Places

Braving the gap winds

We slipped out of Guaymas, Mexico, in the northern Sea of Cortez, in late October aboard our Tayana 37 sloop Anna. This was only the first part of a 2,500-nm passage from northern Mexico to the Perlas archipelago in the Gulf of Panama. A trip that would take us through the dreaded Gulfs of Tehuantepec and Papagayo with their possible gale-force winds and choppy seas.

The long way around

There’s the rhumb line, the great circle route, and there’s the long way around. The latter wasn’t exactly our intention when departing New Zealand for Fiji one late May day, but that’s what sailing is about: life at the mercy of the elements, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Lessons in lightning

A voyaging boat can expect one lifetime lightning hit, but the chance increases dramatically in hot, humid places, like the Intertropical Convergence Zone or Florida’s lightning alley, where as much as 20 percent of boats suffer some lightning damage every year.

The lonely cliffs of St. Kilda

After retiring from my Northern Ireland medical practice at the age of 60, I devoted myself to ocean voyaging. Aboard Progress, my 34-foot wooden hull sloop of 1950’s vintage, I explored on both sides of the North Atlantic. One of my fondest memories, however, is a relatively modest four-day cruise to the islands of St. Kilda far to the west of Scotland.

The lonely isles

Our decision to visit the Chatham Islands was not made until the very last minute. Having taken advantage of a second summer season cruising in New Zealand, we were finishing up a circumnavigation of the country.