The origins of the Vendée Globe

21 Oct
Massive crowds at the Vendée Globe
The Vendée Globe starts in just over two weeks. It is, in my humble opinion, the best sailing event on the calendar, better than the America’s Cup and way better than the Volvo Ocean Race. I am allowed to say that having done a number of Volvo’s back when the event was called the Whitbread Race. Let’s just look at it. The Vendée Globe is a single-handed, non stop, no assistance lap of the planet. Reach out and get some help and you are out; no questions, no chances. The sailors have to make ...
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Dilly & Tony Save Day Zero dark thirty

20 Oct

I’m on radar watch at the nav station. Our new crew David is on deck, fighting off the first signs of seasickness. The fog has come and gone all day. Just now its rolled in thick, visibility down to zero. The glow of the tricolor light reflecting on the heavy fog casts an eerie shadow to either side of the boat, just at that transition angle between the colored, red/green lights that shine forward, and the white light that shines astern. The wind just shut down again and we are motor-sailing on a course parallel to the coast, some twenty ...

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Chapter 6 – Where Art and Science Meet – Part 3

20 Oct
Chapter 6 is an in-depth look at the sailmaking process from how we used to make to how they are made these days in a modern sail loft. There is a lot to cover from basic design elements like sail geometry and engineering to a look at the manufacturing process. There will be four parts to Chapter 6. This is part 3 that is all about how sail designers  . I urge you to download Part 1 and 2 as well as Part 3 and 4 when they are published so that you will have a comprehensive knowledge of sail ...
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Remote Boat Monitoring: here comes Navico GoFree Vessel/Track and Siren Marine MTC

19 Oct

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 19, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


While off-boat monitoring was already getting better and more competitive, finally one of the big four marine electronics brands is about to join the fray. Navico’s GoFree Connected Vessel concept is not just important because it will be marketed and serviced worldwide, but also because the development team took the time to think out a truly comprehensive system that can potentially serve a wide variety of boaters in multiple ways. Meanwhile team Siren Marine has been building on their years of remote monitoring, tracking ...

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165: WRI on Hurricane Matthew

17 Oct

Weather Routing Inc. provides all of the forecasting for the passages Mia & I run aboard Isbjorn. I consult with them to plan the best departure window before a passage, and once offshore can get updates on-demand when I feel I need them. Jeremy Davis & Amanda Delaney, meteorologists for WRI, came by Isbjorn during last week’s Annapolis Boat Show to talk weather, namely, Hurricane Matthew, which we spent the majority of the episode discussing.

Hurricane Matthew is the subject of most of today’s episode. It’s with a heavy heart that I report that one of our best friends ...

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Electrical Basics: Bus Bars

17 Oct

IMG 2377

Just twenty or thirty years ago the electrical system on the average sailboat was very simple. It had two batteries connected to an OFF-1-2-BOTH battery switch, and all the loads were fed from there:
IMG 2313
On the back of the battery switch were three studs: one for each battery, and one for the common, that is, the terminal that connects to the alternator and all the loads:

IMG 2314

The battery switch for this Catalina 30 is this way. In addition to the connection to each battery, the battery studs on the back of the switch are good places to connect the outputs ...

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Vendée Globe – Twenty days and counting

16 Oct
Armel Le Cléac’h – Banque Populaire

Today is the day that the 29 competitors competing in the Vendée Globe have to be onsite in Les Sables d’Olonne. There is just 22 days until the start of what’s likely to be the most exciting Vendée Globe ever. I can say that with the utmost conviction and here’s why. This is one of the largest fleets ever and the pure talent among some of the favored skippers is unbelievable. There are probably ten skippers who could win including Vincent Riou who won the race eight years ago. Take the talent of these ...
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Meeting old friends for the first time

16 Oct


Three weeks in Chesapeake Bay so far. Three weeks with so much smiling and talking with friends that there are days my jaw aches. Old friends, new friends, old friends met for the first time. It started with the spectacular crab feed put on by a blog reader and newfound friend when we arrived in late September.


Bay crab, done right: outside, table covered with paper, no cutlery – just mallets. SO GOOD.

This came at the end of a sunny afternoon where we had a spontaneous open boat party on Totem, pinging folks who have been in touch here ...

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14 Oct

Galena under sail

The relevant thread at Cruisers Forum is titled Abandoned Westsail 32 Free For Taking, and it’s not just a salvage hyperbole. The gent who abandoned the boat, Galena (seen above), less than 200 miles northwest of Fiji, has declared he will make no claim on it if it is recovered. He just wants someone to get it. Which shouldn’t be too hard, as its position when abandoned is known, wasn’t too far from shore, and its AIS transceiver, as of three days ago, was still transmitting.

The gent in question is one Bill Shaw, now recovering from his ...

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2016 ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT SHOW: Odds and Ends and Just Plain Odd

13 Oct

X5 catamaran

I knew this would be an amusing show when I quickly deduced that this unlikely looking vessel, the new Exquisite X5 catamaran from South Africa, would likely prove one of the more interesting vessels on site. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking. I have sometimes complained, in a condescending tone, of how many modern powerboats are designed to look like running shoes, and here we have a sailboat that clearly falls into that same category. But really, I swear, this is a very cool boat.

For one thing, the X5 has a very long standard-equipment list that includes such ...

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