What's It All About...?

I spent half my money on wine and boats, the rest I wasted. -unknown

There are as many opinions about the sailing experience and what it means as there are sailors. Some are colorful, some are whimsical, some are wise.

Some are just fun.

Here are a few of my favorites. Each views sailing from a different perspective, a different time, and a different place, but each is eloquent in his own way.


"For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze."

- Richard Bode, First you have to row a little boat


"If I die from this flu, use my Amex to pay for the funeral things, Weatherhead-Young. Have Liz and John arrange it because they will fight for the open bar. Later, Love Cappie"

- Capt. Jim Gardner, copied to the Columbia email list in error, but you gotta love the thought....


"If I don't kill a few of them every so often, they stop taking me seriously."

Edward Teach a.k.a., Blackbeard. Thanks for reminding me Tim.


Jacobson, 2001

And what is sailing? I posted a message to the Columbia email list about a weekend of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Bill Jacobson responded and reminded me of the old saw in the following message:

You have revealed the true essence of sailing.
"Going nowhere, very slowly, at great expense".
Congratulations! You have arrived.

Bill Jacobson
Encore, Columbia 8.3

And I'm having a great time doing so.


"To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. The tales of rough usage are for the most part exaggerations, as also are the tales of sea danger. To face the elements is, to be sure, no light matter when the sea is in its grandest mood. You must then know the sea, and know that you know it, and not forget that it was made to be sailed over."

Joshua Slocum, first solo circumnavigator.


" . . . I don't know whether any other writers have thought explicitly to acknowledge the sea. If not, let me be the first to say that without the sea, I would be -- among other things -- without a boat. It's true that true seasoned sailors know the sea as the enemy, because they know -- I guess by now I can say we know -- what it can do to you. A true soldier can think of a rifle as the enemy, for the same reason. But a rifle has also served as man's best friend and, after the usual beloved priorities, the sea is my best friend."

William Buckley in his book: Wind Fall -- The End of the Affair


"...The sea absolutely doesn't care about you one-way or the other. But the sea will exploit all your mistakes and weaknesses and is relentless in its probing to find those mistakes. This trip was ill conceived and very poorly planned, but ultimately the ocean will always win if you give it enough time. No mater how well you have prepared, no matter how skilled you are the sea will always win. The sea is very patient and will always win in the end. The sea has all the time in the world to wait for you to make that mistake, your last mistake. The sea may give you a free pass a couple of times, if it wants, but when it decides to strike, the sea will sink you. People just don't understand, they can't understand how fast the sea can go from the pretty picture postcard you buy at the beach to the raging devil himself. And the next morning, if you are there to see it, can be the most beautiful sunrise that has ever been since the beginning of time. I have several friends that have lost playing this high stakes game. Without exception they had the skill and boat that was necessary to do the trip. I don't know why they lost the game; all I know for sure is that the sea won, again. The sea will always win in the end; it's just a question of time."

Robert Gainer, a man once "presumed lost"


"I was given by a friend, a 34 ft Columbia sailboat. I know nothing of sailing."

David Norman, a man who will certainly feel lost a few times before the boat is done and he learns to sail .

Cheap Boats

"Many old boats can be had for a song, but soon the new owner finds the first verse to be by far the easiest."

Eric "my first boat was free" White


"I was in New Orleans last weekend. I was searching for Triple Sec which is still no where to be found. We know it is sunk. We just don't know where."

Danny Crump. Triple Sec was docked on Lake Ponchetrain and disappeared in Hurricane Katrina.


"To me, nothing made by man is more beautiful than a sailboat under way in fine weather, and to be on that sailboat is to be as close to heaven as I expect to get. It is unalloyed happiness."

Robert Manry in Tinkerbelle. The book is named after his 13 1/2 ft boat and describes his solo 78-day Atlantic crossing in the mid-'60s from Falmouth, Massachusetts, to Falmouth, England


"...the only difference between ocean racing and ocean cruising today is that when cruising you take the spinnaker down before the mast comes down."


It is at sea that the greatness as well as the weakness of man is made fully evident. More than one thinker has observed that there are no artifices, no rationalizations, no bucks to pass, and no excuses at sea in a small boat. It is at sea that a man must come to grips with his true self. All the accolades, degrees, honors, and bank accounts are dross when the sea is up and it's time to turn to and shorten sail or to bail for twenty hours or so.

It is the process of measuring oneself against that impersonal standard of the sea that perhaps motivated so many voyagers. It is a search for the personal truths, which matter little to most twentieth century men, that sends men again and again to sea, knowing that no one other than themselves really gives a damn.

By the following morning we had made our slow way to Lahaina, the old capital of the kingdom of Hawaii. A Coast Guard crew was there, and one of the members asked, in pidgen English, "Hey bruddah. You the ones out in the Alenuihaha yesterday?"

We allowed as how we were, and he made the following timeless remark: "More bettah you don't have any trouble, cause we don't take our eighty-five footer out dere in the afternoon!"


The yacht, shorn of her canvas, was possessed of devils and tried in every way to chuck us off into the Pacific.

David M. Parker, Columbia 8.7 #4 Psyche, selections from his book Ocean Voyaging c1975.

Don Libby

This Columbia 57 held a constant 13 knots over a 10 mile course from the Oakland Bay Bridge to Brisbane in the South Bay in 1987, outrunning a Grand Banks Trawler. We were flying a main and a 150. At the end when we turned up wind the 150 blew out, actually more like blew up and shattered into a million pieces. I had to change my shorts. Feeling and seeing 22,000 pounds get up on a plane is probably at once the most scary and exciting thing I have ever experienced.

Don Libby
Columbia 57 #10, Poco Mas
San Francisco

Robert Gainer

And heeling isn’t bad; its nature’s way of cleaning vomit off the decks when it’s rough out and you are breaking in a new crew.


Water Rat, 1908

`Nice? It's the ONLY thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. `Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: `messing--about--in--boats; messing----'

Kenneth Grahame, Wind In The Willows


Messing about with boats? Here is a response to someone who took in a stray Challenger:

Congratulations! I am always glad to here of a person who rescues a boat from the clutches of ignorance and cruelty. To me a boat is kind of like a pet crossed with the girlfriend/spouse. And just in case my better half reads this I will leave it at that. Again, good luck and thank you from all of us who believe ‘Boats are People too'!

And here's the kind of thing he might be getting into:

"And......I was able to completely peel the foredeck off with just brute strength, It came off like a prom dress."

Todd Wheaton, commenting on his Sabre's deck recore project.


"There is no point in setting out for a destination one is sure to attain."

Bill Tillman
Adventures Under Sail


"A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving."

Lao Tzu (570-490 BC) - Father of Taoism


"Beware of all enterprises requiring the wearing of shoes."

Mike Riley

Mike circumnavigated on a Columbia 24. Then he did it again on a Dickerson 41.


"Never go sailing when you have to be back."

Dave White, my brother, owner of Columbia 29 Suzy Blue.


"Navigation - the process by which we move, or direct, a ship from one place to another. It is both an art and a science."

found on the University of Pennsylvania Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, NAVAL OPERATIONS I, NAVIGATION webpage.


"Navigation: The fine art of thinking you know where you are."

I sail on the Chesapeake, where the water is predominatly thin. I've heard various statements about the average depth, usually given as being somewhere between 18 and 22 feet, but the real truth is that the bottom is generally closer than you think.

My boat draws 4' 6" with the board up. When the depth gauge starts reading around 5 feet or so I begin to chuckle, because I always get images in my mind of the crabs screaming and scuttling along the bottom trying to avoid my keel.

The sender for my boat's depth gauge is near the aft end of a full keel, so its chief purpose is to confirm I've run are aground.

The advantage of a full keel is that when the water is thinner than optimal, the boat only wobbles side to side and not fore and aft, too. It's a much more sea-kindly ride until the tide returns.

Assuming it has not already returned.

If you sail here you know that it's not IF you run aground, it's WHEN you run aground.

Actually that's not quite correct. You never really run aground because there is precious little substance below the Chesapeake that can be properly called "ground". It's a soft, gooey, sticky substance that defies removal from anchor chains, the foredeck or anything else it touches. "Muck" is much closer to it. Instead of "running aground", I suppose one really "runs a-muck".

The difference between a new sailor and an old salt on the Chesapeake is that when the boat runs a-muck, the novice runs amok; the old salt simply breaks out a ration of rum all around, sits on the high side, admires the sunset, and whiles away the time trading sea stories as he waits for the tide to return.

Eric White


"Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port, and the other was an atrocious liar."

Don Bramford


"Some of you are probably wondering why the heck anybody sets a sail inside a spinnaker. It is all about air flow. Extracting energy out of moving air is like moving a wagon with fifty harnessed cats...."

Bruce Krohn, commenting on airflow over a spinnaker and the use of a Tall Boy sail.


"Navigo ergo sum."

Alex Bustamante Columbia 26 MKII Orion


To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: when you have eliminated the obvious, what remains, no matter how ridiculous, still makes more sense than one of hook's poems.


The best way to distinguish dagglewrimples from cuddlestocks is by their axial orientation. Dagglewrimples are almost always set up on the bias where as cuddlestocks are layed out in a 90-degree pattern. Of course the thread pattern can help you determine that as well. Dagglewrimples are threaded clockwise and cuddlestocks counterclockwise.

Here's an example that might help you. If you're out on the boomkin finagling with the oristobrator and the skipper asks you to adjust the dagglewrimple, all you have to do is stand over it facing astern and note its orientation. If it's angled, then you've got the right part, if it's layed athwartships, then don't touch anything because you're looking at the cuddlestock.

Now, adjusting dagglewrimples is a fairly precise science, so don't attempt this unless you really know what you're doing

Recounted by Doug Ward, former Columbia employee
I wonder if it had anything to do with all that resin...?


Those who travel the fastest see the least, but he that would see, feel, and hear the most of life, nature, and God, let him go down to the sea in a small sailing vessel.

L. Francis Herreshoff

Also known as the man who referred to fiberglass as "frozen snot".


Charley Morgan's most famous design may be Paper Tiger, the 40-footer that took overall honors in the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit (SORC) in 1961 and 1962 and was the forerunner of the Columbia 40. Morgan relates this story about a time that he stopped in the local yacht club after working on the boat: "The old savants were sitting in the club, and I came in with resin all over me. One of the guys said, 'I understand it's got a steel backbone, wooden decks, and a fiberglass hull; you know, it's gonna rust, shatter, and rot.'"


Pelago is a Columbia 40. After 40 years the gild has left the lillie's petals, but the stem and roots remain strong and the flower proud. Yes, as the wags predicted she has rusted and rotted, but she hasn't shattered.

Oct. 8, 2005. The owner of my marina couldn't believe that "the Jims" (Beaudry and Lant) and I were setting sail for Annapolis and the Good Old Boat Regatta. He said winds of 45 were forecast, but we had a race to run.

The rain was strong enough that we could barely see where the West River met the Chesapeake. Probably just as well - the five-foot breaking waves might have made us afeared if we could have seen them.

The garbled message on the VHF sounded like the race was cancelled. We called San Souci. Bob and Terry were about 1/2 hour ahead on their Columbia 28 with a crew of three non-sailor women. The wind was abaft the beam, the boat was screaming and the crew was - calm. We considered going back and waiting for better weather, but we still had the second race scheduled for tomorrow and we were already soaked.

We flew to Annapolis. Pelago danced in the following seas. If I could have hung over the bow and looked down, I'm sure I would have seen the bootstripe turned up in a grin. But for the boats comeing at us out of Annapolis the word was "grim". It was an awesome sight watching them crash to weather as they fought their way to the rendezvous point for their race. We later learned Annapolis Yacht Club cancelled their race, too. The committee boat couldn't set an anchor in the wind and waves.

We caught San Souci as we reached Whitehall Bay. We jibed towared Mill Creek and struck sail. San Souci was standing off. We thought they wanted to follow us in, but they turned and headed out into the Bay.

We later learned that they decided to venture back out into what some would consider survival conditions so they could teach their novice crew to tack.

Eric White


Right on, Bill. Most boats over 40 ft in our marina are merely floating cottages. The man who welcomed us to the Over 40 Club, rarely leaves dock! What a waste.

Nancy Knight


Ahhhh....you have finally hit on it. Most boats of size never leave the dock. When I owned my Peterson 48 I had returned back to my slip after a run down from Tampa to Jamaica. My neighbor had an absolutely gorgeous CT-54. He tells me one day how envious he is of me. He tells me that I am always going somewhere: MoBay, Charlotte Armpit, St. Lucia, Bermuda, etc. I reply, "Well, why envy me, you must go places, too, with a boat of that size".

Then the sad truth comes out. He had bought the boat new, owned it for two years and had, HONEST TO GOD, NEVER LEFT THE SLIP. He had never even run his own boat. A captain had delivered it to the slip.

This story runs throughout the boating industry. Most people purchase boats not for pleasure, but for a status symbol, thus the boat sits at some marina or yacht club and never leaves. While I travelled greatly, I always met the couple or individual who had sailed a 25 footer down to the islands, a year or so earlier. And further, a saying I always tell people: If you can sail a small boat, you can sail any boat, but not necessarily in reverse. So, as a small boat convert, I am enjoying myself.

Regina and Dave and Lil Repo


Just want to add something here, I was taught to sail on a Catalina 22, the ugliest Clorox bottle at the dock. We were constantly "out to sea" my captain and me. We went to weather, we sailed in rain, and most, not everyone, but most of the "other" owners sat at the dock, cleaned, bar-b-qued, sat around, and talked. After awhile everytime we passed they would ask "so how was it" and our answers went from "nice" to "it was horrible, never should have went," or "you would not like it today." We walked off holding our heads down like trashed and defeated men, smiling all the way, because it had been wonderful, but they would never know, because they would never go.

We called that clorox bottle the "Little Boat That Could," and she taught me the finer arts. My buddy "the captain" is now in the California desert waiting for a job transfer to better sailing conditions, I own a 34 Columbia, and although she is a Clorox bottle being reconditioned, (my dock lines are frayed, my fenders don't match, it had an apartment little refrigerator on it,) I have had it out once already this year. It was an overcast drizzly day, and we crashed to weather awhile, and motored in after dark. And it was horrible, never should have went.

:-) Bill


Patience is sometimes born out of a lack of other options.

Miguel J. Montesinos Response to a comment on the trials encountered on his 8 week journey from Wilmington, NC to home in Bayfield, WI with Ramblin Spirit his Coronado 32.


..next to gasoline and propane, a schedule is one of the most dangerous things to have on board a sailboat...

John Somerhausen, Columbia 8.7 Pampero IV


I've been to church services that took less time and involved less prayer than is associated with lighting a pressure alcohol stove.

Eric White


What's it like.....

You are 4 days out of St. Thomas, heading towards Ft. Lauderdale, another 800 miles away. It is midnight and the giant orange moon is rising off of your starboard quarter. Seas are rolling at about 8 foot, winds coming from the stern at 15 to 20 knots. Genny and main are set to port. Boat is rolling slightly as the swells go by. The sky is black as ink, covered with more stars than you can imagine. The only sounds are the "whiisshhh, shhhhhh" of the boat cutting through the water, a slight metal ring as the boom moves and the "whoommmpp" as the genny slaps and fills....

...It is Christmas eve, the temperature is 5 degrees. Winds are from the south-west at 30 knots. Single reef in the main, jib up. Close hauled. You're pounding down the outside, heading from Newport to Bermuda. It seems like every wave is breaking over the bow. It is so cold out, that as the spray flies, it instantly freezes on the dodger. The lifelines have icicles a foot long. The deck is covered with ice, and even inside the temperature isn't above freezing. You never get warm. Listening to the SSB you are hearing from a 90 foot gaff-rigger, 100 miles away. He's lost his forward mast and is trying to return to Marblehead....

...Mid-night in Deshays harbor, Guadalupe. The moon is full, you are in 50 feet of water and you can see the sandy bottom....

...The M&M Bar, Roatan, Honduras. It is Friday afternoon, everybody is roaring drunk. They are showing the 3 year old film of the Superbowl for the umpteenth time. Jim from Houston has decided he's gonna get rich smuggling Amazon Yellow Beak parrots into Texas. (Most of the 600 birds died before he leaves). Little Chrissie from New Jersey is gonna get thrown out if she doesn't quit cussing....

...20 miles off of Cat Island, Bahamas. You are thrown from your bunk, the sound was like an explosion. You race topside and Kathy is holding the end of the genny, it is ripped to shreds. You fire up the engine and instantly wrap the prop with 100 yds of 3/4" polypro line that was floating on the surface. The boat rolls hard and the main battery breaks loose from its straps and starts a fire in the engine room. Damn, delivering a Morgan 51 is fun....

...You haven't seen land in 7 days. Not a boat, not a plane, nothing. Then on the horizon a ship appears. You call it on the VHF and they answer in some really strange language. It is a Russian Freighter, heading to Havana. You both speak a little Spanish, so you begin a broken conversation. They pass by close and drop over a "Care Package", Jesus, it's 5 gallons of strawberry ice-cream and a bottle of Vodka....

What's it like....it is everything and nothing. It is quiet contemplation, it is sheer terror. It is finding yourself. But most importantly it is learning that once out, you have removed every safety net you ever built around yourself. No ambulance, no fire department, no 7-11 stores. You have put your butt in your own hands. It is the Wild West and Grand Central Station all rolled into one. You always meet people you met somewhere before. You break a toe on a cleat, you laugh while the tears roll. You celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday with a party of 1 (and you aren't even British).

It is freedom.

Regina & Dave Benedict-Bethany


"And there we encountered all three kinds of wind:

Light winds, No winds, and Head Winds."


The £ Sunday Times round-the-world race prize will be awarded to the single-handed yachtsman who completes the fastest non-stop circumnavigation of the world departing after June 1 and before October 31, 1968, from a port on the British mainland, and rounding the three great capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn)
March 17, 1968 Sunday Times


Paul: FYI... Maryland is about to enact a mandatory PFD law. All recreational boats of all sizes, when underway...
Eric: Anyone up for an Annapolis kapok party?
Larry: Sure, What the heck is a Kapok?
Bob: All of a sudden I feel very old.


That is all true but without such a course, you cannot learn the several pronunciations of "sidereal". (I personally use "Time of Aries"). Also, it was evident from the life raft puzzle that most sailors are not aware that you can get your latitude with a sextant without charts or a watch, and with a time hack, you can get your longitude without all the fancy charts. (Perhaps the radio, that everybody threw overboard, could get Honolulu and provide the time hack). Knowing where you are, perhaps you can row to the most traveled shipping routes.

Celestial Navigation greatly increases one's appreciation for the great universe we sail. When I was in high school, a bunch of us read Matt Henson's "Dark Companion" and were intrigued with the navigation he described. One fellow's father had a sextant but no current tables. We took our latitude from Polaris with an artificial horizon we built, (this was before the EPA and we used mercury), and calibrated our watches from WWV for a high noon shot. I cannot tell you what a great sense of satisfaction we got from determining our position in Northern New Mexico with a simple instrument and our ingenuity. Our view of the world was forever less a mystery and our confidence in ourselves greatly increased.

Bruce Krohn
Challenger # 74 Ouroboros
Los Lunas, NM


Aboard Lorelei our favorite instruments are the Ouiji Board, and the Magic 8 Ball.

The Ouija Board allows us to commune with Francis Chichester, Josh Slocum, and a plethora of etherial navigational wizards (one time Magellan himself helped us kedge off a sandbar).

Since the sailors "on the other side" can be busy at times...we also employ the Magic 8 Ball for the more routine important navigational decisions. In fact I think the guy who got lost twice off west coast used the same type of navigational instrumentation.

Some may say...Well it's not hi-tech...but I think that the use of the paranormal in marine navigation is very groovy, baby!

Tim Foley
Lorelei, C28 #88
Clinton, CT



(Cooking? This is really about old habits and knowing where you are. - Eric)

I was just boiling some water on the stove. ... wondered why it was taking so long... Not really thinking about it, I decided I'd better glance under the pot to make sure I hadn't run out of gas.

Oh yeah that's right: This is a house. Houses don't run out of gas.

Gosh, this must be how normal people live.

Chris McKesson

OK, I'll admit it, I got used to running water pretty fast - even to the idea of HOT running water. But every now and then I trip over the unexpected.

I still lift drawers up before sliding them open.

Can't wait to get back on the boat!


Having grown up in Portsmouth, Virginia and passing by the original Columbia plant on Wesley street in Portsmouth on a daily basis, I developed an early addiction to the smell of fiberglass and extreme longing to own one of these boats at the tender age of twenty three. Well, it took me until age the ripe old age of forty nine before this was to become a reality.

When I first saw her she was in a cradle in Deltaville, Virginia. It was January, it was cold and my back had gone out on me that morning when I leaned over to pick up my deck shoes in preperation of boat hunting. But as soon as I arrived at the yacht harbor, saw her wine glass transom I knew I was in love. As I PAINFULLY climbed aboard and went down her companionway (very carefully), looked around at all of teak, smelled the perfume of an old boat (odor of gas, leaking ports) and all of the other aromas associated with a nineteen year old vessel I was lost. The the final sight that sent me over the edge and into debt was the when I looked aft and saw the circuit breaker panel. Boldly written in that wonderful script was Columbia Yacht Corporation. My mind sped back to 1973 when I had stood looking at the same thing on a new C-45 being prepared for delivery by Bluewater Yacht Sales at the old Lee's Marina and wondering if I would ever be able to own one of these noble vessels.

Well to end my much too lengthy tale I said "I do", I did, and we have lived happily ever after. Well, at least 'til the engine died.

Ron Fisk

C-8.7 Ace


This is in the vein of "the clorox bottle." The cold makes me think of warmer days.

Molly's Maiden Voyage

I came back to the yard in the spring to move MollyB, this time with myself and a crew of 3 college students who had never been sailing before in their lives. She looked like a huge yellow tooth. Old and left alone too long.

We stowed our bags aboard and began sanding immediately. Sometime around 1 the next morning we were finished. As the sun rose and the yard people began coming in they noticed Molly was now white, with a top stripe! The forklift guy admired our work and stated that paint made her look totally different.

As the day lingered on we sat under an awning in the cockpit, me giving sailing and navigation classes, and replacing all the running rigging, which was rotten - every sheet on her. The next day Molly went into the water. Time forced our departure, we had scarce little to play with. As we motored out into the Chesapeake we delighted in the fresh summer day. And it was a long day, new men to sailing as crew, we stumbled along making all the mistakes possible, and Molly shuddered, stumbled, pitched, and complained like a stallion whose rider is unsure. Our partnership had not been earned yet, and Molly complained and we wrestled every mile of the way. We made twenty hard miles that day, our inexperience, and Molly's distrust made for a tired boat and crew that evening. We anchored well south of Baltimore, a shallow place with no docks. Molly bucked to the bitter end of the day, refusing to motor in she made us sail into the anchorage. She fought the bit but finally settled on the hook behind a hill, near a shallow.

We swabbed the deck, and stowed the lines and sheets, refolded the main and tied it down, generally making things ship shape and teaching as I went.

We cooked dinner out on the deck that night and bedded down early in our bunks. I slept topside to insure she rested on the hook, nervous and unsure of myself. All sleep fitfully, the crew's first night on board, the Captain worried about slipping anchors, and things only dreamt of. The next morning crew was woke with hot tea and toast, and as the sun rose into the stillness of early morning Molly's crew prepared to sail off.

And sail off we did. We made the C&D canal easily, about 60 miles to my figures. Molly stretched out that day and ran, and her Captain and crew let her. She showing us what her long legs could do when we had faith in her, and we our developing skills as Captain and Crew. The rest of the journey we were one, men and ship. We sailed into Atlantic City confident to dock under sail, and waited out a violent storm in Barnaget Bay swinging on the hook. We made Manhattan Island with no injuries or death, singing "Start spreading the news" and eating sardines. Molly Beecher was named after my sister in law, who died young. It was a name that said, "I still have something to say". She has taught us, her crew, much about ourselves, about life as a sailor, and about herself. Molly taught these lessons individually: one to never go to sea as Neptune hates him, (he wretches every 30 minutes, set a watch by it); one to return to his wife and child, as the ship demands responsibility, so does life; and to one the unending call of the open ocean, he a new sailor born to a new life, and to me, Molly made me a Captain, able to bring her to sea and home with crew well cared for and sound. She is resting in New Jersey, strong and silent, waiting for the thaw and a new set of lazarette hatches. But nightly and sometimes during the day our thoughts cross and we dream the dream of salt and spray. Together bound by the tie that binds to the dark and cold abyss, Captain and Ship. :-)

"Crusty" Bill Ledbetter

Molly Beecher

Columbia 34 MKII #124


"citing hull numbers is an iconographic fetish ritual... ;~@)"

Challenger #156


Mike Fellows mentioned a Columbia owner who may have given the rest of us a bad name. He sent the following in response to a query for more detail:

I know that "recluse" covers a lot of ground. Uncomfortably close to my own feelings of course and I notice it got your attention.

But no, it wasn't his solitary nature that caused the problem. This was apparently a man who had lived locally in this small community without much to distinguish himself. When he purchased a C26 MKII that had not been on the water in several years people were surprised.

Then when he attacked the problem of rigging the boat and learning to sail without the customary timidity and with no care for convention -- well the old wags in the marina at least thought he was going to kill himself and destroy local landscape in the process.

In the end he did neither. I am told there were times when anxious boaters lined the docks with boat hooks to defend themselves, and at one point, oblivious of an approaching storm our Columbia Yachtsman decided to learn how to single hand the spinnaker.

And it may have been the spinnaker story that sort of nailed down his place in local sailing lore. A spinnaker story is such fun to tell in any case. Russ Moore's account of a beautifully set spinnaker and an approaching shoreline still strikes me as a classic. And told "on the hard", at that time in the spring when the boats are all prepped but few are yet launched, well it's drama and rhetoric at its best in my mind.

Sadly, there's no way to replicate this "art" of storytelling in the electronic medium just as it is replicated in only a few places in print. Something about the smell of smoke from a crusty old pipe, the gesturing in the air with the pipe-stem that paints perfectly the omininous calm during which our sailor sets the spinnaker, the initial droop of the large sail, the tangled lines, the sudden wind, upturned pole, snap of the filling sail, broach from a standstill, scramble to stay aboard, failure of a halyard and lines, sail, pole and helmsman collapsed on the foredeck as the wind subsides.

It is reported that the intrepid yachtsman dropped the main, motored to the dock, had his left arm treated at the local hospital ("must give 'em hell in the winter ..." according to my local storyteller) and was never again seen on the waterfront.

And I can't tell you if the story is true, and of course I don't know if the boat is indeed Haiku which the owner of Mother Goose has seen. In fact I doubt the latter and have often wondered about the former, but it was a good story.

And some days, especially in the spring, just before all the boats go in the water, a good story is almost as good as sailing.



Make this lesson one: Safety needs to be your first priority, especially with sea urchins on board. Start with your Coast Guard water safety course or equivalent. See if you can find a local sailing club that is focused on family fun (you will automatically acquire an armful of friends who can show you what to do and what not to do) Sail a lot. Avoid stationary objects. Learn to recover a crewman under sail. Then teach your wife to do it. Learn a bunch of knots. Get dirty. DON'T put the tube of 5200 on the deck and then sit on it. Remember "Red Right Returning" (It's the opposite of the way you're running lights are installed). Remember that liquids projected upwind will blow back on you. Don't eat the bean dip at dinner on the night you're staying on the boat unless Everybody that is staying on the boat eats the bean dip. Laugh a lot. Get to know the kid at West Marine by his/her first name. Don't be offended if he always calls you mister MasterCard. And no, he really doesn't know anything about finishing teak...it's not an act. Did I say sail a lot? Learn to drink instant coffee or get a faster stove (No I would not trade my alcohol stove for anything. It's part of the package). Above all else, if Mike Keers is mumbling about a little trip out West to look at the sunset.......refuse to step on the boat!


C-22 #449 Wa-Ko

Stuart, Florida


hey bro mahalo nui...just got in from a night sail itz blowin stink..gotta love it......Kini from Hawaii


Mere Moments

Heron Song, what a great name for a boat.

A couple years ago I sailed solo back from Shaw Bay.

I remember it well, because it was the day after I first saw Pelago. Charlie was sailing her out of Shaw Bay as I was sailing Binary in. Little did I know that the next time I passed Charlie on the water, I would be at the helm of my second boat, Pelago.

It was fairly early the next morning and I was ghosting along through the light fog on a gentle breeze. All was quiet and peaceful. The only thing I could hear was the splash of the waves lapping against the hull.

Then it was there - a strange, rythmic sound emerging from somewhere out in the fog. It gradually grew louder. I couldn't imagine what it was. Then a small flight of geese appeared flying low over the water. The sound was the beating of their wings. I think that was the only time I have ever observed geese flying without honking.

As quickly as they appeared, the geese melted back into the fog and the whoosh-whoosh of their beating wings faded after them. It had been a truely magical moment.

Starboard tack for three days, then gybe...

Starboard tack for three days. Then the wind came around to the north and blew up to 35-40, building the seas to 15 feet with breaking combers on top. We were about 150 miles off the Oregon coast. After failures at several other modes we ended up streaming warps astern and running before it. We had about 25 square feet of reefed storm jib set and this gave us a nice average of about 7.5 knots through the water.

Then, of course, we sailed out of the wind off of Cape Mendocino and sat not moving for 12 hours.

Yesterday afternoon we roared through the Golden Gate (Wow, That's a rush!) and rounded north into Sausalito. We are moored for a couple of days at Schoonmaker Point.

700 miles. 7 days at sea. Non-stop.

C-36 #10 Sundance now at N 37 51.8, W 122 29.3

Chris McKesson

Post Script....Chris left Solomons, sailed for twelve hours up the Chesapeake, into the Rhode River, and ghosted his way into the anchorage by High Island - solo.

We had fenders hung, lines at ready, and steaks about to come off the grill. Chris dropped the jib, corrected course to our calls, and eased alongside better than most can do under power.

We handed over the lines and nestled Sundance into the raft.

Damn, it doesn't get much better....

Eric White


Dr. Dave is right. Back when I was at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, there was a low swing bridge for the L & N railroad across the Back Bay. It was so low, even my 14 ft. daysailer could not go under and they would not open it for me. I had to wait for a tug to go through and then follow. Once, a tug hit the bridge and it would not close. About a half hour later, a train came along and fell in the water. All us little guys cheered.

Bruce Krohn
Challenger # 74 Ouroboros
Los Lunas, NM


Bit of Navy History

(Note: For all you sailors, you can't even drink aboard nowdays)

"The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last 6 months of sustained operations. She carried no evaporators."

However, let it be noted that according to her log:

"On July 1798, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston. She left with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: To destroy and harass English shipping."

"Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed for the Azores, arriving on 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November she set sail for England."

"In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen salvaging only the rum. By 26 January her powder and shot was exhausted."

"Unarmed, she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons aboard by dawn. Then she headed home."

"The USS Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February, 1799 with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whiskey and 38,600 gallons of stagnant water."



Francis Chichester (he wasn't a "Sir" yet) arrived in Sydney on December 12, 1966. He had single-handed - nay, to his account fought bucking and screaming - his 53' ketch Gypsy Moth IV from England travelling 14,100 miles in 107 days. He was age 65.

This was the only stop in his circumnavigation. He was interviewed on the dock. Here is a short passage from his book, Gypsy Moth Circles the World:

"A lot of questions were tricky, metaphysical ones, which I thought rather stupid to fire at a man who had been alone for 100 days. After dealing for a long time with the basic facts of life, such as survival, one's values change completely as to what should, or should not, be taken seriously. To the question, "When were your spirits at their lowest ebb?" the obvious answer seemed to be, "When the gin gave out."

           Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again,
   to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
   and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
   and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
   and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again,
   for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
   that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day
   with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
   and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again
   to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way
   where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
   from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
   when the long trick's over.

      -- John Masefield

When we finally slipped into our mooring space I got the strangest feeling. Panic gripped me, and I only wanted to get out of there and back to the open sea! Now I would have to go back to the petty political intrigues that a college professor must contend with; I must go back to those dreary acres of dull faces, totally uninterested in what was being taught; I must return to Marina del Rey where you were not allowed to etc., etc.; I must contend with the dull and uninteresting life of modern man in the city. In short, I must contend with the land.

The very thought of it appalled me.

- "Dr. Dave" Parker

3 January 1929 - 27 October 2007

Want more? Check out Wisdom at Latitude 38