Techniques

GALERIDER DROGUE: For Steering and Heaving To

24 Sep

Drogue test

You probably won’t be too surprised to learn that I’ve been thinking about jury-steering systems ever since my little adventure back in January aboard the catamaran Be Good Too. One thing I’ve wondered is whether we might have managed to save the boat if we’d had a proper drogue onboard to try steering with. If we’d been able to neutralize the effect of the bent port rudder, which was constantly steering the boat to starboard, by either losing the rudder entirely (not really feasible) or by letting it swing freely (which would have been easy if we’d known the ...

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Getting online while cruising

7 Sep

Navadra Fiji

How do you get online as an active cruiser?

On one hand, the prospect of cruising means freedom from the always-on, always-connected world. Liberating, right? It can be. But if you’re like me, you might get kind of twitchy. I admit: the first year was hard. It was used to instant gratification for simple tasks. Before long, though, we became accustomed to going without access, and changing the way we consume media to minimizing our use when we could get online.

At the moment, we’ve lucked into a great internet connection. Scoring a login to wifi from the hotel fronting ...

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Do you understand flag etiquette?

25 Aug

Courtesy flags

Flag etiquette rules aren’t required as a cruiser, but you should know the basics to avoid embarrassing yourself or offending others. Beyond that is up to you, but there’s a whole language to flags that is interesting to learn. As a fan of flag etiquette.  I like to think I know a few things about flags, but I learned so much from this great infographic that reader John Tissot of the East Freemantle Yacht Club emailed!

Eleven years ago this month, we sailed with a group of fellow Seattle Yacht Club members on an organized cruise. It was our first ...

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Podcast: Brion Toss on the Art of Rope Whippings

21 Aug

Andy spoke with master rigger Brion Toss from Bermuda several years back about the art and science of a proper rope whipping. It was originally for an article in Yachting World, but we’ve repurposed it into another Essay Friday episode. Brion is set to come on the podcast soon for a full-on interview, but in the meantime, enjoy his philosophy on rope whippings and learn a thing or two this week!...

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Best sails for downwind cruising: reader questions

17 Aug

Totem in Moorea

What do you want to know about downwind sails? It turns out, more than we expected! Last month’s post on the best sails for downwind cruising was an answer for a friend, but it prompted other questions in responses- here on the blog and on Totem’s Facebook page. Jamie has many years of experience as a sailmaker, and is happy to help clarify or do Q&A.

This isn’t about light air sails, but downwind sails. Of course, that gets a little complicated because genoas, jibs, and Code Zero sails are upwind or downwind sails. The punchline, to spare ...

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DOUSING THE MAINSAIL: Do It After You Park The Boat

7 Aug

Unfurled mainsail

I do a fair amount of singlehanded coastal cruising during the summer, usually just going out for a quick overnight whenever an opportunity presents itself. When departing my mooring at Portland Yacht Services (or any mooring for that matter), it has long been my practice to raise the mainsail before dropping the mooring pennant. That way I can get sailing ASAP, usually immediately. When anchoring or picking up a mooring, however, my habit for many years has been to douse and stow the mainsail first, then secure the boat.

But when you’re sailing singlehanded this is often stressful, particularly on ...

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MODERN MARINE NAVIGATION: Crashing the iPad

7 Jul

Canadian chart catalogue

Having decided that part of this summer’s cruising program on Lunacy will involve a two-week jaunt over to Nova Scotia and back, it dawned on me that I needed to make sure I actually have charts for Nova Scotia. In the previous century, which really wasn’t that long ago, this would have been a simple process. I would consult my ever-growing stack of paper charts, discover I had no relevant charts, and then call the Armchair Sailor in Newport. These people were personally known to me, and I was known to them. I would say: “Hi! Howzit going? I’m sailing ...

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Newport-Bermuda Race 2014: Cruising lessons from ocean racers

1 Jul

350 NW of Bermuda…

‘Sleijride’ is nearly halfway back to Newport on the return delivery following the Bermuda Race last week. We’re in cruising mode again, down to four crew (from six), and enjoying single-handed watches steered by autopilot, 9 hours of rest, reading (!), and motor sailing through the calms.

Yesterday we had a very close encounter with a sperm whale that breached not 100 yards off our port bow, then proceeded to meander across the bow and dive off to starboard, showing us his big tail on the way down. Today we’re sailing fast off the wind, fair ...

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RETRIEVING LOST HALYARDS: A Cheap Trick That Works

26 Jun

Lost halyard drawing

I wrote about this once in a print magazine, and some people were skeptical. But I’m telling you–it really does work. I’ve done it twice at sea successfully; no fuss, no muss. If you lose a halyard up your mast, this is how to get it back from deck level without having to climb the mast.

There is one prerequisite. You need a spare halyard with a shackle on it that is in reasonably close proximity to the one you were stupid enough to let fly up the mast. Given this, retrieving the lost halyard should be easy.

Step 1...

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Podcast: Solving Problems Offshore

24 Jun

No “new” episode this week, because Andy’s in Bermuda and has been sailing for several days to get here! Hope they did well! This is another lecture from Cruiser’s University that Andy gave in April in Annapolis. Sorry for the not-perfect quality (he recorded it on his phone), but hopefully the content makes up for it! Andy discusses six common problems you might encounter offshore, and how to deal with them. Indeed, whether some of them are even worth losing sleep over! Of the six, only two are what Andy calls ‘deal-breakers’ – meaning they can ruin, sometimes dangerously, an ...

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