Author Archives: Tony Johnson

Sailors Will Argue About Anything

At a recent instructors’ meeting we had a disagreement or two—nothing serious, but it reminded me of the time a couple of decades ago at a similar such meeting when we spent an hour in heated debate over whether we … Continue reading

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Roger

A fellow Tradewinds instructor asked me the other day why we say “Roger” on the radio to confirm we’ve received a message. Why Roger, and not Reginald, or for that matter, Hermione? If you go cruising you’ll probably want to … Continue reading

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On Your Feet!

You don’t want to be slipping on the deck of a boat. At best, you look the fool. At worst, you’re in the drink. And in between, there’s a bunch of stuff to knock your head or bruise your backside … Continue reading

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Estimating VMG

It’s easy enough to estimate time of arrival when you are fetching your destination; distance divided by speed equals time. But suppose you want to figure out how long it takes to sail to San Francisco. With the prevailing summer … Continue reading

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Crew Overboard in the Clipper Race

Recently, during the Clipper Round the World Race, a person fell overboard while changing a sail. Why he wasn’t tethered to the boat and why he did not have a personal EPIRB, we do not know. In all such incidents, … Continue reading

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Frank Talk About Splicing

In general, I am quite a fan of archaic sailing arts. Some of them I can even justify under the heading of safety, like knowing how to use a sextant. But for practical reasons, I hesitate to recommend splicing braided … Continue reading

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Sandbaggers

The term “sandbag” is used in several seemingly unrelated senses. As a verb it can mean to emplace bags to prevent flooding; to pretend to be a duffer at golf or poker or auto racing, only to reveal your mastery … Continue reading

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Plimsoll Line

Remember when you were just learning to sail and the boat heeled over for the first time? My instructor was calm, but I’m told I was yelling “Help! Yikes! Eeek!”…although I’m pretty sure it was quite a bit more dignified … Continue reading

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The Seven Seas

The Eurythmics sing that they have traveled the Seven Seas. They say “traveled,” not sailed, but in any case, I’m not sure I’m clear what they’re talking about. Aren’t there way more than seven seas? I mean, the Mediterranean Sea, … Continue reading

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Wind Speed

How hard is it blowing? I once used the phrase “it’s blowing like snot” in the presence of a Chesapeake sailor, who was horrified. He much preferred “blowing like spit.” Bay area sailors will have heard it said that it … Continue reading

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