But there you go: the butterfly effect of small decisions leading to large change strikes again. Another side effect of being a newbie sailor at the end of the '90s was being an avid consumer of the monthly glossy sailing magazines of the day. In 2013, I subscribe to Practical Sailor and Ocean Navigator only, but both are at the point where the return on investment in time and subscription fees is nearly zero: between doing my own sailing and working at a so-called career, at parenting or at boat restoration, and given the value I place on more interactive contact with better sailors online, perusing even the decent sailing magazines is for me getting less attractive. I have a small stack awaiting me at the breakfast table, but there's never enough time, or so it seems, to read their shiny pages.
Looking good and weighing less
Not that they aren't well-produced: Graphically, both PS and ON look fantastic, particularly ON's writer-supplied shots of distant anchorages in ridiculously high-numbered latitudes. My knowledge of print production means I know that they are produced at a lower cost and with fewer staff than in the past. Content-wise, however, there is simply less text and more ads for underbuilt, too beamy dock queens. These days, I find my remaining sailing magazines subscriptions indifferently edited, either because they let Microsoft Word do it, or because even the editor in charge can't recognize errors in English composition any more. I used to be a copy editor, too; think "designated grammar/spelling Nazi". It's the publishing equivalent of a buggy-whip maker: not a job worth paying for, whether you require it or not.
Back in the day, however, my favourites were Cruising World and Sail, both still extant. In one sense, I grew out of them as I had my own sailing experiences and made (and, it is hoped, learned from) my own bone-headed decisions at the tiller. In another sense, they grew away from me. Recently, I picked up in my boat club lobby the May 1994 issue of Cruising World, which came out exactly five years before I began sailing in earnest (or in Lake Ontario).
|Large format and chock-full of content. Even the ads seemed educational.|
I was struck by several things: the length of the articles, the depth and breadth of the seamanship discussed (this was at the dawn of affordable GPS rigs and therefore pilotage techniques and celestial navigation were still used and respected), and the pretty much equal focus on new boat reviews and the care and repair of the older boats it was clearly assumed most of the readership of that time would own.
|These days, would the article read "New app for locating a sail-furling repair tech using your iPhone 5"?|
There was apparently, to judge by the tone of many of the articles, also the assumption running through many of these articles that not only should the aspiring boater (whether coastal or offshore) know a wide range of seamanlike techniques and repair skills, they would want to know such things: Calling in a consultant or repair person would be, if not an outright moral failing, a case of last resort. The option of hitting a big red "HELP" button was in the future, although realistically, even today, more than a couple of hundred NMs offshore is beyond the range of most countries rescue services, where such services even exist.
|But this...this could be manual labour! Where's the A/C remote control?|
|So long ago, Beth and Evans were newbies.|
To the right in the "Helpful, Strange or Irrelevant" portion of the blog is the website address of Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger, who have been sailing for ages, and have been profitably (one assumes) writing about it. Beth wrote The Voyager's Handbook, which is a methodical and clear exploration of nearly every aspect of offshore planning, preparation and costing out, while Evans is also a writer, lecturer and a regular contributor to various sailing forums. I like their ideas and have had a bit of email/forum back and forth with Evans, who is pretty humble and still questioning even after two very accomplished circs.
In this May, 1994, article, however, he and Beth are relatively new offshore sailors in a tight spot with bad weather. They clearly list where and why things start going wrong...at a length inconceivable in a current magazine as attention spans have grown gnat-like...and their article's points are then critiqued at the end by a more experienced sailor.
Holy crap. The best article I've read on sailing to Bermuda in bad weather is 19 years old. It's one of the better things I've ever read outside of the first-wave cruising narratives of the Smeetons and Hiscockses. Boats change and sailors change. Our technology changes. The ocean, less so. Perhaps we may reconsider from time to time as we go forward that which we have left behind.
In which the blogger again advocates salvage as the key to cheaper cruising.
Speaking of which, I have long noted that people chuck things out at boat clubs all the time. From a locker at our club one step removed from the dumpster, I have retrieved perhaps too much stuff from the boats of others, including all of the mandatory foam-vest PFDs (some clearly never worn) I require for Valiente to be legal; lengths of tinned wire; new SS nuts and bolts...unopened in their packages (!); vast lengths of line (wash once in net bag, use as needed); light bulbs and cabin fixtures of every description; safety gear in new shape; boat hooks; winch handles; several fenders requiring only a power-wash; all manner of serviceable clips, shackles, brackets and small blocks; and truly impressive amounts of superannuated navigational gear. Don't get me started on the books!
|Free to me: Unlike an eBook, may be read by oil lamp.|
|Built like a tank, like the teak box it came in.|
A small sampling of recent acquisitions bears this out.
|Suunto hand-bearing compass: More portable and more accurate than my Davis "pistol grip" type, and I use these for pilotage.|
|Quite illuminating, I thought.|
|Used extensively this season to test conduits, and now fit for house "blackout" lanterns|
|I neglected to get a picture of the tossed pump, but it resembles this.|
|The mother of all spreader lights, or something that would work in the engine compartment?|
|Awww...it's the Cabin Boy's First Sextant.|
|The bit I can use is to the right|
|Apparently, sharks have been known to eat the trailing parts.|
Even if it involves a spot of garbage picking, or as I prefer to think of it, liberation from the dustbin of history.