Happy Independence Day!

Here in our TotalBoat World HQ in the seaside town of Bristol, RI we proudly boast the nation’s oldest 4th of July Parade.  The parade runs along the harbor (as you can see above) and past rows of historic houses and Nathaniel G Herreshoff’s storied boat manufacturing property, following a red/white and blue stripe down the middle of the road. Our special stripe goes the whole parade route and the streets, moorings and docks are lined with locals and visitors, leaving almost no room for last minute joiners.

We hope you’re celebrating this wonderful holiday weekend with your boat and your friends and family. It’s America’s big party day and boating seems to go hand in hand with a great time and in Bristol, RI with a great Parade.

HAPPY 4th!

Insiders Guide: Watching Fireworks from Your Boat

With apologies in advance to all the dogs out there – one of the highlights of most people’s summers is fireworks displays. Coastal towns often use their harbors for a safer, wider viewed launching platform and this means boaters get a front row seat. Many times you need not even leave your slip or mooring, but can sit aboard with friends and a few cocktails and enjoy from the comfort of your own berth.

Navigating at night is not easy for all mariners, even in the best conditions – so if you do cast off the dock lines – be extra careful out there and lookout for reckless boaters. And certainly don’t be one yourself, please! Designate a skipper!

So here is a little ‘insider’s’ guide to the best spots we know of for watching from your boat! We are borrowing some insight from Boats.com blogger, Carol Cronin, who consulted with Kristin at TotalBoat Show about her fave locations for waterfront viewing. Add your own harbor or favorite spot in the comments below! And thanks, Carol!


From Coconut Grove, on the shores of Biscayne Bay, a boater can see three to four different displays. The closest is in Peacock Park, where you can also enjoy an Old Fashioned Picnic at the Barnacle State Park. (Read more about this precious piece of Florida’s yesterday: The Tenacious Barnacle of Coconut Grove.)


According to the locals, Annapolis and Baltimore have the best fireworks displays in the state. The Annapolis July 4 website lists several great viewing areas, including “aboard a boat in the Annapolis harbor.”

Rhode Island

Once darkness falls during the long fourth of July weekend, fireworks are visible up and down Narragansett Bay. This year, Bristol will host its fireworks on July 3, the night before the historic Bristol 4th of July Parade (the oldest in the nation at 230). The rockets blast off from Poppasquash Road, at the head of the harbor. According to local Kristin Browne, the best spot to watch is “from close to—or at—Independence Park. They usually have a symphony first that leads into fireworks. Any spot in the harbor is great for viewing.”

Farther south, Newport and Jamestown often schedule their fireworks on different nights, but this year both will go off on July 4th. Newport’s is usually bigger; the size and duration of the Jamestown display varies from year to year, since it is funded by local donations and a new-for-2015 Jamestown Rocket Hogs GoFundMe page.  As the Hogs say… “Send us your money, and we’ll blow it up!” (Update: Jamestown’s Rocket ‘Hogs have changed the date and will now blow up your money on July 5th.)


Boston Harbor is another spot where multiple displays are visible at once. Local sailor Linda Epstein usually watches all of them from her family’s house in Hull, MA, on the south shore. “Hull is in a unique spot for fireworks. You can look out over Mass Bay and see displays from Boston to the North Shore. Of course, fireworks on the Charles River with music by the Boston Pops is hard to beat.”

Cape Cod

The Cape is a hotspot for many fireworks displays and all are obviously along the beaches and harbor fronts. Falmouth always has a barge out on Vineyard Sound that they launch from you can tune in on the radio and listen to musical accompaniment. Provincetown is also a great spot and boat trips are available for viewing out on the water with a few less people crowding your view. Both Falmouth and Provincetown are doing their displays on the evening of the 4th.  More Cape locations are listed here.


As you would expect, the Texans do fireworks bigger and better than anyone—and more often than most, at least in Kemah, on Galveston Bay. According to resident Watt Duffy, you can watch fireworks “every Friday night during the summer, and hundreds of boats go out to watch. And they have a fantastic show for the 4th.” For more information about these “Fireworks Fridays,” visit the Kemah Boardwalk website.


The two biggest Bays on the west coast, San Diego and San Francisco, both provide plenty of fireworks excitement. San Diego’s Seaworld has an almost nightly display over Mission Bay during the summer.  And according to local Diana Waterbury, “July 4 is spectacular.” Visit Big Bay Boom for more info.

The natural ampitheatre of San Francisco is perfect for fireworks viewing from ashore or afloat. The rockets are launched from the end of the Municipal Pier and from barges north of Pier 39. You can let someone else worry about the traffic and navigation by joining one of Blue and Gold’s special fireworks cruises, which leave right from Pier 39 and include a family-friendly non-alcoholic option.

Have a SAFE and Fun 4th of July Weekend and boat responsibly. It can get nuts out there and it’s up to each one of us to be a responsible skipper. Enjoy! And comment below with your favorite spot to watch your fireworks display!

The Unforgiving Ocean

Great wrap-up video from the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. The video says it all with a culmniation of the superb onboard footage from the race. Watch and enjoy!

River Walkers – White Water SUP

As if careening down a frothy white river, avoiding rocks and fallen trees, other kayakers and big waterfalls wasn’t challenging enough in a kayak, these guys thought it would be fun to use a stand up paddleboard.   I admit it might be a bit boring looking to navigate a flat calm harbor, river, pond etc – but the SUP is merely a vehicle for exploring and using some core muscles and looking very very cool.

Well, these guys have taken it to the next level and they are certainly making those calm morning paddles look boring. Few of us could handle the rapids of even a class 1 river on a kayak, much less class 3/4 and 5 standing up on a paddleboard. And these guys eat it up and make it look easy.

So you’ll find me on the quiet and flat early morning harbor with the birds and the rising sun and the solitude I seek when i’m not quite awake yet. And i’ll probably never take to the river; my heart beats out of my chest just watching this. But like lots of our other posts – it’s not necessarily about what we go and do – it’s about possibility and dreaming, daring to try it and maybe best of all – watching someone else nail it.

You too can buy a cool inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard at Jamestown Distributors!!

Grain’s Northeast Hand Plane Tour = Bodysurfing Magic

In Grain’s world, handplane shaping is like a gateway drug.  And their traveling handplane workshops are short and sweet opportunities to try your hand with some fun edge tools and come away with a sweet little surf-craft complete with the coolest strap system you’ve ever seen.

This summer, we’re celebrating 10 years of building and sharing by visiting shops in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York where they’ll set up our communal handplane shaping table and bust out some shavings.  Check here for more info and sign up online to ensure a spot at the table.

Tuition includes the wood, handstrap and hardware, our guidance and the use of all the tools necessary to create your own wave sliding masterpiece.

Here’s the list of stops on the handplane tour, including some local pals down along the coast at Water Brothers in Newport and Matunuck Surf Shop. Check out a workshop and get addicted to bodysurfing with a handplane. (and to shaping it yourself!)

Maine Surfers Union   July 9th          2-6pm    (Portland, ME)
Greenlines                  July 23rd        4-8pm    (Montauk, NY)
WaterBros                  July 26th       10-2pm   (Newport, RI)
Matunuck Surf Shop  July 31st        3-7pm     (Matunuck, RI)
Noreaster                   August 2nd    10-2pm   (Scituate, MA)
Sick Days                   August 4th     3-7pm     (Wellfleet, MA)

Doing the Mast Jump…

Nick Jacobsen, Danish Kitesurfing wild man, has pulled off 2 completely nutty jumps from tall structures in the past few weeks. The first totally nutty one (that we know of) was actually in 2011 when he climbed to the top of a crane and jumped off, kite in hand.

He has a history of being brave and crazy and going for some big air. He recently got lots of attention when a video of him jumping off the top of Richard Branson’s Necker Island house went viral. That too was a bit off-the-charts crazy. And this 13 minute video of Nick plays off his fearless, try-anything nuttiness.

This time though – he caught our attention becuase he chose a boat to use as his launching pad. And not just any boat – the recent winner of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Race, Team Abu Dhabi’s winning VO65, Azzam. Check out the video above for the complete ride. Even climbing up to the top of the mast looks hairy – and we know you all love the Father’s Day mast jump – well this is the next best thing!  Jacobsen was hoisted to the top of the reefed mainsail of Azzam with his kite flying high above, kiteboard in hand and then leapt off into the wind, with his kite almost gently placing him on the water, some 30m below.

It’s fun to watch the nutty people do crazy things. And live. What could Nick possibly be dreaming of doing next?… We can’t wait to see it…



Rafting Up Is Hard to Do….

Just LISTEN to this video and guess where this raft up went bad. A little taste of the accent and you should be onto these boaters. SO MANY things go wrong in this almost hilarious video. (No one gets hurt and therefore it is laughable)

Ignorance afloat is a dangerous thing. If you go ashore rafted up to 36 boats, well – don’t! Rethink going ashore. Rethink rafting to so many boats. Check your anchor rode and the tides and currents. Make sure your anchor has caught and don’t hang your other 35 friends’ boats off your one undersized Danforth.  Put out plenty of bumpas, spring lines and whateva you do – don’t go sticking your limbs between boats that are moments away from crushing into each other. It is much easier to repair fiberglass than bone….

Go on – have a laugh. It’s Monday. Then plan your super raft up event for this weekend and be that guy or gal who makes sure the raft up is secure…and tell the more ignorant boaters how to improve their tie-up or anchor or anything! And then don’t go far. Isn’t the point of a raft up to stay aboard and enjoy the company of your closest friends and their yachts?

Send your raft up success (or disaster!) pics to us at images@jamestowndistributors.com. We love a good (or bad) raft up!



Rocking the Boat

Rocking the Boat situated in the Bronx, NY, has brilliantly reached out to kids who might need distraction in the form of function, art and certainly boating! Read about “Rocking the Boat” and watch the video about their admirable mission to get kids into and conquering projects they never thought possible.

Jamestown Distributors has been donating to this amazing program for years and they, in turn, have been excellent customers. It is so satisfying to be able to contribute to organizations like Rocking the Boat and see the love for hand crafting, wood working and boating be passed along to kids who might never have had the chance to hold a tiller or a plane. Constructing and rowing your own boat is a project that reaches so many important levels of being a responsible human. There are lessons in crafting, woodworking and in life that manifest themselves throughout a build project and getting kids excited about it all is even more of a victory than the finished product.

From RTB Vimeo Page: Adam Green believes in teaching 21st century job and life skills through old fashioned wooden boat building.

The idea first infected him as a Vassar College student in 1996, when he spent a “semester abroad” volunteering at a middle school in East Harlem—one of the U.S.’s poorest urban neighborhoods at the time. Despite having no prior boat building experience, he worked with students to make “Dolphin,” an 8 foot wooden dinghy which was launched in the school swimming pool.

After graduating, Green returned to New York City with a certificate to teach, but gave up that plan to launch Rocking the Boat—a boat building and environmental education program which now serves 2,000 youth and community members annually in the South Bronx. The aim is not to turn kids into professional boat builders, but to help them recognize abilities they possess that will help them thrive in school and beyond.

Rocking the Boat empowers young people from the South Bronx to develop the self-confidence to set ambitious goals and gain the skills necessary to achieve them. Students work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves.

Kids don’t just build boats at Rocking the Boat, boats build kids.

HOW COOL IS THAT? Support Rocking the Boat by donating here.

The Art of Boat Building

Down in the Gulf of Mexico, it isn’t all shrimp boats and oil rigs. Master Boatbuilder, Bill Holland grew up in Biloxi, MS where his father served as a schooner captain. Holland grew up playing around the neighborhood boatyards, and became obsessed with watching the men build and repair the local fishing boats. He got started building model boats made from scrap wood from the yards. By the time he was twelve he had built his first boat and had begun working in the boatyards, learning the trade from the builders. During his teenage years Holland worked for a number of Biloxi’s renowned wooden boatbuilders.

After a stint in the Coast Guard, Holland learned about the construction of steel hull ships through work as a production welder and burner at the Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. Later he purchased a piece of waterfront property across the bay from Biloxi in D’Iberville, a spot that had been known for over 100 years as Shipyard Point. Holland built his own boatyard on the property, along with a home for his family.

Holland builds and repairs a wide range of boats in his yard, from small skiffs and sailboats to large schooners. He has built 43 boats in his lifetime. Although he has done a wide range of work, his favorite projects are constructing new boats using the older forms and designs. One of his more recent projects in this vein was Mascot, a 39 foot steam launch built for a New Orleans businessman.

Read More…

Transatlantic Race – First Boats Leave Newport on Sunday

Sunday is the start of the second iteration of this particular Transatlantic Race (First one was in 2011) and the line up of yachts at all 3 of the starts is sure to be a sight.  The race starts at Castle Hill in Newport and stretches some 2,975 miles to the Lizard in England. Historically, there have been many Transatlantic races since the very first one in 1866, with massive schooners taking part, placing wagers for winning and setting records. The Schooner ‘Atlantic’, seen in the painting below, built of steel in 1903 with no hydraulics and just ten crew, set the record for the transatlantic crossing at 12 days, 4 hours and 1 minute. A mono-hull record that would stand for 100 years. Since The Great Race in 1866, there have been 27 transatlantic races. In 2011, Rambler 100 (Video above) set a new with an elapsed time of 6d 22h 08m 2s. (Rambler went on to compete in the Fastnet Race in 2011 where she lost her keel and miraculously everyone survived).

Dorade, the 52′ Sparkman & Stephens yawl, won the race in 1931 and was treated to a champions ticker tape parade down Broadway in NYC. Dorade returns again to seek another ocean crossing victory, and with a spectacular fleet of varied boats preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the competition will be fierce. Continue reading