Making a Traditional Leadline

Start with a length of 3/4 inch braided cotton twine. Attach a cast lead weight of 7 or 14 pounds. It's common for the weight to have a hollow at the bottom end. This hollow can be "armed" with tallow (Crisco makes an acceptable substitute) for picking up a sample of the sea bottom.

Mark the line as follows:
22 strips of leather
33 strips of leather
5white cotton calico
7red woolen bunting
10leather with a round hole in it
133 strips of leather
or blue woolen serge
15white calico
17red bunting
20light line with 2 knots
or leather with two round holes

The marks are designed to be read by feel at night. They should be inserted through the line and sewn into place. The line should be wet when measured for the marks.

Offshore Sailing book cover Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr

We went to a Windjammers lecture to hear Bill Seifert and I was impressed enough to buy the book on the spot. I've heard a lot of people talk about ways to improve a boat, but I've never heard one person suggest so many good ideas that I hadn't considered. Part of the charm is the specificity of the suggestions. Everyone says you should secure your floorboards, hatchboards and batteries. Bill shows good suggestions on how to do so.

The suggestions are very practical for the do-it-yourselfer, too. Many show how to make or adapt inexpensive solutions. Tip #12 on closing the deck blower vents is one that will pay off for me without ever going offshore. I'll implement that one to stop the wintertime storms from finding their way belowdecks.

Besides modifications, the book also includes advice for operating offshore, cooking, boat selection, dealing with bureaucracy, and more.

Bill Seifert has worked at Tartan, TPI, and Alden Yachts. He's a veteran of many Marion-Bermuda races and now runs his own yacht management company. His tips are born of experience--not of book-learning--and it shows. He obviously knows his stuff.

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