Sunday, December 30, 2012

Followers of

To all my followers, I have recently overhauled the site. You will no longer receive e-mail updates without re-subscribing over at I hope you like the new website design.

Happy Sailing,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bora Bora to Niue

Echo crossed 1100 nautical miles of deep blue sea to arrive in her current port of call, Niue. Again, the voyage was refreshing and relaxing, a chance to escape from it all, a chance to drop off the face of the earth for 11 days and enjoy simply being at sea. Sailing, for me, is like many things in life. Joy is found in the journey as much as the destination.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sailing Westward

Hauling Out
After a wonderful time in Rangiroa with my father, we sailed SSW for the hub of French Polynesia, the island of Tahiti. While only 235 nautical miles, we were becalmed one day, and had to face headwinds another, extending our voyage to four days. After four days at sea, we arrived in Papeete, and tied up at Marina Taina for a little refresher.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Reliability of Generosity

Almost nothing is reliable in my world. I've seen failures in pumps, motors, line, anchoring, sails and my little dinghy. When in a place like I am where very few basic items and services are available, mending those failures can be a difficult task. However, in my quest to do so I have found that there is one thing in French Polynesia that is almost always reliable. It's the kindness and good-nature of the people I have met.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another atoll, another adventure

At anchor in Takaroa
Echo has made her way to Rangiroa, the second largest of the Tuamotu atolls. Rangiroa has much more infrastructure than most of the ports we have called upon, and now that internet access is back so are the updates on


How Black Pearls are Farmed in Paradise

On the atoll of Takaroa we were able to visit a black pearl farm. The manager was happy to show us around and explain the process of farming the pearls. He said we were the first outsiders to ever visit the farm, and was pleased to be able to share his knowledge by giving us an informal tour and answer all of our questions.


Tuamotus: the dangerous Archipelago

I nearly lost the ship on a Tuamotu reef.

After a 500 nautical mile crossing from Nuku Hiva we sighted Takaroa. This gorgeous atoll in the middle of nowhere is unseen by most. The pass to get into the inner lagoon is far too dangerous for most cruisers, as currents in the narrow pass can get up to ten knots.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gathering fruit and friends in Taipivai

Yesterday I had an experience that has altered the way I view the world. There are few events that I can recall that have changed me in such a way, but I know that this is one that I will remember for a lifetime.

Echo in Comptroller Bay
With plans to sail for Ua Huka from Nuku Hiva, Echo raised anchor for a new shore.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: Attwood Float Switch

Any cruiser knows the only way to survive in places where no help, parts, and materials are available is to be self-sufficient. When lacking the conveniences of major hardware stores and chandleries broken equipment must often be jury-rigged using whatever is at hand. A cruising boat is filled with all sorts of equipment being put to use in a harsh marine environment, making failures and breakages of equipment not at all uncommon. It is, however, unfortunate when an item unnecessarily fails due to a poor quality of construction.

I could almost forgive a bit of gear that is poorly constructed if it is able to be repaired with common and available parts. Unfortunately that is not the case with the Attwood Float Switch, model 4202A.
These float switches are often used to activate extremely important bilge pumps, keeping a vessel dry and afloat. Fortunately for me, it was only being used in a sink sump box when it failed, but the situation could have been much worse.

The float switch was merely a month and a half old when it failed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. One day I noticed that the bilge pump inside of the sink sump box turned on and ran continuously. Upon further inspection it was clear that the float switch had flooded, causing an electrical short within the unit. While this was only a headache for me, it could have possibly burned up an integral bilge pump if that is what it was wired to. Nevertheless, it had to be fixed before the sink would drain properly.

Rather than manufacture a quality product
they just tell you where to buy more!
For an item to be worthwhile on a cruising boat, it must be able to be repaired. Attwood, the maker of the float switch, obviously was not clued in to this important aspect. The molded plastic housing encasing the electrical switch mechanism was pressed and glued together, making disassembly and repair nearly impossible. Clearly this float switch was not designed to be repaired, the company’s solution was simply to put a sticker on the sump box detailing the exact phone number that could be called to replace it! They’d rather you spent more money, and gave them more business purchasing another flawed product to replace the previous one. Even if I could call and have them deliver one to the middle of the ocean, I would rather opt for a quality product.

With the float switch opened up the low cost materials used
in the manufacture of the float switch can be seen

I eventually fixed it using a combination of rice (don’t ask), a fine toothed hacksaw, marine adhesive/sealant, and liquid electrical tape. I would however, advise anyone sailing a long distance from replacing this flawed unit. The seal is of a poor design, it’s difficult if not impossible to fix, and it is awfully expensive for two bits of plastic and a lightweight switch. As a replacement I would highly recommend a Rule float switch. I have always had good luck with Rule products and all of the ones I have on my boat are going strong.