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Do magazines (and forums) focus too much on larger boats...

Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I learned to navigate pre-GPS, so I can't get to excited about it; map, compass, and eyeball took me many thousands of miles, much of it too shallow to be well charted. The simple version is to learn coastal piloting. Also, any smart phone has about all the nav you actually need, IMO.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
How about an article on dead reckoning for the small boat owner. Unless you are crossing oceans or trying to find a small island in the middle of one, DR navigation is quick and accurate for those who can pay attention to their surroundings and know how to sight on landmarks and read a chart. I learned how to do that before I was fourteen. The harder part was trying to teach a group of 14-16 year olds how to do it on a pulling boat when you are the youngest one on board. I learned a lot of tricks sailing around the coast of Maine in the fog, like using a plumbline to confirm chart location by matching depth with expected depth, and my favorite, sounding an air horn to listen for the esho of nearby land; a buoy getting half dragged under by the current means you are in a narrow/shallow pass where the current races faster than in open water, or estimating your speed through the water by timing an object floating along the length of your hull (bubbles, seaweed, a grape,...).
In my Masters of Education-Mathematics program, I developed a lesson plan around DR to teach vector addition. I had my students plot a course with boat speed, current, and wind slippage. It was pretty fun for all of us.
-Will (Dragonfly)
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
How about an article on dead reckoning for the small boat owner. Unless you are crossing oceans or trying to find a small island in the middle of one, DR navigation is quick and accurate for those who can pay attention to their surroundings and know how to sight on landmarks and read a chart. I learned how to do that before I was fourteen. The harder part was trying to teach a group of 14-16 year olds how to do it on a pulling boat when you are the youngest one on board. I learned a lot of tricks sailing around the coast of Maine in the fog, like using a plumbline to confirm chart location by matching depth with expected depth, and my favorite, sounding an air horn to listen for the esho of nearby land; a buoy getting half dragged under by the current means you are in a narrow/shallow pass where the current races faster than in open water, or estimating your speed through the water by timing an object floating along the length of your hull (bubbles, seaweed, a grape,...).
In my Masters of Education-Mathematics program, I developed a lesson plan around DR to teach vector addition. I had my students plot a course with boat speed, current, and wind slippage. It was pretty fun for all of us.
-Will (Dragonfly)
Me too. I learned pre-GPS and took some 500 mile trips that way. I remember navigating to a marker in the fog and had to turn to miss it; I was very lucky on the leeway estimate. My new boat has GPS, but I've never turned it on (it works--others use it).

My first reflex was to blow-off this idea. It's in books, after all. But I really like the "teach your kids" angle. Also the elements of coastal piloting (depth, angle of waves around headlands or bars, appearance of the water, current around makers) that help it come together. Echos are novel to me (the Chesapeake Bay area is flat). But the truth is at least half of the adults are fuzzy on SOG, VMG, and even apparent wind vs true unless an instrument hands it to them. These should be easily estimated in your head. So yeah, maybe there is a we-don't-need-no-stinking-nav-system angle combined with teaching the kids.
 
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Feb 26, 2004
21,899
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
But the truth is at least half of the adults are fuzzy on SOG, VMG, and even apparent wind vs true unless an instrument hands it to them. These should be easily estimated in your head.
The second sentence almost can only come from experience. But getting to that point (I almost said "Getting There" but I refrained...:)) takes time on the water, wherever you are. Cruising around where you sail when it's light out, helps a lot. Kinda like using radar when it's clear. How else ya gonna know?

The scarier part is the lack of familiarity with the real meaning of these acronyms and how they are to used. Fuzzy means to me that you've used them and are hazy 'cuz you don't remember. Some folks never "got it" to begin with. Ever tuned into a navigation discussion over on cruisersforum? :):):) Illuminating...
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I read an article, I think in Smithsonian, about Polynesian way finding. They talked about becoming familiar with the movement of the boat so you could "feel" your course. My father, would wake up in the middle of the night and yell up from below, "Willy, what's our heading?" I'd always look down at the compass and see I was 5 to 8 degrees off. I'd take a moment to correct before is answer him.
One night, anchored in Mobil Bay during a storm, he jumped up and raced on deck. The anchor line had chafed apart. We weren't able to unlash the dingy and get the other anchor out from under it in time to avoid grounding on a nearby sandbar. He could feel it in his sleep, the instant Blitzen, an old S&S design, began to turn broadside to the waves.
They say you can't teach things like that but, it is so much harder to learn if the ideas were never taught first.
My father says it comes to you with responsibility. When you are in charge of the boat, you don't completely relax.
- Will (Dragonfly)
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
The second sentence almost can only come from experience. But getting to that point (I almost said "Getting There" but I refrained...:)) takes time on the water, wherever you are. Cruising around where you sail when it's light out, helps a lot. Kinda like using radar when it's clear. How else ya gonna know?

The scarier part is the lack of familiarity with the real meaning of these acronyms and how they are to used. Fuzzy means to me that you've used them and are hazy 'cuz you don't remember. Some folks never "got it" to begin with. Ever tuned into a navigation discussion over on cruisersforum? :):):) Illuminating...
Yes, the last sentence was fun. I think a lot of them skipped geometry and trig and physics.

To me it comes down to seeing the situation in 3 dimensions, including wind, current, boat speed, leeway, depth, and the curve of the waves around shoals and headlands. COG is the result of all of this.

One of the trickier parts of this is estimating boat speed, without paddlewheel, GPS, or chip log. Timing something in the water sorta works, but I wonder, for a specific boat, if it isn't easier to observe the wake. At certain speeds, specific changes occur, through these are also affected to some extent by course and sails carried. As you say, this takes time on the water.

You know what the greatest value I got from my wind instruments was? I did a lot of load testing of anchor rigging and rodes vs. wind speed. Very handy. Other than that, the senses are sufficient.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I wonder, for a specific boat, if it isn't easier to observe the wake.
That would surely work. The wave length of your wake is directly related to speed thru the water. That's why there is the concept and issues of hull speed as a limiter for displacement hulls. Hull speed is the point when the wake's waves length= waterline length.
- Will (Dragonfly)
 
Jul 12, 2011
974
Catalina 36 1771 Ft Pierce, Florida
Thinwater, I really like this project, and wish you well in it. At the time we are all wondering why younger working people do not sail, we see that the glossy sailing mags highlight $500,000 boats. Why doesn't that 30 year-old just buy one?

As a couple in their mid-50s, we just moved from a 22 foot daysailor to a 36-foot cruiser for a couple reasons that I think are common reasons for up-sizing. Many of these have been addressed in previous posts. Conveniences like autopilots, comfortable bunks, gas stoves, push-button starting a diesel, and electronic instruments make single-handing my 36 much easier and comfortable than my 22. If you could address these in an article, and got some traction with boat designers, perhaps I'd go back because a couple just does not need that much space. Trailering and setting up a rig were long ago too much work, so we sailed from a slip.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Conveniences like autopilots, comfortable bunks, gas stoves, push-button starting a diesel, and electronic instruments make single-handing my 36 much easier and comfortable than my 22.
My father once had a Sun Cat 16' converted to a fixed keel, bow spirit with staysail, V-birth cabin and small volvo diesel engine. He sailed her, mostly single-handed, from Florida to Maine. Being small doesn't need to be inconvenient.
- Will (Dragonfly)
 
Aug 1, 2011
3,957
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
At the time we are all wondering why younger working people do not sail, we see that the glossy sailing mags highlight $500,000 boats. Why doesn't that 30 year-old just buy one?
If I lived on the coast of the southeastern US, I sure wouldn't entertain an expense like that given the changes to the environment.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I sure wouldn't entertain an expense like that given the changes to the environment.
That's exactly why I would entertain an expense like that. Gaining some independence from the "grid" is part of what sailing means to me. It represents a gentler way thru the world, self reliant, natural and elegant. It is, in a metaphorical way, "to enter the water without leaving a ripple."
The reason I wouldn't entertain $500,000 expense is because I can't and don't need to.
I get much more of what I want from a boat that needs a little work from me. The next best thing to building it myself and a lot easier, though maybe not cheaper.
- Will (Dragonfly)
 
Jul 27, 2011
4,529
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
Not in my opinion. I'll rue the day, if it ever comes, that I might have to trade down from the Bavaria 38. I'd much rather go up in size, into the 42 to 46-ft range. IMHO, small boats are not all that interesting to look at or to read about, even if sailing them can be loads of fun!! But the main reason for a big boat, in my opinion, is range (speed) when time is short, and endurance when you have gobs of time. For example, when we moved up to the Bav38 from the P30 our trip across the San Pedro Channel to Catalina Island went from about 5 h to about 3 1/2 h. From Long Beach to Ventura-- generally at least 12 h with an overnight stop in Paradise Cove on the P30 to generally less than 10 h in a single day's run, etc., on the Bavaria. It adds up. Wife is happy.:waycool:
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,735
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
You know what the greatest value I got from my wind instruments was? I did a lot of load testing of anchor rigging and rodes vs. wind speed. Very handy. Other than that, the senses are sufficient.
Its all about bragging rights. "Yeah, the wind really was 30 knots, here's a photo of my (uncalibrated) wind instruments to prove it!"

With time and practice, wind speeds can be determined with a fairly high level of precision by looking at boat performance and sea state. One might argue that knowing the windspeed helps with sail selection and reefing decisions, but those should be pretty obvious, when the boat is on its ears, it is past time to reef!

On my ancient B&G wind instruments there are 3 display options, True Wind, Apparent Wind, System Voltage. More than once I've questioned the accuracy of the instrument when it read 12.5 in a dead calm.
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Not in my opinion. I'll rue the day, if it ever comes, that I might have to trade down ... IMHO, small boats are not all that interesting to look at or to read about, even if sailing them can be loads of fun!!
I had a cruising cat, so I know where you are coming from. I loved the way it easily ate up the miles and it was both comfortable and fun to live on. A 34' cat and a 38' mono are similar in many ways. Of course, in my down sizing I actually gained speed, though endurance in rough conditions, or even the hot sun, can be less. Total daily mileage, in my experience, will be similar. The primary reasons I moved down were that my daughter is out of the house and larger boats are, to me, boring to sail. A Winnebago is not more fun to drive than a Miata. I look at larger boats at boat shows because there seems to be more to write about (only because the magazines like big boat articles), but the smallest ones always catch my eye.

Another difference may be that the Chesapeake Bay is a better venue for smaller boats. It can get rough--anything less than 25' can get knocked around--but there are more places smaller boat can go, since much of the Bay is less than 6 feet deep.

But specifically, why do you feel the reading is less interesting?
  • Fewer systems?
  • Perceived to be simple (my F-24 has just as many strings to pull as the PDQ, they're just easier to pull)?
  • You're not interested in moving to one?
  • More emphasis on day sailing than overnights?
  • Fewer cruising stories?
  • Less impressive?
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Its all about bragging rights. "Yeah, the wind really was 30 knots, here's a photo of my (uncalibrated) wind instruments to prove it!"

With time and practice, wind speeds can be determined with a fairly high level of precision by looking at boat performance and sea state. One might argue that knowing the windspeed helps with sail selection and reefing decisions, but those should be pretty obvious, when the boat is on its ears, it is past time to reef!

On my ancient B&G wind instruments there are 3 display options, True Wind, Apparent Wind, System Voltage. More than once I've questioned the accuracy of the instrument when it read 12.5 in a dead calm.
Yes!!

Another reason, for some, is that inside the cockpit enclosure, they can't feel the wind.
 
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Oct 19, 2017
6,878
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Its all about bragging rights. "Yeah, the wind really was 30 knots,
And, what size boat were you in? 50' vs 20' talk about your bragging rights.
You all have heard of the Ait. No one's done it, a lot have talked about it, few have attempted.

Will (Dragonfly)
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
And, what size boat were you in? 50' vs 20' talk about your bragging rights.
You all have heard of the Ait. No one's done it, a lot have talked about it, few have attempted.

Will (Dragonfly)
A silly vestige of mammalian nature. It's deep in our DNA.
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,914
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Why is it that I find myself thinking in terms of "small boat alternates" to big boat designs, rather than the other way. For example, big boats need chain because nylon cuts when the force becomes to great. They need a lot of it, because the keel is so deep. They need big tenders because they can't get close to shore. They need instruments, because they have isolated themselves from their senses.
 
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Aug 1, 2011
3,957
Catalina 270 255 Wabamun. Welcome to the marina
Not including the segment of the population who have what is classed as a "small boat", and having a smattering of toys; that not only work properly (in deference to earlier comments about instrumentation) but are well calibrated and function as designed, lending valuable insight and reference data.
 
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