Author Archives: Tony Johnson

Nautical Terminator – Hull Down (Part 2)

We promised last time to apply our understanding of the old phrase “hull down” to modern circumstances. The issue arises when making offshore passages. Clearly, single-handers are in violation of Rule 5 of the Colregs because they cannot maintain a … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Hull Down (Part 1)

In a recent column we mentioned the phrase, “hull down.” In the great days of sail, this was the lookout’s way of communicating the distance to a ship he’s sighted, just coming over the horizon. So how far away is … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Points

            Our contemporary way of reading a compass is called the “three-figure” method, referring to the three numerals called out to the helmsperson by the navigator, as in “steer three-two-zero.” Early compass cards, however, were divided not into 360 degrees … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Curse Like a Sailor

The other day at a Tradewinds instructors meeting, the estimable Craig Walker, a true gentleman and our most accomplished teacher, opined that we should not be cursing during class. Now, on the one hand, I completely agree that our instructors … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Nautical Mile

By Tradewinds instructor Tony Johnson As we all learn in our first navigation class, a nautical mile equals one minute of latitude. Therefore, the distance in nautical miles between the equator and the poles is, by definition, 90 degrees times … Continue reading

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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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