Wednesday 28 May 2008

Delta Anchor 'Real Life' Test

I have just returned from six days sailing on the sailboat of a good friend of mine along the NSW coast of Australia. We had a fantastic sail north on the first day in a southerly blow of 35kts. gusting to 40kts. She is a 43ft. fast cruising yacht and with two reefs in the mainsail we were comfortably sailing at 8 - 9 knots plus.

My friend had recently purchased a new 35lb Delta anchor( it is a 43ft. yacht) and was keen to try it out 'in anger' so to speak. We anchored the following evening in a reasonably exposed bay in 7 metres of clear water and with a south east swell running into it. We ran out 30metres of chain scope.

Backing up, we could not make it set on our first attempt. On retrieving the anchor we discovered the chain scope wrapped around the anchor shaft - in our enthusiasm in dropping it, the chain had overtaken the anchor - there was no way it would ever set like that!

Correcting the problem we reset it and the anchor bit in immediately and held fast. Not satisfied, the inflatable was driven out and over the anchor position to check if it had set satisfactorily. The verdict was that although lying somewhat to one side it had bitten into the sandy bottom, no furrow, and was holding the boat.

She rode to the anchor very well all night in ten to twelve knots of wind and moderate swell.

The following is an extract from Lewmars website on their Delta anchors:

The Delta anchor leads the way in innovative anchor engineering. The high-grade manganese steel used in the construction of the Delta anchor gives it maximum tensile strength. Its unique shank profile and ballasted tip make the Delta anchor self-launching. The low centre of gravity and self-righting geometry ensure that the Delta anchor will set immediately. Consistent and reliable in performance, the Delta anchor has Lloyd's Register Type Approval as a High Holding Power anchor and is specified as the primary anchor used by numerous National Lifeboat organisations. Also available in premium grade Duplex/High Tensile stainless steel.

Manufactured from high grade manganese steel.
Self launching
Lloyd's Register Type Approval
Guaranteed for life against Breakage

For more detailed data on a range of anchors you can read a report on a very extensive test carried out on fourteen different models conducted by Yachting Monthly. This is in pdf format and you can find it on

reproduced courtesy Lewmar, Rocna and Yachting Monthly.

You can read more about anchoring incidents, good and not so good, in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

Tuesday 20 May 2008

New Assymetrical Spinnaker Furler from Facnor

The introduction of these furlers from Facnor has been hugely popular. Because they are so easy to use, many owners have introduced them to their boats. Easy to install, they fit to the forward end of the fixed spinnaker pole.

No more awkward operations on the foredeck, for example to take the sail down. The Asym-FX furler has been developed through Open 60 race technology. Ready for use very quickly. Your asymmetric Spinnaker is safely and quickly pulled up, taken down and stored. Adaptation on existing asymmetric Spinnaker with only small modifications.

With the ASYM-FX you can furl your asymmetric Spinnaker as easily as your Gennaker. Handle your sail comfortably from the cockpit by just pulling the continuous furling line. This operation will make the drum and then the anti-twist luff rope rotate. The luff rope transmits the rotation to the central furling rope. This will make the luff of the asymmetric Spinnaker furl from the centre. The continuous line drum prevents the furling line from overriding. The furling line can be removed from the drum without any mechanical operation.

You can go to Facnors' website and watch a short video on this innovative product.

Reproduced courtesy of Facnor Furling Systems

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

Wednesday 14 May 2008

True and Apparent Wind

Here is an interesting article from author/sailor John Ellsworth on this question. Every good sailor becomes familiar with this phenomena and with experience is able to understand the difference between the two.

Imagine you're sailing close-hauled on port tack, on a course of 270 degrees. Your masthead wind indicator shows the wind is coming at you at 30 degrees off the port bow. You tack over to starboard and sail close-hauled due south, or 180 degrees. Now your masthead wind indicator is pointing 30 degrees off the starboard bow-a 60-degree spread from port close-hauled. Why does this new course of 180 degrees differ 90 degrees from the last course and not 60 degrees, what the masthead indicator shows as the difference between the two tacks?

The answer is that you are dealing with apparent wind. Apparent wind is the wind shown by a masthead indicator and telltales, the wind you feel on your face while you are sailing.

True wind is the wind you feel when you are stationary. Weather systems, topographic features, and thermal effects can influence the strength and direction of true wind. Look at flags flying ashore or ripples on the water to determine true-wind direction. Your boat's speed over the bottom and your course combine with true-wind speed and direction to determine the velocity and direction of apparent wind.

On a still day, try coasting down a hill on a bicycle. Your forward motion causes the breeze you feel on your face. Similarly, when a boat moves forward at 5 knots in no wind, the forward motion creates an apparent wind of 5 knots moving in the direction opposite to the boat's course.
Two work as one. The wind that blows on your face when you are in motion and to which you trim your sails is apparent wind. It is a combination of true-wind velocity and direction and the boat's speed and course. When you are sailing close-hauled, the true wind is most likely about 45 degrees off your windward bow. But your forward motion results in apparent wind coming from a direction that is slightly forward of the true wind and with a speed that is greater than the true wind.

A change in either your heading or your speed affects the apparent wind. Similarly, a change in either true-wind speed or direction can also change the direction and strength of apparent wind.
Assuming a constant true wind, see how apparent wind changes at various points of sail (Fig. 1).

Apparent wind angles on the opposite tack are a mirror image. One way to find apparent wind is to draw a parallelogram using the true-wind speed and direction and boat course and boat speed as two sides.

The apparent-wind angle is the diagonal vector that bisects the parallelogram. The length of the bisecting diagonal is the apparent-wind velocity expressed in the same units as boat speed and true-wind speed.

Reproduced courtesy of John Ellsworth - you can visit him on his website

You can read more about wind direction and sailing with it in my ebook 'The Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website for sailors

Monday 12 May 2008

Gelcoat Repairs on Your Sailboat - Do it Yourself!

The next time you’re cleaning and waxing your boat, take the time to look for small cracks, scratches, chips and gouges in its gel coat. If your boat is more than a few years old, you‘ll probably be surprised at the number you find.

The Diagnosis: Most scratches and chips in gel coat result from impacts with hard objects (winch handles, downrigger weights, 15 lb. lobsters) and are not cause for concern. But if you find a series of cracks, take a minute to inspect the area more closely. If the cracks radiate from the base of load-bearing equipment like a cleat or stanchion, there is probably a problem with the installation that deserves attention before repairing the gel coat.

Solving it might be as simple as shifting a load from undersized equipment, or installing a larger backing plate to spread the load over a wider area. If cracks appear at important joints or intersections in the cabin or deck, however, they might be the sign of an underlying structural weakness that needs to be examined.

You might consider hiring a marine surveyor or having a qualified boat maintenance worker take a look at the problem to ensure that it isn’t serious.

The Repair Before you begin: Wash the area with soap and water and rinse it thoroughly. If the surface is oxidized, restore it with a rubbing compound so you’ll be able to match its color accurately. Once the surface is clean and dry, mark off the repair area with masking tape.

Next, gouge out small, narrow cracks (and scratches that are too deep to remove with rubbing compound) until they are wide enough to fill with gel coat paste. A miniature grinding tool like a Dremel is ideal, but the sharp point of a can opener will work, too. (If you don’t open the crack, you won’t be able to force the gel coat into the repair area or expose enough surface area for the repair to adhere.) Then sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper.

After sanding, thoroughly clean the area with acetone to remove the sanding residue and any waxes or other contaminants that might interfere with the bond between the damaged surface and gel coat. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation and proper protection for your skin and eyes whenever you work with acetone. The next step is to match the color of your existing gel coat. Start with a white or neutral gel coat paste (not resin) and begin adding tiny amounts of coloring agent. Mix several test batches of gel coat and pigment, add hardener and allow them to cure (gel coat changes color during the curing process). Once you‘ve found an acceptable match (an exact one is nearly impossible), mix a final batch using the same ratio.

Next, using a putty knife, fill the areas to be repaired with the paste you’ve mixed. Force out any air holes and be sure to overfill, as gel coat has a tendency to shrink as it cures. When you‘re finished filling, seal the repair off from the air with a PVA curing agent or a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper - gel coat does not cure properly when exposed to air.

Once the gel coat has fully cured, sand the repair smooth (wet sanding works particularly well with gel coat). You can start with 220-grit sandpaper and, for a really slick surface, finish with at least 400- or 600-grit. Finally, apply a coat of high-quality marine polish and your repair is complete.

Like all these jobs on your boat, when you look at them for the first time, they seem somewhat daunting. However, once you take the plunge and begin, you will find you are drawn into the process and begin to enjoy it. When you have finished and can see that you have done a first rate job, you will be hugely pleased with yourself and will want to show everyone before allowing your boat to re-splash - I know I did!

Reproduced in conjunction with Westmarine - Westmarine article with my comments at the end.

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

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Mirabaud LX - Swiss Develop the First 'Hull Less' Yacht

This is the latest in sailboat design - from Sail-Search, the website to keep you up to date with all the latest news and developments in sailing:

Geneva, April 29, 2008 – The brand new sailing boat Mirabaud LX was presented to the media this morning at Société Nautique de Genève, in Switzerland. Supported by the Banque Mirabaud & Cie banquiers privés, this project is the result of Thomas Jundt’s creativity and experience with highly competitive sailing boats. Aimed at flying on its hydrofoils, this prototype has a very special characteristic: it has no hulls, although marginal floatability remains, aimed at preventing the boat from sinking until it reaches flying speeds at approximately 8 knots.

Conceived around a structure of carbon fiber tubes, this boat is a concentrate of high technology. Every single element has been optimized in order to reduce the overall weight and allow it to fly on its foils as quickly as possible. As of today, it is the only “hull less” boat on earth.
Mirabaud supports this innovative project and will give Thomas Jundt the ability to further develop it over the next three years.

Mirabaud LX’s crew is made out of Antoine Ravonel, helmsman and boat captain, Thomas Jundt, project manager and crew member, and Eric Gobet, no1. Other members of the project include the coach and former Olympic sailor Jean-Pierre Ziegert, sail designer Jean-Marc Monnard, boat designer Sébastien Schmidt and French engineer Hugues De Turkheim, consultant for the foils.

Mirabaud’s objective in getting associated with such a high tech & professional project is to support the development of the sport whilst promoting its brand locally and internationally. Mirabaud wishes to share human values of excellence and performance through innovative and high tech projects.

Antonio Palma, associé commanditaire, limited Partner, Mirabaud & Cie, banquiers privés said; “This is a fascinating project, way out of the beaten track; a new and very original way of considering the sport of sailing. This spirit of technological challenge, and innovation, has seduced us.”

Thomas Jundt, project manager and crew member said; “The Mirabaud LX project is unique in the world; it represents a real challenge, intellectual, technical and sportive.”

Technical data:LOA: 10mWidth (structure, without the ladders): 1,8mWeight: 150 kg (25 kg for the foils)Surface of sails: (upwind) : 32m2Surface of sails: (downwind) : 62m2

Image copyright Philippe Schiller/my image

Reproduced courtesy Sail-Search

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