Category Archives: author

A Pair of Canadian Legends

Herb McCormick, author of the very well received [WSJ Review - may be pay-walled] biography of the Pardeys, As Long As It’s Fun, writes:

As Long As It's FunIn early January, almost 33 years to the day after his historic performance in Toronto’s Massey Hall, Neil Young walked back onto the same stage armed with a harmonica, a piano, about a dozen guitars, his dry wit and his incredible talent. Sadly, I missed that original 1971 show, but happily, I caught the 2014 concert. And it was fantastic. Neil absolutely crushed it.

Even better, Neil was actually the second Canadian legend whose company I was honored to keep on that wonderful winter day. For I’d come to Toronto for the annual boat show, and also to catch up with old friends Lin and Larry Pardey. In the arenas of boatbuilding and voyaging, few mariners in history are as accomplished as Larry Pardey.

I’ve known the famous cruising couple and authors for many years now, and they’re the subjects of my new biography on the pair, As Long As It’s Fun. Over the years, of course, Neil had some accompaniment, including a trio of guys named Nash, Stills and Crosby, and a band called Crazy Horse. And Larry had Lin. In their own ways, they all made some beautiful music.

So I’ll remember my trip for a lot of reasons, but especially for the time I spent in the presence of two accomplished “homeboys” who started in Canada, then conquered the world.

Offshore Cruising Companion authors’ Seminars at the Toronto Boat Show

The Boat Show is fast approaching. John Neal & Amanda Swan Neal will be among many authors, sailors, and sailor-authors delivering highly informative seminars there. They write:

Hello Toronto!
  We’ve just completed a little 9,000 mile jaunt from New Zealand, up to Tahiti, as far west as New Caledonia and back to New Zealand. Here are our expedition log entries. This was our 23rd season of taking sailors keen to learn more about ocean passage making to sea on sometimes very demanding passages and watching them gain more skills and confidence by the day. A highlight on our last ocean passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand was having our crew choose to press on to face a powerful frontal passage with 50 kts and seas to 7 meters instead of sheltering at Norfolk Island.

Today we’re holed up at our little island home 12 miles east of Victoria, BC putting the finishing touches on to the exciting PowerPoint seminars we will be presenting at the Toronto Boat Show:

Continue reading

Boat Show Jan 11-19! Authors! Seminars!

BOATTTTTTComing at the tail end of one of the most unrelentingly merry festive seasons in memory, the 2014 Toronto Boat Show promises to be a similarly unrelenting Saturnalia of boats, authors, wrist-bands, bargains, and that guy perched over an artificial pool yelling about fishing stuff.  This year we’ll have more authors than ever before, including some of the most famous and beloved sailor authors of all time! Be sure to visit us at booth G545 in the “Mariner’s Market Place”.

 

Lin & Larry Pardey

care-and-feedingInternationally famous hard-core sailors, circumnavigators, authors, and generally neat people discuss “The Adventures that Shaped our Lives.” Their books include The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, Cruising in Serrafyn, The Cost Conscious Cruiser, and many more.
Sat 11, 12:30pm at Salon 107
Sun 12, 12:30pm at Salon 107
Mon 13, 2:30pm at Salon 107
Mon 13, 4:30pm at Salon 107
Tues 14, 2:30pm at Salon 107
Tues 14, 4:30pm at Salon 107
Wed 15, 2:30pm at Salon 107
Wed 15, 5pm at Salon 107

 

John Neal & Amanda Swan Neal

International cruisers, sailors, and authors discuss how to prepare for your voyage, storm tactics, diesels, and selecting a boat.
Sat 11, 11am at Presentation Theatre
Sat 11, 2pm at Presentation Theatre
Mon 13, 1pm at Presentation Theatre
Mon 13, 3:30pm at Salon 107

 

Herb McCormick

The former editor-in-chief of Cruising World magazine and yachting correspondent for the New York Times, Herb McCormick is an accomplished offshore sailor who has raced and cruised from above the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, and countless places in between.
Sat 11, 3:30pm at Salon 107
Sun 12, 3pm at Salon 107

 

Paul & Sheryl Shard

Distant-ShoresNautical Mind favourites Paul & Sheryl are the award winning hosts of Distant Shores inform on Sailing in Europe and the Med.
Sat 11, 6pm at Presentation Theatre
Sun 12, 2pm at Presentation Theatre

Many More!

There will be many other authors, both at our booth and delivering seminars.  Liza Copeland, Tania Abei, Derek Hatfield, and plenty more!   For a full list, see the official Toronto Boat Show Seminar Schedule on their site (torontoboatshow.com).

 

*Times and locations are subject to change on a whim without any notice whatsoever as the boat show is a fickle and capricious beast.

Sailing Dreams Can Come True

Connie McBride, author of Simply Sailing and Eurisko Sails West: A Year in Panama writes about sailing dreams coming true:

Connie McBride

Dreams are funny things. You create them, you covet them, you venture to share them. My mother-in-law’s response to our dream of selling the house, quitting our jobs and sailing away with our three small sons was, “It’s good to have dreams, Dear.” Yes it is. It’s even better to make them come true.

When I asked our oldest son what he thought of his childhood spent sailing around the Caribbean, his words let me know that we had made the right choice in following our dreams all those years ago. “People are always telling kids that they can do anything they want, but they don’t really mean it. They mean that you can do anything that fits in their little box. But you guys taught me that there is no ‘supposed to’ and that you really can do anything. So now, when I think about what I want to do with my life, nothing is out of my reach. I really can do anything.”

The best thing about dreams is that we control them. If you can dream it, it can happen.

Sail on.

Eurisko Sails West: A Year in Panama

Eurisko Sails West: A Year in Panama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply Sailing

Simply Sailing

 

“Remember, it’s about sailing!” — Lin Pardey

Lin & Larry Pardey will be at the Toronto Boat Show this January (11th – 14th)!  Lin writes:

DSC_0019Remember, it’s about sailing!

Spring refit time finally arrived here in the southern hemisphere. With the wind down, rain holding off for a week, we set to work on the paint, the varnish. I got my scrubbing gloves on and began removing spots of mildew that marred the white of the overhead. Every day I laid out a plan for the next item I’d attack. Larry was right there with me until the sixth day. It dawned bright, clear, warm. A light breeze ruffled the water – perfect for applying a coat of varnish to the skylight. “Forget working, let’s go sailing,” Larry said, throwing a wrench into what he jokingly calls “my tidy little plans.”

“But it’s going to rain tomorrow and I’ve already sanded the forehatch,” I countered.

“If it’s going to rain tomorrow, we’d better get out sailing today,” he announced.

CAREFEEDSoon we were skimming away from the jetty. I sheeted in the jib and watched our wake straighten as our forward momentum gave the rudder traction. For the next few hours I forgot about spring refit and was reminded of the rule we’d made many years before when we were outfitting our very first offshore cruising boat together – no matter how long the list, clean the boat up, and get out sailing every two weeks. We’d learned getting out sailing as we outfitted or prepped for a voyage, we can see if our upgrades really worked, check to see if we’d forgotten to put something on the list, maybe even cross some things off as we found they weren’t really necessary. But even more important, getting out sailing served to remind us why we were doing all of this work. That was years ago, and Larry was right, it was the perfect choice this time too. (And by the way, it didn’t rain for three days so the varnish got done too.)

 

My Lake Freighter Adventure on the Kaministiqua

I recently joined my boyfriend, and sometimes Nautical Mind employee, Rhys Weed [Rhys's excellent Transport Canada Exam guide is here - Ed.] at work for a week. For some people this would seem like a mundane opportunity, however for me this meant an exciting adventure on the Great Lakes on a 223 metre lake freighter named the Kaministiqua.

Helmsman Rhys Weed plying his trade.

Wheelsman Rhys Weed plying his trade.

Over the past two years Rhys has been employed by Lower Lakes Towing, a company with 12 vessels hauling a variety of materials including, wheat and canola seed, across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Up until now, my interactions with the freighters had been limited to dropping Rhys off in the Welland Canal to join the ship, tracking the ship’s daily whereabouts on AIS and hearing his accounts of life onboard. Now, I would get to see what on the boat was like first hand. Continue reading

Join Us This Weekend at the Port Credit Boat Show!

The Port Credit in-water Boat Show! will be held this Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Aug 23-25) at the Port Credit Harbour Marina. This year, for the first time ever, we’ll be there each day with a heap of our great books and boat show specials.

Come, smell the excitement!

We’ll be also joined by a bunch of great authors like Paul & Sheryl Shard, Rob MacLeod, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, and more.  The timetable for the many informative scheduled seminars is here.

So come on down, check out some neat boats, hear some tips and tales, and pick up some cheap gear and great books.  Hope to see you there!

Port-Credito

 

“Why we go to Cuba” — Capt Cheryl Barr

Cheryl Barr, author of the Yacht Pilot’s Guide to Cuba has written a series of blog posts for us about Cuba.  Here’s the first of three, Why we go to Cuba:

Having sailed to Cuba more than a dozen times, I am frequently asked, “Why do you go to Cuba year-in, year-out?” The quick answer is “It is warmer than Canada in the winter, it’s an easy sail across the Gulf Stream and Cuba has amazing “theatre of the street”. But Cuba is so much more than this.  

Cuba’s land area is greater than half the Caribbean islands combined and it has a population of 11 million. As a result, it offers so much more than anywhere else in the Caribbean. For many years it has been a friendly place for Canadians to travel—almost 2 million fly-in tourists arrive annually. Canadians are issued a 3-month tourist visa which is renewable for an additional 3-months while all other nationals receive only a 1 month visa.  

Continue reading

3 Tips to Get More out of your Mainsail

In his second in the Mastering Basic Sailing and Cruising Skills series, author Rob Macleod writes:

Just after acquiring Sojourn, a 1981 CS36 Traditional, it became apparent we were going to have to get a new mainsail. Since the mainsail is the primary sail for the boat, I wanted a well-cut, easy to handle cruising sail. Putting any of the newer, high-performance materials aside, we chose a Dacron cruising sail. The manufacturer was a major consideration, but more importantly for me was a sail that I could control the shape of the sail using the existing control lines: halyard, mainsheet, outhaul, Cunningham and reef lines. I wanted a sail that I could hoist myself, had 2 deep reefs and would drop quickly when I released the halyard. So you can see that boom and mast furling were not on my shopping list.

The primary reason for not selecting a furling sail was the loss control of some aspects of sail control (furling sails tend not to have battens) and loss of the some sail area (furling sails also lose the roach or back edge of the sail). We selected a sail with traditional battens.

Understand that sail selection is very personal. Some people will give up a little control for convenience and, in this case, we were willing to give up some convenience (furling) for shape and control. We have installed, and are still fiddling with, a lazy jack system to capture the sail when it is lowered to keep the sail off the deck and prevent it from obstructing the view from the helm.

The 3 tips for better sail handling of a traditional mainsail are:

1. Ensure the sail can be hoisted and doused easily and quickly; this includes being able to hoist the sail to full height by hand, without the assistance of a winch (I will cover furling and unfurling in a future blog)  Ergasia5

2. Ensure all of the controls that are hold holding the sail down are released before hoisting and then re-set them once the sail is set

3. Trim the sail according to wind and wave requirements – the 2 primary settings are for power and for speed

Easy hoisting

Main-1-LuffMy mast is 52’ 10” off the water. I know that for a fact,  because I once tried to go under a bridge that was only 50’ off the water. Oops.

I am able to hoist my mainsail to full hoist (not to full tension) by hand. In Basic and Sailing Skills, I cover hoisting the mainsail in general terms. Each boat is different and it is important to adapt the process to your particular needs and situation. Mary, my wife and sailing partner can raise the mainsail most of the way by hand and has to use the halyard winch for the last 15 feet or so. I’ll come back to using a winch.

I start by steering the boat just off the wind (10 – 20 degrees) with the wind over the starboard side, to keep the sail away from the main halyard and the main halyard winch. I will usually pull the sail at least half way up before wrapping the halyard once around the winch. About that time, the weight of the mainsail on the halyard needs to be carried by the resistance of the winch. I then continue hoisting the sail by hand until it is fully hoisted. Then, and only then, do I use the winch handle to complete the hoist.

Main-2-WinchI see many sailors winching the sail up from the beginning. This tends to keep your eyes down on the winch rather than up on the sail. By hoisting by hand and watching your sail, you will see if a sail slug or slide gets jammed, if you left a reef line in last time you sailed or if you forgot to take the last sail tie off before hoisting. The power of a winch in low gear can overcome resistance caused by any of these oversights, and the result is usually a torn sail.

Main-3-HoistIf the sail does not go all the way to the top (usually indicated by a piece of black tape around the mast) there is often something holding it down. And that brings us to step 2.

Sail controls

Few sailors let off the outhaul, downhaul and boom vang after lowering their mainsail. The only one of these three that does not lose its tension when the halyard is lowered is the outhaul. The other two pull against the halyard tension to do their work so they automatically lose tension. Please refer to Basic Sailing and Cruising Skills (or other learn-to-sail book if you don’t have mine yet) for a more detailed explanation of the basics each of these sail controls.

 

Main-4-VangBy letting off the boom, outhaul, Cunningham (or downhaul) and the mainsheet before hoisting the mainsail, you are releasing any impediment to the hoist. This also goes for reefing lines and sail ties. With nothing holding the sail down, it is much easier to hoist it up.

When hoisting, if the sail catches up on something, investigate, especially early in the season. Look for objects that are jammed in the slot the sail slugs go into, or for dents on the sail track the slides attached to. When we first took ownership of Sojourn, we had a terrible time trying to tension and release the outhaul and reef lines. The next spring, we took the mast down (the boat had been stored with the mast up for the several years). We took the boom apart and were surprised to find multiple bird’s nests in the boom. After cleaning the boom out the controls worked just fine. The importance of hoisting the sail by hand is you discover these problems.

Trim for conditions – power or speed

Main-5-AirplanesA good friend of mine, and a fellow instructor, Peter Juryn (who now sails out of Nepean Sailing Club in the Ottawa area) taught me the basics of when we flatten the sail and when we want it full.

Image, if you will, two airplanes sitting on parallel runways, ready to take off. One is a CF-18 jet fighter and the other is a 747-cargo plane. Which one is built for power and which one for speed? I think the answer if fairly obvious. If we look at the wing cross section of each plane, you see that the CF-18’s wing is fairly flat. The lift comes from the jet engine propelling the plane at such high speed, that lift just happens. The 747 on the other hand, has a substantial curve in its wing. Because of the enormous weigh the cargo plane has to lift off the ground, it requires this great curved surface to produce lift at much lower speeds than the jet fighter.

Our mainsail is capable of being adjusted for either power or speed. In light air and relatively flat water, we need a lot of lift in the mainsail, so we tension our mainsail to induce a well-curved surface. The 3 primary controls for the mailsail are the main halyard, the outhaul and the mainsheet. Secondary controls are the Cunningham or downhaul, the boomvang and the traveler. Let‘s deal with the primary controls.

Main Halyard
  1. Hoist has far as you can by hand
  2. Using your winch and winch handle, tighten until a single vertical wrinkle appears in the luff of the sail
  3. Secure the halyard
  4. If more tension is required, use the Cunningham or down haul, continuing to hoist may jam the sail at the top of the mast
Outhaul
  1. Once the sail is hoisted, tension the outhaul until a shelf develops in the foot, if the full length of sail is attached to the boom – then ease the tension keeping the foot under tension (if the sail is loose footed, this is a little more difficult to see)
 Main-5-Full
Mainsheet
  1. Once the luff (halyard) and foot (outhaul) are tensioned, bear away from the wind until the sail fills
  2. Trim and sail on a close reach course
  3. Continue to adjust the 3 controls until the sail is drawing well and the boat is moving through the water

 

From what I observe on the water almost every summer weekend, occasional sailors tend to set their sails once and leave them set that way for the season. I am not suggesting the need to be constantly tweaking the adjustment like you would on a performance racing sailboat. The rule for cruising sailors is:

“Let it out ‘til it luffs; bring it in still it (the luffing) stops.”

The corollary to that is:

“If in doubt, let it out!”

The killer of sailboat performance, and therefore your enjoyment of your boat is too much tension.

Next time we will cover the secondary controls.

Please post your comments on the blog and we are open to suggestions for future blogs.

Enjoy your boat,

Rob MacLeod
rob@informedboater.com
www.InformedBoater.com

John Henry on Steamships

John Henry, author of Great White Fleet: Celebrating Canada Steamships Lines Passenger Ships reflects on “How [He] Learned to Love Canada Steamship Lines and Its Passenger Steamers”:

Great White Fleet: Celebrating Canada Steamships Lines Passenger ShipsGrowing up on the shores of Lake Erie in the 1940s and 1950s, I developed a passion for lake and river passenger steamers that has never left me. In the early postwar years, you could still take overnight trips every summer aboard the massive paddlewheel vessels that plied between my hometown, Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit. And take them I did — no fewer than four times in five years.

As my interest in such travel deepened, I inevitably learned about the biggest inland-water steamboat operator of all: Canada Steamship Lines of Montreal, whose elegant passenger ships could be found in ports all the way from Duluth, Minnesota, in the continental heartland at the western end of Lake Superior, to the lower St. Lawrence River, east of Quebec City. Unfortunately, I managed to take only one of these steamers, the beautiful Cayuga on the Toronto-Niagara run — and that was after C.S.L. had sold her. But I always wanted to know more about what I had missed before the company ended all passenger service in 1965.

Hoopes donation, Musée de Charlevoix

Hoopes donation, Musée de Charlevoix

The opportunity to do so came after reading that Canada Steamship Lines had donated thousands of historic photographs and hundreds of boxes of its archival material to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston, Ont. So, during a two-year period, I repeatedly visited the museum to do research for what I envisioned would be a copiously illustrated hardcover book on C.S.L.’s dozens of passenger ships (known collectively as the “Great White Fleet” because of their spotless white paint jobs). And I gathered vintage pictures from other sources, including the esteemed Toronto marine historian Jay Bascom, whose C.S.L. collection has to be among the finest in Canada.

The result is Great White Fleet: Celebrating Canada Steamship Lines Passenger Ships, timed to coincide with the centennial of the company’s creation in June 1913. Flourishing still, C.S.L. operates bulk carriers on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence; other units of its parent, CSL Group Inc., operate similar ships around the globe. But I saw the centennial also as a fitting occasion to revisit the wonderful fleet of passenger ships that the company fielded for more than half its existence and that raised its profile in a very positive way.

It’s time to celebrate that delightful part of Canada’s transportation heritage as well!

1-13Niag-To-Sea