will find a Float Plan in PDF format that allows you to fill in your information online, so that it’s easy to read. All you need to do then is to print up the correct number of copies.
Float Plan Central also provides additional information to the boating public, including a Boating Emergency Guide, and a section called Tales of the Plan, which features real life stories of people who have used Float Plans, and how it has saved the day, if not saved lives.
A little about us
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of uniformed volunteers who assist the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation’s waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.
The American 14.6 was designed in 1989 as a basic, simple day sailor that would be desirable for use in beginning training programs and as a no-hassle day sailor for those seeking good sailing characteristics. The major feature of the A-14.6 is that it was designed to sail “flat” and hiking out on the gunnel was not required. This characteristic was achieved by giving the hull shape a flat bottom and hard chine sides with the girth of the hull being widened such that the boat has a six foot, two inch beam. The hull is a flat-bottom planning design that will jump up and run on top of the water when under sail. In addition, the design feature allows the boat to give excellent performance in light air.
One of the great features of the American 14.6 is the large cockpit, which allows room for four full size adults and an instructor. With the seating down each side and a small foredeck area, the cockpit is spacious. The rigging is that of a basic day sailor with a very high boom. A seven-foot tall sailor can sit on the seats, and the boom will still swing above his head. The rigging is stainless with an aluminum mast, which contains foam flotation. In the event of a capsize, which is relatively hard to do with the wide, flat-bottom hull, the mast foam floatation will help to keep the boat on its side for easy righting. The cockpit layout includes an area at the rear of each seat for a cooler or instructional gear. The foredeck storage area is 24 inches deep and provides enough space to store the main and jib or a spinnaker sail. An optional Plexi Glass hatch door is available for the entry access to this storage area.
The sail package features 112 square feet of 3.8 ounce Dacron sail. An optional spinnaker sail package is available. Back plating under the gunnel for spinnaker cleat hardware installation is included, so the addition of a spinnaker package at a later time will be easy. The main sail is equipped with a row of jiffy reef grommet points across the lower one third of the sail for instruction in jiffy reefing. A larger jib can be ordered on a special basis, however, most of the programs opt for the standard sail arrangement. The American 14.6 can be sailed with the main only. Being able to be rigged and sailed single-handed is a feature desired by many of the individual owners. The boat can be rigged and launched off the trailer in less than 15 minutes by one person. The mast is extremely easy to step. Equipped with a base pin that slides into a slotted tabernacle, the 22-pound mast can be stepped by the average-size student. All blocks are Harken throughout the boat.
Equipped with a kick-up, all-fiberglass centerboard with a five-pound toe weight, the centerboard will retract into the hull centerboard trunk if it hits ground underwater. The toe weight will cause the boards to have a spring-like return once the underwater object has been crossed. Unlike most day sailors, the American has two centerboard control lines, one to raise the centerboard into the trunk and one to allow the board to be pulled out of the trunk should it become lodged with mud. The rudder system is an advanced design, and the blade can be raised or lowered from inside the cockpit by pulling a lanyard on the side of the tiller. The rudder system is also equipped with a bungee arrangement that puts spring-like tension on the rudder blade to allow it to kick up in the event of ground contact and to be pulled back down into position after crossing. The blade is all fiberglass and the rudder head and tiller are aluminum with stainless steel pintails. Sheet lines are colored: red for the main and blue for the jib.
Construction of the American 14.6 is all hand-laid fiberglass with “Coremat” stiffener material between the fiberglass layers, and the first layer of glass is installed using Vinyl Lester Resin to protect the hull from fiberglass blisters. All hardware is backed by metal plate that is encased into the fiberglass, and stainless steel fasteners are used. The area under the seat and forward area under the mast contain closed-cell foam flotation. Access to the centerboard is convenient with tow-covered ports, one on each side of the centerboard trunk. The stainless centerboard swing bolt is easily removed to make servicing the centerboard user friendly.
At the retail level, the American 14.6 is offered as a package: boat, sails and trailer. For training programs, it is offered as a basic boat package without the trailer. In addition, the A-14.6 is available with a series of options for training programs where heavy use is expected. These modifications include stainless steel rudder head plates; bolts through the gunnel rubrail, in addition to the normal rivets; side stay U-bolt bars under the gunnel on each side to spread the load; a back-plated steemhead for the forestay; and back-plated lifting rings on the transom.
With nearly 2,000 American 14.6s having been produced and in use in over 100 training programs, the A-14.6 is proving itself as a popular trainer. The construction of the boat is such that numerous years of life can be expected. Notable programs using the boats for a number of years are the Annapolis Sailing School, Broward County Community Program in South Florida, Monmouth County, NJ, and The American Small Craft Association in New York City. Competitively priced in the $4,500 range, this boat is one to consider.
Portolan (pilot-book) charts served as the primary navigational aids for seafarers between the 14th and early 17th centuries. “Portolano” is Italian and refers to the written sailing directions that allowed navigators to set their course between key ports. This information, compiled over centuries of voyages, eventually led to the first true marine charts. As such, these portolan charts are some of the first occurrences of bearing lines, which represent a key stage in the history of map or chart making, especially from the standpoint of navigation in cartography.
These portolano or “pilot book” charts were drawn in 1650 by Franciscus Oliva, a member of a well known family of Italian map makers. They were presented as a gift to the Tounis College in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a leather-bound folder by Thomas Young in 1690. Most portalan charts of the Mediterranean originated in Venice, Genoa and Majorca. They show the coastal waters, along with navigational points, of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Today, these are admired as much for their detailed artwork and beauty as their historical information.
Title: Blue Latitudes Author: Tony Horwitz Publisher: Picadore Press 2002 Format: Paperback
Blue Latitude jumped out to me at Mystic Seaport Bookstore. It was one of four books I bought that day and sent home to California. Mystic Seaport Bookstore commands an extended time for browsing. Tony Horwitz’s book is subtitled: ‘Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.’ It is advertised as a combination Cook biography and travelogue. But it is also a sailor’s delight. And for a sailor who is on the net, it will expand your reading to all parts of the world.
Basically, Horwitz tells the story of Cook’s life by visiting the places Cook discovered in his three voyages in the Pacific. The three voyages take up the main portions of the text; however, his childhood and married life is also part of the story. Horwitz interweaves the discoveries of Cook with visits to the same places and searches for evidence of Cook’s legacy. It is a great read.
I was hooked with the first chapter subtitled ‘One Week Before the Mast.’ I recalled my own short training on the tall ship Akogare in Osaka, Japan, which awoke my interest in sailing after a 20-year absence. I tucked that little adventure in the back of my mind and read on. He visits Tahiti, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Botany Bay and the Great Barrier Reef from Cook’s first voyage. Fascinating reading, a study in linguistics. But Botany Bay shook loose another memory of years gone by; 46 years ago I sailed these waters as a seaman in the U.S. Navy. Not Tahiti or Bora Bora or Botany Bay, but Fiji and Melbourne. A pattern emerges. I’ve sailed in the Pacific off and on for 46 years. Where else did my course cross those of Cook and Horwitz? Stop right here. If you have ever sailed the Pacific, make a list of the ports, the vessels and the dates. They will add another dimension of pleasure to your experience …
One disturbing aspect of Horwitz’s travels is that the pictures he gives us of the current status of the places Cook discovered are not the same as the pictures we see in the travel magazine. But this will come clear in the end. Cook’s second voyage included his attempt to find the southern continent. He ventured to 70 degrees south but was frozen out at that point. Horowitz takes his reader to Niue (the Savage Island) and Tonga. I’ve never heard of Niue. Stop again. You’re reading this while on the net. Go to Google and search for Niue. From this page on (About 222), you will want to read this book at your computer and cross-check every place and every event in the book. Your pleasure has just blossomed to cover the whole world. (Google offers about 42,800 sites for Niue.) But again, Horwitz does not offer a very desirable picture of these places.
At this point, Horwitz takes to Cook’s childhood in North Yorkshire and his lifestyle in London. I love both London and York. Haven’t been north of York to Cook country, but I can feel the roads and see the skies Horwitz describes.
My wife and I visited London last year on our way to ‘holiday’ on a narrow boat in Wales. Thus another path crossed … On Cook’s third voyage he is ordered to search for a northwest passage over America from the Pacific side. Horwitz takes us to Alaska and Hawaii for this voyage. And the three paths meet again. Horwitz spends forty pages exploring the Aleutian Islands as Cook saw and experienced them. Cook explored the north to 70 degrees! Well, I didn’t stop at the islands, but three years ago, I booked passage on a container ship from Long Beach to Osaka. The captain indulged me with a 14-day passage up to the Bay of Alaska and over the top of the Aleutian Islands and then down to Hokkaido and Tokyo. Cook and Horwitz both write of miserable weather and wild seas.
My experience was totally different. The container ship Hanjin Athens is 1000 feet long and 330 wide. Cruising speed is 25 knots. Our seas were flat, and the weather clear. Nonetheless, I appreciate Cook’s challenge.
Our paths cross once more and yes; the Elbow Room has a web site (you need to read this book). Hawaii is Cook’s end. He is killed here on February 14, 1779. Horwitz notes Cook’s declining skill and mental health throughout this voyage. And the picture Horwitz paints of the social conditions of the people Cook discovered comes into focus. Cook was a great explorer, but the consequences of these discoveries on the indigenous people were not great.
As with the American Indian, the indigenous people discovered by Cook are all but erased from the face of the world. Those who survive have lost most of their culture. But Horwitz finds one positive overriding message in Cook’s logs. Cook finds all people ‘were alike in their essential natures.’ He believed there were grounds for mutual understanding. This may well be worth contemplation today.
Bill Payne sails whichever boat is closest to him: Pilgrim off the coast of California or Catch 22 around Osaka Bay. The Peter Principal (reaching your level of incompetence) has kicked in for him with his Bareboat Chartering Certification.
The new Skymaster Weather Meter gives you advanced weather information in a convenient, pocket-knife design that fits ergonomically into the palm of your hand. It is a precision instrument built to last. Its body is constructed with highly visible yellow molded plastic. It measures 5.9 x 2.1 x .85 inches and weighs a mere 3.9 ounces. It is powered by a replaceable 400-hour lithium battery. The wind impeller is non-corrosive plastic and is also replaceable. It comes with clear and concise directions. With countless features, I believe it to be a great value at only $175. I use it both at home and when traveling and it has become a permanent part of my “don’t leave home without it” gadget bag.
I have used the Skymaster Weather Meter on land, sea and air and find it to be quite accurate. I took the unit from sea level all the way up to Donner Summit at 7,089 ft. in weather including hot and sunny, cold and raining and freezing with snow. It accurately measured weather in all these conditions. The Severe Storm Audio Alert feature even went off while crossing Donner Summit. This feature is set to go off if the air pressure changes by six millibars (up or down) within a three-hour period. The storm alarm feature is disabled when the Skymaster is in altitude mode to prevent it from sounding a false alarm due to the effect altitude has on air density. Because of this same effect, the unit does need to be calibrated occasionally either to altitude (easy for us sailing types who can usually be found at sea level) or by a current reliable barometric pressure reading. Both calibrations are a very simple task using just the on/off and mode keys, which, by the way, are the only two keys on the unit.
One can scroll through all the functions available easily with just the two keys. Once you have gone through the functions, it is clear that the unit is easy to operate even for someone who is not a gadget geek. The units of measure are also adjusted to your own personal preference using the two keys. The unit comes from the manufacturer complete with battery and a spare. It uses just one CR2032 battery, which lasts a long time, as I have not replaced mine after using it for more than a month almost daily. To conserve battery life, you must either turn the unit off or leave it in barometric pressure mode when not in use. When left in barometric pressure mode (good for impending storm alert feature) the manufacturer states the battery will last four to six months.
Different features will drain the battery at different rates, wind speed being the most rapid followed by relative humidity. When not using my unit sailing, camping and hiking, I leave it mounted on a tripod on the deck at home on barometric pressure mode. It has accurately predicted every approaching storm. I also leave it out there during the storm, which has not affected its performance. I have not immersed it in salt water yet, but my 5-year-old daughter dropped it overboard accidentally in my canoe in freshwater, which was not a problem as it is yellow and floats. Wearing it around your neck or tied to a stable item with the supplied lanyard would be wise to take care of this problem while cruising.
Although this is the only weather meter I personally have tried, I found a product comparison chart at www.airgadgets.com which lists features available on this and other meters, and the Skymaster wins hands down. It was also ranked number one by Practical Sailor Powerboats Report.
For more on the Skymaster, visit Speedtech Instruments at: www.speedtech.com.
ASA member Thomas Carpenter is a grape grower and winemaker in the Napa Valley, California. He sails San Francisco Bay and the Delta in his 1960 30’ Baltic Cruiser SF 2 Aquavit out of Vallejo, Calif. He is currently teaching his 5-yearold daughter to sail in his 14’ Capri. An avid photographer and private pilot, he enjoys cruising the seas and skies alike above California.
Patti and I are empty nesters. You sort of re-define your life when your kid gets married and moves their stuff out of the basement.
I’ve been around and owned various boats, from canoes to rowboats to runabouts to houseboats since I was eleven years old. My family: parents, siblings and now spouse have always been subjected to the thrill, expense, maintenance and trouble that boats just are. For the most part, the rest of the family never thought it was worth the hassle. I, on the other hand, have always wondered, if the world is seventy percent water, why is it always so far to the beach?!
My experience was mostly with powered boats and sailing remained “mysterious.” Also, when I was younger, I had that juvenile appreciation for loud, rude and fast. I’m older now, a certified public accountant, married to a wonderful woman and have spent way too much time lashed to a desk, employees and accounts. I’ve gotten old enough now (it happened while I was at the office) to know that there is more to life than tax returns.
A few years ago, a bank officer client noticed my lights on at about eleven thirty p.m. and stopped at my office. He was grateful for a piece of work I’d done, and he warned me I worked too much and stopped to tell me he had the cure. He threw a key on my desk, gave me a slip number and said, “She’s yours. Just go get her.” He warned me he hadn’t seen the boat in over two years so she probably needed a cleaning up.
I decided this was my excuse. But first I needed to learn to sail — the right way, so as not to embarrass myself. I was unsure where to start. A few weeks later, I decided to visit the men’s room before teeing off with clients. Lo and behold, there was a pamphlet rack beside the porcelain fixture and in it were brochures from Lanier Sailing Academy advertising their ASA basic keel boat course! I called and scheduled my class that afternoon on the way home from golf.
What a ride and what an enriching experience my wife and I began in the toilet at the golf course! I haven’t played golf since.
Patti, though she thought it just one more expensive hobby (yeah, I’ve got them; I fly airplanes, fly fish, golf, the jet boat …) decided since I’d taken BKB, BCC and BBC and belonged to the Passport Sailing Club, she’d better see what had me so “hooked.” Of all the right things I’ve done, sending her to take those same courses was the best decision I’ve ever made.
We purchased an Islander Bahama and enjoy sailing it together at Lake Lanier. We have also sailed a good bit in the Gulf of Mexico, chartering from our friends, Cathy and John Struchen and Ron Rose at Lanier Sailing Academy in Pensacola, Fla.
Patti and I took Advanced Coastal Cruising in the British Virgin Islands with Capt. Stacey Brooks of Sea Dog Sailing and loved the experience. We love the islands because of the reliability of winds, the ease of navigation and the beautiful sights. Yes, the partying is great, but we’ll sail ten hours and party two. We’ve also chartered from Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands and are planning another trip soon.
I teach Basic Keel Boat now at Lanier Sailing Academy. Capt. Matt Fleming operates a first class facility and school there, and I’m truly grateful to be a part of the experience. Patti and I have completed the ASA curriculum through Celestial Navigation. We are looking forward to Offshore Passagemaking and hope to do the Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda trip for that certification. Patti and I are trying to find the limits for what we enjoy and haven’t gotten there yet. If we don’t find them soon, we’re looking to sell our home and find a blue water boat for some serious passagemaking.
Patti and I are grateful for sailing as we have something we enjoy doing together, something which makes it easy for us to sneak out of work when the wind is blowing!
I’m really grateful that long-sighted individual who saw fit to put sailing brochures in the stall at the golf club.
Key Tips for optimizing Jib Power Part 2 of 4-part series on proper sail trim and shape
As with the mainsail, the primary considerations in controlling jib power are sail trim, shape and twist. When the true winds are light, it is best to power up the headsails by making them fuller. Stronger true winds favor flattening them so as to power them down.
Shaping the jib can be achieved by adjustment of the halyard tension, jib downhaul if available, and adjustment of the jib fairlead to obtain the proper twist. By tightening the jib halyard or downhaul, the draft may be moved forward, and by easing them, the draft will move aft. With horizontal stripes on a sail, the shape is easier to evaluate from the deck.
Sail twist and differing wind speeds By moving the jib fairlead fore and aft, twist may be reduced or added to the sail. The twist in the jib and main should be similar.
At the top of the mast, the true wind velocity is greater and the apparent wind is more in line with the true wind.
Lower on the mast, the true wind is less and the apparent wind is from more forward.
Thus, the sails should have a slight decrease in twist from top to bottom. By placing telltales on the sails from top to bottom, it is relatively easy to adjust the jib fairlead until all the telltales flow horizontally along the entire height of the sail.