Low Friction Rings: like a donut, but sweeter

25 Sep

ring block dyneema

pinterest low friction ringsAs the quotable quote demands, “ask not what your vang can do for you, ask what you can do for your vang”. OK, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes – but after a few months on a pace through the islands to relative weather security in Grenada, there’s time to catch up on projects aboard Totem and tweaking the vang crept to the top of the list. Swapping that weighty block for low friction ring– the pair pictured above– is a sweet upgrade.

Boom vang improvement

When we bought Totem in 2007, she had a 4:1 tackle vang. No ...

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Mini Innovations

20 Sep
The Mini 6.50 Eight Cube

There has not been any other sailboat class that has sparked as much innovation as Classe Mini, the class association behind the Mini 6.50 sailboats. These tiny yachts are on the cutting edge of sailboat design and have been since the class was first introduced in 1977. Take for example the Mini Eight Cube which will be skippered by the Swiss sailor Simon Koster in the upcoming Mini Transat which starts on October 1. Koster was one of the first to go with the blunt scow-like bow rather than a conventional bow and the boat
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Life after IRMA // Paul Exner Describes a Devastated Tortola // & You Can Help

20 Sep

Paul Isbjorn.JPG

Note: Paul Exner is Isbjorn’s racing skipper and a very close friend of Andy & Mia. He and his young family – including wife Liz (whose Irish), their 3 1/2-year-old son Eoin & 9-month-old daughter Eva – stayed on in Tortola after the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma. As I write this, Hurricane Maria is making landfall in Puerto Rico, where Paul grew up, and she is undoubtedly being felt in the nearby BVI. Paul has checked-in twice on Facebook since IRMA, and these are his thoughts. We’ve setup a fund where you can donate directly to Paul & his ...

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Hurricane Maria watch: real-time weather

19 Sep


The news that Maria has strengthened from category 1 to category 5 hit like a gut punch. Learning this update at dinner last night stopped all conversation, then brought on questions: how does this happen in only half a day? Has it ever? Dreaded already for the track this storm is forecast to trace near Irma’s fresh path, prospects for Maria’s impact now feel unbearably worse.

While we waited for news of Irma from a safe perch in St Lucia I summarized the tools for hurricane season weather forecasts that we use most on Totem. Not two weeks later it’s ...

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Offshore Weather // Isbjorn Crew Roundtable Chat

18 Sep

208 WX Art.jpg

208: As I record this, Isbjorn is stuck in medieval Visby, on the island of Gotland smack in the center of the Baltic. We’ve only made it about 100 miles south of Stockholm, on this our 11th and LAST passage of 2017, due to horrendous weather. Recent guests the Veber family reported gusts over 50 knots in their homeport of Falsterbo, on the Swedish southwest coast about 200 miles from here and on our route. So we’re sitting tight. What follows is a roundtable meeting recorded  about 6 weeks ago with Isbjorn’s crew from our PREVIOUS passage, when we were ...

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EYE OF THE STORM: Cleaning Up the Mess in the Caribbean

18 Sep

Maria satellite image

Here we go again! Hurricane Maria, now a Category 5 storm, has reportedly devastated the island of Dominica and is expected to clobber Puerto Rico on Wednesday, give the Dominican Republic a glancing blow early Thursday morning, and then run right over the Turks and Caicos on Friday.

Maria track

Meanwhile, the islands of Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and St. Thomas are still reeling from the direct hits they so recently suffered from Hurricane Irma.

Irma track

Irma infrared

An infrared image of the eye of Irma directly over Barbuda, where she first made landfall. The beginning of ...

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Chapter 8 – All About Spinnakers – Part 3

15 Sep
Chapter 8 is a close-up look at spinnakers. A bit about the history of the spinnaker, different panel layouts, symmetrical versus asymmetrical and a whole lot more. In Part 3 we look at spinnakers by the numbers. It can get confusing because sailmakers are quick to drop a number thinking that you know what he’s talking about. Here is a quick guide. Note, however that some sailmakers have their own coding system.

You can download this chapter as a pdf here

Beautiful membrane Code 0 on this cruising boat
Spinnakers by the Numbers
Spinnakers have gone under countless names since ...
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The Russians are Coming

14 Sep

I was a tad bummed to see this pic on my Facebook feed this morning. The red and white boat washed up there after Hurricane Irma was my ride for the 89/90 Whitbread Round the World Race. It’s called Fazisi and was the Soviet Union’s first, and by happenstance, last entry in the Whitbread. When the race started the boat had a large Hammer and Sickle flag flying off the transom; by the time the race was over the Soviet Union had pretty much disintegrated.  I formed a partnership with the boat’s designer and we chartered Fazisi for $1 ...
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207: Jake Albano // Young People & Sailing

11 Sep

Jake 2017 Art.jpg

#207: Jake Albano, who’s still in his 20s, is a longtime friend of mine and has been an integral part of sailing Isbjorn and managing the cruising rallies I used to be involved with. I first met Jake at the ARC Europe rally in 2014 when he was sailing aboard Persistent Lady, the dramatic story of which you’ll hear in the episode. Jake then sailed with me as mate on our first ‘test’ trip for our business model on Serenity, a Shannon 43 ketch we were loaned before we bought Isbjorn, and he’s sailed with us since on many ...

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Hurricane Irma: sailing to safety, how you can help

10 Sep

Totem in Rodney Bay for Irma

Totem and crew are in Grenada. Time and mobility were our key advantages to get safely far from the devastating path of Irma when others could not. When Irma made landfall at Barbuda, we were secure in St Lucia. Clouds streamed from the west at sunset, sucked in the “wrong” direction by Irma. We watched the system’s arrival via glowing laptop screens, as Jamie stayed up half the night glued to live data from weather stations until they succumbed – then followed as best we could in the aftermath, waiting anxiously for news from the friends squarely in Irma’s track....

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