Sunday, October 28, 2007

Just Part of the Gig

I'm not a huge fan of books on how to sail I find most over complicated and almost always aimed at racing. While some books here and there touch on the how to sail thing, none seem to do the job I expect. A lot of the boats on cruising these days are more along the lines of how to buy stuff and spend money rather than about sailing...

Not too long ago in one of the Caribbean sailing rags there was a letter telling a story of how the writer and some friends had been at a floating bar when a boat came into the anchorage under sail and proceeded to anchor under sail. Now you would think perhaps the writer was writing to say how nice that someone still has and uses basic sailing skills or perhaps to give the Captain of said boat an attaboy... But no dear readers it was one of those letters that this sort of thing should not be allowed as obviously the sailor in question was putting all at risk with his antics... and if he was doing it right it would have been under power... Power safe... Sail bad.

Now WTF is wrong with that picture?

I'm no Luddite, So It Goes has a motor (an electric one for what it is worth) and it makes sense to use it from time to time but there is something deeply troubling when people who own sailboats equate safety with an engine as if the simple act of sailing is something akin to being out of control.

The fact of the matter is we all should be able to do the basic everyday stuff under sail... Really. It is simply a part of the gig and if you have a problem with it might I suggest you trade in the Bendytoy for a Donzi or better yet a Winnebago.

Which of course brings us back to the books on learning how to sail or improving your basic sailing skills (note the word "basic" which includes anchoring under sail... BASIC!) and one comes to mind that would really piss off the guy who wrote the letter to Caribbean Compass but that would just be a bonus to the fact that it would also go along way towards improving seamanship which is after all the object of the enterprise.

Jerome Fitzgerald seems to be one of those authors whose work has that love it or hate it sort of reaction and looking at some other reviews of SEA-STEADING he really seems to have a knack of getting up peoples noses... Frankly I don't see it, but then again some might say that "I" have a knack of pissing people off as well, so what do I know.

What SEA-STEADING is good at is making all of the so-called difficult stuff simple which is the measure of a good teacher in my world. His chapter on weather is the best I have ever come across and his chapters on boat handling and such things as sailing on and off an anchor are alone worth the price of admission.

Check it out!