Breaking through

A Northwest Passage trip is a near-run thing until fate lends a hand

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.

One lucky gringo

We spent Christmas in Cuba before setting off for Panama. I was skippering a 55-foot Cape Horn expedition yacht named Billy, ultimately bound for Hong Kong. As we rounded Guanahacabibes Peninsula and set a waypoint 900 nautical miles distant, I…

Two tricky passages

On our circumnavigation aboard our Montevideo 43, Bahati, we found there were four particularly tricky passages.

Staying clear of piracy

Voyagers looking west from Australia at an Indian Ocean crossing can choose to go under Africa or over it: either around the Cape of Good Hope, or through the Red Sea and Mediterranean.

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.

Tapping into 20-something power

When Bahati, my Montevideo 43, landed on Christmas Island, the first stop in our 2010 Indian Ocean crossing, I had three 29-year-old crewmembers on board, all male.

Anchoring issues

There are three kinds of boaters: those who have gone aground, those who will go aground, and those who have gone aground but lie about it.

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.

A hop, skip, and a jump to Panama

While in Beaufort, N.C., aboard Namani, our 1981 Dufour 35, we conceived a bold and promising plan: to depart the U.S. East Coast as soon as a November weather window allowed, and head for Panama in a hop (800 miles from the Carolinas to the eastern Bahamas), a skip (300 miles to Jamaica) and a jump (600 miles to Panama).

Destination Tonga

For a few years I have been refitting my 41-foot aluminum centerboard sloop Elan on the hardstands in Mooloolaba.

From desert winds to Patagonia

Long, skinny Chile stretches 2,653 miles along the Pacific coast of South America from its border with Peru in the north to the bottom of the world at Tierra del Fuego.

Basins and seas

It’s a long, intricate passage to sail non-stop through Indonesia from Darwin, Australia, to northern Borneo

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.

Clearing the pass

On a sunny morning in February 1990, the VHF net started as usual in Zihuatanejo Bay in Mexico.