Practical Seamanship / Edition 1

Practical Seamanship / Edition 1

by David S Yetman

ISBN-10: 189221637X

ISBN-13: 9781892216373

Pub. Date: 09/05/2000

Publisher: Bristol Fashion Publications

Anyone who has spent time at an anchorage, a marina, beside a channel or at a harbor entrance quickly realizes a great many people operating power boats are relatively new to the sport and are still coping with the learning process.

The need to know why boats handle as they do and how those conditions can be overcome or used to an advantage is the reason for this


Anyone who has spent time at an anchorage, a marina, beside a channel or at a harbor entrance quickly realizes a great many people operating power boats are relatively new to the sport and are still coping with the learning process.

The need to know why boats handle as they do and how those conditions can be overcome or used to an advantage is the reason for this book. Starting with the basics - every action has an equal and opposite reaction - and working up through thrust, windage, currents, center of gravity, hull shape and beyond, Practical Seamanship provides the knowledge in simple terms and clear illustrations.

David's goal is not to make every reader a blue-water cruiser, but to provide the basics to help them handle their boats in a knowledgeable, responsible manner, backed up by a recognition of what the boating community expects from them (and why) while they are on the water. The text touches upon lines, rigging, equipment, boat design, rules and courtesy, but only where they impact the main theme, becoming a good and safe boater.

From the Author: As TechStar approached the marina, her skipper did a careful visual check of the traffic conditions in the harbor, then reached over to the mouse in the navigation station and used it to select the docking icon on the computer display. Satisfied that his selection had registered, he turned and walked back to the cockpit to join his guests as the boat continued toward shore.

The navigational computer responded by tapping into the data bus that linked all of the boat's instruments and began gathering information in preparation for docking. Radar reported no traffic in the way; the GPS verified the location; analysis of the video images of the dock indicated that the space was clear and the weather station on the mast chimed in with wind speed and direction data. The computer instructed the engine controllers to reduce the boat's forward speed; it adjusted the rudders' angle to compensate for the current in the outgoing tide, then began to pulse the bow and stern thrusters on and off to position the boat in proper alignment as it neared the dock. After a nearly imperceptible application of reverse thrust brought the boat to a stop, a muted alarm sounded to alert the skipper that it was time to drop the fenders into position and secure the dock lines. Until he did, the computer held the boat in position - two feet from the dock face - based on the input from a series of tiny sonar transducers which transmitted distance information from their position along the vessel's waterline.

That description of automated docking may seem like science fiction, but it is fiction only because no one has bothered to do it yet. The good news is that all of the technologies already exist and it is only a matter of time until someone puts them all together on a boat. The bad news is that the first implementation will, almost certainly, be on a high-priced megayacht and it will be years before the cost of the technology comes down to the point where it is affordable for smaller boats. Until then, boat owners will have to continue to wrestle with wind, tide and the uncertainties of handling boats as they always have.

Seamanship encompasses many skills and activities. It includes knowledge of piloting, navigation, lines and knots, weather wisdom, communication and maintenance, much of which is acquired through experience and, therefore, difficult to teach in a tutorial. Knowledge about another important aspect of seamanship - boat handling - is also experience-based, but learning it can be helped considerably by an understanding of how the boat and its systems work. That is where Practical Seamanship comes in.

Practical seamanship � handling a boat at slower speeds - especially in tight quarters or in adverse conditions, is a skill that separates the tyros from the pros. Its challenges are such that even the most experienced skipper can run into problems or get embarrassed on occasion. I was on the Casco Bay ferry, ISLAND HOLIDAY, a couple of years ago as it approached the dock at Little Diamond Island, Maine, one of the many stops on its route. The captain had, obviously, misjudged the conditions, because he came in so fast even a last-minute application of full-throttle power in reverse couldn't prevent a jarring collision that rattled the wooden pier and nearly toppled the passengers waiting there. Fortunately, the only damage was to the captain's ego, so I can admit that I derived some satisfaction from his error. If a pro, who had stopped at that same dock hundreds of times, could have such a problem, then I shouldn't feel badly about entertaining the locals with an occasionally, inelegant approach of my own.

The information in Practical Seamanship will not guarantee that you will never suffer the embarrassment of a misjudged docking attempt, but it will provide you with an understanding of the forces at work, how different propulsion systems affect your ability to maneuver the boat and how you can use their capabilities to your advantage. There are separate sections on single-screw inboard and twin-screw boats that outline areas where their performance differs from outboard or stern-drive boats (which, together, comprise the majority of pleasure craft in use today). In all cases, the emphasis is on slow-speed handling, docking - both coming and going, anchoring and things to look out for while under way.

Practical Seamanship is based on the hard-won practical experience of someone who has made far more than his share of boat-handling errors along the way - some comical, some not. I hope it will help you avoid a few of your own.

My thanks to Newport's (formerly Newburyport's) Dick Fredrickson for his thoughtful review of my manuscript.

Author Biography: Dave Yetman is a lifelong New Englander who's spent most of his adult life within sight of the water and comes by his nautical interests quite naturally. His seafaring ancestors include Labrador fishermen and lighthouse keepers and a Cape Cod grandfather who was an inventor and shipbuilder and noted for his models of historic New England lighthouses.

His own career has been in mechanical design and engineering, first as an entrepreneur and later as an engineering manager for an international technology company. He's been awarded patents for a wide range of devices, from motorcycle frames to biomedical laboratory instruments and enjoys applying his talents to his boats, which usually end up in a highly customized state.

His work has been widely published in the boating press and was recognized with an awards in the 1997 and 1999 Boating Writers International writing competition. His articles, photography and technical illustrations have been published in Boating World, Lakeland Boating, Motorboating & Sailing, Offshore, Power & Motoryacht, Sail, Soundings, Trailer Boats and Yachting magazines. He has three books to his credit: "The Boaters' Book of Nautical Terms", "Practical Seamanship" and "Modern Boatworks".

Dave and his wife, Pat enjoy cruising the New England coast on CURMUDGEON, their Albin Tournament Express convertible.

Product Details

Bristol Fashion Publications
Publication date:
Edition description:
Comb Bound
Product dimensions:
0.28(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 7: DOCKING: Preparing to Dock, Docking Under Various Conditions, Docking Abeam, Docking in a Beam Wind, Docking With Wind or Current on the Bow, Docking With Wind or Current on the Stern, Docking in Limited Space, Drive-In or Back-In Slips, Docking Single-Handed
Chapter 10: UNDERWAY
Chapter 12: TRIM TABS
Chapter 13: ANCHORING
Chapter 14: DOCKHAND 101
Appendix A: GLOSSARY
Publication Credits
About The Author

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