Sailfeed
May 14th
Local hunting conch in Bimini…

At anchor here in Bimini, after an uneventful crossing. The arrival, now that had some drama!
About seven miles out, I decided to put in the North Bahamas chart chip so that, you know, I would be able to see the channel clearly and enter without any problems.
Now where did I put that silly little chip? It’s always in the nav table. Always – well, except for now, when I need it. Seems that when I sold the old chartplotter, I left that chip in it. Darn. Someone got a deal there.
Fortunately, I’ve got my paper charts…
In any event, the entry to Bimini is very easy and well marked, especially now that the casino is here – can’t be having the guests roll the dice before getting to the tables, can we?…

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May 10th

Cuba Bound!

Posted by // May 10, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Boats and Gear, Cruising, Maintenance, Miscellany, People, Racing, Techniques, Uncategorized

A quick post, as I’m getting the boat ready for travel…

At last – the stars have aligned and it’s off to Bimini after far, far too long in Miami. From Bimini, it’s then over to Chub Key – or possibly Andros and then over to the Exumas. I’ll be avoiding Nassau like the plague – far too many murders there recently, including several on boats (see story here). Besides, why go to an island paradise and spend time in a city? I want beaches, sun, sand and rum!
From there, it will be on to the Exumas. This trip, I want to visit the northern Exumas, I’ve missed them in past years.…

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February 2nd
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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.

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ooops…..

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

sunset
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,

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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)

Techniques,

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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