Lifeproof Case: No Proof of Life

We’re overdue for a good old fashioned product review.  This one’s a Part II after a few solid years of use, and a little abuse.

Lifeproof is a well known and very popular manufacturer of water and shock resistant cases for phones and tablets.  They make sleek, form fitting products that are exactly customized to specific devices, and are generally well thought out to give full functionality so that the device can just stay in the case.

The Lifeproof “Life Jacket” and iPhone case for the 5 series, with a suitably rugged backdrop.

I’ve used their cases for iPhone 4 and 5 series phones.  I was stoked about them at first, until they seemed to wear out prematurely.  I’ll go on record right now as saying that I’m rough on gear.  So, when I had trouble with my iPhone 4 case wearing away and falling apart, I thought it was me, but I put in a warranty claim anyway, and, BAM.  New case for free.  Good customer service!

The only problem is that it kept happening.  First, the 4, and then with the 5.  On our last Instructional Sailing Vacation trip in the Virgin Islands, one of the new cases leaked while snorkeling and almost ruined my phone.  I saved it with fresh water and then electrical contact cleaner, but it malfunctioned for a week and caused me some trouble with calls.  (Yes, I did a proper water integrity test before putting the phone in.  And, yes – I got some really kewl video footage of marine life for you that’s on our Instagram.)

As well as the wearing-away issue and the leak, the buttons that control the volume on/off switch, and the microphone port sealing screw, failed on two different replacement cases.

The case comes with a mic/headset adaptor that seals the phone when using either.  That protects the phone if the connection gets wet, and only the mic/headset is at risk.  However, they never worked properly with any kind of headset.

In my humble opinion, my issues boil down to two things:

  1. Lifeproof made an accessory called the Life Jacket for the 4 and 5 series phones.  It’s a bulky foam-rubber case that floats the device and also provides way more shock resistance.  It actually blocks wind noise for phones, too.  Unfortunately, the Life Jacket is very hard to get on and off the case, and wears it down quickly.  Must be done, as there’s no way to charge the phone with the Life Jacket on.  (Never got around to trying some Exacto-knife surgical modifications.)
  2. Durability issue with original cases, compounded by poor quality control in manufacturing of replacements.  New cases had halves that didn’t line up well, were warped, broke easily without using the Life Jacket, and in one case arrived with a loose broken part that had nothing to do with packing and shipping.

Sure, the company gladly kept sending replacements, and they made an easy process easier.  (I had to wonder if that reflected growing problems with quality and higher return rates.)  However, when I got fed up and asked more questions about where they were made, and whether I could expect better quality replacements for later models (6 and 7 series phones), I got a meaningless first response and no answer to a follow up.

So, I’m stuck with kewl Life Jacket accessories and broken cases.

There’s growing competition for this style of drop & drink resistant case for mobile devices.  One manufacturer, who has been around for decades making similar products, is Pelican.  They now make an iPhone case for the iPhone 6 and 6plus series phones that looks very similar to the Lifeproof products.  I might have to give them a try despite the lack of Life Jacket and figure out a workaround.

At least one if not several companies make dedicated snorkeling cases for the iPhone as well.  One is the TAT7 iPhone Scuba Case.  It’s a simple, clear case that has three dedicated buttons: home screen, camera app, and shutter.  It’s rated for depths up to 100 feet.  Once the phone is in, all one can do is shoot and stop (and toggle between pic and video, apparently). It has a built in wrist strap, which the Pelican doesn’t appear to.  Looks worthy of consideration.  (Couldn’t find a dedicated web site so that might be a slight red flag, but they are in product reviews and on Amazon.)

Anyway, here are links to Lifeproof and Pelican so you can do your own research and make your own decisions…

Lighting up a Light House

A client of ours is originally from Canada, and two buddies and he did 103 and 104 with us one season before doing their first bareboat charter in the BVI.

Adam’s uncle got involved with a latent lighthouse in Ontario, Canada. He’s on the local preservation committee, and had been trying to get it lit back up. Apparently, it was a somewhat uphill battle as there were concerns about the light shining on shoreside homes at night and being intrusive.  The major’s office was involved and favored the light being back on, so that helped.
Here’s an excerpt from the original Notice to Mariners in 1917 that announced the construction of this light!..
For its return, the compromise was to aim the light across the bay at another peninsula rather than sweep across the shore or just aim 360 all around.  Our mission: confirm the exact bearing, and show/explain why we came up with the magic number.
(Truth be told, Adam was more than capable of doing this himself, having successfully taken and passed 103, 104 and 105 with us and then applied it in the BVI. But this had to come from us as the outside experts.)
Anywho, Adam enlisted us to be the alleged experts to plot the angle of the light and show how we’d done it.

Dividers (nautical drafting compass) set exactly on the two points; protractor triangle was laid carefully against them to be on the correct bearing. Then, triangle was carefully moved to a meridian of longitude to read the bearing in true degrees. This was converted to magnetic so bearings could be taken from either point in real time to confirm.
1. Get the right chart.  Adam took care of this: NOAA #14832, Upper Niagara River, ending in Lake Erie.

2. ID the light in question: “Light House,” on Point Abino.  No characteristics shown as it’s idle.

3. ID the exact spot the new light is supposed to be aimed at: SW corner of the peninsula across the bay at the other end of Crystal Beach.
4. Measure the bearing painstakingly several times with at least two methods and get a consistent answer: 61 degrees magnetic.

There you have it.  And thar she glows…

The light house at Point Abino, Ontario, with its beacon aimed back across the bay.

Kids Trip, BVI: it’s a Wrap

Our inaugural Kid/Parent trip is in the books, and it was a resounding success. We’d been planning to do this for awhile.  It’s always nice when a trip exceeds your expectations, and that’s what happened. Now, we’re thinking of an annual Kid/Parent flotilla during the Presidents’ Week.

Meet the First Families… (Note: click any pic for full size/res – can click twice on lap/desktops)

The afternoon sun had us all squinting but it’s all good. Just about to depart!

Both Moms were graduates of our adult learn-to-sail program and continued sailing with us.  One had already gone on to get her own 27 footer locally in the northeast.  All the kids had some exposure to sailing, and were mostly the same age, so it was a good fit.  We scheduled a slightly shorter week than normal for logistical reasons and at the end of it, we were hearing,.. ” I don’t want to leave.”  That’s a good trip.

While it was mostly oriented at the kids, in this case aged 10-12, the difference between a kids’ itinerary and one for adults is mostly details. The allure of the watery and warm environment, swimming and snorkeling, and some hiking and sight seeing works for all.

Grins are good. Running along the north shore of Tortola en route to Jost Van Dyke.

We managed to get in a fairly typical itinerary of islands and anchorages, even including Anegada as the winds were relatively calm. Jumping in from the swim platform seemed to rank highest in customer satisfaction.  Snorkeling and running around like banshees on the beach placed and showed respectably.  One medium hike and one that was arguably a little too long went over surprisingly well.

Marine sightings included one dolphin, several large sea turtles, more large tarpon than usual, a spotted eagle ray that came flying out of the water like a bat out of hell chasing bait fish, a fairly curious ‘cuda (just for the Captain who was off on a snorkeling flyer), and numerous colorful and oddly shaped reef fish found by several of the kids and adults

Winds were light this time, and we didn’t have to reef once.  We saw others with reduced sail plans on occasion but we didn’t see the need, even with kids.  The boat just didn’t heel much.  When it was ‘sailing for the sake of sailing,’ the kids were fond of pointing out when the boat speed dipped below a few knots, and when it made more sense, we occasionally motor sailed to keep it moving.

Day One: mid-afternoon departure, after receiving the boat at noon, so lucky to get to an anchorage at all and happy to punch it under power.   Went to Marina Cay, a good jumping off point for other anchorages. Great shake-down snorkel for all, all of whom were brand new to it with one exception.

Captain Casual, trying to not be Captain Obvious (as in not over coaching, as she got it right away). First leg of trip, less than half an hour out.

Day Two: off to Anegada.  Forecast seemed to favor it, and once we poked our nose out past the main islands, it was confirmed in real time. This was one of the best sails of the trip, never needing to motor to keep up a good cruising speed.  All who wanted to steer got plenty of time. Some ocean swells, but nothing we couldn’t handle from a comfort standpoint.

Made lunch and then took an open-air taxi ride to Loblolly Bay and Beach on the north shore, one of several great spots.  Across the inland pond we were able to see part of the resident pink flamingo colony of the island.  Far away, but they were there.  Snorkeling, scrubbing energy on the beach, tightrope and hammock games, and a little ice cream didn’t hurt.

Apres snorkel ice cream. Loblolly Beach, Anegada.

Day Three: Virgin Gorda.  not enough wind to justify trying to sail back so we motored and made the time pass with games and snacks. Moored up at Saba Rock, then the kids did what they do best: jump off the boat for awhile.  The Captain organized a day trip for the group to The Baths, the famous boulder formations at the other end of Virgin Gorda.  They had a blast while the Captain caught up on correspondence, scoped out a new snorkeling spot, and shot some pool with pepperoni pizza for sustenance.

Not a typical scene anywhere – except at The Baths on Virgin Gorda. This is just one of many spectacular pools amongst the boulders.

Day Four: on to Jost Van Dyke.  Combo of sailing and motoring to get the miles under the keel, but it was a fun ride.  Gentle ocean swells at times and otherwise flat.  First, we moored off Sandy Cay and did a dinghy drop of passengers to play and explore the small island, which was donated by Rockefeller in 2008.  It’s a delightful swim over a sandy bottom to get ashore, then one can take a short scenic hike to the top and back down the other side for great vistas and getting the wiggles out.  Huge hermit crabs are scattered around the trail here.

Much taller than it looks, little Sandy Cay is a great day stop. Swim in from your moored or well anchored yacht; hike up the trail to the top and back around the other side.

We anchored off Little Jost Van Dyke for the evening, affording more diving maneuvers (mostly cannonballs) off the swim platform before we did a group trip to he Bubbly Pool, a moderate walk from the dinghy dock.  This is a small beach almost completely enclosed with lava formations and rocks, through which the open Caribbean surf rolls in from time to time making a foamy whirlpool of things.  Very fun and relaxing; well worth the walk.

The Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke. Waves break through the rocks and tumble in, creating a foamy, refreshing bubble bath.

Day Five: more snorkeling and swimming before weighing anchor and setting sail for Norman Island, our last anchorage of the trip.  We sailed most of the way, furling up before negotiating Thatch Cut at the west end of Tortola, and then enjoying our first real beat of the trip with several tacks thrown in as we zig-zagged along St. John.

After mooring in the Bight at Norman, we dinghied in for the long hike to Money Bay towards the other end of Norman.  One kid/parent turned back after making a good show of it and played at the main beach, including a kayak rental.  The rest of us trudged on and made it to Money Bay for a secluded snorkeling expedition followed by lunch and a more downhill return.  Followed, of course, by ice cream and virgin daiquiris…

One of the scenic overlooks on the Norman Island hike.

Next up: snorkeling at the Caves off the headland of the Bight.  Excellent visibility this time; not many schools of fish but plenty of large parrot fish, a few trumpets, and other individual and paired sightings.  Followed, of course, but scores of jumps off the back of the boat once we returned.

Rinse & repeat. And repeat. This never got old for them.

What didn’t we do?  The Willy T, appropriately.  There’s always the March 18-25 trip (still room for two more people…).

Kids & Parents in the BVI.  it was meant to be, and will be again next year.  Many of you have asked about this; we’ve been preparing for it; and now it’s a reality that we’ll keep exploring with you in the BVI and elsewhere.

See some more pics and clips from this and other trips on our Instagram!

BVI Wrap-up and Nav Classes

Just got back from our first Virgin Islands (BVI) trip of this ‘off’ season, and are hitting the ground running with more BVI trips and coastal navigation courses. We did a lot of nav training on this trip…

Twin sisters with niece/daughter doing some nice plotting. They ran the show while the man drove.

We had a family of four all training and testing out for their cruising certifications, plus a couple who had been with us numerous times in BVI and in Greece who were there to just chill.  Everyone got what they went for.

It was a windy week.  Breezes were moderate as we started with upper teens the norm, but we wound up with 20-25 on the last two days with some higher gusts the last afternoon/evening with squally weather.  Not much of a problem on a well equipped 41-foot late model Beneteau.

Our Moorings 42.3 (Beneteau 41) and home for the week, “Reposado,” moored off of Marina Cay, BVI.

As part of the family’s testing, we spent an extra night in Gorda Sound to get them out in pairs on a Rhodes 19 keel sloop.  I’d forgotten how fun these were despite owning one in the past.  They’re stable but fast and responsive, with a very unusual look and long bench seats.  Short and a little stubby, they’re beamy and have a pronounced flare to the bow.  It’s funny how some boats look like they can’t get out of their own way, but are better than most boats in their class designed since.

The Rhodes, as well as modified J-24’s and numerous dinghies, catamarans and sailboards, can be rented at Bitter End Yacht Club, which is basically lodging with a fleet of boats to play on.  Guests of the facility enjoy unlimited use of these and rental rates are not unaffordable for cruising yachties.

Blasting along in a Rhodes 19, Gorda Sound. Prickly Pear Island behind; BEYC ahead.

We had excellent snorkeling in several locations.  At Anegada we were treated to some sea turtles, a decent cuda, and a very decent sized shark (did not look like a nurse) that was simply sitting on the bottom breathing the current.  There was also a plethora of fish including some hard to spot species.

Our next trip?  Our inaugural Kid/Parent trip in mid February.  That’s booked.

Next after that?  Working on one to fall in the second half of March or early April.  CONTACT US if you’re interested as your vote for dates could clinch the trip for you.

Want to see more of the trip above?  Navigate to our Instagram page where we’ve photo-doc’d most of it and with more to come!

See more on Instagram

COASTAL NAV: next class starts on Wednesday in Manhattan!

We still have two spots left for our Start Navigating course (Coastal Nav, ASA 105).  This one starts on Wednesday evening, January 18, running for 4 consecutive Wednesday evenings.  Time is 6:30 to about 9:45 and location is on Upper West Side.  For more info, see our Start Navigating page or contact us.

Why ‘Red, Right, Returning’ is wRong!

Really, you say?  “That’s not what the book says…  in fact, that’s not what ANY book says.”

True.  Except, of course, for ours.  Yes, we have our own.  Our Director & Dockmaster,’ Captain Stephen Glenn Card, authored a coastal navigation textbook for the Sailing Center a long time ago.  More on that later.

‘Red, Right, Returning’ is a memorization aid for dealing with buoys and beacons in US Coastal Waters.  Basically, it’s a reference to something called the Lateral System, and the idea is that when returning from seaward and entering bays, harbors, etc, we should leave red buoys/beacons on the right side of our vessel (meaning we pass to the left of them).

It’s taught in sailing and boating courses nationwide, and was handed down to us by none other than the United States Coast Guard.  Below, I’ll even provide a link to their PDF about it.  So why I am I challenging it in any way?

Simple.  It’s an unnecessary, misleading oversimplification that often results in boaters running aground, and if you follow it, you’ll eventually run aground too. Here’s why…

  • Well-defined channels with rows of green and red markers are uncommon;
  • It’s often unclear when you’re ‘returning’ versus ‘leaving.’  Large bodies of water like Long Island Sound are often treated like ‘R,R,R’ channels, and back bay passages – especially with islands – are worse.
  • It doesn’t help you when there’s no buoy or beacon for an underwater hazard (common enough in our waters, and routine in much of the world).
  • Even when it’s set up as intended, it doesn’t show the safe approach to get to the first buoy or beacon marking your return.  Sometimes those navaids come AFTER the hazard they mark – and only a chart would reveal that!
  • The world is broken down into two regions, A and B, and it only works in one (which sets you up to fail in the other).

It’s actually easier to just look at the chart.  (To their credit, the USCG does say you should do that.)  The chart has it all, and if you use it, you should never run aground.  Here’s why…

  • Charts show the actual hazards and their risk to you;
  • Charts show what, IF ANYTHING, marks those hazards;
  • Charts show you ways to get around unmarked hazards;
  • When a navaid is missing (it happens), you’ll know it, whereas without the chart, you never would.

So, in conclusion, Everyone advocates having proper charts.  R, R, R offers us nothing that charts don’t.  Charts supply everything.  Def need charts; def don’t need RRR.  It’s worse than useless.  Delete it from your memory and have a safe time boating with a proper chart.

Here’s the link to the USCG pamphlet in PDF on the lateral system of buoyage…

Now, about that book…

Navigation for Numbskulls, or “How to get from A to B without hitting C,” is our Coastal Navigation text book complete with practice problems and answers.  Captain Card begun this endeavor with nothing more in mind that writing a few supplements to the then current ASA text book on the subject.  Eventually, he toyed around with writing his own and began by writing a chapter here and there during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in Vermont, when he had the down time.  One thing led to another, and he got to the point where it was developing critical mass and a decision had to be made about whether to proceed to full fruition.  Yada, yada, yada… a book was born.  It’s available in print and as a PDF from us. Contact us to see an sample excerpt or to purchase.

A Toast to Paul Elvstrom: 1928-2016

Very sadly, albeit inevitably, we’ve lost perhaps the greatest racing sailor of all time – the “Great Dane,’ Paul Elvstrøm.

Paul Elvstrøm 1960b.jpg
‘The Great Dane,’ Paul Elvstrøm, in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He’s in a Finn dinghy – the world’s hardest boat to sail. Period.  I think this photo represents him so well – a casual, relaxed focus on perfection.

(Ed. note: Some of this post was copied from an earlier one on this site, but Elvstrom’s stats bear repeating.)

Paul Bert Elvstrøm was arguably the most successful sailor in racing history, with an impact and legacy that, in this author’s humble opinion, is under-appreciated today.  He passed away in his sleep at the age of 88 in his homeland of Denmark.

A very young Elvstrøm, who was rarely without a genuine smile on his face by most accounts.
  • Sailed in 8 Olympiads
  • Won Gold Medals in 4 consecutive Olympiads, a feat duplicated by only 3 other athletes, including Ben Ainslie and Carl Lewis;
  • Medaled (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in 11 World Championships;
  • Did all this in 9 different classes of boat, running the full gamut: singlehanded dinghies, double handed dinghies, 2-man keelboats, 3-man keelboats, and catamarans.  Only thing he didn’t do was sailboards which became popular too late in his career.

Here is a list of racing classes he did all this in:

  • Firefly (singlehanded dinghy)
  • Finn (singlehanded dinshy)
  • Snipe (doublehanded dinghy)
  • 505 (doublehanded dinghy)
  • Flying Dutchman (doublehanded beast of a dinghy/boardboat)
  • Star (doublehanded keelboat)
  • 5.5 Metre (3-man keelboat)
  • Soling* (3-man keelboat)
  • Tornado (doublehanded catamaran)

*The Soling was commonly used in adult sailing school programs for a long time, including our family’s first school.

Elvstrøm and his teenaged daughter, Trine, on the technical and athletic Tornado Catamaran. They just missed the Bronze Medal sailing the Tornado in the 1984 Olympics, finishing fourth. Argh; so close…

On top of all that, he just missed an Olympic bronze medal by one place in the Tornado class catamaran in his 50’s with his teen daughter, Trine, crewing for him.  He also victored in numerous Pan-European Championships, including in the Dragon class keelboat which was very competitive back in the day.

“P-6: Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” – Elvstrøm. (That’s supposed to be P to the 6th power, but can’t find a superscript function so sue me.)

On and off the race course, Elvstrøm was developmental in many ways., ranging from sail and spar design and manufacturing to improvements in components (such as self bailing mechanisms), training techniques (his ground breaking hiking bench), and race organization (such as using gates, or two marks to pass between, for large fleets).  He wrote a few books too including Expert Dingy and Keelboat Racing.

Elvstrøm Sails, which he founded in the 50’s and sold in ’76, is one of the oldest sailmaking lofts in the world.  Elvstrøm sails are competitive on the race course, of course, but they also manufacture for cruising.  They’re often found on charter boats in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.  We love it when we board a boat, hoist the main, and BAM… there’s the Elvstrom king’s crown logo.ELVSTROM_LOGO

“And what’s all this with people screaming, ‘Starboard?’  The man on port is not stupid.  He knows you are there.” – slight paraphrase of an Elvstrøm rant in one of his excellent books, but a clear example of his philosophy on respectful competition.

This author is grateful for the incredible talent and expertise of the indomitable Great Dane, Paul Elvstrøm, and how he tried to share it with the rest of the sailing world.  May you rest as happily and peacefully as you lived.


What’s up, dockmaster?

Well, the boats are.  All of them.  It took awhile but they’re all put up high and dry for the ‘off’ season.  And, we can still sail on occasion when it’s too nice to justify a ski/ride excursion!  One of our best client/friends is keeping his J-28 in the water in nearby New Rochelle so it’s an option for our Sailing Club members.  Just re-winterize the engine quickly (easy breezy) and back to the slopes.

Speaking of which… our Director & ‘Dockmaster,’ Steve Card, also loves teaching snowboarding.  He did it part time for a few winters but hasn’t had enough time to continue on a seasonal basis.  So, it’s been back to civilian status with the occasional private request from friends and Sailing Center clients.  Captain Card is a Level I certified instructor through PSIA/AASI (and was on a Level II track before he had to give up the gig). Whether you’re interested in trying it for the first time, or need to get over the hump (bump?) on something, hit him up to discuss.

Our Cal 27, Sea Jay, out for the winter. The fog below her transom is spray from a pressure washer after her bottom was cleaned.  Click pic for full-size.

We’re now on Instagram!  Long overdue, we’ve started putting up pics for you.  We’ll be catching up throughout the off season to keep you stoked for the next. Send us any kewl sailing related pics you have and we’ll try to toss them up too.  We’ll give you photo credit of course.  There’s an Instagram icon on every page and post of this site (including this one) with all the other social icons.  Look for ‘Reviews, Social, Etc’ on the side bar or toward the bottom depending on your device.

Our next Start Navigating course (ASA 105, Coastal Navigation) is almost full.  This is 4 weeknights in Manhattan: December 13, 21, 28 & January 3 (Tue, Wed, Wed, Tue).  We’ll soon be announcing other schedules for the remainder of the winter, but feel free to be in touch to discuss what works for you – especially if you are two or more and are interested in doing it at your home or office.

Finally… We leave for our first Virgin Islands (BVI) trip of the alleged ‘off’ season in less than a month!  This one’s full unless you have a group, in which case we might be able to add a second boat.  Dates are January 6-13. Our second trip is a Kid/Parent affair that has room for one more kid + parent (or a parent alone whose kid can’t attend).  Dates are February 11-16.

Interested in either of those, or a third trip at another time?  Contact us.


Still Sailing!



(click any of these pics once for large and again for full size/res.) The family that sails together… Second practice sail for them after completing our Start Sailing course (Basic Keelboat, ASA 101). Saturday, November 5.

Do we have the longest season in the northeast?  Probably. We usually hang in there until the overlap of sailing and snowsports – and start again before all the slopes are closed.

Killington opened awhile ago for skiing and riding.   True, it’s only a few trails and some walking at the end to download.  We have it a little easier. Fewer boats, but same waters and routes.  No hiking.  Launch still whisks you out and back in less time than John Cheetah could have recited this post.  (Okay – maybe a little more time than that.  But fast.)

Swiss sailor, Alex, who came to check out the Sailing Club on Sunday 11/5. He was not disappointed: happy camper aboard our Swedish Folkboat. The Dockmaster took a quick turn at the helm and snapped this before surrendering. We had over 20 knots that day and with a single reef and working jib, the helm was perfectly balanced.

We got folks out both days last weekend, November 5 and 6.  Should have gotten several parties out this Sunday the 13th but skeleton crew and an illness shut us down.  We’ll get out this coming week and see what weather and the haulout schedule bring thereafter.

Director & Dockmaster (and HBIC), Captain Stephen Glenn Card, enjoying the ride on the Folkboat that day. Note the spray from the leeward bow and general sea state. Confused waves caused the boat to move around more than the last windy sea trial, but she still felt amazingly stiff and in control. Deploy full sail and she’s quite fast in the light stuff too.

So, how much time do we have left?  Who knows.  But if we run out, there’s our Coastal Navigation courses, our Virgin Islands trips (BVI), and of course, snowsports.  Our HBIC* pictured above is a PSIA/AASI certified snowboard instructor, and loves teaching.  If you or someone you know wants to get started, or get over the hump (or back on the horse if you were tossed on your arse), hit us up and he’ll talk to you about your goals on the snow.

(*Head Bozo In Charge)




Sea Trial: International Folkboat

What do you do when you arrive at the marina to solid whitecaps despite no fetch?
Bean meaning to really sea trial Silent Reach, our International (Swedish) Folkboat, in some snotty stuff.  But, didn’t get around to it.  The two guys below were more than willing to give her a whirl, so off we went in 17-25 yesterday (which was slightly down from what we arrived to but still no slouch).  Fittingly, it was Columbus Day…
Rigging up the ol’ Folkboat. Full main and small jib; about hoist sails in about 20 knots (17-25 during the sail).
Small jib; full main.  They wanted to reef it in keeping with what we teach. “If you’re thinking about reefing, you should have done it already.”  But this was a sea trial of a stiff, ocean capable boat.  So, no reef.
Didn’t really need it.  Sometimes we buried the rail in gusts, but even then, the boat handled well despite some extra weather helm.  The main thing was that this boat just ate up the heavier stuff.  We didn’t feel the waves at all.  The boat sliced through them effortlessly, and with a lot less spray than we’d anticipated.  In the cockpit, it was bone dry.  (We kept the camera phones secure anticipating getting wet, so no pics while underway.)
Beam reach, 20 knots?  Almost no heel.  Boat just sailed itself.  Downwind, I was able to go forward with such ease to tie up the jib after dropping it that I caught myself not even holding onto anything. It’s a surreal experience on a boat this small.  It just charged along like a surfaced submarine or something. Reminded me of a Soling, only more stable.
(Solings were often used in the Olympics as the 3-man keelboat with spinnaker.  They were common in sailing schools for a long time as well. Folkboats are also raced with chutes.)
Long Island Sound is a light wind region, you say?  You’re right.  We’ve already sailed her in zephyrs and light to low-moderate breezes and, surprise – she moves in light winds, too.  A truly pedigree sailing vessel.
Our Folkboat is available to our Sailing Club members, and for rent by our graduates and select well-qualified non-graduates.  Come and and experience fall sailing on her!

A Folkboat Joins the Fleet

We tried her out last weekend, and liked her… so we got her.  Say hello to the newest acquisition in our fleet…

“Silent Reach,” our International Folkboat.   To the left is a C&C 34.  Very good – but very different – boat.

We’ve seen these boats around for a few years – and by around, we mean the world.  Or at least the hemisphere.  But these boats get around, literally and figuratively.  “Silent Reach” was built in Sweden by the preeminent manufacturer of this class, Marieholm.  We first saw them in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) at Biras Creek Resort.  Then, back at the ranch on City Island, we saw the very one you see pictured above and learned what they were.  And now she’s ours.

So, what’s the deal with Folkboats?

  • Born of a design contest in Sweden in the 1940’s
  • Over 5,000 have been built (prolific)
  • Over 4,000 are probably still sailing (whoah)
  • They started out as wood but became fiberglass in 60’s and onward
  • Traditional design with full keel
  • Point very well and are super seaworthy (circumnavigation-so)
  • Popular all over

We sailed Silent Reach on a light wind weekend day with some motorboat chop.  The wind was a little stronger when we were rigging, so we used the working (small) jib.  Despite the smaller sailplan in light wind, and a dirty bottom, the boat pointed well, sailed fairly fast, and was maneuverable for a full keel design.

The next time out, after closing on her, we had more wind.  So what did we do?  We used the larger jib (genoa)!  This is one stiff boat.  Yet, she’s lively and fun to sail.  Can’t wait to see her true pedigree when we clean her bottom.

International Folkboats are also known as Swedish Folkboats.  They’re popular in Scandinavia of course, but they get around the world.  We’ve seen references to a Transatlantic and a circumnavigation so far.  That means these are ocean-capable boats, yet, they are fun on inland waters too for both daysailing and pocket cruising.  The previous owner of Silent Reach sailed her to Block Island a few times.

Here’s a sister ship with the same color cabin top/deck and similar hull color (Silent Reach was the same red originally but had recently been repainted professionally)…

A Marieholm Folkboat, apparently in Sweden, that’s basically identical to ours. (This one sports a dodger over the companionway.)

The one above is sailing with its working jib.  Here’s one under genoa:

This one appears to be in a race, almost at the layline for the next mark. She’s spinnaker equipped so might be about to pop the chute.

The boats were originally wood with wooden spars (masts and booms). The Marieholm ones that are prevalent are all glass outside except for the tiller.  This makes them lower on maintenance yet still appearing quite traditional.  The interiors have a lot of wood.

Engines could be inboard or outboard apparently.  Ours is o/b.  They were designed to have the engine in a well in the transom (see the hatch under the tiller in the shot above).  Some put them on the transom too, as shown with the red sister ship further up.

What will we use her for?  The sheer joy of sailing.  She’ll predominately be a daysailer.  She can be overnighted as well, although space is a little tight belowdecks.  Ours has an Origo 2-burner stove and a porta potti. Nothing fancy, but with the V-berth and two settees, there are places to sleep.  And being very stable, she won’t rock around as much as a lighter fin-keel design.

Plan of the International Folkboat. Elegant, traditional design.

Despite being a more classic design with traditional transom and full keel, there are performance elements to the Folkboat.  Note the fractional rig. The boats have adjustable backstays, for crying out loud!  Plus, sliding gooseneck for the ultimate in shaping ability, and a cunningham for tweaking that shape.  Large mainsails with manageable headsail choices make for performance and ease of handling.

“Silent Reach” will be available to our graduates (and well qualified outsiders) to rent as well as to our Sailing Club members.  Come see, and sail, an example of sailing history that won’t go out of style!

Two articles on Folkboats…

Good Old Boat (The Folkboat: Little Beauty with a Big Heart)

Yachting World (‘Did you sail that thing here?’ – solo across the Atlantic in a Folkboat)