Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cruising Gadget: VHF/DSC/GPS

I recently got one of these for the San Juan 24. This is a Standard Horizon HX850s VHF with GPS and DSC. It won Practical Sailor's Editor Choice and Best Choice in September 2009, along with the 2009 Pittman Innovation Award from Sail Magazine.

The key to this radio is the combination of a GPS and digital selective calling (DSC). This makes it a viable alternative to an EPIRB for inshore and near shore work. It turns out that EPIRB distress signals must filter through international and national processing centers before help may be dispatched. The DSC distress call will reach all boats and stations withing VHF distance that have DSC functionality. The radio is also perfect in case you need to abandon ship. You would be able to talk with rescuers and re transmit your updated position. Additionally, the radio floats and glows in the dark.

The GPS is not really suitable for navigation because of the small screen and limited information displayed. It would serve as a backup in a pinch. It comes in rechargeable and disposable battery configurations.

There is more information over at Panbo.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pacific Mexico Cruising Guide

Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer have released their second beautiful cruising guide for Mexico. I have not seen a copy yet, but their Cortez guide was one of the best we have ever seen. It does not look like the book has made it to Amazon yet, but you can get it from theier publishing company, Blue Latitude Press.

You can find more information at Three Sheets Northwest.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water and Home

Today is 2010 Blog Action Day. This year's focus is water, more specifically, safe drinking water. Over 5000 people a day die due to water borne illnesses. Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe, reliable drinking water.

I learned these facts by watching HOME, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. HOME is an outstanding video that clearly illuminates environmental degradation. One of the main themes is the water cycle.

HOME is available at YouTube and on DVD. Watch it at the highest resolution that you can. More information about the environment from the makers of HOME can be found at

Please help. Please sign the petition UN now to improve drinking water quality.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solo Non Stop Circumnavigation Attempt

Well traveled cruiser Jeanne Socrates is about to begin a solo non-stop circumnavigation attempt aboard her Najad 380, Nereida. Jeanne has circumnavigated twice, but has been forced to call at ports due to mechanical difficulties.

We became aware of Jeanne through the 2010 Single Handed Transpac. Nereida was entered in the race, but bad weather in the Southern Ocean slowed her progress toward the starting line. Jeanne managed to sail into Hanalei Bay in time for the Awards Party. She recently came to Port Townsend for a mini refit before the upcoming 8 month attempt.

Nereida has left Port Townsend for a small shakedown cruise before heading to Victoria BC. Jeanne will begin her circle from Victoria sometime in the next couple weeks when a weather window appears. In the past couple of days, there have been storm conditions of 40 to 50 knots at the western end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We wish Jeanne the best of luck and fair winds. You can follow here blog here. There is an additional website here.

Westsail 32 Optimizations

These photos show the Westsail 32, Velella, in the yard in Port Townsend for a refit. The owner is doing Dave King's modifications for streamlining the keel and rudder. Included in the changes are:
  1. Elimination of extra through hulls.
  2. Elimination of a Dyna-Plate.
  3. Remaining through hulls being ground flush with the hull.
  4. Fairing of the rudder hinges.
Captain King told me that he calculated as much as 2 square feet of protruding surface area on an average Westsail 32 hull. The elimination of these obstructions can add a knot of sailing speed. Captain King used some of the modifications to win the Pacific Cup and place second in the Single Handed Transpac (with a broken boom), on adjusted time. The under body of our Ingrid is very similar to the Westsail, so we will probably make similar modifications at the next haul out.

More information on the modifications can be found at the Westsail Owners's Association.

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