Celestial Navigation Workshop in Annapolis, Feb 7-9, 2014

3 Jan

Celestial Class Azores_small.JPG

Join Andy and friends at Port Annapolis Marina in February for a weekend of sailing history and celestial navigation. While there is hardly an argument anymore for celestial as a backup to electronic navigation, it’s part of sailing history, and as ocean sailors, we owe it to ourselves to at least have a general understanding of it, I say! Plus, it makes those long night watches that much more enjoyable when you know your place – physically and philosophically – in the universe.

Cost is $350, and the Workshop is limited to the first 12 people. 

What it includes:...

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59 Degrees North Podcast: Navigating the Gulf Stream

26 Dec

I had some fun with this one. We recorded this at the Caribbean 1500 start in Portsmouth, VA back in November (and frankly, I’d forgotten I had the file, or I’d have posted it sooner!). It’s my seminar on crossing the Gulf Stream, as told to the 2013 Carib1500 skippers. Yes, we’re missing some of the visual aids I used (though you can see some of them online at, and at times it’s hard to hear the questions that come up, but overall I think it works. If you’ve never been offshore, the Gulf Stream is one of those ...

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17 Dec

Steering downwind

Back in the early days of singlehanded ocean racing, the winners of races like the Vendee Globe and the BOC Challenge were often the guys who slept the least and steered the most. Autopilots were useful in calm to moderate conditions, but once the waves were up you needed a live body on the wheel or tiller to achieve the fastest, smoothest ride. These days, however, the most sophisticated autopilots have “fuzzy logic” software and three-dimensional motion sensors and can steer in strong conditions just as well as, if not better than, most humans.

This sounds like a great excuse ...

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VINCENT TANGORRA: Sailor Towing Jet-Ski Missing Off New Jersey

9 Dec

Vincent Tangorra aboard Polaris

Here’s a puzzle. It seems Vinnie Tangorra, age 56, an ex-NYC bus driver from Bethpage, Long Island, was en route last week from New York to North Carolina aboard Polaris, a 37-foot sailboat, and was towing a jet-ski, which, according to his brother Ray, was serving as his liferaft. Ray spoke with Vinnie on the phone Wednesday and received a text message Thursday evening, in which Vinnie stated he was off Cape May. Ray tried calling back, but couldn’t get through. Friday morning the jet-ski was found adrift off Cape May; later the Coast Guard found Polaris, ...

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A Cruiser’s Difficult Relationship With Water

7 Dec

I think I smell bad.  After spending three hours in the park then hiking over the hills of Noumea in 30 C heat, how could I be anything but sweaty?  I lean away from the woman sitting beside me in French class, hoping that the cool air in our basement room will mitigate my stink before it reaches her. But I know the real answer to my problem: I need a shower.  Again.  The very thought fills me with despair.

You may have noticed that cruisers are somewhat preoccupied with resource consumption.  Obsessed is a better word.  But when you ...

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WEATHER WINDOW ROULETTE: Races and Rallies and Rolling the Dice

16 Nov

Mini Transat start

We all know how this goes: the very worst thing you can have on a boat–worse than women, bananas, or priests even–is a schedule. Yet most of us sail to a schedule, for various reasons, and sometimes suffer as a result. This fall has been particularly interesting, as the usual gamut of cruising rallies here in the U.S. and shorthanded ocean races over in Europe have sought to evade the clutches of the coming winter.

Exhibit A: the Caribbean 1500. For the second year in a row my SAILfeed compadre Andy Schell, who now wrangles the rally for ...

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“Lessons of the BOUNTY” — Andy nails it

10 Nov

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 10, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

BOUNTY_issues_--_Courtesy_Jan_Adkins_and_WoodenBoat.jpgI’ll probably always associate Hurricane Sandy and the sinking of the HMS Bounty with last fall’s cruise to the Carolinas and a Fort Lauderdale show that got a little scary just because Sandy’s eye passed by about 160 miles to the east. Soon after flying from Lauderdale to Gizmo’s super safe location in Myrtle Beach (lucky!), I was adding Bounty comments to an entry about how I’d first spotted the storm on a Furuno TZT. What I didn’t mention then was that I’m one of ...

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How to use social media to help in a crisis

10 Nov

Typhoon Haiyan ran a course of destruction through the Philippines this week, cutting through the middle of the country on a westbound track. It came with sustained winds of nearly 200 mph (320 km/h)- gusts were up to 235 mph. Can you even imagine what it feels like to be in that kind of wind? Not being able to stand, or walk; the smallest piece of airborne debris hitting with a painful sting. Imagine being in a car going that fast (as if)- you couldn’t hold your hand out the window.

Like this Super Typhoon, we are in Southeast Asia, ...

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Caribbean 1500 Flare & Liferaft Safety Demonstration

3 Nov

Who needs all that equipment anyway!? Never fired a flare before? Never been in a liferaft, at sea or otherwise? Watch this video from the 2013 Caribbean 1500 rally to get an idea just WHY you need all that expensive stuff, and how it can save your life. One reason why the 1500 is the SAFEST way to go offshore. Video filmed and produced by our friends Ben & Teresa Carey....

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NV-Charts app, plus MyNOAACharts & PDFs

24 Oct

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 24, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

NV-Charts_paper_and_app_cPanbo.jpgNOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has been making news. We were just discussing changes to the Magenta Line on ICW charts when a reader (thanks, Collin) caught the announcement that OCS will stop printing traditional paper charts next April, which even got on NPR national radio. Charts lithographically printed on heavy paper are a beautiful technology and it hurts a bit to see them go, but I’m not sure it makes much practical difference. Personally, I haven’t purchased one in a long time (nor do ...

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