Better Than Before

New technology requires more energy onboard and changes the way we cruise. From the "Editor's Log" in our March 2009 issue

John Burnham 368

How can we consume more and more shipboard power, yet remain as off the grid as possible while aboard? This issue's focus on electronics raises this energy conundrum again, so we asked Tom Linskey to write about one answer-solar power. Tom and his wife, Harriet, outfitted their new 46-foot catamaran with not only dueling laptop computers but also a watermaker and a washing machine. Their solution, rather than
regularly running a diesel generator to provide power, has been to install a large array of solar panels. His story, "Running on Sun" (see page 72), details their approach and also includes interviews with two cruisers aboard monohulls who generate much of their power from different solar setups.

"Sailing into the Future" (see page 66) is the label we put on our electronics cover story, but it's not about conceptual, futuristic equipment. It's about all sorts of readily available and constantly evolving products that give us an increasing number of ways to make connections. We don't need all of them, but a number of them can make us safer; others can make us happier.

This sets up a second challenging conundrum, addressed eloquently this month by Wendy Mitman Clarke in her Osprey's Flight column, "You've Got Mail. Damn." (See page 120.) As she and her family made their way south down the ICW at the outset of their long-awaited cruise, Wendy quickly realized that she had a big adjustment to make in terms of her expectations-and those of her family and friends-about how frequently she needed to be in touch by e-mail.

All cruisers have to answer this type of question to suit themselves. When he's by himself on his mooring in Opua, in New Zealand's Bay of Islands, Webb Chiles wants to be able to use Skype to talk with, and see, his wife, Carol, back in Chicago. And when the Bulls are playing a basketball game, he'd like to tune in to his home TV and watch, through his computer. (See "Viewing Via the Internet," page 71.) But when Webb casts off and heads for blue water, he's happy to turn off these devices.

Where your energy comes from-wind, sun, gas, diesel-and what you use it to power will in great part define your cruising experience. You may not think about this on a typical day, but you may find the energy equation thought provoking as you read this month's issue.

The other things to look for in this issue-if you didn't notice in February-are some subtle design changes. At a magazine, as aboard a boat, we're always striving to improve. Some months it shows up in a unique article, other times in a process shift that's invisible to readers. Last month, however, Bill Roche and Dave Norton (our director of design and associate art director, respectively) introduced a new typeface and tweaked Cruising World's page design. This wasn't a full-scale makeover but rather what we're calling a "resurfacing." I liken it to what you do after you've moved a piece of deck gear for the fourth or fifth time-you fill the holes properly, sand them smooth, then prep the whole deck and repaint it with a consistent nonskid. The changes aren't dramatic, but the overall effect is a cleaner look that makes you feel good.

Bill was recently honored by our publisher, Sally Helme, for 30 years of art direction at Cruising World-so I think it's safe to say that if you're a longtime reader, you have a good idea how well and consistently Bill has managed design changes over the years. What you don't know, the way I do, is what a steady hand he has on the helm and what a pleasure it is to work with him. I'd like to acknowledge Bill for his service, too, and thank him, as well as Dave and our corporate design advisor, John Miller, for the extra hours that produced such a good-looking result for us.

John Burnham