August 8th

Podcast: Log of Arcturus: Into the Baltic

Posted by // August 8, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Cruising, ,

This week’s essay Friday is an excerpt from the Log of Arcturus, which I keep onboard the boat. Written by hand, as it’s happening, the log is a diary of sorts about our travels. This was written in August of 2012, almost exactly two years ago, during the 3-day passage from Malmo on Sweden’s southwest coast to Visby, on the island of Gotland. It’s good timing, as starting after work today, we’ll be on vacation for the next three weeks, heading this time out of the Baltic and essentially retracing our steps from this here trip. It’s fun to read what I’ve written and see what goes on in my head on those late, solo night watches.…

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August 7th

Unfurled mainsail

I do a fair amount of singlehanded coastal cruising during the summer, usually just going out for a quick overnight whenever an opportunity presents itself. When departing my mooring at Portland Yacht Services (or any mooring for that matter), it has long been my practice to raise the mainsail before dropping the mooring pennant. That way I can get sailing ASAP, usually immediately. When anchoring or picking up a mooring, however, my habit for many years has been to douse and stow the mainsail first, then secure the boat.

But when you’re sailing singlehanded this is often stressful, particularly on the Maine coast during the summer, when there are lobster pots everywhere waiting to catch a turning propeller.…

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August 4th

When the Army Runs a Carnival

Posted by // August 4, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


One of the first rules of cruising is: accept every invitation. (This is also one of the first rules of life, especially for an introvert like me.) So, when a friend invited us to the local military open house, I said yes.
“It’s lots of fun,” said Camille. “They have lots of activities for the kids.”
I nodded, and wondered what that meant. I was a little surprised that Camille, of all people, was suggesting this outing.  This is a woman who steadfastly refuses to let her kids watch violence on television, play mock-battles, or otherwise engage in any aggressive activity.…

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August 4th

Self-steering options

I knew this day would come. I recently discussed having to make up new wood-chip “fuses” for the “electric vane” rig on Lunacy, and in the whole time I’ve owned the boat, about eight years now, this has been the only repair I’ve had to do to keep my autopilot system going. But the small tiller-pilot that is the brains of the operation is very old, and I did expect it would fail eventually. Which is what happened when Mr. Lassen and I were scuttling home from Nova Scotia a few days ago.

It wasn’t a big deal at the time, as I have two back-up systems and immediately deployed both, per the photo up top.…

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August 3rd

59º North Podcast: Ret. USCG Rescue Swimmer Mario Vittone

Posted by // August 3, 2014 // COMMENT (1 Comment)


Mario Vittone is a Navy vet and retired USCG rescue swimmer with a resume that will blow your mind. Andy got in touch with him via a mutual friend, and had an interesting chat about his experience in helo rescues at sea, cold water immersion, safety offshore and more. They discussed the recent Cheeki Rafiki search, the sinking of the Bounty and how Mario’s career has recently transitioned from on-the-scene rescue ops to consultancy work and a successful writing career. Mario writes regularly on and for various industry magazines and publications. Check out his own website at Enjoy episode 41!…

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August 3rd

How do you stay fit while cruising?

Posted by // August 3, 2014 // COMMENT (4 Comments)

Cruising, ,

Cruising is a healthy lifestyle, where exercise is a natural part of every day. What a great lifestyle to stay fit and feel great! Right? Right?

relapse sailing racing trimming

Yeah…it’s not quite like that. There’s truth in it, but staying physical fitness doesn’t just happen: it still takes effort, and commitment.

Before we left

Pre-cruising, I was in pretty good shape: jogging and practicing yoga a few times a week, and walking a lot (my commute to work involved a few miles every weekday). I traveled routinely for work and just tracked down local yoga studios or explored a new place on an early morning run.…

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August 1st

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 1, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


Bob and Elaine Ebaugh did it, leaving Florida in April, 2011, on their DeFever 44 Mar Azul and spending more than two years cruising a big Caribbean loop. Their blog, Mar Azul Adventures, is a good read, but you might miss the fact that during the cruise Bob managed to research, assemble, test and install a 1,200 amp hour do-it-yourself lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery bank to replace the 12 golf cart batteries they’d worn out. He also wrote a thorough white paper about why he chose DIY lithium and how he put the system together…


Here is Bob’s lithium battery blog entry, but you really should download the 14-page PDF mentioned there.

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July 31st

Essay Friday – What I learned in two Atlantic crossings. The first, of course was in 2011 aboard Arcturus, which I  discussed at length with Clint Wells in Tuesday’s episode. The second, which I haven’t written much about, was the following year, on Kinship, a Saga 43 that Mia and I skippered in ARC Europe, crossing the Atlantic via Bermuda-Azores-Portugal. Both were very different experiences and taught me valuable lessons. This is what I wrote following the second crossing in July 2012. Enjoy!…

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July 31st

Edson Marine: old school, new school

Posted by // July 31, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

Boats and Gear,

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 31, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I visited Edson Marine headquarters while Gizmo was in New Bedford, Massachusetts, during my cruise home in May 2013, and one vivid memory is this old catalog that co-owner Will Keene showed me. My old sloop Alice had one of those Mahogany Steering Wheels, and while I’m sure it cost more in 1946, it’s amazing to realize that you could once buy one for $15, Ebonized Rim included. I also enjoyed seeing how well Edson has kept on keeping on since Jacob Edson invented and started manufacturing the first diaphragm pump in 1859…


Edson still makes traditional wooden wheels but also super lightweight carbon ones, too — see their wheels site here — as well as all sorts of other hardware.…

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July 30th


…continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Coast Guard Boardings and Your 4th Amendment Rights posts have been spawning some lively discussion ever since I wrote them, nearly two years ago. Most recently I hear a Coast Guard Facebook page linked to the posts, so there’s been a renewed boost of comments from the Coast Guard side of things. Thanks to all who commented. I’ve been largely silent because I already had my say, but of course I’ve read what all of you had to say, most of which was constructive, and I investigated where I could.…

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