GFCI and ELCI breakers can be confounding, but heed their warning

6 Aug

I recently met cruisers who have been having trouble connecting their mid-80s boat to shore power pedestals equipped with GFCI (ground fault current interrupters) or ELCI (electric leakage current interrupters). Many months of working with electricians allowed them to plug into GFCI breakers without tripping them but still not ELCIs. So, what’s the problem, why did it take months to get it fixed, and what serious safety issues were uncovered? Read on…

In 2011 the National Fire Protection Association changed the national electric code (NEC) to require marina shore power systems be equipped with ground fault protection (GFP). These code ...

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#271: John Harries Round 3 // Live Onboard ICEBEAR

5 Aug

John Harries 271 Art.jpg

#271. John Harries, the founder of, AKA ‘Attainable Adventure Cruising,’ and in my opinion the foremost authority on safe and simple ocean sailing boats & equipment. He’s an accomplished high latitudes sailor with over 150,000 miles under his keel. Mia and I met him for a round 3 on the podcast in Lunenburg harbor aboard Ice Bear.

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On The Wind is the evolution of 59º North, and is, quite simply, long-form conversations with sailors from around the world. ‘On the Wind’ Sailing Podcast is informal chats with people ...

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The View from Fortune Bay

5 Aug

August 1, 2019

Fortune Bay, Disko Island

69 15N 53 45W

One cannot have too many books aboard. By way of a proof: this morning I would like to know why my anchorage on S Disko Island is named Fortune Bay. I can guess it is something to do with whaling, but not a single volume on the shelf answers the question, and the only hint comes from Andrew Wilkes in his sailing directions, ARCTIC AND NORTHERN WATERS:

“Fortune Bay is a ragged bight with many islands and rocks, lying 5 miles W of [the village of] Qeqertarsuaq. Many of ...

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The new Hugo Boss launched

5 Aug

The new Hugo Boss IMOCA 60 was revealed over the weekend and all I can say is WOW.  Actually I said something much stronger than that but let’s just say that I said wow. Either Alex Thomson and his team have got it really right or really wrong. My money is on them getting it really right. They have been doing this for a long time and along with their own in-house team led by Design Manager Pete Hobson, they have collaborated with French naval architects VPLP who are in my opinion among the best, if not ‘the best’ design ...
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Entering Disko Bay

4 Aug

July 31, 2019

Departed Sisimiut at 1900 hours and motored due north overnight for Disko Bay. Another uneventful passage of 140 miles, remarkable only for utter calm and a sea so smooth that boat motion was imperceptible.

Disko Island came into view in the late afternoon of the next day, as did the progeny of the glaciers that surround it. One big berg at first and then a train of them, slowly making their way toward dissolution in the open sea.

Anchor down at the E end of Killiit (Fortune Bay), S Disko Island, at 2000 hours. 35 feet. Rocky, ...

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Oil Leak in Sisimiut

3 Aug

July 30, 2019

The leak came from between the engine and the transmission and was black as coal. At its height, there were but five seconds between drips of this indispensable fluid, and upon arrival in Sisimiut, I found that we’d drained ten percent of the engine’s lube oil into the bilge in twenty hours.

“That’s a lot,” said my friend Gerd from his office in Florida. “It sounds like a rear seal failure; shouldn’t be too bad a job. First you remove the universal joint so you can push the propeller shaft back; then the bell housing and gearbox ...

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Images of Sisimiut

2 Aug

July 30, 2019

It’s Mo’s third morning in Sisimiut, and I still haven’t made it much past the Seaman’s Home and the chandlery near the harbor.

Luckily, Greenland is such a place that everywhere one turns is an exotic scene.

Here are a few such to keep things going while I work to stop the engine’s oil leak…

Rafted five deep along the inner wall of Sisimiut Harbor. It’s nice to have the outer berth until it’s time to go into town. Crawling over so many boats to achieve the pier is quite a slog.
Awaiting the return.

View from
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Fastnet ’79 – a personal story

2 Aug

The Fastnet Race starts tomorrow. They have a record fleet including 20 IMOCA 60’s and the event continues to be one of the most prestigious ocean races in the world. It has been forty years since the disastrous race in 1979 where 19 people lost their lives and much has changed since then. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was racing aboard a brand new Swan 55, a Sparkman and Stephens ...
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Crossing The Arctic Circle

1 Aug

July 27, 2019

Mo and I departed Nuuk in the late afternoon for the short climb to Sisimiut, Greenland’s second largest city, population 5,500.

The leg was uneventful, a mix of fast sailing and fast motoring on a fast north-setting current, except in two ways.

One, at 1800 hours on July 26, 2019, day 251 of the Figure 8 Voyage, Mo and Randall crossed 66 30N latitude and thusly sailed inside the Arctic Circle.

This circle carries several definitions, “the line above which trees do not grow and the ground does not thaw” being less common than “the parallel of ...

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Serpents in Paradise

31 Jul

Cruising boats in a beautiful Guna Yala anchorage. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Every so often you hear a piece of news that jolts you out of a preconception or two. For me, one such was the attack on a cruising family on the northeastern coast of Panama last May.

A trawler yacht was boarded at night and when the skipper, New Zealander Alan Culverwell, went to investigate, he was shot and killed. His wife, Derryn, was attacked with a machete before she and her two children managed to lock themselves inside the boat.

It was all the more upsetting ...

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