Passage notes: Ascension to Barbados wrap

27 Apr

pw path

pinterest sailboat ocean atlanticSeventeen days (and five hours) after leaving Ascension, we made landfall in Barbados on a sunny afternoon. Impending arrival was heralded by small fishing boats: wooden runabouts with a small cabin and a miserable radar footprint. It made the first one a little extra exciting, as it barreled towards us at dawn about 50 miles south of the island. In the following hours, several more passed close by and we and had to maneuver (or be maneuvered around) to avoid a boat-vs-net situation with a couple.

This was the fastest, most comfortable passage we’ve made…ever? In years, anyway. Averaged out, Totem put away more than 180nm per day.…

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SSECN and MITA cruising info apps, Doyle Bon Voyage, and Cuba Ho!

26 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 26, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


If I was once again in New Bern, North Carolina, about to cruise north with spring — instead of watching late April freaking snow fall in Maine — I’d certainly have the new Cruisers’ Net app loaded on my iPad and might well use it all day every day while I was still in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). It’s absolutely loaded with solid, well presented information, and I’m happy to add that the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) has done something similar for my local cruising waters…

SSECN_app_Bridge_Pointe_marina_cPanbo.jpgWhile the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net website has long offered a vast trove of ICW cruising info that’s edited by obviously caring professionals, the ambitious-yet-free SSECN iOS app may display all the info even better (especially on a fast iPad).…

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Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Places

26 Apr


The definition of cruising as repairing your boat in exotic places entered the realm of clichés long ago, but that doesn’t make it any less true. There’s no end of irony in the fact that while you can pay $20,000 for a new car and be shocked and upset if it breaks down a few days later, no one is really surprised that a boat that costs as much as a house, in some cases a mansion, can have technicians swarming over it for weeks after it’s launched.

The aptly named punch list—so called because an owner feels like he’s been punched several times in the wallet after reading it—can be dauntingly long, especially in today’s systems-heavy boats.…

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Matt Rutherford, Paul Exner & Mark Baummer

25 Apr

Episode 147 is a fun one. Back in March, I had planned to do another podcast with Matt Rutherford to get an update on what he’s doing with his Ocean Research Project. As it were, Paul Exner was also in town to speak at a seminar Mia and I hosted in Annapolis. AND, ship’s pilot Mark Baummer was around, and had asked me for some advice to help him plan a passage to Bermuda on his Gemini catamaran. So, the inklings of an idea sprang to life – why not get the three of these guys together, all former podcasts guests, and have a little roundtable chat?…

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COLLISION AVOIDANCE: Ratting Out an Errant Freighter

25 Apr

Ship too close

I’ve had some correspondence recently from an old sailing buddy of mine, Patrick Childress, who got a bee in his bonnet a while back after he almost got run down by a freighter while cruising Indonesia with his wife Rebecca aboard their Valiant 40 Brick House. It was a pretty typical situation: an alert cruiser aboard a small sailboat has to take last-minute evasive action after a large commercial vessel on a collision course, apparently with no one on watch, fails to respond to repeated radio calls. In these days of AIS this happens less often than it used to, but in this case the perpetrator wasn’t broadcasting an AIS signal.…

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ScanStrut Rokk Mini, premium marine mount system

22 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 22, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

ScanStrut_Rokk_Mini_cable_tie_mount_fishing_cPanbo.jpgI used the Garmin demos in Miami to also test the new Rokk Mini mounting system recently introduced by ScanStrut. There are many ways to attach a Virb XE camera to a boat, as I’ll detail further down, and almost all are less expensive than the system of three Rokk components at work above. But I doubt that there’s any mount with so much range of motion and yet so rock solid when you find the position you want. The Rokk Mini system is also exceptionally well made and can solidly mount phones, tablets, smallish marine displays and more…

I’m pretty sure that the rock solid Rokk Mini mount is partially responsible for the smooth quality of this boat video, which also shows off Virb data integration and which I originally posted at the end of last week’s Garmin demo entry.…

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Broadreach – Coolest Sailing Job Ever – Is Hiring Skippers & Mates!

21 Apr

Hey everybody! I just got word from my friends at Broadreach that they are hiring skippers and mates for the upcoming summer season, sailing out of St. Martin. Mia and I did four seasons with them, and it was the best experience I’ve ever had as a captain. I loved every minute of it. The season starts June 1 and goes through August. Full details, right from Broadreach, follow.


Job Description: 

Sailing Instructors/Skippers needed in the Caribbean for summer live-aboard diving, sailing and marine science programs for teens and college students. Broadreach is an IYT (International Yacht Training) partner school and offers courses from “Introduction to Yachting” to “Flotilla Skipper”.…

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Trashing the ocean: sending out an SOS

21 Apr

ocean garbage

Carefully sealed into the wine bottle was a message from afar. Fisherman in Florida found and read the drift mail, learning that it was from a woman that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean the year before. They contacted the sender and after hearing her message was found, she joyfully related the story to a group of fellow sailors. Her joy was short-lived. The response was not shared enthusiasm but self-righteous, contemptuous clucks. How dare she litter!

Was it really littering, or just slow speed communication? It’s difficult to encounter any sailor who doesn’t have deep respect for the beauty and health of our oceans.…

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Ascension to Barbados: notes from the passage part III

19 Apr

Continuing notes from the passage… installment three. We’re in the home stretch! Our crew, Ty, is working on a guest post: what do you want to know about life on Totem from his point of view? Ask in the comments here, Totem’s facebook page , or through the Contact form (they’ll both reach us on passage), and he’ll tell you.

Day 11

Hello ITCZ! Mid-morning, we give up trying to coax progress out of the dying wind and turn on the engine. It’s usually slower to motor than to sail, but a nice push from the current keeps miles passing steadily under the keel.…

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Yacht Devices N2K display, RedPort & PredictWind, NMEA & ABYC, and ONWA radar

18 Apr

Written by Adam Hyde on Apr 18, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Yacht Devices NMEA2000 Text DisplayYacht Devices appeared suddenly on the marine electronics scene last summer when Ben discussed their new temperature and barometer sensors. Not resting on their laurels, they then launched a $189 voyage data recorder that similarly came with either DeviceNet or SeaTalkNG connectors to minimize additional drop and/or adapter cable expense. More recently they joined NMEA and have now launched a new NMEA 2000 (N2K) text display which seems to be the least expensive and least power thirsty N2K data display available…

Yacht Devices YDTD20 data typesAt $149 for the YDTD-20 text display, the major caveat is that it will need a dry location because it’s not waterproof.…

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