Navigating the Tobago Cays

15 Apr

Photo by crewmember Nick W., taken from the masthead!

Photo by crewmember Nick W., taken from the masthead!

Nick’s at the helm. Harold, Rob & I hoist the mainsail, still attached to the mooring. We’re secured far into Admiralty Bay in Bequia, so it’s tight, but we’re on the outside row of boats. The big tanker that supplies the island’s diesel is anchored just opposite on the far side of the ferry channel.

The plan is to drop the port mooring line first – this ought to blow the boat to port. Once aimed into the channel, we’ll sheet home the mainsail, drop the starboard line and sail upwind, ...

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The Analysis of a Tragedy

13 Apr
The Clipper Round the World Race is one of the safest global sailing events.
I recently read the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) report on their findings regarding the deaths of two sailors in the last Clipper Round the World Race. It’s always a tragedy when someone dies at sea (if that’s not stating the obvious then I don’t know what obvious is…:), but life at sea is a little like life on land; there are risks and potential dangers everywhere. I used to be of the mind that screw it, things are going to happen, sometimes people ...
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Metal Tank Repair with a Shop Vac

12 Apr

One of my boat’s stainless steel water tanks has always had a hole in it, and a series of patches, the last of which held for twenty years, until it failed last week. Here are the tanks, under my floors and settees, meaning replacing them is out of the question, or at least worth a lot of time futzing with patches:

After circumnavigating for ten years on an old boat with not only a water tank with a hole in it, but steel fuel tanks with holes in them, I’ve developed a more nuanced approach to patches. I made it ...

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186: Heavy Weather Sailing w/Andy Schell

10 Apr

Today’s episode is a recording I made of my seminar on Heavy Weather Sailing I gave at last weekends Ocean Sailing Seminar, hosted by World Cruising Club in Annapolis. While I’m lucky not to have too many gnarly heavy-weather sea stories of my own, I’ve studied the subject for years and enjoying talking about it theoretically. What follows is a discussion on what I feel are the ‘best practices’ for handling heavy weather, of course brought to life by a few of my own sea stories. Follow along with slides from the presentation at

Attainable Adventure Cruising //

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BOREAL 47: New Lunacy Afloat and Lying (Also Flying) en France

10 Apr

New Lunacy under sail

In fact I have been in Treguier here in France for a week now, grappling with the project of getting to know the new Lunacy while simultaneously studying printer’s proofs for the new book. The book now has been irretrievably committed to the press, and just yesterday Jean-Francois Eeman of Boreal Yachts joined me for a maiden sail on Lunacy. We had a broad range of wind to work in, from 8 to 25 knots apparent at various angles, and exercised all the sails, including the spinnaker, which has, as you can see, quite the modest color scheme....

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The next Volvo Ocean Race in multihulls?

7 Apr
I was thrilled to read this week that the Volvo Ocean Race is considering changing from monohulls to multihulls for the 2020/21 race. They will make an official announcement at a big press event in Gothenburg, Sweden on May 18. The announcement, which they bill as one of the most radical shake-up’s in the events history, will also include changes to the course.

I have been a big advocate for multihulls for a very long time and while I can easily see both sides of the argument, I am fervently hoping that they choose multihulls; here’s why. The Volvo Ocean ...
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Offshore to Bequia

6 Apr

“You know, most people don’t love ocean sailing anyway. It’s something you endure to get to where you’re going.”

Sometimes. But sometimes it’s the entire reason you go from A to B – to experience the highs and lows, the joy and anguish of sailing over the horizon and into that ocean wilderness. I actually do love it.

We left Virgin Gorda ahead of schedule, at 1000 on Monday, April 3. The day before, our new crew joined us in Trellis Bay – Nick & Sara, a young-ish couple from Maryland; Rob, a watch-face refinishing guru from Ohio; and ...

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Chapter 7 – The Devil is in the Details – Part 4

6 Apr
Chapter 7 is close-up look at the individual parts of a sail. We will examine all the bits and pieces that go into making a good sail from whether you should add a foam luff and sunshield to a headsail or have full length battens in your mainsail. Understanding the make-up of your sails is key to getting the most use and performance out of them.

Headsails for the Cruising Sailor
Fortunately, headsails are a far less complicated part of a sail inventory, although no less important. Without them the boat ...
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MV Dirona: deep cruising, deeply shared

5 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 5, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

MV_Dirona_with_Jen_and_James_cPanbo.jpgIf there were a lifetime award for cruising excellence, I think that Jennifer and James Hamilton would deserve at least a nomination. I mean excellence at the core practical cruising skills — seamanship and boat care — plus inspirational levels of curiosity about the vast world cruising makes accessible, and perhaps at the top of my imagined award criteria: distinction at sharing all of the above with the rest of us. Visiting M/V Dirona in Belfast, Maine, last October was a treat, but you too can ...

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