October 2007 Newsletter supplement for subscribers
Memories are made of this
How did you get started sailing?
In the August 2007 newsletter we asked you, Gale had a canvas cabinroof, which Inside this issue
our readers, to tell us how you got started in required frequent painting to keep it weather-
sailing. We’d like to print your story in one tight; it often had tacky paint and fresh dew In the news .............................2
of our upcoming newsletters. as we cast off lines on Friday evening. Buzz
also taught me how to splice. I did all the Calendar.................................3
With fathers and mentors . . . splicing — mostly in hemp, cotton and linen
Here’s what Jim Caskey of Rockville, Mary- — on Gale and his subsequent boats, Temer- Looking for.............................4
land, had to say on that subject: ity and Valiant.
At 10 years of age, I ﬁrst sailed with my My father and Buzz were equally com- Book reviews ..........................6
father in a canvas-covered gaff-rigged boat of petent and patient in teaching me about
a dozen or so feet on Stoney Creek, a tributary the proper use of tools, “make-do” repairs, Baby, this boat’s
of the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore. (Ear- preventive maintenance, creativity, resource- got soul (err, sole)! ................8
lier I had ﬁshed with him and my great-grand- fulness, and other facets of self-sufﬁciency
father from rented rowboats on sounds of — a hallmark of good old boat sailors — that Mail buoy ...............................8
the Jersey shore near Atlantic City. Later, he have served me well for a half-century. My
pulled me on waterskis from our home-built father’s reminders about the “right tool for Excerpt from
kit runabout with a 16-hp Mercury outboard.) the job” and Buzz’s complaints about working The Practical
Alone, I sailed well downwind. But tacking with stainless steel echo in my mind when I’m Encyclopedia of Boating ....12
was another story. The boat’s lightweight, large working on my good old boat, Touch of Glass,
sail area/displacement ratio, unballasted a 1974 Dufour 27-foot Safari dinette model,
short copper ﬁn keel — along with my fear which I’ve owned since 1979.
of capsizing and lack of skill — all conspired Jim Caskey
against me when working to windward. A lo-
cal racer, Harold “Buzz” White, took me under With uncles and buddies . . .
his wing in the 1950s and let me help sail his Joe Bishop of Covington, Louisiana, has
boat: Gale, a 52-foot engineless sloop. We’d this story about getting started in sailing:
sail on Friday night from Stoney Creek where Shortly after WW II, when I was a boy,
we both lived, through the Ft. Smallwood very poor, living with my mother and younger
Road drawbridge, down the bay to the An- sister in a tenement in Springﬁeld, Mass., my
napolis area for racing on Saturday, and back uncle rented a cottage for us for one week in
home again that night or on Sunday. Continued on Page 2 How to contact us
Michael Facius, Editor
What’s coming in November? Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
For the love of sailboats Just for fun
• Catalina 30 • Learning to sail Pat Morris, Production Editor
• Cal 30 • Closing my husband’s shop 651-797-3801
• Tenders (kayaks and folders) • A day on Chesapeake Bay (photo spread) firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking seriously What’s more Good Old Boat Magazine
• Docklines 101 • Simple solutions: Single-handed MOB lad- 7340 Niagara Ln. N.
• Bluewater-capable yacht, Part 3 der; Scraper in a pinch Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
• Install a hot shower • Quick and easy: Wedge of silence; Stowage 763-420-8923
• Make sure the current ﬂows solution; Anchor chain scrubber; Bucket job 763-420-8921 (fax)
• Settee and table conversion http://www.goodoldboat.com
How did you get started sailing, Continued from Page 1 won) and then proceeded across the Atlantic Ocean in Finis-
terre, his beloved 38-foot yawl. To a boy of 14, this was pretty
heady stuff, the things daydreams are made of.
Chatham on Cape Cod. A small boatyard was located on the The ﬁre was lit, culminating in a plan to convert whatever
property, owned by the Dunbar family, I believe. rowboat (that we were going to get along with the cottage that
The Dunbars had a son, a year or two older than I was, who Dad was renting for a week that summer) into a sailboat by
invited me to sail and race with him on his catboat and his means of clamp-on rudder, leeboards ﬁtted to the oarlocks,
Lightning on Mill Pond and Stage Harbor. We even capsized and a mast and boom made from roosting poles from the old
during a jibe while racing. What a glorious week! henhouse, properly painted out with brown paint and white
I did not sail again until after I was discharged from the trim, and a sail made from an old Japanese parachute that had
Marine Corps and was attending law school in New Orleans been “liberated” from a warehouse in Tokyo by my uncle in the
during the ’60s. Some friends, who knew less than I did about last days of World War II.
sailing, acquired an old wooden 40-foot sloop. They invited me With Dad’s help, albeit with much skepticism, we assembled
to go sailing because they believed all New Englanders must it on the boat when we got to the cottage. To the amazement
know how to sail. (The night before meeting them at the dock, of both of us, the darned thing actually worked! Of course it
I read a library book on sailing, thereby making me the most wouldn’t point worth a darn, but it did manage to beat across
knowledgeable man on the boat.) I’ve continued to race and (sorta), and run with, the wind.
cruise ever since that time. Thus was born a love of sailing and the sea resulting in four
I have owned many boats, served as commodore, USYRU years in “Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club” during the ’Nam era, which
judge, and PHRF handicapper, cruised the Caribbean and in allowed me the opportunity to make a circumnavigation, cross
the Paciﬁc, and I expect to set sail on an extended voyage as the equator, and receive a two-year humanities course in about
soon as I ﬁnish reﬁtting my present boat . . . and all because of six months via the ports of call that we made. As soon as I got
the kindness of my uncle and a young boy from Chatham. out in 1968, I started building a small Sunﬁsh-type boat from
Joe Bishop plans in Popular Mechanics. (Yup, I used the same parachute
sail). Then came a career in the Grand Rapids Fire Dept. and a
With inspiration from others . . . 12-foot wooden lapstrake daysailer that was seakindly enough
Ted Rensland credits Carlton Mitchell as the inspiration for to haul me, along with a wife and a very hesitant Irish setter,
his earliest sailing dreams: out through the breakwater in Holland, Michigan, and on down
It was with great sadness that I just read of the passing of the coast about two to three miles for picnics and swimming.
Carlton Mitchell on July 16 at the age of 96. (Note: See associ- Personal reasons came up, and I sold the boat and “went into
ated comments in the section below –Eds.) Although I never drydock” for about 25 years until last year, when I came back
met the gentleman, Carlton Mitchell was the reason that I have to the water once more.
a good old boat and am sailing today. Please let me explain. I am now retired after 35 years in the ﬁre service and have
In 1958, I was enthralled with the National Geographic See Pferd, a 22-foot Seafarer. We are again in search of new
magazine, which my parents had subscribed to for many years. waters and new adventures, even if it’s only out to Lake Michi-
I took many trips to faraway places through its pages. Then gan for another picnic. This love of sailing and all it entails, I
one day a new issue arrived with an article titled “To Europe owe to a long-ago article by Carlton Mitchell that prompted a
with a Racing Start.” It chronicled the adventures of Carlton 14-year-old boy to dream.
Mitchell as he ﬁrst entered the Newport-to-Bermuda race (and Ted Rensland
In the news
The passing of another legend these sites: <http://www.cruisingworld.com/under-way/end-
As the last newsletter went to press, we learned that Carlton of-an-era-53307.html> and <http://bermudarace.com/Default
Mitchell, a sailing legend, died in late June at the age of 96. Permissions/Home/tabid/36/EntryID/28/Default.aspx> and
Carlton’s name will be forever entwined with Finisterre, <http://www.mysticseaport.org/Library/Manuscripts/coll/
designed by Olin Stephens, as well as with Carib, John Alden’s coll250/coll250.html>.
Malabar XII, and Caribee, designed by Phil Rhodes. A writer
as well as a sailor, he wrote several books, including Islands MyBoatsGear.com
to Windward, Passages East, Beyond Horizons, Isles of the Another new boating site is born every day. Here’s one worth
Caribbees, and The Wind Knows No Boundaries. looking into: MyBoatsGear.com is a boating gear resource for
Carlton won three consecutive Newport-to-Bermuda Races, boaters. Mike Hobson, founder of the site, points out that the
three SORC championships, two Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing site does not sell products, so it can provide information and
Association high-point trophies, and was the navigator aboard user reviews without bias. While it will not evaluate products,
the 12-meter yacht, Weatherly, for the early trials of the 1958 the site will publish opinions offered by boaters who use the
America’s Cup. This outstanding writer, photographer, and products. In addition, Mike is offering a regular newsletter
yachtsman will be missed. with new gear and trends.
For more information about this remarkable man, refer to A former boatbuilder and boat broker, Mike says, “Manufac-
2 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
turers do not pay to place their products on the site. Our aim is sary. Most of these converters cost less than $100.
to provide the information on what’s available, new, interest- Since July 2006, digital tuners have been required on all TV
ing, different, and sometimes extraordinary.” sets over 35 inches and, since March 2007, all TVs have been re-
quired to include a digital tuner. However, a dealer’s inventory
Nominations Sought for Rod Stephens Trophy of non-digital TV sets can still be sold.
The Cruising Club of America is seeking nominations for If your old TV has an input for a converter box, then that’s
its annually awarded Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding the easy answer. Alternately, you can use another appliance,
Seamanship. It was presented to the CCA by 21 of Stephens’ such as a digital video-cassette recorder or DVD player, that
shipmates and friends as a perpetual trophy to recognize an contains a digital tuner to feed into your analog TV.
act of seamanship that “signiﬁcantly contributes to the safety For more on the changeover: <http://dtv.gov>.
of a yacht or one or more individuals at sea.”
Suggestions and candidates from all nations and in all as- Recreational boating threat
pects of boating are welcome. The deadline for nominations is BoatU.S. reports that every recreational craft, including
October 15, 2007. To submit a nomination, contact Robert Van dinghies, may be treated like large ships, which must carry
Blaricom, Awards Chairman, 679 Hawthorne Drive, Tiburon, a permit for normal operational discharges. Further infor-
CA 04020, or email@example.com. mation can be found on the BoatU.S. website <http://boatus.
Do you have TV aboard? For 34 years the federal Environmental Protection Agency
Don Launer, a former TV master control engineer with ABC- (EPA) has exempted discharges from recreational boats from
TV, writes to tell us: the Clean Water Act permit system. Regretfully, a recent court
Sailors who have an on-board television that receives its sig- ruling cancelled this permit exemption. The EPA is required by
nal off-air from a mast-mounted TV/FM antenna, will ﬁnd that the court decision to develop and implement, by September 30,
their TV may no longer work soon. In February 2009, the normal 2008, a national permit system for all vessels in the U.S.
analog TV service, which we have used since the 1940s, will be We have been working to get the exemption reinstated for
eliminated and replaced with digital broadcasting. If your TV is recreational boats. Fortunately, the Recreational Boating Act
not equipped to receive digital TV, a converter will be necessary. of 2007 (H.R. 2550) has been introduced by Representatives
If you use cable-TV at a marina or have satellite-TV — using Gene Taylor (D-Miss) and Candice Miller (R-Mich) which
either an on-board or dock-mounted dish — this converter box would protect recreational boats from being swept into this
will not be necessary since this conversion will be incorpo- unnecessary and expensive permitting system.
rated into that paid-for service. If your on-board TV was pur- It is critically important that H.R. 2550 be passed. Please
chased several years ago, however, and you receive programs contact your congressman and senators today to ask that they
from a TV antenna, chances are that a converter will be neces- support H.R. 2550.
Exhibit celebrates Jerry Milgram Annapolis Boat Show
The innovative career of Jerry Milgram, an MIT ocean engi- October 4-8, 2007
neer who designed the last U.S. winner of the America’s Cup, Annapolis, Md.
pioneered oil spill cleanup, and investigated dozens of notori- For more information on the 38th United States Sailboat Show,
ous marine accidents as a “sea-going Sherlock Holmes,” is the go to <http://www.usboat.com>. The Good Old Boat folks will
focus of an exhibition in the MIT Museum’s Compton Gallery be there in Booth N-3. See you there!
through February 3, 2008. For more, go to <http://web.mit.
edu/museum/exhibitions/compton.html>. Seven Seas Cruising Association – Melbourne
ABYC offers a certiﬁcation courses November 9-11, 2007
The courses include diesel engine, marine corrosion, and basic Melbourne, Fla.
marine electric. Dates, location and course descriptions can be The 32nd Annual Melbourne Convention and Annual General
found at <http://www.abycinc.org/calendar/indes.cfm>. Meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at the Eau
Gallie Civic Center (EGCC). For more information or to regis-
Glen-L Gathering of Boatbuilders ter online, go to <http://www.sscca.org> or call 954-771-5660.
October 26-28, 2007
Lake Guntersville State Park Toronto International Boat Show
Guntersville, Ala. January 12-20, 2008
Builders from the Boatbuilder online forum have organized Toronto, Canada
this ﬁrst-ever event. For more information, contact Gayle The 50th annual Toronto International Boat Show will be held
Brantuk at 562-630-6258 or go to their website: <http://www. at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. More informa-
Glen-L.com>. tion can be found at <http://www.torontoboatshow.com>.
3 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
Poacher update Symbol help
The amazing thing about the “Good Old Boat community of I just got a sail with
sailors” is that it is a community with a great deal of knowl- a logo I don’t recog-
edge spread over many experienced sailors. Together we nize and I didn’t see
are a formidable database. The Looking For column in this it on your sailboat
newsletter scores answers about long-forgotten boats and class association
logos with regularity. The note below, published in the Feb- list <http://goodold
ruary 2007 newsletter but still posted online (and, therefore, boat.com:8080/
cataloged by the search engines’ spiders), is a good example. GOBWeb/GOBAssociations?search_heading=1>. Does anyone
Early this year Dave vanZon wrote: know what it is?
Poacher 6.4 firstname.lastname@example.org
I am trying to ﬁnd a Freedom Cat-Ketch called Poacher 6.4; I
have a story plus pictures published in 1980 in Boat Test maga- Parts for Palmer engines
zine from England. I also have a story plus pictures from the We have had a request for information about getting parts for
July 1, 1982, Boston Globe, saying it was built by Willie Rich- Palmer engines. Palmer made a 4-cylinder ﬂathead engine,
ardson of Liverpool, England, and by Parker Dawson Corp. in which was installed in some good old boats. It was similar to
Hingham, Massachusetts. I have built a 40-inch model from the Atomic 4. Anyone out there who knows about getting parts
the pictures in the stories. However, mast size, dagger board for the Palmer, please contact me.
placement, and cabin layout are still questions. I would like to Jerry Powlas
ﬁnd someone who owns one, or has pictures or old prints. Is it email@example.com
possible you can help me?
Dave vanZon Sea Scooter info wanted
Recently we heard from Richard Gooderick: I have an old sailing dinghy that used
to be raced in the Seattle area. It’s
Poacher details called a Scooter and I’m pretty sure it
I was Googling “Poacher” and came across this letter in your was used by the Sea Scouts.
February edition. If Dave has an email address, I will be pleased The name plaque says, “Monty
to send him some photos of my Poacher. I probably have the Morton’s Seattle Sea Scooter.” My
contact details for the designer somewhere at home too. And I father purchased it in the ’60s. I have
have a copy of the original brochure. It’s a fun little boat. found little info online. Has anyone
Richard Gooderick heard of this boat?
We did not have an email Christine Vasshus
address for Dave (he had Christine_b_1967@yahoo.com
mailed his request.) But
we did mail Richard’s re- Where are Dave Autrey’s cutters?
sponse to the address that Dave Autry may not have been formally trained as a boatwright,
was listed in the Febru- but he instinctively knew what a good boat should look like.
ary issue. There has been Anyone who has ever seen one of his BlueWater 14s or Black-
no further follow-up. Let watch 19s will agree there is just something “right” about them.
us hope that contact was Some people are blessed that way: they see something in their
made! mind’s eye and somehow manage to recreate that vision with
their hands. It all seems completely enigmatic. How could a
printer build boats like these?
Good Old Boat magazine is partially responsible for my
obsession with these classic little cruisers. I ﬁrst saw one in
2003 on Lake Champlain. If she had been resting at anchor out
in the bay, I might have escaped with little more than an appre-
ciation of a neat little boat out there. Instead, she rested on a
cradle in the Lighthouse Marina boatyard, waiting for a buyer.
As she was out of her natural element, I was able to view the
complete shape Dave had crafted, both above and below the
waterline. I was immediately smitten. After returning home,
my ﬁrst Internet search turned up the Good Old Boat website
and the January 1999 issue featuring Gerry Cotter’s Ocarina,
#73. I’ve been a subscriber ever since.
For the next few weeks I spent many hours researching
the boat and was rather surprised at how little information
4 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
was available. No listings appeared A changing market and increasing
on any of the classiﬁed pages; there difﬁculty procuring the quality hard-
didn’t seem to be any other published ware used in his designs eventually
articles; and most Internet search drove the decision to stop accepting
requests returned links to the famous new boat orders in April 1981. The ﬁnal
British Infantry Regiment or tartan three boats were completed on July 9,
plaid clothing. The only other site I 1981. Before Dave closed up shop, 81
stumbled upon that offered anything Blackwatch Cutters and 44 gaff-rigged
at all was Shorty Pen’s Pocket Cruiser BlueWaters had been completed.
Guide <http://www.shortypen.com/ After several months, my initial
boats/pocket/>, which had three Black- preoccupation with the boat on Lake
watch photos. Champlain moderated somewhat.
The Good Old Boat site listed Phil My more pragmatic self managed to
Thullen as the owner’s association convince my more impetuous side
contact, and I was able to reach him. that the last thing I really needed was
Phil had very little additional informa- a sailboat. There were so many more
tion to offer. However, he did share important concerns — my job, college
Dave Autry’s email address. Dave and tuitions, household expenses — excit-
I have exchanged many emails since, ing things like that. Besides, I’d never
and he always seems genuinely pleased actually sailed before! Purchasing my
to share information on his boats, Blue- ﬁrst boat and learning to sail at age 50
Water Boatworks, and any other topic. The Blackwatch design will have been with us for 30 seemed too much akin to a midlife cri-
BlueWater Boatworks of Amarillo, years in 2009. It would be a wonderful tribute to Dave sis for my comfort. Most men just buy
Texas, began as a happy accident. Dave Autry and his boats if a gathering of the ﬂeet and ap- a motorcycle and stop getting haircuts!
was hand-building a boat that was propriate anniversary celebration can be organized, In time, I began to believe that I was
destined to become the BlueWater for but where are the boats? Please contact Dave completely over the urge to buy the
his kids. The hull design — rendered McFate, pictured above in his own Blackwatch. boat, any boat. It was a painful process
completely without the typical lofting not unlike the twelve steps advocated
— caught the attention of some locals, and several offered to by Alcoholics Anonymous: “Hi. My name is Dave and I really
purchase one of the boats, if he would be willing to build more. want to buy a Blackwatch cutter . . .”
With an apparent demand for the design, Dave used his origi- I managed to get through it without too much emotional
nal hull as a plug, manufactured a mold for additional boats, damage. I remained “sober” for over a year, but then the May
and BlueWater Boatworks was launched. 2004 issue of Good Old Boat arrived in my mailbox. Ocarina
Dave completed the ﬁrst BlueWater 14 in February 1977. De- was on the cover. To say I fell off the wagon would be a gross
mand for the boats was encouraging and a larger version was understatement; I went completely nuts! Once again, I was
soon in the works. The Blackwatch hull would be about 4 feet plunged into a frantic effort to secure a Blackwatch for myself.
longer than the BlueWater with a waterline length of 17 feet 6 A logical reaction? Probably not. A textbook example of male
inches. The boat was originally envisioned as a cat ketch with midlife crisis? Perhaps. But I really didn’t care. Russ Down-
free-standing ﬁberglass masts. Efforts to turn out the tapered ing’s boat was still available, and a deal was struck. Thus it
ﬁberglass masts were not entirely successful, therefore Black- was that #77 was trailered to Ohio from Lake Champlain later
watch #1 was initially rigged with two stayed aluminum masts. that summer.
This ﬁrst boat was completed early in 1979. Although the ketch During the next two summers I worked on the boat, read ev-
sailed beautifully, the masts proved to be unstable, and Dave erything I could ﬁnd about sailing, and carried on a lively cor-
decided to change the rig to the now familiar and wonderfully respondence with Dave Autry. It’s been a privilege to be able
romantic cutter conﬁguration. to talk things over with the designer/builder. Many late hours
There is still some confusion on what the boats should ap- were also invested trying to locate as many other Blackwatch
propriately be called. BlueWater Boatworks originally market- owners as possible to compare notes and swap stories.
ed the boats as the Blackwatch 24; in fact, the serial number The result of that effort has been both exhilarating and
of each boat begins with BWH24. This is interesting since the disappointing. I have managed to locate only eight of Dave’s 81
speciﬁcations list the overall length as 22 feet 7 inches, and a cutters thus far.
length on deck of 18 feet 6 inches. However, total length from So, where are the other 73 Blackwatch Cutters? If
the tip of the bowsprit to the trailing edge of the rudder was you have one berthed next to you, please let the owners know
just under 24 feet. According to Dave, calling the design a 24 we’re looking for them. If you own one, or if you used to own
was primarily a marketing move. Dave incorporated only the one, I’d truly love to hear from you.
highest quality hardware in his boats and, as a result, they Dave McFate
were more expensive than competitor’s boats of similar hull 12820 Schreiber Rd.
length. The list price for a Blackwatch was $15,000 in 1981, Valley View, OH 44125
more in line with the cost of a typical 24-footer. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
5 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
Lessons from My Good Old Boat, by a practical sail-training DVD that was ﬁrst produced in New
Don Launer (Sheridan House 2007; 288 Zealand. Called A Step by Step Guide to the Basics of Sailing
pages; $23.95) with Penny Whiting, this 80-minute movie features well-
Review by Karen Larson known New Zealand sailor and instructor, Penny Whiting.
Minneapolis, Minn. A longtime sailing school owner, Penny has perfected her
training course, starting with parts of the boat, knots, and ﬁt-
It is a true pleasure working with Don tings and moving on to bending on the sails, getting underway,
Launer as a member of the Good Old and hoisting sail. She covers points of sail, tacking and jibing,
Boat team. His articles go back almost to reeﬁng the main and hanking on jibs as well as using a furler,
our ﬁrst issue, since it was very early in handling a man-overboard emergency, and much more.
our formation that he discovered us. We Penny delivers all these concepts in a simple, matter-of-fact
recognized immediately the great value manner and demonstrates how easy it is to learn the skills by
of Don’s contributions and made him a contributing editor having three students aboard her training vessel. These stu-
without having met him in person. dents are learning as she demonstrates sailing skills for them
Later, we did meet at a boat show, and some time after that as well as for the audience behind the video camera. This is a
we spent several days with Don when we decided to feature good tactic; most new sailors are likely to feel that if these stu-
this very competent sailor and the boat he built from a bare dents can learn to tie a bowline, bend on and hoist the main, or
hull. The story of Don and Delphinus appears in our January tack and jibe, so can they.
2006 issue. One of the nicest parts of Penny’s presentation is that
Within an hour spent aboard Delphinus, my husband and lovely New Zealand accent but, at the same time, because she
magazine co-founder, Jerry Powlas, fell deeply in love with is from New Zealand her U.S. DVD students are put at a small
Don’s Lazy Jack 32. This is a boat which sails as it should and disadvantage. This is only because her sailing terminology and
is set up and outﬁtted as one should be for minimal effort and even her methodology varies to a slight degree from ours. She
maximum sailing. From bow to stern, Delphinus is a clear ties a reef knot when we tie a square knot. Not a problem. But
testament to Don’s skills as a craftsman and sailor. who knew that we’d run a ﬁgure-eight-style cleat hitch around
The great many articles he has prepared for Good Old Boat a horn cleat differently than they do in New Zealand? Still,
also speak volumes (if you’ll pardon the pun) about Don’s sailing is sailing the world over, and Penny is out to increase
ability to communicate the knowledge he has gained over the number of sailors no matter what country they call home.
many decades spent sailing. And they say even more about the We’re in favor of that!
breadth and depth of this sailor. He is a master in every way, I wouldn’t recommend this DVD for someone who is totally
and we’re delighted to offer a regular forum for Don Launer unfamiliar with sailing. It’s not a true introductory video;
and his nautical talents. there’s too much detail presented in 80 minutes for the true
This collection of the articles he has written over the years, novice. But I would highly recommend this DVD for someone
mostly but not solely for Good Old Boat, makes the scope of who has been exposed to sailing and wants to learn more.
his experience evident. Upon thumbing through this book, you
are likely to ask, “Is there any nautical theme Don hasn’t yet
addressed?” World Voyagers, the True Story of a
We hope the answer will be, “Yes,” although we have the Veterinarian, a Renaissance man, and
same nagging doubts you do. If, after a lifetime of sailing and Stewart the Cat, by Amy P. Wood, Philip
boatbuilding, he has left nothing out of this collection of his J. Shelton and Stewart P. Wood (Book Or-
work, what remains for the next issue of Good Old Boat and chard Press, Inc., 2007; 432 pages; $29.95)
the one after that? As you enjoy this book, think of this as one Review by Susan Lynn Kingsbury
collection which will eventually need an update. Like all good Moreno Valley, Calif.
old boats, it is a work in progress. We hope Delphinus has
many more lessons in store for Captain Don Launer. Author Amy Wood stated that she wanted
to write a book that told the true story
— not one with ﬂuff — and she indeed
A Step by Step Guide to the Basics accomplishes this feat with World Voyagers, an all-encompass-
of Sailing with Penny Whiting, by ing detailed account of a three-year circumnavigation aboard
Bennett Marine Video (newly available Iwalani.
in the U.S. 2007; 80 minutes; $34.95) Although this book is lengthy, it reads like a daily log or blog
Review by Karen Larson (which is where Amy and Phil originally posted the details of
Minneapolis, Minn. their trip online), and it allows the reader to ultimately become
part of the crew, sailing right along with Phil, Amy and Stew-
For those who have sailed a time or two art. It’s easy to forget you’re just “reading” about being places
and are committed to learning more like the Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, the Marquesas, Australia
about our favorite water-based activity, and South Africa (just to name a few), as Amy unequivocally
Bennett Marine Video has introduced “takes you there.”
6 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
She shares all the joys, pitfalls, sights, smells, experiences, chapters are gathered from his magazine columns and can be
and enough of herself with us to make us feel like we really are read as separate stories. Fans of Dave Barry will understand
encountering the adventure ﬁrsthand. You’ll feel the seasick- the southern comic voice that Eddie uses very well. He is part
ness she hides from her husband Phil, ﬁnd yourself waking up good ol’ boy and part tent-revival preacher, telling stories
every four hours to do your watch, and even crying along with about hapless navigation, cranky outboards, and other cruis-
them when they lose their beloved pet at sea. ing foibles and drawing life lessons from them. He tells these
But you’ll also feel the warm sun on your skin as you sail stories in an easy conversational tone, as if the reader were
naked in the tropics, see waters in multiple amazing shades of sitting next to him on the rusted Wal-Mart lawn chairs that he
blue, meet interesting people from all corners of the world, and uses for deck seats while watching the sun go down over the
get up close and personal with lions and many other furred, swamp grass and hummocks.
feathered, and ﬁnned wildlife. Then, once in home port again, In the prologue he calls himself a “recovering boataholic”
you’ll feel a true sense of accomplishment. who wishes “boating wasn’t my passion.” His dreams of blue
Well, actually, it’s Amy and Phil who succeed in doing some- water and distant islands are grounded by a large family and a
thing they had a burning desire in their hearts to do. “It was a small bank account. But he lives the dream as much as he can
goal we could not abandon,” Amy writes. in whatever boat he can borrow from friends or “borrow” from
They see it through — and you are right there with them. the bank. He makes the best of tough situations that occur
And despite all the obstacles, from an ex-wife and family who frequently, mostly because of his lackluster navigation.
need them at home, to health issues and uncooperative winds, When the bank takes back a boat, he makes do with a
weather, and currents, Amy and Phil not only chase the wind to friend’s Sunﬁsh. That his anchorage is a mud ﬂat or that he
fulﬁll their dream, but succeed in catching it and telling the tale. seems to hit every sandbar and crab pot in the Neuse River
Don’t expect a lot of ﬂowery language and poetic descrip- leaves him undaunted. He is the cheapest guy in the marina,
tions of this three-year trek. What you will get, though, is a known well by the gas dock owner and waitress at the local
100-percent, hands-on, authentic account of bluewater sailing. diner. These setbacks inspire him to see the larger picture as
Whether you are a coastal cruiser, bluewater cruiser, sailing reﬂected in his Christian faith. He reminds himself that Saint
novice, or just enjoy reading about a great adventure, you are Paul, in his cruise around the Mediterranean, had to swim to
guaranteed to enjoy sharing Amy, Phil, and Stewart’s journey shore more than once after a shipwreck. The point is that “run-
across the deep blue sea. ning aground is nothing to be ashamed of, but staying stuck is.”
He applies lessons to each story. Talking about his experi-
ences with VHF and NOAA weather reports, he says, “interces-
Hard Aground…Again: Inspiration sory prayer can be a little like the VHF radio,” and he offers a
for the Navigationally Challenged and list of tips on radio use, many of which “can be applied to your
Spiritually Stuck, by Eddie Jones prayer life as well.”
(Winoca Press, 2006; 148 pages; $14.95) The invocations to prayer and Christian life lessons are
Review by Kristen Brochmann not for everyone. Some do not go to the nautical bookshelf for
New York, N.Y. Christian meditation and prayer focus. But if readers want
their humor straight, they can skip the last few paragraphs and
In Hard Aground . . . Again, Eddie Jones still get a good yarn with a Carolina ﬂavor. And besides, a little
sends dispatches from the creeks, mud- prayer and Scripture can’t hurt. You never know from where
ﬂats and sounds of the Carolina coast. The inspiration might come.
��������� ������ ��� ��������� �������� ��� ����� ����� ��������� �������
7 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
Baby, this boat’s got soul (err, sole)!
Once again, we didn’t see the “big picture”
by Karen Larson
I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WE WERE GETTING INTO.
Life’s like that.
I SELDOM DO. ONE
innocent thing often leads to another not-so-innocent one.
it was time to do this work, as other projects inched along in
the interior of the Mega.
At last my turn came. I read the instructions on the cans,
Mystic, our C&C 30 Mk I, has a very practical standard consulted the Ultimate Marine website <http://www.ultimate-
cabin sole made of a ﬁberglass pan with deck-style non-skid sole.com>, and had a phone conversation with Frank. In all of
built in. No teak and holly for her. I love the look of teak and this, I was interested in doing the project correctly so that the
holly, but at least we don’t have to worry when we drop down non-slip characteristics of this magic chemistry wouldn’t be
into Mystic’s cabin wet and dripping or when the entire inte- compromised in any way.
rior runs with condensation. Never did I consider that this ﬂoor grating was about to look
So I was unprepared for the series of events with our proj- like a million-dollar sole on a good old boat worth a mere frac-
ect boat, the C&C Mega 30, which sits in our backyard under- tion of a million. But by the time I had applied the last coat of
going a transformation. She has a ﬂoor grating similar to what this incredible material, my whole attitude about the Mega had
you might ﬁnd in some cockpits. This grating had withstood 20 changed. The Ultimate Sole High Gloss Finish ﬂowed on like
years of trafﬁc and was looking rather battered. satin with very few of the hassles of varnish, self-leveled without
It became my job to renew the Mega’s sole while Jerry between-coat sanding, and looked like, well, a million dollars.
messed about with the more serious tasks of designing and I never thought that anyone might ever enter the cabin of the
building two water tanks, a holding tank, and bulkheads; in- Mega, look around, and exclaim, “I love your cabin sole!” But
stalling plumbing, wiring, and a motor mount and PowerTiller now I realize that they might. As I was applying that ﬁnal gor-
modiﬁcation; and managing other technical matters. geous coating, I began pondering philosophical questions such
One summer while we were cruising in Ontario’s North as, “Is the rest of our work on this boat up to this level?” and
Channel, I heard about the Ultimate Sole products from a Wis- “Does a ten-thousand-dollar boat deserve a million-dollar sole?”
consin sailor. Roger Lautenbach is a true woodworker and a And ﬁnally, when it was installed in the boat, I asked Jerry
fussy boatowner. When he said he was nuts about the Ultimate quite seriously, “We’re not really going to walk on this, are we?”
Sole product and demonstrated its non-slip characteristics As for its non-slip properties, those remain untested until
while standing in socks in his cabin on a 40-percent incline, I the project boat is launched. But the safety aspect of the Ulti-
became a believer. mate Sole is the reason I started down this slippery slope.
So at the Annapolis boat show that fall, I met Frank Bren- Wait! Scratch that last sentence. The safety aspect of the
nan of Ultimate Marine Products and took home what it would Ultimate Sole is the reason I started down this path.
take to reﬁnish our cabin grating. Nearly a year went by before
About that Black Fly dinghy . . . details, added ﬂoorboards, and changed other details to suit
I was reading the article by Richard Smith, “The Joy of Row- my needs and taste. There’s not much left of Platt’s original
ing” (July 2007), and would love to ﬁnd a set of plans for the concept . . . except those lovely lines.
Plat Montfort Black Fly he talks about building. I searched the At the time of building the mightily revised Black Fly, I also
Internet forever and failed to come up with anything. considered at least two other round-bottom boats suitable
Curt Daggy for strip planking. These were designed by William Atkin and
required far less in the way of plan alteration to build.
Richard Smith responds One is Petey Dink, a very small 6-foot 6-inch pram and the
It’s been about seven years since I ordered a set of plans from other is Handy Andy, an 8-foot sailing dinghy. Plans can be
Platt Montfort for his elegant little Black Fly (a.k.a. Buffalo ordered from Mrs. Pat Atkin at: APatkin@aol.com. Billy Atkin
Gnat) dinghy. You can ﬁnd information on plans for this and has put some lovely tumblehome into these little beauties and
other geodesic boats online from <http://www.gaboats.com/ just now I feel the itch to build one or the other.
boats/blackﬂy8.html>. Richard Smith
Bear in mind, though, that these are fabric-covered boats
and considerable work is required to convert the drawings to I think I’m in love
other forms of construction. I built forms from the body plan On the lower left corner of Page 11 in the July 2007 issue is a
as a basis for ¼-inch strip planking that I covered with epoxy- beautiful sailboat in the picture along with a dinghy. Could you
saturated ﬁberglass cloth. The transoms are ¾-inch cedar tell me what kind of sailboat that is? I think I’m in love.
planks. I altered the seating arrangement, gunwale, and knee Jim Birmingham
8 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
Back to Richard Smith again gantwoodworker/woodworker/dingy%20building%20pages/
The boat you admire is an Ericson Cruising 31. If you’d like more boat_building_page%201.htm>.
information you can check out <http://e31.no-ip.com/index.asp>. The June 2007 issue featured Richard Smith’s article
That will put you in touch with Glyn Judson, who knows about dinghies and included contact information for Danny
about all there is to know about this good old boat. Greene, Dynamite Payson, and Atkin designs.
Richard Smith In addition, there will be more on dinghies in the Novem-
ber 2007 issue. It seems we’ve got the same fever.
Dealing with mildew on canvas
I love your magazine! I’ve been a subscriber almost from the
start. I recently bought my ﬁrst good old boat, my ﬁrst boat
period. She’s an International Folkboat, which I’ve named
Serenade and I dearly love. It seems like I am spending a little
more time working on her than I am sailing her at this point,
but I expect that to balance out in the near future.
I’ve replaced the outboard and the standing rigging and
done a lot of cleaning, which leads us to the question. She has
a light-colored dodger and it has some mildew. I brought it
home and gave it a good scrub with laundry detergent, but that
didn’t do much to the black mildew stains. What will clean her
up and what do you recommend for waterprooﬁng?
Another pretty dinghy
Don Godshall sent this photo with a note: Matt Grant of Sailrite replies
This dink is made from Jersey cedar, white oak frames, Assuming the material is Sunbrella, here is everything you
fastened with copper and bronze. It is my own design and built need to know:
from a half-model I carved. It weighs 95 pounds without ﬂoor-
boards and motor. Cleaning – One of the best ways to keep Sunbrella fabrics look-
Editors ing good and to delay the need for deep or vigorous cleanings is
to hose off fabrics monthly with fresh water. This will help pre-
Nestor connection vent dirt from becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric. In most
I own a Westsail 32, which as you may know, does not have the environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to
room to store a full-sized dinghy on deck. A number of years three years. When it’s time for a thorough cleaning, Sunbrella
ago, plans were available for a lovely nesting dinghy called The fabrics can be cleaned while still on a boat or, size permitting,
Nestor Pram. Is that any relation to Gregg Nestor? they can be removed for cleaning in a washing machine.
Gregg Nestor replies • Use a mild natural soap if possible. For tough stains, a liquid
I wish I could claim ownership or knowledge of the Nestor detergent may need to be used. If so, reapplication of a water
Pram, but I cannot. Now that my interest has been peaked, I repellant will be necessary, such a 303 Fabric Guard.
just may begin a search and see what I can discover. • Water should be cold to lukewarm (never more than 100º F).
I’m sure that there are similar nesting-type dinghies avail- • Air dry only. Never apply heat to Sunbrella fabrics.
able. One that comes to mind is the Niccolls Lite NN10-11.
When assembled, it is just over 10 feet long and has a capacity If you are cleaning Sunbrella while on a frame or boat:
of 500 pounds <http://www.niccollslite.net>. It’s made by the • Brush off loose dirt.
Niccolls Company of Delta, British Columbia. • Hose down.
If you don’t want ﬁberglass, check out B and B Yacht • Prepare a cleaning mixture of water and mild, natural soap.
Designs, <http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com>. This is a kit • Use a soft bristle brush to clean.
company, and they have a nesting dinghy. Good luck. • Allow soap to soak in.
Gregg Nestor • Rinse thoroughly.
The Good Old Boat network of sailors has been buzzing with • Air dry.
feverish interest in nesting dinghies for several months.
Previous newsletters list sources galore. (If you missed all If stubborn stains persist, use a diluted chlorine bleach/
this, we hope you’ve been asleep, out cruising, or are new to soap mixture for spot cleaning of mildew and similar stains:
our community of sailors.) • Prepare a special cleaning mixture: 4 ounces (½ cup) chlorine
Previous newsletters with links include the February, bleach, 2 ounces (¼ cup) of natural soap, 1 gallon of water.
April, and June 2007 newsletters. Here’s a link to all previ- • Clean with soft bristle brush.
ous newsletters: <http://www.goodoldboat.com/nletter.html>. • Allow mixture to soak for up to 20 minutes.
A wonderful folding dinghy was featured in our Septem- • Rinse thoroughly.
ber 2003 issue. To visit the author’s site and read a reprint • Air dry.
of that article, go to <http://www.johndanicic.com/arro- • Repeat if necessary.
9 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
Remember to protect the area around your Sunbrella if using a their ﬂexible metal ﬁller, called Alsiﬂex, in the June 2007
bleach solution. newsletter. Here’s Bill’s report about their ALSI 12 ﬁller:
This ﬁller can be used on areas that require volume ﬁlling
If the fabric will ﬁt in a washing machine: and strength. It will repair rusted areas, cracked motor blocks,
• Use only natural soaps if possible. For tough stains a liquid and pipes. ALSI 12 can be drilled, tapped, and ﬁled. ALSI 12 is a
detergent may need to be used. If so, reapplication of a water polyester putty that is mixed with a hardener. The hardener is
repellant will be necessary, such a 303 Fabric Guard. mixed at 2 percent volume to the ﬁller. As it sets up very quickly,
• Wash and rinse in cold water. a little experience is needed so you get the timing right.
• Air dry. Never put Sunbrella fabrics in your dryer. My experience with this product was the repair of a cor-
roded exhaust pipe just past where the coolant water enters
Re-treating the fabric – As part of the ﬁnishing process, the exhaust system and then goes into the hydro-lift mufﬂer.
Sunbrella fabrics are treated with a ﬂuorocarbon ﬁnish, which I wouldn’t have noticed the leak except that I had just put a
enhances water repellency. This ﬁnish is designed to last for hatch in the cockpit ﬂoor of my Cape Dory 28 so that I could
several years, but must be replenished after a thorough clean- more easily service the stufﬁng box. The pictures show the
ing. Based on test results, the manufacturer recommends 303 area of the repair. It appears from the photos that the area is
High Tech Fabric Guard as the preferred treatment product for easy to reach, but it was a one-hand long-arm reach. The ﬁrst
Sunbrella fabrics. Fabrics should be retreated after thorough photo shows the area with the water wiped off. The second
cleaning or after ﬁve years of use. shows the area patched. It is not a pretty patch, but the engine
has run about seven hours and there has been no further leak.
Applying 303 High Tech Fabric Guard: Bill Barth
303 should be applied to Sunbrella fabrics after each thorough For more on this product, visit <http://www.Parasolinc.
cleaning, which typically removes the original ﬂuorocarbon com>. Bill noted that a very small tube of hardener accom-
ﬁnish and reduces the fabric’s water repellency. After cleaning panies a rather large can of putty. Mixing can’t be too pre-
the fabric, allow it to air dry completely and then apply 303 in cise (a spoonful or glob of this plus a couple of drops of that),
a thin, even coat. After allowing the ﬁrst coat of 303 to air dry, but the ﬁnal result seems to work out nonetheless. In some
apply a second thin, even coating of 303. Two light coatings ways, he says, it reminds him of a high-quality Bondo.
are more effective in restoring fabric water resistance than a
single heavy coating. A 16-ounce bottle provides coverage of Save those magazines
up to approximately 50 square feet of lightweight fabric. I wanted to let you know that your magazine is very helpful. A
recent (September 2006) issue featured an article on tuning a
303 Aerospace Cleaner: sailboat and one on the Paceship PY23, which I sail. The tuning
Endorsed for cleaning Sunbrella is 303’s Aerospace Cleaner— article was great and very helpful but also referred to a video
super-concentrated and super-safe, this cleaner exceeds EPA with Brian Toss. I bought that, too, and it was also very helpful. I
standards for biodegradability and can be used for many other have launched the boat and tuned it and it sails better than ever.
cleaning jobs. Richard Huint
I hope this helps. You can purchase the Fabric Guard and the Leave an issue on board next time?
303 Aerospace Cleaner at <http://www.sailrite.com>. Thanks for the great article on the merits of “the knot” (July
Matt Grant, Sailrite 2007). After being pushed over the edge with jibsheet shack-
les hanging up on our shrouds, one day I resorted to simple
ALSI 12 body ﬁller bowlines, which worked great. I stowed them in that condition
The Good Old Boat editors asked friend and fellow sailor, (less shackles) after the sail. The next time out, the boat’s co-
Bill Barth, to test some ﬁller material that arrived in the owners discovered the “unshackled” sheets while preparing to
Good Old Boat headquarters earlier this summer. The prod- sail and had to locate the shackles — clearly not (pun intend-
uct was sent by Team Parasol, the makers of several very ed) skilled at knots. I’m all over your thoughts on the “simple
interesting ﬂexible and non-ﬂexible ﬁllers. We mentioned and elegant solution.”
What about plague or pestilence?
This serves as ofﬁcial notice that I have mailed my renewal
check to Good Old Boat, the only magazine I subscribe to.
There will be only two excuses acceptable for any interruption
of my joy in seeing each new issue:
• Global thermonuclear war; or
• A meteor collision destroys the earth.
Good Old Boat is the best reading investment I’ve ever made.
Sign me (and my 1978 Yamaha) up
I just received my ﬁrst copy of your magazine and all I can say is
“Wow!” I am attempting the ﬁnal work on the restoration of my
10 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
1978 Yamaha MS24 motorsailer. Guess your for another radar unit seems totally incorrect,
article on woodworking was written for me and ignores the “timing” factor necessary for
. . . teak work is the ﬁnal stage. I am also at- determining distance off (the receiving radar
tempting the teak ﬂoorboards . . . and there’s unit would have no way to identify how long
your article. The last step of my restoration? it took for the incoming signal from another
Mainsail upgrade . . . and magically, your radar unit to reach it).
article appears on mainsail upgrades. What a Although I did not argue with this cruis-
great magazine for old boat owners. All I can er’s contentions, I found them highly suspect
say is: “Sign me up for three years.” and likely to be dangerously incorrect. Per-
I’m sending a photo of this rare little mo- haps Jerry Powlas might care to comment on
torsailer. It is unique in that it has a wind- this matter and eliminate any confusion that
shield, swim platform, wheel steering, and a might exist among other boaters who may
1-cylinder 8-hp diesel Yanmar. I think these have heard, or believed, similar notions.
features were rare in a boat less than 30 feet Ralph Pears
in the late ’70s. Only a handful were sold in
the U.S. back then due to the cost of the diesel and that it was a Response from the technical editor
little-known “Yamaha sailboat.” There are many military devices that can see radar and detect
Larry Nichols its direction, but when I was in the military (100 years ago)
We’re sure someone will ask why the main on this Yamaha these devices had to transmit to know what that range was.
has a Santana logo or sail insignia. We’re wondering too. There are no civilian radars that I’m aware of that can see each
Stay tuned for the rest of the story in a future newsletter. other by seeing their signals. There are devices called racons,
which manage to send a coded signal to civilian radars that
Radar reception question does give both range and bearing. I think this is a transponder
During a recent cruise, we decided to spend a lay day in a that somehow uses the incoming signal as part of the process.
secluded cove while waiting for “torrential” rains and nasty Anyway, you can see a racon buoy on your civilian radar
winds to blow through. We were joined by several other Maine- screen. Why you do not have interference from other radars, I
based cruising boats that entered the anchorage seeking shel- do not know.
ter. During the course of the day, we all gathered to commiser- You are right though: if you don’t have the timing right, you
ate about the weather and share our experiences. can’t get the range.
As each of us had picked our way into the anchorage in a We used that fact to confuse enemy missiles by sending
pea-soup fog, the talk turned to our respective journeys and our back a strong signal that was phased correctly, and of proper
encounters in the fog with other vessels, particularly commercial frequency, but with a different Doppler shift, so the missile
ﬁshing vessels. We had all used radar as a safeguard to try to would think we were farther away than we really were. That
pick out nearby vessels that might be traveling on an “approach- was in the crude days of ECM, or electronic countermeasures.
ing” course, if not a downright collision course. Our discussion Then there was ECCM and ECCCM . . .
included observations about the various and different types of Jerry Powlas, Technical editor
radar reﬂectors we each employed. These ranged from none at
all to the typical aluminum multi-sided reﬂectors that are usually Two additions from the not-so-technical editor
hauled aloft via a ﬂag halyard, as well as a couple of the newer What is it with radar anyway? Is this a guy thing? A military
type reﬂectors that are permanently mounted aloft on a spar. thing? I believe I have ﬁnally trained Jerry to stop referring to
One of the other boat’s masters posited that although he the ships we see on our radar screen as “targets.” After all, we
generally deployed a radar reﬂector, he believed that none was have no intention of shooting them, do we?
actually necessary if you were actively using radar aboard the Perhaps those who were trained in the military see those
boat. He argued/theorized that if his radar reﬂector’s purpose blips as “targets,” but the “targets” themselves might be less
was to ensure that a radar signal was reﬂected back to another than enthusiastic with that description.
vessel’s radar receiver, that the best possible indicator of his Jerry and I are trying out a more peaceful term on our boat.
vessel’s presence would be the radar signals being transmitted These days we refer to those little blips of light not as ships
by his own radar unit, which he believed would be “received” (which of course they really are) but rather as “contacts.”
by another vessel’s radar, thus identifying his presence. I can live with that.
My understanding of radar operation is that it transmits and Targets are from Mars.
receives a signal on a very speciﬁc frequency, and then identiﬁes Contacts are from Venus.
and locates “targets” when the radar signal is reﬂected or re- And one thing more:
turned from the “target” back to the radar receiver. The location Ralph sent a photo of his
of the “target” is determined by the bearing of the reﬂected/re- boat (below) with these
turned signal and the timing interval between when the signal comments: “Blessed is a
was transmitted and when it was received again by the radar 1979 Cheoy Lee Clipper 36,
unit. This establishes bearing and distance off. I strongly sus- designed by Bill Luders.”
pect that radar units either do not transmit on the same identi- She’s a beauty. Now,
cal frequency, or that their signals are encoded so that they will there’s something we can
not receive a signal emanating from another radar unit. The no- all agree about.
tion that a functioning radar unit will produce a “target” signal Karen Larson, Editor
11 Good Old Boat Newsletter October 2007
you, please contact us with your email address:
much rather send this by email. If that works for
don’t have a current email address for you. We’d
either you’ve requested a printed version or we
in early October. If you’re getting this by mail,
Note: This went to subscribers with email addresses
Change Service Requested
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
7340 Niagara Lane North
Excerpts from The Practical
Encyclopedia of Boating
by John Vigor
Coin Under Mast
How it all got started, and why you still need one there
S ailors have long believed a coin under the mast brings luck.
This ritual is believed to have started with the Romans,
whose custom it was to place a coin in the mouth of a dead
person to pay Charon, the boatman who ferried the souls of
the dead across the River Styx to Hades. Hades, in those days,
was simply the home of the dead, not the speciﬁc domain of
Satan in the modern colloquial sense.
Of course, there may be some of you who are convinced
that you are headed for hell anyway, no matter what happens.
So you might want to forgo the coin placing ritual and spend
the money instead on wild women, liquor, poker, new gear for
the boat, and other sinful pleasures. What’s to lose?
More cautious boaters will realize that placing a coin under
the mast is another way to earn points for the black box in
which your boat’s luck is stored. It’s a cheap price to pay.
Skeptics should note that even the U.S. Navy takes this
ritual seriously. Ofﬁcers of the USS New Orleans, launched in
1933, placed 33 coins—pennies, nickels, and dimes—under her
foremast and mainmast. All were carefully placed heads up.
And the destroyer USS Higgins, commissioned in April 1999,
had 11 coins specially selected for her mast stepping, some of
them very rare and going back to Roman times.
But you don’t need to use rare or expensive coins. In fact, in
the days of wooden ships, when even skilled artisans earned
comparatively little, it was regarded as imprudent to use gold.
Besides, there wasn’t much point in paying Charon more than
he could ﬁnd change for. Rather, select a coin that means
something to you, one that was minted in the year the boat was
launched, perhaps, or one from the year you were born.
Incidentally, most people glue the coin in place with epoxy
or 3M 5200 these days, but one thing does worry me: how
Charon can get it if the need arises.
John Vigor’s book, The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating, is
available from the Good Old Boat Bookshelf for $29.95; 352
Permit No. 322