Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Bookstore

Over the past eight years I’ve published more than 100 magazine articles, on topics ranging from simple product reviews to complex engineering analysis.  Lamentably, a magazine format doesn’t allow the writer to present complete ideas and the back-up they deserve. Instead, magazine style demands punchy headlines, read-at-glance text, and lots of pictures. And yet I have truly enjoyed the process of writing for magazines, the broad range of topics it suggested, and the great people I was able to work with. I've been encouraged to take on research that otherwise would have gone wanting.

In these books I’ve gone back to my original text, before it was cut for size. I’ve added material where new research or experience suggested, and corrected a few things where the passage of time and miles of sailing have taught me better. I've added whole topic areas that simply aren't magazine fodder. I hope the full story will, help you solve problems, extend your sailing horizons, and encourage critical thinking about all you read and your sailing experiences.
It’s been my pleasure.

[click on either the PDF or Kindle link, depending on which format you need. The PDF contains slightly better detail and is updated more frequently.]

How-To books

Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts
As much as I love sailing, putting my daughter through college and funding my 401K are more important. Transitioning from professional engineer to writer has transformed my habit of living efficiently into a passion for spreading funds thin. I like to think of it as a challenge for the imagination—it’s more fun that way.
I’ve written over 100 equipment reviews and engineering articles for popular sailing magazines, all based on laboratory and hands-on testing. I’ve spent 30 years learning how to maintain, fix, and upgrade. I've also spent 35 years as a chemical engineer, and my wife thinks I live in my basement shop. 

As a result I’ve become a fair hand most crafts, never get stuck in the field with something I can’t fix, and I've learned to spread money thin, without compromising speed, reliability, or function. Although I've written on many topics, my wife assures me this is the one I know best. My magnum opus? 

Check the Table of Contents link to glimpse the range of topics covered. Everything from cheap maintenance and effective multi-step water treatment, to installing air conditioning, solar, modifying keels, and other upgrades minor and major. Over 20 years of real, tested projects.

Like the fellow on the World War II poster, abandon all pretense of dignity, and enjoy 30 years of methods proven to keep money in your pocket.

Rigging Modern Anchors
Pending in print, about 250 pages.
In the process of researching and writing about anchors I was startled to learn just how much of what the traditional texts preach is just plain wrong. One writer after another parrots back the same old conventional wisdom, but very few actually take out a load cell and the measure stuff, or actually test and observe anchor rigs under high load, to see how they move. A few magazine articles skimmed the surface, but not in enough detail and I wanted to do more comprehensive testing. The result is this book, I believe the most accurate text available on rigging anchors for the cruising sailor.
I freely admit the book has a US east coast slant. This allowed me to pack in the information you really need. Instead of chapters on Mediterranean moors and coral lagoons, I focus on soupy mud, heavy weed, impenetrable clay, shells, rocks, and thunderstorms. Our reality.

Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Sailor

Buy now2017, PDF, 154 pages, $9.25.
Table of Contents
For many of us, the pull is summed up by the powerful quote from The Wind in the Willows; “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” But that chapter one quotation is often stretched completely out of context, into a moral imperative to ditch all and go to sea. In fact, the very same innocent water rat, that was so taken with the river and his simple clinker-built  rowboat in Chapter 1, later spends a day with a charismatic seafaring rat in Chapter 9. Our simple, provincial water rat is so completely mesmerized by the vast and sweeping stories (exaggerated, no doubt) told by the wayfaring rat about his adventures aboard a coastal freighter, and the mysteries of the many ports of call, that immediately upon returning home he begins to plan his own departure to the sea. He tries to explain his compulsion to his friends but can't find a rational argument. He fights through fits and seizures until, in his own words, he regains his sanity.
What most of us want is a miniature adventure that fits within the time available. More to the point, it fits our priorities. We have families ashore. We have friends. We have shore-bound interests at least as important and valid. More likely our need to singlehand is a practical thing; “I want to go sailing. Now.” 
I’ve written this for coastal cruisers. I haven't circled the globe, but I have sailed 25,000 miles round and round the Chesapeake and along the Atlantic coast over the past 30 years, most of it alone. I’ve accumulated the practical sort of 15- to 50-mile day sort of experience that matters, navigating shoals, anchoring or docking daily, and returning to my real life after a few days to week afloat. We don't sail gold plated boats we bought from a dealer. We sail 5- to 30-year old boats and we spread our upkeep dollars thin, but without sacrificing function or safety.

Specific thoughts for the solo sailor? Just a few. Know your limitations and stay within them—the thoughtful beginner can be safe. Be a jack of all trades—whatever fails, it’s all on you. Choose your weather and be flexible—who were you trying to impress? Go home when it’s not fun anymore.

Faster Cruising for the Coastal Sailor
Kindle 2017, about 200 pages
Buy now2017, PDF, 183 pages, $9.99.
Table of Contents
This book is about covering more miles from dawn to dusk, without running yourself ragged in the process. It’s not about racing disguised as cruising. I’m not pushing new sails, obsessive sail trim, or watch keeping routines. It certainly is not about sleep deprivation and crossing oceans.
It is about:
·         Getting the most from what you’ve got.
·         Simple modifications that bring big benefits on small dollars.
·         The basics of short-handed sailing.
·         Efficiency in all things.
·         Getting where you’re going a little earlier in the day, with more time to play. 
I've done a little racing, but for me, it was always about the joy of moving well, and not about turning a good day on the water into an exercise in exhausting focus. If you want to dawdle some days that’s OK too. I’ll make it easier.

Cruising Guides

Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula—A Guide for the Shoal Draft Sailor

Table of Contents

The writing of this book has been a 10-year labor of love, summarizing all we have learned in six circumnavigations, and all we have learned of this trip from locals and other sailors. I remain baffled by how many race around the Delmarva, rather than visiting the small places and absorbing the flavor. True, the prospect and the reality of piloting changeable inlets is intimidating, and we'll take you off the beaten path, but mostly these are places any boat could go, that had the time; I have describe both the conventional paths, and the more adventurous and rewarding alternatives.

We brought back the details of a world known only to watermen and local sailors. I hope I have brought real life this tale; I know how deeply I enjoyed the time spent with my family.


  1. Cool Drew - I'm looking forward to getting your Delmarva book, and probably the one about sailing fast.

  2. The book on singlehanding was certainly the quickest to write. I focused on those things that are different when alone, avoiding the need to rehash all of sailing.

    "Rigging Modern Anchors" is in the process of review by several anchor manufacturers. Based primarily on testing rather than anecdotes, recollections,and conventional wisdom copied from other books, it's been quite a project. Even this winter I've been out on the Chesapeake, wading around in a dry suit, filling in a few gaps discovered in the data. It's amazing to me how little testing has actually been done. Just straight line pulling, rather than investigating the dynamics of anchors in the real world.

    "Keeping a Cruising Boat on Peanuts" is getting long. I'd forgotten just how many ways I've avoided spending money over the years. Compounded at 5%, I figure I've saved nearly $400,000 over the past 25 years. No way I could have afforded a sailing habit following the yacht club path.

    1. I'm nearing completion of building a 30' cruising catamaran and need to start thinking of buying stuff (hardware) for it. Would your "...Peanuts" book be a decent resource for ideas on how to save money doing that? Any chance it will soon be on Kindle?
      thx, Jim

    2. Garhauer for deck hardware is always a good bet; plain, but very durable and very inexpensive. For example, the low lead blocks and tracks for the genoa were less then 1/2 what the better advertised brands go for. I also like their snatch block design; an excellent value in a super bit of gear. My other suggestion is to minimize the use of swivel blocks; although they can solve some problems, they often swivel more than they should creating more tangles and twists than they solve. Always ask yourself if a second shackle or a soft shackle would solve the problem.

      Although the book is not focused on building, a good 60% is DIY projects, and I'd be very surprised if many of the ideas did not cross over.

      PDF can be converted to Kindle using free software from Calibre. However, features that would normally function in Kindle (table of contents links) will not. I have no immediate plans to sell Kindle.

    3. Great! Thanks for the reply and ideas - exactly what this beginner needs. I didn't think the book had anything to do with boat building necessarily - just if it had ideas to save money on setting things up. Building is about done for now. So I will probably go ahead and give the book a try. thx again, JD

  3. Amy chance you might make your books available as downloadable pdfs for home printing? I'd be first in line to purchase at least two of your 2017 titles in this form. --David

    1. Done. There is now a "buy it now" button and Pay Pal is accepted.