Take a Racer Sailing

I have long argued that one of the quickest ways to become a better cruiser is to go racing as crew.

It also works the other way around. Brooke (on the left) owns and seriously races a J/109 on Narraganset Bay. So while she was visiting with our friend Ed, she came out sailing on our J/109 and taught me a huge amount.

This was particularly good because she owns the same boat, but even without that added advantage it’s well worth persuading a skilled racer to come sailing on your cruising boat. You will learn a lot.

Pro tip: Racers love beer.

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When is Enough, Enough?

“Enough” is realizing that the opposite—an insatiable appetite for more—will push you to the point of regret.

Morgan Housel

I have quoted this guy several times before. Even though he writes about investing and finance his thoughts are often relevant to life and cruising.

A great thought to keep in mind when we are deciding how much gear to add to our boats.


A Required Skill to Go Voyaging

“The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower,” Oliver Burkeman wrote. “ It’s shocking to realize how readily we set aside even our greatest ambitions in life merely to avoid easily tolerable levels of unpleasantness. It is possible, instead, to make a game of gradually increasing your capacity for discomfort, like weight training at a gym. The rewards come so quickly that it soon becomes the more appealing way to live.”   

Oliver Burkeman and Lin Pardey

Phyllis on the same subject


Mental Liquidity

I have quoted Morgan Housel, one of the smartest people in investing as well as one of the best writers, before.

His thoughts about investing often make sense for life, and offshore voyaging.

Here’s Morgan again:

A question I love to ask people is, “What have you changed your mind about in the last decade?” I use “decade” because it pushes you into thinking about big things, not who you think will win the Super Bowl.

I am always so suspicious of people who say, “nothing.” They act like it’s a sign of intelligence – that their beliefs are so accurate that they couldn’t possibly need to change. But I think it’s the surest sign of ignorance and stubbornness.

Morgan Housal, read the whole article

I struggle with staying open and flexible every day, but at least I can answer Morgan’s question in the positive:

That’s all that comes to mind right now, at least around sailing. Maybe I need to work harder at this!

What about you? Tell us what you have changed your mind about in the last 10 years, in a comment.


Updated Norwegian Cruising Guide, Volume 3

Many of you may not be aware, but Phyllis and I have a second job as publishers and editors of the Norwegian Cruising Guide.

Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch in that Phyllis, together with our friend and Norwegian partner Hans Jakob, do 95% of the work on that project and I get my name on the cover because…I’m good looking?

OK, I do do the technical stuff like maintaining the NCG site and figuring out the latest upgrades and insanities in Adobe Creative Cloud when Phyllis starts to tear her hair.

Anyway, in case you are thinking of Norway as a cruising designation (highly recommended), we just released a massive update to a massive and very cool Guide…No, I’m not even slightly biased.

Shameless plug over, back to our regular programming.

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Thoughts on The Golden Globe Race 2022



Member Jim asked:

So now that GGR 2022 is in the final stretch – What do you think? Seems like the later start had some benefits – if I recall correctly one boat sank (auto-pilot broke off?) otherwise barnacles seems to be the biggest issue… and kudos to Kirsten!


Yes, the later start was a great change. That said, I’m still not a fan of Don McIntyre playing God as the sole dispenser of weather information, other than SSB.

And given the amount of damage from broaches, it still would have been a good idea to require a Jordan Series Drogue, in my view.

All that said, I’m following the race avidly and rooting for Kirsten to be the first women to win a round-the-world solo race, although if Abhilash were to win after showing such incredible grit to go back out there after the last race, that would be cool, too.

And if Simon Curwen was first home that would be a fun and just result given the disappointment of having to make a stop.

Incidentally, it’s now pretty certain that the boat loss was due to a structural failure even though she had been almost totally rebuilt. To me this calls into question sending people into the Southern Ocean in boats that are over fifty years old, no matter how well refitted.

My suggestion for future races would be a GGR one-design class of new boats designed and built for the race—might even be less expensive than trying to bring an old boat up to a safe standard.

More on the GGR and the benefits of requiring a JSD.


Is Reading Time a Good Addition to AAC?

Please advise

Early this week we added a reading time estimate to the header of every article (but not these Tips).

The idea is to show how much information you can get from a small investment in time at AAC, particularly when compared to trying to get technical information from YouTube, podcasts, or the biggest time sink of all: webinars.

And also to reassure you before you start an article that we have worked hard to make it as brief as it can be, but still get the job done.

For example, you could learn pretty much everything you need to know about how to choose between lead-acid or lithium batteries in 8 minutes.

Or how to make sure your boat’s underwater metals are not being eaten away in 7.

So does this work for you and, more importantly, enhance your perception of the value of AAC for your money?

Or is it just a distraction or, worse still, make you wonder why you are paying for such a short read?

Please let us know in a comment.


A Not Boring Accountant

Mark Goodfield was our accountant and tax advisor, both personally and for AAC, for some ten years until he retired from public practice, and he never steered us wrong.

He has blogged about personal finances, investing, tax planning, and accounting for some 15 years (guess) as the Blunt Bean Counter.

Given that, if we want to go cruising and stay out there, we need to get this stuff right, reading Mark’s blog is well worth your time.

He makes the complex simple to understand, and even makes accounting and tax planning interesting, which is no easy task!

He does say that he focuses on “High Net Worth Individuals”, which could be construed as only the very wealthy, but that would not include Phyllis and me by any stretch and we have still found his writing very useful.

And, after all, anyone who owns a cruising boat is “High Net Worth” in a world sense, or is at least aspiring to be that.

Mark also went to a lot of personal trouble to keep the fees we paid the accounting practice he was a partner in under control, which tells you something about the way he thinks.

He just published a post on some simple financial rules of thumb that’s worth reading.

And those planning to go cruising will find his series on how much we need to save to retire useful.

All that said, if you prefer someone who will sugar-coat stuff for you, Mark is not for you. He is not kidding about the “Blunt” part. But then you read AAC, so I’m betting you are okay with that.

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New Year’s Resolution

Our friend Steve, who cruised the ocean for decades but has now retired from boat ownership, clearly enjoyed driving our J/109.

While dealing with all of the expense and aggravation, it’s easy to forget what a wonderful privilege it is to own a sailboat and be able to go sailing any time we want.

We took quite a few people sailing last summer, but my New Year’s Resolution is to share sailing with even more people in 2023.

Here’s a link to a great article on just that, and why it matters:

Hey, wanna go sailing?


Ocean Racing Back In The Day

If you raced offshore back in the seventies and eighties you probably wore Line 7 foul weather gear and a Lirakis harness.

The less said about the non-breathing heavy PVC former—it was waterproof but that did not help much since we stewed in our own juices—the better.

But the latter was the first widely available harness that stood a chance of not breaking under load, or maiming the wearer.

Stephen Lirakis, the deeply experienced ocean race crewman who designed, and for many years made and sold this harness, has a very cool website of photos from back in the glory days of Ocean Racing between amateur crews, and some from more recent races, too.

A highly recommended way to waste an hour when you should be doing something else…I would know.

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The End of Skill?

Two companies have just announced that they are going to build an autonomous motorboat. Yes, the crew will be able to sit aboard and do absolutely nothing…except drink their faces off…while the boat runs itself.

Never mind whether or not this is even doable (way past my pay grade to judge). The thing that gets me is said companies tout this as a huge advance in boating enjoyment.

But, to me anyway, the greatest enjoyment I have gotten over my 65 years in boats, and continue to get, is in learning, and then mastering, new skills.

The thought that I will learn something new today, and maybe make, or do, something better on my boat (or at AAC), is literally what gets me up in the morning.

And that never changes. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn, and the more pleasure I get from that realization.

For example, in the past year:

  • I finally got my head around how bolted joints work and the relationship between bolt pre-load and and the forces the joint is designed to take. No, not to the level of understanding an engineer has, but way better than I did, and enough to be a better boat technician. Thanks, Matt and Eric.
  • I’m learning, all over again, how to trim and drive a high-performance boat. Still a long way to go there.

That’s just two of the scores, maybe hundreds, of things I have learned this year, on and off boats—at my age I have to relearn a lot, too!

Maybe I’m just an old stick-in-the-mud, but why on earth would anyone want to expend the money and time on boating without getting that pleasure of learning? Why not just stay home and watch a YouTube video of boating…and drink your face off? Way less expensive.

All that said, I can see benefits in this tech for people who are disabled.


Favourite Upgrade to Our J/109

It’s so easy to get fixated on expensive updates to our boats, like cool electronics or new electrical systems, but sometimes things that cost relatively little deliver big benefits.

Phyllis and I were chatting during our last sail of the season about our favourite upgrades to our new-to-us J/109 and both agreed that the Blue Performance pockets at the companionway was a big contributor to our enjoyment.

Stuff that we use all the time is now close to hand:

  • Air horn—not used much, but when you need it…
  • Sun screen
  • Magic marker for marking halyard settings
  • Phones
  • Rigging tape
  • Card with target boat speeds…yea, I’m obsessed
  • On it goes

Here’s how we installed the pockets without drilling holes.

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