Ramón Carlín – winner of the first Whitbread Race – has died.

9 May
Ramón Carlín after winning the first Whitbread Round the World Race

Ramón Carlín died. That probably does not mean much if you are a new sailor just getting into the sport, but if you have been around the block a bit you will know the name. Carlín, a Mexican national, was the skipper of Sayula, the boat that won the first Whitbread Round the World race back in 1973/74. It was an upset victory by any measure. Carlín and his young amateur crew beat two of the best known skippers at the time; the legendary Eric Tabarly and British sailor Chay Blyth and his team of British paratroopers.
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Navigating with OpenCPN on an Android Tablet

8 May

After well over a year of landlubbing where I could barely even find time to adjust my docklines I’m finally back on my boat! I’m writing this in Ft. Meyers Beach, FL, which we’ve reached in a couple long, busy passages. Unfortunately I couldn’t steal away for long so I’m doing what I hate to do which is sailing on a schedule. This means sailing in any wind that we can get, which in turns means unpredictable passage times. Well I say unpredictable but somehow we always seem to reach our destination at the same hour- 3am. I’m no stranger to night passages, or night entrances and I’m careful about where I will and will not arrive after dark but this trip, for the first time on my boat, I’ve been able to make night entrances with a sense of near-total ease.…

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Gizmo’s new Firefly battery bank, working out the details

6 May

Written by Ben Ellison on May 6, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_Firefly_Carbon_Foam_AGM_battery_bank_cPanbo.jpgWhen I wrote about replacing Gizmo’s house battery bank, I was already inclined to try Firefly Oasis AGMs, and my enthusiasm has only grown. It certainly helped to have RC Collins and Nigel Calder testify further in that entry’s comments about how deeply they’ve “abused” these batteries in ways that boaters like me tend to do. I’m excited about gaining significantly more usable, easy-to-replace power capacity, and the Firefly’s smart, colorful exterior design is a nice bonus. But the switch from two conventional 8D AGMs to a four Firefly bank naturally led me to rethink Gizmo’s battery storage, cabling, charging, and monitoring systems.…

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Sailing to Cuba & Exploring Havana

5 May

It’s been almost two weeks since we were in Havana. As I write, I’m on the plane home from Key West, where we initially made our landfall back in the continental USA for the first time since November, and where we stayed for my sister’s wedding and associated festivities for the past week. I finally have time to reflect on our passage to ‘forbidden’ Cuba.

Scroll all the way to the bottom for the full gallery of photos.

Last I wrote about the passage we were becalmed along the northern coast of the island – Cuba is huge, over 600 miles from east to west – taking one last swim and shower before landfall.…

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Chapter 3 – From thread to finished fabric – Part 4

5 May
In this chapter we will look at how fabric is made from basic weaving to laminating layers together to building whole sails in one piece as with a membrane sail . At the end of this blog is a link to subscribe so that you get all posts and can educate yourself on the subject of sails and sailmaking. There is also a great free gift when you subscribe. Thanks for reading.


While woven fabrics have stood the test of time, sailmakers are continually looking for new ways to build sails, and in particular for ways to graduate the weight of fabric throughout the sail since the different parts of a sail experience markedly different loads.
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VIKINGS ON THE LOOSE: Largest Longship Built in Modern Times Has Set Out Across the Atlantic

3 May

Harald under sail

Hide the family jewels! The Vikings are coming! The 115-foot Norse longship Draken Hårald Harfagre has just set out from Norway and is bound to North America via Iceland and Greenland. Ultimately Hårald and her crew plan to roam as far inland as the Great Lakes before raiding the Big Apple and Mystic Seaport in September and October.

But first, of course, she must have technical difficulties. Hårald departed Haugesund, Norway, on April 26 and immediately had to put into Lerwick in the Shetland Islands to repair a busted shroud. (Coincidentally, she also put into Lerwick two years ago after she was dismasted on a shakedown sail.) Repairs now complete, the Norse horde set sail again and just yesterday landed at Torshavn in the Faroe Islands, where they are waiting for a weather window to continue on to Iceland.…

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Mainsail Features: headboard vs head ring

3 May

repair to mainsail head

This post comes from Jamie, one in a series where he shares his knowledge as a tenured sailmaker. For more about Jamie’s experience in the field, see Sailmaker SAYS!. Pictured above, Jamie replaced a corroded headboard with a ring on the mainsail of Solstice in Madagascar last year.

Why does the head of a mainsail have a headboard? Because that’s how it’s always been, for racing mainsails; and by default everyone else. Does that make sense for non-racing applications?

Grey Matters
Headboard: triangular-ish plates fastened to mainsail head to provide a stout halyard attachment point and rigid structure to enable greater head width.
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The Transat bakerly

2 May
IMOCA 60’s at the start of The Transat bakerly

The Transat bakerly started this afternoon from Plymouth on the south coast of England. A cold rain and building breeze greeted the 25 sailors as they docked out and made their way to the start area off Plymouth Hoe, the same place where Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls in 1588 while waiting for the tide to change before sailing out with the English fleet to engage with the Spanish Armada. While Drake may have been facing a life or death situation, the Transat sailors are facing their own kind of hell.
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Mercury & Navico: new VesselView Link, VesselView 702/502 displays and MFD engine interface

30 Apr

Written by Adam Hyde and Ben Ellison on Apr 30, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Simrad_VesselView_via_Mercury_VesselView_Link_cPanbo.jpgPerhaps the most remarkable aspect of this collage is what you can’t see. There were no Mercury gauges or displays whatsoever on this Navico demo boat thanks to a new Mercury black box called the VesselView Link that offers complete gauge and control integration. Simrad and Lowrance VesselView engine interfaces have also been vastly improved, and Mercury is offering similar full MFD integration on its own new VesselView 702 and 502 displays. So a clean single-brand helm electronics setup is now available under three different brands, and seems reasonably priced even for a relatively small boat.…

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Crew’s view: joining Totem for a passage

30 Apr

santas bag

This post is penned by our crew across the Atlantic, Ty Anderson. We’ve known Ty for a long time (backstory in this post); he’s also been aboard for legs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. He wanted to share some of his perspective on life aboard Totem; this also seemed like a great opportunity to let readers get an alternate opinion on some questions!

What’s it like traveling with a family that’s not your own?

Six years ago when we crossed the Pacific to Hiva Oa I was a stranger. Today I’m an old friend of the family, bringing Santa’s bag of goodies when I visit the boat [see top image!].…

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