Death By A Thousand Details

Over the last 35 years of offshore boat ownership (there were dinghies before that) I have done four major refits and a complete rebuild—I’m beginning to think that this may be seriously sick behavior. But, be that as it may, at this point in the process, with the launch date looming large, we have entered the phase that I call ‘death by a thousand details’.

There’s No Excuse For Pounding

In this chapter I have a good old rant about one of the most common and unpleasant faults of many modern designs that claim to be offshore capable. Reading this chapter could save you from buying a boat you will come to hate.

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Q&A: Is An Aluminum Catamaran Suitable For The High Latitudes?

Question: I would like to do some cruising in the high latitudes and am in the process of planning a boat to take me there. You and others, like Jimmy Cornell, are very partial to alloy boats and I agree it seems to be the way to go. But I also like catamarans.

I can have a cat made from alloy. What do you think of sailing in the high latitudes in a catamaran? I was thinking at least 50′ long with thin hulls to help her point well. I would like to visit Alaska and Antarctica, among many other places.

Q&A: Breaking Load Of Anchor Chain

Our latest thinking on chain starts with this chapter.

Question: Do you have views on breaking load of main anchor chain compared to weight of boat? Our new boat is 40’ long and weighs something like 12 metric tons (26,000lbs) and a ‘standard’ 10mm (about 3/8”) galvanized chain has a breaking load of approximately 6 tons.

The Ethics Of Cairn Building

We just got an e-mail from our friend Louis Nielsen. Louis has lived for over 20 years, mostly alone, in a remote cabin on the west coast of Spitsbergen. He is one of the last, perhaps the very last, people to make a living as a trapper in the Svalbard archipelago, some 500 miles north of the northernmost point of Norway.

The Truth Is Out About Old Style Anchors

There is an interesting comparison test of anchors in the October 2007 issue of SAIL magazine. All the usual anchor suspects are put through their paces but what stands out is the very poor performance of traditional anchors, particularly the CQR, against more modern designs like the Rocna and SPADE.

Q&A: What Size Anchor Should We Buy?

Question: My wife and I have recently sold our 40ft Cambria and purchased an Able Apogee 50 for extended cruising. We were very happy with our 20kg SPADE anchor on our 40 footer and would like to purchase a SPADE for the new boat. At 50 feet and with an unloaded weight of 35,000lbs, we feel like the 30kg SPADE would be on the light side but the 55kg anchor would be overkill. Having used both sizes on your boat, we would greatly appreciate your advice. Despite having a hefty windlass, we are concerned that the 55kg model will be too difficult to manage.

Webb Chiles—Adventurer And Artist

I stumbled across Webb Chiles’ site today. For those who don’t know of him, Chiles is a single-handed multiple-circumnavigator, consummate seaman, writer of good prose and even poetry, and probably a little nuts—but then, in my experience, many of the most interesting people fall into the last category.

Q&A: Which Ensign?

Question: I liked the beautiful twilight photo of your boat in Hare Bay, Newfoundland in this month’s Cruising World, and I showed it to a friend who’s been reading a manual on marine flag etiquette. He asked me what flag you’re flying on the backstay…and if the boat is an American registered boat from the US east coast, why the flag looks like a British naval ensign instead of an American flag.

I suggested maybe the boat is registered in Bermuda and so the flag on the backstay is a Bermuda ensign. He bet me a beer…could you help us by explaining the flag?

QA&: Is A Macgregor 26M Suitable For A Trans-Atlantic?

Question: I am a 46 year old professional in fairly good health and in good shape. I am wanting to reverse the steps of my great-great-grandfather, sailing from Belfast, Maine to Bantry Bay, Ireland. I plan to leave June 3rd, 2011. The boat I want to take is a Macgregor 26M. Is this solid enough?