Tuesday 28 April 2009

Kannad 406 EPIRB Automatic in Real Lifesaving Situation

As with all technology, advances are continually made and it is no different with the 406MHz EPIRB technology. The latest generation come with automatic integration into your GPS system.

This gives much greater accuracy and pinpoints a vessel or MOB to 120 metres. The old 121.5(discontinued) was 12 miles approximately and the the earlier 406MHz units were 1.2 - 2 miles accuracy.

This Obviously gives the search and rescue teams a great advantage with much improved possibility of locating the target faster.

This is illustrated in the following transcript of the recent sinking of a French fishing vessel and subsequent speedy rescue of the crew:

The sinking of the 'Sandokan' - the fishing boat 'Sandokan' was wrecked on the 8th of April 2009 in Saint Quay Portrieux, North West France.

“While fishing operation, the boat scraped a rock with the keel, a leak appeared extremely rapidly and the trawler sank very quickly” declared William Abbestre, President of the SNSM from Saint Quay Portrieux.It is 2.15 PM when the two mariners of the 53 feet trawler see their boat sinking, from their life raft.

The distress beacon KANNAD 406 Auto, perfectly adapted to the fishing boats, activates itself automatically during the sinking. The Search and Rescue (SAR) chain starts and the SNSM(French Sea Rescue), alerted via the CROSS(French search rescue co-ordination centre) , goes to the sinking place.

Meanwhile, the two mariners are picked up by sailors who heard the alert given by the CROSS(having received the signal from SARSAT).The two mariners, safe and sound, will be brought back to the harbor by the SNSM".

The Kannad 406 auto was the unit used in this incident and is illustrated to the right. Of course, it is vital for the crew to take the beacon with them as they transfer from the sinking vessel to their liferaft!

The COSPAS-SARSAT system plays an invaluable part in these rescues so I have put together the following summary for you:

The basic Cospas-Sarsat concept is illustrated in the adjacent figure. The System comprises:

Distress radiobeacons (ELTs for aviation use, EPIRBs for maritime use, and PLBs for personal use) which transmit signals during distress situations;

Instruments on board satellites in geostationary and low-altitude Earth orbits which detect the signals transmitted by distress radiobeacons.

Ground receiving stations, referred to as Local Users Terminals (LUTs), which receive and process the satellite downlink signal to generate distress alerts.

Mission Control Centers (MCCs) which receive alerts produced by LUTs and forward them to Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs), Search and Rescue Points Of Contacts (SPOCs) or other MCCs.

The Cospas-Sarsat System includes two types of satellites:
satellites in low-altitude Earth orbit (LEO) which form the LEOSAR System
satellites in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) which form the GEOSAR System
Cospas-Sarsat has demonstrated that the GEOSAR and LEOSAR system capabilities are complementary.

For example the GEOSAR system can provide almost immediate alerting in the footprint of the GEOSAR satellite, whereas the LEOSAR system
provides coverage of the polar regions (which are beyond the coverage of geostationary satellites).

They can calculate the location of distress events using Doppler processing techniques and are
less susceptible to obstructions which may block a beacon signal in a given direction because the satellite is continuously moving with respect to the beacon.

Go to the COSPAS-SARSAT website at http://www.cospas-sarsat.org/ for much more detail including a full list of approved 406MHz distress beacon manufacturers.

Extracts courtesy Kannad and Cospas-Sarsat and images courtesy Cospas-Sarsat.

You can read more about safety at sea and personal MOB rescue beacons in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

Sunday 19 April 2009

Sailboat Engine Gearbox Reconditioning 3

Well, as predicted, the best laid plans very often get interrupted - and so it is with our schedule for having the gearbox back into Patricks' yacht by this Saturday. Our gearbox expert Barry has completed the reconditioning and we have it back with us now. However, due to unforseen circumstances we are unable to fit it this weekend and have put it back to Wednesday this coming week.

In the meantime here are a some images of the gearbox in pieces on Barry's workbench. Barry, of 'Marine Gearbox Services' is one of the very few and fast disappearing doyens of marine gear box maintenance, repair and reconditioning. With many years of experience under his belt there is no marine gearbox that he doesn't know inside out (excuse the pun) and never comes up short. His knowledge on all things gearbox is profound and being very particular in his approach you will always be assured of the best, and have complete confidence in his work.

He showed and explained to us exactly what was causing the problem of the boat slipping out of and back into gear from time to time and what parts were worn and needed replacing. It is not the purpose of this blog to supply a fully detailed manual of the work that needed to be done, suffice to say that friction clutch plates (cintered bronze) and steels were worn, the selector fork was too slack as was the selector ring. All these parts to be replaced along with the bearings and all seals and gaskets. Any other parts Barry considered needed to be replaced as he worked through the job would be.

Believe it or not, the exploded drawing of the Hurth gearbox does actually contain all those parts showing - difficult to believe that (a) that many bits are required for a simple forward and reverse gearbox and (b) they all fit into that limited space. It was a wise decision on our part to take it to the expert and not attempt to dismantle it ourselves!

We had a very informative time with Barry and on coming away we wondered what will happen when all the Barrys' of this world stop their work - a rare breed indeed.

In the meantime however, Barry is fully occupied with this work, not planning on giving it up any time soon, and you can contact him on marinegearbox1@yahoo.com for all marine gearbox repair and reconditioning.

My next blog will be posted on successful re-installation of the gearbox into the boat.

You can read more about regular on board gearbox and engine maintenance in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

Monday 13 April 2009

Sailboat Engine Gearbox Reconditioning 2

Easter has arrived and true to form we are experiencing classic Easter weather - overcast, drizzling rain, but warmish - it never fails, no matter what time Easter falls! That being the case we brought forward by one day the task of stage two of our removing the gearbox project(challenge) - never a bad idea when you are dealing with mechanical people who, with the best will in the world, very often fall short on the promised deadline.

Fortified with a strong cup of tea Patrick (the owner) and I set to work having removed all the side panels from around the engine. There is a nice bright cabin type light installed in the engine room so at least light will not be problem.

First task is to drain the oil from the gearbox and this is done smoothly with the drain plug coming undone quite easily. Next, the gear cable is disconnected from the gear lever and strung up out of the way. We remove the cable bracket as well as it will also be in the way when we come to wrestle the gearbox off the bell housing of the engine. So far so good with all nuts undoing reasonably easily.

Now, we come to what is to prove to be the most heat generating part of the operation, and that is uncoupling the shaft from the coupling plates. The shaft needs to be slid back toward and through the stern gland about eight centimetres, to allow for the coupling plates to come off and the gearbox to be worked off its studs on the bell housing. It doesn't want to budge. Nothing generates heat more quickly than two amateur mechanics in a confined space heaving on an obstinate piece of machinery that doesn't want give up its purchase. The shaft has been quite happily rotating whilst driven by the engine, but once de-coupled does not wish to be turned by hand and definitely not wanting to be slid sternward into and through the stern gland.

The shaft has obviously bedded itself into the stern gland packing and lodged in a comfortable position from which it objects to being changed. The next step is to dig out the gland packing and this is labouriosly achieved with a sharp screwdriver and time. It has been awhile since the gland was packed so it was stiff, hard and dry. With the gland packing removed and using the largest lever available we attempt to separate it from the coupling plates. It moves about half a centimetre and stops once more. Several sweaty minutes later and a combination of levering between the plates and a large driver rotating the coupling plates from side to side the shaft head plate and shaft is worked back five to six centimetres.

This looks ok but we were to find out later it was not quite far enough. The next task is to unbolt the coupling plates. These are very cunningly bolted from both directions and neither set of bolts have enough room to fully exit their respective plate. This was where we discovered the shaft and its plate had to go a little further aft. By this time we knew what we were doing and a couple of good heaves and it was done. With much debate as to how to remove the bolts from the coupling plates, many minutes later and a lot of wriggling they came away. It was at this point we began speculating on how we were going to re-assemble them! cross that bridge when we get to it was the consensus.

With the coupling plates removed we were rapidly closing on our target. Six nuts are all that now stand between us and the completion of this part of the job. Surprisingly, they all come undone sweetly and with a gentle lift and tug off its studs, the gearbox comes away from the bell housing and is laying on the cabin floor.

Into a suitable sized bucket, lowering it carefully into the tender and rowing ashore is accomplished without mishap. We shall have it on Barry the gearbox engineers' workbench tomorrow morning sharpish, leaving him to do the reconditioning which is a specialists' job.

We have set ourselves the target (reminiscent of a 'Top Gear' project) of having the gearbox back in our hands and re-installed on the boat this coming Saturday - watch this space.

You can read more about mechanical adventures whilst at sea 'on passage' in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

Saturday 11 April 2009

Revolutionary Paintless Anti-fouling Systems for Sailboats

With the arrival of Spring and thoughts of getting out on the water - can't wait! - the other ominous thought creeping up in the back of ones mind like a dark cloud is the prospect of anti-fouling your vessel before it goes 'splash'!

Memories of blasting, scraping, sanding, taping, and then the applying of that odourous gooey largely environmentally unfriendly grey/blue gunk onto your hull come flooding back. It invariably occurs on a early Spring day with watery sun struggling through and a thin wind knifing through your ancient woollen sweater. Paint spotted and weary at days end, everyone is measurably pleased when the last roll finishes and the gear cleaned up.

These days may be numbered with the arrival of two new systems for controlling the seasons' growth on your hull.

One is based on electrolysis and is called 2B Sure, is Dutch manufactured and they have had some sensational results with trials on Dutch navigation buoys. They claim reduced fuel usage, therefore less emissions and engine wear over time. Of course, no more annual anti-fouling costs and no mess - just a quick water blast to remove any slime at the annual haul-out.

Here is an extract from the Bright Spark website http://www.brightspark.nl/

Protect your ship from organic matter with the Anti-fouling system from Bright Spark!
Bright Spark has developed an innovative Anti-fouling system that keeps your ship free from organic matters by electrolysis.

The growth of shells, mussels or barnacles on ships is a well known problem that the owners of the ships have to pay for cleaning. This applies to recreational sailing as well as for professional seafaring, because the growth of shells does not only lead to a loss in speed and therefore to higher fuel costs, but can also damage the ship itself.
Cleaning and maintenance were up to now the only (expensive) solution against organic matters on boats.

No growth of shells and other marine growth
Saves on fuel costs
No loss of speed
Lower maintenance effort and therefore lower maintenance costs
Environmentally friendly

The Anti-fouling system consists of two special mobile electrodes and one control case. Due to the interaction of copper-ions and the electric field that consists between the two electrodes, a protection zone is created. The substances created are environmentally friendly. This is tested and proven by NIOZ (Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee / Dutch Institute for Sea Research). This protection zone prevent shells and algae from sticking to the ships hull.

The system is switched on every time the yacht is lying quietly in the water.
The Anti-fouling system is easy to maintain and it can be used with all hull materials (glass, wood, metals,). The electrodes need to be exchanged every few years (depending on how often the system is used).

The system runs on 12V DC but it can be provided with an adapter so that alternative current can be used. As soon as both electrodes are in the water and the system is activated, the system starts working. On the operation display the status of the system can be metered and settings can be changed.

The second new system is from Blue and Green Marine and works on ultrasound. The following extract from their website http://www.blueandgreenmarine.com/ tells you more:

Ultrasound – the next generation of antifouling:
Blue & Green Marine’s Hull Protection System is a high-tech way to keep your hull as clean as the day it was launched. It’s a simple, effective, fit-and-forget antifouling solution. It’s environmentally sound and can pay for itself within two seasons.

This next generation antifouling system surrounds your hull with a shield of ultrasound-induced cavitation, creating an environment that algae and bacteria find totally uninhabitable.

The key to its efficiency lies in the destructive power that ultrasound can have at a microscopic level. The ultrasonic transducers create a finely-tuned pulse of ultra-high frequency sound waves in the water touching the hull. These waves cause cavitation within the cell walls of the single-celled organisms that form a layer or ‘bio-film’ around all objects immersed in water.
This fierce cavitation is harmless to your gel-coat but disrupts the cells’ structure, removing the first link in the food chain, preventing larger more complex organisms from colonising any part of your hull, keel, rudder, prop-shaft, propeller, thrusters, water intakes or through-hull transducers.

Blue & Green Marine’s Hull Protection System works on any kind of GRP, aluminium, steel or ferro-cement hull and is only available through the company’s network of authorised installers. The ultrasonic transducer, which is built to exceed MOD specifications, is bonded to the inside of your hull and connected to a bulkhead control panel.

The system switches automatically between battery and shore power and has a tiny current draw of 0.06 Amps (or 60 milliamps). The unit is silent and does not interfere with any onboard electronics. The ultrasonic pulses also have no affect on your boat’s anodes, are harmless to fish and inaudible to marine mammals.

Extract articles and images courtesy of Bright Spark and Blue and Green Marine.

Prices range from USD3000 - 8000, so you will need to start saving your pennies! However, with all the environmental issues we are facing and being as time poor as we all are these days, there is no doubt that this technology is the way forward in the future. The cost will also come down as it always does with new technology.

So, relish the traditional method of hauling and antifouling your boat on a cold and blustery day in early spring as it may not be around too much longer.

You can read more about anti-fouling (in French Polynesia) in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com/

Sunday 5 April 2009

Sailboat Engine Gearbox Reconditioning

The gearbox on a friends yacht started playing up recently. It is a simple box with a three position gear lever - forward, astern and neutral - which is all you need for the average sailboat.

From time to time it would slip out of gear when going forward and then a few seconds later it would grab again and go back into gear. This was ok for a time, but it was noted that as is always the case, these malfunctions gradually deteriorate and become worse, never better, and that at some point in the future it would need some attention. Sure enough it gradually got worse and was staying longer out of gear before going back in again, to the point where the decision was made to take some positive action.

Apart from this being potentially dangerous i.e. not being able to go astern when docking etc., or subsequent damage arising from being unable to avoid a collision when under power, it is good seamanship practice to keep right on top of these maintenance jobs when they occur - not much later when they could potentially put you, your boat, your crew and others at risk.

This particular gearbox is a simple Hurth (Hurth 150) one speed box attached to a marinised Perkins 4108 (48hp) diesel engine of hazy history. The boat was built in 1988 and the engine could well have had hours on it prior to it being marinised. The Hurth would have been fitted new at that time and twenty five hundred hours have been run on the combination in the ensuing years.

The image to the right shows you the installation in the engine room with the gear lever to the right hand side of the box, and also shows you the shaft coupling. Following a considerable amount of research we have located a marine engineer who can service and recondition the gearbox providing we can get it to him. This is the point we are currently at now, and facing up to diving into the bilge to uncouple the the shaft from the gearbox and remove the gearbox from the engine. The date has been set and all going well we should have it out of the boat and to the engineer by the afternoon of Tuesday 14th April.

This blog is to put you on notice of our intention and let you know that I will be posting another blog shortly giving you a detailed description of our progress - hopefully good but warts and all including skinned knuckles etc - so watch this space.

You can read more about engine repairs and maintenance whilst cruising, in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com