Cruise Report: Transiting the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a crossroads of the maritime world. About 40 ships a day transit the canal, ranging from yachts to warships and everything in between. It’s a critical economic link between the West Coast and East Coast of the Americas, a monumental civil engineering project, an important political achievement, and a milestone for cruisers. The vast majority of circumnavigating yachts transit the canal, and hundreds of cruisers who … Read more

Building a Weather Picture

One of the most important skills for successful cruising is understanding the weather and how it impacts your plans. This doesn’t mean being a meteorologist, making your own forecasts, or interpreting esoteric weather charts. Rather, it means selecting the right forecast from professional meteorologists (NOAA, Environment Canada, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts), utilizing real-time weather data from the multitude of weather reporting sites along the coast, and adjusting cruise … Read more

Safe Harbour | Snowpocalypse at Blake Island

With Seattle in chaos and normal obligations cancelled because of snow in the forecast, we sought refuge on the water. What better place to spend the blizzard than Blake Island, we thought. So on Friday, after doing battle with every other Seattleite at the grocery store (50 minute line at Trader Joe’s!) we cast off. The locks, unlike the grocery store, were deserted—no waiting on a snow day! By mid-afternoon … Read more

Getting the Most from Windy.com

Windy.com is our single favorite weather resource for cruising the Pacific Northwest. We never ignore the official NOAA or Environment Canada marine forecasts, but Windy offers a much more granular look at the weather. Environment Canada and NOAA forecasts cover large areas over many hours with wind speeds expressed in big ranges (10 knots or more). Windy allows you to pan and zoom to the area you’ll be traveling, and to … Read more

Scooters Aboard!

Upon arriving in a new port, I, like most cruisers, usually want to explore ashore. Sometimes there are chores to do, other times there are specific attractions, and often I just want to get the feeling of a place. Regardless, land transportation quickly becomes an issue, especially if the supermarket, chandlery, or attraction is beyond easy walking distance. For years I carried a Dahon Mariner folding bike, but seldom used … Read more

Improving the Boat Fridge: Fridge Optimizer

Several years ago, I replaced the 15-year-old Norcold refrigerator aboard Safe Harbour with a shiny new NovaKool RFU9000. The new fridge reduced power consumption and was quieter, but it was far from perfect. In fact, it (along with the Force 10 range with the heat output of a Bic lighter) are among the most frustrating pieces of equipment onboard.  Temperature control in the NovaKool is, at best, imprecise. The rudimentary … Read more

Circumnavigating Vancouver Island Flotilla | Day 26 | Effingham Bay to Port Renfrew

September 14 – We’d hoped to spend a couple nights in Effingham Bay, but today looked like a great day on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Rather than push our luck for one more night in the Broken Group, we decided to take advantage of the calm and head towards Victoria. We were spoiled again by the ocean. Light winds, decent visibility, favorable current most of the day, and … Read more

Circumnavigating Vancouver Island Flotilla | Day 24 | Robbers Passage to Bamfield

September 12 – We’re starting to analyze the weather for our run in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria. Based on the current models, it looks like we’ll have a good two days to make the run this weekend, September 15 and 16. With three more days in Barkley Sound, we figured we’d head to Bamfield today, explore a bit, and then head out to Effingham Bay for the … Read more

Circumnavigating Vancouver Island Flotilla | Day 23| Nettle Island to Robbers Passage

September 11 – Barkley Sound is nearly deserted this time of year. We’ve only seen a couple other cruising boats, so we figured we’d likely be able to get at least a few spots at the dock at the Port Alberni Yacht Club outstation in Robbers Passage. This is a wonderful stop, with short trails to walk around on ashore and an amazing coastline nearby to explore by dinghy. The docks … Read more