Nautical Lore – Modern | Oral narratives of modern seafaring watercraft with multihull pioneer Jim Brown

Oral narratives of modern seafaring watercraft, their concepts, creators and crews. This ongoing series of “capers” tells of epic voyages, castaway survivors, swashbuckling characters, family cruises, cultural setbacks, technical breakthroughs, racing triumphs, and the “seasteading” lifestyle. Revealed within these stories are many details of design, construction, operation and seamanship. Since World War Two, the emergence of truly modern, lightweight vessels – recreational and commercial, multihull and monohull, power and sail – constitutes a sea change in marine architecture that may well persist for generations to come. Because modern seafaring has advanced so fast, and yet history often neglects its oral heritage, now is the time for us to gather and share this legacy. See more at
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Nautical Lore – Modern | Oral narratives of modern seafaring watercraft with multihull pioneer Jim Brown




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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 29, 2016


A recent survival story, this “caper” features a recorded interview with my long-time friend Lance Leonard.

Lance is a dedicated multihuller with fifty years of experience in sailing fishing and diving charters in the eastern U.S and Caribbean waters, yet he recently lost his boat, and potentially his life, in a different type of multihull catastrophe. This is his story and the lessons learned from it the hard way.

Dec 22, 2016

On Fixing Proa Problems

Special holiday podcast featuring a bit of personal news from Jim's travels and some interesting thoughts on proas. 

Jim talks about visiting a new small boat gathering event in Cedar Key, Florida during late Fall.  He also shares about the restoration of his old boat SCRIMSHAW at a secret boatyard in South Florida ... also known as a place where many old boats go to die.  (But there is much planned life left for SRIMSHAW though).

Also, Jim talks extensively about certain challenges with the development of modern proas.  Anyone unfamiliar with proas may learn a lot from him in short time he talks about this amazing genre among multihulls.

Dec 15, 2016


This Caper is based on one of my favorite stories from, "Among The Multihulls - Volume 2." It tells of a passage from Bermuda to New England in son Russell’s proa when I was recruited as crew. 

It turned out to be an intense father and son adventure ... including descriptions of the proa's handling in storm waves!

I had previously not been interested in proas, but this voyage really turned my head. I have since concluded that the proa is the most conceptually perfect of all sailing machines, and I suspect this configuration will play an important part in the future “green recovery” for humankind.

More on this if requested. HAPPY HOLIDAYS



Dec 8, 2016


The above title is taken from a sign posted over Dick Newick’s shop in the early 1970s when he was developing his “Atlantic” versions of the “shunting” proa.

This Caper, however, is my fictional reconstruction of Stone Age history, when the Pacific proa was invented by a young Micronesian woman who could think by-longitudinally.

Dec 1, 2016


This Caper offers my understanding of the differences between cats and tris in riding motion, weatherliness and tacking.

Also, there are pivotal contrasts in their accommodation plans and underwing pounding. Finally, I attempt to draw comparisons in their respective chances for survival from collision, shipwreck and capsize.

Nov 24, 2016


The contrasting design challenges between catamaran and trimaran  are met equally well today by understanding the differing load paths in their respective structures.

In addition, because of the catamaran’s “Siamese twin” nature, it requires substantial duplication of components, whereas the trimaran requires three hulls. This explains in part the relatively high cost of both types for construction and maintenance.

Nov 17, 2016
13: Monohull - Multihull Mindsets​
This Caper continues to explore both the conceptual and the mindset differences between ​monohulls and multihulls, ancient and modern. And, Jim gets carried away with the life-like properties of watercraft in general:  "The boat owner is really into watercraft husbandry; the sailor holds the reins as a watercraft drover; the boat builder gestates with selective breeding; and the watercraft designer, bless his little ego, is really... (tune in to find out).
Nov 10, 2016


In response to feedback from listeners, this “caper” is the first of a three-part series on comparing different types of watercraft: rafts, dugout canoes, catamarans, trimarans proas and monohulls.

Jim describes the basic configurations and how they evolved to suit specific applications, from pre-history to the present. This session begins about 4,000 years ago.

Nov 3, 2016


Jim’s most illustrious client, Mark Hassall, reads a long quote from the movie actor and consummate seaman Sterling Hayden to explain Mark’s philosophy of how, “A voyage, like a life, should be based on a firm foundation of financial unrest.”

Then Mark faces almost certain death as a castaway in the Indian Ocean, and Jim inserts his own vignette of using the “debris field” tactic of recovering seven people who have been swept overboard by a single wave.

Jim asks for listener response to these Voices cessions, for he has a trove of such audio in his OutRig Collection.

Oct 27, 2016


By mining old video footage for its sound tracks, Jim brings us the actual voices of the several seafaring pioneers whose stories he has told in previous Capercasts.

In this first cession of a two-part series, he includes the voices of Woody Brown, Arthur Piver and James Wharram with his mate Hanneke Boon. She explains the logic of the polygamoust relationship James maintained, at considerable cost, with up to five women at once, all equal partners in their catamaran design enterprise enterprise.

Oct 20, 2016


Three more anchoring episodes illustrate the tenuousness of Grabbing The Bottom, with some conclusions about the weight of ground tackle and the crew’s the ability to retrieve the anchor.

Jim asks for feedback as to how much “how-to” information, relative to straight storytelling, listeners may want.

Oct 11, 2016


There are two contrasting anchoring predicaments here: Jim's boat and his family crew are hijacked by a "sea monster" and towed out to sea.

How they get free. Then, a different vessel is embayed and destroyed, its crew stranded on a desert island. How they sail again.

Oct 6, 2016


In this anchoring fiasco, Jim tells of how even an experienced sailor can get so screwed up so fast in a boat ... even if he designed and built the boat himself and has sailed it for forty years.

This begins a three-part series on anchoring in which some sessions do not have a happy ending, but some conclusions are drawn.

Sep 29, 2016

Storm Coming...

Sailing past the tip of Baja in the dark, with no lighthouse operating, we find ourselves crossing to the Mexican Mainland, a passage of about 300 miles, with a chubasco obviously approaching.

There being no protection from such storms at Cabo, we head back there anyway, hoping mainly to get Jo Anna ashore safely. We are met again by a troupe of gracious Mexicans who solve all our problems.

However, this leg of the voyage ends here, and we return to California overland for the arrival of our firstborn son Steven. A chronological jump occurs here. I mention a bit about what we’re jumping over, to which we shall return if listener feedback so indicates, but we shall proceed in Caper # 7 with more recent stories.

Sep 22, 2016

Losing and Finding a Trimaran...

The cultural influences of the 1960s, fear, paranoia and escapism, stimulates the owner-building of cruising-type multihulls. Survival aspects of yacht ownership discussed.

Continues the the voyage of JUANA, wherein the vessel disappears from its anchorage at a remote location in Baja California. With the gracious help of threadbare Mexicans, JUANA is recovered, and we continue south…into changing weather and different circumstances.

Sep 16, 2016

Sailing dynamics of the Piver Nugget trimaran at sea.

We now begin to understand the differing dynamics, and the disorienting sensations, of running downwind in a craft capable of equaling or exceeding the speed of the seaway.

Our trip down the Big Sur Coast offers us “the most terrifying thrill on this planet,” but the boat keeps telling us that all is well.

Surfing at night, rounding Point Conception, and the joy of getting on the boat in northern California and getting off in Southern California, Summary of multihull events yet to come in the early sixties. Piver disappears at sea.

Sep 15, 2016

Arthur Piver and the Modern Trimaran

About ten years after Woody Brown launched the first truly modern catamaran, a San Francisco man named Arthur Piver succeeds in developing a three-hulled vessel that delivers the all-round performance and maneuverability that the catamarans of the day do not.

I just happen to be there at the right time – late 1950s – and am so consumed by this revelation that I build two of Piver’s early boats and, together with my bride Jo Anna, take one of them to sea.

Sep 9, 2016

Modern nautical lore "capercast" with multihull pioneer and historian Jim Brown.

This is oral narrative # 1 featuring Jim sharing about modern seafaring watercraft, their concepts, creators and crews.

In this episode, Jim shares part one of the story of Woody Brown, the designer and builder of the first modern sailing catamaran.

Sep 9, 2016

Modern nautical lore “capercast” podcast with multihull pioneer and historian Jim Brown.

This is oral narrative # 2 featuring modern seafaring watercraft, their concepts, creators and crews.

In this episode,Jim continues the amazing story of Woody Brown, designer and sailor of the first modern catamaran.