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Soundings January 2020

Soundings is the news and feature publication for recreational boaters. Award-winning coverage of the people, issues, events -- and the fun -- of recreational boating. Check out our generous boats-for-sale section and our gunkholing destinations.

United States
Active Interest Media
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min
good therapy

Why is it that the sight of a boat under construction can stop so many of us in our tracks? Todd French has ideas on the subject, particularly now that the USS Sequoia, a National Historic Landmark, has arrived at his shipyard in Belfast, Maine, for a three-year refit. In this issue (page 60), French tells writer Kim Kavin that at a time when polarization is strong and politics so heated, people are finding the simple act of looking at a boat with a common history to be almost therapeutic. “The public is connected to it,” French says of the 104-foot former presidential yacht. “We’ve had so many visitors show up to view this project. They are just in awe, taking pictures. It’s like they’re coming to church.” Many people who love…

4 min
a new mayflower

In 1620, a monohull sailing vessel called Mayflower, about 80 feet long, carried 102 passengers and some 30 crew from Plymouth, England, across the Atlantic Ocean to what would become known as the New World. Four hundred years later, another Mayflower, this one a 53-foot trimaran, is scheduled to make the same journey—driven by hybrid propulsion and artificial intelligence (AI), without a single soul on board. “The future is interesting,” says Brett Phaneuf, a founding board member of the nonprofit ProMare and co-director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship Project, which began construction on the new boat in September. “Using this new technology and robotic systems, we can help to make everybody safer on the water, and we can learn more about our environment and become better stewards of it.” The new Mayflower…

6 min
in the dark about lights?

Back in the day, ships were small enough for the bow lookout to turn, face aft and yell back to the mate on the bridge. A sailor would affirm the correct functioning of the navigation lights each day at sunset by shouting, “The lights are shining brightly!” I loved this old-timey routine. You can call me a nostalgic old toot, but I fondly recite the words under my breath before assuming a night watch to this day, no matter what boat I’m on. Checking to make sure your navigational lights are functioning every sunset underway is just plain good seamanship. This past summer, two recreational boaters were killed and three others were injured on the Great Lakes when a vessel collided with an unlit boat underway on a dark and moonless…

1 min

1. INTERNATIONAL RULES: Lights on a vessel shall be ON from: A. One half hour before sunset B. Sunrise to sunset C. One hour after sunrise D. Sunset to sunrise 2. INTERNATIONAL RULES: If you sight red and green lights side-by-side and white lights above them, dead ahead, what action would you take? A. Watch his bearing carefully to see if it changes B. Sound whistle signals and turn to port C. Sound whistle signals and turn to starboard D. Sound whistle signal to see what action to take 3. INTERNATIONAL RULES: A vessel showing green over white lights is: A. Trolling B. Fishing C. Dredging D. Surveying 4. INLAND RULES: In addition to sidelights and sternlight, a pilot vessel underway shall exhibit, when engaged in pilotage duty: A. Red over white lights B. Green over white lights C. White over red lights D. Red over white over red…

3 min
how to pick a safe charter

Last week, I was kayaking on a remote paddling trail in the upper reaches of Florida’s Tampa Bay. I was about 2 miles from anywhere, deep in the mangroves and watching a pair of roseate spoonbills walking the shallows. I suddenly remembered where my VHF radio was: in my life jacket, along with my EPIRB. The problem was that I wasn’t wearing that life jacket; I was wearing one I’d pulled from a box in my garage. Admittedly, not much could go wrong in a kayak in 2 feet of water, but if something did, I was totally unprepared. Despite my experience and staunch advocacy of risk management, complacency is a constant battle. Nowhere is complacency more likely to occur than when you are on someone else’s boat. Whether you are…

4 min
one crazy cat

There were plenty of catamarans at the 2019 United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, but the Eagle Class 53 was the showstopper. “It’s wild, isn’t it,” a broker for a nearby catamaran said to me as I was inspecting the boat. Sitting at the dock, the all-carbon, honeycomb-core catamaran, with its innovative hybrid-wing mainsail, C-foils, T-foil rudders, bowsprit, two forward steering stations and tall, raking rig looked like a hyped-up thoroughbred raring to get out of the gate. The boat’s wide-open layout set it apart, too. The on-deck salon with aft galley, bar seating and curving settees are all exposed to the breeze. An attractive hardcover provides shade and some protection from falling rain, but there are no walls or windows and the steering stations are so far forward that the helmsman…