August 24th

Self-steering on board

Posted by // August 24, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

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Siobhan steeringAutopilot? Windvane? Both, or hard-core hand-steering? Problems with our autopilot have caused some headaches on Totem. So why don’t we have a windvane for self-steering, instead of relying only on an autopilot?

There are a lot of reasons to add a windvane. They don’t need any power, whereas running the autopilot 24×7 on longer passages sucks a fair bit of from the battery bank. A mechanical windvane has fewer moving bits to break down, and no finicky electronics.

We took a hard look at windvanes before we took off in 2008, and were biased to add one to Totem. But like EVERYTHING on a boat, it involved a set of compromises.…

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August 23rd

Crossing the Arctic Circle

Posted by // August 23, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)


Aventura crossed the Arctic Circle at dawn today. In the view of those who only consider a successful transit of the Northwest Passage by having crossed this symbolic gateway both on the way north and south, we have now done it.

Since we passed the latter point on 19 July, we have sailed 3728 miles. While working out that total, I also noticed that a few days ago Aventura had also clocked 20,000 miles since she had left Cherbourg in late May last year.

If our current voyage still counts as Aventura’s maiden voyage, this has been a very long honeymoon indeed.…

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August 21st

Shelter from the storm

Posted by // August 21, 2015 // COMMENT (5 Comments)

We thought we’d be in the Comoros by this morning, a string of islands between Mozambique and Madagascar; instead, we’re still 240 miles away and anchored. Exhausted from three rough days at sea, as our course passed in the lee of an uninhabited atoll in the outer Seychelles it was all too easy to decide to stop and rest.

This isn’t our worst passage, and not a storm we need sheltering from, but I’m a Dylan fan and can’t resist! On paper the conditions are active but manageable: winds averaging around 25 knots, forward of the beam with an apparent wind angle around 50-60 most of the time.…

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August 21st

Fastnet Force 0

Posted by // August 21, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Rambler 88 drifting around Fastnet Rock

There is a single word that sums up the Fastnet Race currently underway from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, around the Fastnet Rock off the coast of Ireland, and back to Plymouth on the south coast of England, and that word is breathless. Yup breathless as in no wind and definitely not from too much breath taking action. The 90th anniversary of this iconic event has been a driftathon of gigantic proportions, an epic event of just about nothing.

The race attracted a record fleet of 356 boats among them some of the most spectacular sailboats afloat including the giant 40 meter Spindrift, the impressive Multi 80 Prince de Bretagne as well as a couple of notable monohulls including the VPLP100 Comanche, the Farr100 Leopard and Rambler 88, big guns all.
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August 20th

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

Allied_42_Furly_B_cPanbo.jpgFull disclosure: a major motivation for this entry is to help sell my old friend Joe McCarty’s boat by describing how well he rebuilt it, particularly in terms of reliable systems. The Furly B is being brokered by Robinhood Marine, where Joe was general manager for 20 years, and I had a good look at her just before the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show opened last Friday. The visit confirmed what I pretty much already knew; Joe bought an excellent old boat and he made her better than new.…

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August 19th

It’s a long way to Nuuk

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

Fort Ross anchorage

After the excitement of having reached the Eastern Arctic, we were rewarded by a quiet night at anchor. But the euphoria was soon dampened by the prospect of the 1200 miles long passage to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. As I knew from last year, we could expect both strong winds and flat calms in the area ahead of us.

In due course we had both.

Jimmy, Dunbar, Martin and Chris at Fort Ross

Before we left Fort Ross, we went ashore to explore this remote location, once a trading station of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Two of the original cabins have survived and are still in good order.…

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August 18th

MAINE COAST CRUISE: Up and Down the Damariscotta River

Posted by // August 18, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Lunacy under sail

During our “adult cruise” (i.e., sans offspring) last summer, Clare and I harbored wild ambitions of ascending the Damariscotta River, but suffered a lack of breeze (and an intolerance of motoring) so settled instead for a perambulation about Knubble Bay and the lower reaches of the Sheepscot River. This summer, having once more disposed of children, I was determined to try again, and we were fortunately favored with some brisk wind early on.

This was last Tuesday. The cruise actually began the day before, when we departed Portland late Monday afternoon, at which point our sole goal was to a) get as far east as possible in the few hours we had; and b) spend the night somewhere not too far north, so as to get back in open water as quickly as possible the following day.…

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August 18th

Indian Ocean cruising bloggers

Posted by // August 18, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

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Delos Totem Chagos 640

I love sharing our experiences sailing across the Indian Ocean. Along the way from Malaysia to South Africa, we’re hanging out with some other really terrific bloggers. I want to give a shoutout to a number of them for additional views into the places we’ve been visiting: they are a mix of thoughtful perspectives, good writing, lush photographs, cool videos, or just plain fun.


Towards the end of our month in Chagos, we met the crew of Shakespeare. The four French women on this speedy 47’ sloop boat are doing a seven month loop of the Indian Ocean from their home on Reunion.…

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August 17th

Capt. Jan Miles

Posted by // August 17, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Episode 116 is one of the best yet! Yan Miles, captain of the tall ship ‘Pride of Baltimore II’ is full of stories, and boy can he tell them! Yan and Andy spoke from the captain’s quarters onboard the ‘Pride’ itself, docked in Annapolis at City Dock. He has been involved with the ‘Pride’ since it’s inception in the 1980s. Yan tells the story of how he got involved in sailing, worked his way up in the private and classic yachting scene, the story of the ‘Pride’s’ inception, the first ‘Pride’s’ tragic sinking, the building of the second ‘Pride’ and what it’s like barreling down the Bay during the Schooner Race and overtaking the schooner Woodwind, which Andy was aboard!…

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August 17th

Thank you!

Posted by // August 17, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Sunset 16 August

In the last two days I have received many messages of congratulations for Aventura and her crew’s successful voyage. I want to thank all of you who have written, as well as those who have accompanied me on this exciting adventure.

Dawn 17 August

As the sun set last night at 2143 local time we still had some scattered ice about. But it was all gone by the time it rose again at 0145 this morning. The nights are still short here at 74 degrees north but they start getting longer and darker as we make our way south.…

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