Marlinspike seamanship keeps coming up because it’s so important.
It separates the men (and women) from the boys (and girls). It’s important to know about rope and its construction, even if you don’t make your own splices. Every boat uses rope — or line, when it has a purpose on board.
As Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in his “Canterbury Tales”: “Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote” — oh heck, spring is just about here, and since you have a boat you might as well enjoy it, despite the economy. Fuel prices have come down from last season, and the wind is free. Still, the emphasis here is on saving some money.
Some years ago, the U.S. Naval Academy proposed dropping celestial navigation from its curriculum because there are faster and more accurate methods to determine position at sea.
The admirals said, “No!” Aside from being a rite of passage, celestial navigation requires and provides mental discipline and, with the ability to observe the sky, a backup system independent of the ship’s electrical systems. It’s always good to have an independent backup.
In the December issue, I wrote about the boats that stand out in my life. In the course of writing, a strange thing happened: I had trouble remembering most of the boats I’ve owned or aboard which I’ve sailed. Was this the onset of Alzheimer’s? I went through my old logs, but after reading them they faded into a jumble of names and details that, while interesting, did not affect me viscerally.
I’ve never met a seaman — power or sail — who was worth a damn and wasn’t an avid reader. Winter is here, and it’s a perfect time to sit down with a glass of good scotch and a good book.
1. Boating fiction is a genre all its own. I keep reading and rereading some of these; they never seem to grow old.
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