Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't Stretch After Running

Laser Girls for Friday

Gold fleet start in the Laser Radial Women's Worlds currently being sailed in Japan.

What's that you say? You can't see the girls?

Ah, but you know they are female sailors because of those little red diamonds on their sails. Thank the Laser Class for that little visual aid which is such a boon for folk who tend to get confused about the difference between boys and girls.

Extreme Reaching - Lasers for Friday

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Are Sailing Coaches For?

Ideal World

Bender, in a comment to my earlier post I Love Sweden, gave an excellent definition of what the role of on-the-water coaches should be doing during regattas...

It is about observing the skills of the sailor so as to provide a future training direction. This is the true role of the coach.

Real World

The thread at the Scuttlebutt Forum about the US Optimist Nationals has several comments by observers at the regatta about some sailors apparently bailing repeatedly with an empty bailer.

Jagarth explained why and where they got the idea...

What I observed wasn't an occasional action, it was repeated 40, 50, 60 times in a row with an empty bailer, and it induced noticeable leech popping in around 8 - 10 knots of air - conditions where bailing wasn't necessary, and conditions where such actions clearly had an effect on boat speed and pointing. Those doing it were pointing higher and moving steadily to windward of those who weren't. What do you think? Is that cheating or not? I asked a couple of coaches about it afterwards and they acknowledged that they were teaching their kids to flaunt the rules whenever the judges weren't looking at them.

There are times when I despair for the future of the sport I love.

Force Five - The Next Generation

Conclusive photographic evidence that refutes, once and for all, Tillerman's former assertions that...

Photo shows Caleb Zimmerman (definitely not an old fart) sailing to victory in the Challenger Division in the recent Force Five North Americans held at Hunterdon SC in New Jersey. Photo by Anne Freeman.

I Love Sweden

How can regatta organizers clamp down on the scourge of Mommy Boats and associated unfair and unsportsmanlike coaching of sailors during a regatta?

There's a good example in the Notice of Race for the Women's Match Race World Championship currently being held in Sweden. See below (emphasis mine).


15.1 Individual Coach Boats shall not be allowed. An individual coach boat is any boat that is under the direction or control of a person gathering information or giving material support for the benefit of particular competitors either on the water or off.

15.2 Coaches may be register during registration time as per 4.1(a) for an accreditation fee of EUR 500. This fee includes access to the same social functions as a competitor. Each team may register one coach.

Only coaches with a valid accreditation are entitled to attend official meetings (e.g. Briefing and Debriefing).

15.3 The OA may provide a combined coach boat. Only coaches registered as per 15.2 are allowed on this boat.
I love it!

I know match racing is a bit different from fleet racing but this is great stuff....
  • No individual coach boats

  • If you want a coach at the regatta at all then they must pay a hefty fee

  • We "may" let the coaches watch the races from a group boat. On the other hand we might not.
That should solve the problem!

Thanks to Scuttlebutt for drawing our attention to this excellent example.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pot Meet Kettle

We've had some fun here from time to time, at the expense of Dr. Stuart Walker, by criticizing his somewhat convoluted and turgid prose style in such posts as Unlocking the Mysterious Words of Walker and Lake Winds.

So I was amused to read the recent Chesapeake Racer Profile of Dr. Walker including an interview in which he was asked...

Do you have any sailing pet peeves?

Walker's answer had me rolling on the floor laughing...
The racing rules. To use fewer words, they keep making them more complicated. They were simpler 15 years ago before they simplified them.

Geeze! If the master of the interminable sentence and the deeply nested parenthetical clause and the triple negative finds the Racing Rules too complicated, what chance is there for the rest of us?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

We are well and truly into the dog days of summer now. On Sunday evening I looked at the weather forecast for this week and there was one common word for every day and every night... "humid". When we lived in New Jersey the radio weather forecast used to call this weather "3H's"... hazy, hot and humid. I guess Rhode Island is a bit cooler than New Jersey but it sure doesn't feel like it right now.

Just for fun I looked back at the posts I wrote about this time of year in the last four years...

In 2005 I was so exhausted by my outside activities in this weather that I actually stopped writing the blog for several weeks in late July and early August. Eventually, on August 18, I posted Phew all about how tired I was from working as a sailing instructor, training for a marathon, running a new Laser fleet, and winning my age group at the Atlantic Coasts Masters. Phew indeed! It wears me out just to re-read Phew. Wherever did I find the energy to do all that?

In 2006 I think I must have been out in the sun too much as I actually wrote a song about sailing for my last post of July. (OK, it wasn't exactly original. It was a parody of a Lennon/McCartney number.) Rereading The Ballad of Tillerman Oh No! makes me realize how crazy this weather can make you.

2007 wasn't much better. My last post of July had me consulting the doctor about voices in my head. A Time for Every Purpose actually concluded with the words, "Hmmm. I think I must have been in the sun too long last weekend."

And last year I wrote about A Bit of a Yot. That wouldn't have been so bad except that, once again, I was obviously suffering from heatstroke as I wrote it in rhyming couplets with such horrible rhymes as "alluring" and "mooring", and "buoy" and "screwy".

I'm not sure what I'm going to write about this week yet. The heat has frazzled my brain and dried up my creative juices. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Or what passes here for "normal" in the dog days of summer.

Is it hot where you are? How does this weather affect you?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Laser Sailing Blogger of the Week: Alex Mineev

Photo (c) Sean Trew (

Thanks to Alex Mineev for a great write-up of what sounds like the ultimate Laser sailing experience: nine consecutive days of racing and clinic in the Columbia River Gorge.

The full program according to the Columbia Gorge Racing Association website was
  • July 11-12 Laser District 6 Championship
  • July 13-15 Laser Performance Clinic with Brendan Casey
  • July 16 Laser Gorge Blowout
  • July 17-19 Laser Pacific Coast Championship

And check out the description of the Laser Gorge Blowout...
Experience the ultimate thrill in Laser sailing: 18 miles dead downwind from Cascade Locks to Hood River through the magnificent Columbia River Gorge. Big breeze, big waves, and jaw-dropping scenery make this ride a genuine E-ticket! Not for the faint of heart, entries are limited to sailors who have good boat handling skills and are comfortable in winds up to 25+ knots.
18 miles downwind in big breeze and waves!

Wow. How did I miss this? I know it's on the other side of the continent but if I had found out in time what this was all about I could have made the effort to do it.

Sounds like Alex had a good time.
Did I accomplish my goals? - mostly. I managed to truly enjoy the wind. I was 5th at the Blowout (although if I could avoid couple stupid mistakes I could've been 3rd). I figured out the big problem with upwind (vang) and I raced well in PCC. By the end of PCC I was actually reaching the pro kids.
Here's a pic of Brendan Casey, Australian Laser ace, two-times Radial World Champion, and head coach for the clinic, who was second in the PCC.

Photo (c) Sean Trew (

Lots more pics at Alex's article Post-Columbia Gorge. Check it out.

And if you still want more, here is a video clip of Brendan sailing downwind at the Gorge from the 2008 clinic.

That's enough Laser sailing porn for now, or my Laser-hating blogging friend Joe Rouse is going to need a stiff drink.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Laser Surfing for Saturday

Don't get turned off by the first 20-30 seconds. It gets better.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Laser Girl for Friday

Congratulations to Paige Railey on winning the European Laser Radial Women’s Championship in Denmark last week. Paige's win continues the domination of the Olympic Laser Radial class by US sailors. Paige and her US teammate Anna Tunnicliffe have, between them, won five out of six ISAF World Cup events sailed this season.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Woody Allen's Rule for Sailing Success

Woody Allen famously said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

In sailboat racing the corresponding sentiment should be, "Eighty percent of success at a regatta is finishing every race."

Nothing demonstrates this more than the results of the recent RS400 Racing Circuit event at Hayling Island Sailing Club in the UK. The report at Yachts and Yachting tells a sorry tale of challenging conditions, lap by lap attrition, a winner of one race being the only boat not to capsize, at least nine bent or broken masts, rescue services at full stretch towing disabled boats, multiple boats sailing to the wrong mark, boats sailing too many laps, only three boats showing up for the final race as the wind rose even more...

Which is where we came in. When the dust had settled and the scores tallied, the three race regatta with all races to count was won by... the only boat that finished every race. So next time you feel like packing in early or skipping a race just remember Woody Allen's rule for sailing success: finish every race.

Wait. Hayling Island SC. Isn't that where the Laser Masters Worlds will be next year? Yikes. Only 417 days to go. Better get some heavy air practice.

The Laser Sailor

The summer issue of the North American Laser Class magazine, The Laser Sailor, landed in my mailbox yesterday. I picked it up, hurried back to my favorite chair in the sun room, and quickly perused it. From back to front. Doesn't everybody read magazines that way?

Let's see what we have this quarter. Some times there's good stuff in here...

  • An article by Meka Taulbee on Cardio for Sailing. Must read this after all I've written here about how my lack of fitness is holding me back. Later.

  • A stern note to District Secretaries from our Class President about the problem of "counterfeit" sails and other equipment creeping into our class. We all know what he's talking about: the so-called "practice sails" and similar stuff that we see being used more and more at the local level.

  • Lots of reports about regattas that I didn't sail in. It's been a quiet year for me in that respect.

  • The international class newsletter is inserted in the NA magazine (as usual) and includes an excerpt from a book Be Your Own Sailing Coach. Hmmm. Might want to buy that.

  • An article by Evan Lewis on Helping you Stay Hydrated This Summer. Another must read. What can I say? I may not be the fastest Laser sailor but I bet I am the sweatiest. I need to pay attention to hydration more than most.

  • World Championship Qualification Rules. Quick check. Have they changed the way to qualify for a Masters Worlds again? Nope. Still looks like I have a good chance of securing a place for Hayling Island next year.

  • Advert for SEA hiking pants. My old pair is getting pretty ragged. Should I try a pair of those "waist lock" pants instead of the ones with those annoying shoulder straps?

  • Almost at the front of the magazine now. What's this? Looks familiar. Ohmigod. There's a whole page (apart from a quarter page ad) that is a reprint of one of my blog posts, the review of the Advanced Laser Boat Handling DVD.

Yikes. I'm famous. In the same week...

I need to go and lie down in a quiet cool place and ponder how I'm going to cope with all this sudden fame.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Blame Joe Rouse

I blame Joe Rouse...

Joe and I have this long-standing running joke where he posts stuff on his blog about Force 5 sailing and I make fun of it. I don't recall how it started. Joe knows it's only in jest. I don't hate Force 5 sailors. Some of my best friends are Force 5 sailors. Hell, I even wrote a post about Seven Reasons Why Force Fives Are Better Than Lasers.

Joe on the other hand seems to be deadly serious about mocking Laser sailors in general and me in particular on his blog in posts such as this and this and this. Joe has never written a post about Seven Reasons Why Lasers Are Better Than Force Fives.

Part of my friendly joke is that I tease Joe about how few Force 5s are actually still sailing these days. So a couple of weeks ago when Joe posted a photo that amazingly had two Force 5s in the same frame I couldn't resist being a smart ass and commenting, "I actually saw a Force 5 this week. First sighting in Rhode Island in two years living here. It was at the boat ramp when I returned from my sail on Monday."

And then someone called Mark replied and said he might have been the Force 5 sailor that I sighted. Mark described himself as a "sailing buffoon" so, sensing a kindred spirit, I started an email exchange with him and set up a date to go sailing with him on Monday of this week. Turns out that Mark wasn't actually the guy I spotted. Wow, that means there are at least two Force 5 sailors in Rhode Island. (Only joking, Joe.)

We agreed to meet at the public boat ramp in Wickford which is on the opposite side of Narragansett Bay from where I usually sail but nearer to where Mark lives. Sure enough when I rolled into the parking lot just before 1:30pm there was the "sailing buffoon" by the ramp with his Force 5 already rigged. Actually Mark turned out not to be a buffoon at all but a really friendly, interesting, smart, cool dude... for a Force 5 sailor. (Only joking Mark.)

The winds were pretty light, only around 5 to 8 knots I would guess. We sailed upwind and against the incoming tide out of the harbor. It was just after low tide and, being unfamiliar with the area and never one to follow a marked channel, I managed to run aground on the way out. I guess the Laser sailor is the sailing buffoon today.

Once out in the bay we agreed to sail upwind towards Fox Island. Mark learned to sail as a teenager but hasn't sailed much since. He recently restored his father's Force 5 and is just getting back into sailing. He seemed to have a bit of difficulty staying with me upwind so I circled back and gave him a couple of tips, based on my vast experience of having sailed a Force 5 once before. (Don't tell Joe.)

The tips seemed to help and we carried on upwind in a breeze that was slowly dying. Eventually we decided it would not be a good idea to be over two miles from the launch ramp if the breeze totally disappeared so we headed back downwind to the area just outside the harbor. Mark asked some questions about why I was heeling so much to windward on the run and I answered based on my vast knowledge of physics and aero-hydrodynamics culled from once having seen a book by Czesław Marchaj in a library.

We did some windward leeward laps around buoys for a while. There was a class of Optimists training in the same area. I just had to comment to their coach about how amused I was by the way the kids were constantly screaming and shouting at each other all the time they were racing.

"At least I know where they are," he replied.

"Yeah. Even in the fog."

I worked on my roll tacks and gybes, trying to remember what Kurt Taulbee had taught me at the Sailfit clinic in March and what Rulo said on the Advanced Laser Boat Handling DVD. I'm getting better (I think) at timing the "shoulder bump" in the tacks but there's still room for improvement. I think they'll probably write that on my gravestone... still room for improvement.

I finished off the afternoon with another long beat and run, and then suggested to Mark that we head in. The wind inside the harbor had died almost completely and I showed off my light air technique for a while as Mark took out his paddle, for which he was severely mocked by a group of little kids on the dock. It's good for them to learn early how to treat Force 5 sailors. (Only joking Mark.)

Eventually I gave up sailing myself, and stood up and rocked the boat the last hundred yards or so to the boat ramp.

Mark and I had a good chat about various stuff after sailing. He even mentioned that he reads my blog. But then he went out of his way to say how much he enjoys Joe Rouse's blog, and how one of his best friends would write a blog just like Joe's if he decided to write a blog, and how Joe's blog is full of such interesting stuff...

Damn you Joe Rouse.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Last Did You Sail?

At last somebody noticed...

This morning Smilicus left a comment asking, "Morning Tillerman. Just a quick question: If I look at your blog these days, I wonder, when last did you sail??"

Hmmm. You are right dude. This blog used to have many posts about my frequent sailing adventures... practice, racing, big regattas, little regattas... and all the many ways in which I could screw up the perfectly simple task of sailing a Laser around for a couple of hours without turning it upside down or hitting something. These days you don't read much of that here.

Smilicus has even written a post on his own blog accusing me of Laser abandonment. Perhaps that's only fair because I also gently poked fun at him here for his many excuses for not sailing.

It is true that I haven't sailed much this year. It's also true that I haven't written blog posts this year about every time I have been sailing as I did last year.

As luck would have it, Smilicus chose the perfect time (from my perspective) to ask, "When last did you sail?"

I could truthfully answer, "Yesterday."

Ha. When did you last sail Mr. Smilicus?

But what to do about this sad lack of actual writing about actual sailing by the actual Tillerman here?

  • Write a post listing the feeble excuses why I haven't written much about the times I have been sailing this year

  • Write a post listing the even more feeble excuses why I haven't sailed so much this year

  • Carry on writing about every sailing subject under the sun except my own sailing

  • Write more about my own sailing

  • Abandon this blog

  • Sell my Laser

  • Sail more

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Laser Girl for Sunday

Mathilde De Kerangat of France was the early leader in the Girl's Laser Radial fleet at the 2009 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Brazil last week, eventually finishing in third place.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Son#2 likes fishing.

Son#1 likes poking his camera or his mobile phone in your face when you are doing something photogenic. He must have lots of shots of me scowling at him.

Son#1 and Son#2 are out fishing today on a boat on Long Island Sound with some of son#2's buddies as part of son#2's bachelor party weekend.

Thanks to the technological wonders of the Blackberry, the Interwebs and Facebook, not to mention son#1's aforementioned annoying habit, here is a shot of son#2 fishing today.

Special thanks for making this possible to John McCain, Al Gore and Pete Cashmore,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Laser on Friday

Photo ©: David Eberlin
Notts County Sailing Club Laser Open
Photo shamelessly stolen from Yachts and Yachting website

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If You Don't Like This Blog Here Are Some Others You Might Like Better

Thanks to everyone who participated in this month's group writing project Write a Review. I think we had 28 entries on everything imaginable from Orei to Z, from a pirate movie to a boating consignment store. They are all listed below.

Do take the time to read some or all of them. The whole point of these efforts is to allow bloggers to showcase their writing and to help readers of this blog find other boating blogs of which they may have been previously unaware.

So get clicking...

Captain JP wins the prize for most entries, all related to his recent sailing trip in the Med...
  • Orei - "best bit: the marble bull so if that doesn't float your boat go elsewhere."

  • Koukounaries - "best bit: the peace and quiet in the evening after the day trippers have gone."

  • Steni Vala - "there really isn't much there."

  • Skopelos Town - "best bit: the view from the bar."

  • Pigadhi - "a winding down, tomorrow's the last day sort of place."
Tim Coleman had more than one shot too...

Timmynocky submitted Chepstow and District Yacht Club's 60th Annual Regatta - "Some boy racers (Jack?) were either taking it all too seriously or were worried that the beer might run out before they got back."

Sam Chapin wrote an unusual piece entitled Real View Four Tiller Man but it now seems to have disappeared from his blog. I can't think why.

Carol Anne wrote a review of the cult sailing movie Pirates of the White Sands - "the best 14 minutes you'll ever spend."

Bonnie wrote a Review of a New Sailing Blog! - "K and I have decided to sail an open 14 foot sailboat across the Pacific Ocean from California to Japan."

Steve Bodner educated us about the Z question - "To Z or not to Z? That is Z question."

Smilicus of Sailing Catch 22 opined on various online sources of sailing news in News Review
- "Yachts & Yachting: a true Sailing News Site with Reports on regattas and other news of sailing right over the globe."

Adam of Messing About in Sailboats reviewed some Summer Reading - "
Tillerman had a great idea. He has a lot of them actually." (Oops. How did that quote get selected?)

Yarg scared the bejeezuz out of us with Whitewater Rafting – The Out-of-Raft Experience - "I suggest to the guide that perhaps 360s should be limited to a horizontal plane."

Greg had a book review We the Navigators - The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific - "the book does an excellent job... of detailing how the indigenous sailors of the Pacific use only the things they can see to determine where to find land."

Tweezerman wrote a review of the magazine Practical Sailor - "the only thing they don't do well is give me a heads up on what items will be on sale at the Annapolis Sailboat Show."

Thomas Armstrong submitted a review of Nic Compton's biography of IainOughtred, A Life in Wooden Boats with some superb pictures of aforementioned wooden boats.

Some of my favorite reviews were from three "guest bloggers", writers without their own blogs who sent me reviews via email.

  • O'Docker - Blog Commenting For Dummies - "just copy a comment from the CD and paste it into the comments page of your favorite blog. What could be easier?"

  • Tobias - My Review of 50 Summers - "my life is full, my family loves boats, and we live in a sailing town. This review is definitely good."

  • Jacob - GizmoTube© Review - "this review was intended to be unbiased; but after a few Dark and Stormys, provided by the manufacturer, I am not so sure anymore."

And last but not least (but actually a tad late) Zen wrote a review of his local boating consignment shop the Blue Pelican - "I found out their trick. They have even more stuff stashed behind stuff."

Oh, and I almost forgot, I wrote three pretty lame reviews myself...
Phew. Can you guys take it easy next time? It's taking me an age to compile these wrap-up posts for our group writing projects.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

50 Great Things To Do In And Around Tiverton Rhode Island

Dear D.,

Good to see you at that regatta last week. Hope you know I was serious about that invitation for you and your lovely wife to come and stay with us in Rhode Island for a while. You and I can go Lasering a different place every day during the week and then we can do a regatta somewhere nearby at the weekend.

But I understand that (like me) you prefer to travel to sailing venues where your wife can find something interesting to do during the day while you are sailing. So here are few ideas off the top of my head for things to do around here. My blogging friend Carol Anne says that I should tell you about the "offbeat" activities, not the stuff that is on the radar of the average tourist. Well, I've done a bit of both, so I hope your wife will find something on this list that appeals to her.

Look forward to seeing you soon.


  1. Sin and Flesh

  2. Do the Cliff Walk

  3. Have dinner at 22B

  4. Experience WaterFire

  5. Visit the Newport Mansions

  6. Stop at the sign of the lemon

  7. Enjoy an ice-cream at Gray's

  8. Catch a play at the Trinity Rep

  9. Drive the Coastal Villages Trail

  10. Tour the gardens at Blithewold

  11. Take lunch at Evelyn's Drive-In

  12. Go for a walk in Weetamoo Woods

  13. Tour a battleship at Battleship Cove

  14. Check out the Buzzards Bay Brewery

  15. Fly a kite at Brenton Point State Park

  16. Go surfing at Easton Beach in Newport

  17. Watch international polo in Portsmouth

  18. Go for a stroll around Mount Hope Farm

  19. Have a picnic at the Sakonnet Vineyards

  20. Pick your own fruit at Sweet Berry Farm

  21. See the butterflies at the Butterfly Farm

  22. Explore a fort at Fort Wetherill State Park

  23. Try Standup Paddleboarding at Third Beach

  24. Take a day trip on the ferry to Block Island

  25. Run, walk or bike on the East Bay Bike Path

  26. Take the kids go-karting at Seekonk Grand Prix

  27. Go kayaking with Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures

  28. Have an Italian meal on Providence's Federal Hill

  29. Be amazed by the Green Animals Topiary Garden

  30. Visit a museum dedicated to our local axe murderer

  31. Go birdwatching at the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge

  32. Visit the Rhode Island Red Commemorative Monument

  33. Have breakfast at the Bayside Restaurant in Westport

  34. Take the kids swimming at Newport's Gooseberry Beach

  35. Take a cruise around 10 lighthouses in Narragansett Bay

  36. See the proof that the Chinese discovered America before Columbus

  37. Take a windswept walk for miles and miles on Horseneck Beach

  38. Shop for pottery, antiques, toys, cheese, whatever at Tiverton Four Corners

  39. Drink wine and listen to live music on a Friday night at the Westport Rivers Winery

  40. Take a tour of Newport Harbor on Rum Runner II a prohibition-era smuggler's boat

  41. Go to Hartley's Original Pork Pies in Fall River to buy the best English-style pork pies in America

  42. Learn about the history of the American whaling industry at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

  43. Watch a minor league baseball game in Pawtucket -- yeah I know it's only the Red Sox but that's all we have

  44. Does your wife play golf? I know nothing about golf -- but just in case that is her thing, here is a list of the Best 25 Rhode Island Golf Courses

  45. I don't know why anyone would come to Rhode Island to go mall shopping but if that's your wife's thing then she will enjoy Providence Place Mall

  46. Check out the colonial garden at the Pardon Gray Preserve -- the corn is Tillerwoman's project so be careful what you say about it over dinner

  47. If you come next week I will see if we can get you tickets so we can all go and see Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellenkamp at McCoy Stadium

  48. Or if you come for the July 4th weekend we can go and watch the parade in Bristol, the oldest continuous celebration of its kind in the United States!

  49. If you feel inclined to buy your hostess a thank-you gift then you couldn't do better than to buy a plant for the garden from Tillerwoman's favorite nursery, Peckham's Greenhouse in Little Compton

  50. Whatever our wives find to do around here and wherever we go sailing, at the end of the day we can all meet at the absolutely best place to be and for the best thing to do: our deck for cocktails and a bottle or two of wine, and watching the sun set over Mount Hope Bay. Cheers mate!

Posted in response to Carol Anne's writing project:
Getting the spouse to come along.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Last Few Reviews (Maybe)

A few more reviews today for our July group writing project, Write a Review which is now closed. (If past experience is any guide this will be the signal for a flurry of last-minute "Oh shit, I really meant to write a review but I missed the deadline and I know Tillerman will give me a link anyway" posts. I really am way too nice to people.)

Anyway, Captain JP has been continuing his exhaustive tests of the bars and tavernas of the Aegean and since our last update has posted reviews of
  • Steni Vala - "there really isn't much there"
  • Skopelos Town - "best bit: the view from the bar"
  • and Pigadhi - "a winding down, tomorrow's the last day sort of place."

I'm not sure if JP's faint praise of some of these places is because he genuinely was underwhelmed, or because they really all are totally awesome and he's trying to keep them a secret from the rest of us.

Also, Tweezerman of Earwigoagin has written a review of the magazine Practical Sailor - "the only thing they don't do well is give me a heads up on what items will be on sale at the Annapolis Sailboat Show."

And Thomas Armstrong of 70.8% (yes, that really is the title of his blog) submitted a review of Nic Compton's biography of IainOughtred, A Life in Wooden Boats. I won't give you a teaser quote from this one, but instead I urge you to follow the link and check out the pictures in the review. They are so gorgeous that they are able to stir up a yearning to own a wooden boat even in the heart of a die-hard fiberglass junkie like me.

Full round-up of all the reviews coming soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

GizmoTube© Review

Thanks to Jacob for this entry in our July writing project Write a Review. Today is the last day of the project so if you were planning to enter, do it now. Full details at Write a Review.

This review will focus on the GizmoTube©, a device (patent pending) about to hit the small-boat market. Thanks to my 'industry' connections, I have had the opportunity to try a prototype of this novel device and obtained permission to share my early findings. In case you are an early adopter, I have been told that the GizmoTube© will go on sale at your favorite boating store this coming fall*.

Laser sailors know that it's good to have the weight outside of the boat when the wind pipes up. Unfortunately, not all of us are built that way. In fact, it has been my observation that a sizeable number of 'mature' sailors have accumulated extra mass, but it is centered around the midriff. No help whatsoever on those windy days. Well, the GizmoTube© allows you to shift this blubber to the shoulders. After swallowing the device, not an easy feat, I might add, one simply opens the valve when about to hike out. With the body roughly horizontal, mass from the midriff area will flow to the shoulders. At least ten pounds outside the boat now. It sure made hiking a lot easier for me. Wow, I could actually keep the boat flat upwind in 15 mph! Once around the windward mark, you just sit up and all that mass flows back downward..

Did the Gizmotube© work? Well, it certainly did for me; I finally moved out of the bottom pack during this evaluation. But the initial swallowing was a bit hard and will get some getting used to. And yes, the GizmoTube© will be class legal. But if you are in doubt, ask yourself who really IS really going to look down your throat at the the Skippers' meeting?

* I have just learned that the FDA insists on reviewing the GizmoTube©. This is likely to postpone the official launch by a few months. An official press release regarding this development will follow shortly.

PS: This review was intended to be unbiased; but after a few Dark and Stormys, provided by the manufacturer, I am not so sure anymore.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's all relative.

I use a Seitech dolly to launch my Laser.

Folks with bigger boats use a trailer or a hoist.

Alinghi uses a helicopter.

It's all relative.

Review of 50 Summers

Thanks to Tobias for sending me this review via email. What a great account of how to live the sailing good life.

We are at the halfway point of Sally’s and my 50th Summer on the planet. The review is definitely good.

My bride loves to sail! Racing, cruising, delivering boats home from Bermuda or Halifax, schlepping kids to regattas. And she can tow, launch and retrieve the mommy boat. Thank goodness she’s more interested in the “fun” part of the kids’ regattas (assuming the kids were safe) than how they did. If you got to drive them there, you’d might as well enjoy a day on the water. Our mommy boat, NEW-PRIORITIES, is the swim platform, the lunch boat, the place to have fun between races, for both kids and parents.

Our five kids are passionate about boats and sailing, even if two don’t race anymore. One of those teaches in the Town Sailing Program and spends every moment not on the lacrosse field on some boat or another. And there are always sailors or coaches in town for some regatta or another staying in the house. For years we had a procession of Kiwis sailing instructors live with us. All good people with whom we share a passion.

My claim to fame? We own more boats than cars. We have 3 trailers, 3 dollies, 3 Lasers, 1 Club 420, a 20 center console and the 53 year old lobster boat FIREWOOD, which is perfect for running laser races, a little fishing and hosting up to 16 people for very slow harbor tours with big coolers and the grill going while laughing all around us are envious people on “bristol” yachts or expansive water front homes. On regatta days we can stack 6 Optis on FIREWOOD’s deck and tow seven 420s for 20 miles up wind with the kids on every available flat surface. Sometimes the ride home can be the highlight of the great day on the water.

The cars have 100,000+ miles. They start, they get us to the water, the hockey rinks, the lacrosse fields and to work. I park at the swanky yacht club next to a new fancy car. The owner is divorced and his kids hate to sail. I am blessed.

I sailed a friend’s J-120 (40 feet, asym spinnaker) from Marblehead to Maine last night. Ten hours with kite up in 15 knots, effortless gybing by one person, full moon, porpoises playing in the phosphorescence all around the boat. Awesome night. Even better as my 13 year daughter was really into it. Wants to bring her friends next time.

I am spending more time doing race committee than racing. The races are good, the sailors thankful for the passion I put into their passion. I am giving back to the sport we all love. I am lucky to be able to help out.

I get to read sailing blogs, sometime at work. Business isn’t great because the economy is in a recession. But who cares. My life is full, my family loves boats, and we live in a sailing town. This review is definitely good.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yet More Reviews

Three more reviews today for our July group writing project, Write a Review.

Captain JP continues his series of reviews of harbors in the Aegean with Koukounaries - "best bit: the peace and quiet in the evening after the day trippers have gone."

The rather Greek sounding Mr. Andkris has a book review We the Navigators - The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific - "the book does an excellent job... of detailing how the indigenous sailors of the Pacific use only the things they can see to determine where to find land."

Winner of the prize for most terrifying review submitted so far goes to Yarg for Whitewater Rafting – The Out-of-Raft Experience - "I suggest to the guide that perhaps 360s should be limited to a horizontal plane."

And now it's your turn to Write a Review. Do it now. Do it for fun. Do it as a service for your readers. Do it to make yourself famous. Do it before midnight on Monday, the absolute drop-dead deadline. Just do it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Real Laser Sailor

After three Fridays with pictures of two tennis stars and a naked swimmer, here is one of a female athlete who in my opinion outranks them all, a real Laser sailor.

Can you guess the year?

Clue: you may be able to see dinosaurs hiding behind the trees on the shore.

Bonus points if you can guess the sailor. I've already given you a clue to that.

Books and Bull

Thanks to everyone who has participated so far in this month's group writing project Write a Review. What a creative bunch you are! The reviews already submitted cover such diverse subjects as...
A couple more entries came in yesterday...

Captain JP is on a roll. He's writing a whole series of reviews of the places he visited on his recent Aegean bareboat cruise, complete with charts off his iPhone for each port. First up is Orei, "best bit: the marble bull so if that doesn't float your boat go elsewhere."

And Adam of Messing About in Sailboats has compiled a link list to a whole bunch of book reviews he has written to help you select some Summer Reading about sailing.

So what are you waiting for? Write a Review. Do it now. Do it for fun. Do it as a service for your readers. Do it to make yourself famous. Just do it.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sailing World Review

Aidan: What's this Grandad?

Tillerman: It's a magazine called Sailing World, Aidan.

What's it about?

Sailing... sort of.

You mean racing dinghies such as Lasers. Like you and Daddy do?

Not really Aidan. There's not much of that kind of sailing in Sailing World these days.

What do you mean Grandad?

Look at all the pictures. What do you see?

Lots of big boats.

Exactly. Sailing World seems to be mainly about big boats these days. Giant multihulls in the America's Cup, Volvo 70s, a Gunboat 66, Farr 40s. Articles about big boat stuff like electric winches, building a well-rounded sail inventory... Yawn.

Are you tired Grandad?

No Aidan. Just bored with all this big boat stuff in Sailing World. They don't seem to care about dinghy sailors any more.

What about this article by Andy Horton on How to Win the End Game?

It's OK. But a lot of his advice is only relevant for boats that take a long time to build up speed, such as the Etchells. Some of it applies to Laser sailing but not much.

How about this Dick Rose article on the Racing Rules? Don't dinghies have to follow the same rules as big boats?

Yes Aidan. But almost every article I have read about the new Rules this year can be summarized as "a lot of the words in the Rules have changed but the game hasn't."

What about this article on wind and strategy by Stuart Walker? Surely that is interesting to dinghy sailors?

Have you read it, Aidan?

Grandad, you know I'm not quite one year old yet. Even Goodnight Moon's plot is a bit too complicated for me. And Dr. Walker's article has a lot of really long words.

It sure does, Aidan. Frankly I don't understand most of it myself. Dr. Walker is a great sailor and he knows a lot about wind, but he's a terrible writer. Even your Daddy who's awfully smart and very clever with words agrees with me on that one.

But doesn't Sailing World have people who know how to write clearly? Couldn't they help poor Dr.Walker to write in a way so that ordinary sailors could understand him?

Apparently not, Aidan. Apparently not.

So why do you buy this magazine Grandad if it doesn't have much stuff about the kind of sailing you like?

Good question Aidan. I'm certainly not going to renew my subscription this year. But it used to be better. Look at all these old copies I saved from the early 90's. Full of articles about dinghy sailing technique and new small boats and what to wear for dinghy sailing and reports of dinghy regattas. It was a good magazine back then.

Thanks for explaining all that Grandad. When I'm older will you teach me how to sail a Laser?

Sure Aidan. It will be a pleasure.

Can I go and play in my pool now Grandad?

Sure Aidan. Have fun.

Blog Commenting For Dummies

Thanks to O'Docker, master blog comment writer and the currently reigning Sailing Blog Reader of the Year, for submitting this review for the July group writing project...

I read a lot of sailing blogs and leave a lot of comments. Without a blog of my own, I have more time to do that than many bloggers.

Most people who read my comments naturally assume I write the first thing that pops into my head - without thinking at all. But, there's really a lot more to it than that. I'd be absolutely lost without Blog Commenting For Dummies. Between the covers of this thin volume is everything you need to write intelligent-sounding comments - even if you're a complete idiot.

I've been wanting to tell people about this book for a while, but the 'Write A Review' writing project is the perfect opportunity. I never could have become Tillerman's 'Blog Reader of the Year' without it. It's just loaded with great advice.

Take the chapter on relevance - wow what an eye-opener! For months I'd been leaving comments on people's blogs without really understanding what they were talking about. I couldn't figure out why bloggers pretty much ignored those comments.

But the book explains - and this is just brilliant - that if you try to understand the point a blogger is making and then respond to that point, the comment makes a lot more sense to everyone.

Blog Commenting For Dummies is written very clearly, in plain English, so people like me, who aren't smart enough to write our own blogs, can understand every word.

A new concept for me was irony (chapter six). Apparently, this is very popular on many blogs today. The idea is that you say something just the opposite of what you really mean, but, somehow, it comes out sounding like what you were trying to say in the first place. That's supposed to make it funny. Only the best bloggers can pull this off, and, honestly, I still don't know how they do it.

A real time saver is the included CD of pre-written comments. I don't know how many times I've used that over the past year. Just copy a comment from the CD and paste it into the comments page of your favorite blog. What could be easier? There are comments on every subject you can imagine. And they check all the grammar and spelling and sentence structure for you, so everything sounds pretty slick. I mean, who has the time to do all of that today?

I actually haven't finished the book yet. There are some chapters at the end about keeping your comments short so you don't bore people to death and about how blog readers usually read a blog for the blogger's opinions - not for the goofy thoughts of other commenters. I can't wait to get to those chapters.

Three More Reviews

Three more entries for our July group writing project, Write a Review.

Smilicus of Sailing Catch 22, my blogging friend from South Africa, has written News Review, his take on three of his favorite websites for finding news about sailing.

Steve Bodner, the top ranked US sailor on the Formula Windsurfing World Tour, asks himself the Z question in a review of the latest version of the Formula board from F2, and agonizes over whether he should use the Z in the upcoming World Championships.

Tim Coleman has submitted a second entry (hey that's OK - the more the merrier) in which he encourages you to Start racing and reviews some sources of information for that endeavor.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed reviews. If you haven't yet done so please have a shot. Closing date is next Monday July 13. Full details at Write a Review.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Review: Jay Livingston's Laser Warm Up Routine

Jay Livingston of Laser Sailing Notes recently wrote a post titled Getting Warmed Up, which is all about the routine he follows on the water to prepare himself for the first race of a day or for some boat handling drills.

It's quite an impressive program. He begins with a whole series of roll tacks starting off with a relaxed style and then getting more physical. Then he heads downwind and executes various kinds of gybe. After some reaching practice he launches straight in to some mark rounding drills and then practices his starting skills: holding position and accelerations. He then warms up his hiking muscles with some upwind work while simultaneously working on his awareness of shifts and puffs.

After all that, he says he's ready to race.

Wow. I'm impressed. I thought he was describing the whole of a day's practice session at first, but this routine is what he does before boat-handling drills or racing. I should be more like Jay. My typical pre-race routine is to to sail out to the course, grab a drink and an energy bar, and then to relax and conserve energy before the real action begins. If there are any Mommy Boats in the start area I either scowl at their drivers, or hang out close to them so I can overhear the secret tips they are giving to their little darlings.

Jay doesn't mention anything about checking the favored end of the start line or developing a strategy for the first beat, but he seems such a well-organized guy that I'm sure that he has another whole routine for all that race prep stuff.

"Two thumbs up" for Jay's warm-up routine. (By the way I have no idea what "two thumbs up" means but I know movie reviewers write it all the time and I think it's a good thing. I hope it's not rude?)

More Reviews

Captain JP has an excellent review of Sailing with Navionics iPhone Charts. "There was something on the paper charts which might have been a reef or it might have been a smudge due to a retsina spill, but which was it? Out with the iPhone, couple of drags and zooms, and yup it's a smudge!"

Bonnie of frogma has a Review of a New Sailing Blog! It's always good to hear of a new sailing blog and I hadn't come across this one before. Thanks Bonnie.

There's still plenty of time for you to write a review. Full details of how to participate in this, our July group writing project, at Write a Review.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Love Life Not Stuff

The first commenter on my recent long rambling post about kayaking latched on to my observation that a shared experience of some kind (in this case a kayaking trip) can be a superb present.

Just by chance, one of my favorite non-sailing blogs Zen Habits makes exactly the same point today in a post titled Love Live Not Stuff. As one example of several ways to replace lust for stuff with lust for life, the author Leo Babauta advises...

Give experiences as gifts, not stuff. Instead of shopping for someone come birthdays or Christmas, think of an experience you can give them instead. A date with you, doing something fun, hanging out, cooking, playing, talking, exploring. A fun time at a park or beach. Something other than everyday. An experience is much more meaningful than an object.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Do you agree? Have you any good examples of "experience gifts" that you have given or received recently?

Boil in the Bag

Two thumbs up for Enterprise road warrior extraordinaire Tim Coleman - "some of us don't look that hot in rubber" - for entering our group writing project Write a Review with an hilarious discussion of the pros and cons of wearing a wetsuit in the English summer. Check out Boil-in-the-bag - the pros and cons of wetsuits in summer.

(Warning some of the images may not be suitable for persons of a nervous disposition.)

There's plenty of time for you to write a review. Check out the rules at Write a Review. If you want a good example of how to write an excellent review then read Captain JP's review of Bareboat Sailing with Sunsail in the Greek Aegean. Do it now while you are fresh with enthusiasm. Don't delay.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tillerman's Review of Something He Knows Nothing About

Jenny left a comment on my post inviting you (and her) to Write a Review. Jenny asked, "What if you know nothing about boating?"


My knee-jerk reaction was to be a jerk (regular jerk as opposed to knee jerk), and ask her why she's lurking on a boating blog if she knows nothing about boating. But then my true nature took over. (That's the polite, thoughtful, kind, tactful me that I do such a good job of hiding most of the time.)

It's actually a good question. Can you write a review of a product or service in a field about which you know nothing? Well, sure you can... assuming you are interested in that subject and want to learn something about it. You just write a review from the perspective of a newcomer or a beginner in the field.

Jennifer, maybe you could take a boating lesson and write a review of the school or the instructor. Perhaps you could borrow a book about learning to sail from your local library and review that. Geeze, you could even write a review of Proper Course from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about sailing.

So, to demonstrate, I will now write a review of something about which I know nothing: kayaking. I've been following bonnie's frogma blog about kayaking for some years now, and have even promised here from time to time that I'm going to have a go at the sport. It seems that for someone who now lives by the sea, owning a kayak would be the perfect compliment to owning a Laser. Good wind days go sailing; no wind days go kayaking.

One of my sons is an excellent kayaker. He learned the sport as a teenager on some adventure trip around the islands off the coast of Maine, and has had his own sea kayak for years. So, for my birthday this year he offered to take me (along with his fiancee and his brother) on a kayaking trip. (Note to anyone who struggles to find the perfect birthday present for one of those old dudes who already owns all the toys he needs: a shared experience - as opposed to more objects to clutter his life - makes a superb present for aforementioned old dude.)

So, on Sunday morning the four of us went off to Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures in nearby Westport to rent three more kayaks and spend a few hours on the East Branch of the Wesport River.

Here is the review part. I can't rate OSKA on their courses; we didn't take one. I can't rate them on their tours; we didn't take one. But judging by their website they provide a good range of kayaking instruction, and an interesting variety of tours "from tranquil sunset sojourns to exciting open water paddles, to multi-day overseas adventures in Greece, the Bahamas, and more." I especially like the sound of their Winery Tour. (More on that later.)

However, as an outfitter who provides a safe, welcoming, kayaking experience to a complete kayaking bozo know-nothing like me, I give them 5 stars. They were friendly, efficient and informative. The formalities were quickly completed and our kayaks and associated equipment were organized. A helpful young man gave us instruction on how to set up our kayaks and demonstrated how to do a basic kayak stroke as we all tried to imitate him on land ...

"Hands further apart."

"Keep your arms more straight."

"Make a more vertical stroke."

"Use your upper body not your arms."

Geeze, this kayaking thing is more complicated than I thought...

The helpful young man held the kayaks steady as we clambered in and we were off.

We headed south on the Westport River. The first section was quite narrow and it broadened out as we headed downstream. Various obstacles presented themselves and were successfully avoided. Sunken trees. Rocks. Gusts of wind (yikes). Swans. Do swans ever attack kayakers?

Before leaving OSKA I had asked the helpful young man how far we could reasonably paddle (and return) in our allotted three hours. "You can make it to Hix Bridge and back if you paddle hard," he told me.

Hmmm. Not sure if we want to paddle hard.

After about an hour we could see the bridge. "It's further than it looks," explained my expert kayaking son. Other son and I ignored him and paddled ever onwards to the distant bridge. Fiancee (soon-to-be wife) and expert son took a break and turned back before the bridge. Non-expert son and I made the bridge. Hmmm. Interesting. Just like a bridge.

The wind had built up over the morning which made the trip back a little more challenging. It was more of a side wind than a head wind and it had the tendency to turn my kayak into the wind, which seemed strange. Non-expert son propounded various theories as to why this might be as I tried to ignore him and keep the kayak going straight. Now what did Helpful Young Man say again?

The East Branch of the Westport River really is idyllic. If I was any good at writing about nature and stuff I could tell you why. But I'm not so I can't. Just take my word for it.

We arrived back at OSKA around lunch time. Non-expert son and I both confessed to numb bums and stiff legs. This kayaking business sure stresses some different muscles than Laser sailing.

So what to do next? Did someone say there's a winery nearby? Expert son and fiancee are wine buffs so we just had to head off to a tasting at Westport Rivers Vineyard. I know nothing about wine so I can't write a review of that. But I do know what I like...

Seriously, I think I'll be going back to OSKA to see if I can learn how to do this kayaking thing properly.

See Jenny. That's how to write a review of something you know nothing about. Now it's your turn. Write a review on a subject related to boating by July 13, post it on your blog, and send me an email at to let me know about it.

Einstein Says Write a Review

(You're on your own with that Unified Field Theory thing.)