Life Is Too Short to Use Cheap Paint

16 Apr

A wise man once told me this, and I took it to heart.

While traditional enamels are still around, most modern boat paint is linear polyurethane (LP). Among LPs there are one-part products and two-part products. Two-part products cost a little more, but last longer. When you consider that 80-90% of any painting job is prepping, sanding, fairing, and masking, and this is all fairly onerous work, why use paint that won’t last as long?
AwlGrip_Paint - 400perfection

Probably the best known two-part products are Awlgrip and Interlux’s Perfection. If you paint the topsides of your boat with one of these products it ...

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Simple and Cheap Downwind Pole Storage

4 Apr

Ah, downwind pole storage, another heady topic for the blog. I tried to bring this one up at a party- nothing but blank stares. Then I went and told my sweetie. We did that thing where in the middle of trying to give her a frame of reference we both realize that this particular boat-thing is not really worth all the explaining and so she just sort of makes affirming noises until I can make a clean break. Anyway, lovely blog-readers, this is where you come in. You know all about downwind poles, and are undoubtedly fidgeting in your chairs ...

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You know, you can buy a boat for remarkably cheap these days…

7 Jun

Really, you can. Alongside the ones rebuilding cheap houses I’ve got a whole group of friends here in New Orleans who are working on or sailing boats they bought for a few thousand dollars. It’s about the best market there’s ever been for buying high-maintenance things like a half-collapsed house or a sailboat (which, as a rule, is nearly always in some state of half-collapse).  So you’ve only got a few thousand dollars, and  like many of us new boatowners, are trying to buy a boat with only a vague idea of how to judge a good deal. Maybe you ...

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Jardim do Mar // Madeira’s Big Wave Surf Spot

21 Oct

  Surf’s up! 48-foot longboard…

Surf’s up! 48-foot longboard…

There’s a book called ‘Barbarian Days,’ a memoir on a surfing life that won the Pulitzer Prize. it’s excellent. In it, a small village on the SW coast of Madeira called Jardim do Mar is feature prominently. In the 80s and 90s it was called the Jewel of the Atlantic, a magical, often overlooked big-wave surf spot way off the beaten path and hard to get to. When the conditions were right, it was apparently one of the best waves in the world.

I’m no surfer, but I can relate to the culture and ...

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Awlgrip Topsides with a Brush

25 Jul

For reasons too convoluted and bizarro to explain, we can’t spray paint in our boatyard. We can only brush, but you’d be surprised at the results a talented painter can achieve with a brush. Fernando, who I will refer to often in this post, is our painting contractor, and the results he gets with a brush are astounding. Many around here say his topside jobs are better than most spray jobs, because with spray there is often a bit of orange peel texture to the finish, but with Fernando’s jobs it’s pure glass:

Fernando is partial to Awlgrip, and he ...

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Optimizing Iridium GO use on board

22 Jun

Desert mountains and sailboats

Desert and sea are the incongruous pairing when sailing along Baja, where cactus-studded mountain ranges plummet to a Gulf full of marine life. Miles of isolated coastline make for stunning cruising grounds. We love the remote, wild-west feel of the Sea of Cortez… but we need to stay connected. There are approximately 2,534,934 more cardón cactus than cell towers here so we rely upon our Iridium GO.

What do we use it for? Keeping up with email. Checking news. I get twitchy without dipping into social media. Most important is weather: in case we needed a reminder, an early-season hurricane ...

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What’s Getting Done in Hobart: A Full Confession

15 Apr




This post is dedicated to Burt Richardson, friend, restauranteur, avid sailor, and owner of Joe Greensleeves Restaurant in (landlocked) Redlands, California, upon whose wall Burt placed a full-scale half hull of his favorite boat, a Dragon (photo at bottom).


April 14, 2018

Hobart, Tasmania

Any report of accomplishments during my Hobart layover must include a note of gratitude to the people I’ve met here, who rank among the friendliest, most helpful people I’ve yet encountered. And any such remarks must include effusive thanks to Daryl Ridgeway, my boat-work companion, consultant, second set of hands, and on-call ...

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Bonaire for cruisers: more than diving

22 Jan


Bonaire: more than a dive destination? For most visitors, diving is THE reason to go, and it was certainly the lure for us to select Bonaire among the Dutch Antilles. But our planned “about a week” turned into nearly three: partly thanks to a circle of friends, but also because the island offered more than we anticipated: easy living for cruisers and non-underwater-based fun, like these beautiful flocks of flamingos. It’s much more than diving: here’s a rundown of how Bonaire hit the mark for our crew.

Welcome to Bonaire!

Clearance was among the easiest anywhere. One office, a three ...

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A cruiser’s Thanksgiving: twists on tradition

24 Nov


Harvest festivals are cross-cultural and found all over the world, but that held on the 4th Thursday of every November is uniquely American. Every family grows up with a variant, but there are themes — some make the leap to cruising, and others don’t.

Preparations for a celebration!

At home I’d probably have planned this well ahead after spending too much time on Pinterest. There may have been metallic spray paint involved, and centerpiece purchases. Yikes! Not anymore! Instead, there was a collaborative, and somewhat last-minute, streamer of watercolor “leaves” standing in as an afternoon craft activity with the ...

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Raymarine Axiom & LH3, a little fishing & then the install

20 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 20, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


There is understandable grumbling about how Raymarine’s new 7-, 9- and 12-inch Axiom multifunction displays shipped (somewhat late) without several significant features that Ray plans to deliver with a software update at a yet unspecified date. But I’m fairly confident that the longer term story is rosy. After two days of fishing with beta MFDs in Florida and installing a test Axiom 7 myself, I’m impressed with both the hardware and the new LightHouse 3 interface, and I’ll be surprised if the missing features and more...

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