Boat Command CONNECT! Meets Smoke Alarm

1 Aug


The manufacturers of Boat Command, the boat monitoring platform, didn’t build the system with a smoke alarm option. It’s got all manner of sensors, inputs, and alerts, but no smoke alarm, and if you read Boat US’s statistics on boat losses and insurance claims, fire is number five. Stats aside, the main things I worry about while I’m away from my boat are flooding (that’s a big number 1), fire, break-ins, theft, and dead batteries. These are the main reasons I installed the Boat Command system, but it does lots of other neat stuff too. Full disclosure: as ...

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A Foggy Entrance to St. Pierre

30 Jul

I’m writing from the yacht club wharf in St. Pierre, the last remaining outpost of France’s once sprawling New World empire. At one point in time, it stretched from Newfoundland to the Mississippi. No more.

We’re in St. Pierre & Miquelon, a spectacularly rocky, wind-swept archipelago about ten miles south-southwest of the Burin Peninsula on Newfoundland’s south coast. This is France proper. Not French-Canadian, but French. And very much so. Where the architecture of homes and businesses in Newfoundland was rugged and utilitarian, in St. Pierre it’s colorful and charming. Some folks speak English, but not much, and not ...

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A New England summer aboard

29 Jul


DSC_9688Our summer in New England is half over: flying by! Dangerous, as we have a long list of projects and repairs to do on Totem…but before digging into them, we had a few people to visit, places to see, presentations to give.

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It was a great experience for all of us to share our stories at Falmouth Academy to a mix of people, instead of a more exclusively “cruiser/sailor” audience. The questions are great! It also afforded our kids an opportunity to get in front of a crowd, one of the ‘normal’ kid experiences ours don’t often have. But the ...

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Summer fun: Camden, Panbots & Gizmo

27 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 27, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

yachts_RH3_and_RH4_special_opps_style_lr_cPanbo.jpgHave we reached the era when “special ops” makes sense as a superyacht style? I joke, but RH3 would be pretty imposing even if it weren’t cruising Maine in company with the all-black, dual jet drive, 40-foot-plus RH4. Given the two other substantial black tenders on the boat deck — and lord knows what’s in the hidden arms lockers (ok, I’m fantasizing, but armament is a seriously untold big yacht story) — this team seems ready to fend off a serious bad guy attack or ...

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Dilly & Tony Save the Day

27 Jul

Zero dark thirty. I’m on radar watch at the nav station. Thus far, the coast is clear. Our new crew David is on deck, fighting off the first signs of seasickness. The fog has come and gone all day. Just now its rolled in thick, visibility down to zero. The glow of the tricolor light reflecting on the heavy fog casts an eerie shadow to either side of the boat, just at that transition angle between the colored, red/green lights that shine forward, and the white light that shines astern. The wind just shut down again and we are motor-sailing ...

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WRI Weather Forecast for leaving St. Johns

26 Jul

On the 26th, a ridge of high pressure will extend from 40N/60W
NE’ward through Newfoundland and will shift east of Newfoundland through the
27th.  To the west, a low pressure centered over the E’rn St Lawrence River
Valley willmove ENE’ward over Labrador through the 28th. An accompanying cold
front will extend SW’ward over W’rn Nova Scotia on the morning of the 26th and
will move E’ward over the E’rn Gulf of St Lawrence through Cabot Strait by
midday on the 27th, after undergoing some weakening.  The front will weaken
into a trough as it moves over Newfoundland the night of ...

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Comanche in pursuit of Transat record

25 Jul
The big ship Comanche
This should come as no surprise to anyone. The big ship Comanche is currently halfway across the Atlantic in pursuit of a new monohull record from Ambrose light off Sandy Hook, New Jersey to the Lizard Point on England’s southwest coast. They are chasing the record set back in 2003 by the even bigger ship Mari-Cha IV. Their time stands at 6 days 17 hours 52 minutes and 39 seconds at an average speed of 18.02 knots, kind of slow by today’s standards. Why that record has stood for so long is a mystery to ...
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The best mail services for cruisers

25 Jul

royal mail ship st helena

pinterest mail servicesWhat do you do about mail while cruising? A fixed postal address is kind of handy, even when your lifestyle is footloose. (photo above: one of the few remaining Royal Mail Ships, the St Helena, anchored of Jamestown).  Even though most correspondence is digital, a few necessities make a real address important:

  • Voter registration
  • Bank / credit card accounts (electronic statements, of course, but try opening an account without an address!)
  • Vessel documentation
  • Insurance
  • Taxes and tax forms (can’t fill out a W9 without one…might not get paid without a W9)
  • Publishers/customers who insist on mailing checks
  • Driver’s license
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Exploring NewfoundLAND

24 Jul

A brief moment of clear skies before Cape Race.

A brief moment of clear skies before Cape Race.

We cleared Cape Race on Tuesday morning. The sky was thick with fog and devoid of wind. Lightning struck in the distance and the thunder, a half-minute later, rolled on and on and on over the calm seas, a truly majestic sound, one we could appreciate as it was far enough away for comfort.

High-vis gloves help in the fog!

High-vis gloves help in the fog!

As we headed up the coast for the last 60-mile jaunt to St. John’s, things started to change. A thin crack in the fog offered a brief glimpse of the dramatic ...

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Chapter 5 – Molded Sails

22 Jul
In this chapter we will look at molded sails. Placing individual fibers precisely along the anticipated load paths in a sail has revolutionized sailmaking. But it has not been all smooth sailing. We will look at the very beginnings of molded sails to get some perspective on how far we have come. 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.

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