Friday, February 15, 2019

JOMO: joy of missing out

The Joy of Missing Out comes in places like this. Not your office cubicle, for sure.

I was reading an article about the hottest trends of the year and I had to smile when I got to this one. JOMO or the joy of missing out is replacing FOMO or the fear of missing out. I'd say that bodes well for sailing. If more people are asking, is there all there is, then more will say, "Let's go see for ourselves." Yes, I think there's a new generation of sailors in the making.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

3rd Edition of Happy Hooking now live on amazon!

For Immediate Release

Contact: Alex Blackwell

White Seahorse Publishing announces the release of the 3rd edition of Happy Hooking – the Art of Anchoring.

USA and Ireland, 13 February 2019White Seahorse Publishing is pleased to announce the third, expanded edition of the best-selling book on boat anchoring, “Happy Hooking – the Art of Anchoring”. Receiving consistent five-star reviews from verified purchasers on Amazon, the authors and licensed captains, Alex & Daria Blackwell, reworked and updated much of their book. This latest edition includes new gear, new reviews, many new illustrations and much more.

“Anchoring is a subject very close to our hearts,” says Capt. Alex Blackwell. “Not only does confidence in anchoring have important safety implications but sitting in the cockpit on a lovely evening anchored in a spectacularly beautiful location watching the sun set rates up there with the most enjoyable things one can possibly do. We’re always happy to help people achieve that dream.”

When asked why they wrote the book in the first place, Daria explained, “We were asked by members of a prominent yacht club what we did at night while out cruising. When we told them we anchored out, they promptly asked us to do a talk for their membership. In due course, that progressed to speaking in front of a packed auditorium at a major boat show. When members of the audience approached asking to buy our book, we felt compelled to write it.”

Asked to explain why they felt the need to bring out a new edition of their already popular and widely acclaimed book, Alex continues, “Even in a field as mundane (or ‘engaging’) as boat anchoring, there are always improvements, new field tests and new manufacturers. We are always on the lookout for the next big thing. We feel it is our responsibility to ensure these innovations are brought to light and to keep the discussion about safety alive.”

 “There are many new sailors each year wanting to learn what is ‘best practice’ when it comes to anchoring,” Daria adds. “There are also lots of people using outdated or inferior equipment that for the most part came with their boat. They struggle with the equipment and often give up or are just too terrified to sleep well. The introduction of the scoop-type anchors, which made anchoring ever so much easier and safer, is now already decades old. If we can explain how to select and properly deploy various gear, we can make a difference. We hope that, through the book and the online webinars, we’ve helped cruisers get out there confidently and safely while achieving a good night’s sleep.”

Happy Hooking – The Art of Anchoring is available in print and Kindle editions at or through worldwide.

Independent reviews on Amazon:

Happy Hooking is the best book on anchoring techniques and equipment I have found to date - full of practical advice and enjoyable to read as well. Right up to date with all the latest gear.

Anchoring bible - A must to all sailors.

An Essential Learning & Safety Manual. So easy to read and comprehend, full of common-sense advice and tips. Given that personal, crew and boat safety is a major issue in choosing an anchorage and the subsequent anchor setting, this book is a fantastic safety manual on the subject.

Well written and interesting, packed full of good advice. I'll keep it on board for everyday reference. Many thanks to the authors

The book is surprisingly readable and successfully explains many related topics very clearly. Well recommended.

Great Resource. Every boater should have one. Keep it on your boat. Well explained with picture diagrams. We have bought this book for our friends who are novice and experienced boaters.
Excellent book which answers many questions and offers techniques for rookies and experienced boaters alike.

An excellent book. Very detailed and very clear. This book puts it all together nicely and will be reassuring when you start anchoring overnight and more often.

For high resolution imagery or any other questions, contact:
Alex Blackwell

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Consumerism in America

Alex and I sailed away from the US 11 years ago - amazing. We've been back for short stints to visit family but not for prolonged periods. We've always been amazed at how much things change in a short period of time - cars, tolls, supermarkets, shops, technology all march along at a rapidly increasing pace. But this time, I've been here for three weeks and I've become acutely aware of one major difference since I left - massive consumerism. I didn't think it could get more acute than it was but it certainly has.
The fruit salad display. Lots of packaging. Little work.

I've been amazed by the availability of goods in stores (Wegemans, CVS) and the quantity of stuff people buy. I am also astounded by what people throw away, just because something new becomes available. Yet all profess to be environmentally conscious.

I believe that everyone should be made to live on a boat for at least a month. Once you shlep all the ingredients, discard all the packaging and figure out what to do with the refuse, you take on a different attitude. Water consumption when at anchor teaches you to control your consumption of resources. Power shutdown when the batteries discharge teach energy conservation. And reuse of everything on board for something else stimulates creative thinking instead of sheep herd mentality.

I'm glad to live in a place where the amount of stuff available is not overwhelming.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Keeping kids in sailing

Sailing 'fun'damentals!

Yesterday I made a prediction that the next generation of sailors is already in the making through the effects of the new Disney classic Moana. I also made a plea not to turn kids off when they show up to sail training by forcing them into racing.

Today, I am going to continue to expand on my writings about the shortcomings of how sailing is taught for the most part in sailing clubs around the world. In 2015, I wrote a piece for Yachting World about how making sailing programmes fun can help keep more kids sailing. I'd written similar pieces for magazines on both sides of the Atlantic before that. It's sadly not a localised problem. Somehow, we've allowed racing to define sailing.

Last month, a series in Scuttlebutt tackled the issue of keeping kids in sailing and gave several great examples of how some clubs have managed to increase retention significantly through "Adventure Sailing" programmes. Can it be true? Is the concept catching on?

I'll start with my usual rant about the bodies that represent sailing on a global and regional level. No, US Sailing is not about sailing. It is about racing, the sport end of the pursuit. There is no body that I know of that represents sailing in all its forms. US Sailing does not represent cruising because cruising is not a sport - it's a pursuit. It's the same with World Sailing. They actually host a page about cruising on their website, but does it really do anything for cruising? Under events, they list all the global racing events, but do they even mention the World ARC? Of course not. Cruising is just not sexy enough or monetarily rewarding for them to mention.

Just think about the US National Sailing Hall of Fame. Do they honour cruisers? I rest my case. They don't even mention cruisers on their website.

Thanks to the Ocean Cruising Club, cruisers can get access to information and Port Officers that can help with sailing almost anywhere in the world. To become a full member, you must have sailed 1000 miles nonstop port to port in a small boat, but Associates can join if they aspire to qualify one day. There's a mentoring programme and a youth sponsorship programme that enable young people to pair up with experienced members for an offshore passage or to learn from those that have come before. Why can't we model youth Adventure Sailing programmes in the same way?

How did we ever let competitive racing take over sailing so fully?  I can only hope that the younger generations are going to sway the vote and go cruising in offshore canoes. And that messing about in boats will eventually win out.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Moana inspires a new generation of sailors

A Polynesian island

I have a theory based on my grandnephew Ziggy's propensity to navigate the seas to Te Fiti, the legendary island from which the demi-god Maui stole the heart gemstone. Ziggy gets in his boat (a cardboard box with a noodle mast) and uses his oar (a plastic shovel) to navigate to the place where the sky meets the sea. Ziggy is not quite three years old. We haven't figured out a sail yet but he wants the sheets to pull on like Moana does in the movie. The entire time  we are 'sailing' he sings the last two lines of the refrain in an indistinguishable language ad nauseum until he reaches the far shore.

Polynesian canoe
When we reach the destination (I am his navigator but he says I can't be because I'm Nana not an alligator!), we get into the dinghy (a wooden box) and I have to paddle ashore and beach the boat. Then Ziggy has to run around the island searching for the place where the heart fits before we set off and do it again.

Half the time he tells me I'm doing it wrong. When I ask him if he'd like to go sailing with Nana he lights up and says 'yes' emphatically. But when I show him our boat, it's clearly not adequate. A 57-foot ketch does not compare with a Polynesian canoe with outrigger. Oh no.

So here's my theory. There are thousands, if not millions, of little kids hooked on Moana watching the movie over and over and dreaming about crossing oceans to save their people. And when these kids grow up, they are going to want to learn how to sail. So let's not screw it up. Let's not teach them to go around in circles around race marks. Let's teach them to sail off to the place where the sky meets the sea to find that far away land of our ancestors. Let's not kill the dreams with lots of yelling. After all, Moana was self-taught. Let's remember that it's still possible to become a sailor without first being a racer.

By the way, Disney is about to launch their own channel so they are letting all their contracts with Netflix and other streaming services expire. They caused a run on CDs of Moana when it disappeared from Netflix just before Christmas. Apparently, the CD was selling online for $75. You see, there's a force unleashed here. Disney will be the salvation of sailing one generation from now. Yes! Let's go with the flow.