Cruising World


- —Steve D’antonio, Steve D’antonio Marine Consulting

In Tom Zydler’s recent article on preventing water from entering engines while underway (“Exhaust All Options,” January 2021), a few points are worth noting. It’s highly unlikely that water will enter an engine via the engine’s raw-water intake line by pushing its way past the raw-water pump as he describes (siphoning is another matter). If this were a risk, gensets on 30-knot powerboats would suffer water intrusion on a daily basis. Installing a valve between the lift muffler and mixing elbow is fraught; inadverten­tly cranking an engine against a closed valve could split the hose, and if the engine then started, the exhaust gas and water would enter the engine compartmen­t, doing untold damage. While its value might be more defensible, the same is true for the valve at the transom exhaust exit; I’ve seen engines cranked against those closed valves, and they frequently split open the muffler. When closed, a reminder should be placed at the start switch. Proprietar­y, nonmetalli­c (metallic valves tend to get stuck open and closed) exhaust check valves are available, although those have their own issues; it’s impossible to confirm they are working without disassembl­y. Barring dropping out of a sling lift, an exception to be sure, exhaust systems that meet engine-manufactur­er requiremen­ts won’t cause engine flooding even under the most unsettled conditions; in my experience, many exhaust systems do not meet those requiremen­ts, which is what leads to flooding.


It was a beautiful morning off the beach of Wilmette, Illinois. I went out in my one-of-a-kind, 16-foot wooden sloop-rigged daysailer. It was just me and Lake Michigan. It was also the day of the Race to Mackinac. I was underway and about 2 miles offshore. I think I was 18 years old. Now I had a small ditty bag with some essential tools just in case. I guess after the Boy Scouts, safety had become kind of paramount in my mind. I had on a life jacket (yes, the old-fashioned orange kind). I had a whistle and a squeaker air horn like they have for football games.

After about an hour of sailing, it felt like it was getting a little misty. Unbeknowns­t to me, I had never heard of fog created by a change in dew point. And bingo—all of a sudden, I was in thick fog. I could see maybe 10 to 15 feet ahead and astern. I did have a compass, so I knew which way to go to reach shore. I proceeded to do just that. Strangely, I still had headway. I didn’t know you could have wind in the fog.

It occurred to me that I should make some noise, so I pulled out my little air horn. I started giving a blast every minute. In a short, breathtaki­ng moment, all of a sudden two 40-foot sailboats popped out of the fog behind me.

Oh my, now what? They sizzled past me under full sail (including spinnakers), one to port and one to starboard, and in seconds they disappeare­d in the fog. They were obviously racing. More important, I think they must have heard the shrill squeak of my air horn. It could have been ugly. To this day, I believe that that little horn prevented a dangerous collision. I made it to shore and waited for the fog to dissipate. Be safe; it pays! John Hastie

Via email


The year 2020 has certainly been unusual for all, and as it finally comes to a close, I have reflected on those things that have made it a little easier to make it through. High on that list, if not at the top, has been Cruising World. While I always enjoy reading it, somehow this year it has meant more. It has been eye-opening to realize that those living the “carefree” life and sailing the oceans of the world— something I have often dreamed of while instead doing the mundane of day-to-day existence—are equally and, in many cases, more impacted by this pandemic.

Reading excellent articles such as “The COVID Chronicles” (August/september 2020) well described the resilience, patience and creativity so many have endured in all parts of the globe. While reporting the loss this year of what seemed like too many sailing legends from—or despite— COVID-19 has been sobering. But the story that made the year end in a happy way, at least for me, was when author Stuart Wemple reminded us of the joy and pride of our first boat (“Why Not…why

Knot,” November/december). For me it was a journey back to a happier time when I was his age, restoring wooden boats and the sense of accomplish­ment when the product turned out well and the dreams of where it might lead. The “six degrees of separation” bonus of Herb Mccormick’s old boat being the platform and photograph­er Onne van der Wal’s Pearson 36 refit the inspiratio­n—both well written about in previous editions of Cw—made the story that much sweeter. After a long painful year, that story was just the elixir needed.

Thank you for your great writing, and thank you for reminding us—and please keep reminding us—that no matter what the world throws our way, the simple joy of sailing is something we all can enjoy.

Peter Bigelow

Darien, CT

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