Fiona Network News- Latest Updates On Captain Forsyth & Fiona

 NEW VIDEO FOR SALE - Fiona Tackles Four Canals and Two Ocean Crossings 2015-2016An eleven-month cruise to Canada, Scotland, the Baltic, England, Portugal and the Caribbean.   The tranquil canals of Scotland, Denmark and Germany are in contrast to the heavy seas of the Bay of Biscay.   After arriving in Portugal Fiona required extensive repairs before it was safe to sail to the Caribbean.   During the cruise fourteen crew signed on at one time or another, including Captain Forsyth’s son and daughter.  The pleasures of small boat cruising are exemplified by care-free scenes in St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands.  Watch the trailer or stream the whole video HERE.

Image result for new png Crew Call for the 2017/2018 cruise posted HERE

April 19th, 2017 I am busy on the boat painting lockers, painting the 50 ft marks on the anchor chain and re-installing the electronics.   A print order has been placed for my book, I expect copies will be available in the next week.  I went to an interesting public meeting to hear a presentation by PSEG and Deep Water Wind about the plan to erect 15 very large wind generators off the coast near the south fork of Long Island.   In general I am skeptical about the benefit of wind generation, I suspect the money could be better spent on developing alternatives for fossil fuel plants.   Wind and solar are not alternatives unless energy is available all the time.   Click HERE to read a short article entitled "Just Where Are We Heading" where I have described some of my concerns. 

April 13th, 2017 Work on the boat is mostly low-level maintenance,  Walter stopped by and we accomplished a few four-handed jobs such as replacing the ground plates which have spent winter soaked in vinegar.   The forward head door which had been repaired and varnished was re-hung.  I rebuilt the tie-down for the holding tank.   Last minute editing of the book continues.   The weather is much improved.'   A few details have been added to the Crew Call for 2017/18.     

April 3rd, 2017- The weather has improved and I am getting a number of useful jobs out of the way on the boat.   I installed a new stereo/radio in the main cabin.    This is basically a car  radio and they don't last long on average- perhaps a year.  This time I installed a marine version, we will see if it last a little longer.  I painted and varnished a few fittings.    The new stove needs a  part, which apparently died over winter.   I have drawn up the rough outline of the 2017/2018 cruise.  Plan is to leave about 5 July and head for Newfoundland , then cross the Atlantic to Portugal via the Azores.  The first part of the cruise will probably terminate in the Canaries about Christmas.   Neil and Tom, veterans of the 2015/2016 cruise have signed for the whole leg as far as the Canaries.  So there was no need for a crew call, sorry to disappoint all those who expressed interest.   I may need crew when the cruise resumes in January, when we will head for the Cape Verdes and the Caribbean.  I am hoping an order for the printing of  a 100 copies of my book will be placed within ten days or so.  Fair Winds, Eric

New stereo in the main cabin

March, 2017- The three awardees of  the Edith M. Forsyth scholarship have finished their first year of medical school - read their updates HERE.  "The scholarship has been of great benefit to myself, without which I don't think I would've been able to go to university. I am extremely humbled and thankful for the opportunity I have been given and after passing my first year of the medical degree would like to say a massive thank you both to yourself and Dr Edith Forsyth."-  Katie Nightingale

March 16th, 2017-We had a couple of snow storms here on Long Island since I returned from UK.   The first one produced the most snow, a shot from the sun room in my house shows the view.   However this is good weather for completing the repair of the old Seagull outboard.   Bob Berg made special tools to get the corroded components apart , new parts from John of 'Save our Seagulls' enabled me to put the engine back together.   When I stripped the power head I was surprised to find a broken piston ring.   Over the years I have pulled lots of engines to pieces but a broken ring was a first for me.   Fortunately I had a new set of rings from John.  I fired the engine up today briefly ( no water cooling) and it ran enthusiastically.   Peg, Jay and myself have been working on the book and after another editorial meeting decided to order another proof copy before committing to a print run.  Spring is round the corner.  

View of the snow from my sun room

Repairing the old seagull outboard

March 7th, 2017  Eric is back in the New World.  A few comments on the trip; The weather was surprisingly warm, in Manchester I saw people eating and drinking at sidewalk cafes.  The train ride from London to Manchester was the best I have ever experienced; the ride was smooth as silk although the train travelled at over 100 mph.  It arrived and departed within seconds of the scheduled time, 2 hrs 10 minutes for the 200 mile journey, with 3 stops. It was surprisingly affordable, First Class with a reserved seat, free drinks and snacks, the ticket was $43, one way.  I greatly enjoyed the museums and art galleries.  In London I caught a classic car meet in a huge exhibition center built by Arabs.  The majority of tourists in London seemed to be Chinese.  See pictures below. 

Rigging of the revitalized Cutty Sark

 Underneath the Cutty Sark, suspended in space above restaurant.

 Preserved timbers of the Mary Rose, 16th century warship

Functioning replica of the Globe Theatre

Engine room panel of a mothballed cruiser, HMS Belfast.

First practical steam locomotive, ‘Puffing Billy’. It ran for 50 years in a colliery.

Functioning replica of the first computer built at Manchester University in 1948.

With friends Pauline and Bernard in the alcove used by Marx and Engels at Chetham library, built  in Manchester early 1400s.  

February 24th, 2017  Update on Eric's peregrinations in London with a nautical bias. The day after i arrived I took the Dockland light Railway to Greenwich. First a tour of 'Cutty Sark', which has been thoroughly refurbished since the fire. They have done a great job on the deck, masts and
and rigging. Below the hold has been converted to a museum on the tea trade, with a childish emphasis. Then off to the Maritime Museum, there I found a great exhibition on the life of Emma Hamilton.  She was very talented, married Sir William Hamilton and became Nelson's mistress.  At one time she was very rich and the toast of London society and she died penniless at age 49.   A story Hogarth would have loved.  I squeezed in the National Gallery. At the London museum I discovered they had a Docklands annex, which was more interesting than the main museum if you are a sailor. I spent a day at the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert, which is next door.
The was so mild one afternoon I walked along the Thames Embankment. I took the train to Barnham on the South Downs to see some old buddies I knew well for years in Bermuda. Another day I took a complicated route to the center of Essex County to find the shop of a guy who sold Seagull engine parts. He must have had hundreds in his collection. I got a few parts for the unit I am overhauling at home. Today I spent the day in Portsmouth at the site holding the Mary Rose, an Elizabethan ship that capsized in 1545 and was salvaged about 30 years ago. They have done a wonderful job displaying
the hull and the thousands of artifacts, They found 139 human remains, but nearly 500 sailors were drowned when the ship went down.  Tomorrow I am off to Oxford to meet two friends who had guest appointments at Brookhaven Lab in the '80s.

February 13th, 2017  The saga of the Seagull outboard continues, the lower end is now back together and runs freely.   A slight mystery about how the oil is sealed was solved by an expert in UK, John of Save Our Seagulls.   The lower gear box is only filled with oil up to the level of the propeller shaft.   Now my attention is turned to the upper unit, the power head.   It has a serious lack of compression.   I fly to London on Monday and will pick up new rings and head gasket from John while I am in London.  I will be in London for two weeks before travelling to Manchester, any old crew and friends who would like to link up while I am in the UK should drop me an e-mail. Fair winds, Eric.

January 25th, 2017 Here is an update on some of the winter work on boat hardware.    The Espar D4 heater, installed in December, is working well and has fired up on the first try each time I have turned it on.   The design seems much improved compared to the D3.   Unfortunately the overhaul of the Seagull outboard engine is not going well.  Parts of that engine have not been apart since it was made in 1965.  Now they are corroded together very firmly.  At present I m trying to get the lower end gear box disassembled, Bob Berg is making a special tool to press out a bushing, that I spent several hours over a couple of days trying to budge.  However, it is one to pass the dreary winter days.

January 12th, 2017 I recently received an email from Misha, who crewed in 2015 from NY to Scotland.   Last summer he crewed on a 57 ft boat from Cambridge Bay in the Arctic to Ireland.   He reports they saw NO ice.   This is amazing , Fiona made a cruise  through the Northwest Passage in 2009, on the way to Cambridge Bay we were trapped by ice near Resolute and again, for three days, near the Tasmania islands, only about 100 miles from Cambridge Bay.  Global Warming deniers, take note.

January 4th, 2017 A Happy New Year to all my friends and fans! I spent Christmas at my daughter's house in Delray Beach. Florida.   Major nautical activities included editing the video with my friend Lew of the 2015 to 2016 cruise. I spent a good deal of time checking the proof copy of my book.  Back home I decided to refurbish the old Seagull engine.  I think most of it had never been apart since it was built in 1965.  It was reluctant to come to bits.   For example when I tried to remove the flywheel from the shaft using a 3-arm wheel puller the rim came off but the hub stayed on the shaft.   I got the broken hub off by tapping in two bolts, see the photo.   I am still struggling to get the lower unit gear box apart.  


December 21st, 2016  Eric is holding printer's proof copy of his new book "An Inexplicable Attraction:  My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing" .   Book should be available in about  month.

December 18th, 2016  I was the guest speaker at the Circumnavigator's Club in Palm Beach which was hosted at the Sailfish Club. 

From Left to Right:  Eric Forsyth, Lew Schatzer, Bob Crippen (astronaut) & Erick Reichert at Sailfish Club of Palm Beach.

Eric answering questions during the Q&A after the video presentation



December 14th, 2016   I installed the new Espar D4 heater and today it fired up and produced heat.   Thursday I head to Larchmont for the annual CCA Christmas dinner.   Saturday I head for Florida, I will stay with my daughter Brenda.    I am scheduled to show a video and give a talk to the Circumnavigator's Club in Palm Beach.    Then I will look up Lew and we will put together the video of the 2015/16 cruise.  I wish all my friends and fans a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

December 3rd, 2016  The new heater is not installed yet, instead of a simple printed guide the company now provides a CD, which is incomprehensible.    I am working with the distributor to sort this out.   Lewis, who crewed on the 2015-16 cruise is staying at the house to rebuild an upstairs bathroom.     We hope to order a proof copy of my new book this week.  The Rhodes is covered up in the back garden and ready for winter.

November 20th, 2016 With the continuing gorgeous Fall weather  I was able to attend to a score of small jobs on the boat.   I replaced a small plywood bulkhead in the navigation area.  The bad news was that the Espar heater sent for repair was deemed to old to fix, spare parts for it are no longer available. I ought a new one, the fourth since I started building the boat.    Apart from an electric fan the first unit was entirely mechanical, it was very reliable and served to heat the boat during building and about seven years of sailing.   It failed during the rounding of Cape Horn in 1991, the cam operating the fuel pump had worn away.   The next two units had electronic controls of increasing complexity and were not very reliable.   Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.  

November 10th, 2016  Walter had a slack time at work and he dropped by the boat for a couple of days to help with maintenance that required four hands.  We pulled in a couple of new wires for the 12 volt system.   I'm afraid the original wiring is now over 40 years old and is showing signs of old age.    Walter is a veteran of Fiona's first circumnavigation of the world. 

November 3rd, 2016 Fiona is now winterized.   The alternator and anchor winch motor were returned  from the service shop and installed.    I rewired the heavy current leads  to the anchor winch.   Located forward this winch takes a beating when green water washes over the bow.   Editing my book continues with weekly meetings, we hope to have it to a printer before the end of the year.  Lew produced a shortened version of the video we made of Fiona's eastabout circumnavigation around the big capes.   I will show at a meeting of the Circumnavigators Club in December.

October 26th, 2016 One of the Weeks' yard gang, Pat , has removed the transmission heat exchanger and replaced it with a new one.   The old one leaked.   He is having difficulty removing a hydraulic fluid hose, which is hard to reach and has rusted in place.  Today I will take down the Espar heater, which died on the last cruise to Europe, I will have it serviced this winter.    Myself, Peg and Jay are having an editorial meeting today to discuss draft 7 of my book ' An Inexplicable Attraction, My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing'.   It will be an ebook, hopefully ready by Christmas.


October 11th, 2016 Fiona was hauled on Monday afternoon.   The damage from grounding on a ledge in Rockland harbor was evident at the  lower forward  end of the keel. it should be fairly simple for the yard to repair.  In the meanwhile I  removed the motor of the anchor winch and the main alternator.   Both need some TLC.   The boat is pretty  well stripped of food, bedding and clothes.   Yesterday I took the Rhodes out with a friend  on Bellport Bay.   The wind was NNW, 15 kts, we flew to Howell's  Point closed  hauled and back on a reach.  We tacked up the river in conclusion a wonderful afternoon sail.

Fiona  home for the winter,   Staining on the hull occurred during the sail from LI to Block Is. 


Ding on Fiona's keel



October 2nd, 2016 Fiona arrived at Weeks yard about 12:30 pm Sunday.    Sailed  most of the way from Block Is until the wind conked out about  4am.   We logged about 873 nm for the Maine cruise.   It was so calm after we arrived Neil and I were able to drop and bag mainsail  and jib

October 1st, 2016 Fiona left Provincetown, early on Friday and arrived at Block Island fifteen hours later driven by strong NE winds.  We averaged 6.2 kts, aided , no doubt, by the strong current in the Cape Cod Canal.   The weather on arrival at Block was foul; winds 20 ts with frequent gusts to 30 kts and heavy rain.  It was pitch black, due to the new moon.   That we negotiated the narrow entrance to Great Salt Pond was a minor miracle due entirely to the amazingly accurate chart plotter.   The strong wind was on our beam , the dredged channel is quite narrow with shallow sand banks on either side.   Inside the harbor we tried for nearly an hour to find and pick up a CCA mooring, without success.  Finally we latched onto a sturdy-looking mooring for the night.   We plan to leave Block in mid-afternoon Saturday and transit Fire Island Inlet early Sunday.  Wind is till NE but down a bit.

September 29th, 2016 We left Portland at 6:30 am Wednesday with strong NE winds.    We had a sleigh ride south under storm mainsail and reefed jib.  We arrived at Cape Cod at 09:00 pm, 108 nm logged at an average speed of 7 kts.  We are anchored in Provincetown harbor at present and will move to the marina later in the day.   Tomorrow we head for the Cape Cod Canal and Block Island.  ETA Patchogue is Early afternoon on Sunday.

September 28th, 2016 Fiona left Portland  6:30 am Wednesday bound for Provincetown. Good NE wind, should get us there early Thursday.  ETA Patchogue is Sunday

September 26th, 2016 Fiona is moored at Portland.  We had a lovely sail from Sebasco, 15 to knots of NW wind, sea calm in the lee if islands in Casco Bay.  Today I visited Ocean Navigator Magazine and the great Portland Museum of Art.  Here are few recent pics;

Fiona listing to 37 degrees on a ledge in Rockland, note buoy on left
Schooner off Owl's Head.
Fog in Casco Bay.    
Owl's Head Light House

September 24th, 2016 Fiona is now at Sebasco on Casco Bay.  We spent two days at Boothbay.  I looked up my old friend Barbara and Neil and I had supper at her cozy house.  She breeds show dogs and two Poodles greeted us boisterously.   Tomorrow we head for Portland,  yesterday was wet but today is clear and colder, 46 F in the cockpit this morning.  Fair winds, Eric

September 23rd, 2016    Fiona is now on a mooring at Boothbay.   We will leave on Saturday for Sebasco and then Portland.  Last night went for a dinner to a modest restaurant near the landing.   When we came to pay the waitress said our meals had been paid for by an anonymous donor and she was forbidden to identify our benefactor.   We knew nobody, so it is very mysterious.   

September 21st, 2016  In Rockland Chris and I decided we were perhaps not compatible shipmates and when Amy left Neil and I double-handed for the return to Long Island.   We sailed to Port Clyde in very thick fog, thank goodness for GPS and chart plotters.   As I write Neil has taken a day trip on the ferry to Monhegan Is.  Our next stop is planned to be Boothbay.

September 19th, 2016 The arrival in Rockland was somewhat of a disaster, Chris had organized a slip for the night in a part of the harbor that was unfamiliar to me.   He attempted to guide me in by telephone but Fiona hit a ledge about two hours before low tide, the harbor is very tricky and shallow.   It took four hours for the tide to rise so the boat could float off.  She settled into a 37 degree list to port much of the time.  I don't think there was any serious damage but it will be interesting when Weeks haul her out.

September 18th, 2016 Fiona arrived Belfast on Saturday, great sail, lovely weather.  We are now en route from Belfast to Rockland to meet our next crew: Chris.  Our departure was delayed when I noticed the rudder was not responding properly to the wheel, the problem was caused by the shearing of the half-inch thick bolt holding the quadrant to the rudder post.   With help from Cathy, the dockmaster, I was able to by a new six-inch long stainless bolt from Belfast Variety and hardware despite it being a Sunday morning! Last night Neil and I viewed 'Sully' at the local cinema, a very good film.

September 17th, 2016 Fiona arrived Castine at mid-afternoon on Friday,   We romped in with 20 knots the starboard quarter.  This contrast to yesterday, when the wind never exceeded 5 to 8 knots.   Yesterday we anchored for lunch at Harbor, which Amy and Neil explored after I dinghied them to shore.   We spent the night at anchor in Stonington.   The local restaurant, the Harbor Café, horrified me by charging $18 for a bowl of clam chowder. Our cruising plans have been complicated by failure of the anchor winch: we have to raise the anchor by hand, or to be honest, Neil; does.   WE plan to tie up at Belfast on Saturday and sail to Rockland on Sunday. 

Fiona at Harbor Island



September 14th, 2016 Fiona arrived at Bar Harbor at 8:30 pm on Tuesday.   A windless passage from P-Town in a big high pressure cell.  We will leave for Stonington on Thursday

September 12th, 2016   Fiona arrived Provincetown on Sunday afternoon.   We plan to  leave Monday for leg to Bar Harbor.   Conditions have been mostly windless.

September 9th, 2016 We left Weeks at 1:15 pm and had no problems at the Inlet.     We found a fair wind off shore until it died about 10 pm when we were abeam of Moriches.   We powered to Block Island, arriving about 10: 30 am.   Next is the Cape Cod Canal.   All is well on board.

 September 7th, 2016 Tropical storm Hermine seems to be slowly fading away.    We will try for a shot to Block Island tomorrow, Thursday.    The tides in the Bay are not too favorable but a departure from Weeks about 1 pm will get us through the inlet before dark on a rising tide.  The wind during the night is forecast to be northerly, which will suit us fine. 
September 6th, 2016 Tropical Storm Hermine just wont go away.   It is stalled about 120 miles SE of Montauk Point, the winds have backed to Northerly, which we could live with but the surf at Fire Island Inlet is very high.   Forecast is that the center will start to move on Wednesday, so a departure on Thursday may be possible
September 1st, 2016 Tropical Storm Hermine may be a problem for our planned labor day departure.  The mast is up, Amy has cleaned up the boat interior , we are getting there.  
 Eric makes the electrical connections before the mast is lowered into the final position.


August 29th, 2016 Fiona is launched.   Neil and Amy flew in to sail to Maine.   I hope the mast will be stepped tomorrow.   
 The forward head on the starboard is finished.
Neil and Amy pose on Fiona, sans mast.
August 24th, 2016- The three awardees of  the Edith M. Forsyth scholarship have finished their first year of medical school - read their updates HERE.

The scholarship has been of great benefit to myself, without which I don't think I would've been able to go to university. I am extremely humbled and thankful for the opportunity I have been given and after passing my first year of the medical degree would like to say a massive thank you both to yourself and Dr Edith Forsyth."-  Katie Nightingale


August 15th, 2016 The crew roster for the Maine cruise is complete; Neil will crew for the whole trip, Amy will crew from Patchogue to Rockland and Chris will crew from Rockland back to Patchogue.  Chris is a member of the South Bay Cruising Club.    He stopped by the boat Sunday to help finish the rigging of the mast spreaders and paint the forward bilge.   Fiona will be splashed on 29 August.

 August 10th, 2016  Lewis has moved to spend a week with his daughter in CT.   He was very helpful during his stay, he did a lot of painting and built a cabinet under the new stove.  The cabinets have been re-installed in  the forward head.  The plumbing and wiring under the starboard counter is finished, see photos.
Lewis stands by the new stove
 The forward head is coming together.


August 9th, 2016 Update on crew call;  Neil, who sailed in the spring from Puerto Rico to NY , has signed  for the complete cruise in Maine- Long Island to Long Island.   Amy has signed for the first fortnight, NY to Rockland, ME.  Tom, who crossed the Atlantic in March is very interested in joining the boat at Rockland but has not been able to make a definite commitment yet. 

August 5th, 2016  Lewis, who crewed last spring in the Caribbean, has flown up from Florida to help with Fiona repairs.    Things are moving along nicely.  

Lewis is applying sealer to the rubrail.

August 1st, 2016  I have now turned my attention to the mast, two circuits were re-wired because of wire breakage caused by the wiring tube inside the mast working loose.  This tube is pop riveted and has given problems in the past when the rivets fail.  Both circuits now check out OK but the rivets must be replaced,  I also repaired the VHF antenna , which was damaged by the masthead burgee.   I  need a new strut which is longer than the old one.   This week we are expecting some rain so I will turn my attention to rewiring under the new counter in the forward head.   Several sailors have expressed  interest in the Maine cruise, so I hope to have a firm commitment for the berths soon.

July 26th, 2016 Work is still proceeding in the forward head.    Deck hatches were changed, fore and aft.   Work started on the wiring problems in the mast.   Crew call modify to permit a sign -up for two weeks, see 'Crew Call' above.  


July 14th, 2016- Major accomplishment today- the counter in the forward head is finished, apart from trim.     All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, in the afternoon we sailed the Rhodes.

 Captain Eric, Helmswoman Anna and Gabby on the Rhodes.


Colin pounds the contact cement bonding the Formica.



July 8th, 2016 Helped by my son Colin things are moving along in the forward head.  All the fiberglass/resin work has been completed.  Next step is to install the counter and glue on the Formica.  I plan to post a crew call soon for my trip to Maine in September. 

Colin poses with the newly glassed bulkhead.   

June 28th, 2016  The first bulkhead to be 'sistered ' is shown, this still requires to be fiberglassed to the hull. a procedure known as 'tabbing'.   Also shown is the counter in the forward head, just 'roughed  in'- it still requires lockers, sink, etc to be mounted before being tabbed to the hull.  I find as I pull the forward head apart that much of the original tabbing installed by Westsail back in 1975 has lost its adhesion  to the hull.  This is confirmed by Chris, who is the lead hand at Weeks in this area, he says this is quite common in older fiberglass boats.   My son Colin, and his daughter Gabriella, plan to visit for a couple of weeks starting this weekend.  His help should greatly speed up the pace of repairs on Fiona.   My Rhodes 19 was launched this week and is ready for her first sail of the year.    

IMG_3694 IMG_3695


June 15th, 2016- Brookhaven, NY  The major job on the boat at the moment is to rebuild the forward head.   I have disassembled the starboard side, which was damaged by the passage in Biscay in November, 2015.
June 8th, 2016- Brookhaven, NY Fiona was hauled out on Monday, the mast was removed at the same time.    Capt Forsyth's article entitled 'A Rough Crossing of Biscay' has been published in the current issue (July /Aug) of Ocean Navigator  Magazine.   

 May 29th, 2016- Brookhaven, NYNow that Fiona is tied up at weeks the usual after-cruise chores must be done such as removing food, bedding etc. The mast has been stripped of stays, except one on each side, and is ready to be lifted. Several electrical problems in the mast must be fixed. Colin and Eric drove to New Hampshire and participated in a Bentley Rally centered around Hancock from May 22 to 26.




For updates on the Edith M. Forsyth scholarship awardees click HERE.