Ocean Adventures: Who’s Who?

Our trip was fantastic! What an expedition and it was a great experience overall. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the Big Blue, and I’m already thinking about my next voyage…

Turnagain is a 50 foot Beneteau Oceanis and she was very well equiped for this trip. This was not her first time and it showed. She handled everything thrown at her and at no point in time did I wonder if she could handle what we were in. The crew on the other hand… 😉

There were eight crew on the boat including myself: Travis the boat owner, Wren, Joe, Geoff, Kait, Duncan and Paul. Wren, Joe, Geoff and I were on one shift, while Travis, Paul, Kait and Duncan were the other. It became pretty clear after a few shifts that one team was a little more laid back and laissez-faire than the other. And so, Team Cruising and Team Racing were born.

Team Cruising’s moto was “we’ll get there when we get there! Let’s enjoy the ride!” while Team Racing’s moto was “grind, grind, grind, drop winch, grind, grind, furl headsail, grind, drop winch, grind, grind, unfurl headsail, grind.” Good thing Team Cruising could operate on less sleep 😉  All kidding aside, the two teams worked out really well and we each brought something different to the table.

Cast of Scallywags


Travis – Da Boss

Turnagain is Travis’ “Lady of the Lake” and he has sailed thousands of nautical miles with her. I met Travis about two years ago during an Instructor course and he is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Travis has put up with my many questions over the last couple of years as I launch Sail Nelson and acquired my own boat. Ironically, Travis’ first boat was also an Aloha! Perhaps there’s a Beneteau in my future… one can only hope.


Wren – Bad Ass Gaffer

Wren is a local Nelson legend and she actually completed a Pacific crossing with her family when she was younger (also on an Aloha 32). She is not new to adventure and expeditions! Wren was a great resource and teammate to have on board. Wren also took charge when we hooked a tuna and we discovered she is a beast with the gaff.


Joe – Tea Master

Joe had me in stitches throughout our shifts, especially during our overnight sails. Joe could not figure out how we were not sailing in circles, as it feels like that when you stare at the compass for hours on end. Joe sailed Turnagain like a pro and had a smile on his face (almost) the whole time.


Geoff – The Gymnast

Watching Geoff try to wriggle his 6’4″ frame into his tiny aft bunk was something I will not soon forget. Especially since I would “tuck” him in by clippling in his lee cloth. It ended up looking more like a straight jacket! Geoff was our greenest crew, but his sailing abilities increased ten fold during this trip and I think he has a new passion in life.


Duncan – Curious George

Duncan was hopping and bouncing around the entire boat going through as many things as he could. I think he probably asked Travis over 100 questions per day and managed to get himself into all kinds of trouble while fiddling with things. Duncan is litteraly Curious George in Kiwi form.


Paul – The Master Chef

We were lucky enough to have Paul on board and he made us all kinds of magical meals with all of the tuna he, Duncan and Travis caught. Paul spent endless hours in the Belly of the Beast cooking up a storm and created several different dishes using tuna and mahi-mahi.


Kait – The Racer

This was Kait’s second crossing, as she also competed in the 2016 Vic-Maui race. She had a great crew of scallywags to work with as she was stuck with Paul, Duncan and Travis. There seemed to be a lot of laughing in between the grinding though, so I think Team Racing shared some good stories!


Penny – Miss MoneyPenny

And then there is me. I am the quiet observer who tends to let everyone sort themselves out and I only step in when required or asked. This was my first Ocean crossing, but not my first time navigating sailing shifts and crew dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone experience the trip. I also really enjoyed experiencing the trip for myself as a sailor and not an instructor. I don’t often get to sail for fun, so it felt really great to do this for myself and to experience the Big Blue with my fellow sailors.

And so, the cast has been introduced and let the adventure begin…

Captain Penny

Gearing Up!

So I leave Nelson on Thursday to head to Hawaii for the Vic-Maui boat delivery. I will be bringing Turnagain back home to Vancouver!

I am doing my last minute prep and packing and thought I would share what I am bringing along…

For a trip like this you really end up living in the same clothes over and over again. You are either in warm dry weather or cold wet weather. The key for me is staying dry and warm, so I’ll have 2 of each thing so one can dry while the other “ripens” 😉

Personal Safety Gear

For my personal safety gear I have updated my PFD and tether. Other than that, these are pretty standard items, and I am not bringing along a PLB (personal locator beacon).

  • Spinlock inflatable PFD + spare canister
  • Safety tether
  • Knife (a bit overkill on this one, but I cannot find my leatherman…)
  • Sailing gloves
  • Personal headlamp with red night light
  • foul weather gear (went with the HH Aegir set)


Personal Meds & Misc.

For this “category” I have the usual stuff like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and some facial wipes. Then I have some extras including a plethora of seasickness meds and tricks (Gins Gins are delish for this!), as well as some bone broth and electrolytes to avoid dehydration.

I have also included an eye mask for daytime sleeping, earplugs, notebook, solar charger for GoPro/cell/camera, water bottle, coffee press, kangol hat, personal handheld compass (because I LOVE my compass and am a nav geek), and sun glass tether because my husband is convinced I am dropping my new Oakley Prizm Marine sunglasses overboard. No faith.

Base Layers

As noted above, I am expecting two types of weather: warm or cold. So my base layers reflect that…

So on the left we have my warm, thick base layers, and on the right are my lighter, cool base layers. Ironic how I hate being cold and all my thick layers are black… coincidence? I think not! Read up on base layer selection here.

Basically my thick base layers are heavy gauge MEC and Ice Breaker brands. I also included my Under Armour Heat tech running shirt since it has a hood with a ponytail hole and anyone who knows me knows that my hair is up 90% of the time.

My lightweight base layers are Merino cool wool and basically quick dry Lulu running shorts. I also bought a couple of new Merino wool bras which I am super excited about because they are so comfortable.

Other than that I have my kindle with the Game of Thrones series, Swell for Travis to read, a couple bathing suits for showers, sleeping bag, pillow, notebook for diary entries and some headphones for me time. Going to be an epic trip and I’m ready!


Captain Penny


Sailing Apps – Weather

Looking for some apps to help with your sailing adventures? Well, here are a few weather apps that I have started playing with recently…


SailFlow – Over 50,000 Weather Stations worldwide, which provide you with real time wind data. Nelson and Kootenay Lake are included in their data (although it seems to be off sometimes), but it provides a good idea of what you’ll be dealing with out on the Lake. There appears to only be one weather station reporting in the area so the quality and accuracy of the wind forecasting is lacking, however that seems to be an issue in the Kootenays in general. The coastal forecasting through SailFlow appears to be more accurate with about 15 weather stations reporting trends and supplying data.


Weather Bug – The WeatherBug app is a must-have! You get a lot of information with this app, especially considering that it is free. The information provided includes wind direction and speed, air quality advisories and UV rays, closest lightning strike withing 30 minutes, and radar maps of rain and cloud coverage. There are several maps that you can look at for precipitation and incoming weather. The wind meter also seems to be fairly accurate and the forecasting appears to be a bit better than some of the other apps I have used.


SailGrib – According to their website, the SailGrib app will provide you with Marine Weather forecasts, you can calculate tides, download of purchase marine charts, optimize your routes using the weather routing module, or just enjoy sailing towards your destination with the AIS and NMEA modules. Now, all that being said, they do not offer any reporting for the Kootenays on their free app. I did not purchase the $55.00 app to see if it has more information for the Interior. It may. If you have this app please let me know!


AccuWeather – The AccuWeather app looks and performs much the same as the Weather Network app. However, I only downloaded and used the free version so perhaps the paid version offers more options. I am not thinking it is really worth having both apps on your device. If I had to chose, I would probably go with the Weather Network as the AccuWeather app kept thinking I was located in Slocan Park and not Nelson.



PredictWind – So this is another popular app in the sailing world and once again it does not provide any data for the Kootenays. It is primarily for coastal cruising. However, if you decide to venture out on the Coast this would be a handy app to have on your devices. It is free, but you will have to register and set up an account with them. There seems to be a lot of weather stations available, so I would assume it has good accuracy.


There are also several websites that you can use to keep an eye on the weather. One of my favourites for the Kootenays is TMTV.net. They have created a website that pulls together various resources for us to find in one place and use to make an educated decision about the upcoming weather.  The links to the airport and highway cams are also nice as you can then take a real time look at the clouds and figure out what is headed your way.

Another great website for information is Passageweather.com. Again this is a very popular website among sailors as it provides various types of maps for you to use (wind and waves, sea temperatures, precipitation, etc.). This site provides coastal weather information, so again not particularly useful for the Interior, but it is still a great resource to help you learn how to properly read these maps for future trips.


Overall, using several resources to compile your weather data is your best bet. Take the various pieces that are provided to you and fit them together to make your assessments on where you are wanting to go and what the weather will look like on your way there. Have fun exploring!


Captain Penny

Whales, Tornadoes, Lightning… Oh My!

I have come to the realization that our trek across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Vancouver for the Vic-Maui delivery is only a month away… wow. We will be sailing approximately 2,308 nautical miles or 4,275 km. Just to put that into perspective, it is 3,440 km to drive across Canada (cutting through the US). Yeah, that’s right.


Even though I have been on boats my whole life (or perhaps because I have been on boats my whole life), I am super nervous! A good nervous though. I mean I have training, great gear, a great boat, great crew mates, but… Mother Nature is in charge. Now THAT is something to be nervous, and in awe, about!

My youngest daughter asked me a tough question the other day: “Mommy, why do you have to do this trip?”, I replied “Well I don’t have to, but I want to”. Then she asked what she was really worried about: “What if you die?”.  Wow. Not that I haven’t actually processed that thought myself, but for her to be aware of that possibility made me a little anxious. It made me realize the stress that I was putting on my kids and the need for me to ensure that they realize just how safe I will be.

So, last night we played “Name a Disaster!” game. The kids threw scenarios at me and I walked through how I would overcome them and what gear I would need to be safe. This was actually pretty fun as it also had me brainstorming on how to avoid killer seagulls, giant whales attacking the boat, massive tornadoes, and even having all of my clothes blown overboard (that question came out of nowhere). I also talked to them about rigging failures, seasickness, crew injury, ion dissipater, and communications failures. We watched a few life raft deployment videos, discussed tethers and I also taught them about EPIRBs and different ways to call for help if your electronics are down. Overall it was pretty fun!

I stopped short of suggesting that we go see Adrift this weekend though… That might have changed their comfort level a bit … 🙂

Fair winds,

Captain Penny



Feature image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Safety gear images: author’s own photos

Sailboat with broken rig retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Ion Dissipater drawing: clearly retrieved from some brilliant artist’s repertoire 🙂

Anchoring Infographic

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Feature image retrieved from Flickr