Short Tacks

Timing the tides

Navigation is fundamentally about discovering the rules that govern nature. Unlocking these secrets is one of the most gratifying aspects of sailing; from observing the physics of weather to revealing our position relative to the celestial bodies. Another one…

Using a 3D printer onboard

At the start of the year, I purchased a 3D printer for my Valiant 40 boat, Ursa, and I’d like to share some of the experiences I’ve had with it. First the why: I’m based in Mexico right now,…

Reports of aggressive killer whales

Orcas have battered sailboats off Spain and Portugal and the behavior of these large marine mammals has baffled experts. Sailors along Spain and Portugal’s Atlantic coastlines…

During a pandemic, flexibility is key

The wheelhouse was scattered with guidebooks extolling the virtues and sites to behold in and around the Baltic — fjords in Sweden and Norway, Danish in Denmark, history-laden Poland, and enough lager to sink a barge in Germany. The chartplotters…

Boat show lemonade

It’s been a tough year for the businesses of the world. There was no precedent for the COVID-19 pandemic and no instruction manual on what to do.…

Rule of thumb

Commercial fishing operations abound with heavily-loaded lines.

The Nautical Almanac online

I recall periodically gaining computer access to the Nautical Almanac’s daily pages by simply typing “Nautical Almanac online” into Google’s search engine.

The art of letting go

Our passages up the Pacific coast of Mexico have been hard going as they were mostly into wind and against current.

Discovering a voyaging classic

To the editor: In the summer of 2009 my son Christopher and I were spending a lazy afternoon wandering around our local boatyard in Port Jefferson, N.Y. We were in the “bone yard” section, investigating the old abandoned boats, when…

Nightly green fireworks

To the editor: The Americans we’ve met call it bioluminescence. When we crossed the Atlantic we talked about it as nightly green fireworks. Without doubt, one of the biggest changes we’ve felt since going from one ocean to the next…

The one that got away

To the editor: Telling this story I feel like a fisherman talking about a big fish that got off his hook. It was Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. We were on a non-stop trip from Huntington, N.Y., to St. Maarten. Joining…

First passage as captain

To the editor: In May I was in New Orleans frantically finishing a two-year refit of my 1975 Cape Dory 28. Then, just a few months later, I had put 2,000 miles under the keel on a passage north to…

Satellite phone a necessity offshore?

To the editor: As a long time subscriber I read with great interest the communications articles in the November/December 2013 issue. It had excellent coverage of the many devices and services available to sailors. I would like to add one comment, however. As…

A sailboat electric-energy system

To the editor: Many cruising sailboats have worked out an electric-energy system that works for them; too many others are continually trying to find the right mix. Kathy and I have done the same on our vintage Tartan 34.5 CB…

The outside route

It was about mid-day when I asked the dockmaster in Jersey City what she had been hearing about weather for the next few days.

Boatyard blues

Haul outs are de rigueur for big displacement boaters; the old fun machine must be pulled out regularly for a scrape and a fresh coat of ablative bottom paint.

Mainsail decisions

A sailmaker gave us some advice one time when asked how we should care for our mainsail: “Sail hard. Put it away wet. And come see me in a year.”