Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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Passage to San Francisco – feature article in Ocean Navigator

Passage to SF-2More publication news – my Ocean Voyaging feature article about the passage south to San Francisco appeared in the January/February issue of Ocean Navigator magazine and it’s up online now too!

This passage –  down the northwest coast – is very talked of, even a little feared, in the sailing community, and for good reason. It’s a rock-strewn, lee shore with few places to shelter, and it’s subject to volatile and not very pleasant weather. For many Pacific Northwest sailors, it’s the first real ocean passage, too – one leaves behind the protected waterways of Puget Sound and the Inside Passage in favor of the big ocean swells. Finally, if it’s left too late in the year, this passage can deliver some really nasty conditions, so the maxim among West Coast sailors is to round Cape Flattery (the NW tip of Washington State) and be off southward before October 1st.

My Ocean Navigator feature covers the major concerns and strategies regarding this passage and relates our own experience with it.  You can read the piece here.

I also wrote a blog post about it around when we actually did the passage, which is a lot less extensive, but which you can read here. Hope you enjoy!


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All Blue Water Boats Should Steer Themselves

So says Yves Gélinas, the incredibly accomplished and innovative sailor who invented the Cape Horn wind vane, and Seth and I agree wholeheartedly!Strong SE wind

Twelve years ago, Seth and I and two friends set off on our circumnavigation aboard Heretic with no self-steering gear at all. No electronic autopilot and no mechanical wind vane. We both came from racing (round-the-buoys) backgrounds and were used to hand-steering boats to get the best out of them at each and every moment. With four people taking turns at the helm, it was possible to make ocean passages like that, but it wasn’t much fun and it wasn’t very sustainable (in the most literal sense of that word, as in, able to continue indefinitely) for longer passages.

Cold sailing

Hand-steering Heretic off Rhode Island in November 2006. Me on the left, one of our friends – John – at the helm.

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