Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

A quiet couple of days. I didn't make it to Sydney as planned. Ended up celebrating on the Brisbane River. Since it was a weekend I expected to see a lot of boats but it was surprisingly quiet. That is good because every boat that goes past wakes Reboot. An uncomfortable PITA.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, December 26, 2016

The ultimate golden shellback



The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the Master, Captain John Phillips, the result.

The ships position was LAT 0 S 31' N and LON 179 S 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899

 “Know what this means?” First Mate Payton broke in, “We are only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line.”

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. 

He called his navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ships position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. 

Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather and clear night worked in his favor.


At midnight the Master ensured that the Warrimoo lay still on the equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line!

The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere at the middle of summer. The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899. Forward it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, and two different seasons, but in two different centuries, all at the same time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New solar controller install. Old one bit the dust yesterday. Fair winds and following seas :)

Edson Steering Base Plate

I was surprised when the Edson tech told me that they never had problems with the base plate since mine had failed twice. He must be a noob.

I did get help and got the plate swapped out today. The rudder is attached to the wheel again. Yea!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Help wanted

I am currently anchored in the Brisbane River near Mowbray Park Citi-Cat station. I need to repair the steering. This requires someone to hold bolts in the cockpit while I work in the engine room. I do not need, nor do I want to pay for a marine mechanic. The only requirement is to be able to hold a wrench. I am looking for a way to get in touch with someone who can help me out.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unleash the Kraken

One of my only disappointments with my Amazon Fire is that one can not purchase apps from the Google Store. Of course someone (actually many someones) has a hack. The one I used was:

I was then able to install Uber and took my first Uber ride to the boat store. All good.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cruising Budget - How Much Does it Cost?

(In all the years I have been posting this series has been the most popular. In case you missed it...)

There has always been a great interest in knowing how much to budget for the cruising life. The answer is always "it depends." I too was frustrated by the "it depends." In an effort to shed some light on the subject here is my take on the parameters of "it depends." I own a 42' sailboat and have done some cruising in North and Central American, Portugal, Spain and the Canaries, and in the Caribbean. My personal take is that one can cruise and tour comfortably in a 40 to 45 foot boat for about $2,500 to $3,000 per month. One can "live aboard" for much less. I am assuming that you are on a sailboat to see the world, not stay in a relatively small area.

The Big Issues

There are four factors that have an overall influence on both initial and operating costs. They are:

What risks you are willing to take,
How much comfort you desire,
What you consider to be a prudent insurance profile,

Where you cruise


There are various pieces of equipment that reduce the risk of sailing: life raft, GPS/Chart Plotter, radar, marine/ham radio, and AIS. In general these are expensive one time costs with the exception of a life raft (5 year expensive service cycle) and Chart Plotters (electronic charts are expensive, so are paper charts, but it is easier to get used paper charts.)


Perhaps the largest cost associated with comfort is the size and type of boat. The larger the boat the more everything will cost. If you choose a catamaran expect dockage to be 1 1/2 to 2 times the cost of a monohull. Most marinas charge by the length of the boat with a surcharge for catamarans since they are much wider. Do you want heat? Air conditioning? Do they need to work while underway and at anchor (rather than just in a marina?) The ability to make water rather than filling up (for a fee in most places) at the dock? Do you want to plug in your 110V (or 220V) appliances while away from a dock? Do you want to motor from place to place to stay on schedule? Fuel is quite expensive. Are you willing to row your dingy to shore or do you need an outboard motor?

Prudent Insurance Profile

In general there are three options for the boat: no insurance, liability only, and full coverage for loss. For those who choose it full coverage insurance is a significant part of the overall annual cost. That said can you recover financially from a total loss of your boat and possessions? Boats do sink on a regular basis. Most marinas will not let you in without liability insurance. Or you can go without and hope for the best.

Medical insurance is another issue. If you are from the US like me you will discover that most insurance policies do not cover you if you are out of the US. This is also true for Medicare. Some countries with "universal government coverage" will treat you for free. Some will require you to pay. Costs can be a lot lower then in the US or quite similiar. The only guidance I can give is that you need to research coverage country by country.

Where you cruise

Where you cruise will have a great impact on your overall costs. I stopped at about 12 islands in the Caribbean over the course of four months. (Why is a story for another day, see my blog.) Prices in Guadeloupe rivaled those in Paris. $50 per day for groceries. $12 per pack smokes. Prices in Sint Maarten were so low that Wal-Mart would go out of business. European and American prices are high the minute you hit shore.

Times have changed - particularly with Schengen in Europe. The need for many cruisers to get out of Europe for an extended period has made the marina costs in typical wintering over places like Turkey much more expensive. (an aside - if you are planning to cruise to Europe and don't know what Schengen is make sure you find out before you leave the United States.)

Budget Considerations

Initial Capital Costs

I own my boat. It went through three phases: family cruiser, racer, and finally full time cruising. Each transition resulted in a major capital outlay. My racing outlay was almost completely for safety equipment: life raft, jacklines, harnesses, excellent life jackets, throwing lines, etc. Moving to cruising I had a new set of expenditures: dinghy, outboard motor, solar panels, water maker, SSB radio, email modem, satphone, mast steps, tricolor, AIS and so forth. Not to mention little things that cropped up: boom preventers, dingy hoist, etc. I strongly suggest that you make these expenditures before you retire and are living on a fixed income.

Ongoing Maintenance

Hard to quantify as it is very dependent on your cruising style. I have traveled about 4 to 5 thousand nautical miles per year since I was cruising. I have had to replace sails, paint the bottom regularly, and do a lot of small things that add up to a lot of money - I dragged in a fierce thunderstorm and had to replace the rudder, sails wear out or at least need to be restitched, shackles break, blocks pop, the wear and tear of salt water on little things like cotter pins creates a constant stream of maintenance expenses. I now set aside 20% of my annual budget for ongoing maintenance. This takes into account that I do almost all of my own work.

Cyclical Maintenance

Again this depends on your cruising style but I think is often overlooked when planning a budget. These are the things that wear out and you need to replace that are "big ticket" items." This are also things that if you are planning to head out into the world typically are much easier to source and much cheaper before you go if you live in the U.S,, Europe, Oz, etc. Examples and costs for Rebootover the past few years:

New (heavy duty cruising) jib: 5 years - $ 3,500New (heavy duty cruising) main: 5 years - $ 4,500House batteries (3 - 4D AGM): 3 years - $1,200Standing rigging (with some assistance from a rigger for the caps and forestay:) 7 years - $ 5,000Life raft overhaul: 5 years max - $ 2,000Running rigging: 3 years $ 2,500Bottom Paint: annual - $ 1,500Dinghy: 3 years - $ 2,000
Clearance Costs

Where you cruise can have a major impact on your budget. I went from Key West to Guatemala. Checking into Mexico was about $400, Belize about $350, Guatemala another $350. After Guatemala I chose to return to the United States. I sailed past Belize and Mexico as just stopping in either for one night would have cost me the $350 to $400 clearance fees again. The Belize authorities came and looked for me (they apparently were tracking me on AIS) until they determined that I was just going to sail past them. Some islands in the Caribbean cost me $10 and some cost $400.


Marina prices are all over the map. The winner, the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island at $6.50 per foot per night - use of the resort was extra. Prices of $1.50 per foot were common. Mooring balls ranged from free to $20 per night. In most places it was possible to hang on the hook for free. Fuel and Water prices were pretty consistent wherever I went.


I am almost always cruising solo. The only person I need to please is myself. I know many cruising couples where the need to agree results in higher costs. Not infrequently the rub is anchoring out vs going into a marina. Not to mention the need to return home to visit family. When I am out of the United States I don't fly home to visit my children. From most places outside the US that is a $1500 or more per person expenditure. It is just not in my budget. I know a not insignificant number of couples where one spouse needs to "visit family" while the other spouse sails the boat to the new destination.

The home fires

What will you leave behind? Many cruisers maintain a residence in the US. Many more have storage lockers full of stuff that doesn't fit on the boat. I have shed it all - no home, no car, no storage locker (OK my son does have a couple of boxes of memorabilia.)


Paying someone else to repair your boat is very expensive. What is worse is that a large number of the people are totally unqualified or take the easy fix. For example I was having trouble with my refrigerator. I was told I need to spend $2000 on a new unit. A friend who knew what he was doing purchased a $150 part. That solved the problem.

Boat Parts

As bad as West Marine's reputation for high prices they are bargain basement compared to the cost of parts outside the United States. Budget Marine in the Caribbean had prices that were 135% to 150% of West Marine prices. Some countries charge import duties that can be very high (e.g. $ 300 per shipment in French Polynesia.) A very typical strategy is to invite friends to come visit and have them bring the parts with them to a duty free port such as Sint Maarten. Unfortunately now that the airlines are charging for extra baggage this is not the bargain it once was. Costs to ship packages outside the United States are extraordinary high by US standards. A couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weeks to get a package is not unusual.

Budget Breakers

By far for me the biggest budget breaker is meals ashore. You meet some fellow cruisers. You agree to go ashore for a couple of drinks and a meal. Goodbye budget if you do this very often


I am the proud staff to "XO the Wonder Cat." Please see his Facebook page or watch him on Cats 101 on Animal Planet. (Note that dogs have owners and cats have "staff.") He has kept me sane more than once on long trips offshore. But having an animal on board raises another set of issues, some financial. It cost me more to clear XO into English Harbor ($50) then it did Reboot and crew ($22.) It is difficult to find someone to watch your companion for free if you want to take a multi-day shore excursion. I have not investigated putting him into paid care but rather have altered my own travel plans on his behalf.

Part 2
Part 2 is here:

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Wall Street Journal - Asia

When I first worked on Wall Street in the early 70's the Wall Street Journal was the financial newspaper and little else. The New York Times was actually a respected source of information. Their motto was "All the news that's fit to print." I spent many a Sunday reading the Times.

Over the years the Times has become a joke. Their new motto seems to be "All the news that fits our point of view." I find it painful to read. On the other hand the Wall Street Journal has become a true international newspaper.

This (finally) brings me to my point. Since I read the Journal online and since it is published in several editions I find myself reading papers with different emphasis as I travel around the world. Since I am in Brisbane my web browser opens the Asia edition but gives me access to all the editions. It has an interesting shift of focus compared to the U.S. edition. You might enjoy an afternoon browsing the different editions.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Customs, again

I got a call from Fedex. It seems that since my repair parts from Edson exceed $1,000 they need to go through a customs broker. Just another expense.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Aussie Hospitality (2)

I forgot to mention - when Ryan and I were trying to pick up a mooring buoy in the strong current we lost our boat hook overboard. It apparently drifted to shore and was found by a local gentleman. He found Reboot's web site, sent me an email, and this morning brought it down to the shore next to Reboot. What a nice guy.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Aussie Hospitality

It has been a trying week. First, my radar breaking loose from the mast on the way into Scarborough. Then getting hammered in Morton Bay by the thunderstorm. Discovering that almost all my dinghy fuel had sloshed out during the storm. Getting some dinghy fuel and a crew member from the VMR in Scarborough. Heading down to Brisbane only to have the steering fail. Going all the way up the Brisbane River to the Botanical Gardens and finding no place to anchor. Heading back down the river until we found an anchorage about 1 1/2 miles from the dinghy dock. Ryan getting sick and having to drop him off so back to solo sailing. Then finding out that the nearest place to purchase fuel on the water was 3 1/2 miles away. And realizing that I might not have enough fuel in the dinghy to make it.

Enter the Aussies. First, the nearby marina agreed to receive my repair parts. (Remember that with XO on board I can't go into a marina.) No worries!

As I was standing on deck this morning I noticed a beautiful boathouse across the way - the Graham Fowles. It belongs to the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie.) I dropped them a note explaining my problem and asking if I could land on their dock. Within 1/2 hour I got a call from their rowing director. He waved to me (it is really that close) and asked if it was a good time for me to come over. I said yes and by the time I had crossed the river, dodging two catamaran ferries in the process, he had fuel waiting for me on the dock. He asked if I needed further assistance with the steering etc. And we agreed to meet tomorrow.

I returned to Reboot much heartened. Of course I had to dodge two catamaran ferries on the way back. They are very strange. Several of the boats will go whipping by me while their helmsman avoids eye contact. A couple of them slow down, wave, and try to make it easy.

Nice to know that the boating community looks out for its own.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Steering Woes

When crossing the Atlantic we lost our wheel steering. Investigation showed that the poorly engineered turning blocks had given way. After tightening the cables once again this morning and disassembling the steering pedestal we discovered that the turning block unit had failed again. We need to further disassemble the system to get to the broken part. Edison has apparently reengineered the part (at a cost of $400 US) so hopefully once we get the part and reassemble it it will last more than a couple of years. It is a shame that we did not see this in Vuda Point when we had it all apart. I think it is additional damage from the beating Reboot took in the thunderstorm. Oh well. At least we can steer with the autopilot.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wild night, pretty day.

Went down and anchored of Scarborough to help Steve Johnson. Little did I know that it is a terrible anchorage when the wind is from the North. Lots of rocking and rolling. Last night we had thunderstorms. Wind to 40 knots. Waves to 6 feet. I was on Reboot. In the middle of it all the anchor tensioner let loose. All the chain and rode ran out. Fortunately I had re-tied the bitter end last week so I didn't drag. Not fun.

This morning jumped into the dinghy to pick up Ryan, my new crew member. No fuel. It had apparently sloshed out of the air vent during the violent wave action. Next came the rudder. The cables had come off the quadrant. I put them back together. I called Steve and Ryan and explained the situation. The Volunteer Coast Guard came out with dinghy fuel and Ryan. We were off to Brisbane where.

A beautiful sail down to the entrance channel and a long motor up to the Botanical Garden. There was no room at the inn. After several unsuccessful attempts to pick up a mooring buoy we finally found a place to anchor. There are no great spots but we are ok. Tomorrow we will head back up to the garden in hopes someone has left.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I had a very unpleasant evening coping with thunderstorms. I came down to Morton Bay near Brisbane with Chandara. Steve of course went into the marina. I anchored out. It is a terrible anchorage in north trendline winds which are common this time of year. To make matters worse last night we had two thunderstorms pass through with winds to 40 knots. Having made sure Steve is settled and having made truant the store it is time to move on.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bundaberg to Scarborough

This was a very weird passage. After crossing Wide Bay Bar I started to head South. I was becalmed for about 3 hours and the wind picked up and Reboot was sailing nicely. At about 10 pm local I hit the anchorage near the NW Channel Buoy into Brisbane. This required a lot of course changes. I tried to fire up the radar but it chose not to work. At that point the wind died again and I was making about 1 1/2 knots. A fishing boat came up from my stern and almost hit me. He started blowing his horn and cursing. I of course was going nowhere. As he passed me I tried to tack away..I heard a crash and the radar and it's mounting bracket hit the deck. Fortunately it did not go overboard. Then I realized there was a second fishing trawler also very near. So I am not sure if the two fishing boats were getting in each other's way and the one cursing was being pushed into me. I will never know. After trying to avoid them for another 15 minutes without much success I started the engine and bear feet in retreat. By the time I had motored to the top of the entrance channel I was pretty wiped so I found see shallow water and anchored until dawn. With a pretty morning and light winds I motored down to Scarborough in the am.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The ponytail is gone

After three years of not bothering to get a haircut Steve and I were walking through a mall in Scarborough and I decided it was time. My hair is now 1/2 inch long on top.

Fair winds and following seas :)