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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
10/18/2006, LMC, FL

Getting the hang of this whole fiberglass thing is highly valuable. You can make just about anything out of fiberglass and once attached to your boat it looks like it was there all along. That is if you know what you're doing. Seeing as how we're planning to be away from the US for about 5 years I though I'd better pick this skill up. I have a whole new respect for the talented glass guys at P&S, good thing my first project is going deep in a locker...

10/17/2006, Fort Lauderdale

Why go to the fuel when the fuel can come to you?

Fort Lauderdale has to be the most developed boating environment in the world. Need diesel? Make a call and they show up same day with a barge, drop two posts into the mud and hand you a hose. Need:

Yanmar stuff: Complete Yacht Services
Westerbeke stuff: Marine Gear
Canvas: Beaver Brand
Dive Gear: Brownies
Rope/Chain: Rope Inc.
Rigging: Nance & Underwood Rigging and Sails
Tools: Mac Donald's Hardware
General Stuff: Largest West Marine in the World
Fluids: Napa

and the list goes on, all within walking distance.

Just Catamarans
10/16/2006, Florida

The Just Catamarans guys, Kent the owner and Johan, joined us for a couple of drinks. I can't say enough about these guys. I am a picky bastard by any measure and Just Catamarans always met or exceeded my expectations. I don't know what we would have done without these guys and their fantastic work. If you need work on your cat, I can't imagine a better crew to call.

Radio Labs WiFi
10/15/2006, Southern California

More and more marinas and harbors around the globe are offering WiFi service to visiting boats. This is not only convenient but a great business move for the folks providing the hot spots. Cruisers are famous for being fairly frugal (as one of Scottish descent I prefer this description to: 'cheap', etc.). Give a cruiser free or fairly inexpensive access to the Internet and they will be emailing, browsing, and skyping like crazy.

Most folks take their laptops to the hot spot but more and more cruisers are bringing the hot spot to their boat with amps and antennas. You can get into a fairly complex/expensive setup pretty quickly. After looking around a fair amount we ran across the Radio Labs Marine WIFI solution. It is an all in one unit with an antenna and integral WIFI card attached to a 15' USB cable. Install the drivers, plug it in and you're done. It's great because we can put the antenna in a spot that has good line of site with the hot spot. I often tape it to a jib sheet at anchor or stick it in the sail bag. It is also easy to take it with you and use it with your laptop. We have been able to get on nets more than a mile away.

In the picture above you can see the 2 foot antena hanging from the Starboard jib sheet with the USB cable running into the boat through the forward port light.

We carefully considered a BGAN Explorer 500 Satellite system for phone and Internet access. While I think that the BGAN is the way to go if you're going satellite, we have tabled the satellite solution for the time being due to the availability of WiFi and the utility of SSB email and document retrieval solutions. If we feel like there's a gap in our coms solution after a few months cruising we'll reassess the situation.

The West Marine Crew
10/14/2006, US 1 and 84

Ron and Abbey from West Marine came over to visit with their significant others, Jeff and Stormy. While we try to spread the commerce around I think we probably go to West Marine at least every other day. Ron took us all to dinner at a little place up the river that we took the dinghy to. It was great listening to Jeff and Abbey's tales of their sailing trip from Florida to Australia. They are planning another trip in their new boat soon. Its amazing how many nice folks you meet in the boating world.

Back in the Water
10/13/2006, LMC Working Dock

We hit the water late in the day on Friday and immediately proceeded with the renaming ceremony. Roq was a big help. You can see the New River flowing by here. The fish are constantly jumping out of the water across the way, I can only assume that they're trying to escape the horrendous pollution.

Monohull Field Day
10/12/2006, LMC Yard

The anti-catamaran salts will have a field day with this shot. You can see that the Saint Francis has not only escape hatches for capsize hull exit, but also a red rectangle in the gel coat for spotting by air and jack lines on the underbody. You can see a small bit of glass work in the starboard bow where we found a void.


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