What exactly is seamanship? It encompasses the seaman’s art, which is to say everything involved in the operation of a vessel. Technically this includes marlinspike seamanship — tying knots and splicing lines, stowing cargo for sea, rigging heavy-weather lifelines, and so on. But here I’ll focus on the operational elements of seamanship — what the skipper needs to know and what equipment should be on board and ready for use to safely operate the boat.
You may need to tow someone or be towed someday, so it’s important to know how to rig a bridle to attach the hawser if you are doing the towing.
Buying a stock fiberglass boat is a pretty safe undertaking. You know what you’re getting, and since production boats are designed to appeal to the tastes of the average boating family, chances are you’ll be satisfied — if you’re an average boat owner.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As the formal inquiries into the July Fourth Long Island Sound tragedy continue, Soundings asked Eric Sorensen, a regular contributor, to discuss boat design principles, especially as they relate to seaworthiness and the physics of buoyancy and stability. Sorensen is the author of “Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats”; consults for boatbuilders, the Navy and boat owners; and was the founding director of the J.D. Power and Associates Marine Practice.
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