Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder is a friend of Points East Magazine and wrote a funny and very popular column for us from the magazine’s inception in 1998 until 2007. We’ve archived his columns below.

What ‘they’ say is true: Bigger is better

What ‘they’ say is true: Bigger is better

December 2007 By Tom Snyder These are exciting times for any young family that has decided to get their feet wet in the world of family cruising. Things are improving. Twenty years ago, the general recommendation for one’s first cruising boat might have been a
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Why I’m selling my boat

Why I’m selling my boat

October 2007 By Tom Snyder It’s official. I’m going to sell my boat. And there are a lot of things that had no effect on this choice. It has nothing to do with the huge cost of maintaining a boat. Nor does it involve the
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Five bad laws, millions of us. Let’s roll

Five bad laws, millions of us. Let’s roll

September 2007 By Tom Snyder I realize that what I’m about to say is potent stuff. Therefore, I shall limit myself to measured language. But darn it, I want to get the government off our backs. I thought we lived in America, but, no, once
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What I remember from my vacation

What I remember from my vacation

August 2007 By Tom Snyder If you give a present in a very big box to a very young kid – often a boy – you have a fifty-fifty shot that the box will become the main attraction. A magic box. The heck with the
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The imagery of nonlinear polyurethane

The imagery of nonlinear polyurethane

July 2007 By Tom Snyder My childhood memory of the materials and mixtures and alchemy that went along with a sailboat is of a pungent, romantic and manly world. There was fragrant Italian marline that you just knew was spun and dipped by an old
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There’s no such thing as a dumb question

There’s no such thing as a dumb question

June 2007 By Tom Snyder Every week, hundreds of boating questions are sent to my website. Below are a few the most recent. But first, may I quickly use this pulpit to say that I resent any suggestion that I have been writing questions to
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Chris Columbus – up close and personal

Chris Columbus – up close and personal

May 2007 By Tom Snyder I recently caught up with Christopher Columbus, who agreed to be interviewed by Points East. I learned so much, but perhaps the most important lesson was that doing a good interview is hard. Not surprisingly, you have to ask good
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Alone in a room full of cruisers

Alone in a room full of cruisers

April 2007 By Tom Snyder Go to a boat show in February and you will witness a sea of romantic humanity considering an enormous new cruising hobby. Others there will have already indulged. All of these folks share a common, overlapping list of images or
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Cool about pirates

Cool about pirates

Midwinter 2007 By Tom Snyder I recently read a cruising magazine article by an attractive, articulate and adventurous couple who sailed the waters of the southern Caribbean. Their passionate and cheerful description of their commonsense safety measures regarding piracy were astounding. I enjoy imagining an
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It’s time somebody stood up to the Brits

It’s time somebody stood up to the Brits

December 2006 By Tom Snyder I am sending an open letter from the good citizens of New England to the boaters of England. As you will see, I plan to take the moral highroad wherever possible. The bitterness that I shall avoid is in no
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OK. 0K. I have often used the device

OK. 0K. I have often used the device

October 2006 By Tom Snyder From the depths of one man’s patheticnessof the “confessional” on these pages as a way of illuminating some hapless loser of a man ­– an imaginary man based not entirely on me, but based on my joy of contemplating pathetic
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These are my people; we are deal-makers

These are my people; we are deal-makers

September 2006 By Tom Snyder When adventurous people encounter overwhelming and dangerous challenges, one common reaction is to make a deal with one’s god, promising a life of greater meaning if only one might survive the ordeal. Even non-believers will temporarily invent a presence with
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Nothing the matter with a little natter

Nothing the matter with a little natter

August 2006 By Tom Snyder I cruise for a month each June to get away from all the voices that fill one’s life. And the worst offender is my own voice. I talk too much. I have taught my wife a hand signal to use
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The poor kid never even had a chance

The poor kid never even had a chance

July 2006 By Tom Snyder I have a true story that I probably shouldn’t tell you. Oh, don’t you love saying that to someone? It’s irresistible. Anyone you say that to will then tell you that they are very good at keeping secrets. Even women
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How we learn from our misadventures

How we learn from our misadventures

June 2006 By Tom Snyder One of the great features in most cruising magazines is the addition, at the end of exciting feature stories, of a post script often titled something like “In Retrospect” or “Lessons Learned” or “What We Should Have Done Differently.” It
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It’s time to change the rules of sailing

It’s time to change the rules of sailing

May 2006 By Tom Snyder Good fences make good neighbors. And by the same token, good sailing rules make good racers. Anyone who reads the forgoing will wonder if only the geekiest boat magazine could print such a thing. Nevertheless, I claim that what makes
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I can do anything – until I talk to the guys

I can do anything – until I talk to the guys

April 2006 By Tom Snyder I have yet another nautical confession to make… You probably distrust the kind of people who insist on revealing embarrassing details in the early moments of meeting you. I distrust them. I’ll bet you do, too. Go ahead — admit
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A simple story, but is it really that simple?

A simple story, but is it really that simple?

Midwinter 2006 By Tom Snyder I recently came across a photo of my boat lying on its side in a field of rocks. This is a photo that demands a story. One doesn’t look at it and simply say, “Wow, she really is on her
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Dialing for toast: tech-support chronicles

Dialing for toast: tech-support chronicles

October 2005 By Tom Snyder “Hello,” I said. I was calling to speak with Technical Support. While on hold, I wrote notes to myself so I could speak clearly and accurately about my malfunctioning device. When the fellow picked up, I explained that my Huffy
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A free gift: Enjoying the slower pace

A free gift: Enjoying the slower pace

September 2005 By Tom Snyder For a free gift, answer the following question: How long does it take a cruising sailboat to sail from Boston to Camden? Don’t answer yet, because it’s a bit of a trick question. If one were to answer “It depends
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The Toasty Pajama Zone Disorder ©

The Toasty Pajama Zone Disorder ©

August 2005 By Tom Snyder Before a recent June cruise Down East, I made a promise to myself that I would not sleep in my clothes for the entire month. I’m too old for that, and maybe even too dignified. If fact, I’m wicked mature.
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Looking good aboard and ashore

Looking good aboard and ashore

July 2005 By Tom Snyder I wasn’t trying to look smooth and proficient. I was just going about anchoring my boat on the first night of my monthlong cruise this June. I wasn’t trying to look good in front of another couple already anchored in
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The end (almost) of an era

The end (almost) of an era

June 2005 By Tom Snyder An Important Announcement: I would like to use this space to make an important and potentially disturbing announcement to the sailboat racing community of Maine – and of the entire world. As of right now, I am formally retiring as
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Beware the false weather window

Beware the false weather window

May 2005 By Tom Snyder This is my harrowing story (with a happy ending) of a crossing that almost was. But first. . . a phrase – “window of opportunity” – has been migrating though our language for the past few decades. It became popular
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Yachtsman of the Year: Envelope please

Yachtsman of the Year: Envelope please

Midwinter 2005 By Tom Snyder I would like to use this space to thank everyone who voted for me as the Yachtsman of the Year for the region extending from Cape Elizabeth to the southern tip of Peaks Island. Those who went to bat for
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It’s a mature sailor who can talk to himself

It’s a mature sailor who can talk to himself

October 2004 By Tom Snyder This is a short essay that will make you feel better about yourself. It’s an invitation to be honest with one another about something that is healthy and natural. I am talking, of course, about the act of talking to
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We’re looking for a few good intellectuals

We’re looking for a few good intellectuals

September 2004 By Tom Snyder If you’ve been looking for a unique cruising adventure on the New England coast, look no further. Below is an idea for cruising with a special theme in mind. You’ve heard of wine-tasting tours in France or dining tours in
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Can a rational man hate New York?

Can a rational man hate New York?

August 2004 By Tom Snyder I recently got busted in a harbor on Long Island. I use the word “busted” because that’s what it felt like. Anyway, I am a reasonable guy who tries to see both sides of a situation, so let me present
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To our grandkids, GPS may seem quaint

To our grandkids, GPS may seem quaint

July 2004 By Tom Snyder There are innovations in the world of boating that are so remarkable, so clever, so ambitious that even sensible sailing purists have to grudgingly admire them. To mention just two examples that get me shaking my head in wonder, consider
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Casco Bay would bring Richie to his knees

Casco Bay would bring Richie to his knees

June 2004 By Tom Snyder Cruising the coast of Maine used to be a morale-builder for me. Living around city people who write and complain for a living, I was considered brave beyond reason for even stepping onto a boat. But to cruise! To sail
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A few easy pointers for the racing cruiser

A few easy pointers for the racing cruiser

May 2004 By Tom Snyder Do I enjoy afternoon races on my cruising boat? Absolutely. And I have found a way to make it fun for everyone. This doesn’t come easily to me. As a child I crewed on my father’s racing sloop in many
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At 50-something, a few reasons for hope

At 50-something, a few reasons for hope

April 2004 By Tom Snyder Recently I intersected with three sturdy people all in the space of a few hours. Their average age is about 80 and their average attitude is spectacular. One of them would be sufficient, but three in a row put a
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Sail control doesn’t have to be complicated

Sail control doesn’t have to be complicated

Midwinter 2004 By Tom Snyder As a kid I raced a Blue Jay, which was a cute little wooden centerboard sloop. She could sail. (And turn. Closing within inches of a dock at full speed one could throw the tiller hard over and come to
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In the footsteps of a systems-attack victim

In the footsteps of a systems-attack victim

October 2003 By Tom Snyder I think a good name for a Discovery Channel show would be “When Boat Systems Attack.” I would even like to offer to be the highly paid host of this show, but that’s not my main point. My main point
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Looking for crew thing may have merit

Looking for crew thing may have merit

September 2003 By Tom Snyder I keep hearing about people who have successfully advertised their need for a cruising crewmember. Doesn’t that sound just like the coolest thing? Especially for a guy like me, who needs a huge list of people to go on my
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Refining the art of the drift-cruise

Refining the art of the drift-cruise

August 2003 By Tom Snyder I went sailing in early June, and I know this sounds like bragging, but I got lucky. You never think it’s gonna happen and then, bang, all the stars line up, and there you are thinking, “I can’t wait to
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July 2003 By Tom Snyder There’s a fun, new language in the airI recently wrote a column for this magazine trying to update and to render politically correct the traditional vernacular of seamen. In it I mentioned body parts and I am sorry, because I
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Would you please dongle the jimmy

Would you please dongle the jimmy

June 2003 By Tom Snyder Sometimes when one is invited to go aboard another person’s boat (let’s call him Lance) one discovers that Lance is a nautical know-it-all, a seamanship showoff, a boatyard boaster, an aquatic attention-seeker. Boats are fun, but even on a beautiful
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Those guys just think it was their idea

Those guys just think it was their idea

May 2003 By Tom Snyder This is not a legal document with which I am trying to sue Points East Magazine or anything. All I am saying is that, for the record, I definitely thought of the whole flotilla thing before this magazine did. I
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Hey, a man has a right to be happy

Hey, a man has a right to be happy

April 2003 By Tom Snyder Maturity and experience tell us not to go to a boat store when snow is falling. This is more profound than wisdom advising us to avoid supermarket shopping when hungry, because this other hunger leans more toward longing. I looked
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Hedonistic cruising is grossly overrated

Hedonistic cruising is grossly overrated

Midwinter 2003 By Tom Snyder I recently discovered the answer to one of the oldest questions that hovers around the world of boating. The question is: “Why is cruising in the Caribbean so darned boring compared to cruising in Maine?” The answer is: “Because Caribbean
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Understanding communication at sea

Understanding communication at sea

October, 2002 By Tom Snyder I grew up living and cruising aboard sailboats captained by my father. He had a way with words that can be explained by five years of being strafed, kamikazed, torpedoed, and fired on by other ships. Linguistically, he brought all
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Demons are a man’s best friend

Demons are a man’s best friend

September, 2002 By Tom Snyder I’m the kind of guy who likes to tell people what kind of guy he is, and I’m the kind of guy who likes to confront his demons. Another way of putting this is that I am not the kind
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A journey to the outer limits of OCD

A journey to the outer limits of OCD

August, 2002 By Tom Snyder Did I go too far? You be the judge. The date was June 1. I was sitting in my apartment, unable to tolerate the two meaningless days until I was to depart on a cruise. I stared at my empty
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Is that lentil soup in your bilge?

Is that lentil soup in your bilge?

July, 2002 By Tom Snyder I think I have five books on how to cook aboard a boat. They have comforting titles that speak to me in late winter. I tend to purchase a new cookbook in March after two solid winter months of reading
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Why should I pay for my own cruises?

Why should I pay for my own cruises?

June, 2002 By Tom Snyder I am planning to sail to New York City from Portland in June and I want someone else to pay for it. I’ll bet this strategy has occurred to everyone at one time or another. When I was 16, my
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Maybe I just like to solo with other people

Maybe I just like to solo with other people

May, 2002 By Tom Snyder I can think of no reason why I should not use this column as a vehicle for personal therapy. It is just plain common sense that a respected and beloved writer such as myself, whose column goes out to literally
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Not to worry – Capt. Tom’s got you covered

Not to worry – Capt. Tom’s got you covered

April, 2002 By Tom Snyder Welcome to another year of Tom’s Sailing Institute. We are looking forward to a spring semester that will be every bit as exciting as last year’s. With the exception of one accidental death (the case for which will probably be
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16 simple statements to test your loyalty

16 simple statements to test your loyalty

Midwinter, 2002 By Tom Snyder I have suspected for the past three years that nobody reads my column in these Midwinter issues. My friends tell me not to worry about it because nobody reads it in the summer. I at least know that my friends
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When time is short, consult your thumb

When time is short, consult your thumb

October, 2001 By Tom Snyder Rules of thumb. What a funny little expression – but what a lifesaver! A rule of thumb is a bit of mental shorthand that can be called into action when time and circumstances don’t allow logical contemplation. Rules of thumb
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A call for kinder, gentler mystery games

A call for kinder, gentler mystery games

September, 2001 By Tom Snyder Many readers of Points East Magazine have told me how much they enjoy the regular feature in which one is asked to guess, from a photograph, a Mystery Harbor, usually in Maine. Fair enough. But what about the rest of
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Confessions of an AWOL flotillian

Confessions of an AWOL flotillian

August, 2001 By Tom Snyder I recently returned from the Fundy Flotilla, a group of 29 adventurous cruisers who had signed up to go to the St. John River and beyond. I was a very important member of that group because, I think it’s safe
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I have a vision, and it’s got a nice blue cover

I have a vision, and it’s got a nice blue cover

July, 2001 By Tom Snyder There is a certain cruising guide to Maine that can be found on almost every cruising boat in Maine. It has a blue cover and many pages. You may have seen it. For the purposes of this article, it will
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Bidding a fond farewell from paradise

Bidding a fond farewell from paradise

June, 2001 By Tom Snyder April 20, 2001 Sandy Harbor, Pensafulan Islands, on the straits of Curmel. This, sadly, will be my final letter from one of the most hauntingly beautiful and beguiling harbors I have ever known. Tomorrow morning Blue Moon (Sasquatech 37, hull
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Put a fine point on your racing technique

Put a fine point on your racing technique

May, 2001 By Tom Snyder Cruising is fine for people who are afraid to challenge themselves, but, of course, the only true way to fully enjoy one’s boat is to race. Racing is all about improving one’s sailing and seamanship, about pushing oneself to excel,
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Commonsense ideas of a Maine cruiser

Commonsense ideas of a Maine cruiser

April, 2001 By Tom Snyder How often have you read one of my columns and said to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” It often happens to me, so I think maybe it”s time for me to do a monthly column called, Why didn”t
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Why ‘wicked cold’ is scientific enough for me

Why ‘wicked cold’ is scientific enough for me

Midwinter, 2001 By Tom Snyder Let me thank you in advance for your time. And now to the body of my remarks. I don’t know if the “wind-chill factor” is legitimate science, but it has always struck me as a way-too-elaborate means of declaring that
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Know when to nip those nasty uprisings

Know when to nip those nasty uprisings

By Tom Snyder Until this past summer, I have always felt that the British Navy was way too hard on mutineers. Never ashamed to weigh in on this issue, I would regularly stand up at parties to say those very words: “The British Navy was
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Honey, I shot the dog breath

Honey, I shot the dog breath

By Tom Snyder One of the things I adore about being on the ocean is the jesting camaraderie between boaters. Such peppery back and forth allows a man to feel part of the fraternity of voyagers sharing a common bond. As so often happens among
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Into the abyss, and still able to talk about it

Into the abyss, and still able to talk about it

By Tom Snyder One of the most entertaining benefits of the huge number of cruising boats being sold in this heated economy is that now we can read in cruising magazines about cruising adventures by people who have recently bought their first boats. To put
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Our techie finds fault with popular FunRadios

Our techie finds fault with popular FunRadios

By Tom Snyder In a recent letter to the editor of this magazine, a reader offered his congratulations, saying that he hoped he would never find herein one of those articles that told readers ‘what radio to buy.’ Exactly! Which is why I hope that
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Maintenance? Hey, I can do that

Maintenance? Hey, I can do that

By Tom Snyder I have always assumed that I am not as thorough a person as I could be. Look, everybody has an area of self-doubt, and that is mine; along with a terrible visual sense (red-green deficient), a hellacious memory (I forget what was
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1 secret boat is plenty, thanks

1 secret boat is plenty, thanks

By Tom Snyder I have a secret second boat in Maine. But first, some background. I believe that it was in my first story for Points East that I admitted that I had gone over to the dark side in 1996 when I hit the
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Storage space? Hey, this is a revolution

Storage space? Hey, this is a revolution

By Tom Snyder I love my boat and I have promised my wife and kids that I would never buy another boat. This was completely true insofar as any statement of fact can be said by a group of reasonable men to be true. But
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Learning the lesson of the crazy bird

Learning the lesson of the crazy bird

By Tom Snyder This can’t possibly be right. My father fears nothing at sea. I’ve always known this, and so, by contrast, (not literally) I fear everything at sea. Clearly, I could use a psychic breakthrough. I had a big one in late September. Let
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GPS and the Grassy Ledge conspiracy

GPS and the Grassy Ledge conspiracy

September, 1999 By Tom Snyder I have recently penetrated deep within the Byzantine bureaucracy of our government-operated GPS chartplotting technology. My discovery, the result of a happy accident while cruising Casco Bay, is not for the fainthearted. This whole damned thing makes me want to
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Look, I’m just here to help

Look, I’m just here to help

August, 1999 By Tom Snyder One of my greatest pleasures in boating is knowing that I bring something valuable and unique to the world of cruising. You see, I am an intellectual who has read everything available on the subject of the sea. And this
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Gentlemen, start your diesels

Gentlemen, start your diesels

July, 1999 By Tom Snyder I have never personally changed my raw water impeller. You read it right – even though my Yanmar has well over 35 hours on it. I’m still an impeller virgin. I used to lie about it, as in: “Yes, Ted,
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Boat shoes: Research before you buy

Boat shoes: Research before you buy

June, 1999 By Tom Snyder Boy, am I thankful for the Internet! This past spring, I came within inches of buying a pair of boat shoes on my own before a friend sent me to the ’Net to get the real scoop. Sure, you can
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Before launch, let’s review knots

Before launch, let’s review knots

May, 1999 By Tom Snyder I am pleased to offer the first in a series of useful knots. Today’s knot, the Have Knot, is good for literally one or two applications, although it is not within the scope of this column to get into usage.
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