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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September 25th

Watching out for UV damage to sails

Posted by // September 25, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Boats and Gear, Techniques, , ,


We’ve been in Penang for a couple of days now, catching up on projects. This afternoon, after the sun disappeared behind the condos backing the marina and the air cooled, Jamie and I took a walk around and looked at the other boats. Primary takeaway: the sun, she is strong!


Many boats had some degree of the damage shown here: a protective cover worn thin from UV (see the tear?), with stitching so rotted it’s literally breaking apart in place. Is the UV strip material a low quality knockoff? Not sure. Was UV resistant PTFE thread used? Highly unlikely. Sailmakers don’t like this thread because it’s expensive and difficult to work with.…

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September 24th

Drogue test

You probably won’t be too surprised to learn that I’ve been thinking about jury-steering systems ever since my little adventure back in January aboard the catamaran Be Good Too. One thing I’ve wondered is whether we might have managed to save the boat if we’d had a proper drogue onboard to try steering with. If we’d been able to neutralize the effect of the bent port rudder, which was constantly steering the boat to starboard, by either losing the rudder entirely (not really feasible) or by letting it swing freely (which would have been easy if we’d known the rudder was bent before we “fixed” it), I’m quite certain the boat could have been steered with a properly sized drogue.…

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