Thursday, January 29, 2015

Speaking of small boats and a good cause...


So, a guy I happen to know recently designed and built a boat. Fact is, it also happens to be a pretty cool sailboat of the scow variety but I don't think I'd be overstating the case to say it is, shall we say, somewhat petite.


So, here's a question... If you had just designed and built a pretty cool boat (that also happens to be kinda small) what would you do with it?


Since I happen to know folks who read Boat Bits on a regular basis are big fans of significnt voyages I'm sure a lot of you would do the first thing that came to my mind...

Go cross a couple of oceans!


What can I say but great minds think alike... Right?

The thing is, doing this sort of trip in a boat less than fifteen feet requires a certain amount of resources and, lucky us, we all need a super cool t-shirt or sticker to impress folks when beer can racing or hanging out at the weekly potluck...


For what it's worth, I know I'll be wearing some of these t-shirts myself (not that I'm trying to impress anyone or anything) because I always need a few new t-shirts and if I can support a good cause in the process, it's kind of a slam dunk...

For those interested in learning more about Yann's project and how to help support it all you have to do is visit his project site.

Just as an added incentive... Get a t-shirt or sticker from Yann and take a picture of yourself wearing it or where you put the sticker and send it to Boat Bits so we can make you infamous and, as you all know, everyone needs a day of infamy.

So it goes...

safer...

Somewhat unsettling, really not good at all, and some advice I wished someone had told me a whole bunch of years ago...

The other day I got one of those emails from a reader taking issue with something I've said a time or two of small boats making sense. His main point seemed to be that while smaller boats might be less expensive...

"What about the safety factor?"

OK, I know this will make a few heads explode and reduce quite a few readers to muttering sailor profanity as they read further but, if anything, a smaller boat is almost always going to be the safer vessel if it's being sailed by someone competent.

Seriously, I'd much rather be in a well found 30-footer sailing short-handed in bad weather than in a 40-footer sailing short-handed. The reason I mention being short-handed as part of the mix is because most cruisers cruising sail short-handed as the norm rather than the exception.

A bigger boat is a lot more work and when things get nasty it's even more work. Sailing a bigger boat in bad conditions is more tiring and if anything goes wrong, fixing it, as a rule is going to be more work and complication making a bad situation worse.

Bigger boats are not stronger... Sure, their fittings might be beefier and the hull might be a bit thicker but you have to keep in mind that the forces involved in a bigger boat are much greater requiring the heavier stays, hull thickness, etc but that does not really equal a "stronger" boat as the added strength is more about the stresses of being bigger than it is about actual strength.  For those curious, a great way to test this is to run a 36-foot Beneteau into a rock at hull speed then repeat the same exercise with a 50-foot Beneteau and compare the carnage. For those who don't live in a place where there are lots of bareboats doing just this sort of thing on a regular basis I'll let you know that the smaller boats pretty much always come out of it with substannsially less damage.

Most importantly bigger boats are by their very nature more complicated and bigger which can be problematic in itself. I've lost track of the number of boats I've known or read about who could not source a major catastrophic leak when needed and the bigger and more complicated the boat the harder it gets.

Which is not saying that all small sailboats make sense either... As for everything where boats are concerned it's always going to be complicated and with no small amount of compromise to arrive at the best boat for what you're actually going to do. The best advice I can come up with is to ignore all of the easy black-and-white truisms like bigger = stronger, stronger = safer, or more expensive = safer and suchlike because they don't really work in the real world.


Listening to Jim White & the Packway Handle Band 

So it goes...



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getaway plans...

A needful read, a study of interest, and in the "if the 1% are starting to talk publicly about getaway plans maybe you should too" department...

Hmmm... That post about rich people running away from the reality they created (which very possibly just might bite them on their collective asses) got me thinking about how cruisers should know a thing or two about running away since a lot of folks on boats are running way from something or other.

Oh sure, I know a lot of people on boats have a lot of reasons for going sailing and  "taking time off to recharge the batteries" or "I just want to see more of the world" and "I love to sail" are the sort of things most cruisers will answer to the question of why they're off sailing about instead of doing what society expects of them back in Akron, Ohio. While all of those answers I'm sure are true to an extent, they're not exactly the whole truth are they?

Truth these days can be scary because most people don't actually handle it very well. If presented with your real reasons for deciding to sail off into the sunset they might overreact because truth breeds truth and your friend at work who asked you why you were trading your cubicle, continually diminishing lifestyle, and overbearing boss for a small boat heading south might have to re-examine his or her own life.

Plus, the whole running away from stuff has a very negative image it does not deserve at all...

That said, running away from things that are bad for you or dangerous is a highly evolved survival trait which is a good thing. If your spidey sense tells you that your job or lifestyle makes you unhappy or is otherwise counterproductive to your very existence, running makes all kinds of sense.

Something you might want to keep in mind is that running away is a pretty awesome survival trait. Those who are both fleet of foot and listen to their Spidey sense early always have the advantage. Just consider the old adage about not needing to be faster than the bear chasing you... You just have to be faster than the other guy.

So, a few words of import from the great philosopher Nesmith...

"I said I roll with the flow
Wherever it goes and it's rolling out of here"

Listening to a bunch of the Band covers.

So it goes...

Monday, January 26, 2015

about cherry picking...

A rather unsettling study, something that we should be proud of, and a very, very cool VW Bus...

Here's a quick bit of advice about advice: It's almost always counterproductive to augment, alter, or cherry pick good advice... Especially where boats are concerned. The best thing to do is to simply follow good advice to the letter because getting creative will, 99.99% of the time, turn around and bite you on the ass. Trust me I have the scars to prove it.

Really.

That said, we all do it and, since we do, I should point out that if you augment, alter, or cherry pick good advice you automaticly lose the option of blaming said giver of advice for the ensuing carnage.

Right?

Listening to Phosphorescent

So it goes...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Some cheapseats goodness...

A reflection of sorts on Liberty ships, in the "Oh Jesus" department, and a very short essay...

So, Sailing Anarchy got a letter and they printed it on the blog. Might not hurt to go over and read it.

That said, Boat Bits has been saying that the cheapseats are where it's at for going on for ten-years...

Listening to Paolo Nutini

So it goes...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The power of negative input...

A little worthwhile reading, some stuff you need to know about, and something worth a listen to from Jay FitzGerald...

Way back when I was building our first Loose Moose (a Phil Bolger 'Jessie Cooper" design), I expected a certain amount of hassle of the negative input variety... Hey, it was an "Odd" boat and not what most people think a boat's supposed to be like.

The thing is what I did not expect is how easily seeds of doubts planted by others tend to take root and grow like Kudzu if you're not paying attention.

A good example of bad seeds growing out of control was the mainmast... The Jessie Cooper design has a free standing mainmast with a balanced lug rig and this seemed to bother a lot of the folks who visited the build site because...

  1. The mast did not have standing rigging
  2. The mast did not have a track
  3. The main halyard had a simple sheave at the masthead which was considered insufficient
  4.  It was wood
The seed of doubt that took hold and kept me up nights was the issue people had with the simple sheave ... People thought that since the sail had both a yard, a boom, and a chunk of sail area that I'd never be able to raise the sail without significant added mechanical advantage in the form of more blocks and a winch.

So as the seed grew into a bush of doubt, I found myself looking at winches and other various schemes to add a six-part purchase to the top of the mast. This, of course, slowed down the work effort and distracted me from stuff I should have been doing...

Worse, now that I had decided there just might be a problem with the halyard sheave all of a sudden anytime someone pointed out a possible problem/issue, which anyone who's ever built a boat knows happens daily, I found I was much more receptive to allowing it to take root.

One morning I woke up to find I thought the whole boat sucked... Not exactly the sort of mindset you want in the home stretch three weeks before you launch your boat.

Since I really had to finish the boat I put the doubts on hold with the resignation that "I'll just finish the sucker and then redo the mast after" .

Once on the water with the boat floating right side up I felt a lot better. So I stepped the mast, rigged up the sail, and, fully expecting disaster, proceeded to raise it. No problem at all and the sail, and yard zipped up the mast faster than the proverbial greased pig..

All that worry for an issue that never really existed.

That said, some of my friends who had issues with the weight of the sails, yard, and boom all had boats with masts that had tracks and even with big winches they had to huff, puff, and strain to get their mainsails up. In most cases, sail track adds an amazing amount of friction to the equation and that's why everyone thought my simple sheave arrangement would not work. They were used to all of that friction that the balanced lug simply does not have and I was stupid enough to listen...

Listening to the Rolling Stones

So it goes...

Friday, January 23, 2015

This is just neat...

Badtux makes a bombproof point, a passing of note, and today in the stupid-stupid-stupid department...

Anything that translates to better music on a boat gets my attention.



Really.

Listening to Le Vent du Nord



So it goes...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Something new from the Eco Sailing Project guys,,,

Hitting the nail squarely on the head, current trends in parenting, and a video you really should watch...



Listening to Tim Barry

So it goes...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Could I ask a favor?

A seriously problematic statistic, a quick reality check on that global warming myth, and something important you should be aware of...

I have a pet peeve about folks who write cruising blogs, hang out on cruising blogs, and folks who write up their cruising experiences in such places as the SSCA Bulletin and it's this...

If you're going to talk about cruising don't be coy about what stuff costs.

For instance, if you say you stayed at a marina, hauled out, or stocked up on provisions somewhere don't say it was expensive, inexpensive, or a "little pricey" because unless we know you personally, none of those descriptions actually mean anything to us. So, if you're going to mention you filled up your fuel tanks it wouldn't hurt to throw in a "at $3.77 a gallon" to give us an idea what the current cost of fuel is in Saint Somewhere.

I've lost track of the number of times I've called a boat yard for a haulout I'd heard was inexpensive, a marina for rates because they had been termed "affordable", or walked into a "Great cheap place to provision" only to find the places in question were not only not inexpensive/affordable/cheap but downright pyratical with a capital P.

I won't even get into what eateries and beach bars cost but if you think a $4 Coors and a $14 plain burger that looked like something from a Jr high school cafeteria is a bargain, I just may have a great deal on a hardly used cast iron tower in Paris you might be interested in buying...

So, about that favor...

Since I know a lot of folks cruising read Boat Bits from time to time, I'd really appreciate it if the next time you haulout, do a serious provision, or spend a chunk of money while cruising someplace interesting maybe you could drop a note about what it all costs. It would be especially helpful if you could include cruising fees and suchlike as well.

The idea at the moment is to work up a reality based database of just what the basic cost to cruise in places is and dispel a lot of the misinformation floating about what stuff costs and, hopefully, maybe we can lose a certain amount of the old WTF factor in the cost department.

I realize that this is asking a lot... So, thanks in advance.

Listening to PHOX

So it goes

Sunday, January 18, 2015

progress of a sort...

Badtux getting it right, a rising tide of homelessness in Seattle, and something we should all be paying attention to...

So, I've been hearing how foils are going to be the new big thing and it's only a matter of time till all the hip kids will be cruising at 20 knots...



Sure they will...

Listening to the Clash

So it goes...