IN IRMA’S WAKE: Xmas/New Year’s Cruise from St. Maarten to St. Thomas

10 Jan

Oyster Pond damage

We descended en famille into SXM two days after Christmas to find a) the airport was no longer running out of tents and the regular terminal had (sort of) reopened; and b) the Christmas winds, as Don Street likes to call them, were in full effect. Blowing out of the east, as always, these were tradewinds, but “fortified” with lots of ugly rain squalls and big long gusts of breeze up to 35 knots or more. They trapped us on the island for a couple of days, which gave us time to rent a car and explore in detail.

We ...

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Scheiber’s kinetic Light Air Switch kit, with Marinebeam assist

10 Jan

Scheiber is a substantial French electronics company that provides sophisticated systems to large boatbuilders like Beneteau and Lagoon, but it’s now offering its lighting control technology in a retail kit form that means a local installer or DIY could use it for refits or custom builds. Moreover, the $350 Light Air Switch is distributed and supported in the U.S. by the crack team at Marinebeam, and what technology it is! For starters, the wall switches themselves don’t even need batteries, let alone wires…

In this demo video, Marinebeam’s Jeff Field explains how the switch is powered by harvested or kinetic ...

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Knockdown. Not Today. And Tortore.

10 Jan

January 8, 2019/Day 96

Noon Position: 46 18S  56 54E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExN

Miles since departure: 13,223

Avg. Miles/Day: 138


Winds stayed W most of the night, oscillating between 25 and 35. Mo wore just a double reefed working jib and rode like a mechanical bull. Not so noticeable in my bunk, which is well below the waterline way down in the main cabin, but try to make a cup of coffee and you risked your life.

At 8am, we passed just north of where Mo was knocked down in a gale last February 18th. The knockdown broke a ...

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One Third of the Way

10 Jan

January 7, 2019/Day 95

Noon Position: 46 58S  53 14E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExN 7

Wind(t/tws): WxN 17 – 26

Miles since departure: 13,066

Avg. Miles/Day: 138


Two pleasant milestones today. One, we’ve achieved an average of 143 miles per day since rounding Cape Horn. This, to me, is a magic number as it means we’re cranking out 1000 miles a week. With wind and better management, Mo can do more, but that’s not at all bad.

Two, we have now crossed 120 of the 360 meridians between our first Cape Horn rounding and our second. One third of the Southern ...

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Magic Dolphins

10 Jan

19.01.06_Andy Mia Dawn_SMALL.jpg

0947. We’re approaching 24 hours straight with the spinnaker flying. After a few calm spells during the first two days (in which we averaged only about 130 miles per day), the wind finally filled in from the ENE yesterday morning and we’ve been cruisin’ ever since. Around the noon watch change on the 5th, we set the chute on starboard, trimmed it for a broad reach, and haven’t touched the sheets since, instead subtly adjusting the boat’s course with the variations in wind speed and direction.

Great sleeping weather! I woke up on my own at 0630 this morning, finally ...

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Wind Off, Wind On

10 Jan

19.01.05_Sunrise Drone Rays.jpg


Sailing again. After dropping all sails after dinner last evening to save them beating themselves to death in the windless swell, Mia & I re-hoisted the mainsail and set the genoa at 0345 this morning on a light easterly breeze and a calming sea. The stars are out, and the occasional cloud is visible quite clearly, the sky is so well backlit despite no moon. A single ship sailed off to the west as Mia went down below to bed and I poured myself my first cup of coffee for the remainder of her morning watch.

Happy 2019

Crew ...

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Your Figure 8 Questions…

9 Jan

January 6, 2019/Day 94

Noon Position: 46 44S  49 19E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ESE 7

Miles since departure: 12,905

Avg. Miles/Day: 137


Winds slowly increased all night. I put the main on three reefs at 10pm and doused it altogether at 2am. We’ve been on a double reefed working jib ever since. With winds in the mid 30s, seas have build to a sloshy 10 – 12 and are tossing Mo about. But she can handle this and more.

Gray day. Rain has kept me cabin-bound most of it while the Albatross still gets to play outside.

Joanna passes ...

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Wind on the Way and Voyaging Coffee (Video)

8 Jan

January 5, 2019/Day 93

Noon Position: 46 25S  45 16E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): E 7-8

Miles since departure: 12,737

Avg. Miles/Day: 137


A large low starts to arrive tonight; first thrust will be NW winds to 30-35 between midnight and dawn. Late tomorrow, it will clock into the W phase and just as we make the Crozets, still some 212 miles E.

Winds have been 20 – 24 from NWxN for several hours now, in which Mo is reaching under reefed canvas and happily pushing 8 knots. Much of the time, skies are clear, the water has taken on that ...

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The In-Between Time

7 Jan

January 4, 2019/Day 92

Noon Position: 46 18S  41 57E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): E 5

Miles since departure: 12,600

Avg. Miles/Day: 137


Ran all night on reefed twins in winds WxN 18 – 25. Slept nearly eight hours. Felt safe as houses such that I didn’t even set the alarm near my bunk in the early morning. Up for the last time at 6am only because there is *another* alarm in the pilot house used to remind me to make log entries. It goes off every two hours starting then and ending at 8pm. My equivalent of ship’s bells.

Basic ...

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Starlight LED helming guide, plus Autonnic’s unusual A55 “analog” instrument displays

7 Jan

One of my METS show highlights was the Starlight LED Helming Guide introduced by Autonnic Research. While the concept is somewhat hard to grasp from ashore — even with an animation — I think it’s a great example of how electronics can be fashioned into a unique and useful tool that connects intuitively with the natural world of boating. While “a star to steer by” sounds lovely, I’ve observed many a helmsman who needed lots of help and experience to make it a truly smooth and pleasurable experience, and I’m pretty sure that Starlight can substantially shorten the learning ...

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