From the Blog

Posted by Jake DiMare at 2:17 pm
Jackie on the bow

Jackie on the bow

Last Sunday Jackie and I continued the Basic Keel Boat course at Courageous Sail in Charlestown, Ma. Although she doesn’t want to admit it, her abilities have improved considerably in the last two months. She’s well on her way to being a confident, competent skipper.

In the shot above she’s preparing to assist with landing on the docks by handling the bowline. This responsibility requires dexterity, timing and knowledge of what’s what on the boat. In order to be a successful sailor one must know the ropes. For a new sailor this lack of knowledge can be daunting.

And it has been a challenge for me as well. Although I sailed quite a bit as a boy, it’s been many, many years since I had to know the difference between a Jib Sheet and a Main Halyard on a moments notice…Let alone communicate these terms to anyone else on the boat calmly and efficiently. But I have a lot of context and like so many other things in life that create anxiety…I find it comforting to know I am not alone. Since man first ventured onto the sea we’ve needed to communicate in order for two or more people to handle any type of vessel. In order to be able to communicate effectively it is necessary for everything on the boat to have a name…And so it does.


The term ‘Learning the Ropes’ is in fact a nautical term and describes an experience every young sailor would endure when they would literally learn the name of every rope (and any other object on a sailing vessel). I’ve read about this ritual a couple of times and my favorite telling is in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Captain’s Courageous’ where Harvey, a young boy on board a New England schooner for the first time, is followed around by Long Jack, a grizzled old sailor and punished with a lashing each time he mistakes a rope. Here’s a quote from the novel:

There’s good and just reason for ivry rope aboard, or else ‘t would be overboard. D’ ye follow me? Tis dollars an’ cents I’m puttin’ into your pocket, ye skinny little supercargo, so that f’whin ye’ve filled out ye can ship from Boston to Cuba an tell them Long Jack larned you. Now I’ll chase ye around a piece, callin the ropes, an you’ll lay your hand on thim as I call.

This has always been one of my favorite stories and a must read for anyone who loves the ocean.

Posted by Jake DiMare at 9:35 pm

This past Saturday Jackie and I nurtured our shared dream to one day own a big sail boat by visiting the New England Boat show at the new convention center in South Boston. There were many incredible boats to explore including Benneteau, Jeanneau and C&C but none were more impressive than the Tartan 4000. Everything about this blue water cruising boat screams I am ready to take you around the world in safety and comfort.

I think even some of the sailboat salesmen were surprised to see me make a beeline for the galley on every boat we investigated to test for the presence and strength of hand holds and a place for the cook to clip in. Although this may seem like a silly detail to most it is a very strong indicator of how thoughtfully and well built the boat is in addition to what life will be like on board.  The galley in the Tartan, like many other aspects of the boat, had the best layout and features for dealing with dinner in a calm, tropical harbor or making passage in heavy seas alike.

One of the areas I liked the most is the navigation station, which was large and comfortable. The map desk had a healthy storage space under the desktop where one could store even a large laptop in addition to charts and a log book.

The particular hull we toured at the show included a custom feature above the Starboard settee. Jackie first noticed this area, which is typically just shelving, was apportioned quite lavishly for books. Apparently it is intended as a way to maximize sleeping quarters for children aboard the vessel. We also discovered it could serve as a sea berth for Jackie.