The Cruising Sailor

The Cruising Sailor

Other Format(Spiral Bound - Comb-Bound)

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Tom Dove has written this highly entertaining book to help the novice and seasoned sailor through the realm of sailing and sailboats.

The books begins with the basics and continues through to long, live aboard cruising considerations. Practical knowledge is interspersed with tales of cruising aboard a sailboat, relaying what can be expected from each step along the way.

In these pages, Tom has relived his life on the water, bringing out the best the cruising life has to offer, along with a few sobering thoughts of real world cruising.

This book is a learning experience for all who read it. Tom explains a well planned process for choosing the right boat the first time or stepping up to the next level in the cruising lifestyle. He also explains many of the procedures of boat building and how these affect the final product, so elegantly portrayed in the brochures. The myths are gone and the truth is examined in a manner everyone will understand and enjoy.

Tom has spent most of his life enjoying the pleasures sailing has to offer and this book is a compilation of those years of experience. It is a book which will truly entertain you as you learn from its pages. Illustrated.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781892216151
Publisher: Bristol Fashion Publications
Publication date: 02/01/1999
Edition description: Comb-Bound
Pages: 140
Product dimensions: 5.97(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.45(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1:

Talking About Boats

Every field has its specialized terminology. While the language of sailing seems complex at first, it is far simpler than, computers or gourmet cooking -- and more colorful, even when the sailor isn't swearing. Absorb the concepts and words and you'll be able to mingle with folks at any cruising get-together in the world.


How big is a boat? That depends on how you measure it. The external dimensions are length, beam (width) and draft (depth), but there's more to it.


Most builders identify their boat by the length overall (LOA), so you will see advertisements for a Beneteau 30, a Catalina 30, or a Hunter 30: all are approximately 30 feet LOA. One current marketing trend is to add zeroes, so a 32-footer becomes a "320" or a "3200," while other builders try to stand out from the crowd by adding a third digit to indicate fractions of a foot, making a 36.5 - foot craft a "365." A few use metric designations, like "105" for an LOA of 10.5 meters (just over 34 feet), while even in some fiercely metric countries like France, boat lengths are often given in feet.

The length on deck (LOD) is actually a more representative dimension and it may not be the same as the LOA. One 22-foot LOD boat has a six-foot bowsprit which makes its LOA 28 feet and another 32-foot LOD cruiser's anchor platform sticks out to make an LOA of 34 feet. That's rarely a problem, although marina slip rentals are often priced by the foot, based on the LOA.

In this book, I consider boats from 20-28 feet LOD to be small, those from 28-36 feet mid-sized and those from 36-45 feet large. Most vessels much larger than 45 feet are unwieldy for handling by one or two people, although there are some interesting exceptions. There's plenty of overlap among these three categories; new 28-footers often have as much space as older 32-footers and both should properly be called "mid-sized."

The best indication of interior space is the length on the waterline (LWL). Since the cabin floor space, the furniture and most of the stowage areas are near the waterline, the available room inside a 30-foot LWL boat will be significantly greater than in one with a 27-foot LWL, although both may be 35 feet LOA. The 30-foot LWL boat will also have a higher potential speed for reasons related to the physics of wave making. More on that later.


The stated beam is generally the maximum width (extreme beam) of the hull, although sometimes the waterline beam is listed as well. Not only is the overall beam important when you're trying to squeeze the boat into a narrow marina slip, but this number can tell you about its stability, interior space and sailing qualities, when taken together with the other principal dimensions.

A beamy boat will have much more interior space than a narrow vessel and modern designs have pushed beam to its limits. Part of this design trend is to carry the maximum beam well aft, almost to the stern, creating a large cockpit. Doing this also makes it possible to squeeze an aft cabin under the cockpit seats of boats as small as 28 feet LOA, but at the expense of stowage space for sails, fenders and lines.

A big, beamy cockpit creates problems of its own. Sailors under 5'6" should check carefully to see if they can brace their feet when the boat heels. My wife spent a bruising week on a friend's boat bouncing around the wide cockpit because there were no footrests to keep her from sliding off the seat.

Old, heavy displacement designs usually had small cockpits, often little more than foot wells. Traditional designers knew there was a danger of being "pooped" by breaking waves in storms offshore and a big cockpit could hold enough water to sink the boat. The current trend is toward large cockpits with huge drains, so any water that does come aboard sloshes back out just as fast. The hottest racing craft eliminate the transom entirely so waves can sweep the deck or the cockpit without causing permanent damage. It's uncomfortable to have your ankles in water whenever it's rough. It is best to develop your own preferences as you talk to sailors who have both kinds of boats and gain experience on a variety of vessels.


Draft, the distance from the waterline to the bottom of the keel, determines how deep the water must be to keep the boat afloat and that's important. One oysterman said of the Chesapeake Bay, "There's lots of water out there, but some of it's spread a mite thin." The same is true of the southeast coast of the U.S., the Bahamas and many other interesting cruising grounds. While deep draft boats usually have more storage space, greater ultimate stability and slightly better performance to windward than shoal draft (shallow) boats, coastal cruisers willingly trade some of those qualities for the ability to creep into cozy coves.

Not much is usually said about air draft, (overhead clearance), but it is as important as water draft where bridges are plentiful, such as in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). I knew one man who traded up for larger and larger boats over the years, finally ending up with a big, beautiful vessel with a mast so tall he couldn't get under the fixed bridges that crossed his favorite rivers. When I last saw him, he had gone back to a 40-footer with a reasonable mast height. Think ahead when you consider water and air draft. Perhaps you are cruising Maine now, where the bridges are few and the water is deep, but what if you decide to go south for the winter one year?

Major waterways usually have bridge and overhead cable clearances of at least 55 feet, but there are exceptions; the St. Johns river and the Okeechobee Waterway in Florida are two scenic routes with limited overhead clearance. A tall mast will also keep you from enjoying the best sailing waters of Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.

One pretty cruise is up the Hudson river, through the New York State Barge Canal and into the Great Lakes; it's the famous Erie canal route of history and song. For canal cruising like this, you need a simple way to lower the mast to sneak under low bridges and such an arrangement makes mast and rigging maintenance easier, as well.


What People are Saying About This

Davis Main

It may be an oxymoron, but Tom Dove's book, The Cruising Sailor, is a great little book. The author's aim is "to introduce newcomers to cruising under sail, although experienced sailors will find useful information and a bit of entertainment." And that is exactly what he has done.

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