All posts by Captain Bob Solliday

About Captain Bob Solliday

Captain Bob Solliday is a Master licensed 50 ton USCG captain with over 15,000 blue water sailing and boating miles in over forty years on the water. He resides near Marina del Rey, CA and is an ASA certified sailing instructor. He does boat deliveries and continues to race sailboats and teach sailing.

Key West Sunset

Sailing in Key West after the Hurricane

Sailing in Key West after the Hurricane
A Perspective By Bob Solliday, USCG Captain and ASA Instructor

Many have heard the tales of destruction that hurricane Irma left in her wake. The worst of the damage occurred in the middle keys near Marathon and Isla Morada where the eye of the storm hit. The deaths, the flooding, and the wind damage were unbelievable. And the storm surge seemed to obliterate everything in its path. Homes and businesses were destroyed, boats and marinas wiped out, and, in some cases, entire keys defoliated.

Key West got hit hard, but it did not get the worst of it. Certainly, homes were damaged and the roads covered with debris, but thanks to a lot of hard work Duval Street was functioning and open for business at the end of October. Many of the boats on weak moorings were lost and can be seen aground in the mangroves or up in the shallow areas. But most of the boats in the marinas survived, and the fishing boats, SCUBA boats, and sunset boats are open for business.

Kimber Tracy, the owner of Key West Sailing Academy (, had booked a 103, 104, and 114 combined private course for two weeks after the hurricane and that definitely was not going to work. The school boats which had been tied securely in the Key West Harbour Marina had some minor damage to repair, but the entire Key West area was not ready for tourists. She rescheduled the couple for the end of October and I flew down to teach them.

Continue reading

SAIL: A tribute to the world’s greatest races, sailors and their boats by TIMOTHY JEFFERY

SAIL: A tribute to the world’s greatest races, sailors and their boats

SAIL: A tribute to the world’s greatest races, sailors and their boats

If you like racing sailboats, then you will not find a better written or more beautiful book, Period. Jeffery’s has done a superb job researching and describing the great races around the world. Plus, the photos are fabulous which make this a unique book that will be a classic on any serious racer’s book shelf, as well as an inspiration to those just starting.

Continue reading

And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind

And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air by Bill Streever

The author, Bill Streever, does a fabulous job using his career as a biologist to make a book about the wind very interesting. Perhaps it’s my sailing or flying background, but the research and history uncovered and explained by the author turn a somewhat boring topic to most people into a good read. On the scientific side, the author covers topics about the science of wind and what causes it, and its destructive force on many things it touches. From famous storms and shipwrecks to the Dust Bowl and wars, the wind has played an important role in shaping history and lives around the world. It has both advanced civilizations and promoted transportation of goods and destroyed cities and taken many lives.

Continue reading

The Little Blue Book of Sailing Wisdom

The Little Blue Book of Sailing Wisdom by Stephen Brennan

Editor Brennan has compiled a unique book of quotes, verses, and traditional sailing axioms. He searched far and wide to find passages from such classic authors as Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemmingway, Rudyard Kipling, and Herman Melville. He uncovered quotes from JFK and Ted Turner, Mark Twain and Jack London, and even mixed in some Shakespeare and Walt Whitman. It’s an easy read that is perfect for the older sailor who has everything, the perfect gift and coffee table book that can be read or browsed in many sittings.

Continue reading

Finding North

Finding North — “How Navigation Makes Us Human” by George Michelsen Foy

Finding North is an interesting play on words as author Foy intertwines many aspects of navigation. He explores the history of navigation, the science of our modern GPS system and its weaknesses, the biology of human and animal navigation, the history of his great, great grandfather’s unfortunate shipwreck because of poor weather, and thus, lack of navigation, and a voyage up the eastern seacoast in his own sailboat using only navigation tools his great, great grandfather had available. In addition, Foy had recently lost his brother to illness so there’s an aspect of personal introspection as he deals with that loss and deciding in which direction his life should now go.

Continue reading

Splicing Modern Ropes

Book Review : Splicing Modern Ropes

Splicing Modern Ropes : A Practical Handbook by Jan-Willem Polman

As the sub-title suggests this is a very practical handbook on splicing ropes, all kinds of ropes. But that’s not all it covers. The book starts with a very good description of the new synthetic fibers and what differentiates them. Breaking loads and safe working loads are discussed, as well as, stretch and creep in the various materials.

Continue reading

Book Review - All Standing by Kathryn Miles

Book Review : All Standing by Kathryn Miles

All Standing, The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, The Legendary Irish Famine Ship by Kathryn Miles

The book was well researched and very well written. Ms. Miles does an excellent job intertwining the story of a ship, from its design to its demise, with the history of the time. Originally the ship, the Jeanie Johnston, was designed as a heavy cargo carrier, but the famine conditions in Ireland were accelerating and she was purchased to not only haul cargo from North America to Ireland, but to participate in the profitable backhauling of human cargoes of Irish emigrants to Canada and the United States. At the time, tens of thousands of Irish were starving and living under horrible conditions. To add to the misery, the British policies for the Irish colony were not working and the situation was getting worse. As the famine continued, emigrants, as human cargo, were packed into ‘famine ships’ and tried to survive the 30 to 45 day North Atlantic crossing. Living conditions below deck on most of these ships were horrendous and many times half the passengers or more died on board from their famine induced conditions or disease.

Continue reading