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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Jul 13, 2017
Here's another old story, this one about a shark. And about feeding time at the "lion house." And about what to do with fish cleanings if you just might be swimming around the boat the next day. Okay?
Jul 6, 2017


I'm digging pretty deep here to bring you the kind of story that one withholds until old age. When one looks back and tries to figure "How I Got This Way." 

It's those early exposures to certain feelings, special friends and meaningful mentors, or, in this case, a village in the palms filled with people with whom we could not communicate but didn't need to, much.  And found it hard to leave... Harder to return to normalcy.  It's just another old sea story.  It may not change the listener, but it changed the teller, and he's glad.

Jun 29, 2017


An old shipwreck ​story from my schooner bumming days, it is told here to reach across the years with some perspective of  classic seafaring in deep, heavy monohulls relative to the contemporary -- even futuristic -- lightweight vessels.

My digital assistant, CRISTI (Can't Read It So Tell It) knows that I can edit her out when she interrupts the Caper, but privately she  really beat me up over this one because it runs 43 minutes. Of course you always have the pause button, or just click on the X, but if you get through this monologue, you may take away some notion of how far we've come with marine architecture in the last 50 or 60 years.

And now we're getting pretty close to the  "perfect boat," one that cannot sink, and is also self-recovering from capsize. Foil-borne, too? Foil-assisted? We'll see. But the Hybrid Wing is, in my view, destined to become endemic -- if for no other reason than its buoyancy can prevent multihulls from turning turtle. What's your view?

Jun 22, 2017


Explains some of the challenges faced by competitors in this endurance test from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska in which my son Russell is currently competing.

Using his participation as a legitimate excuse, I tempt several of my seasoned traveler friends to join me at Victoria, BC to form a cheering section for Russell's send-off.  At this writing he is still under way, but details of the race including videos can be found at

I ask listeners to offer their thoughts on a proposed Outrig Design Contest for a vessel intended for single handing in this and other endurance Capers. Please respond to

Jun 15, 2017

More Seafaring Literature from Jim...

In this episode, Jim talks about several great adventures that took place at sea.  He also explains why pitchpoling in monohulls can be different than in multihulls.

Jim gives some special recognition to couples in this podcast.  And he notes several amazing female sailors among them.  

Several classic resources for cruisers are mentioned.  They include how-to information, including boat construction, voyage planning, rigging details, seamanship and celestial navigation.

Jim also talks about why being "able to go" cruising is often more important to many seafarers than actually going.

Jun 8, 2017

This nautical lore podcast speaks of legendary sailors and the books (and in some cases, other media) featuring them.   Jim also talks briefly about this year’s “Race to Alaska” event, in which Jim’s son Russell Brown will compete.

There are some great yarns all throughout this episode.  These include stores about Joshua Slocum, Irving McClure Johnson, Sterling Hayden and Tristan Jones. 

And Jim reveals why a lot of the supposedly historically accurate reproduction boats that have been built in the modern era are rather poor sailing vessels when compared to the boats they’re supposedly “re-creating.”

A plethora of adventure stories awaits listeners in this capercast.

Jun 1, 2017

40: BLIND SAILOR? (Part 2)

In this portion of our telephone ramble, John Patterson and I speak of the safety of small boats at sea, dragging drogues, sailor's burn out, avoiding collision, contending with disability and more.

May 25, 2017

39: BLIND SAILOR?  (Far from it)

Speaking by cell phone from the Island of Culebra, John Patterson tells of his life-long quest of seafaring, but he begins by designing and building his own boats.

Starting with childhood experiences on the water, John shares many nuggets of wisdom and attitude that have allowed him to accumulate the skills and Judgement needed to actually live, full time for the last 16 years and despite a daunting disability, the sailor's life.



May 18, 2017

THE 300-NUT CANOE (And Other Considerations)

This Caper takes us to a salvaged 57-foot catamaran, upside down and abandoned in the Caribbean last November, but recently discovered adrift off North Carolina, still habitable and salvageable. This is then compared to a small aluminum skiff drifting for months with crew aboard who are “returned “from the dead.”

Also, issues of demographic centralization and global sea level rise, are related to good times and bad luck. Tell us what you think.

May 11, 2017

Small Boat Fun in Cedar Key

In this capercast Jim shares about his trip to the yearly small boat gathering in Cedar Key, Florida.  He tells a couple great stories, along with some details about interesting developments in the boating marketplace.

He begins, however, with a fascinating report about a sailor who has (supposedly) crossed the Tasman Sea in a 17-foot Windrider trimaran.  (Can anyone help Jim confirm this)?

Listen in on the fun and information exchange that happens at boat gatherings such as this.  And also get inspired to be a part of it, if you're not already!

May 4, 2017


This is a "field" interview with the principals of Fast Forward Composites, in Bristol RI. These are the guys who are researching and building the Hybrid Wing and the latest "Italic T" hydrofoils, all coming together now in a 40' prototype catamaran, and bringing them together in a 53' catamaran yacht. I think of this technology as historically significant, perhaps the first complete example of the future's Hybrid Ship.
Apr 27, 2017


This caper features Jim sharing about his trip to New England this week, where he got a glimpse of the most cutting-edge boatbuilding technology on display from his hosts.  

It's a far cry from backyard boatbuilding, and Jim offers many details on how what is going on at the building shop he visited will likely reach many in the sailing world sooner rather than later.

Jim finishes off this podcast by also talking about his encounter with Amaryllis, the catamaran designed by Nathanael Herreshoff that, which launched in 1876.

So there you have it ... a Jim Brown capercast that touches the 19th century on into the 21st.

Apr 20, 2017


This Caper is based on a conversation with Randy Smyth recorded aboard Scrimshaw. On the day after Randy finished first in the Everglades Challenge Race, March 2017, we spoke over piles of pancakes, formulated by Bruce Matlack to include berries, nuts and seeds to sustain the endurance sailor, and served by Carla Laney to include jam, agave and maple syrup.

This combination resulted in a slightly less than PhD level revelation of the world's most efficient -- yet practical means of  propelling waterborne vehicles using the unlimited energy produced by the movements of Earth's atmosphere relative to its hydrosphere, wherein the only pollution is monkeyshines.

Apr 6, 2017


The first of the field interviews has Steve "Chief"  Isaac, progenitor of the Everglades Challenge race, describing how  a perceptive teacher and a compelling book eventually resulted in ​his sending hundreds of endurance racers out into Florida Bay and The Everglades to test their boats and themselves in true survival mode.

Ah, survival, the oldest tradition of all, is seen here, ultimately, by warriors of the water, as a sublimation for suicide, a reason for living, and a celebration of life.

Mar 30, 2017


 How did he get there? What happened while he was there? How long was he there? How did he get back?

This Caper tells the survival story of Captain Guy Asbury, perhaps the only mariner to spend days and nights precariously perched on a dead whale.

He was surrounded by screaming seagulls (“flying rats”), crabs (which he ate as they tried to eat him), sharks (taking giant mouthfuls of blubber) and a choking stench, all in thick fog. 

Can anyone find the likes of this in the entire marine literature? If so, please let us know.

Mar 23, 2017


Cruising for the first time without our two sons as crew, Jo Anna and I head north from Virginia to Nova Scotia. After dealing with fog for four days, we discover a netherworld of outlandish people and animals all living in a shack and a castle, where it seems a spell is cast.

Realizing that the cruising experience doesn't get any more fulfilling than this, we stay for a month, visiting nowhere else in Nova Scotia.

This is Part One of a two-part Caper, the preamble to Part Two, a bizarre survival thriller.

Mar 16, 2017

News on New Wing Rig from Randy Smyth

In this special edition capercast, Jim Brown shares news about the development of a new type of Wing Rig developed by Olympian sailor Randy Smyth.

Jim learned about this firsthand from Randy after Randy won the Class 5 category of the 2017 Everglades Challenge Race in Florida.

Lots of fun in this one, as Jim shares details via his cell phone.  (Because of this unique recording situation, the audio quality of this capercast is not as clear as when Jim produces them in his office-studio.  But as usual, his great storytelling voice and excitement make this special edition a worthwhile listen.

Mar 9, 2017
A Little-Known Multihull Pioneer
While early childhood influences may direct our lives, there is also the adult mentor, the chance exposure to that certain individual who may well direct the course of our maturing passages. This story tells of how I first became exposed to a catamaran, where I first heard the word "trrimarran," and why, subsequently, I was predisposed to nothing much but boats.
Mar 2, 2017


Here begins what we hope will be an occasional, continuing series on how the ordinary mortal can go cruising on a budget in today's world.  ​This edition considers the mindset, initial planning and suggests a boat type, designed expressly for owner-building.  Listeners with opinions on this subject are invited to participate by sending a contact email to AT

Feb 23, 2017


How is it that some of us, probably including many listeners to these Capers, become so enrapt? Committed? Predisposed? HOOKED on our boats?

These two Capers tend to support the predisposed explanation, for it seems to me that the lives of many individuals are  die-cast by exposure to some copacetic stimulus that occurs very early in life. The quest to identify that stimulus can be futile unless one truly concentrates on her origins. Success in that quest can be quite comforting when one attempts to apprehend  the course of life.

It may take a special place or a specific time -- such as playing in an irrigation ditch or squirming in a cave -- for such contact with one's "Pre-Disposition," These parables may suggest a way for others to find the source of this formative buoyancy.

Feb 16, 2017


In this continuation of Scrimshaw's passage around Cape Thank God, I attempt to explain the dominant presence of navigating in a family crew before GPS. Jo Anna and I found it necessary to continually check each other's work, and we often found mistakes!

This challenge was somewhat amplified when we became dependent on celestial navigation, and meeting that challenge brought us closer than ever as mom and dad, man and wife, captain and mate, and our "deck apes."  

Also in this Caper is the answer from another cruising couple, Fran and Mort Van Howe, as to what their sailing has meant to them in their lives.

Feb 9, 2017


Intending to describe family cruising with one's wife as literally First Mate, I get hung up in the details of our cruise through the San Blas Islands and to Cartegena, Colombia (our favorite port).

From there, we beat up through the Southwest Caribbean to the islands of San Andres and Providencia where, seeking local knowledge of the route ahead, I benefit from meeting Captain John Bull.

This is all to set the scene for the next Capercast, which tells of our greatest navigational challenge, wherein Jo Anna and I -- while dealing with  the urgency of finding our way -- become close to being one, an entity together with our sons.

Feb 2, 2017


Story of SCRIMSHAW's ​greatest one-day boat ride, her transit of the Panama Canal. Despite some very humbling episodes, and eighteen years of trying to get back to the Caribbean, we change oceans at the isthmus that shows us five different Panamas, and reveals "America's Experiment With Socialism," the Panama Canal Zone where "American Soil" that has since been returned to it's in-rightful owners.

At 34 minutes, this is the longest Capercast yet. While it gives me a chance to really fluster CRISTI, we need to know what our listeners think of the longer format.

Jan 26, 2017


We should all get equal time to talk about our kids, but that would need we all have Podcasts. In this Caper, I tell of our experiences while family cruising in a too-small boat when the Captain has a too-big temper and his kids have a normal sibling rivalry.

In the end, it is the kids who guide the boat and solve the problems.​ As parents, it seems to me that the best thing we can do for them -- and for us --  is to just spend time together.

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