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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One Last Farewell in the Caribbean

2 Apr

Isbjorn on anchor in our usual spot in Trellis Bay.

Isbjorn on anchor in our usual spot in Trellis Bay.

Today is ‘Day 0’ of our final Caribbean passage for almost two years, until our return in 2019. Isbjorn is bound for the Grenadines for the second time in 2017, a change in our original schedule, which had us going back to St. Barth’s and on to Dominica. Why the change? Because the sailing passages will be longer, and having been once in the Grenadines already this year, we felt compelled to return. They are a neat place.

I’m writing from the sofa at Jeremy’s Kitchen, a new cafe on ...

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Sailing is DEFINITELY not broken

31 Mar
Nothing boring about flying boats

I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago refuting another writers assertion that sailing was somehow “broken.” I claimed the opposite citing flying boats and unbelievable record setting circumnavigations by some extraordinary French sailors, and I believe that my assessment was the right one. While I totally dislike the notion of ‘doubling down’ – because that’s what crooked politicians do when caught out – I feel that I need to double down on this one. I think that sailing is far from broken. Instead I think that sailing has never been stronger and more ...
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LADDER BAY: Eater of Yachts!

30 Mar

RM 1350 in slings

Late-breaking news from the W’Indies! Not one but two yachts have broken off moorings on the west coast of Saba in the past several days and both have ground ashore in Ladder Bay, a most inhospitable shore. The first was a sailboat, a French RM 1350, which reportedly was left on a mooring unattended while the family crew went ashore for a three-day holiday. The boat was refloated and towed to St. Martin, where it was hauled for repairs (see photo up top). An ugly bit of damage for sure.

Here’s a video showing the salvage operation. Note first all ...

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DIY Non-Skid

29 Mar

With spring finally here, some readers may be thinking about doing some painting. I couldn’t find much information on how to prepare a deck for nonskid. Here is the method I used that yielded good results.

Tayana 37 Non-skid completed

First, the deck is painted with whatever topcoat will be your base. For my boat I used oyster white as it matches my off white hull really well. Notice I did not paint the entire deck. I did this for two reasons. First, since the nonskid areas will get two coats of topcoat, painting areas I’ll just be repainting later is a waste of paint ...

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THE SEA IS NOT FULL: Preorder Your Copy on Amazon Right Now!

29 Mar

Ahoy all loyal WaveTrain riders and any other persons interested in ocean sailing and marine subjects generally. This is not a drill! You really do need to BUY THIS BOOK. By yours truly. Can now be preordered at Amazon at a price much lower than I personally would like to see it selling for. (But that’s Amazon for you.) One size fits all, and it is guaranteed to open your eyes to aspects of ocean sailing you never really considered before.

This book contains:

–The scary true story behind the loss of the catamaran Be Good Too with many ...

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185: Tom Harkin RECYCLED

28 Mar

Tom Harkin driving Isbjorn south in the 2015 Caribbean 1500.

Tom Harkin driving Isbjorn south in the 2015 Caribbean 1500.


It’s Tuesday, March 28, my sister’s birthday, and I’m home in Pennsylvania at her house enjoying a long weekend off the boat between trips. We’ve had an amazing season so far, four trip down and seven to go! One more Caribbean jaunt next week to Grenada & back, and then we’ll be on our way to Europe in May! I hope it goes without saying, but Mia & I are EXTREMELY grateful to both our Isbjorn crew and our podcast supporters for allowing us to live this amazing lifestyle. ...

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Charge!: Chargers, Plugs, and Receptacles On Boats

27 Mar

The cigarette lighter plug/receptacle has long been the de facto standard to connect portable 12-Volt devices, and it sucks. Nobody smokes anymore. It’s bulky, insecure, makes poor electrical contact, and can’t carry high current. It’s got to be the only electrical connector in the history of electrical connectors with a compression spring that is constantly trying to break the connection.

I suffered many a night when the only difference between a good sleep and waking up in a pool of sweat, ravaged by mosquitoes, was a 12-Volt fan plugged into a cigarette receptacle above my bunk. If I so much ...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

26 Mar

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium’s least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate’s existing communications ...

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