October 20th

For anyone who whines about the cost of cruising, Tom’s story is inspirational, and perhaps instructional.

First expense, a 52-foot steel ketch, $1.

What was that? Yes, Tom saved this ketch from a trip to the scrapyard, which was just days away. He found her in Hong Kong in 2004, looking neglected, with a notice on her side for removal. He tracked down the owners and they agreed to let him have her for a symbolic dollar.

I know several people who have bought $1 boats, before I could tell them “Noooo! Don’t do it!” Tom was the former First Mate and later Captain of the 100-foot schooner RANGER, and knew he’d spotted a diamond in the rough.…

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October 20th

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 20, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

NMEA_2015_Signal_K_cPanbo.jpgWhile the big manufacturers showed off some great stuff at the NMEA 2015 Conference, there was also a lot to get excited about in the seminars and expo hall. Discussion of the open source Signal K marine data protocol, for instance, was not just a NMEA first but drew a standing-room-only crowd, twice. Soon I hope to list some of the interesting small and medium-size developers who are adopting SK and also share some good news about how interested boaters can get involved in the first public gateway project.…

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October 19th

Janne Larsson

Posted by // October 19, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Episode number 125 is Janne Larsson, Swedish electrician cum-circumnavigator. This is another episode I recorded at Hallberg-Rassy’s Oppna Varv in August. Big thanks to podcast fan – and now guest of the show! – Nuno Antunes for introducing me to Janne. Janne is another dreamer, and another example of how to make dreams turn into reality. An electrician living in Helsingborg on Sweden’s southwest coast, Janne and a friend Karl made a handshake agreement one day after a wine-filled evening the night before, and agreed they’d set off together and sail around the world. Nevermind that neither of them had ever sailed before.…

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October 19th

Sailing south from Nosy Be, Madagascar

Posted by // October 19, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)



Sailing south from Nosy Be, we take a path with longer days and fewer stops so we can reach a beautiful destination, Moromba Bay, with time to linger before pressing on to Mahajanga.

The first anchorage on the way is Nosy Iranja: we’d been looking forward to a swim in what we’re told is the last clear warm water and coral reef we’re likely to see until the Caribbean. Everybody wants in! We saw half a dozen turtles in less than an hour, but otherwise, it’s nothing special.


We actually finished that stalk of bananas without feeling like we overdosed, which most cruisers will tell you is an accomplishment.…

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October 15th

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 overnight – another said they had to start motoring because the current had them sailing backwards!…

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October 14th

Scenes from Mahajanga, Madagascar

Posted by // October 14, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)


hotel malia - katsepy

Mahajanga was an unexpectedly interesting stop – as was the Katsepy anchorage adjacent. There’s a lot more I wanted to share than I could fit into the last post: it’s a little random. Humor me.

Climbing over the seawall from our beach landing to do last-minute provisions, Ty and I accidentally crashed a road race. Ty loves cycling so it was obvious to him that these racing bikes were a couple of decades old. It looked like a Criterium, where racers repeat a loop on the (uncharacteristically smooth) roads around the point where the Port Captain, the mint, national maritime school and a host of other government facilities are located.…

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October 13th

Matt Rutherford

Posted by // October 13, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Episode 124 is Matt Rutherford (again). Matt and Nicole recently returned from another lengthy expedition, this one to the far northern reaches of Greenland in pursuit of scientific research. Matt & Nicole made it all the way to 78º North, further even than Nasa this summer, and helped chart one of the last areas on earth that’s never been surveyed before. We talked about the expedition, the logistics of navigating 24/7 in thick ice, how they anchored and what anchoring hardware they used, the locals, wildlife, carrying rifles ashore and polar bears!

Thanks to Sailrite for sponsoring this episode!

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October 13th

The not so perilous port of Mahajanga, Madagascar

Posted by // October 13, 2015 // COMMENT (8 Comments)

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mahajanga rickshaws

Don’t go to Mahajanga, they said. It’s dangerous, they said. The coconut telegraph passes information from one cruiser to the next, and typically it’s useful data about destinations. It’s also good at propagating messages with half-truths or misinformation.

In Madagascar, that message is: it’s a bad idea to go to Mahajanga – also known as Majunga, Madagascar’s second largest port, and the closest clearance port to the Cap Saint Andre where cruising boats typically jump to cross the Mozambique channel. This reputation isn’t undeserved: cruising boats in Mahajanga have been boarded at night by thieves… stuff was taken, and people got hurt.…

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October 12th

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 12, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

VeeThree_EGM_kit_cPanbo.jpgVeethree is a serious instrumentation company with significant engineering and manufacturing facilities in Florida and India (impressive corporate video here). The vast majority of their business is OEM, so while the ruggedly-built Engine Gateway Monitor (EGM) above is packaged as a retail product, you’re not apt to see one at a marine store and it’s even hard to find at Veethree (go to the bottom of this marine page). But my testing suggests that it could be useful on many boats, especially with a few of the firmware features coming to its big brother, the 800 EGM…

Veethree_EGM_backside_cPanbo.jpgThe Veethree EGM seems tougher and more waterproof than competitive gateways that similarly translate analog sensor data to NMEA 2000, like the Actisense EMU-1 I’ve long used or the AlbaCombi I’ve also been testing recently.…

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October 9th


Posted by // October 9, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


Harken intro

Which started out with a bang yesterday, as we journos were lured to Harken’s booth, where Harken’s Davide Burrini (up top) introduced the new Assisted Sail Trim system Harken has developed in cooperation with Jeanneau. This is the Holy Grail of an automatic sailing system we’ve been hearing builders talk about for going on ten years now. Now it’s happening! The boats will sail themselves! All we have to do is press buttons.

According to my friends at Jeanneau, there won’t be a boat with an AST system installed here in the States for us to test until spring.

Should be interesting, to say the least.…

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