Treading Water

22 May

Day 150/28

Noon Position: 25 06S 157 05W

Course/Speed: NW5

Wind: NNE7

Bar: 1018, falling

Sea: NNE3-5, sloppy chop

Sky: Weird mix of stratus, cumulus and squalls

Cabin Temperature: 79

Water Temperature: 76

Sail: #2, full; main, full; close hauled to starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 92

Miles this leg: 3,412

Avg. Miles this leg: 122

Miles since departure: 20,657

Slow and dull. The sea is blue; the sky is blue, but there is enough hazy and squally cloud to deaden any vividness the day may have wanted to possess. The thermostat achieved 80 degrees Fahreinheit before noon, though it ...

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SHAKEDOWN CRUISE: Nigel Calder’s First Cruising Narrative

21 May

Book cover

I’m feeling some vindication here. Several years ago when I was Nigel Calder’s regular editor at SAIL Magazine he told me the story of the first time he ever went sailing with Terrie, his future wife. To impress her he’d suggested they borrow (without permission) a small wooden boat that belonged to his brother and take off on a cruise together. She suggested they sail across the English Channel to Amsterdam (they were in the UK at the time) and he readily agreed, though he had little idea what he was doing. Terrie temporarily jumped ship once they got there (to ...

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Standing a 24 hour watch, am I nuts?

21 May

As the title suggests, I’m not confident that I should have taken Gizmo on a 24-hour solo jaunt from Norfolk to Atlantic City in what looked like dicey weather conditions. Some readers may think I endangered myself and others, and they may well have a point. Actually, I’d like to get that discussion out of the way here because I plan several other entries referencing all the real world gear testing that went on.

Why solo? I’m not antisocial, but cruising alone does mean oodles of freedom to do as I please, be it spending all day at anchor working ...

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Around the world the hard way

21 May
Szymon Kuczynski aboard Puffin
It’s getting harder and harder to do something original in sailing, something that someone before you has not already done. There was a time when a circumnavigation was considered a mammoth accomplishment especially if it was a singlehanded voyage around the world. Now you have to sail three times around the world without stopping and with one hand tied behind your ...
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Uniden MHS335BT handheld: VHF, GPS, DSC and texting!

21 May

When I first read Uniden’s MHS335B handheld VHF press release, the feature that really intrigued me was “Maritime Industry-First Private Text Messaging.”  The release was a little short on details but did say, “Text directly from your phone to other VHF radios.”  I was left with more questions than answers, but was glad when Uniden kindly loaned me two radios to see all their VHF, GPS, DSC, and texting features hand’s on.

Thinking about the use-cases for the VHF-to-VHF texting, I came up with two scenarios, the first from my own cruising experience.  Cell phone service in the Bahamas ...

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Lock ’em up, lock ’em up…

21 May

The VOR fleet in Newport, RI


I should know better than to step into this quagmire but sometimes I just can’t help myself. This, coming from someone who has been chucked out of a number of bars in my lifetime, is going to sound a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. However, I think it’s a bit of a disgrace (well maybe that’s ...
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Was This the Right Route?

20 May

Day 149/27

Noon Position: 26 31S 156 37W

Course/Speed: N5.5

Wind: NNW4

Bar: 1019, falling

Sea: W3

Sky: Hazy, high stratus, otherwise clear

Cabin Temperature: 78

Water Temperature: 74

Sail: Motoring

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 108

Miles this leg: 3,321

Avg. Miles this leg: 123

Miles since departure: 20,565

It will be intersting to look back at this leg and my routing strategy with an eye toward what could have been done differently. How could we have made better time–found better air–in this first third of the passage home?

My rationale seemed sound, still does: stay high and get all ...

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One Effect of Tropical Warmth

19 May

Day 148/26

Noon Position: 27 46S 155 10W

Course/Speed: NW6

Wind: NNE13

Bar: 1021, falling

Sea: NE4

Sky: Partly Cloudy

Cabin Temperature: 77

Water Temperature: 74

Sail: Full working sail, close hauled on starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 136

Miles this leg: 3213

Avg. Miles this leg: 124

Miles since departure: 20,457

One effect of warming weather as we approach the tropics: those fresh foods which had lasted till now are going off fast. An example is my last loaf of bread, purchased from a bakery in Hobart hours before departure. It had held up well while things were cool, ...

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Safety and Sense

19 May

The loss of Team Scallywag crewman John Fisher in the Southern Ocean during the Volvo Ocean Race (see Eight Bells: John Fisher) was yet another tragic reminder, if one were needed, of the unforgiving nature of the sea and the dangers inherent in top-level ocean racing, a game of calculated risks whose dramas are played out in some of the remotest, most hostile regions on the planet.

At this level, sailing is indeed an extreme sport in which any number of scenarios could lead to injury or death. You might, therefore, be surprised to hear that such occurrences ...

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Blue Transition Zone

18 May

Day 147/25

Noon Position: 29 56S 154 27W

Course/Speed: N5

Wind: ENE10-13

Bar: 1024, steady

Sea: NE3

Sky: Alternating between puffy cumulus and squall clouds

Cabin Temperature: 75

Water Temperature: 71

Sail: Working jib and main, full, close hauled

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 128

Miles this leg: 3,077

Avg. Miles this leg: 123

Miles since departure: 20,321

You have to love blue to be a sailor, and I must admit an inexplicable, unreasonable irresistible adoration for the ocean colors in the middle latitudes. Depending on the day and the angle of the sun, the surface we pass through, this seemingly ...

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