Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reflection on my sail from Florida to Bermuda

I had wanted to sail somewhere challenging, exciting and rewarding and the sail from Florida to Bermuda seemed like a good idea. I had heard stories both good and bad, and in particular, a friend Bill who 2 years ago, encountered 40' waves and abandoned his sailboat just short of Bermuda. They don't call it the Bermuda triangle for nothing. So I set about tackling this journey methodically, with that background in mind. My biggest fears were the three S's! Seasickness, sleeplessness and storm tactics. So in preparation I spent a couple of weeks in Florida before I left, going over the boat from stern to bow making sure everything was working OK. I also added 6 jugs of diesel to my starboard side because I had heard of lots of windless days at this time of the year. And in fact I ended up having to motor for 3 days. The other thing about this, was that I was paying just $2.20 a gallon in the USA, whereas here in Bermuda, it is 3 times that price. 
So firstly seasickness; even though it is said that everybody gets seasickness, I thought I was pretty much bullet proof. WRONG! I found out that I get it it too and it is not pretty. Even after day 4 of my trip i was still feeling queasy. Headaches are my sore point, and the gut wrenching doesn't help. I use this stuff called zofrans for spot help and I don't take it unless I am desperate. I think I took about 3 of them for the entire trip. I have a scopoline patch but at $45, I am saving that up for a rainy day.
Secondly storm tactics; in my mind, there are 3 ways to tackle this. One have a well found boat with bullet proof rigging. I replaced all my rigging a couple of years ago and the Westsail boat is as safe as they come. Secondly, my ability as a sailor. I have been trying to get experience and in fact had done an 8 day sail up the east coast last year. Thirdly weather; I needed to be able to get the weather while offshore. Enter the Inreach Delorme, that sends and receives text messages anywhere in the world. My son Christopher, was invaluable in that he kindly tracked me and let me know what to expect in the way of winds etc. I also paid $35 to Commanders Weather to help me select a weather window and get routing information.  They also sent me a text message last Saturday warning of the approaching squall line showing up on satellite imagery. I actually got hit by 4 different squalls after that including one where there were white out conditions for about an hour. It was ugly at the time outside, but because I had prepared for it by reducing sail, because of what Christopher had told me and also from Tom at Commanders Weather, I was tucked up down below, where I felt safe and cosy even.
Lastly sleeplessness; this one is a biggie, because your decision making process gets all messed up when you are sleep deprived. I don't know any easy way to fix this one except that I try and get as much sleep as I can and if I don't get enough, I try not to let it bother me. I find that if I get a big enough chunk, say a couple of uninterrupted hours, that no matter how yucky I feel in the wee hours, once that sun comes up, and I get a jolt of caffeine, I seem to be okay.
I also want to point out that what you read here and in fact on any blog is filtered so don't get carried away thinking this is just peaches and cream. You get to read what I think might interest you and particularly, my family and friends. I try to keep it about sailing and not about my personal life although that can get tricky sometimes. For instance I had a terrible problem with my sanitation system last Friday, but I didn't mention it and don't intend to. Ugly! You want to hear about white sandy beaches and dolphins, right? Same with my personal life. You don't want to hear about how lonely life can be sailing by yourself in the middle of nowhere or for that matter moored in the middle of a city. So what I am trying to convey is that this sort of trip is not for the faint of heart, mind, body or soul. Some people would even say it was foolhardy.
So summing up, I had a great, great sail here and wouldn't swap it for anything and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Hey a video of my trip

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Peter Ryan is sharing their location

Peter Ryan is sharing their location at the MapShare web site:


I'm starting my trip, follow along at my MapShare! Heading over to the fuel dock to top up my tank

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To learn more about MapShare and the DeLorme inReach two-way satellite communicator, visit or

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yellow Diesel 5 Gallon Jug Project

For my planned trip to Bermuda at this time of year, there may be many days where there is little or no wind. Of course I would prefer to choose a weather window where I can sail all the time, but if I have to choose between the possibility of storms or motoring in calm conditions, I would prefer to use the engine. I have got 2 diesel tanks for a total of 70 gallons which gets me quite a way, in fact over half the 880 nautical miles in calm weather. What a lot of sailors do is store extra diesel on deck and it makes the boat look ugly.
I had bought these jugs before and stored them on deck and found that they started cracking in the sun so I used snaps to make covers.
I also went to the trouble of recessed bolts in the red oak so it would not dig into the plastic. I now have 100 gallons on board and with these jugs I can easily transport them in the dinghy and refill them at a gas station in places where there is no fuel dock.
Right now the weather looks good for me leaving for Bermuda on Wednesday. You can track my voyage at
on the internet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Choosing a Weather window

I am sitting here in south Florida waiting for the weather to be favorable for a trip to Bermuda. Generally I try to follow the sun on my boat so that I don't have to worry about heating or air conditioning and after that I like to choose good winds to sail with. It is no fun being beaten up by 25 knot winds on a boat as you can well imagine. It is uncomfortable, you can get seasick and lose a lot of sleep. No thank you. There are "pilot charts" for every month and every ocean that show the most common winds you are likely to find and here is a chart for April between Florida and Bermuda.
The length of the shaft on the "rose" shows the percentage of winds from that direction. So in theory, if you look at the chart, there should be plenty of days this month where I could sail north from Miami, riding the gulf stream and then east from Savannah and have favorable winds. Well this year has been different and most of the winds have been coming out of the north the direction that I want to go. Here is a sample of North Easterly winds from the web site Passage Weather for next Monday.
This map is called a grib, and the wind barbs point towards the direction the wind is coming from. The “tails” tell you the predicted wind speed; each half tail indicates 5 knots of wind speed. If you had two full tails and a half tail you would expect to have up to 25 knots of wind speed. A knot is a nautical mile per hour and in 25 knots of wind there would be 10 foot seas, lots of whitecaps and plenty of spray. Ugly! So here i wait in Stuart trying to keep busy with boat chores and making the most of the wonderful facilities here at the Sunset Bay Marina.
Life is good!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Replacing a chain plate

Anytime i see brown marks on board the boat, i get very worried thinking about the potentially dire possibilities of failure. We are talking about losing a mast! My starboard upper stay chainplate had a rusty streak running from the bottom of it.
This is what it looks like on the inside after I removed the wooden slats covering it. Notice that the original epoxy was still covering the washers which meant that this was the 40 year old original chain plate that came with the boat.
At first I thought it might be galvonic corrosion from the copper grounding wire attached to the bottom bolt but as you can see it came out clean.
So I set to, dismantling the chain plate and it was not a pretty sight. Lots of surface rust and even though I didn't see any cracks I thought it would be better to replace it.
Here is the old and new side by side.
I had to bend the top at a slight angle first before I installed it, but here it is all dressed up and ready to go.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Finding loose hardware.

Anytime you find a nut, bolt, split ring or loose bit of hardware on board the boat, that is a matter of concern. In my case, I found a wing nut in the bilge.

 So i checked out my motor mounts and this is what I found on the fore starboard mount.
Notice that there is no bolt head showing. To give you an idea, here is a photo of my fore Port one.
Look how rusty it is! And I replaced them less than 2 years ago! Anyway, now I had to find a replacement bolt. Just to show you the spare parts I carry on board, here are some of them.
Having a good inventory saves me from having to run out to the store anytime I need a new nut or bolt. This time I made sure that I used locktight on the bolt.
It really is a 2 man job to replace the motor mount bolts but with vice grips and acting like Houdini, I was able to secure the replacement. Phew!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Crotch straps

So one of the things I wanted to do here in Stuart, is to retro fit crotch straps to my life jackets. It appears that there have been situations where life jackets have come up and over the person wearing them.
Easy enough to do and they are only $10 a piece.
Meanwhile look at the brilliant sunset tonight.
That photo goes out to all the people working in cubicles. Don't give up on your dreams.

inReach message from Peter Ryan

This is a test to see if I can update my blog from my new Inreach satellite device so I can communicate offshore.

View the location or send a reply to Peter Ryan:

Peter Ryan sent this message from: Lat 27.198426 Lon -80.260813

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This message was sent to you using the DeLorme inReach two-way satellite communicator with GPS. To learn more, visit

Inreach from Delorme

I just splashed out and purchased an Inreach satellite device from Defender for $260 so that I could communicate when i sail offshore. Typically I lose cell phone communication a few miles away from cell towers which leaves me in the dark when it comes to weather when i sail over the horizon. Often times I have to sail close to shore so that I can pick up the internet and then I download grib files from Passage Weather.
I chose a yearly plan for $50 per month and have the capability of sending and receiving 160 character texts to email addresses and SMS messages to cell phones. It also tracks my location and you can see where I am at

(A lot of people would prefer not to be tracked but in my case it is a good thing!) It has an SOS feature which similar to my EPIRB would notify search and rescue. I can post to my facebook account and also update my blog with short messages. The most important thing to me however is getting the weather and here I use a service offered by Martin le Roux who lives near Boulder,  CO. I send a short TXT to wx2inreach@gmail.Com and it sends me the forecast at my location. For example if I
send "wx now io," this is what I get along with a translation:
Th 10pPtCldW10mi51F
Fr 6aClrSW16mi42F
Sa Sno2in87%14/23F
Su HvyRn83%N9mi41/50F
Thursday 10pm: Partly cloudy, west wind 10 mph, 51°F
Friday 6am: Clear, southwest wind 16 mph, 42°F
Friday 2pm: Light rain, PoP 70%, northeast wind 18 mph, 59°F
Friday 10pm: Cloudy, west wind 19 mph, 48°F
Saturday: Snow 2", PoP 87%, no wind, low 14°F, high 23°F
Sunday: Heavy rain, PoP 83%, north wind 9 mph,  low 41°F, high 50°F