The Numbers Are In: January 2016 Cruising Budget

Eastport pram

They say budgets are made to be broken. Maybe they don’t say that but it sounds good when you’re trying to defend your broken budget. This month we managed to spend $539.55 more than we had said we would. The cause? Amazon. Even 800 miles away from home we can’t escape its pull. Not that I’m complaining that is. We had a bunch of little items like an external hard drive, skin suit, some spare vhf radios and a bunch of sail making and repair items. All told it came to about $500. Rachel’s parents packed an extra suitcase when they came down to visit and upon opening it felt like christmas morning!

I’m hoping* that our deficit we seem to be running (I write this on the 6th of February and we have 250 some odd dollars left) is due to the high costs in the Bahamas and not that we can’t make our $1400 a month limit work. Time will tell.








at budget 




539.55 over

Income less Expenses



539.55 over


Here’s the run down on our “extras” for the month.

All told it came to $717.08

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Cruiser’s New Year’s Day Regatta Party – Beers (1.1.16)


Laundry in Black Point (1.2.16)


Sailrite (1.3.16)


The Panama Cruising Guide (1.3.16)


Amazon Order – Lightning Charger, External Hard Drive Enclosure, DampRid, 2 VHFs (1.3.16)


Amazon Order – External Hard Drive & Workout Skirt (1.3.16)


Trash Disposal in Black Point 


Mooring Ball in Farmer’s Cay


Staniel Cay Yatch Club – Beers (1.11.16)


Splash in George Town – Pizza & Drinks (1.13.16)


Trash Disposal in George Town (1.15.16)


Rake N Skrap – Beers (1.15.16)


Chat ’N’ Chill – Lunch & Beers (1.17.16)


St. Francis Resort – 2 Beers  


Redboone Cafe – Burger & 2 Beers


Trash Disposal in George Town 


Groceries came to $326.26. I guess we like to eat.


Black Point Grocery Story – 10 lb flour, butter, minced garlic, sugar, powdered sugar (1.5.16)


Ice (1.8.16)


Isles General in Staniel Cay – Propane Refill ($40), Spinach, Lime, Cracker Barrel Cheese, Surgical Tubing  


Pink Store – 6 Ginger Beers, Sugar, Butter (1.11.16)


Exuma Markets (1.14.16)


Exuma Markets (1.18.16)


Exuma Markets (1.24.16)


Exuma Markets 


Alcohol came to $183.10. I’m actually pretty proud of the number. Unfortunately it was still $33.10 over the $150 alloted.


John Marshall George Town – Rum & Vita Malt (1.14.16)


John Marshall George Town – Case of Beer & Ice (1.15.16)


John Marshall George Town – Case of Wine & Rum (1.18.16)


John Marshall George Town – Case of Beer (1.15.16)


Finally is anything we spent on the boat. All together it was $323.11. This should be lower in February since we’ve just been hanging out in George Town and have not really gone anywhere.

Boat Supplies/Repairs/Etc.

Staniel Cay Yacht Club – Gas for Sadie (1.1.16)


Diesel @ Staniel Cay (1.8.16)


Darville Lumber Co. – Thinner, Orings, Chip Brushes (1.16.16)


Top II Bottom (1.25.16)


So that’s what it cost us to cruise for January, 2016. Hopefully February will be cheaper as we will be getting south of George Town and then onto Cuba. But you know what they say…


P.S – Rachel just posted a big album of photos of our times in George Town on Facebook. Check them out!

Race to the Podium at 2016 49erFX Clearwater Worlds

49erFX worlds Argentina

Matias Capizzano/49er Class

The last 49erFX World Championship was also sailed in Argentina, in November 2015.

Women’s Skiff racing is in its infancy. With the exception of a few ambitious women who jumped into 18 footers or raced 49er against the men, this past four years is the first large scale movement of women into full trapeze skiffs. The impact of having so many talented sailors try something new all at once is what makes the fight for Rio Gold in 2016 so compelling. It seems that each event sees another team take their sailing to a new level and make the leap to contender status. The fleet is learning how to push the boats, themselves, and the team dynamics further than they ever imagined, with the reward so close they can taste it.

Of course, the Rio Olympics will not be the most competitive regatta of 2016. The most competitive regatta of 2016 will be this World Championship in Clearwater, Florida. Unlike the games where only one boat per nation qualifies, challenging for the Worlds are full squads of Danes, Brits, French, Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, and the rest. Most of these nations are using the worlds as selection regattas to whittle down their squads and identify their Olympic representative. The pressure is on not only for the world title but for these many races within the race. It should be a fascinating week.

Kahena Kunze Martine Soffiatti 49erFX

Pedro Martinez/Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Brazil's Kahena Kunze and Martine Soffiatti at the 2016 Sailing World Cup Miami.

In hot form are 2013 World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech. It’s been a while since they stood atop a 49erFX podium, a trend undone last week as they won the Miami Sailing World Cup by over 30 points. They utilized an aggressive strategic style, solid starting, and strong speed throughout the wind range to shoot well above the rest of the competition by weeks end. Red Bull sponsored and training partners with 2014 World Sailors of the Year, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil, this kiwi duo is reasserting their claims to favorite.

Also on fire are Danes Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen of the venerable Danish squad. One hallmark of these four years has been the Danish squad consistently sending three teams into the top 10 regatta after regatta. Their trials is a three regatta series consisting of 2015 Worlds, 2016 Miami, and 2016 Worlds meaning we are 2/3 of the way through. Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen were off to a great start leading the 2015 Worlds until they faltered on the last day while still saving a third place… but Jena and Katja were only 1 place behind in fourth, meaning there was not much of a lead generated. In Miami, however, Jena and Katja claimed the silver while Ida and Marie were back in 10th place. The Shutt Sisters have not fared so well in their trials so far and with a 7th and 14th will be looking to apply the pressure early by coming out hot if they are to have any chance at a comeback.

We can’t forget the Italian duo of Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapchich. These two are coached by long time 49er legend Gianfranco Sibello and come from strong 470 and Laser Radial backgrounds. They took a season or so to really get into the skiff sailing mentality, but then dominated in 2015. They won both the 2015 European and World Championships, on both occasions claiming the titles in the medal races with pressure on. They have shown the sporting passion Italians are famous for with the skillset to put them consistently in the hunt and rarely out of contention. With their boatspeed recently matching their sailing skills, they are looking to extend their streak of 49erFX championships.

Ida Nielsen Marie Olsen 49erFX

Pedro Martinez/Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen, one of three Danish teams consistently at the top of recent 49erFX regattas.

There are numerous other strong challengers for the title from Spain, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, and Germany. Of these the Spanish, British, French, and Argentinian pairs have secured their Olympic berths. The remaining teams are still looking to qualify within their nations. Five German teams have been mounting full focus attempts at sailing well here at the World Championships. This is the second leg of their three event trials, with Porto 2015 Europeans as the first leg and the final leg in Palma in March. The German squad skipped competing in Miami to be fully prepared in Clearwater, and any of the team could contend for the championship. Whether they can keep their minds clear of their trials will be a difficult test, in addition to all the other nations looking to place well.

Paris Henken Helena Scutt 49erFX

Jen Edney/US Sailing Team Sperry

Paris Henken and Helena Scutt are hoping to grab the American berth for Rio 2016. The selection all comes down to the World Championship in Clearwater.

The final note here is of the US trials. Team Henken/Scutt are one of the youngest teams on circuit at 18 and 22 years old, however, they’ve been training hard for the quad and looked to lead a small US 49erFX squad. However, emerging from Miami were a relatively new to the boat team of Emily Dallenbaugh and Elizabeth Barry. They started sailing skiffs in June 2014 and had a great regatta to only trail in the trials by a single place. Both teams will face the famous pressure of a US trials as they perform under the watchful eye of home fans and high expectation of US sailors.

For more on the event, visit the 49er/49erFX class website.

2016 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships Preview

Bora Gulari Louisa Chafee Nacra 17

Jen Edney/US Sailing Team Sperry

US Sailing Team Sperry's Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee are one of the American teams hoping to snag the U.S.A. berth for the Olympics in August.

The final world championship event for both skiffs and the Nacra 17 classes starts on Tuesday in Clearwater, Florida. The event is also the final opportunity for many athletes, including the Americans, to snag their country's team spot for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Check out the preview, and head over to the 49er class Youtube channel for more videos from the event as it unfolds.

Isbjorn Offshore: Road Town to St. Barth’s on Port Tack.

Landfall in Ile Fourche, sailing onto the mooring.

Landfall in Ile Fourche, sailing onto the mooring.

Scroll down for a full gallery of photos from the first half of Leg 2.

Superbowl Sunday! In the French West Indies, nobody cares! And neither do I! I’m writing from a small waterfront cafe in St. Barth’s, enjoying a delightful cappuccino and having just finished a buttery croissant. We’re midway through the second passage of 2016, bound this afternoon for Antigua. All but one of the six crew from Isbjorn is ashore now, walking off our mild hangovers from Le Select last night (otherwise known as Cheeseburger in Paradise, where legend has it Buffett wrote the song). 

Greg is on a mission to the airport to try and retrieve his bags that the airline lost on his way to St Thomas. He’s been in the same t-shirt and pair of board shorts he bought at the tourist shop in Road Town ever since we left. Note to Mia and I to remind future crew members not to check any bags!

Contrary to the first leg bound for Grenada, this leg, improvised at the last minute to salvage a neat trip for the crew, got off to an awesome start and has been going splendidly. Greg, Ryan (from Leg 1), Andy (an old friend from high school) and Mike rounded out our crew, and Clint is still here as mate (otherwise known as the ‘Wanker on the Anchor’). We’re six dudes now, and missing the charming female influence of Cissi…my ukulele playing is missing her accompaniment!

We left Road Town the other night just after dark, after a healthy portion of Ryan’s famous lentil soup. I normally don’t like leaving in the dark after a long day of boat work, but the forecast was so good – and so odd – that we had to make a run for it. A small low pressure system was working it’s way east, and all day Friday waiting for Greg to arrive from the Ferry, the wind was blowing from the north over the BVI, almost northwest. 

‘You could almost fly a kite across Sombrero Passage!’ said my friend Ted, who lives on his boat at Nanny Cay.

The forecast called for the northerly winds to diminish by midnight, followed by a period of flat calm as the center of the low moved overhead, then an abrupt wind shift to the south as the low moved off to the west. Normally low pressure is associated with bad weather, but in this case it was really just an anomaly in the Trade Winds. We sailed off the anchor in Road Town under a blanket of stars in a gentle northerly, swapping out the small genoa for the big one at the last minute by the light of the foredeck light. I admit to being a bit gun shy after out beating towards Grenada last time out, so was hesitant to put the big headsail back up, but it turned out to be the right call.

After clearing the Road Town channel we passed by an anchored three-masted tall ship, her sails furled on the yards and her spars lit up by soft yellow spotlights making for a magical sight as we ghosted by in the lee of Tortola. Once into Sir Francis Drake channel we were able to lay Rock Island Passage – the same passage we entered after the breakdowns of Leg 1 – and pointed the bow towards Ile Fourche. It was 9pm when we cleared Ginger Island Light and were back in the ocean.

And what a difference from Leg 1! The northerly slowly petered out as the night went along, but Isbjorn’s big, powerful rig let us ghost along at 4-5 knots in only 6 knots of breeze, close-reaching. We wrote in the log that for the first time since departing the Chesapeake, Isbjorn had her full suit of sails flying, with the large genoa pulling us into the night. The northerly had blown all of the humidity out of the air, so the night sky was crystal clear. We enjoyed the best star gazing of the trip so far under a new moon. And dammit we deserved it after all that hard work to put the boat back together!

In hindsight, I’m thankful for the misfortune we had on Leg 1. I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished in such short order to put the boat back together again. She’s now in better shape than ever with the new furler and new mainsail on the way, and the confidence boost I got from the work we put in has given me a new attitude about the business in general. Only a week ago I was ready to sell the boat and buy back Arcturus and just go invisible, quit this ocean sailing thing for good. I’m back on top now and think I needed that little blow to give myself some perspective. Clint made a post on Facebook right before we departed the BVI, which made me really proud:

‘After a emotional yet educational first leg, we are ready for round two. A very persistent and we’ll connected captain has gotten everything ship-shape and ready to go. Leaving from Tortola tonight and HEADING TOWARDS Antigua.’

I had my confidence back and was excited to go offshore again.

On my watch with Greg from 0000-0300, the wind finally shut down. We rolled the genoa and fired up the diesel to motorsail on through the night. This was fine with Clint, who falls asleep to the purr of the engine, bringing back memories of his Atlantic crossing with us on Arcturus. 

The calm lasted about six hours, and by Ryan’s watch at 0600 we were sailing again, but this time on the opposite tack. The wind was south, almost southwest after the passage of the little low, and we were actually reaching towards the Leeward Islands, and on port tack! For those used to Trade Wind sailing down in these parts, this is practically unheard of, and statistically impossible according to the pilot charts. We enjoyed the anomaly.

Around lunchtime, after passing north of Saba and getting a glimpse all the way down to St. Kitts in the clear air, Ile Fourth rose up over the horizon. Normally the picturesque little cove inside the horseshoe of the Martian landscape ashore is protected from the Trades, but now it was almost open to the south wind. We sailed in close to shore to get the lay of the land, then tacked back to sea again to prepare to attempt to sail onto the mooring ball to the south of the cove and upwind of another small steel French boat, our only company that day. 

On the final approach, we rolled the genoa and came in slowly under the mainsail. Andy feathered the mainsheet for me to scrub some speed, Ryan, Greg and Mike were on the bow with mooring lines and a boathook and Clint was taking photos of the whole process. We made a textbook landing onto the mooring, rounding up into the wind and slacking the mainsheet, carrying our momentum just enough to stop the bow on top of the mooring ball giving the guys on the foredeck an easy opportunity to secure the lines. It’s the first time I’d attempted the feat on Isbjorn.

We tidied up the boat and immediately the rest of the crew jumped overboard for a swim. After lunch, everyone passed out, Mike and Greg sleeping until well after dark, not having had much rest during the overnight passage just cause they were so excited to be there! 

We’d planned a sunrise hike up to the peak of Ile Fourche for the next morning, and 5 o’clock came early. We piled six guys into the four-man dinghy and went ashore with our headlamps lighting the way, climbing the nearest peak under the faint glow of a tiny sliver of moon. Huge thunderheads well offshore lit up the pre-dawn sky with lightning high in the clouds, and as the sun came up, isolated rain showers out in the Atlantic dotted the horizon. We remained atop that first peak until sunrise, each of us taking in the beauty of the place individually before climbing down again and summiting the peak to the south to get some cool photos of Isbjorn in the anchorage below.

Yesterday afternoon we sailed across the short channel into Gustavia, named for the Swedish King Gustav. St. Barth’s is the only Caribbean island ever to have belonged to the Swedes, and the street names and place names still reflect that heritage. Today it’s decidedly French, and oozes culture around every corner.

‘Just leave me here guys,’ Ryan said this morning, sipping on his espresso and nibbling a croissant. ‘I think I’ll stay for a few weeks.’

Though only 90 miles from the BVI, it couldn’t be further from the mass-tourism culture of those islands, and after three weeks over there, it’s a fantastic change of scenery for us all.

This afternoon we’ll set sail again, bound for the north shore of Antigua. It’s 75 miles in a straight shot, but the easterly Trades have set in again, so it’ll be an almost dead beat to windward to get there, so we’re estimating we’ll actually cover about 120 miles through the water tacking upwind. We hope to arrive by tomorrow afternoon in time to clear customs and get Ryan to the airport on the morning of the 9th. Greg, Mike and Andy stay until the 11th, so we’ll cruise down around the coast of Antigua with them and end up in Falmouth Harbor where Clint and I will spend the next days getting Isbjorn ready for the Caribbean 600 race. Check out the photos below!

Crew briefing in Road Town.

Crew briefing in Road Town.

Night departure from Road Town.

Night departure from Road Town.



Hurricane eggs offshore! From the originator of the term, Andy.

Hurricane eggs offshore! From the originator of the term, Andy.



Grinding some 'Oh-Dark-Thirty'!

Grinding some ‘Oh-Dark-Thirty’!

Clint aloft offshore.

Clint aloft offshore.

Initial approach into Ile Fourche.

Initial approach into Ile Fourche.






Sailing onto the mooring.

Sailing onto the mooring.


0500 Dawn hike up Ile Fourche.

0500 Dawn hike up Ile Fourche.


View down to Isbjorn in the anchorage below.

View down to Isbjorn in the anchorage below.

Ashore at 0530, hiking by headlamp.

Ashore at 0530, hiking by headlamp.

Atop Ile Fourche before sunrise.

Atop Ile Fourche before sunrise.



Ryan atop an adjacent peak, St. Barth's in the background.

Ryan atop an adjacent peak, St. Barth’s in the background.


Trekking across the plateau to the other peak.

Trekking across the plateau to the other peak.


Clint and Isbjorn.

Clint and Isbjorn.

Tree pose atop Ile Fourche!

Tree pose atop Ile Fourche!

Clint is better at yoga than Andy...

Clint is better at yoga than Andy…

Andy Staus at sunrise, St. Barth's behind.

Andy Staus at sunrise, St. Barth’s behind.

Andy & Clint at sunrise atop Ile Fourche.

Andy & Clint at sunrise atop Ile Fourche.

Lowrance & Simrad StructureScan 3D, hello interferometry

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 6, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_kit_cPanbo.jpgWhen I wrote about the StructureScan 3D announcement last July, I recall feeling a dite skeptical. Sure, the screenshots suggested that new users could more easily understand the 3D presentation of the sidescan data, but I wondered if they wouldn’t go back to the apparently more detailed 2D presentation once they got a handle on it. But I was wrong. On-water demos have taught me that SS3D is much more than a visual gimmick. The 3D view can be really useful, especially for fishing, even though the new 3D transducer also produces the best 2D StructureScan imagery yet, plus there’s some interesting and potentially valuable science going on behind the screens…

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_3window_cPanbo.jpgClick the thumbnail image above for a full size screen showing StructureScan 3D at work running a major Fort Lauderdale channel last November. The bluish 3D image makes the steep left wall produced by dredging quite obvious, and you can also see the further away right wall starting to rise up. Meanwhile, the reddish 2D window based on the same transducer data is only showing the left wall and that might take a trained SS eye. So in this case, the 3D is both easier to understand and more informative, and I haven’t yet gotten to how SS3D can highlight objects in the water column like fish — the red dot in 3D, maybe — much better than 2D can.

So far this technology is available for about $1,000 MSRP as a Lowrance StructureScan kit or as a Simrad StructureScan kit, and the Ethernet output of the black box is understood by many current MFDs from those brands. It seems quite possible that eventually MFD models will include the SS3D processing inside and thus the extra cost will only be the transducer. Currently there is no true through-hull SS3D transducer, but there is an optional plate that could make a bottom install like I’ve done before easier.

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_2_window_iPad_cPanbo.jpgHere’s another 3D/2D comparison, this time via the Simrad GoFree app running on my iPad during Navico’s press event last week (good Chris Landry coverage here). While the default 3D view shown is a little too zoomed out in my opinion, it’s still showing a few fish (or something) near our stern that don’t show at all in the much more detailed 2D window. On the other hand, the fence-like structure on the left in 2D is the underwater portion of cottage bulkheads around Hawk’s Cay Resort that might have showed up if we’d zoomed into the 3D window (possibly along with lurking fish), but not to the same sharp pile-by-pile 2D precision.

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_w_2D_full_screen_cPanbo.jpgI’ve been a fan of the original StructureScan and then SS HD for years now, mainly as a tool for better understanding the bottom around me (since I don’t fish much). So when I saw SS3D’s 2D mode marking piles 180 feet down a narrow Lauderdale canal, I could also see the significantly improved range and resolution. 3D view aside, this new version of StructureScan is a better tool for understanding anchorages, looking for wrecks, or spotting the anomalies where your dinner might be hanging out. (And it’s been great to see Garmin and Raymarine also join the side-scanning competition that Humminbird actually started.)

As I understand it the SS3D’s improved 2D performance is the result of more and better sonar elements in the new transducer (though it only looks like a somewhat chunkier version of the manly SSHD model). However, the real magic this transducer enables is a technology called interferometry, with which the SS3D processing engine builds a 3D model of the underwater space. In other words, the 3D imagery is not simply regular StructureScan data draped over a bathymetry model something like 3D charting (which also includes a topographic model).

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_menus_cPanbo.jpgIn fact, if you get a demo or watch an SS3D video, you’ll likely notice that the 3D rendering sometimes stutters a bit. I believe it’s because of the massive math involved in building a 3D model from multiple returning pings, which are now sort of received in reverse stereo. That’s interferometry, or at least my vague grasp of it. The processing stutter explains the gap seen above between the blue 3D rendering and the reddish “Leading Edge” (beam pattern), which no doubt filled in a moment later and all at once.

What’s really important about the interferometry is that once the SS3D brain has a confident 3D model of the bottom, it can display targets not part of that structure quite differently. That’s why fish (or prop wash) can be shown in highly contrasting colors, and also why SS3D is similar to multibeam sonar to some extent, even if the menus seen above are familiar earlier StructureScan and other Navico sonar. (Incidentally, there are many SS3D videos out there — here’s a good example of my processing point — but look for more recent ones as both performance and interface have already been improved.)

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_cursor_depth_cPanbo.jpgAnother way to understand what’s happening with SS3D is the fact that regular 2D sidescanning only knows the water depth under the boat. Some interfaces may guesstimate water depths 50 or 100 feet to one side, but all the processor really knows for sure is the distance of each return from the transducer. Interferometry does the needed triangulation, so the 3D waypoint depth value seen above is said to be quite accurate. Navico isn’t doing it yet, but this means that data collected by SS3D can potentially chart wide swaths of bottom at once when processed by Insight Genesis, an exciting prospect for crowdsourced bottom mapping.

Besides curiosity, a good reason to probe the interferometry aspect of SS3D is that Garmin Panoptix is also building 3D bottom models and promising multibeam-like data collection, though working with distinctly different technology. And who knows what sonar exotica may next become possible even on modest size vessels, or how we’ll sort them all out.

But really all you have to do is get in the right spot with StructureScan 3D to see how useful the 3D view can be. When I grabbed the screen below we were unquestionably marking at least bait fish along the south side of the main Port Everglades ocean entrance. Even the still image suggests how the fish were clumping around dimples in the channel bank that probably sheltered them from the current, but that was totally obvious with the live 3D and got more detailed with successive passes. This is what you call “actionable information” and I’ve rarely seen any kind of sonar present it so well.


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