Author: John Kettlewell

Satcom coming on strong

We’re not quite there yet, but the era of Star Trek-like communicators is mostly here — though many of us are impatiently waiting for the day we can beam ourselves between home and the boat.

Surveying boat security

Alarm systems come in three basic varieties: stand-alone systems that utilize sound alarms to alert those nearby, cellular network-based systems that can also alert you, and satellite-based systems that can provide worldwide coverage.

Internet bliss

While enjoying my usual evening libation in the cockpit, I often grab a cellphone or laptop to find out what is happening in the world, what messages may have come in that I can ignore, and whether or not thunderstorms are likely to wake us at the usual 2 a.m.

Broken anchor snubber

I’ve anchored in Cuttyhunk Harbor, Mass., hundreds of times over many different seasons. I like to joke that I just drop my hook in one of my old holes and I know all will be well no matter what.

Smartphone photography

Like most cruisers today, I carry and rely on a smartphone for many things: email, maps, weather radar — even phone calls!

Digital world cruising

Gone are the days when I used to measure the length of the bookshelves on boats I was checking out for cruising.

The email two-step

You’re anchored securely in a tropical lagoon you used to dream about … then the “real world” drags you back.

Charts and weather

There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to receiving weather today.

Time to update your charts?

Of course chart printers and digital charting companies want you to keep purchasing new charts. Who wouldn’t want the latest charts?

Charting electrics

Electronics are wonderful as long as the electrons keep flowing, but they are useless once the power ends — and it always does eventually!

Cool stuff for a cool season

OK — I just dated myself with that title, but "cool" is the only appropriate word, in my opinion, for this potpourri of charting goodness.

Hurricane chart work

During and before hurricane season you will read and hear lots of information on what to do when a storm approaches, and how to escape and remain safe.

Online weather resources

Navigators are blessed with numerous helpful online weather sites. Here is a sampling: National Data Buoy Center: ( You’ve just got to bookmark some of the offshore buoys and lights near where you do your boating. I routinely monitor what…

Paper and plastic

I frequently see long and acrid online forum argument threads about the superiority of digital charting vs. paper charts.

Getting attached

Have you ever found the perfect waterfront boaters’ bar? I’m still searching, but I know what it looks and smells like.

Offshore competence builders

One thing rarely written about in magazine articles and books on long-distance cruising and voyaging is the time problem. Relentlessly marching on, with or without us, time does not pause while we accumulate the right boats, skills, experience and crew to do the great things we read and dream about.

Anchor test in the Chesapeake

In August 2014, Fortress Anchors conducted scientific anchor testing in the Chesapeake, utilizing the 81-foot research vessel Rachel Carson owned by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The right stuff

With a little imagination, voyagers can find jury rig supplies just about anywhere

Sizing a crane for dinghy handling

Their dinghy exploration of the coral reefs over, it was time to get the dinghy back on board. The cable was hooked up to the lifting harness and the dinghy began to rise out of the water.

A fog of regulation

You’ve finally crossed the border into Florida after more than 700 statute miles of Intracoastal Waterway cruising and your mind begins to wander to thoughts of that upcoming Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas.