Archive | passagemaking

birds on the bow at sunset

Northbound to Mexico: lessons from the country-per-day plan

The Pacific side of Panama felt palpably different even before the channel markers switched near the continental divide, green buoys replacing red on Totem’s starboard side. It was partly an earthy smell of the hot wind blowing through the Gaillard cut. A changed quality in the light, maybe, on the far side of sawtooth mountains […]

Splicing by headlamp-light

Pictures from the Passage: Colombia to Panama

Photos of sea state never do it justice. It is a truth and occasional lament, as it’s difficult to convey the feeling of being at sea. This passage (Trials at Sea and Ashore) held some of the most unpleasant seas we’ve experienced: flat-fronted walls of water, tossing Totem around. These pictures won’t capture those seas, […]

8 morning visitors in Puert Perme Panama

Trials at sea and ashore: sailing from Colombia to Panama

Gentle ripples stream in the wake of an ulu as a lone paddler sets out in the gray light of early morning. By the time the sun has inched above the horizon, a dozen more dugout canoes have joined this one to fish the reef off Anachucuna village. Meandering to pass near Totem, fishermen offer […]

sailboat and helicopter

Dissecting a passage: Bonaire to Colombia

This dreaded passage unleashed one true horror. It was not a failure in rigging or other key systems. It was not the feared washing machine sea state. No, it was the ugly reality of unclogging a toilet while sailing at 9+ knots! That awful job aside, almost everything else on the passage went very smoothly. […]

PredictWind routing models based on different weather algorithms

Planning a passage: Bonaire to Colombia

There is a good chance our upcoming passage will suck. Yay… How do we know it’s not a simple downwind run in the trades? Enough friends, cruisers with miles, have told us how uncomfortable the stretch across the top of South America to give credence to the oft-repeated quote that this is one of the “five […]

Sailing wing and wing

Passage notes: westbound across the Caribbean

Totem is sailing toward sunsets again. Turning towards the Dutch Antilles from Martinique was more westbound than south. This passage brought back more than a familiar angle for sunrises and moonsets: it’s also… downwind sailing for the first time in 18 months first passage with more than one night at sea in 18 months a nearly full […]

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Passage planning: the float plan

Writing a float plan is a simple thing to do, may be critical in the event of an emergency, and is all too easily set aside and left undone in the stack of tasks that precede going offshore. Provisioning. Checking the weather. Vessel integrity checks. Checking the weather again. What and why The bare minimum […]

3- asymmetric starboard

Efficient Sailing: passage routing

There’s a problem: many cruisers think that sailing performance isn’t important. Hey, cruising is about slowing down, right?! But dismissing performance is poor seamanship. Part two in a series. Efficient sailing is partly about sail trim and sail handling (that’s covered here), and partly about routing. With a few rules, routing from A to B can be […]

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Cruisers should care about performance sailing

There’s a problem: many cruisers think that sailing performance isn’t important. Hey, cruising is about slowing down, right?! But dismissing performance is poor seamanship. After some years of listening to cruisers disregard performance and gripe about slow passages, it dawned on me that confusion is to blame. Our good friend William demonstrated this last year during a […]

1 sunset at sea

Passage notes: Bermuda to Connecticut

“This is turning into an expensive passage.” Those were Jamie’s words to me after the latest breakdown on our third day at sea. A large block, used for the genoa sheet, had permanently parted ways with the track on deck. The passage started benignly enough, once we got going. Although the weather watch to depart […]

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