Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

20 comments… add one
  • Colin Speedie Jun 18, 2013, 10:28 am

    Hi John

    many years ago on a branch of the River Fal a ferro-cement yacht comes alongside at a boatyard to crane out for the winter. On deck sits a small pile of cinder blocks (as in your photo) to to put under the beaching legs once ashore.

    The boatyard owner, a noted wit, looks down at the blocks, and says ‘ I see you’ve brought some spares with you!’.

    True story…..

    Best wishes


    • John Jun 18, 2013, 1:30 pm

      Hi Colin,

      Great story. Now why can I never think of witty things like that to say in the moment? I’m lucky if something clever to say comes to me a week later!

  • Chris Jun 18, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Perhaps they are holystones…

  • Marc Dacey Jun 18, 2013, 1:15 pm

    I know most modern boats remind me of condos, but not unfinished condos.

    Funny picture. Needs a bumper sticker: “HOW’S MY SEAMANSHIP? CALL 1-800-OFFRODE”

  • Eric Klem Jun 18, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Great picture.

    If a 8″X8″X16″ cement block weighs ~36 lbs dry, this setup has a water weight of ~80 lbs. It would be awful to raise without a windlass and provide similar holding power to its water weight. Not very practical for size or weight but it would be excellent with setting and wind shifts provided that there was never much of it.

    I wonder what happens if the boat heels over with that up there.


    • John Jun 18, 2013, 1:31 pm

      Hi Eric,

      Once an engineer…

      • Chris Jun 19, 2013, 11:19 am

        Only weigh 80 pounds wet when out of water. Absorbed water neutrally buoyant.

  • Matt Marsh Jun 18, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Well, it has exactly four times the holding power of the “Northern Ontario Standard” anchor.

    A setup like this also has the advantage of ensuring you’ll have plenty of room to yourself in the anchorage:
    Old Salt: Ye might wanna pick up yer hook and move a hundred metres east, skipper.
    Skipper: That’s hard work. Why?
    Old Salt: Well, ye see that ol’ gray cutter upwind of ya? Wanna know what he got on the business end o’ that there rode? Get yer tow line and fenders ready, skipper, yer gonna be usin’ em around zero two hundred hours if ya stay there.

    • Larry Robbins Jun 18, 2013, 8:29 pm

      ROFL!!! And I totally agree with the prognosis.

  • Ken Page Jun 18, 2013, 4:17 pm

    K.I.S.S.O…….. Keep It Simple Stupid Overkill

  • Bob Groves Jun 18, 2013, 4:58 pm

    I think that this is a mooring about to be set. Truly scary that people put in moorings that are less able to take weather than their anchor.

  • Daria Blackwell Jun 19, 2013, 7:43 am

    Maybe I should send him a copy of “Happy Hooking – The Art of Anchoring.”

  • Horatio Marteleira Jun 19, 2013, 10:58 am

    Come on now, nobody can be that light-minded!!
    It’s either for lobster traps, to keep the beer cool at the bottom…or a buoy anchor, perhaps diving weights…endless possibilities.
    Yup, he’s gonna do it.

    • John Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 am

      Hi Horatio,

      I think you have it: diving weights. When I was a kid we used to jump off a boat with a concrete block in each hand to see how deep we could get. Sometimes it amazes me that I survived my childhood.

      • Horatio Marteleira Jun 20, 2013, 10:55 am


        In that case the boat owner must be a sumo wrestler…thus explaining the need for 4 blocks.

  • Richard William Lord Jun 19, 2013, 7:15 pm

    While snook fishing outside of our local downtown marina early one Saturday morning last fall, I watched a mullet boat tow a 30’+ derelict sailboat to the “free” anchorage a couple of hundred yards away ( just outside of the marina)..

    Across the front of the mullet boat were 4×4 posts, supporting an 8 cylinder engine block loaded with chain..

    The sailboat captain indicated “This is the spot”, the mullet boat slowed to a stop, untied the sailboat, retied her to the chain and rolled the engine off the side..

    Gotta wonder what the holding power of a 1974 Pontiac V8 is..??!!

    Richard William Lord..

    P.S. The sailboat’s still there.. Hasn’t “drug” an inch..

  • phin Jun 20, 2013, 1:24 am

    The anchoring technique is to drop them straight to the bottom and raise them a foot. Much like cod fishing, eventually the boat or block will fetch up on something.

  • Eric Klem Jun 24, 2013, 1:47 pm

    I thought that this picture was quite amusing until last night when I was unloading my dinghy and noticed a mooring ball, some chain and a fish tote sitting on the beach nearby. When I walked over, I found that the fish tote was about half full of concrete, which I would guess is less than 300 lbs dry weight (the town requirement is 3,000 lbs). This is the new mooring for a heavy 22′ center console powerboat in an anchorage with a decent north exposure. I watched two guys slide it across the intertidal zone which did not give me much confidence in the holding power. Based on the pile of chain, I am guessing that this is a mooring that will have ~1.5:1 scope at high tide too, but that is only a guess. The good news is that the mooring is downwind of mine in the wind directions that I worry about most.

    It is interesting to think of the contrast to our mooring which I have actually been looking at converting to a Hazelett system for better shock absorption when it gets really rough.

    The timing of this picture was perfect. Time to work on my persuasive arguments.


  • Glen Appelbaum Jul 15, 2013, 10:08 pm

    I am the eagle eye who took the photo. In case anyone was wondering, the boat did leave the dock, and returned a few days later. And the piece of equipment that looked like it was in the best condition on the boat – the ground tackle shown in the photo. Don’t even ask!

    • John Jul 17, 2013, 7:10 am

      Hi Glen,

      Once again, thanks so much for letting us publish it.

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