Fifty years since Chichester set sail

29 Aug
Photo credit – Eileen Ramsay

It was 50 years ago this week that Francis Chichester set sail from the south coast of England bound for Cape Horn and a single-handed lap of the planet. It was a voyage that changed sailing history. When Chichester returned to England in May the following year he was given a hero’s welcome and indeed he deserved it. The former aviator was greeted by a crowd estimated to be around a half million people and later he was knighted by the queen who used the same sword that was used honor Francis Drake. His was the ...
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Waning Summer

29 Aug


Come with me on a meander through the waning days of summer in New England, and memories built under the warmth of the sun. It blows me away how quickly this season has flown: how unexpectedly we find ourselves adding a layer in the evening, noticing the path of the sunset towards the south of west, feeling tick earlier of dusk. I even made soup for dinner the other night because everyone was chilly! Just a couple of weeks ago, it as so hot that even the “brisk” (~70F) temp of the Mystic River was tempting.


It also was just ...

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A "borrowed" blog

26 Aug

It’s not that I am lazy but it is the end of summer and the Fall is always a busy time for sailmakers. So instead of writing a blog this week I am “borrowing” one from my friends at Sailing Magazine in South Africa who I am sure also “borrowed” it. And because it’s Friday I have included a joke that I also “borrowed.”  

Here’s a list of 10 everyday phrases that you may not have realized were born in the days when sailing made the world go round… wait… is that a nautical phrase?

“A clean bill of health”....
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Going small, going now

25 Aug


Aside from one rather unfortunate dinghy-sailing adventure as a teenager, I have managed to steer clear of smaller boats for most of my life. This was a conscious decision; I didn’t defect from power to sail till my late 20s, and since I learned on a J/24 and not a dinghy, I quickly became accustomed—not to say addicted— to the feeling of security engendered by a large lump of lead counteracting the forces of wind and waves. The boats were sporty enough to be exciting, especially in a big breeze, and there seemed little chance of going for an involuntary ...

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158: Sailing to Cuba

23 Aug

This episode is sponsored by Weather Routing Inc., the forecasters we use on Isbjorn.

Click here for all the photos from this trip.

Cuba is huge, over 600 miles from east to west. We’d be at seen almost six days from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and took the opportunity on a particularly calm day for one last swim and shower before landfall. The guys had a shaving party in the cockpit – a bucket full of fresh water and lathered-up faces.

Signs of civilization abounded. Fish pots we had to dodge (they were lit at night, amazingly, with fluorescent green ...

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Eight years down: how we fund the cruising life

23 Aug

1- departure

How can we afford the cruising life? Everybody wants to know, but few ask. Cutting to the chase: we’re not independently wealthy. How we’ve supported ourselves has changed over time. Today marks the first day in our ninth year of cruising (holy cow!): retracing those years in terms of our finances tells the tale.

On August 21, 2008, we untied the lines from our slip behind the pub in Eagle Harbor and set off to go cruising with a pocketful of savings from about a decade of anticipation, and six years of more intent planning. We never expected to be ...

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RAINMAKER FOR SALE: Used Gunboat 55 On the Block For Just $15K

20 Aug


No kidding! Though she is in rough condition. This is Gunboat 55 hull number one, which was dismasted and abandoned by its owner and crew 200 miles off Cape Hatteras in January 2015. She was spotted and recovered off Bermuda this past March. Now she’s on the hard and is being auctioned off, with the starting bid pegged at $15K. Bids must be received by September 6. Check this link for details.


The bridgedeck, with a mere stub of a wheel hub left on the steering pedestal. The teak decking doesn’t look half bad!


An engine, I’m guessing...

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A Camden boat grounding dissected, can crowdsourcing help?

18 Aug

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 18, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

aground_in_Camden_mooring_field_blurred_cPanbo.jpgThe identities of the yacht and its operators are irrelevant. But how did they go hard aground in a highly used harbor during a clear summer day? Was it just a dumb mistake or was a lack of chart detail partially to blame? Should the USCG or the town of Camden better mark the danger? Did marine electronics somehow contribute to what was at least an embarrassing incident? Can crowdsourced data help? I’m not sure about the answers but I have assembled a lot of information ...

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LUNACY UPDATE: Prospective Buyers and Poop On the Foredeck

16 Aug

Nav desk

I was surprised, flattered even, when I heard from some of you that you’ve missed my appearances here. And yes, it has been unprecedented, my neglect of WaveTrain of late, but I do have an excuse. I have been pouring my wordsmithing energy into finishing a book I’ve been working on, which should be out in the world sometime next spring. Loyal readers here can do me a YUGE favor and buy the damn thing when it appears (don’t worry I’ll tip you off when it’s time). Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, you really should buy my first book....

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Privileged cruisers

16 Aug

beautiful png

Turquoise water, white sand, the stretch of a tropical island…contrast of our dinghy and a local outrigger. We are so tremendously privileged in our experiences. But our privilege extends far beyond this: most importantly, our privileged lives stem from the place in the world we were just plain lucky to have been born in. A place with a wealth of opportunities and support. Not always easy, but nearly endless possibilities.

My last post, about how cruising wrecks lives, speaks plain truths of uncomfortable differences in the way we look at our culture now, through the lens of the last ...

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