"The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective."
-Henry David Thoreau
Nautically-inspired goods from boutique brands for him, her & home
Know that old sail lying around that's hard to part with? It won't do much good on your boat but with the right elbow grease you can repurpose an old sail to good use. Here are some interesting and useful ideas for adding new life to old sails. For more ideas check out our Pinterest Board on the same topic.
The sun can get pretty hot in the summer especially on a south facing deck. Want to hang out without getting scalloped? Just add shade with your old sail. It is easier than you think, has more character than most shades, and is portable. There are already three points to attach rope or a secure line of your choice. Here are the steps with a PDF from Instructables. Want to show off your new shade? Have a sailing themed party! The shade will fit perfectly alongside other nautical decor.
A good tote bag for the beach is worth it's weight in sand. Seriously, the ever worthy beach tote or duffel bag is always useful. As a project for your old sail it is an easy one. Plus you can use old rope hanging around for the project as well. Here is a full tutorial for the duffel bag.
You know that pesky shower curtain that just doesn't seem to last? Take the older sail and have a shower curtain that lasts a lifetime. There isn't too much alteration, they look great, and are much better quality than any other type of curtain you might get. Don't want to do it yourself? Just check for places that do custom sewing and have them place grommets along one side. You also may need to have them cut to size and tape off one end. Then it is just a matter of getting some shower rings to match! Some still use an inner liner keeping the sail on the outside more for looks. There are places on Etsy that sell these you may contact for a custom job with your own sail.
Of all the setups this one is the easiest. There isn't any sewing but you will want to have the right size to make this actually portable. All you need is the sail, some rope, and something to secure the rope on one end. Having a smaller sail works particularly well. Bring it along next time you go to the beach for instant shade and conversation piece!
Design Sponge offers a great tutorial with images on creating sail chair covers. They also include some information on creating curtains with sails. Depending on what you have to cover you might be able to get away with using strong clips tucked away rather than sewing.
If you just want to get rid of your old sail and put it to good use, donate it! There are a number of places including a small outfit in Gloucester, MA called Second Wind Sails that will take and recycle older sails. They also might be willing to do one of the projects above!
Dead Horse Valley is not only the most popular place to go sledding on Nantucket, it is one of the only places. This makes it a highlight of the winter months with both visitors and locals alike, on those rare occasions when Nantucket gets real snow. Teens and kids especially love it, as the sledding area starts out nice and gentle, but then gradually becomes more steep, making for a smooth, fast ride to safety at the bottom. It's almost like riding a roller coaster. Anytime there is snow on Nantucket, you can be sure that there will be plenty of people of all ages at Dead Horse Valley. The kids and teenagers will be enjoying sledding, while their parents watch happily from the sidelines. It's winter family fun at its best! (Don't miss an older video of sledding at Dead Horse Valley at the bottom!)
Dead Horse Valley is located on public property on Nantucket. The whole area is approximately 400 feet long and has a 50 degree slope. The terrain is smooth in some places, and bumpy in others. While it's not an officially designated sledding place, it is the only real place to sled on the island. It doesn't get to be used nearly often enough. This is because most winter weather on Nantucket is mixed with rain or sleet, or only a light dusting of snow forms. When there is any real snow on the ground on Nantucket, though, Dead Horse Valley is the place to go. There isn't any parking nearby, but Nantucket is a small island. It won't be hard to get to from wherever you park.
If you're visiting the island for the first time, Dead Horse Valley is easy to find. Nantucket is only 17 miles long, so it's hard to get lost. Just get a map and find Mill Street. Mill Street will take you up a small hill. At the top of the hill, turn left at Mill Hill Lane. This street eventually becomes an unmarked country road. Look at the house numbers. When you spot #11, which is on the right side of the road, you will see four white markers in the distance, about 20 yards past house #11. This is Dead Horse Valley, and the start of your sledding adventure.
Dead Horse Valley is rumored to have been the places where dead horses were buried on Nantucket back in colonial times. However, there is no solid proof to this rumor. What is known about the place is that it's been active as a place of business since at least 1746, when the first known windmill was built near there. This is mentioned in several books on the history of the island, and its veracity can be seen today in the names of the streets leading to the valley (such as Mill Street and Mill Hill Lane). Today, however, Dead Horse Valley is a place for nothing but fun. People walk their dogs there in the summer, but in the winter, when it snows, this gorgeous public land on Nantucket is all about sledding.
For what not to do when sledding...
"Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You"
What is the next big thing you are doing that scares you?
Tuckerman Ravine means business. Every year, at least one person gets injured or killed negotiating this steep-ridged bowl on the eastern shoulder of Mt. Washington. It can be hard to process that information in on a beautiful August day, when so many of us ascend the 6,288 foot summit of Mt. Washington via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail that the route seems tame. But in September of 2013, a 25-year-old man slipped and fell 150 feet to his death in Tuckerman Ravine because he ventured off the trail to fill his water bottle.
Steep descents, dangerous crevasses, avalanche conditions, and strong winds all earn this bowl its reputation as a forbidding destination -- while the adrenalin rush of skiing down 45 to 55-degree pitches through up to 50 feet of snow makes it the consummate backcountry ski experience.
In the summer and early autumn, Tuckerman Ravine Trail is one of the most popular ways to reach the summit of Mt. Washington. The first 2.4 miles of the 4.1 mile ascent to the top is an easy ramble; we saw many families with young children along the way. And the ascent to the lip of the Ravine is easier than one might think, thanks to well-worn switchbacks. Beyond the Ravine, it's a tough scramble up the steep, stony cone of Mt. Washington, but the views from the summit over the entire Presidential Range are worth every step.
Skiing Tuckerman Ravine is another matter. Every year, the bowl collects snow blown off the summit of Mt. Washington, where winds of over 100 mph are not uncommon. So much snow and shelter from the sun means that the bowl can have good ski conditions long after the season has ended in other locations. In fact, due to the risk of avalanche at the lip of the Ravine, the backcountry season doesn't usually start for Tuckerman Ravine until April. Some years, we're able to ski the bowl into June.
Skiers need to realize that there are no lifts and no facilities at Tuckerman Ravine. We'll be transporting skis, ski boots, poles, food, and other supplies along a trail that may be covered in deep snow to the headwall of the Ravine. Good hiking boots are essential for this hike in.
From there, it's a steep climb up the wall, followed by a descent at a constant pitch of at least 40 degrees. Intrepid skiers can hike beyond the lip of the Ravine to the snow fields near the summit, and it is possible to ski from the summit of Mt. Washington all the way down the Ravine to the Sherburne Ski Trail, which heads back to the trailhead.
It's not for the faint of heart, but during the height of the season, as many as 3000 backcountry skiers arrive at Tuckerman Ravine daily to experience the thrill of this experience.
Hikers and skiers access Tuckerman Ravine the same way, from Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center on New Hampshire's Route 16. The Mount Washington Avalanche Center posts the latest conditions at the Ravine each day.
It's winter. It's cold. If you still want to sail what do you do? Just like fisherman who drill a hole in the ice and sit for hours for the love of it, dedicated sailing leads those who still want to sail in winter to one thing:
According to an older article from Red Bull, "Sailors race without a seat belt, protective panel, or brakes. Not that they care much"
“You never know with this sport,” says Ron Sherry, a five-time world ice sailing champ and genial Detroit native who journeyed over for another shot at the title. “There are many things that can stop it from working. Too much wind, too little wind, too much snow, too much ice, not enough ice… but when it’s right, there’s nothing like it. It’s absolutely the most fun you can have with your clothes on.”
Want to know about the history? Check Wikipedia. Want to know about the psychology of it all? Stick around because these "blade runners" are one crazy bunch. One reason they do it? Adrenaline. (view more photos on our Ice Sailing Pinterest Board)
“When you’re flying almost silently over the ice, all alone, you feel a deep sense of happiness,” explains Austrian Niklas Müller-Hartburg. “And it’s a battle: a battle with yourself, with nature, with your opponents. And it’s not that cold. Adrenaline makes sure of that.”
There is a certain something about going speeds up to 80 mph on single-seater boats only 12 feet long. Wanna take a ride? You won't be joined by a crowd, nor will there be prizes, still interested?
“No spectators, no sponsors, and no prize money in our sport,” says Müller-Hartburg. “And that’s just fine. This is a sport for freaks, for idealists. Not for showoffs.”
If you are there is typically a few hanging about any long stretch of lake that freezes over nicely in the winter.
A bold claim from a veteran ice boater from NJ Neis Lybeck who enjoys ice boating along the Navesink river. The narrowness of the river certainly adds a lot of interest to the sport.
Recent years it has been harder to consistently get the ice boat out. The overall warmer trends certainly pay a toll and, "In terms of ice boating conditions, Vermont, upstate New York, and a lot of the places out west are better venues." Does this deter them at all? No way.
Think this is an expensive sport just for the young? That's because you haven't met Leonard Lang. He is 88 years old and owns an ice boat he made for $10. It is certainly adventurous to be cross country skiing at 88 but ice sailing takes it to a whole new level.
He gets a huge smile on his face when he tells the story of how he got this boat. Many moons ago, his wife gave him a $10 dollar budget to make the ice boat. That may not seem like a lot today, and it did not seem like a lot back then either, he laughs.
So if you are missing sailing during the winter take another look at ice sailing. This is one way to catch serious wind even when the snow is flying and the thermometer is going the wrong direction.
Listen to this classic rock group's Albatross, the bird we mentioned as a potential bearer bad luck on the seas.
On display in NYC, many of Hicks' paintings reference nautical superstitions and nautical traditions
Try this mysterious cocktail recipe this weekend.
Take a look at Lion City, the intact city China purposefully flooded.
33 is a lucky number, right? Well if not, it is for you this weekend. Find a Nantucket sweater for yourself or a friend now and save 33%. Plus, we always offer free shipping on clothing orders over $100.
Do you think 33 is lucky now?
Sometimes you can tell when a person has saltwater in their blood by the superstitions they keep. Omens considered bad luck to a landlubber become good luck signs for the sailor. Test this concept on your next sea voyage by shoving off on Sunday, carrying a black cat onboard with you while whistling and see if your luck changes.