Living online during these crazy times

Published on April 14th, 2020

Two-time America’s Cup winner Peter Isler is using his Emmy award-winning skills in a new webinar series which seeks to explore the wide world of sailing. In this report, he shares the genesis of the project:


As the COVID-19 pandemic was causing countries to shut borders and impose unprecedented rules I was happy to fly home to San Diego from Superyacht Challenge Antigua. But, like lots of us, I missed sailing and my sailing friends.

By chance a good friend, Stuart Rogerson was sailing his 31’ Newick designed “Val” trimaran from San Diego to Spain and had just made it through the Panama Canal (last private boat through) but was not permitted to go into the Panamanian marina to stock up.

I was doing his weather routing and, short on supplies – and trying to avoid a dead beat into the Caribbean – we decided to head north – toward some Colombian islands or the Caymans which were still open.

Two or three times a day I would log in, download the weather, check the tracker, run an optimized route in Expedition and send an update by text to his Garmin InReach. For me, it was a nice mental break from the “new norm” of social distancing. For Stuart, it provided wx info and some encouragement in a ten day long one tack beat in 20+ knots.

Meanwhile things were changing, more borders were closing and Stuart’s options were narrowing – Columbia was out.

I made contact with Peter Cunningham and his MOD70 PowerPlay team which is based in the Caymans and they provided invaluable local knowledge and geared up to restock the depleted trimaran with food and water. By the time Stuart arrived, coming on shore was not an option – but they were able to anchor out for a few days, get a good sleep and get stocked up, and continue heading north.

Cuba or Key West were the next options. Stuart gave strong instructions: the little tri definitely didn’t want to do any more hard upwind if it could avoid it. I went back into weather routing mode and after a delightful downwind sail to the west tip of Cuba (I really appreciated this sail virtually) – I held them at west end for 24 hours to wait for a break in the trade winds to develop.

Stuart made it to Key West a couple days later in uncharacteristic glassy conditions, and thanks again to the help of some old sailing friends, he’s at the dock in the Keys waiting for some doors to open internationally so he can continue his adventure.

Back in San Diego on lockdown, I was missing my online weather routing sessions, and while talking to my friends at the American Sailing Association, we came up with an idea to do a weekly webinar – which I would host online, out of my house, where we would bring fun and interesting sailing related topics and personalities into a talk show kind of format.

Thus were born Peter Isler’s Web Wednesdays. It’s been a while since I’ve gone live to the world – but, if you are old enough, you may know that this ain’t my first rodeo…. and I’m really excited with the series. We are going to come out the box strong on Wednesday April 15 (5pm PDT/8pm EDT) with episode one: “Marine weather – morning preparation for a daysail”.

Now I could probably do this one myself – but since all my friends are really easy to get hold of on their computers these days, I decided to do it right and bring my good friend, and weather guru to the pros, Chris Bedford (sailwx.com) in to the mix. Fingers are crossed that Zoom will deliver the goods seamlessly and we will all remember what buttons to press at what time – but it should be a great one.

Episode two (Wednesday, April 22 – 5pm PDT/8pm EDT) is on a subject near and dear to my heart – Expedition Navigation and Sailing Software. But unlike the how-to’s and courses that I teach in person and online, this show will be aimed at the non-Expedition user – any sailor who might be interested in what the “black box” can do these days.

Kind of like “Buck Rogers meets Jack Sparrow”…. No hard sell, just fun entertainment. I’m super proud of what Nick White has done with the software and I think lots of sailors outside of the elite community that can’t live without Expedition will find it interesting. You can check it out at: www.asa.com/webinars

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