Appendices -- Useful Supplemental Information


David N. Nichols, Breakaway Books, Paperback, 2006.

(From a review by S. K. Hopkins in Messing About in Boats magazine)

In this much-needed book Nichols focuses on the very foundation of the messing-about-in-boats revolution: traditional small sailing craft. Anyone who owns one, or is building (or dreaming of building) one, should consider having it. Iím delighted to add it to my own shelves of sail-related books. There is nothing else like it in print.

Reviewers are prone to seek out and highlight faults, but this book is too good to nit-pick. There are a couple of points about sail and rigging design I would debate with the author, but they are not worth mentioning in detail.

The book reflects devotion to tradition, is well grounded on the many authorities cited, and executed in plain language. Thereís a chapter for each of the usual traditional rigs -- gunter, sprit and sprit-boomed, lug, and gaff, plus some less usual ones. Each chapter describes a typical sail and calls attention to important spar and rigging details, with optional ways of doing things. High-quality color photos and drawings make everything clear.

Thatís the primary content, but several pages cover basic marlinspike work like splicing, seizing, whipping -- stuff you need to know to properly rig your traditional sail. For readers who might contemplate retrofitting a modern-rig boat, thereís a chapter on how to draw a traditional sailplan to replace a standard jib/mainsail one, and work out the CEís, CLRís and new mast position so the boat will still be balanced.

In a chapter on Chinese lugsíls, you learn, among other things, how to use a plum bob to help design sailplans.

In spite of the title, this is not a guide to making sails. Thereís a brief introductory review of how sails work, typical cambers, panel orientation, appropriate cloth weights, etc., but its all once-over-lightly and non-technical -- not intended to allow the reader to make a small-craft sail. (For that you want Emiliano Marinoís l994 Sailmakerís Apprentice, which strongly emphasizes small-craft sails.)

If youíve read the score of books and magazine articles Nichols quotes or refers to you might find you already know nearly everything between these covers. Even so, just to refresh your memory about the several ways to rig a snotter or lace a luff to a spar, you might have the dining room table littered with Ian Oughtredís series of small-craft rig articles in WoodenBoat, Capt Cullerís Skiffs and Schooners, John Leatherís Spritsíls and Lugsíls, Brian Toss on rigging, and a few other experts. Nichols has studied them all, pulled out his favorite nuggets, added snippets from personal experience, illustrated everything, and put it all into an orderly, easy to use, understandable, and very handsome package.

An incidental value of this book is the likelihood it will prompt readers to explore some of the authorities cited.

If all the revered customers Iíve made small craft sails for had a copy of this book, I could have saved many hours coaching them on different aspects of their new (and novel to them) sails -- how to rig sliding gunters, parrels for lug yards, brailing lines, luff downhauls, etc., etc. Now I can just refer querulous customers to Mr. Nichols.

(The author of the Working Guide does business in Texas as Arrowhead Boats. See, where you can read another review of his book.)

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