Techniques

Keeping current: ocean current data for passages

15 Oct

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Ocean currents have been a significant factor for our Indian Ocean passages this year, and our upcoming passage to South Africa is no exception. On this morning’s SSB net, one boat after another chimed in about the strong foul current they’re experiencing off the Madagascar coast as they head towards South Africa. Most entered the Mozambique channel at a point off the western ‘bulge’ called Cap Saint Andre. It’s 220 miles east of the Mozambique coastline, making it shortest point between Madagascar and Africa. One of the first boats reporting by SSB described two to three knots of foul current ...

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Lessons from a dinghy crisis averted

25 Sep

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“STAY AWAY FROM THE PROPELLER!” From below deck I heard Jamie shout from the cockpit, and froze. It was our last day in Comoros; our sixteen year old son, Niall, had just left with the dinghy– those words could only mean one thing, and it terrified me. Niall was in the water, and the outboard prop was still dangerously spinning.

He had departed Totem moments earlier for a late afternoon meet-up with friends on a neighboring boat while we entertained a group of NGO workers on board. Wind coming down the hillside to the harbor gusted 25-35 knots, causing the ...

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The Best of Intentions

29 May

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I don’t recall ever having looked forward to the start of a sailing season as much as this one. At the end of March I was still negotiating snowbanks on sidewalks, and it was impossible to get near the boat in its lair on Boston’s north shore for the thigh-high drifts in the yard. Hopefully, by the time you read these words I’ll be immersed in the joyous task of removing 10 years of bottom paint and that long winter of discontent will be a fast-receding memory. In fact, after holding a sander at head height for a few hours ...

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Inspect your sails: identifying UV damaged cloth

20 Nov

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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 ...

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LIVE Podcast: Ocean Sailing Forum, Part 1

13 Oct

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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Preparing for the Indian Ocean

8 Oct

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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 ...

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Podcast: Master Rigger Brion Toss, Part 2

1 Oct

Brion’s back to chat with Andy about some more technical aspects of yacht rigging, specifically to how it relates to ocean sailing, in Part 2 of yesterday’s interview. They discuss proper preventers, rig tune, rig inspections, Dynex Dux and the advent of synthetics, and much more....

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Podcast: Master Rigger Brion Toss, Part 1

30 Sep

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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Watching out for UV damage to sails

25 Sep

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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!

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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 ...

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