Friday, February24, 2017


Articles for Boat Owners

Analysis of A Tack (using GPS)

This article is an analysis of a single tack. It uses GPS tracking data to calculate the current and from that to calculate the expected tacking angle. That is compared to the actual tacking angle to see why two additional tacks were required. The boat that is the subject of this analysis is not pictured to the left, but that is a pretty boat isn't it?

The upwind leg is the leg of interest. We are analyzing the third from the last tack before the mark rounding. We want to know why the boat was not able to make the mark without the last two tacks. The ultimate goal is to come up with better on the water tools for calculating laylines when there is current.

Small Things Big Wins

Do you ever wonder what the big difference is between the boats that consistently finish in the front of the fleet and the boats that don't? Sure, sometimes it is just one or two big things; maybe a brand new set of sails while your struggle along with sails 5 or 6 years old, or maybe you think they have some uncanny way of always being on the correct side of the next shift. But after years of racing in all kinds of fleets I can tell you without a doubt that 95% of the time it is nothing so simple but yet something that can be easily attained. The magic factor is really a combination of a whole lot of small things that add up to a big difference and a big winning percentage.

Knives on a Boat

Are you still using an old warn out knife? When I found it time for a new knife, I was amazed how much knives have changed. I recently purchased about half a dozen new knives as I explored the field adding to the way too many knives I already had. I scored the Internet for recommendations. I read reviews on Amazon. I tried knives at the local WestMarine (none were acceptable). In the end there were 5 knives I liked and would recommend. There are also whole classes of knives I would stay away from. This article will take you through the thought process and hopefully help you find the perfect knife for your application.

Boating Electrical ABCs

Many sailors I know find their boat's electrical system daunting. The very same people who will tinker with practically every mechanical device on their vessel, will for some reason, shy away from the electrical side of things. Perhaps this view is shaped by those salty-dog authors who dismiss electrical systems as new fangled, and prefer stinky kerosene instead. Or perhaps, sailors have forgotten their high-school science, although it is hardly more complicated than Ohm's Law. Regardless, you have nothing to fear, as electrical systems are very straightforward and equally reliable when properly maintained.

Basics of Sailboat Raceing

This articles has been floating around the web and reprinted by some yacht clubs. It is an "introduction" to sailboat racing. It claims to be simple but is a bit more detailed than a typical introduction to racing. As far as I know, Captain Kangaroo is a fictional TV character from my youth but that is the author sited in the article. The pictures included in the article on the web are included but are enough to frighten anyone out of every trying racing. If you are new to racing, please do not assume these pictures are anything but the most extreme pictures the...

Velocity Headers

I don't think there is a subject so misunderstood than velocity headers. They can take an entire fleet and get them to all stop dead in the water where a boat that recognizes what it going on can sail right through them. I know because I have done it. We went from last to first to finish in a fleet where we were neither the biggest, fastest, or lightest boat and yet there they all were stopped as we went right by, sails luffing away.

Unassisted Mast Climbing

Six methods to climb a mast unassisted are reviewed including a modification of mountain climbing techniques adapted to climbing a mast that has the best score of all six. This articles represents many weeks of testing and improving the techniques presented. It is the result of over 20 years of frustration with trying to find the ideal unassisted mast climbing technique. The ideal method would be safe, easy to climb, use a single line, and allow one to get to all sides of the mast and spreader tips as well as getting over the top of the mast.

How to Fly a Spinnaker

Updated 6/9/2014
This 8 page tutorial covers all the terms, positions, and tasks of flying a symmetric spinnaker using the end for end gybe technique.

How to Point Higher

NOTE: This is an article I wrote for our local yacht club newsletter.

I have been racing at SPYC for 5 years and that represents almost all my racing experience. I am thankful to the club for this experience and it has helped me a great deal to become a better racer. I am also grateful to other skippers who are far better racers than I will ever be for sharing many insights and tips on sailing. While I do not consider myself an expert racer, I would like to continue the tradition...

More Low Friction Rings

In the first article of this series we gave results on using fairleads and showed how the added friction is not significant with low deflection angles. In this article we consider using low friction and other standard rings with high deflections and analyze how these can be used in systems to provide simple and inexpensive mechanical advantage. Again we used the digital scale shown on the right to make the measurements. This scale reads up to 220 pounds with 1/2 pound resolution.

Fairlead Friction Explained

Have you ever wondered hom much, if anything, you are giving up by using fairleads instead of blocks? How much friction is there. How does this compare with a block? Does the style of the fairlead matter? This article attempts to answer these questions.

Jibsheet Fairlead

Do you find that you get wraps on your jib winches or just want give a better lead angle to the winch? In the last race we did, a new crew member got a wrap so tight that the only way to release it was to cut the sheet with a knife. We strung the lazy sheet to the secondary winch and took the pressure off but that was not enough to free the wrap, that is when the knife came out. The winch manufacturer recommends between 3 and 8 degrees as the ideal sheeting angle.

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The information on this web site has not been checked for accuracy. It is for entertainment purposes only and should be independently verified before using for any other reason. There are five sources. 1) Documents and manuals from a variety of sources. These have not been checked for accuracy and in many cases have not even been read by anyone associated with I have no idea of they are useful or accurate, I leave that to the reader. 2) Articles others have written and submitted. If you have questions on these, please contact the author. 3) Articles that represent my personal opinions. These are intended to promote thought and for entertainment. These are not intended to be fact, they are my opinions. 4) Small programs that generate result presented on a web page. Like any computer program, these may and in some cases do have errors. Almost all of these also make simplifying assumptions so they are not totally accurate even if there are no errors. Please verify all results. 5) Weather information is from numerious of sources and is presented automatically. It is not checked for accuracy either by anyone at or by the source which is typically the US Government. See the NOAA web site for their disclaimer. Finally, tide and current data on this site is from 2007 and 2008 data bases, which may contain even older data. Changes in harbors due to building or dredging change tides and currents and for that reason many of the locations presented are no longer supported by newer data bases. For example, there is very little tidal current data in newer data bases so current data is likely wrong to some extent. This data is NOT FOR NAVIGATION. See the XTide disclaimer for details. In addition, tide and current are influenced by storms, river flow, and other factors beyond the ability of any predictive program.