Out of Sight

Out of Sight

My young sons and I were about to sail my 50-foot yawl, Empiricus, from Ketchikan to Seward, Alaska. Moving back to my hometown of Seward from my current home in the southeast part of the state with my boat would mean crossing the Gulf of Alaska. “It’s just wind and waves out there, boys,” I assured my sons: Isaac, 10 and Steven, six. “We just have to keep the ocean out of the boat and stay onboard. We’ll be fine.” READ FULL ARTICLE >>
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An Unauthorized Boarding

An Unauthorized Boarding

An Unauthorized Boarding While cruising in the Caribbean following a crossing of the South Atlantic, on Rebecca Childress’ Valiant 40, Brick House, we arrived in Buccament Bay on St. Vincent. We were accompanied by a buddy boat: solo sailor friend Paul Teabo aboard his Island Packet 36, Getting There. What followed was an unfortunate and thankfully rare brush with crime while cruising.  We both anchored in the northwest corner of the bay, near a friendly fishing village. Rebecca and I have strict security protocols, and at night, we hoist the dinghy, secure it with a cable and lock, and leave…
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Author’s note: I first started to write this story at the request of one of my Marquesan friends who hoped to make the cruising community more aware of the issues I outline here. But I want to make it clear that I do not think the problem is very widespread. In general I think voyagers are responsible and respectful of the places we visit, but it only takes one or two instances of disrespect on the part of sailors for local attitudes to change. You’ll find the stuff of dreams at Hanamoenoa. The golden sand of its beach is so…
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Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from J.R. Williams’ upcoming book on his sailing adventures, Tales of A Blue Water Cruiser. In the first few days of January 1999, I was busy getting my 59-foot steel ketch Havaiki ready for my first passage from Honolulu to Papeete in Tahiti. I discovered that the boat was close to being dismasted as it sat at the dock! We found one of the drawbacks of wooden masts. Even after fixing that issue, we still almost lost the mast while en route to Tahiti. Both times I was lucky indeed. The Good Lord…
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Our boat Havaiki was a 35-ton steel ketch. She was 48 feet on deck and 59 feet overall with the bowsprit and a six-foot draft. The boat was designed by Myron Spaulding of Sausalito, a well-known and respected yacht designer, and was built by Samuel Kerr Robinson of Sebastopol, Calif. Robinson was originally from Scotland and owned a body/fender shop in the San Francisco Bay area. He wanted a boat with a shallow keel and masts on tabernacles so they could be lowered and the boat could get under bridges. He had originally planned to navigate the channels in Europe…
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If you are planning an offshore cruise under sail, you need access to as much vessel data as possible in one single place. A multifunction chartplotter display is the nerve center of the modern offshore cruising vessel, bringing together chart navigation, radio communication and a variety of other inputs onto one screen to inform you of the overall performance of the craft while underway and at anchor. Before committing yourself to a particular model of chartplotter, you need to consider several factors: vessel size, deck layout, planned location of monitor installation and of course, your own specific needs and tastes.…
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Earlier this year, I finally upgraded from lead acid batteries to lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries on my Valiant 40, Brick House. I’d researched for at least a year and South Africa, with its great tech base and good exchange rate, was the place to do it. [gtx_gallery] Lithium batteries favor the inclusion of a battery management system (BMS) in most applications on boats. The BMS ensures that the battery is not over or undercharged, and that it doesn’t overheat, freeze, or have to deal with oversized currents. Most people understand that a lithium battery BMS is the brains of…
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2020 Husick Award Winner After consideration by our panel of judges (see below) the 2020 Chuck Husick Marine Technology Award goes to Raymarine for its Axiom+ multifunction display.  Raymarine describes its Axiom units this way: “The performance-tuned Axiom+ is a new generation of award-winning Raymarine multifunction displays. Optimized for speed, Axiom Plus is equipped with a powerful quad-core processor for industry-leading responsiveness and speed, giving you the power to seamlessly redraw charts, navigate with augmented reality, and experience RealVision™ 3D sonar.” Meanwhile one of our judges, Rebecca Childress has this to say about Axiom+ “The newest one has twice the…
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There was a time not too long ago when I was a head magician of the local branch of the cult of celestial navigation; a cult that experienced its last hurrah through the early 1990s, before going underground with the emergence of GPS. During a relatively short period of time, there were various branches throughout the country, all practicing the art. My particular cabal was located in the northeastern U.S. I was pledged into this group, serving my apprenticeship with Eben Whitcomb, master of the schooner Harvey Gamage and celestial navigation wizard nonpareil. Along with others, I was wizard-in-training for…
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After a second reef is tied in to a yacht's mainsail, the next step in sail reduction is a storm trysail. Many offshore sailors feel that a triple-reefed main is not effective, inducing too much distortion and stress to the sail and not providing sufficient support to the boom. While not all modern yachts carry a storm trysail, those undertaking ocean passages should have one in their inventory. In truly heavy weather conditions, a storm trysail not only offers an opportunity to fly a still smaller sail but it also will help reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the vessel's mainsail which has already been buffeted and battered enough withstanding the wind and stresses of…
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