COLLISION AVOIDANCE: Ratting Out an Errant Freighter

25 Apr

Ship too close

I’ve had some correspondence recently from an old sailing buddy of mine, Patrick Childress, who got a bee in his bonnet a while back after he almost got run down by a freighter while cruising Indonesia with his wife Rebecca aboard their Valiant 40 Brick House. It was a pretty typical situation: an alert cruiser aboard a small sailboat has to take last-minute evasive action after a large commercial vessel on a collision course, apparently with no one on watch, fails to respond to repeated radio calls. In these days of AIS this happens less often than it used to, but in this case the perpetrator wasn’t broadcasting an AIS signal.…

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ScanStrut Rokk Mini, premium marine mount system

22 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 22, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

ScanStrut_Rokk_Mini_cable_tie_mount_fishing_cPanbo.jpgI used the Garmin demos in Miami to also test the new Rokk Mini mounting system recently introduced by ScanStrut. There are many ways to attach a Virb XE camera to a boat, as I’ll detail further down, and almost all are less expensive than the system of three Rokk components at work above. But I doubt that there’s any mount with so much range of motion and yet so rock solid when you find the position you want. The Rokk Mini system is also exceptionally well made and can solidly mount phones, tablets, smallish marine displays and more…

I’m pretty sure that the rock solid Rokk Mini mount is partially responsible for the smooth quality of this boat video, which also shows off Virb data integration and which I originally posted at the end of last week’s Garmin demo entry.…

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Broadreach – Coolest Sailing Job Ever – Is Hiring Skippers & Mates!

21 Apr

Hey everybody! I just got word from my friends at Broadreach that they are hiring skippers and mates for the upcoming summer season, sailing out of St. Martin. Mia and I did four seasons with them, and it was the best experience I’ve ever had as a captain. I loved every minute of it. The season starts June 1 and goes through August. Full details, right from Broadreach, follow.


Job Description: 

Sailing Instructors/Skippers needed in the Caribbean for summer live-aboard diving, sailing and marine science programs for teens and college students. Broadreach is an IYT (International Yacht Training) partner school and offers courses from “Introduction to Yachting” to “Flotilla Skipper”.…

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Trashing the ocean: sending out an SOS

21 Apr

ocean garbage

Carefully sealed into the wine bottle was a message from afar. Fisherman in Florida found and read the drift mail, learning that it was from a woman that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean the year before. They contacted the sender and after hearing her message was found, she joyfully related the story to a group of fellow sailors. Her joy was short-lived. The response was not shared enthusiasm but self-righteous, contemptuous clucks. How dare she litter!

Was it really littering, or just slow speed communication? It’s difficult to encounter any sailor who doesn’t have deep respect for the beauty and health of our oceans.…

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Ascension to Barbados: notes from the passage part III

19 Apr

Continuing notes from the passage… installment three. We’re in the home stretch! Our crew, Ty, is working on a guest post: what do you want to know about life on Totem from his point of view? Ask in the comments here, Totem’s facebook page , or through the Contact form (they’ll both reach us on passage), and he’ll tell you.

Day 11

Hello ITCZ! Mid-morning, we give up trying to coax progress out of the dying wind and turn on the engine. It’s usually slower to motor than to sail, but a nice push from the current keeps miles passing steadily under the keel.…

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Yacht Devices N2K display, RedPort & PredictWind, NMEA & ABYC, and ONWA radar

18 Apr

Written by Adam Hyde on Apr 18, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Yacht Devices NMEA2000 Text DisplayYacht Devices appeared suddenly on the marine electronics scene last summer when Ben discussed their new temperature and barometer sensors. Not resting on their laurels, they then launched a $189 voyage data recorder that similarly came with either DeviceNet or SeaTalkNG connectors to minimize additional drop and/or adapter cable expense. More recently they joined NMEA and have now launched a new NMEA 2000 (N2K) text display which seems to be the least expensive and least power thirsty N2K data display available…

Yacht Devices YDTD20 data typesAt $149 for the YDTD-20 text display, the major caveat is that it will need a dry location because it’s not waterproof.…

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‘Ocean Sailing Podcast,’ w/ Host David Hows

18 Apr

Greetings from Ft. Lauderdale! Welcome back to a special bonus episode of 59º North, the podcast about sailing. I’m recording this from legendary sailor and podcast guest Pam Wall’s kitchen table! Pam helped Mia and I find a slip for Isbjorn here in busy – and expensive – south Florida. The boat is docked in a canal across the street from Pam’s house for the next month, and she’s been kind enough to let me use her kitchen as my temporary office. Sweet!

Episode 146 is actually Episode #1 of the new ‘Ocean Sailing Podcast,’ produced by longtime fan of 59º North, David Hows and released on April 1.…

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SAILBOAT PROPELLERS: Damned If They’re There; Damned If They’re Not

18 Apr

Boat hauled

Though they seem like very simple devices, propellers are in fact quite complicated. More often than you’d expect, problems with a boat’s performance under power can be traced to poor propeller selection. To drive a boat well a prop must be properly matched to whatever engine and transmission is turning it, and numerous variables–the engine’s horsepower, its operating and maximum potential rpm and shaft speed, the boat’s speed potential, and the dimensions and specifications of the prop itself–must be balanced against each other to achieve good performance over the broadest range of circumstances.

Even professionals sometimes get this wrong. The very best resource on the subject that I know of is Dave Gerr’s very helpful and comprehensive tome The Propeller Handbook (International Marine/McGraw Hill, 1989).…

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South Africa in hindsight

18 Apr

ostrich in suburbia

Pinterest South Africa sunset lakeSouth Africa leaves an indelible impression. During our three month stay we fell in love with it for a multitude of reasons, but frequently felt uncomfortable. The answer I came up with, again and again, when asked by locals how we like it: “South Africa is a beautiful, complicated place.” Very complicated.

In the “pro” column, landscape is diverse and magnificent. We joked on our first road trip- a couple of thousand kilometers from Richards Bay to Johannesburg and then nearly to Botswana and back again- that every few hours, it looked like a different US state. We went through parts of Montana, Kansas, western Massachusetts in succession.…

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Garmin demos: GPSMAP 8600, ForwardVu, Fantom, Virb XE, Quatix3 & more

15 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 15, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin_GPSMAP_8617_on_Contender_25_aPanbo.jpgAt this moment in time, the Garmin GPSMAP 8600 multifunction display announced in February may be the most powerful premium MFD available. That’s the “little” 8617 model of the series above — apparently now shipping at $7,500 retail — and that Quatix 3 smart/fitness/boat watch is not trivial technology either. So even given two full days with four Garmin-loaded boats, I feel like I only grazed the surface of all that’s going on. And frankly, the story is similar across the four major electronics brands and beyond.…

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