My Dream Sailboat

Do you have a dream sailboat? I dream about a new sailboat but I haven't found one that fits most of my dreams yet.  Sailboats are about compromise. If you have a lot of height in the cabin then your visibility from the cockpit is reduced. A full heavy keel to get you out on a good rippin' day, then it's harder to load and trailer and a shallow beach is off limits.

Specifucations are good to compare and see displacement and ballast weights. The draft and the sail and rigging. One of my favorite places to start is at  There are specs on tons of boats with searches available by boat or builder. Much more information than any picture will tell you.

However I love to look at pictures. They give me much more information than a page of specs will. A great site to look up or browse through pictures is   Head to the Sailboat Photo Gallery to pick your dream make and model listed alphabetically.

Also nothing can compare to actually seeing or getting on a boat of course. Walk around the marinas. Ask questions. Most sailors that I know would be very happy to talk about or show you their sailboat.

One of the things we love to do when we sail is to crank up the keel and pull right up on shore. We can take a break, go for a walk, have a picnic, light a BBQ or maybe a bonfire. I would also like a little larger boat maybe about 25 ft. for more room and stability. At that size with a swing keel or centerboard we could still load and trailer easier than something larger.

The Ericson 25 with a centerboard really appeals to me but I also like an open V Berth with aft head like a Beneteau First 26 or a Jeanneau Tonic 23. It seams the older and heavier I get the harder it is to get in and out of that damn V berth and it feels more claustrophobic too! All of this and it will have to be an older boat that I can afford.

These are all things I dream of. As our kids get older and we get closer to retirement it would be wonderful to hit the road and try out new lakes with a more comfortable sailboat.

But, for now, I can leave home and get to my yacht club where my Sirius 21 waits at the dock and be sailing within an hour. In a climate where we sail from mid May to early October I sailed 30 different days last year. I can haul my sailboat home with my 12 year old Honda Odyssey if I like.

So for now, maybe I already have my dream boat.

What is your dream boat? What are your favorite sites to check? Share in the comments to let sailors help sailors.

If you enjoyed this post, I'd really appreciate it if you could help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks & Cheers! Daryl

What to do if the Captain drops, falls overboard, passes out.....

You take a friend or two for a sail on beautiful day. Maybe it's your spouse and child. Every thing is wonderful until the unthinkable happens. And that is the problem, we don't think about what could happen if you the captain is incapacitated and no one else knows how to handle your boat.

You could fall overboard and watch your boat sail away without you because nobody on board knows ow to stop it.

I suggest making a list or even a binder and show any passengers where you keep it. Go over this list with new passengers and make sure they can find it when needed. Make your list in point form but add details or explanations. They might not remember what you showed them a few hours ago.

I sail on smaller inland lakes so my emergency list may be different from yours. Make your list to suit your sailing.

HOLY SHIT! What do I do now? -List

  • Remain calm

- This is really important, breathe deeply and try to keep from crapping yourself.

  • Stop the damn boat

-a sailboat can not sail directly into the wind. Period. Turn the boat into wind, feel the wind direction on your face or see it on the windex. ( that arrow thing on the top of the mast this is no time for cleaning windows)

- once you get it stopped or slowed drop the sails or furl (roll them up)

  • Use radio

-show guest where the radio is and how to call for help

  • Cell Phone-

-many people have a cell phone. List the phone numbers for your yacht club or for other sailors that might be nearby that could help

-phone 911

  • Know where you are-

-GPS co-ordinates or land marks. Talk about the different land marks as you approach or sail by them.

  • Where are life jackets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, horn/whistle
  • Drop the anchor, show them how to deploy the anchor. It may keep you off the the rocks and will keep you pointed into the wind.
  • Boarding ladder- be sure they know how to lower it if it is permanent or where it is stowed if not.
  • Lower outboard and start the engine, let them try this and get used to the tiller or wheel.
  • If the water is rough or stormy show them how crank up the swing keel and beach the boat.

What will you put on your list? What did I miss on mine? Leave a comment to share!

If you enjoyed this post, I'd really appreciate it if you could help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks & Cheers! Daryl

How Sailing and Exercise Help me Cope with Parkinson’s Disease - Guest post by By Steve Van Vlaenderen


I have always wanted to sail. It was a life time dream since I was a child. However, competing obligations such as family and business career always came first forcing me to postpone my dream of one day having my own sailboat. Someday attitude turns out to be fifty years.  At sixty I finally (five years ago) purchased ‘Cloud’, a thirty one foot Niagra.  Taking sailing lessons and navigation courses I began to experience what it was truly like sailing.

It was a wonderful experience that taught me a lot about my life. That first year of sailing was overshadowed by learning that I had Parkinson’s. My outlook on life immediately changed. As I listened to the prognoses I began to get visions about the end of my life, sitting in a care home being feed with a spoon, or being put into some undignified position while having to go to the bathroom with a seemingly uncaring health worker just doing his or her job.

My dreams and aspirations became shattered. The purpose in my life disappeared in one single verdict from the Neurologist. No longer was I in control of my life; dependent on medications for the rest of my life to address the symptoms; in which, according to the Doctor will loose its effectiveness over time requiring an ever increase in dosage to relieve the symptoms. The words; “there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease,” still resonates in my mind to this day.

Accepting the Doctors recommendations I was immediately put on a medication program to slow down the progression of the Parkinson’s disease. Without question I took my meds every day for the next two years. Despite the treatment, I was still experiencing deterioration in mobility and activities.

The hardest thing was copping with the continuous feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and pleasure’s. Negative thinking became the norm in my day, yielding to a feeling of nervousness and worried thoughts which exacerbated my physical distress. My weight ballooned to 258lbs, my waist expanded to 40 inches from 34 inches. My self- esteem bottomed. I was slowly being stripped of any hope to deal with the disorder.

I had to do something, anything was better than what I was going through. I was at my lowest point ever. Somehow I instinctively realized I   held the power to create a huge change in my life but I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I didn’t quite know how to make the change.

It was a Sunday morning on September 29, 2013. I decided to take control of my own life, beginning with   developing a written plan and I marked down the following four points. 1.    Don’t let Parkinson’s stand in my way of achieving my dreams, experiencing happiness and pleasures 2.    Manage my stress level. 3.    Research alternative therapies for managing Parkinson’s 4.    Engage myself in an exercise program or sport

I started by defining small goals with measurable achievements. The first priority was of course to lose the weight, 20lbs by Christmas. A commitment to the gym at least three times per week. I started the gym that same day. I had to work on my self-esteem issues. Working on feeling good about myself, I felt was an excellent starting point.

Three weeks into my workout routine, I was approached by a trainer who had observed me working out diligently, and complemented my efforts. Continuing with his conversation, gave me advice that would forever turn my life around. Proper nutrition, eating clean is the way to weight loss, he would say.

Losing weight is 90% nutrition and 10% exercise. Taking his advice I started an eat clean diet that very next day. Noticeable changes became evident within the first thirty days. I not only achieved my goal of losing 20 lbs by Christmas but exceeded my goal by losing 40lbs in less than 3 months.

Losing the weight had such a profound, life altering effect on me that went beyond the sense of accomplishments. My time in the gym coupled with proper nutrition provided me with incredible health benefits. It forced me to learn about my own body, how it works, and how to manage my Parkinson’s disease.

It gave me mental clarity and focus, physical strength and spirit. It taught me discipline and commitment. I understood and accepted the reality of living with Parkinson’s disease; adapting the motto ‘Change what you can, manage what you can’t’. For the first time in over two years I felt that I had regained some semblance of control of my own life.

My doctor suggested that I give up sailing due to possible balance problems inherent with having Parkinson’s. I felt my dream was shattered. Although I was suffering from depression I refused to surrender my dream. Instead I continued to sail, logging an average of 800 nautical miles each summer.


Sailing requires a lot of discipline and knowledge. I correlated this experience to taking ownership and control of my own health. While sailing I don’t seem to experience the symptoms of Parkinson’s, I appear to be relieved of any outside stresses of normal life.


It has been fifteen months since I first started my journey. My transformation has not only astounded me, but also my Doctors. I continuously receive complements from strangers, in some cases inspiring them to pursue a life style change. What is so exciting to me is that not only have I lost sixty six pounds, dropping my weight down to 192lbs, but it’s how great I feel. I feel stronger, my physique has improved at sixty five years of age,

I have been able to stay lean, reduced my body fat to less than 8%, reduced my stress level, eliminated anxiety attacks, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced internal inflammation, I sleep better, acid reflux disappeared, arthritic pain is almost entirely eliminated. I even stopped snoring.

I have mental focus, clarity and sharpness like I never had before. I am more productive and creative than ever. It has taught me to learn more about my own body, how it works, how exercise, nutrition and the mind can work in harmony; for me, this was my medicine, I listened to what my body was telling me, what I needed and took appropriate actions.

My Parkinson’s improved while sailing. I plan to continue sailing for years to come. I haven’t cured my Parkinson’s Disease, however most important and most incredible as it may seem, I’ve slowed down the progression of my Parkinson’s disease.

By Steve Van Vlaenderen

Originally posted at sailmanitoba in the 2015 Spring issue of The Porthole Magazine

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Would you rather speak in public nude than back up your boat trailer?


If  you don't like backing up a boat trailer or it makes you nervous, don't worry, you're not alone. There always seems to be an audience when you're backing up a trailer especially at the boat launch when everyone is anxious to get out on the lake. If you can, go practice in an open field or an empty parking lot. Remember that if you find this difficult, don't panic or feel bad, absolutely nobody gets it right the first time.

Here is how to do it.

1. Get someone to spot for you

If possible it is best to have help. Have someone spot for you. Remember, safety has to come first, never have them go behind the trailer and stop backing up if they do. I always think "what if ?". What if your spotter tripped or what if you hit the gas instead of the brake. Always keep your spotter in sight.  Be sure that you can see them in your mirrors. Agree on hand signals before you start. When showing how close the trailer or vehicle is getting to it's mark.

I like to have my spotter stand facingthe mirror showing the distance with his/her hands apart (like showing how big a fish you caught), slowly closing their hands as the trailer approaches its mark. I also like to use the term driver or passenger side for directions instead of left or right. This eliminates confusion and arguments.

2. Walk the area

Take a few minutes to walk the area where you are backing to. Try to get an image in your head of the layout. Notice any dangerous spots or obstacles that you definitely want to avoid like a post or drop off. Pick a point of reference beside where you are heading to. The dock is good one it is usually square with boat launch. Throw down some blocking or a life jacket or something noticeable if you need to.

3. Your trailer is like a wheel barrow

Now lets back up that boat trailer. Have you ever pushed a wheal barrow? To get it to go left your handles have to go to the right. Your trailer is the same. To get your trailer to go one direction your ball hitch or rear of your vehicle has to go the other. This means that as you backup to get your trailer to go to the drivers side you turn your steering wheel to the passenger side. WHAT! How are you going to keep this straight when you're feeling the pressure of a line up at the boat launch, your 6 year old has to pee and you can hear your teenager rolling her eyes?

Imagine the shape of your boat on your steering wheel.

steering wheel back up your boat trailer
steering wheel back up your boat trailer

The back of boat is at the bottom and the front of boat is at the top, put your hand at the back of trailer (bottom of steering wheel), now just steer your boat. To make the trailer go left, move the bottom of the steering wheel left, to make the trailer go right move the bottom of the steering wheel right. This also makes your steering corrections smaller than having your hands at the top of the steering wheel. I talked to numerous professional drivers and they all said that the biggest mistake beginners make is over steering and backing up too fast. Go slow, make small corrections. If you do turn too sharp just pull ahead a bit to straighten out and start backing up again.

Also remember that the longer the trailer is the easier it is to back up. So when you're having a hard time backing up a small boat trailer, don't feel bad, it just takes practice. The longer your trailer the longer it takes for trailer to catch up to vehicle corrections. It is easier to back up a 50 foot semi.

4. Get lined up with the swerve maneuver

If I am backing up my boat at an angle I will look over my shoulder out the drivers window until I am able to get my boat lined up to back up straight. This is why, if you have to back your boat at any angle, you should pull up in the direction that will let you back your boat towards the divers side so you are not backing up blind. See illustration for the swerve maneuver to help you align your boat.

The red arrows indicate the front wheels direction as well as the back of truck and trailer direction.

Drive along the right side of the road but before you get even to your back in spot start to swerve toward it.


As you pass your spot start to pull away again.


As the back of your boat lines up stop. Start backing up. Turn the bottom of your steering wheel left so that your trailer will pivot left.


As you get close to aligning your trailer, now is the time to counter steer to straighten out, not when it is lined up. Don't forget to keep an eye on the front of your vehicle when you're watching behind you. You don't want the front to swing over and hit something while you're watching behind you.


Ease off on counter steering and straighten out. 

Your trailer wheels are your pivot point

 so be aware of this to get your alignment.


Line up straight. If you go too far simply pull ahead a bit to straighten out.


5. Use your side mirrors

When you can start backing straight back use your side mirrors. 

To back up straight keep the same amount of trailer visible in both left and right mirrors.

 Remember, take it easy, hand on the bottom of your steering wheel and make small corrections. Keep an eye on your spotter.

6. Launch your boat

Launch that boat, park your truck and trailer and go sailing! Remember that with practice this will just get easier.

If you enjoyed this post, I'd really appreciate it if you could help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks & Cheers! Daryl

6 sailing terms that you can use every day!

sailboat direction terms
sailboat direction terms

Here are some sailing terms that you can use every day to help you remember when you are first learning this whole new mysterious language called nautical.


 is the front of the boat (after all you can't bow backwards)


 is the back


 is toward the bow or front of the boat


 is toward the stern or back

Port- Facing forward on a boat the port is to your left.   Starboard to your right.

Now the port is always the port side and the starboard is always the starboard no matter if you're facing fore or aft. There are many ways to remember this. When I read historic naval stories the terms used to be larbord and starboard not port and starboard. So for me, larboard and left both start with L then starboard was right. I have also heard the saying "There is no red 

port left

". On the bow of your boat the running lights are red on the port (left) side and green on the starboard (right). Perhaps the easiest way is that left & port both have 4 letters.

All of these terms are hard to remember if you only get out on your boat once a week or (GASP) less than that. I have found that using the terms everyday is a huge help. When biking with my son we will turn to the port or starboard. If looking for something in our van I can say its fore or aft. The hood of the car is the bow and the trunk or back hatch is the stern.

This is a great way to ingrain these terms to memory and it will impress or annoy your friends. It certainly will make a teenagers eyes roll hard enough for you hear them.

If you enjoyed this post, I'd really appreciate it if you could help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks & Cheers! Daryl

You don't need to know how to sail!

Learn to sail
Learn to sail

You don't need to know how to sail to buy a sailboat! I didn't. I had floundered around on a $50 windsurfer that I had picked up at a yard sail so I kinda sorta understood the sailing concepts... maybe.


After my Mom had died (my Dad had died 7 years earlier) I got to reminiscing about my childhood. We always had a boat of some kind. We progressed from a little wooden fishing boat to an open bow tri-hull boat that my two brothers and I could ski from. (We're all big guys) I think it was 15 ft, I thought it was HUGE.

My brother Wayne has the old boat now (similar to the boat in thispicture) and it seems to have shrunk.  I had many fond memories of the lake and wanted to pass this on to my kids.

I decided that I wanted to buy a boat for my family.

I had about $5,000 to spend and I thought that any motor boat that I could buy for that amount would most likely be a piece of crap that I would have to constantly fix to keep running. I thought that I would try to buy a Hobie-cat and learn how to sail.

A friend of mine, Michael, was commodore of a nearby yacht club and convinced me to join. There was a Flying Scot and a Fireball that club members could use. As Michael put it "Hobie cats are fast and fun but you're going to get your arse wet, they're warm weather sailing"

Before I even made it to the club my first sailboat came up for sale. It was a 1977 Sirius 21. It was a 21 ft long, swing keel, sleeps 5, porta potty, sink, outboard on a trailer ready to go for $4,000. I dragged this baby home with my minivan and then on to the yacht club.

My new Sirius 21
My new Sirius 21

Club members there helped me step the mast and get it into the water and showed me how to tie spring lines to the dock at my new slip. The first 5 times out of the marina I never even put my sails up. Using the outboard we would go for little trips and maybe a swim.

Then one day my friend Brian from the club came with me to put up the sails and actually sail. I was hooked. From then on I would pick days with just the right amount of wind to go out and practice. I sailed and I sailed and I sailed. My perfect days got windier and more varied. I read Sailing for Dummies and any book that I could get my hands on. The more I sailed the better I got.

Anyone can do the same!

If you enjoyed this post, I'd really appreciate it if you could help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks & Cheers! Daryl