Richard Frisbie
Author, advertising and
publishing consultant, former editor of
Chicago and other magazines, former creative director of Campbell-Ewald and
other advertising agencies. For more information, click here. Or see
Who's Who in America or,

Margery Frisbie
Consulting editor, historian, poet and author of several books. For more information,  click here or see

The Uncommentator
BLOGS and GLOBS:  I have been writing a blog since 1966, only I didn't know  it. In those days, it came out in the form of a
newsletter on paper. Remember paper? It never got lost in
cyberspace, although if it got wet enough blog turned into glob. I called it
The Uncommentator, and tried to make it amusing.  To read some of my favorites, see

Recent Books by the Frisbies.


2012 by Richard Frisbie

The Real Reason Sailors Buy Bigger Boats

April, 2012--I understand why yacht owners tend eventually to sell their boats and move up to something bigger: for lack of headroom they've bumped their heads one time too many.

In 1970, I bought plans for a sixteen-foot "trailer-sailer." As I studied the drawings, I realized that headroom in the cubby would be a problem. I was five feet eleven and it appeared that all my sons would grow taller than that, which has proved to be the case. So I decided to build the cabin four inches higher than specified by the plans.This complicated the geometry of the stainless steel shrouds, but I had earned an A in geometry in high school, so I managed to work it out.

As a self-employed consultant with a growing family, I didn't have a lot of spare time, so building the boat took a bit over two years. I didn't try to make the sails. The currency exchange rate being quite favorable in those days, I ordered them from a sailmaker in England.

I built the hull upside down on a temporary cradle. When the planking was done, my eldest son's whole softball team rallied round with brute strength to help me turn it right side up. Once I started working on the cabin, I bumped my head a lot, going in and out.

In the beginning I used the boat as a day sailer on inland lakes in Illinois and Wisconsin. Eventually, I found it tedious to have to keep going about and ducking the boom while avoiding running aground on the steps of a summer cottage. That's when I began sailing on Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes are serious water. I recall that Ted Turner once made dismissive remarks about the lack of potential excitement before a Mackinac Race, calling Lake Michigan a "mill pond." That year the entrants encountered gales that shredded sails for 16 hours straight. Of 167 starters, 88 boats had to drop out. Turner and his ocean going American Eagle finished the race but he conceded , ''I hereby publicly retract anything and everything I have ever said about inland sailing."

I might have considered a larger boat for Lake Michigan, but my Dawn Treader by then was like a member of the family.(I did write a book about it, but couldn't use the boat name in the book title because C. S. Lewis's book and the movie made from it would have created confusion.) Also, I was aware that Dawn Treader was a bit larger than Robert Manry's Tinkerbelle, which he had sailed all the way across the Atlantic. So, instead of thinking about a larger boat just yet, I began adding safety equipment, including marine radio, lights and electric bilge pumps powered by a marine battery.

Because of that battery, I found myself recently in the cockpit, crouching down with a battery charger on the end of an extension cord. I understand that even when a battery is not being used it will deteriorate unless recharged from time to time As I crawled into the cabin-guess what--once again I bumped my head.

Richard Frisbie

To read other back issues, click here

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