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On Sailboats with Dieter Loibner

A classic Herreshoff in the hands of a master

herreshoffFew objects beg humans to love and preserve them as strongly as a wooden boat. Wooden boats built in the traditional plank-on-frame style are magical, in part because the materials were once alive and seem to imbue the structure with traces of soul. Plank-on-frame boats breathe, respond significantly to changes in humidity, talk to us when we stress them. They also earn an extended family of former owners, crewmembers, boatyard workers and journalists.

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Sockeye 62: Pacific Northwest dreaming

Sockeye62This month’s column is purely hypothetical, though I wouldn’t mind the story playing out this way. We all have dreams, and this is one of mine.

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Beyond wind and water, sailing offers life lessons

sailboats“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This quote by George Santayana has been on replay in my mind for a while. But sometimes — and I explicitly do not imply political meaning here — it is desirable to do just that, to remember and repeat.

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A madman in a league of his own

sailboats_dyeIt was Bill’s watch, and seas were bad, at least 30 feet and very heavy. Suddenly a real bad one roared down on us from the port side and crashed in. Roaring right over us, it rolled us over. I had a fleeting memory of being thrown clean out of the stern, seeing Bill going under me, then the boat coming down on me. Down I went into the green depths with tremendous weight driving me downwards. More panic — down, down! Needing to breathe, I choked and began to drown.

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A little red boat and the game of drones

roboatOn a recent trip to Europe, I found myself on the trail of autonomous sailing vessels, a technology that has been under development for a while and is now getting more attention with the advent of package delivery by drone and driverless cars. No longer is getting things to drive themselves a hobby for remote-control geeks; it’s a business on the verge of becoming big, built on the promise of — what else? — eliminating fallible and expensive humans from dull jobs.

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