November 12th

When this story first came out there was some skepticism in the press because the guy looked too healthy. Now his story has been corroborated and confirmed, and he indeed survived 438 days in a panga, drifting from Mexico to an atoll in the Marshall Islands. A professional fisherman, adrift in a fishing boat, might have found some way to survive at sea, but his crew didn’t fare so well. The story is both sad and inspiring.

Writer Jonathan Franklin has turned José Salvador Alvarenga’s account into a book, an excerpt of which is printed here, in The Guardian.…

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November 9th

Problems Solved: Diaphragm Bilge Pump Installation

Posted by // November 9, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

I practiced what I preached, and finally installed a diaphragm bilge pump to improve the situation in my deep and creepy bilge. I wrote about this in my bilge pump opus, All About Bilge Pumps.

The principle at play here is that the bilge pump that keeps your bilge dry may not be the same bilge pump that keeps you from sinking: Centrifugal bilge pumps, the workhorses of the bilge pump world, can’t pump all the water out and always leave an inch or more behind. To really get the water level down you need a diaphragm pump attached to a strum box (intake strainer), and with this arrangement you can get it down to a quarter inch deep.…

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October 20th

For anyone who whines about the cost of cruising, Tom’s story is inspirational, and perhaps instructional.

First expense, a 52-foot steel ketch, $1.

What was that? Yes, Tom saved this ketch from a trip to the scrapyard, which was just days away. He found her in Hong Kong in 2004, looking neglected, with a notice on her side for removal. He tracked down the owners and they agreed to let him have her for a symbolic dollar.

I know several people who have bought $1 boats, before I could tell them “Noooo! Don’t do it!” Tom was the former First Mate and later Captain of the 100-foot schooner RANGER, and knew he’d spotted a diamond in the rough.…

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September 22nd

Party Boat Mishap

Posted by // September 22, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

This video has been bouncing around Facebook, and the more times I watch it the more bizarre it gets. For example:

1. It appears that many of the people falling off the foredeck are naked, or at least the first guy is.
2. A man jumps from the bridge just after the people fall in, apparently to help people in the water. He appears to be wearing swim fins? Did he just happen to be wearing fins at the time?
3. There are screams and there is laughter and the footage is kind of grainy. It might be a “Funny party boat crash” or some of those people could have been really hurt.…

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September 17th

Tesla’s Powerwall on a boat?

Posted by // September 17, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


This summer Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, a battery large enough to power an average home with a solar system, and give this home independence from the grid. Elon Musk’s announcement was met with giddy excitement, and the batteries are already sold out for the foreseeable future.

I wonder how long before a Powerwall finds its way onto a boat? Tick, tick, tick.

Crunching the numbers, it may not make economic sense yet, but the price may come down in a few years. The Powerwall, the 7 kWh version, sells for $3000. The slightly larger 10 kWh Powerpack sells for $3500.…

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August 3rd

New Steering Wheel Adventure: Part 3

Posted by // August 3, 2015 // COMMENT (3 Comments)

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After many deviations, diversions, and delays, the steering wheel project is finally finished (see part 1 and part 2). What started as buying a new steering wheel on Ebay turned into rebuilding the entire teak console, re-wiring much of the boat, servicing and adjusting much of the steering system (installation of the new wheel changed the geometry of things just a tad), building a new instrument panel, and all new senders on the engine to go with the new instruments.

I’ve blogged about instruments, senders, and instrument panels before (see Gauge of Confusion), but now we’ll go in a little deeper.…

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July 13th

Man Abandons Burning Boat to Save His Dog

Posted by // July 13, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

This is the saddest, but most heartwarming, sailing story of the year. Something tells me the sailing community is going to rally around this salty hero (but in the mean time we should respect his wishes and save the questions and Monday morning quarterbacking for later, if ever). It’s all over the news, but here it is in Mr. Kanafoski’s own words, from his public Facebook page:

As im sure you all know by now my boat and everything i owned was on there. i All my tools, clothes, identifications, green cards everything was lost. I left Apalachicola on Wednesday afternoon heading to tampa to pick up my son from the airport on sunday for 6 weeks of sailing fishing and diving.…

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July 10th

Boarding Bummer Off SoCal

Posted by // July 10, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Read here for this story from this month’s Latitude 38. It relates to my endless squawking about Coast Guard Boardings, but in this case there’s not much to be said or done: Someone crossing an international border (or its maritime equivalent) has no rights and is open to search. Even on land, the 100-mile border zone is called a “constitution-free zone.” However, on land U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who operate under many of the same laws and exceptions as the Coast Guard, seem to fall under a higher standard of courtesy and accountability, and a delay of five hours, during which the detainees weren’t allowed to use the bathroom, would be considered out of line.…

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July 9th

Boat Wiring: Distribution Panels and Circuit Protection

Posted by // July 9, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

The wiring phase of this project started with re-terminating cables and adding big fuses, then moved into battery switches and distribution. Now we’re into the final leg, which is the main distribution panel.

In the photo above you’ll see what I went with. Most distribution panels in the marine world use breakers, like this:

That’s what I thought I was going to end up with, and the exact one above would have been just peachy, but I ended up going with glass fuses in fuse blocks for a few reasons. First, they’re way cheaper. Second, I’ve already got so many things aboard that take glass fuses that I’m pretty much stuck with them anyway.…

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