Monday 29 December 2008

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008 Results

With the massive build up, promotion and publicity given to this years Rolex Sydney to Hobart ocean classic, it feels like is over almost before it starts.

The two maxis battling it out for line Honours are already tied up at Hobarts' Constitution Docks and the crews celebrating in true sailors fashion in the Customhouse Hotel and other nautical watering holes around Hobart.

These two, 'Wild Oats' and 'Skandia' match raced all the way down the Tasmanian coast until turning into Storm Bay and with easing winds, 'Wild Oats' hauled in 'Skandia' and drew away as expected, in the lightening conditions, finally being first over the line just a little over an hour in front of her pursuer.

Meanwhile, the remaining 99 boats are battling it out across Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania. As this post goes to air there are still fifty yachts to finish, so it is not over yet and the tail enders will arrive over the next 48 hrs.

The smallest boat in the fleet is Maluka of Kermandie and she is a 9 metre solid huon pine gaff rigged cutter skippered by Sean Langman - and she won't finish last!

The following is an extract from the official Rolex website covering the handicap winners' ceremony:

Announcement of IRC Overall winner and presentation of the Tattersall's Cup L-R: CYCA Commodore Matt Allen, Bob Steel, owner of Quest, RYCT Commodore Clive Simpson and Richard De Leyser, General Manager Rolex Australia with the trophies ROLEX/Daniel Forster
One of Sydney’s most successful yachtsmen, Bob Steel, today completed a rare double in the history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race when his latest Quest was declared the overall winner of the 2008 race, the winner on corrected time.

For that he receives the ‘sailors prize’, the Tattersall’s Cup, the trophy he first won in 2002 with a previous Quest, a Nelson/Marek 46.

“I am humble about the double. To win it twice is sensational, the fight was pretty daunting,” said Steel.

His third and latest Quest is a TP52, with which he had already won the 2008 Skandia Geelong Week and finished second in the 2008 Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race.

Steel’s crew is one of the most experienced in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in terms of the number of Hobart races completed – 170 between 14 crew.

When told the news this morning by the Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Matt Allen, Steel replied: “We did our very best.”

“Your best was good enough,” Allen replied.

Quest crossed the finish line at 2pm on Sunday, four and half hours behind the line honours winner Wild Oats XI and at the head of the highly-competitive TP52 fleet that competed in the race.Steel is a former tourism entrepreneur in Sydney and is semi-retired. He was named the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Ocean Racer of the Year in 2003 following that 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart win and in the same year was named Australian IRC Offshore Champion.

His record with his latest Quest is equally impressive.

"This is the greatest sport in the world,” Steel said as Allen presented him with the Tattersall’s Cup. "Anyone can take part in it – from the young to the very old, like me".

"This has been one of the best and strongest fleets in a Hobart ever. To be in front of this fleet and to take home this amazing trophy and my second Rolex makes me proud of the crew and the boat.”

Rolex Sydney Hobart first timer, Sydney based Quest crewman Stuart McCuaig, 26, was proud as punch this morning. McCuaig only joined the Quest crew this year and when the offer came up to do the Rolex Sydney Hobart he jumped at the chance.

Given there was still some uncertainty late yesterday about the provisional winner, Quest’s crew celebrations were fairly tempered last night, “we went out and celebrated being the first TP52 home” added McCuaig.

Previous Rolex Sydney Hobart multiple overall winners include GD Gibson in 1947, 1948; Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen in 1954, 1957, 1963, 1964, 1965; Vic Meyer 1956, 1962; Graham Newland 1958, 1960; Peter Kurts 1974, 1978 (his boat Love and War won a third time in 2006); Lou Abrahams 1983, 1989; Gary Appleby 1985, 1990.

Extract courtesy Rolex Sydney Hobart official website, 'Wild Oats' and 'Skandia' images courtesy Daniel Forster and Rolex, 'Maluka of Kermandie' image courtesy Christophe Launay.

You can read more about ocean racing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Thursday 11 December 2008

MOB Rescue Grenade for Sailors

Wearing lifejackets at sea has always been an ambivalent issue for recreational sailors - we know we should be wearing one, but when the sun is out, the sea glittering, and the ship running under a fair breeze, the last thing we want is to be encased in a hot and sweaty jacket. This is not helped in that most lifejackets are also quite tight and restrictive to our body movements. This is an argument that can and does take up many an hour of dialogue between sailors.

Stormy Australia have tackled this question by producing a range of wet weather/lifejackets that can be worn with the comfort of normal jackets which can then inflate when entering water. You can see this range on their site

In addition, they now present a novel mob self inflating lifering device called the Stormy Rescue Grenade. This nifty device is packed in the form of a weighted grenade and can be thrown accurately in an instant to a mob in the water. Five seconds after hitting the water it self inflates by way of a small CO2 gas cylinder, the casing falls away, leaving a handy lifering which will stay inflated for 24 hrs.

They can be stowed anywhere in the cockpit and they come in a weatherproof bag so even if there is lots of water flying around, they will not self inflate until deployed.

At $55 each, a couple of these stowed within easy reach in your cockpit are cost effective and worthwhile peace of mind for any skipper.

Stormy Australia Sales Manager Dave Bellette says: 'The Stormy Rescue Grenade really fills a gap in the mob safety device range at an affordable price'.

Also, the NSW 'Westpac Rescue Helicopter' service have trialled them and pilot Tom Booth recommends it as an excellent device, well weighted for accurate throwing and having great ease of deployment.

Other uses spring to mind such as for rock fishermen, wharves that are used for fishing, lakesides, camping sites near open water, flood victims and in fact anywhere there is open water in which folks are liable to fall into from time to time.

Quotes and references courtesy Stormy Australia and Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and images courtesy Stormy Australia.

You can read more about mob techniques and adventures in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Saturday 29 November 2008

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008 - 113 yachts entered

It's that time of year again and the CYCA launched the Rolex 2008 Sydney Hobart challenge this week. The following is the article written by Peter Campbell from their website magazine:

An elegant gaff-rigged cutter on which champagne corks are frequently heard to pop; a battered, steel-hulled cutter which has sailed among the icebergs of Antarctica; a stoutly-built, double-ended cutter now cruising the Caribbean; a sloop owned and skippered by a yachtsman who was to become Prime Minister of England; maxi yachts from Australia, America, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and Denmark; a tiny half tonner from Tasmania with a rather suggestive insignia on its transom.

Then there’s been a state-of-the-art ocean racer developed from America’s Cup technology, a one-off little sloop from an Aussie designer, the latest design for an IMS ocean racer, and a round-the-world 60-footer, the maximum 30m length Reichel/Pugh maxi and the classic Sparkman & Stephens 47 winning the Tattersalls Cup for the third time.What do these yachts of widely varying age, size, shape, construction and rig have in common?
They have all achieved a place in Australian and international yachting history by taking line honours or winning overall handicap honours on corrected time in Australia’s most famous ocean race, the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Now in its 64th year, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race ranks in world status with the Rolex Fastnet Race in England and the Newport to Bermuda Race in the USA.

The yachts mentioned above – Nerida, Solo, Freya, Morning Cloud, Kialoa, New Zealand Endeavour (called Tasmania for the 50th Sydney to Hobart in 1994), Ragamuffin, Morning Glory, Screw Loose, Brindabella, Kialio, Ondine and Sayonara, Terra Firma, AFR Midnight Rambler, Yendys, Nokia, Wild Oats XI (above)and Love & War are just a few of the great ocean racing yachts whose names are inscribed on the Sydney Hobart Honour Roll at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s clubhouse at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney.The great race south, at 628 nautical miles, starts from Sydney Harbour at 1pm Boxing Day.

Over the past 63 years, the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Davis Cup tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England.

No yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage – except, of course, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race – than does the start on Sydney Harbour. And they only happen every four or five years.

Article courtesy Peter Campbell and CYCA
Start image courtesy Carlo Borlenghi
Other images courtesy CYCA
You can catch up with the latest on the official Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008 race on their website

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

You can read more about cruiser racing in 'Port of Refuge' Va' Vau, Tonga in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Monday 24 November 2008

FOB Light Weight Anchors for Sailboats

We recently ran a blog all about testing various anchors on the market. It was a very thorough test of fourteen anchors and can be reviewed on

However, in the meantime, it has been pointed out to me that an anchor that is quite widely used but doesn't get much wattage are the French made FOB light weight and THP anchors. So, under the heading of balance, I thought it only fair that we review this lightweight anchor which is along similar lines to the fortress lightweight aluminium, but with the addition of some French flair.

Go to their website and check out what the manufacturers have to say and then you can Google 'Anchors Group Test' and 'FOB Anchor' for additional testing data and results.

As you would expect, the results are many and varied with as many opinions as to which anchors set well, re-set and hold. Suffice to say that the weather and sea conditions on the day, and the type of bottom being anchored into, figure largely on the success of the operation.

It could also be added that the skills of the anchoring crew play a substantial part in the success or otherwise of this sometimes traumatic exercise!

The best endorsement I have come across for the FOB anchor is an article in the October 2008 issue of Practical Boat Owner. It relates a tale of woe in Greece whereby a yacht attempting to reset anchor in a crowded anchorage without lifting properly, drags over several other boats' anchor chains, lifting them out in the process, with the subsequent mess all drifting down onto the authors' vessel. His FOB held them all, in a fresh afternoon breeze until the situation could be brought under control along with severe beration leveled at the perpetrator.

The article is written by Richard Hare and headed 'Holding Fast' (not available online as yet), and I quote, '..........The FOB earned its spurs in my book, by preventing what could have been an awful disaster, and retained them for the following three years as well'.

Images reproduced courtesy FOB Anchors and article quote courtesy Richard Hare.

You can read more about anchoring techniques and adventures in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Sea Anchors, Drogues, Brakes for Sailboats

In really extreme weather and large following seas, when a yachtsman wants to slow his boat down, some kind of sea anchor can be beneficial in achieving this.

The concern is that in very large following seas a boat, even under bare poles can be travelling so fast down the face of a wave that it can dig its bow in at the bottom of the trough and pitchpole, or, broach and roll.

Either of these possibilities are to be avoided at all costs - the ensueing damage, or even possible tragic consequences are not worth contemplating. The other point is that these circumstances, if to happen at all, will most likely be far offshore, where the likelihood of assistance from anywhere would be very slim indeed. So having some method of slowing the boat down is good insurance.

There are many products on the market that are available to cruisers and you can, and no doubt will have endless discussions with other sailors the pros and cons of the various types - as you know, sailors can discuss the shape of a knot on the end of a rope for hours!

Here is one product which stands up well and is widely carried in yachts cruising the oceans of our planet:

'Seabrake is a variable drag drogue that was invented by Captain Abernathy after working for many years in the rough waters of Bass Straight that fronts on to the famous Southern Ocean. The Seabrake’s unique patented concept of more speed equals more drag has been used successfully used by sailors around the world to control broaching or surfing and is accepted by Yachting Australia for use as emergency steering.
Burke Marine is Australias' market leader for wet weather gear, performance footwear, boating accessories, safety equipment and Personal Floatation Devices.

A family owned business established over 37 years ago, Burke has dominated the Australian and New Zealand market for many years. The iconic brand has built its reputation on great value products that always perform to the highest standard and therefore welcome Seabrake as a permanent part of the Burke Marine brand portfolio.'

For further information, visit their website
Extract courtesy Voiles News.

Images courtesy Burke Marine
Google up ' sea brakes, drogues, sea anchors' for a further in depth article.

Personally, I never carried one on my voyage, working on the premise that I had enough rope and other junk, including an old storm sail, that I could tow behind the boat which would slow her down sufficiently(never tested).

Nonetheless, carrying a good drogue is good insurance and if you have sufficient stowage, the modest investment of $300-400 is best seamanship practice.

You can read more about extreme weather sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Sunday 26 October 2008

GPS 'Tracback' Sensor for Sailors from Marine Electronic Services

Here is a really neat new device for all computer using sailors and folks who want to keep a record of their lifetime voyage experience.

Being able to record your track, lay it over Google maps and include all your favourite images of your voyage along the way is a nice option many will take up.

The following is an excerpt from the French 'Voiles Newsletter':

TracBack is a new ultra-mini GPS sensor from Digital Yacht, which measures just 70 x 45 x 20 mm. It incorporates a long-life lithium ion battery pack so that the system can be self-powered.

GPS data is sent through either a standard USB connection directly to a laptop or via Bluetooth for a wireless-type link.

TracBack’s unique feature is the ability to log your trip and record position and track information in its internal memory. When hooked up to a PC, your track is automatically downloaded onto a Google Earth Map with a snail’s trail of the track history. It also comes complete with a useful software application which allows any digital photos you have taken along your route to be referenced and overlaid onto the map by comparing date and time stamp information. This does, of course, rely on you having the same date and time set in your digital camera, but the application is a really nice way of recording where you have been, and building up an electronic log book.

The internal battery lasts for approximately 15 hours and can be recharged using either the supplied mains charger or USB connection. The mind boggles at potential applications, such as tracking vehicles, yacht racing or even sharing your track history with other sailors and friends.

What is even more surprising is the price, at just USD 176, £85, €140 including tax and AUD284.

Reproduced courtesy Marine Electronic Services, Digital Yacht and Voiles Newsletter

You can read more about navigating with GPS and chart tracking in my ebook 'Voyage of the little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Automatic Identification System (AIS) for Sailboats/Cruisers

Cruising the oceans of our planet brings us many times in close proximity to many large commercial vessels. Naturally, by comparison, we are like the flea on an elephants' derriere and wish to give these behemoths of the sea as wide a berth as possible! Hence keeping a good lookout, radar and radar reflectors (see my blog 22 September) are all part of the package to assist in these events.

Like Formula One, new technology is tried out in the heat of Grand Prix racing and eventually trickles down to mainstream auto production. The marine industry is no different.

The latest innovation to come along is AIS(Automatic Identification System).

AIS has been around for several years now and it is law for all vessels over 300 gross tonnes to be fitted with this system. It is only recently however that this technology has been available for recreational use with a range of units coming on the market. It has been embraced enthusiastically by the yachting world and is appearing more and more on the list of equipment to be included on new vessels and fitted for any sailors planning extended passagemaking.

Here is an article from a marine website dedicated to testing new equipment: www.

AIS provides data exchange—both boat to boat and boat to shore. AIS can increase safety at sea by providing your position to other boats (if you have an AIS transmitter) and by informing you of other boats’ positions (if they have an AIS transmitter). This is particularly true in low visibility or high traffic conditions. AIS displays this information on your Chartplotter. The Simrad-Navico unit to the right is a typical unit.

It is important to realize that AIS is not a substitute for Radar, some vessel do not transmit their positions or intentions. Therefore relying solely on AIS could mean you are unaware of potential hazards.

There are 3 implementations of AIS: Class A, Class B, and receive-only units.

Class A transceivers transmit and receive AIS signals and are required on large commercial vessels. Class A provides a great deal of data including the ship’s name, type, MMSI number, call sign, IMO number, length, beam, GPS antenna location, draft, cargo, destination, ETA, ship’s posi­tion, COG, SOG, heading, rate of turn and navigational sta­tus. Not all ships transmit all of this information.

Class B transceivers are designed for boats under 65 feet. Class B AIS provides the boat’s name, position, SOG, and COG.

AIS receive-only units receive messages from vessels carrying Class A or Class B transceivers. These products do not transmit vessel information to surrounding traffic.
AIS is not required on recreational boats. AIS does not detect land­masses or navigational beacons, so it does not replace Radar.

The Navigate-us selection guide addresses receive-only AIS units.
An AIS receiver requires a VHF antenna, a GPS input, and a data output to your Chartplotter. Since standard NMEA communications are used, the AIS device does not need to be provided by the same manufacturer as your marine network. Provide a dedicated, clean source of 12 VDC power for your radio that can supply 10 amps.

AIS information is displayed on your Chartplotter. It’s worth considering how the Chartplotter manufacturer presents the data on the chart. Keeping a clean display with only the most important information is key to ease of use.
Choosing Your AIS Receiver:
If you want other boats to know your vessel’s data, buy a Class B Transceiver. If you only need to know the position of other boats, buy a receive-only unit. Review the Comparison guide for units that meet your requirements.

This is a new category of marine electronics and the products being offered are changing quickly. However the underlying technology remains the same, so there is no need to worry about obsolescence.

Reproduced courtesy

If you were contemplating going the whole hog or re-equipping your vessel, you could look at the latest offering from Furuno. This exciting arrival is chartplotter, radar, GPS, AIS all rolled into one stylish system which also includes a celestial compass and fishfinder.

There are a number of other useful sites you can look up on the net by tapping in 'AIS for sailboats'.

You can read more about radar, identification with commercial shipping and sailing on passage at night in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Monday 13 October 2008

Man Overboard (MOB) Safety Devices for Sailboats

There are many signaling devices you can use in a man overboard (MOB) situation, and each system is designed for a particular type of event. Safety gear ranges from simple to sophisticated. There are units tailored to help you retrieve a pet that has fallen into the water on a calm day, as well as those that will be indispensable if a crew member gets swept from the deck during a serious storm.

The simplest MOB devices are called proximity systems. The components include a receiver at the helm, which monitors the signal from a small transmitter, or fob, that can be worn by everyone on board. When the signal from a fob is interrupted — by immersion in the water, for instance, or by a distance beyond the effective radius (usually about 40 feet) — it triggers an alarm, marks a chart plotter and may shut down your engine if under power.

Proximity alarms are relatively inexpensive and reliable for a number of recreational situations. However, since the signal can be broken when batteries are low or compromised by line of sight, this type of device can be prone to false alarms. In addition, once the signal is broken, it doesn't return. As a result, those left onboard get a warning that someone has gone over, but it's up to them to locate the victim and make the rescue. This may not be problematic for the crew of a smaller, open boat with great visibility and maneuverability.

Raymarine's LifeTag ($695 with two fobs) is another proximity system. It functions as a stand-alone, but it can be integrated with Raymarine's proprietary SeaTalk network to sound an alarm, mark the MOB position on the plotter and program the autopilot to return to the place where the person went into the water. The system's 30-foot functional radius can be boosted with a second receiver ($469). Each receiver will cover up to 16 transmitters/fobs. Additional fobs are $115.

The MOBi-lert 720i ($899 with two transmitters) by Mobilarm is also a proximity system, but it can be linked through NMEA 0183 to a wide range of compatible GPS and chart plotters. As befits its higher price, it includes a color-coded fob ID scheme, so the skipper knows which fob (or person) has gone overboard. There are optional alarm and engine-cutoff configurations as well.

Another type of MOB technology is equipment that doesn't transmit until it's submerged. These systems boast longer ranges (up to a mile). Plus, the signals can be tracked because they transmit continuously after activation. The Virtual Lifeline by Maritech is one such service. Once the transmitter has been submerged, the engine is shut off. (Instant restarting is enabled with a rocker switch at the helm.) The system can be configured to provide any combination of alarm, GPS marking and/or engine kill function. Virtual Lifeline is available for any propulsion system. The price is $549 for a single-engine boat with two sensors. Fobs are $139 for two, and they must be serviced every two years.

A distinct advantage of water-activated systems is the continuous signal upon immersion, which allows for better tracking. "Let's say a person goes over in a 5-knot current," says Page Read, president of Emerald Industries, which makes a safety device called the Alert2. "Unless you have the ability to track, by the time you get back to where the alarm went off, the person may not be there anymore."

The Alert2 is a rugged component system with a receiver and antenna ($499), transmitters ($239 each) and a handheld radio direction finder ($799). It can be integrated with navigational software from Nobeltec and The Capn. Once activated, the signal can be tracked with the radio direction finder to locate the victim when strong currents or harsh conditions complicate visibility.

When using a water-activated transmission system, it's important for each passenger to wear the transmitter high on the body (usually near the chest). This way, the signal can reach the receiver.

This next class of MOB systems is highly sophisticated. The units are not necessary when you're trying to pull a pet back into the boat in a calm lake; rather, they are for full-blown search-and-rescue missions at sea. I'm referring to personal rescue beacons (PRB), which send signals (through manual activation) to the international search-and-rescue satellite system operated by Cospas-Sarsat on 406 MHz.

The McMurdo FastFind Max-G with GPS ($560) transmits a unique identification signal along with your current position. Unlike the EPIRB aboard your boat, it is registered to an individual user, rather than a vessel.

ACR's ResQFix ($600) is a 10-ounce PRB that sends a GPS position along with the rescue signal, broadcast on both 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz. The Vecta3 radio direction finder ($2,000) is a handheld locator antenna that reads all distress signal frequencies. When used with the ResQFix, an at-sea search is conducted until the helicopters and C-130s arrive. It's that good, although hopefully you'll never learn that firsthand.

Farewell 121.5MHz:

As of February 2009, the 406 MHz frequency will be the only one monitored by the international search and rescue network, Cospas-Sarsat, which will phase out 121.5 MHz monitoring. This means the old workhorse Mini B by ACR, which transmits 121.5 MHz, is no longer in SAR duty. It certainly has earned its place in many ditch bags over the years and has saved a lot of lives, but its time has passed. Fortunately, the water-activated Mini-B300 ILS ($350) now has a place in ACR's MOB stable. As part of a closed system in combination with ACR's Vecta3 RDF, this little transmitter becomes a top-notch trackable rescue beacon when worn by each crew member.

Reproduced courtesy MotorBoating magazine and Glenn Law

You can read more about MOB devices and trialing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Monday 22 September 2008

Radar Reflectors for Sailboats

A cruising yachtsmans' worst nightmare is being run down by a merchant vessel, particularly at night, far offshore. Statistics however, show us that this is far more likely to happen close to shore in busy shipping lanes where the density of these large vessels is much greater.

A radar reflector therefore, is a piece of equipment that all cruising sailboats should have. Recent tests have shown that they are not necessarily that effective, see article on May 2007 archives.

Nonetheless, a reflector permanently installed high in your rigging is an additional item that can assist in alerting approaching shipping that you are in the same quadrant of water as they are. Many other factors come into play such as has the other ship recorded your presence? is there a watch in their radio room at the time? is your boat heeling? etc. All of these could hinder the chances of the other shipping seeing you.

There has been much written about a tragic incident near the Isle of Wight in August 2006 between the yacht 'Ouzo' and a large P&O ferry. The collision or near collision resulted in the sinking of the yacht and the drowning of the three crew. As the yacht itself has never been recovered, this incident remains a mystery of the sea. However, it was known that 'Ouzo' did carry a radar reflector - whether it was in position at the time is not known. There is an interesting report you can read on

Fully effective they may not be, but under the heading of any additional equipment that can alert an approaching merchant vessel, having a reflector clamped to your cap shroud above the top spreader is best seamanship practice and no cruiser should put to sea without one.

They come in two basic shapes - one is made up of segments(octahedral) which can be assembled and hung in the rigging - not ideal for long passages. The other, and to my mind, the better option for cruisers is the tubular type which you can clamp on to your upper shroud and leave in position permanently. I positioned mine on the starboard cap shroud above the top spreader.
There are a number of manufacturers making these reflectors andyou can view the range at any quality chandler. You can appraise them initially on the internet where you will find illustrations and prices for your local market.

Obviouisly radar and more recently AIS(Automatic Identification System) would be part of a modern day Cruisers 'onboard package', but that is another subject.

You can read more about night navigation, radar and near misses in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Thursday 11 September 2008

Cardinal Marks for Sailors

Sailing recently with friends in southern waters we came upon a cardinal mark which created a major debate.

All being old hands, we all had definite opinions on this particular mark and would not be easily swayed to anothers' opinion!

It was close to the coastline and marking out a hazard of rocks near to a 'current powered' electrical generator tower installed in the channel. Because of the limited space, and without a very close scrutiny, this mark could be interpreted in several different ways.

This in fact is what happened, and the argument was still raging when the mark disappeared out of sight around the point. Eyes now looking forward to the next stage of our journey the offending mark was promptly forgotten!

However, it is a reminder that these cardinal marks are there for a purpose and it is good seamanship and practice to make ourselves totally familiar with the four types of cardinal marks.

The word cardinal comes originally from the four cardinal marks on the compass, rotating in a clockwise fashion, North, East, South and West.

The chart to the right illustrates this buoyage system very well.

Note the yellow and black banding denoting the difference between North, East, South and West.

For night recognition the white flashing lights also the face of a clock/watch e.g. North is a continuous single flashing light, East is three flashes(3 on the clock), South is six flashes(plus a long flash so it is not confused with West) and West is nine flashes(9 on the clock face).

When you have decided which mark it is you are looking at, you then have to determine where the hazard is, or alternatively, where the safe water is.

This is easily remembered by whichever mark it is, the safe water is outside of it - e.g. North - water to the North is safe, East - water to the East is safe, South - water to the South is safe and West - water to the West is safe.

Waterproofed cards showing this bouyage system are generally available from any recognised chandlery.

Keep one on board at all times posted to a bulkhead by your navigation area.

You can read more about buoys and bouyage systems in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Sunday 7 September 2008

PBO Rigging

Whilst we are on the subject of rigging let's have a brief look at the 'new kid on the block' of rigging. PBO (polybenzoxazole) has been around for almost ten years now, but to date has largely only been used on high tech and very expensive racing yachts. It has shown up on some smaller racing boats but in the main, because of its cost, it has been a big boat item.

Like Formula One motor racing it has had rigourous testing under the most severe conditions and come out the other end measuring up with some major benefits to all sailors. And, like motor racing these benefits will trickle down to be used more widely as the costs tumble and are more affordable to the average sailor. This is already occuring and ultimately the price of pbo rigging will be comparable to wire strand and rod rigging.

Weight aloft is always an issue, hence the much wider use today of composite materials for masts. The less weight aloft, the better the righting moment of your boat. The same philosophy applies to pbo rigging as a major weight saving can be gained - this can be up to seventy percent over standard riggings.

Pbo rigging can be up to fifty percent stronger and all this comes at only a slight increase in windage as the pbo available guage is a little heavier. I believe most yachtsmen would be happy to sacrifice that in favour of the benefits.

The effect of weight aloft is magnified by its height above the yacht's Vertical Centre Of Gravity (VCOG). For every 1kg saved in the midpoint of the rigging approximately 5kgs can be saved off the counter balance of the keel. Thus for an average 60' yacht saving 100kgs on the rig using PBO gives a further saving of ½ tonne in the keel.

In simple terms PBO rigging gives you a lighter, stronger, safer rig. In practical terms PBO gives you the edge.

The Swan 601 to the right is pbo rigged.

Special fittings, deck, spar and spreader fittings are also now available for the pbo rigging.

These products are currently being manufactured by several companies and there is a very interesting article on this high tech system on the Navtec website. Google up PBO rigging and you will find it available in PDF format which you can download if you wish. Another good article is on Sailing site.

Some text made available courtesy Navtec and Colt.

You can read more about wire strand and rod rigging adventures and how we fixed them in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website http ://

Monday 1 September 2008

Sailboat Rigging Maintenance Check

The first day of Spring has arrived in this part of the world and true to the suggestion it is a gorgeous day - blue sky dotted with a few white puffy clouds, gentle breeze wafting through the trees and 21 degrees celcius - thoughts turn to being on the water and sailing.

For a happy and fault free season of sailing, one of the areas we must check and inspect is the rigging of our boats. There are very few things that will ruin a sailing trip faster than a failed rig and if it is serious the consequences may even end in tragedy.

So it is critical that our rig is inspected, checked and any faults or failures found, repaired immediately.

The following article is an extract from BoatUS Seaworthy magazine:

Whenever a mast tumbles overboard, the two seemingly obvious offenders are the mast itself—the aluminum extrusion—and the wire stays and shrouds that support the mast. In practice however, these are rarely the culprits. The offenders, in most cases, are the tangs, turnbuckles, and chainplates and the smaller, but no less significant, screws, bolts, terminal fittings, clevis and cotter pins that hold everything together. These can be inspected in a couple hours or less. All you need for an inspection is a magnifying lens, a mirror, some toilet paper, your fingernails, a boatswain’s chair, and a pair of reasonably good eyes. Click here to download the Rigging Checklist in PDF format.

Fittings: Whenever you inspect a fitting, look for obvious problems like rust and distortion and use the magnifying glass to find smaller cracks. Rust, especially rust that you can feel, and even slight distortions or cracks should be considered serious, and the component replaced. Use your fingernails to feel for cracks and check the thinnest part of the fittings extra carefully, as this is where failure is most likely to occur. If a fitting has been painted (a bad idea), strip off the paint.
Chainplates can corrode and fail either above, within, or below the deck. Corrosion at the chainplate above may have been only detected by removing the toggles to inspect around the eye. The chainplate above failed within the deck, where salt water had leaked down and initiated crevice corrosion where hidden from view.

Chainplates: Turnbuckles and chainplates must be angled so that loads are in a direct line with stays and shrouds. Toggles, which act like universal joints to allow movement in all directions, should be used with turnbuckles but they cannot be relied on to compensate for a misaligned chainplate. A chainplate that is not aligned has a tendency to work until it eventually breaks. Besides eyeballing the shroud/chainplate alignment, misalignment is sometimes indicated by damage to the surrounding gelcoat. If chainplates are bolted to a bulkhead, as is often the case, inspect the bulkhead for signs of weakness—discoloration, delamination, and rot. Chainplates are highly stressed, and will work and cause leaks where they come through the deck. Water can then enter the bulkhead and eventually cause it to rot (see Anatomy of a Dismasting). Probably the best, although maybe not the prettiest, place to secure a chainplate is to the outside of the hull. Chainplates that are only bolted to flanges under the deck, and are not secured to a structural member down below, are the least desirable installation.

Fatigue and crevice corrosion broke this pair of threaded terminal fittings along the crevice between the lock nut and the turnbuckle body, illustrating why disassembly of the turnbuckle is necessary to inspect hidden trouble spots most likely to fail.Turnbuckles Open turnbuckles are easier to inspect and don't retain moisture, which encourages corrosion. Closed turnbuckles retain moisture in the barrel and have of a tendency to freeze up, but they also are better at retaining lubricant. Turnbuckles should be wiped clean and lubricated at least once a year; more often if they are open or are adjusted frequently. Teflon is better for lubricating turnbuckles than oil or grease because it doesn't hold grit that abrades the threads. Oil or grease, however, are certainly better than nothing. Most turnbuckles are tightened by turning the shank or barrel clockwise. Incidentally, you should never stress your rig by over-tightening the turnbuckles. If the turnbuckle squeaks stop tightening—this is a sign of over-tightening and poor lubrication. If you boat has open turnbuckles, be sure to leave at least 3/4" of thread visible in the barrel and replace the old cotter pins. A cotter pin should be large enough to fit snugly into the hole and long enough to be bent half way back around. Rigging tape should then be wrapped around the pin to protect your sails, fingers, toes, etc. Many closed turnbuckles can't be cottered and rely instead on locknuts. Experts warn that over-tightening the locknuts places too much stress on the threads.

Terminal Fittings: Cracked swage fittings are not only the most common kind of rigging failure, but also the most visible. This one should have been noticed and replaced long ago.Most sailboats rely on swage fittings at the terminals, but these fittings are not necessarily the most reliable, especially in warmer climates where they have a history of failure. Swage fittings are made by compressing a tube onto the wire under great pressure, a process that must be done exactly right to assure a strong bond. If the swage has to be pressed several times (a bad practice) before the wire is secure, there is an increased chance that the swage has been weakened and could crack. There are other types of terminal fittings, such as Noresman and Sta-Lok, which are more expensive and less common than swage fittings but are highly touted by many sailors for their durability. Norseman and Sta-Lok fittings can be installed or repaired by the boat owner—an obvious advantage, especially for making emergency repairs on long cruises. Careful inspection of all terminal fittings is a must. Cracks are usually microscopic when they begin, so use your magnifying glass. Also, you can sometimes feel a crack with a fingernail that cannot be seen. Cleaning the fitting with metal polish helps brighten the fitting to make inspection easier and using one of the three-part spray products on the market also helps you see cracks. The latter are highly touted by their manufacturers but they are not infallible. The first part cleans the fitting; the second part is a dye that penetrates the crack; and the third part is a developer. The dye, incidentally, can stain gelcoat, so be careful. Terminal fittings, especially swage fittings at the deck, are prone to rust where the wire enters the swage. Rust indicates a serious problem and the swage and possibly the wire should be replaced. Some skippers like to use gel or wax to prevent water from entering the swage. While this may be effective for a while, it probably won't keep water out for long and could very well trap water inside, encouraging corrosion.

The Mast and Boom: Welds and Rivets Aluminum welds on the mast and boom should be inspected, especially where there may be a lot of stress. Look at the ends of the welds first, as aluminum welds fail from the ends of the weld inward. Welds that are not done correctly have sharp edges and crevices which encourage corrosion. Any welds that are cracked or badly rusted should be rewelded immediately. Rivets should be examined, and any that are loose or missing should be drilled out and replaced with the next-larger size. Also, if one or two rivets holding a cleat or gooseneck are loose, it is a good idea to replace all of the rivets with the next-larger size, not just the ones that are missing.

Galvanic Corrosion: Bubbled paint, especially near a fitting as in this photo, signifies corrosion underneath and should be inspected immediately. Galvanic corrosion occurs when stainless steel or bronze fittings—cleats, tangs, winches—are installed metal-to-metal on an aluminum mast. Every few years, mast fittings should be rebedded with zinc chromate paste, polysulfide, teflon, nylon, or tufnol (plastic) to protect the mast from galvanic corrosion. Silicone does a good job of protecting the mast, but the fittings may be difficult to get off later. And in a pinch, Rolf Bjelke aboard the steel ketch Northern Light in the Antarctic, used a plastic coffee can lid to bed a halyard winch. If a mast is painted, look for bubbles near fittings, which indicate corrosion. On an unpainted mast, look for white powder and pockmarks around fittings. Some powder, which is oxidized aluminum, is normal on an aluminum mast and is usually not significant. But heavy concentrations of powder, bubbles and/or pockmarks, especially deep pockmarks, indicates a serious problem that threatens the integrity of the rig. Contact a rigger or surveyor if you suspect a problem.

Maststeps: Whether it is stepped on deck or on the keel, the base of a mast—a maststep—should be the same material as the mast. Because water that is outside the boat usually finds its way into the bilge, a mast that is stepped on the keel is especially prone to corrosion when the boat is used in saltwater. A rigger in Maryland likes to tell the story about an owner who complained that the stays and shrouds that couldn’t be tightened. He thought they had stretched. It turns out that the maststep had corroded so badly that the mast was "sinking" into the bilge. A mast that is stepped on deck can cause problems if the load isn't supported properly down below. This is sometimes a design problem, but most often it is because a bulkhead or support stanchion has failed—shifted, rotted, delaminated, etc. Look down below for indications of movement, including jammed doors, broken bonds, and splitting wood. A sagging cabin top is a strong indication that adequate support isn't being provided. Besides corrosion, maststeps can be damaged when the mast is cocked to one side and the heavy compression load is not evenly distributed. Indications of uneven compression load include cracking and/or crushing of the mast's base. The problem can be avoided by keeping your rig tuned—adjusting the stays and shrouds to make the mast straight. If the base of the mast has already been damaged, don't despair, it can either be cut down slightly and restepped or, if the problem is more serious, the damaged portion can be cut down and an extrusion added. Either way, the boat should not be sailed until a rigger is contacted and the problem has been corrected.

Inspecting Aloft: Most people have a natural aversion to hanging from a rope at the top of a swaying mast. If possible, inspect your mast while it is unstepped. If you do go aloft, make sure there are experienced hands below to hoist you up. A snap shackle, if one is used on the halyard, can be made safer by taping the lanyard to prevent its accidentally opening. Also, if the boat is in the water, you'll want to moor it where it won't get tossed around by a passing boat wake.

Stress cracks often form at bends of fittings, such as the under side of upper T-ball terminals. Zero in with a magnifying glass to detect cracks and discoloration before they fail (below).

Take tools: screwdrivers, pliers, a small hammer, lubricant, the mirror, extra cotter pins, and rigging tape. Put them all in a tool pouch or boatswain’s chair with tool pockets and Velcro flaps. Whenever possible, use lanyards on the tools. The only thing worse than making the crew haul you up and down the mast getting tools you forgot is to drop a tool on someone's head. (You can also help the grinder's morale by using your feet and hands to help hoist yourself up.) First stop is the spreaders. (While you're working, have the tailer cleat-off the halyard.) Make sure the ends of the spreaders bisect the shrouds at equal angles and are secured properly to prevent slipping. Skewed spreaders have been responsible for many dismastings.

Tape or spreader boots, used on the spreader ends to prevent damage to the sails, should be removed temporarily so that the spreader ends can be inspected and the connection tightened as necessary.

Some skippers paint the top of the spreaders, even aluminum spreaders, to reduce damage from sunlight. This is a necessity with wooden spreaders, unless you go aloft every month and add a coat of varnish. Remember, you can't see the tops of the spreaders from down below. Like their counterparts the chainplates, fork tangs, used to secure the shrouds to the mast, should be angled so that loads are in a direct line with stays and shrouds. Cotter pins should be taped so that they don't shred flailing sails or snag a halyard. Shrouds that use "T" terminals should be examined for stress cracks where the bend occurs and for elongation of the slot. Either problem indicates the shroud or fitting should be replaced. The last stop, before you begin your descent, is the masthead. If you are even slightly acrophobic, the masthead can be a very scary place. Avoid looking down. The mirror (remember the mirror?) is especially useful for inspecting fittings at the masthead that would otherwise be inaccessible. Look at the halyard fittings, especially the sheaves, which wear over time and can be crushed or split by the strain of the genoa.

Wind indicators and radio antennas should also be checked for loose mounts and connections. On the way down check the rivets and/or screws used to secure the mast track. Replace any that are missing or suspect.

Standing Rigging: Stays and Shrouds
This is what 1x19 wire looks like at the upper headstay terminal fitting after it has been twisted back and forth a few times from "halyard wrap". Even slight damage from minor episodes warrants replacing the wire.

Stays and shrouds should have some "give", but not too much, when pressure is exerted with the palm of your hand. A stay that is too tight feels rigid. A stay that is too loose feels limp. Make sure any necessary adjustments are done evenly so the mast doesn't get cocked to one side. And adjustable (mechanical or hydraulic) backstays should be slackened when not in use. Remember, turnbuckles should have sufficient thread inside the barrel --at least 3/4" - and cotter pins to prevent their coming loose. (Be sure and wrap fresh tape around the cotter pins when you're done.) Wire should be inspected for broken strands or "fishhooks" by wrapping some toilet paper around the wire and running it up and down. If the paper shreds, the wire is nearing the end of its useful life and should be replaced. Check the wire where it enters the swage fittings for rust, which also indicates weakened wires that should be replaced.

reproduced courtesy

The above article illustrates the importance of this pre season check and the maintenance steps you can take yourself. Another excellent article is in the July 2008 issue of Yachting Monthly - not available online as yet.

The image at right shows you a basic rigging kit. A pair of binoculars is also useful. You can lie on your back on the deck and get a good look at the masthead - of course, this is for ongoing maintenance following your pre season check.

You can read more about rigging adventures and how we tackled them in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Sunday 24 August 2008

My Dream Cruising Sailboat

Having lived on, sailed half way round the globe and many sea miles in between on 'Tere Moana' (a Ron Holland 43), I came to understand the excellent qualities of this fine vessel.

She has lovely lines, gorgeous sheerline, fine bow and looks great from any angle. Strongly built with acres of teak down below and on her decks, she loved sailing to all points of weather. Twenty years on she still retains all of her grace and turns heads wherever she goes. Sadly, I am no longer her owner, but I still get to sail on her with my friend Patrick who is her current master.

So when I am looking for my next yacht I will find it hard to go past a Ron Holland design. My dream yacht is his Discovery 55 and the following is an extract from their website :

The Discovery 55 is the ultimate world-class cruising yacht - strong, safe, fast and beautifully balanced. She is a thoroughbred from the board of the renowned yacht designer Ron Holland. Designed for effortless handling by just two people, she offers impressive performance and reliability. The Discovery 55 is a yacht that you can sail across oceans or soak up the peace and tranquillity at anchor in your favourite bay. She is a truly luxurious home to enjoy in different locations with family and friends.
Experienced sailors, who know just what works on a yacht, have designed every detail of the Discovery 55.

Naval architect Ron Holland, famous for his numerous successful racing yachts, is now legendary for his design of elegant, fast cruising yachts and superyachts. By applying his extensive experience and expertise to the design of the Discovery 55, he has created a classic thoroughbred, that is a sheer pleasure on the water and that will take you anywhere you choose to go.

Achieving the best in terms of total speed, simple handling and easy motion was essential. Drawing a hull that incorporated a reasonable forefoot, high performance bulb keel, moderate sections aft, and a semi-balanced skeg-hung rudder, Ron Holland has delivered a boat that has power and performance and that is fast on all points of sailing, tracking well both up and downwind. Above all she is a boat that looks after her crew in all conditions.
Reproduced courtesy Discovery Yachts

There are a number of these hulls already on the water and Discovery Yachts will have them on show 'on the water' at this years' Southampton Boat Show which runs from 12 - 21 September.
A very few of these vessels have come back onto the market and are available to the discerning buyer, but don't expect to pick up a bargain.
You can read more about the sailing qualities of 'Tere Moana' in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Monday 18 August 2008

Volvo Penta Greening up their D-series Sailboat Engines

The big talk out of Volvo Penta of course is the IPS driving and docking system. However, they are not idle on the environmental front are making some major changes on their D1 and D2 small diesel engines which are installed universally in sailboats.

Volvo Penta is launching new versions of the D1 and D2, the smallest diesel engines in its program. The biggest news is on the environmental side. Particle emissions have been reduced by as much as 50 per cent. The engines satisfy future, very comprehensive US emission regulations.Six models of the Volvo Penta D1 and D2, ranging from 12 hp to 75 hp, are available.

These engines are used in sailboats and other displacement boats and are bestsellers for Volvo Penta. The same engine family will be installed in all the boats in the next Volvo Ocean Race where they will be exposed to the toughest imaginable conditions.
New versions of the D1 and D2 will be available very soon.
“In principle, everything inside the engines is new, about 150 components in each engine. The result is better control over fuel injection and combustion, which has enabled emissions to be reduced from a level that was already very low,” says Fredrik Christborn at Volvo Penta’s product planning department.
The new D1 and D2 satisfy the future US emission requirements EPA stage 3, which will be introduced for this category of engines in January, 2009. These regulations are far more comprehensive than the emission requirements in the rest of the world, including the EU. Volvo Penta’s policy is to develop engines that satisfy the most comprehensive international emission requirements and then market these clean engines worldwide, even when such low emissions are not required.
The newly developed engines offer the additional bonus of lower noise and fewer vibrations. “Here, our engines were already best in their class and the new engines are even quieter. This is something we know the customers appreciate, being able to use the engine without being discomforted by noise.

The Volvo Penta D1 and D2 come with a very powerful generator – 115 A and 12 V – fitted as standard. In the case of the two largest models, the D2-55 and D2-75, which are often installed in large yachts, additional charging is needed. The engines are now available fitted with additional combinations of 12 V and 24 V generators as options. With a 24 V generator, it is easy to have both a 12 V and a 24 V system on board.
D1-13: 9.0 kW /12.2 hp

D1-20: 14 kW / 19 hp

D1-30: 21 kW / 28 hp
D2-40: 29 kW / 40 hp
D2-55: 41 kW / 55 hp
D2-75: 55 kW / 75 hp

Reproduced courtesy

You can read more about diesel engines and maintenance of them in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Delphia Yachts at the 2008 Sydney Boat Show

Cruising along the boardwalk at the Sydney Boat Show I ran into my old friend Dave Wilkinson. He is with the master agents for Delphia Yachts of Poland. Delphia Yachts have a by-line which runs ' Quality you expect at prices you don't', and this personifies this fine range of yachts.

Dave took me down to meet Geoff Pearson who heads up the Australasian Master Agency for Delphia and we then proceeded to have a good poke around the Delphia 40. The cockpit layout is excellent with a convenient step through in the stern.

She has fresh, clean hull lines and sturdy construction - she obviously slips through the water quickly. Her coach roof design is also pleasing - nice lines all round. Standing and running rigging is as you would expect on a yacht of this size, with top quality Selden mast and boom and Lewmar winches and hatches fitted as standard.

A fully battened main with Rutgerson cars comes standard along with a very efficient lazy jack and bag system on the boom. The jib furler is a Furlex.

But it is when you go below that the space and light strikes you. The cabin area gives the impression of a much larger boat and the cheery brightness is great - even on the dullest day there would be plenty of light to please the most fastidious skipper.

The Delphia 40 nestles a 40hp Volvo Saildrive, neatly accessable under the companionway steps.

Refrigeration is the excellent performing and compact Isotherm 12v water cooled unit. I installed one of these on 'Tere Moana' and it kept lettuce and cabbage fresh and crisp for up to ten days which meant we were still eating fresh vegetables arriving at the next port. Water cooled is the key here.

For her sailing qualities and handling we turn to Bob Ross whose extensive article in the May 2006 issue of Cruising Helmsman can be viewed on and click on 'media'.

With twenty five of these vessels on the water to date, Delphia Yachts have stamped their mark on the Australasian yachting scene in a very short space of time - the future looks very good indeed and expect to see many more hitting our waters in the years to come.

You can check out more on these boats and their exceptionally keen pricing by visiting or calling on Geoff and Dave personally at their office on Middle Harbour at the Spit, Mosman, Sydney.

Published courtesy of Delphia Yachts(Aust) Pty Ltd

You can read more about sailing and water cooled refrigeration on passage in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Hanse Yachts at the Sydney International Boat Show

Hanse Yachts will be on display at this years' Sydney Boat Show from 31 July to 05 August. Eight variants of this extremely popular marque will be on the water.

Hanse yachts have become popular in recent years with their sailing abilities, clean lines, fitout and very importantly in the current climate, reasonable prices.

Hanse have recently launched their new flagship the 630e which has incorporated a hydraulically operated variable telescoping keel. Here is an extract from their website discussing this exciting innovation:
With a new keel construction the draught of the Hanse 630e is now hydraulically adjustable between 3.10 and 2.35 metres. To the crews and owners this means additional access to smaller harbours and shallower waters without loss of the fine sailing characteristics of the Hanse – whether it is the Aegean or Antigua! The new telescopic keel is now available as an option.

HanseYachts continues to pursue the target, which they set for themselves. That is to find particularly innovative solutions for the owners. So far the draught automatically increased with the size of the yacht limiting access to many interesting sailing areas of the world unless the choice of shallower draught and a reduction in sailing ability was made.

Solutions, such as the short or hoisting keels had either a negative effect on the speed and performance or required valuable space in the yacht's interior. In cooperation with the construction office Judel/ Vrolijk & co a new telescopic keel construction was developed, which does not require any space in the interior, and which enables the owners to cruise in the shallower waters of the world.

The largest yacht ever built in series in Germany provides more flexibility with simple handling at the same time. Even a small crew can sail this yacht safely, fast, and now in significantly more areas. Above the water everything remains as it was – and under water there is more space!

Reproduced courtesy HanseYachts

Local agents 'Windcraft' of Bayview will have eight boats ranging from the Hanse 320 up to the Hanse 540e 'on the water' at the Show. They are in marina berths M16 - 26 and will be very happy to show you around these yachts.

They will also have full details of the magnificent new 630e.

You can read more about shallow water cruising in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Sunday 20 July 2008

Sailboat Towed Generator for More Onboard Power

The debate between wind generators, towed generators, solar power and the so called 'gensets' has been raging for years.
The fact is that in these days with all of the environmental issues surrounding us, installing a genset is just a non issue. A combination of air, solar and water power generation is the only solution for most cruising sailboats. By most we are referring to yachts up to 50ft. approximately which would comprise 90% of cruisers sailing our oceans.
All these options draw their energy from the natural elements we are passing through whilst sailing - with a nil carbon footprint. They take up little room and are silent - perfect!
Stack this up against the diesel generator which is noisy, requires a lot of inboard space, uses diesel fuel, needs constant attention(servicing), and with a poor power output - you do not want a diesel generator running all day!
I personally used a combination of a wind generator and a water towed generator. The wind generator is fine when sailing to windward, but output drops off a lot when sailing downwind. So the back up was a towed generator which produced 9 - 11 amps constantly when sailing downwind at 8 - 9 knots.

This pumped in enough power that would run all the boats' power needs effortlessly, including the refrigerator and water maker, which enabled us to arrive at every port with full water tanks.
I ran it during the day, retrieving it onboard again at sunset.
Technology has moved on and the units you can now purchase are even more efficient.
Here is an extract from the website The Green Blue in which the benefits of towed power are discussed.
The Green Blue - Energy Saving Tips - Towed Power
‘Another way to charge your battery while cruising is by a towed water generator. These devices are easy to use and are powered through a rotor towed on the end of a 33 metre line. An example showed that 3 Amps/hour was produced at 4 knots and 5 Amps/hour at 5 knots.’
As discussed in the May energy saving tip on wind turbines, the average yacht these days, is more often than not fitted out with a wide range of electrical equipment to help make navigation simpler, safer and more enjoyable for the skipper and crews onboard.
Anyone who owns a yacht actually already owns a large wind energy generator, and that is the yacht itself. The average wind turbine suitable for mounting on a yacht may span 7 - 10 square feet of air stream, whereas the sail of a typical cruising yacht will of course intercept an area far greater than this.
As a result an easy and efficient way to maximise power generation for your battery whilst cruising is by drawing energy from the yacht's movement through the water rather than directly from the wind.
This is where a towed generator comes into its own. Many yachtsmen consider towed water generators too much trouble, but this is an efficient way to get a lot of energy out of the wind, particularly when on long passages.
Originally the generators we designed just for towing but since the first was developed things have changed and there are all sorts of varieties available to choose to suit your needs. The most modern designs can be used as a towed generator whilst moving and can then be adapted to work as a wind generator when anchored and stationary.
Article reproduced courtesy 'The Blue Green' with image from Ampair.
You can read more about power generation and towed generators in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Monday 7 July 2008

Deck Maintenance when Cruising

When cruising it is vital to keep on top of maintenance on a regular basis. Deck maintenance is part of this and on passage I always carried out a 'Deck Check' daily. This way you find little things that need attention and can be fixed in a few minutes before they become bigger things. prevention is far far better than cure when at sea.

The following is an extract from a feature article on Bluesheets Marine Directory:

Deck fittings need to be checked regularly, because the safety of both boat and crew often depends on them. The first items on the checklist should be load-bearing fittings such as winches and standing rigging: a rigging screw that fails can bring down the whole rig. Check their condition, operation and the security of the deck fixing.

Some items don't carry much of a load under normal circumstances, but need to be able to do so in an emergency: stanchions, guardwires and the like. If the motion of the boat throws you or if you trip and fall against a guardwire, you want to know it will be able to prevent you going over the side. So inspect it carefully for broken strands, and give it a good strong tug to ensure it's anchored firmly. Stanchions will often be a little loose in their sockets, but the base itself should be firmly fixed to the deck.

Hatches may be your only way out of the cabin in an emergency, so it is very important that they can be opened easily. Check that they don't leak when closed, and also do the same with fixed and opening windows, lights and ports.

Almost any through-bolted deck fitting can let water into the cabin, because the bolthole provides a convenient channel through the laminate for rain or sea water. Check that the fixing is secure, and that the sealant around the base of the fitting is not cracked or missing.

Sails: Anyone who has ever stood on a foredeck with a jib flapping round them knows the huge forces that can be generated by a sail. The rigging that harnesses those forces to drive the hull forward is only as strong as its weakest point. Sheets can chafe and part, a block can seize and fail, the sail itself can split at the seams: what's more, if anything's going to happen, it will happen at the most inconvenient moment when the loads are highest.

Blocks, sheaves and furling gear should be inspected regularly and if there is any sign of sticking, free and grease them. Anything that squeaks under load needs attention.

Look after your sails. A sail is actually a shallow bag rather than a flat panel, carefully designed and cut to hold and distribute loads efficiently. It should be folded and bagged sensitively, so that the fabric retains its shape and isn't bent in a direction that it's not designed for. Don't just stuff the foresail in the sailbag, but roll it so that the luff wire is not kinked or twisted.
If possible, hose sails down after use to get the salt off, and then let them dry before bagging them. If you have to leave the mainsail on, fold it over the boom and put the cover on.

Finally, check the condition of all cordage regularly, especially the sheets.

Reproduced courtesy Bluesheets Marine

You can read more about daily maintenance when cruising in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website

Friday 4 July 2008

New Oceanis 54 from Beneteau

With an increasing interest in sail as opposed to power, being generated by all the environmental issues currently facing us, we are going to see the ratio change between the two genres in favour of sailboats, in the future.

Here is the new Beneteau 54, to be launched shortly, and she looks to be a beauty.
You will note that apart from all the necessary qualities required and expected in a yacht of this nature, a big focus is also on liveaboard values.
The Océanis 54 continues with everything that has made the new generation of Océanis successful and brings a magnificent yacht with flowing lines designed by Berret-Racoupeau to those who travel the oceans.

Sea views: The Super Yacht expertise of Nauta Design is very clear in the interior space and accommodation of the Océanis 54. The hull ports together with the long deck plexiglass windows bring natural light and give a view over the sea which will delight aesthetes.

As to the deck, access to the sea is by means of a wide, very comfortable stern skirt.
Handling: Thanks to its well-sized deck gear and a wisely designed running rigging plan, the flagship of the range remains a boat that is extremely easy to handle and, in particular, can be sailed short-handed. Also of note is the capstan type windlass, the arrangement of which is inspired by the Super Yachts.

Accessibility: The OCEANIS 54 is generous with its real living spaces (saloon, cockpit) in an Owner’s layout version (3 cabins + forepeak cabin).

In addition, BENETEAU makes a 54 footer more affordable than ever thanks to a powerful pricing position for a boat of this size (indicative list price ex tax: 249,900 Euros).

Principal features:
• Balanced, comfortable hull for good average daily runs whilst cruising
• Easy access forward: wide, safe side decks, coachroof shape, handrails etc.
• Deck gear and running rigging plan designed to allow short-handed sailing.
• Twin steering wheel positions, a large table for a very friendly cockpit.
• Spacious sea galley built-in beneath the companionway capable of accommodating any appliances needed for comfort.
• Long cruising range: 970 litres fresh water and 475 litres fuel.
• Two levels of trim for real luxury: ‘Avantage’ and ‘Elégance’.

Technical caracteristiques:Length overall: 16.7mWaterline length: 15mMaximum beam: 4.9mLight displacement: 14,450 kg
Draught (shallow keel option): 1.8mDraught (standard deep keel): 2.3m
Sail area - mainsail: 69m²
Sail area - genoa: 85m² (135%)
Sail area – asymetric spinnaker: 170m²Design: Berret RacoupeauDesign and interior design: Nauta Design
Engine : Yanmar 110HP diesel
Fuel capacity: 475 LFresh water capacity: 970 L
Sailing categories requested A12/B13/C14
Indicative list price: 249,900 Euros ex tax

Reproduced courtesy Beneteau Yachts and Voiles News Magazine

With the upcoming Sydney 2008 Boat Show commencing July 31st. local agents Beneteau Vicsail(marinas 187-97) will have all details available on their stand.

You can read more about cruising and cruising sailboats in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website