February 2nd

Seeing the mountains of Cuba, especially after leaving the flat and featureless Bahamas, is exciting. You know it’s going to be different, but just how different you don’t know. Equal parts of fear and anticipation, hesitancy and expectation, jitter about in your mind. It’s not at all like entering any other country.

As you approach, and generally somewhere about 9 or 10 miles out, the Cuban Guarda Frontera (coast guard) contacts you via VHF with a request you identify yourself and your intentions. This is it. You’re heading in and your entire cruising experience is about to be changed.



My first visit I entered at Puerto de Vita after a 65 nm crossing from Ragged Island in the Bahamas.…

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November 20th

A dependable suit of sails to carry you towards the horizon is the basic tool of every cruiser. I’m sharing more of Jamie’s expertise as a sailmaker on the blog: most recently, about how to check the stitching in sails for UV damage.  This time- he’s going to tell you how to evaluate the cloth.

Jamie often checks sails on the boats we’re with. The cruising boats we meet in Southeast Asia have often done hard miles, but you don’t have to cross an ocean to have sailcloth damaged by UV exposure. He’d like to empower sailors with the right information to check their own to avoid an unpleasant days on the water, or worse.…

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October 16th

What I learned crossing the Atlantic

Posted by // October 16, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruising, Techniques

Last year I decided to sail across the Atlantic.

I previously had spent 3 months learning how to sail in South Africa and figured that learning should be put to good use–otherwise there’s no point, is there?

After some quick research, I decided to join the 270 boats crossing the Atlantic with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in November 2013:

“Every November since 1986 the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has set sail from Las Palmas, bound 2,700 nautical miles westward across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.”

Nearly a year later, I can say this trip exceeded my expectations by far. …

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October 13th

LIVE Podcast: Ocean Sailing Forum, Part 1

Posted by // October 13, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruising, Techniques,

Part 1 of the World Cruising Club ‘Ocean Sailing Forum,’ live from the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Andy moderates a panel including SAIL’s Charlie Doane, Paul & Sheryl Shard from ‘Distant Shores,’ and Jennifer & Scott Brigham of the Valiant 40 ‘Pendragon.’ They discussed all things ocean sailing, from boat selection to watch planning, seasickness, fears, joys and more! Check for Part 2 later this week.

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October 9th

Solstice LOVES to close-reach! We’re doing 7.2 knots against a forward-quartering storm swell of 10+ feet. The swells are so large that the only other boat we encounter is a Swiss cruising cat-amaran surfing down a face, whose super-structure disappears from our view in the trough.

As we go, a light squall eventually falls upon us. I see through its light-rain and spy another squall further up-wind.

Ominously lurking between the localized cumulonimbus I see a towering cloud… so high the top is flattened; convection curtailed by a cool air-mass above.
OK… long-period storm swells; stratus clouds forming overhead; and a series of building cumu-lonimbus squalls upon us … some miles to windward lies a Tropical Depression — common conditions for December.…

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October 8th

Preparing for the Indian Ocean

Posted by // October 8, 2014 // COMMENT (5 Comments)

Cruising, Techniques,


Jamie and I co-author the cruising column for 48° North, a Pacific Northwest regional boating magazine. He lead on this piece for their for October issue, with ruminations about what lies ahead for us with a big year coming. The complete magazine is free on newstands around the Salish Sea, and available online wherever you are.

Transition then Monsoon

Southwest monsoon season is active here in the Malacca Straits. Intense squalls with cold, biting rain, and streaks of lightning that are always too close divide the day’s oppressive heat. It is extreme weather – eerily calm, blindingly bright or catastrophically loud.…

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October 8th

Pirate Machinists, Part 1: The eff’ing diesel!

Posted by // October 8, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


I anchored in the midst of the Mega Yachts in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten at 0215 … exhausted, mostly due to my anguish over the emergency mechanical repairs I made to Solstice since the last expedition ending two-and-a-half weeks ago … including 18 hours of solo sailing from Tortola to meet my client for embarkation on another expedition.

Aside from dealing with a chafed halyard at night … I’d earned this easy crossing of the Som-brero Passage, close-reaching in 10 knots of breeze and flat seas … rare but good conditions for December.

With less than 8 hours remaining between back-to-back expeditions that originated 85 nautical miles apart, I’d hoped all my efforts to get Solstice’s engine running again, and replace her failed shaft-seal, would give us a week of trouble-free operation.…

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September 30th

Podcast: Master Rigger Brion Toss, Part 1

Posted by // September 30, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Boats and Gear, People, Techniques,

Master Rigger Brion Toss is on the show today for Part 1 of a very long and enlightening conversation with one of Andy’s heroes. Andy met Brion in 2009 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, and their conversation was the deciding factor in outfitting Arcturus with synthetic rigging. Brion comes on the podcast to discuss his own history as a rigger and sailor. In Part 2, they discuss the more technical aspects of rigging.

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