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GoPro: Great White Shark In Sydney Harbour

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-06-12 14:15

I spent over a year on and off, anchored right at that spot, and jumped off those rocks many times. It looks like since then somebody’s put an (ineffective) fence around them. The very first time I dropped anchor there, after entering the Heads for the first time, and old salt advised me on the holding, and advised me not to swim. I asked why, and he made the the big mouth sign with his arms. Throughout the year+, and many hours of lovely swimming around that bay, bottom scrubbing, etc., I came to dismiss all the the rumors about man-eating sharks in Sydney Harbour/Port Jackson. Hmm… What a video!

Lenovo Windows tablet, new MFD accessory or primary plotter?

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-06-11 18:50

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I first heard of the Lenovo Miix 2 when Digital Yacht dubbed it a “best buy for boaters”; besides a low price of about $220, the 8-inch tablet is purportedly bright, fast, and able to run regular Windows navigation programs like DY’s own SmarterTrack. While an internal GPS enables standalone navigation, the DY team mainly envisions the tablet as a second station using NMEA 0183 or 2000 boat data (like the AIS seen above), provided over WiFi by one of its many black box hardware options. But then a look at the Miix 2 on Amazon revealed a sailing reviewer who’s very enthusiastic about this tablet as his primary nav device, running free OpenCPN software…

Before discussing the Lenovo tablet as a DIY chart plotter, here’s a SmarterTrack screen shot showing the tablet’s 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution (minus the bottom menu bar seen in the top photo). A significant feature of this setup as a second station is that a user can copy the Navionics chart card they’re using in their MFD to the tablet, including the latest Navionics+ with “Freshest Data” and SonarChart updates. SmarterTrack also seems quite adept at AIS plotting, able to graphically forecast Closest Point of Approach (CPA) situations as illustrated above. (It’s pure coincidence that my Raymariner experience last week included those same River Hamble waters.)

This image shows the Lenovo Miix2 working at the helm of a Catalina 250 on the Delaware River, and apparently, owner Rick S. is not only happy with the display, but did enough research to claim its daylight viewability is better than all the Windows 8 competitors out there right now. Besides that Amazon review, Rick has explained his nav system in detail on this Sailnet thread titled “Chart plotter or iPad.” It’s a good read if you’re interested in how this choice may play out, as I think both sides are well represented.

Rick is also an evangelist for OpenCPN, as you’ll find on this Cruisersforum OCPN thread — where he posts as “RhythmDoctor” — and in this tablet discussion. I’m not familiar with OpenCPN — Rick’s screen shot above was taken on the netbook that preceded the Windows tablet — but it obviously has a lot of fans, and Bill Bishop recently covered a new team effort in open source boat data called Signal K that might benefit efforts like OpenCPN significantly. Plus, Furuno really did come out with the 1st Watch DRS4W WiFi-only Radar (though Furuno USA doesn’t seem interested, and I don’t understand its value myself). I remain interested in all these developments, but I’m unable to envision tablets taking over navigation on a boat like mine any time soon. So I appreciate how Rick S is often careful to state that he sails in protected waters (though with lots of AIS traffic). I also notice that the Lenovo Miix2 is listed as “sold out” by the manufacturer and newer models are not specific about screen brightness.

But what happens when powerful, weatherproof, high-bright tablets come along at reasonable prices? In fact, last week I participated in a lively discussion on that topic in a very unlikely spot. Or perhaps it was the perfect spot, as the HMS Warrior — where Raymarine hosted a gala dinner on the gun deck — was apparently a marvel of warship technology in 1860 but soon became obsolete. Personally, I’m glad to have missed the opportunity to beta test the 110 pound breech loading guns, though muzzel loading 68 pound shells don’t seem appealing either. It was a heck of a spot to discuss the future of tablets and marine electronics, but several of the product guys and even the company’s general manager were up for it.

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Podcast: Mentally Preparing to go Offshore

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:28

Welcome back! This week is a seminar Andy recorded at the Cruiser’s University in Annapolis during the Spring Sailboat Show. People talk endlessly about preparing their boats to go offshore, but what about their brains? Andy spends over an hour going through the stages of a voyage, from preparation through to landfall, and discusses the common anxieties, what to expect, and how to keep it all in perspective. Enjoy!

AC-n-SF, Game Over or Game On?

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-06-10 13:19

By Kimball Livingston Posted June 10, 20145

San Diego-based Bernie Wilson is reporting for the Associated Press that San Francisco Bay is out of the running as a venue for the 2017 America’s Cup match, so you have to believe that, just maybe, San Francisco Bay is out of the running as a venue for the 2017 America’s Cup match. Or, this could be the final-final point of leverage. It’s not as though there haven’t been talks, very recently, at City Hall. And it’s not as though anybody thinks there is a better place to run the races.

But, as the Godfather’s folks would say, “It’s just business.”

Ask Ben Ainslie, seen above with a fellow sailing enthusiast, the Duchess of Cambridge, announcing that the elements of a British challenge have fallen into place.

But first, Bernie Wilson’s account” which reads, in part—

“Russell Coutts, the CEO of two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA, told The Associated Press on Monday night that one venue has been eliminated, and that he plans to reduce the field to two by the end of June.

Coutts wouldn’t confirm which city is out. But it’s been known for months that San Francisco — the hometown of Oracle Team USA — hasn’t offered terms as attractive as those offered by San Diego, Bermuda and Chicago to host the final rounds of the 2017 regatta.

Officials in San Francisco didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Bob Nelson, the chairman of the board of commissioners at the Unified Port of San Diego, confirmed that his city’s bid has advanced.”

The other potential venues in the line of chatter are Chicago and Bermuda.

Curious and curiouser.

Meanwhile, four-time gold medalist Ben Ainslie has made his America’s Cup challenge official. The word from the PR team:

Sir Ben announced his challenge with Yacht Squadron Racing, saying: “This is the last great historic sporting prize never won by Great Britain. It has always been my ambition to mount a home challenge. The time is right and I am hugely encouraged by the support we are getting, not least from the Duchess of Cambridge. I learned a great deal aboard Oracle in San Francisco and I would not be challenging if I did not believe we have a real chance of winning this time.”

the world’s most successful Olympic sailor after winning a fourth gold medal in London 2012, and quickly turned his attention to his long term ambition – winning the America’s Cup for Britain. In 2013, Ainslie became the first Briton to be part of a winning America’s Cup team in 110 years with ORACLE TEAM USA. He played a vital role in one of the greatest comebacks sport has ever seen, overturning an 8:1 deficit to Team New Zealand, and allowing the USA to retain the trophy. Now Ainslie is planning to take the trophy from the Americans in 2017, and bring the America’s Cup back to Britain with his team, Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR).

Sir Charles Dunstone, Chairman of BAR’s Board said: “This campaign is about righting a wrong. We have never won it. We have an amazing maritime history. The Cup has to come home, we have to do that.”

The team announced that it will be representing Yacht Squadron Racing, which is affiliated to the Royal Yacht Squadron, and it means that should BAR be successful and win the Cup for Britain it will bring it back to Cowes and the place where it all began 163 years ago. Royal Yacht Squadron Commodore, Christopher Sharples, said, “We are absolutely delighted to be working with our member Sir Ben Ainslie in his patriotic quest to bring the America’s Cup back to Britain. Since losing the original race in 1851, the Squadron have made a number of unsuccessful attempts to win the Cup, the previous and most recent occasion was in 1958. Sir Ben has impressed us with his incredible track record, his total commitment, his ability to build a most impressive management team and recruit some of the world’s top sailors and designers with the relevant experience.”

BAR has been in gestation since 2011, when Ainslie first started to look ahead to life beyond the Olympics. He spoke with ORACLE TEAM USA (OTUSA) CEO, Russell Coutts with the sole intention of trying to buy an AC45 multihull to compete in the 2012/13 America’s Cup World Series. Coutts had a better idea and instead offered him a job with the Americans. Ainslie subsequently negotiated both a role with OTUSA and his own World Series entry for BAR. It worked out well for both OTUSA and Ainslie, who gathered crucial experience; and as a result of circumstances, found himself substituted onto the US boat in the tactician’s role for the 34th America’s Cup.

The spectacular 9:8 OTUSA victory provided the perfect springboard for Ainslie to return to the UK and seek support for a British effort. The first meetings last October were with Sir Charles Dunstone and Sir Keith Mills, their unwavering commitment gave Ainslie the courage to push on to find other private investors to build a viable British challenge. Subsequent backing came in the form of Chris Bake, Peter Dubens, Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Ian Taylor and Jon Wood. Ex-head of the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV and a keen sailor, Lord Michael Grade was asked and agreed to take on the role as an independent board member alongside Linklaters Chairman and Senior Partner Robert Elliott.

The early investment was critical to building a successful team behind the scenes with the America’s Cup predominantly being a design contest. Following the 2013 Cup, the transfer market for the top design talent was predictably hot, but the private investor funding already achieved made it possible to attract several top names.

Ben Ainslie Racing Team Members

Investor Group and Board Members

Sir Charles Dunstone – Founding Shareholder and Chairman

Sir Keith Mills GBE – Founding Shareholder and Board Member

Chris Bake – Founding Shareholder and Board Member

Peter Dubens – Founding Shareholder

Robert Elliott – Independent Board Member

Lord Michael Grade CBE – Independent Board Member

Lord Irvine Laidlaw – Founding Shareholder

Ian Taylor – Founding Shareholder

Jon Wood – Founding Shareholder and Board Member

Management Team

Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Team Principal and Skipper

Jono Macbeth (NZL) – Sailing Team Manager and Sailor

Andy Claughton (GBR) – Technical Director

Andy Hindley (GBR) – Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer

James Stagg (GBR) – Shore Team Manager

Jo Grindley (GBR) – Head of Commercial, Marketing, Communications and Events

Design Team

Andy Claughton (GBR) – Design and Naval Architecture

Dirk Kramers (NED/USA) – Design and Engineering

Clay Oliver (USA) – Design and Performance Simulation

Rodrigo Azcueta (ARG) – Design and Computational Fluid Dynamics

Luc du Bois (SUI) – Instrumentation and Performance Analysis

Francisco Azevedo (POR) – 3D Modelling

Jason Ker (GBR) – Design and Naval Architecture

Matteo Ledri (ITA) – Computational Fluid Dynamics

Johannes Mausolf (GER) – Performance Prediction and Software Development

Benjamin Muyl (FRA) – Design and Naval Architecture

Simon Schofield (GBR) – 3D Design and Modelling

Benjamin Vernieres (FRA) – 3D Modelling

Sailing Team

Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Skipper

Jono Macbeth (NZL) – Sailing Team Manager

Andy McLean (NZL)– Sailing and Design Team Liaison

David Carr (GBR) – Sailing Team

Matt Cornwell (GBR) – Sailing Team

Nick Hutton (GBR) – Sailing Team

Tough first leg for the ARC DelMarVa Rally

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-06-10 12:19

The inaugural ARC DelMarVa Rally – 450 Miles around the DelMarVa Peninsula – got underway in Annapolis on Sunday, with 21 yachts taking the starting line off Back Creek (with two more joining in Portsmouth). And if it weren’t for the rough, tiring conditions over the next 36 hours, we’d have had a news story up on the website much sooner!

It didn’t look like it was going to turn out this way. As of 1700 on Saturday evening, Mia and I were lamenting the lack of breeze at the Skipper’s Briefing, held at J/World Annapolis in Eastport – complete with a keg of local Fordham Copperhead Ale. The forecast was for light southerlies, if anything, and we advised everyone to fill up on fuel. We should have advised them to fill up on Dramamine instead!

The start itself was calm, with just enough breeze to see Kayode, a Tanton 44, take the lead across the line, closely edging out the much racier J/105 Diffugere Nives. The rest of the fleet followed, tacking out the Severn River on a foul before rounding Tolly Point and entering the Chesapeake Bay proper. Mia, my dad, Marcia and I followed suit on Sojourner, which we used as the committee vessel. They say boats are never quite ‘ready’ for sea, but in our case that was an understatement. We still had to hoist the newly repaired genoa after setting the start line, but finally got underway and followed the fleet down the Bay.

“For a while there it was one of the best days sailing we’ve ever had,” said John on Diffugere Nives, the J/105. “We were tacking back and forth across the Bay, making runs in excess of 8 knots. It was gorgeous!”

The calm conditions did not persist. The south breeze filled in quite nicely at first, but then never stopped. By late afternoon it was blowing over 20 knots, and never relented. Aboard Sojourner, we weren’t expecting the conditions and had in fact de-rigged our solent stay and stowed the small jib, rigging instead the big genoa in anticipation of the light winds. So up to the foredeck we went, re-rigging the stay and hanking on the small jib, the sail which my dad had gotten so much use out of on the 1500 last fall when the fleet set out offshore into 30 knot northerlies.

By nightfall, the wind was a steady 18-20, with higher gusts, and the ugly ‘Chesapeake Chop’ had kicked in. Smartly, most boats – including us on Sojourner – gave up the tacking duel and started motorsailing by nightfall, if nothing else to let the crew get some rest. Tacking every few miles is exhausting work, and requires two people in the cockpit. Motorsailing takes only one, and the rest of the crew can sleep. The noise of the engine, for me anyway, is the best sleep aid there is.

All night the south wind never relented, and by morning – when we should have been approaching Hampton Roads – we were only near Solomon’s, barely halfway down the Bay. Yesterday Sojourner, Diff Nives and Sea Quinn stopped for fuel in Deltaville. We had used a whopping 23 gallons! While the other two boats wisely chose to stay the night, we pushed on aboard Sojourner and spent another long evening at sea.

We finally arrived off Hampton Roads around 10pm last night, and as we headed west into the river, set the genoa again and had a beautiful sail into the Norfolk area, finally cutting the engine and enjoying what we’d set out to do in the first place. Sail, that is.

As of noon today, Tuesday, most of the fleet had arrived into Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, happy to be there and enjoy some needed rest. Three boats – Andante, Island Gal and Adamantine – have elected to leave the rally and cruise the Bay. They plan to join us in Annapolis for the final party back in Annapolis.

“I never had to cook a meal in those conditions before!” said Jon Cohen from the Pacific Seacraft 34 Ruach.

Aboard Seabee, one crewmember was so seasick that when some spray knocked the crackers from his hand and onto his shirt, he simply left them there. “It’s not what it looks like!” he promised.

With Leg 1 complete, the fleet is now 1/3 of the way to completing what for many will be the biggest challenge of their sailing careers (though hopefully not the last!). And with the tough conditions on the Bay, combined with the navigational challenges of sailing in a confined space at night, plus the shipping traffic, crews should be very proud to have made it to Portsmouth. In fact, in the dozens of times I’ve sailed the length of the Bay nonstop, this has easily been the longest. Leg 2 is set to depart tomorrow morning, with a (knock on wood) better weather forecast, so here’s to hoping that the hardest part is in the books.

Follow the fleet at worldcruising.com/arcdelmarva.

New Raymarine a9, a12 & gS19 — aboard the mighty Raymariner

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 9, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Raymarine recently announced three new multifunction displays, extending the multitouch aSeries to 9- and 12-inch screen sizes, and the glass bridge gS Series to 19 inches (the proportions of my collage are approximate). Given four additional a9 and a12 models with digital sounder or Chirp DownVision built in and the fact that all these new MFDs can network with all the aSeries, cSeries (non touch), eSeries (hybrid touch), and gS models already available, is any other manufacturer offering so much choice? They all run the same software — now up to Lighthouse II, release 10 — so you may already be familiar with most of the features, but the new MFDs do have a few new hardware highlights, some of which I got to see in action aboard Raymarine’s remarkable testing vessel…

Raymariner is a highly customized Hardy 42. The abundance of wind sensors, radar scanners, and GPS mushrooms visible in this photo only hint at what’s inside. In this scene some of the 20 boating writers invited to England last week are being put on a dock in Cowes so they could try other demo boats while a few of us rode Raymariner back to her home dock on the River Hamble. Sitting middle seat above is my colleague Chris Landry, who’s already written an informative Trade Only piece on Raymariner.

The next day I enjoyed more time on the Solent aboard Raymariner, when she was back to work. Here you can see four of the eight main testing stations, each with a big removable panel which can be set up with displays back at the R&D center in Fareham. I forgot to ask but presume that on some days you’d see competitor products getting reviewed here. But on this day I found Tony Jesshope — a once-retired Motorola engineer and never-to-retire local sailor — doing some final checks on the new “10Hz Fast Acquisition GPS with GLONASS, WAAS / EGNOS /MSAS” built into the a12 (and a9). Note the extensive patch panel, which meant in this case that Tony could easily unplug the optional external GPS antenna…

The performance I saw was stunning. With the exterior antenna attached, the a12 got a fix very quickly and was soon using 22 satellites — note that the signal strength bar chart scrolls — with an EHPE (estimated horizontal position error, or 50% confidence circle) of one foot! Jesshope showed me how the a12 recovered gracefully from an antenna “failure” though this status screen showed a performance drop, and even more of one when he put his hands over the internal antenna that runs along the display’s top edge (though it was still delivering a valid fix). He also showed me how a LightHouse II diagnostic screen can indicate which GPS antenna is in use. I’ve already noticed great improvements in Ray diagnostics, particularly regarding third party NMEA 2000 devices, and this was more evidence.

I’d seen the multi sonar module support that arrived with LightHouse R10 on one of the demo boats (and yesterday on Gizmo), but I doubt that anyone will ever stress the feature to this extent. What’s happening here is that we’ve set up a new favorites page with four sonar windows and now we’re being asked which “sonar channel” we’d like to see in each one. I can’t count the possibilities because this particular a12 has an internal sonar module and it’s networked to an a97 with built-in dual frequency sonar plus one each of Ray’s three black box fishfinders, all of which offer multiple modes and may even have more than one transducer attached. Note the informative text and graphics describing what the attached CP450 is capable of, and also the ability to turn pinging off if you run into an interference issue (which seemed quite possible in this case ;-). The bottom line is that fisherman or other sonar fiends can have nearly infinite sensors and can set up favorites pages that display the channels they want for a particular purpose, apparently with all settings saved.

The bigger picture is that Raymariner — there’s also FLIRtacious in California, and many volunteer test vessels — is a terriffic tool for testing the bejesus out of marine electronics. I can’t talk specifics about the LightHouse R11 update that was also being stressed out last Thursday, but it does involve radar display synchronization and the tester was making the driver do high-speed maneuvers that most of us will never try. Helping R&D wring out new features and software is one thing, but Tony also showed me an elaborate test protocol on his laptop that gets applied in real world conditions to every model every time anything changes.

Raymariner also had a new gS195 mounted next to the real lower helm station. It’s very fast and you can see its vast screen area compared to the captain’s e12 (which is sporting an extra wide bezel refit kit). Note the RMK-9 keypad; it’s still primarily marketed as a gS Series accessory but in fact it can also extend hybrid touch to an aSeries (as can the Remote app on a smartphone, sort of). The small hardware change in the gS195 is the addition of an HD-SDI video input port. I’d never heard of the protocol myself but was told it’s “future proofing” and also notice that Raymarine is now offering even FLIR’s top end marine camera systems. Meanwhile, another feature of the new a9 and a12 models is support for analog as well as IP video — perhaps because making IP boat cameras is harder than anticipated? — and also the inclusion of a SeaTalkNG to DeviceNet adaptor cable with every unit (see “in the box” here). Many of us have known for a long time that STng and N2K work together fine, but having Raymarine declare that in such a material way is a good thing.

Of course I was also fascinated by the technology behind a test vessel that can support so much equipment. Here’s a view of the networking wall in an aft utility cabin. Note how much updating must have happened when the relatively new RayNet Ethernet connector and HS5 switches came out (discussed here on Panbo). Also tucked away somewhere is a massive battery bank and various heavy duty inverters and DC voltage converters. And besides “four rows” of fixed sonar transducers, Raymariner also has two “moon pools” like the one below. Those three Airmar CHIRP transducers were installed in a blank fiberglass form that was then swapped with the one already bolted into the boat’s starboard casing, no haul out required. Does anyone know of such a well-equiped marine electronics test vessel?

But an able test vessel doesn’t mean much if the manufacturer involved doesn’t also have solid R&D and manufacturing processes in place, which I believe Raymarine does. I think it’s quite visible in the current product lines and quarterly LightHouse updates, and I saw more detail of how it works in England, which I will write about soon. The story also has a people aspect, suggested in part by the photo below. First note the forest of masts in the background; this southern coast section of the big island has a huge recreational boat population, as well as a huge maritime history (as I saw a bit of on HMS Medusa). Now consider the seasoned engineer and mariner who drove Raymariner for the demo day. I didn’t get to talk with Derek Gilbert much, but I know he currently manages Raymarine’s global customer support department (U.S. excepted) and has worked for the company since 1986. That means he was part of the Autohelm team that Raytheon acquired in 1990 to backbone its recreational marine division, was there for the leveraged buy-out that created “Raymarine”, etc. etc…timeline here. We tend to think of Raymarine as a company that’s been through a lot of changes, even hard knocks, in the last decade, and it has; but there’s also a salty core of expertise that been there all along and now with some guidance from FLIR seems to be maximizing its potential.

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OPEN 60 REFIT: Great American IV Ready to Sail

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-06-09 11:27

While dropping in occasionally at Maine Yacht Center over the winter to keep tabs on my own boat, I always had half an eyeball on Rich Wilson’s new IMOCA Open 60, Great American IV (ex-Mirabaud), which was undergoing a refit for Wilson’s 2016 Vendee Globe bid. Recently, MYC general manager Brian Harris (see photo up top) gave me a nickel tour and told me about all the work they’d done.

I gather, as big race-boat refits go, this was a relatively modest one. Here’s the run-down:

Complete electrical refit, including all power storage and generating systems and all new wiring throughout the boat. Two new 200AH Genasun lithium-ion batteries were installed. These are nourished by two newly refurbished Watt & Sea hydro-generators with brand new controllers, by four new 50-watt Solbian flexible solar panels, and by a new 300-amp water-cooled direct-drive (no belt or bracket) Nanni engine alternator with a new water-cooled regulator. Wiring for a wind-generator to be mounted later was also installed.

All new spaghetti everywhere. This is the back of the nav station, showing only some of the new wiring that was installed

The heart of the new electrical system. These two lithium-ion batteries weigh almost nothing, take up little space, and together form a 400AH house bank

That blue thing stuck between the saildrive transmission and the main body of the engine is the direct-drive alternator. This was a new one on me. You can see the plumbing for the water-cooling, which helps keep this puppy super-efficient, as alternators really hate heat. Rated at 300 amps, it actually puts out almost that much in real life, so Brian tells me, which means you can crank up the batteries from almost nothing in a little over an hour!

The alternator’s brain, a new Iskra regulator, is also water-cooled

New navigation station and galley module. To make the boat more comfortable and habitable for Wilson, an older sailor who will often be communicating with shore and creating educational content to send to his Sites Alive Foundation, a new larger nav desk was designed and built from Corecell foam, E-glass, and epoxy resin. A more substantial galley with a fixed sink, a dedicated stove mount, and dedicated storage areas was also built and installed, and the cabin layout was altered to create an area with standing headroom by the companionway.

The new nav station with a gimballed combination bench-seat/berth. The molded seat back is removable

The new galley module. It may not look like much, but on an Open 60 this is considered super deluxe

All major sailing foils serviced. The moveable canting keel and daggerboards were all removed so the keel bearing and daggerboard cassette bearings could be serviced. The bearings on the twin rudders were also serviced.

The canting keel, minus the hull

Running rigging modifications. One set of mast deflectors was removed from the existing running backstays and an additional set of backstays was installed to make the backstays overall easier to handle and more secure. Sheet leads were relocated and a symmetrical continuous-line in-hauler was installed on the jib trim rings (allowing adjustments to lead angles to be made on both sides of the boat simultaneously). Various rope clutches were also relocated.

On most Open 60s there’s just one running back on each side, with “deflectors” that pull it in against the mast at different locations so that it can back up different headsails on different forward stays. Rich wanted an extra backstay on each side, with fewer deflectors. This is heavier and creates more windage, but is more secure and easier to handle

The new continuous-line in-hauler (left of the trim ring in this photo) resets lead angles on both sides of the boat, so you don’t have to worry about what happens after you tack

Deck modifications. To improve security on deck the lifeline height was increased and the number of lifelines was increased from two to three. This necessitated the installation of all new stanchion posts and the fabrication and installation of new bow and aft pulpits. New cabintop handrails were also installed. The boat’s tiller was modified from a cumbersome yoke configuration to a simpler single inline tiller. All Harken winches and the winch pedestal were also serviced.

Higher lifelines and more of them. Again, its heavier this way, but safer

New handrails along the house make it much easier to move safely between the cockpit and deck

A one-stick tiller. It’s simpler and takes up less space

Electronics upgrades. New navigation electronics, new computers, and a new data network were installed. A new remote video system was designed and installed, with two exterior and one interior remote cameras. New processors were installed for the B&G autopilots, and a new Iridium satellite phone system was also installed.

New watermakers. A new reverse-osmosis watermaking system was installed.

Next I’m hoping to get to actually go for a sail on this thing. Brian keeps mentioning it; I just hope it happens for real!

US Volvo Entry Expected Monday in Newport, RI

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-06-08 14:27

WHAT: Team Alvimedica, the American entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, is expected to arrive to Newport, RI Monday, June 9 in the late afternoon/early evening following a challenging 3,000 mile transatlantic training leg.

WHO: Skipper Charlie Enright of Bristol RI, 29, and crew member Mark Towill, 25, Kaneohe, HI. Other Rhode Islanders on board include Nick Dana of Newport, Jesse Fielding of North Kingstown, and photographer/videogeapher Amory Ross of Newport.

Families of the Team and many local supporters of the Team will be at the dock to greet the crew who are about to complete their first transatlantic training run for the around the world race. The team departed from Portugal on May 30 bound for Newport.

The young team, preparing for its first Volvo Ocean Race, will train in Newport until July 9 when the team sails back to Europe for the Spain race start. The team will use the Newport session to select its final race crew.

WHY: Newport is the only USA stopover in the 38,000-mile race.

Tense moments and unanswered questions

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-06-07 22:08

Pulling out the jib was an unexpected bonus as we sailed south from the islands of Langkawi.It’s more than 400 miles from there to Singapore, and we hoped to break it up with extended visits in Penang and Malacca to experience the interesting food, culture, and history they offer. But service delays stole that time, so we had to hustle south instead. The transit has turned out to be a string of strange encounters and some stressful situations.

We tried fishing for a while, even though we knew there wasn’t much chance of a catch.  After reeling in several varieties of “plastic bag fish”, we kept our lines on board. Then, all the dead fish started to show up.

We had heard of large fish die-offs reported in other parts of the world, but don’t know where the conspiracy theorist reports end and real concern begins. It’s common knowledge that this area is over fished, but we didn’t expect to see evidence of a local die off – especially one that involved so many fish. But we passed thousands of dead fish, like this one, between Penang and Pangkor. What was the cause?

Off Pangkor, our chain wrapped around a large, abandoned anchor. Jamie was able to lasso a fluke to wrestle it off, but the pretty light of dawn didn’t make it any better. I’m grateful Totem has a robust windlass!

Large vessels ply the waters near coastal ports. This huge barge passed behind Honey at Pangkor, where the catamaran was anchored just outside the channel for a night.

Seeing smoke on the horizon, we angled toward a boat that appeared to be on fire.

On closer examination, it was just normal operation. Double whammy for the environment.

Much of what we see isn’t glossy magazine spread Malaysia. It’s industrial developing Malaysia.

When the heat of the day passes, we linger in the cockpit during our evenings at anchor. At least, as long as the bugs don’t come out! One night we were descended upon by large flying cockroaches… I am not a fan.

Passing the shipping terminals at Port Klang early in the morning, we shared the channel with everything from massive cargo ships to wooden fishing boats taking a cue from fanciful sketches of Noah’s Ark. All interesting, until our engine overheated and was shut down at the south end of the entrance channel.

This was a convergence point where large ships enter the port from the Straits of Malacca: not a good place to have compromised navigation capabilities. With lots of current, little wind, and a chopped up sea, it was cause for serious concern.

Thankfully, we had a working engine and steerage before boats this big were too close, but there were tense moments and it dragged out long enough that we were getting tow lines out to throw to SV Utopia. Look closely to see the small, southbound sailboat chose to tacking alongside: probably not as close as it looks, but not where I’d want to be.

We were underway soon enough, but slightly stressed about the unknown root cause for our engine overheating. Nothing like a flyby visit from a couple of powered paragliders to lighten things up a little!

In Port Dickson, we stopped to break for a few days at the lovely Admiral Marina. It’s a pretty resort with a nice, protected facility for cruisers and residential yachts. The collected kids between our boat and two companions numbered eleven altogether, and made for epic games of Marco Polo at the pool. But our reprieve was broken when problems with dock wiring damaged our battery charger and nearly caused a fire. It’s extremely fortunate we were on board at the time and able to shut it down before it got out of control. This facility takes customer service more seriously than any other marina we have experienced in Malaysia, and is working with us to replace the damaged equipment.

Down the dock, the caregiver for a boat with an absentee owner encountered acrid fumes on board. Uncertain what was wrong, she solicited help from cruisers on the dock. Jamie’s instinct was the battery bank:  after a quick search, he found the batteries snapping and crackling with heat. He quickly disconnected them from power inputs and got off the boat, but it was extremely dangerous as the batteries are highly explosive and full of acid. Even just a few minutes in the cabin left him with sore eyes for a day, but the alternative was a major boat fire in the marina.

Our stop in Port Dickson was partly for a follow up from the Yanmar service that helped us with the tune up. The alternator belt replaced in Langkawi was loose, a possible root cause for the overheating we experienced earlier. It’s tightened, and we cross our fingers.

Today we’ll reach Puteri Harbour, our last stop before Singapore. There were no tours of Penang or Malacca on our journey south on the Malay peninsula, but sometimes you just have to put miles under the keel. The disappointment is easy to put in perspective, since we’ll probably be back this way in November and can make it up then. Meanwhile, the engine has overheated again…

Mellow readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Tense moments and unanswered questions

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-06-07 22:08

Pulling out the jib was an unexpected bonus as we sailed south from the islands of Langkawi.It’s more than 400 miles from there to Singapore, and we hoped to break it up with extended visits in Penang and Malacca to experience the interesting food, culture, and history they offer. But service delays stole that time, so we had to hustle south instead. The transit has turned out to be a string of strange encounters and some stressful situations.

We tried fishing for a while, even though we knew there wasn’t much chance of a catch.  After reeling in several varieties of “plastic bag fish”, we kept our lines on board. Then, all the dead fish started to show up.

We had heard of large fish die-offs reported in other parts of the world, but don’t know where the conspiracy theorist reports end and real concern begins. It’s common knowledge that this area is over fished, but we didn’t expect to see evidence of a local die off – especially one that involved so many fish. But we passed thousands of dead fish, like this one, between Penang and Pangkor. What was the cause?

Off Pangkor, our chain wrapped around a large, abandoned anchor. Jamie was able to lasso a fluke to wrestle it off, but the pretty light of dawn didn’t make it any better. I’m grateful Totem has a robust windlass!

Large vessels ply the waters near coastal ports. This huge barge passed behind Honey at Pangkor, where the catamaran was anchored just outside the channel for a night.

Seeing smoke on the horizon, we angled toward a boat that appeared to be on fire.

On closer examination, it was just normal operation. Double whammy for the environment.

Much of what we see isn’t glossy magazine spread Malaysia. It’s industrial developing Malaysia.

When the heat of the day passes, we linger in the cockpit during our evenings at anchor. At least, as long as the bugs don’t come out! One night we were descended upon by large flying cockroaches… I am not a fan.

Passing the shipping terminals at Port Klang early in the morning, we shared the channel with everything from massive cargo ships to wooden fishing boats taking a cue from fanciful sketches of Noah’s Ark. All interesting, until our engine overheated and was shut down at the south end of the entrance channel.

This was a convergence point where large ships enter the port from the Straits of Malacca: not a good place to have compromised navigation capabilities. With lots of current, little wind, and a chopped up sea, it was cause for serious concern.

Thankfully, we had a working engine and steerage before boats this big were too close, but there were tense moments and it dragged out long enough that we were getting tow lines out to throw to SV Utopia. Look closely to see the small, southbound sailboat chose to tacking alongside: probably not as close as it looks, but not where I’d want to be.

We were underway soon enough, but slightly stressed about the unknown root cause for our engine overheating. Nothing like a flyby visit from a couple of powered paragliders to lighten things up a little!

In Port Dickson, we stopped to break for a few days at the lovely Admiral Marina. It’s a pretty resort with a nice, protected facility for cruisers and residential yachts. The collected kids between our boat and two companions numbered eleven altogether, and made for epic games of Marco Polo at the pool. But our reprieve was broken when problems with dock wiring damaged our battery charger and nearly caused a fire. It’s extremely fortunate we were on board at the time and able to shut it down before it got out of control. This facility takes customer service more seriously than any other marina we have experienced in Malaysia, and is working with us to replace the damaged equipment.

Down the dock, the caregiver for a boat with an absentee owner encountered acrid fumes on board. Uncertain what was wrong, she solicited help from cruisers on the dock. Jamie’s instinct was the battery bank:  after a quick search, he found the batteries snapping and crackling with heat. He quickly disconnected them from power inputs and got off the boat, but it was extremely dangerous as the batteries are highly explosive and full of acid. Even just a few minutes in the cabin left him with sore eyes for a day, but the alternative was a major boat fire in the marina.

Our stop in Port Dickson was partly for a follow up from the Yanmar service that helped us with the tune up. The alternator belt replaced in Langkawi was loose, a possible root cause for the overheating we experienced earlier. It’s tightened, and we cross our fingers.

Today we’ll reach Puteri Harbour, our last stop before Singapore. There were no tours of Penang or Malacca on our journey south on the Malay peninsula, but sometimes you just have to put miles under the keel. The disappointment is easy to put in perspective, since we’ll probably be back this way in November and can make it up then. Meanwhile, the engine has overheated again…

Mellow readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Communication Breakdown: Helping Family Let Go

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-06-07 18:32

Around about now, I expect I am somewhere on the East coast, dining out with friends.  Worried about exactly where I am? I’m used to that. Back in the day, some well-meaning family members got a little nervous about our whereabouts, too.

Originally posted as Calling All Worrywarts, or, Next Stop, 1996! on December 15, 2010
As this little blog has grown, I have gotten the odd bit of mail from you, my dear readers.  Most of it is kind.  Some of it is mystifying.  But much of it comes from landlubberly types.  With that in mind, it is time for the educational (or, as Stylish, age 3, would have put it, edumacational) portion of our blog.  This will take the form of a Q&A with concerned readers Heckle and Jeckle.  Today’s topic is:

When do we call the Coast Guard?   “I’m concerned about this sailing business, old bean!

Heckle & Jeckle:  Look here, Papillon Crew.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  You move around too much.  You don’t move around enough.  Your track goes higgeldy piggeldy, hither and yon.  Your track has gaps.  Your track goes impossible places.  You stopped in the middle of the ocean.  All you do is write blog posts.  You never write blog posts.  You don’t answer emails.  You don’t take calls.  All this makes me anxious.  How will you ever get help without us?  We’re calling the Coast Guard. Papillon Crew:  No, you’re not. H&J:  But… PC:  No. H&J:  Oh, come on… PC:  No. H&J:  Fine then!  Explain yourselves. PC:  Avec plaisir.  Let’s go through our issues in order. Complaint #1:  I disapprove of your frequency of movement! Response:  In the early days, we moved almost every day.  That is because a) we needed the practice, and b) it was getting very, very cold in the Chesapeake.  And if there is one thing I object to in this life, it is being cold.  As we reached points south, the weather improved.  (Well, not here in Florida, apparently.  It is frigid here.)  Otherwise, hurray.  And so we started to linger.  Contrary to what you may think, we are out on this tub to loaf about in the tropics.  We aren’t trying to circumnavigate, or race, or do anything else that would involve a lot of moving.  Yes, we want to have fun sailing, but we also want to drop anchor and swim.  And make sandcastles.  And fly kites.  You get the picture. Summary:  We’ll move when we feel like it and not before. Complaint #2:  Your tracker is misleading, confusing, and makes me worried!  Response:  Our Spot, while a nifty little gadget, has its flaws.  First, it will only track us for 24 hours at a time.  After that, we have to press the button again to keep it going.  That may not sound like much, but we’re usually otherwise occupied on passage with things like fatigue, feeding children, and whichever alternator has caught fire that day.  So, a few hours go by before we remember Spot.  Thus, the gap. Also, batteries die.  With the aforementioned feeding and fires, we also don’t always have time to change out batteries the moment Spot dies.  Result: more gaps. As for the funny tracks, Papillon is a sailing vessel.  When we need to muck around with the sails, we turn head-to-wind.  It may look like we are veering off-course, but really we’re just changing something.  Keep watching and… see?  Back on course. As for those mid-trip float-abouts, they are occasionally a necessary evil for rather benign reasons.  If we find that our current course and speed will get us into port in the middle of the night, we need to choose: speed up or slow down.  Unlike in a car, there is only so much velocity-adjustment you can practically do.  Tides, currents, wind speed… all of these things constrain us.  Once in a while, we’ll choose to heave-to and just float around for a while on a calm day.  That may get us in at 7 am instead of 3 am, which is much, much safer. Summary:  Spot is spotty and sailing means funny tracks. Complaint #3:  Your communication stinks. Response:  Well, now.  Our boat has an aluminum hull.  That means we live in a big Faraday cage.  We don’t get signals down below – not internet, not cell phone.  And the honest truth is, as time goes by, more often than not we forget we own these fancy devices.  We’re busy doing math with Stylish, or reading a book to Indy.  We’ve wandered off to the craft fair in town and forgotten to turn on the phone.  It isn’t that we don’t love you.  We are just doing other stuff. Plus, the internet hates us, and that is that.  Connections have been worse and worse as we moved south.  And I just won’t waste an hour every night trying to suck my email over the three seconds of connection I manage to grab. Summary:  Our boat is rejecting your call. Don’t take it personally. Complaint #4:  You have no concept of safety and can’t take care of yourselves, you tiny babies. Response:  Hold on.  My eyes have rolled right back in my head and I can’t see to type. Ohhhkaaaay.  Here’s what we’ve got, just off the top of my head, in case of trouble: Warning systems: Fire alarms.  Carbon monoxide detectors.  Erik’s inhuman hearing.  AIS so big ol’ ships know we’re there. Preparedness training:  Man overboard drills.  Fire drills (kids included).  And I mean full dry runs, right up to mock-activating the life raft. Response systems: Fire extinguishers.  Fire blankets.  Self-inflating life raft with food onboard.  Communications:  VHF to talk to your friends the Coast Guard.  SSB for offshore.  An EPIRB registered to our vessel which automatically gives all of our information to the Coast Guard, and has its own GPS unit.  It is independent of all other boat systems, and would go with us if we abandon ship. Natural suspicion:  I don’t pick up hitchhikers, and if you think I’m inviting anyone strange onboard without pointing a flare gun in their face, you don’t know me very well.  We will radio for help for other people, but my kids come first. Summary:  For reals, we know how and when to get help. H&J:  Yeah, okay.  I guess you’ve thought of a few things.  But I want to be connected to you right now! PC:   Tough nuts. H&J:  Hey! PC:  No, seriously.  During university, I spent a month on my own in Indonesia for a research project.  There was rioting in Jakarta just before I went.  Towns I visited got burned down after I left. And did anyone panic because they couldn’t reach tiny Amy during this dangerous time?  No.  Because it was 1996.  No one expected me to have access to a phone or email during those prehistoric days.  Everyone had to trust I was okay, and wait for a postcard. So here is the deal.  We are all going to pretend that it is 1996.  Jump into your DeLorean and visit us in the past, because that’s where our communications systems are living.  “Could you give Papillon a message for me?” H&J:  We’re still calling the Coast Guard. PC:  Like fun you are.  Those people are busy with real problems – real problems, incidentally, that we have heard and even helped with on our aforementioned VHF radio – and they don’t have the resources to hold your hand.  Plus, if we get blacklisted for fake calls, you’ll feel guilty forever that we can’t get help when we need it. H&J:  You’re mean. PC: I’ve come to terms with that. Reaction: June 2014 Yes, the anonymous Heckle and Jeckle did call the Coast Guard on us back in the day.  While we were at anchor. In Florida. And we hadn’t moved for a week.  But the internet went down and we hadn’t called home in a while… and we were too busy visiting the Space Center and enjoying ourselves to remember that the people back home were still getting used to our new life. Let this be a lesson to cruisers and family alike: don’t panic. Let people know how and when you will communicate, and do your best to stick to that. And leave the Coast Guard out of it.

Communication Breakdown: Helping Family Let Go

Sail Feed - Sat, 2014-06-07 18:32

Around about now, I expect I am somewhere on the East coast, dining out with friends.  Worried about exactly where I am? I’m used to that. Back in the day, some well-meaning family members got a little nervous about our whereabouts, too.

Originally posted as Calling All Worrywarts, or, Next Stop, 1996! on December 15, 2010
As this little blog has grown, I have gotten the odd bit of mail from you, my dear readers.  Most of it is kind.  Some of it is mystifying.  But much of it comes from landlubberly types.  With that in mind, it is time for the educational (or, as Stylish, age 3, would have put it, edumacational) portion of our blog.  This will take the form of a Q&A with concerned readers Heckle and Jeckle.  Today’s topic is:

When do we call the Coast Guard?   “I’m concerned about this sailing business, old bean!

Heckle & Jeckle:  Look here, Papillon Crew.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  You move around too much.  You don’t move around enough.  Your track goes higgeldy piggeldy, hither and yon.  Your track has gaps.  Your track goes impossible places.  You stopped in the middle of the ocean.  All you do is write blog posts.  You never write blog posts.  You don’t answer emails.  You don’t take calls.  All this makes me anxious.  How will you ever get help without us?  We’re calling the Coast Guard. Papillon Crew:  No, you’re not. H&J:  But… PC:  No. H&J:  Oh, come on… PC:  No. H&J:  Fine then!  Explain yourselves. PC:  Avec plaisir.  Let’s go through our issues in order. Complaint #1:  I disapprove of your frequency of movement! Response:  In the early days, we moved almost every day.  That is because a) we needed the practice, and b) it was getting very, very cold in the Chesapeake.  And if there is one thing I object to in this life, it is being cold.  As we reached points south, the weather improved.  (Well, not here in Florida, apparently.  It is frigid here.)  Otherwise, hurray.  And so we started to linger.  Contrary to what you may think, we are out on this tub to loaf about in the tropics.  We aren’t trying to circumnavigate, or race, or do anything else that would involve a lot of moving.  Yes, we want to have fun sailing, but we also want to drop anchor and swim.  And make sandcastles.  And fly kites.  You get the picture. Summary:  We’ll move when we feel like it and not before. Complaint #2:  Your tracker is misleading, confusing, and makes me worried!  Response:  Our Spot, while a nifty little gadget, has its flaws.  First, it will only track us for 24 hours at a time.  After that, we have to press the button again to keep it going.  That may not sound like much, but we’re usually otherwise occupied on passage with things like fatigue, feeding children, and whichever alternator has caught fire that day.  So, a few hours go by before we remember Spot.  Thus, the gap. Also, batteries die.  With the aforementioned feeding and fires, we also don’t always have time to change out batteries the moment Spot dies.  Result: more gaps. As for the funny tracks, Papillon is a sailing vessel.  When we need to muck around with the sails, we turn head-to-wind.  It may look like we are veering off-course, but really we’re just changing something.  Keep watching and… see?  Back on course. As for those mid-trip float-abouts, they are occasionally a necessary evil for rather benign reasons.  If we find that our current course and speed will get us into port in the middle of the night, we need to choose: speed up or slow down.  Unlike in a car, there is only so much velocity-adjustment you can practically do.  Tides, currents, wind speed… all of these things constrain us.  Once in a while, we’ll choose to heave-to and just float around for a while on a calm day.  That may get us in at 7 am instead of 3 am, which is much, much safer. Summary:  Spot is spotty and sailing means funny tracks. Complaint #3:  Your communication stinks. Response:  Well, now.  Our boat has an aluminum hull.  That means we live in a big Faraday cage.  We don’t get signals down below – not internet, not cell phone.  And the honest truth is, as time goes by, more often than not we forget we own these fancy devices.  We’re busy doing math with Stylish, or reading a book to Indy.  We’ve wandered off to the craft fair in town and forgotten to turn on the phone.  It isn’t that we don’t love you.  We are just doing other stuff. Plus, the internet hates us, and that is that.  Connections have been worse and worse as we moved south.  And I just won’t waste an hour every night trying to suck my email over the three seconds of connection I manage to grab. Summary:  Our boat is rejecting your call. Don’t take it personally. Complaint #4:  You have no concept of safety and can’t take care of yourselves, you tiny babies. Response:  Hold on.  My eyes have rolled right back in my head and I can’t see to type. Ohhhkaaaay.  Here’s what we’ve got, just off the top of my head, in case of trouble: Warning systems: Fire alarms.  Carbon monoxide detectors.  Erik’s inhuman hearing.  AIS so big ol’ ships know we’re there. Preparedness training:  Man overboard drills.  Fire drills (kids included).  And I mean full dry runs, right up to mock-activating the life raft. Response systems: Fire extinguishers.  Fire blankets.  Self-inflating life raft with food onboard.  Communications:  VHF to talk to your friends the Coast Guard.  SSB for offshore.  An EPIRB registered to our vessel which automatically gives all of our information to the Coast Guard, and has its own GPS unit.  It is independent of all other boat systems, and would go with us if we abandon ship. Natural suspicion:  I don’t pick up hitchhikers, and if you think I’m inviting anyone strange onboard without pointing a flare gun in their face, you don’t know me very well.  We will radio for help for other people, but my kids come first. Summary:  For reals, we know how and when to get help. H&J:  Yeah, okay.  I guess you’ve thought of a few things.  But I want to be connected to you right now! PC:   Tough nuts. H&J:  Hey! PC:  No, seriously.  During university, I spent a month on my own in Indonesia for a research project.  There was rioting in Jakarta just before I went.  Towns I visited got burned down after I left. And did anyone panic because they couldn’t reach tiny Amy during this dangerous time?  No.  Because it was 1996.  No one expected me to have access to a phone or email during those prehistoric days.  Everyone had to trust I was okay, and wait for a postcard. So here is the deal.  We are all going to pretend that it is 1996.  Jump into your DeLorean and visit us in the past, because that’s where our communications systems are living.  “Could you give Papillon a message for me?” H&J:  We’re still calling the Coast Guard. PC:  Like fun you are.  Those people are busy with real problems – real problems, incidentally, that we have heard and even helped with on our aforementioned VHF radio – and they don’t have the resources to hold your hand.  Plus, if we get blacklisted for fake calls, you’ll feel guilty forever that we can’t get help when we need it. H&J:  You’re mean. PC: I’ve come to terms with that. Reaction: June 2014 Yes, the anonymous Heckle and Jeckle did call the Coast Guard on us back in the day.  While we were at anchor. In Florida. And we hadn’t moved for a week.  But the internet went down and we hadn’t called home in a while… and we were too busy visiting the Space Center and enjoying ourselves to remember that the people back home were still getting used to our new life. Let this be a lesson to cruisers and family alike: don’t panic. Let people know how and when you will communicate, and do your best to stick to that. And leave the Coast Guard out of it.

On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electronics

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-06-06 05:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 6, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

There’s much to report about my three day visit with Raymarine’s impressive product development team, but the impromptu kicker was a visit to HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launch) #1387, and the vessel’s key story couldn’t be more timely. 70 years ago yesterday, well before D-Day H-Hour, 1387 headed toward Normandy loaded with electronics that helped her crew precisely mark the planned final channel to Omaha Beach, first for the minesweepers and then for the vast fleet of landing craft that left Portsmouth behind her. And today she’s headed for France again, this time with an all-volunteer crew led by Alan Watson, the gentleman who so kindly showed me around last evening.

There’s a good basic history of Medusa at National Historic Ships UK and much more detail at The Medusa Trust. Though still considered an honorary member of the Navy — thus the honest HMS designation and today’s visit by Princess Anne — the vessel is actually cared for by a small support group. During her last major refit (done largely by student shipwrights), they strove to restore the original HDML configuration but with a willingness to mix in modern equipment to keep her safely operational. So while the rudder angle indicator visible behind the wheel is entirely mechanical, tucked in the corner is a modern DSC VHF supplied by sponsor Raymarine, where Alan Watson also serves as the radar and navigation trainer.

Apparently, it’s mainly Watson who’s scavenged examples of Medusa’s D-Day era electronics, like the ASDIC sonar seen mounted in the wheelhouse above. As explained here, this was actually what we call Forward Looking Sonar, though at a very low frequency with paper and audible output mainly useful for spotting submarines. The various brass appendages comprise a mechanical computer that helped time the release of small depth charges that were literally rolled off the side deck of the HDML. The ASDIC could also be used in passive mode to detect pings, and that was critical for the D-Day mission as a seabed acoustic beacon had already been dropped at the edge of the mine field where Medusa was to stand station for 36 hours.

Medusa also had two forms of LORAN-like electronic position finding which are explained here. The black device at left is part of the GEE system, and that handle suggests how the receiver module could be switched out with a last minute change of the shore station frequencies. Alan is pointing at the vessel’s radar, which could only look forward with its fixed yagi transmit antenna. Dual fixed receive antennas were used to give some sense beyond range of where a target was in the radar’s 60 degree beam, but like the other gear it seems like an artful operator was mandatory.

The gray box at right is an IFF, as in friend or foe identification, which could send out an ID signal on the radar frequency that a similarly equipped friend could automatically reply to. Watson thinks of the technology as an early form of AIS. Medusa also had a RACON-like directional radio beacon that was activated so that the Allied fleet could home into Medusa and the mine cleared channel.

Yes, I had a wonderful time visiting this historic vessel and couldn’t help but ham it up while feeling what work it is for the engineer to shift the original twin Gardiner diesels in response to bell commands from the bridge or wheelhouse. The pride and good cheer of her volunteer stewards were also infectious. But I’m also aware of the solemn side of this occasion. 70 years ago my dad was leading an artillery company up through southern France and would lose more friends and most of his hearing before it was all done. And he got to go home to a country that hadn’t been ravaged by bombs and nearly conquered.

Apparently, the jaunty 1944 sailor seen at lower right below, now 90 years old, was back aboard Medusa yesterday, and note the Hitler imitator at upper left. I’ll be traveling home today, but when I can, I’ll follow Medusa on Marine Traffic. I imagine she’ll be the talk of the English Channel as she crosses all that traffic.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electonics

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-06-06 05:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 6, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

There’s much to report about my three day visit with Raymarine’s impressive product development team, but the impromptu kicker was a visit to HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launch) #1387, and the vessel’s key story couldn’t be more timely. 70 years ago yesterday, well before D-Day H-Hour, 1387 headed toward Normandy loaded with electronics that helped her crew precisely mark the planned final channel to Omaha Beach, first for the minesweepers and then for the vast fleet of landing craft that left Portsmouth behind her. And today she’s headed for France again, this time with an all-volunteer crew led by Alan Watson, the gentleman who so kindly showed me around last evening.

There’s a good basic history of Medusa at National Historic Ships UK and much more detail at The Medusa Trust. Though still considered an honorary member of the Navy — thus the honest HMS designation and today’s visit by Princess Anne — the vessel is actually cared for by a small support group. During her last major refit (done largely by student shipwrights), they strove to restore the original HDML configuration but with a willingness to mix in modern equipment to keep her safely operational. So while the rudder angle indicator visible behind the wheel is entirely mechanical, tucked in the corner is a modern DSC VHF supplied by sponsor Raymarine, where Alan Watson also serves as the radar and navigation trainer.

Apparently, it’s mainly Watson who’s scavenged examples of Medusa’s D-Day era electronics, like the ASDIC sonar seen mounted in the wheelhouse above. As explained here, this was actually what we call Forward Looking Sonar, though at a very low frequency with paper and audible output mainly useful for spotting submarines. The various brass appendages comprise a mechanical computer that helped time the release of small depth charges that were literally rolled off the side deck of the HDML. The ASDIC could also be used in passive mode to detect pings, and that was critical for the D-Day mission as a seabed acoustic beacon had already been dropped at the edge of the mine field where Medusa was to stand station for 36 hours.

Medusa also had two forms of LORAN-like electronic position finding which are explained here. The black device at left is part of the GEE system, and that handle suggests how the receiver module could be switched out with a last minute change of the shore station frequencies. Alan is pointing at the vessel’s radar, which could only look forward with its fixed yagi transmit antenna. Dual fixed receive antennas were used to give some sense beyond range of where a target was in the radar’s 60 degree beam, but like the other gear it seems like an artful operator was mandatory.

The gray box at right is an IFF, as in friend or foe identification, which could send out an ID signal on the radar frequency that a similarly equipped friend could automatically reply to. Watson thinks of the technology as an early form of AIS. Medusa also had a RACON-like directional radio beacon that was activated so that the Allied fleet could home into Medusa and the mine cleared channel.

Yes, I had a wonderful time visiting this historic vessel and couldn’t help but ham it up while feeling what work it is for the engineer to shift the original twin Gardiner diesels in response to bell commands from the bridge or wheelhouse. The pride and good cheer of her volunteer stewards were also infectious. But I’m also aware of the solemn side of this occasion. 70 years ago my dad was leading an artillery company up through southern France and would lose more friends and most of his hearing before it was all done. And he got to go home to a country that hadn’t been ravaged by bombs and nearly conquered.

Apparently, the jaunty 1944 sailor seen at lower right below, now 90 years old, was back aboard Medusa yesterday, and note the Hitler imitator at upper left. I’ll be traveling home today, but when I can, I’ll follow Medusa on Marine Traffic. I imagine she’ll be the talk of the English Channel as she crosses all that traffic.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Safe passagemaking in the Straits of Malacca

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:37

There’s a long history of piracy in the straits of Malacca, and plenty of modern bandits too- this area currently has more pirate activity than any other part of the world. But those aren’t our concerns as we sail south from Langkawi toward Singapore. Unlike the Gulf of Arabia, the piracy is focused entirely on commercial vessels- not private boats like ours. Thank goodness, because we’ve got plenty other things to worry about.

not pirates of men, but pirates of fish

There’s a lot of traffic here. Close to shore, small fishing boats are everywhere. At night, they are improperly lit, or not lit at all. They trail long nets behind the boat, and you can’t tell how far they reach behind the boat in almost every instance. Others run buoyed, flagged nets like these- sometimes attached, sometimes drifting. These long nets keep us on constant watch during the day and would be impossible to spot in the dark.

the best-marked nets look like this

Fishing boats stay out of the shipping lanes farther offshore, but we don’t want to sail there either: massive commercial vessels bear down at tremendous speed. Between these zones, tugs lumber along with their tows. These boats are also poorly lit, if they’re lit at all. Totem’s radar expired last year and has yet to be replaaced. We have an AIS receiver, but only the container ships transpond around here. You have to use your eyeballs, all the time.

Tug and tow, just… you know, hanging out

Debris is a serious problem, too. At no time during our passage south have we been able to look at the water without seeing plastic garbage: water bottles, Styrofoam take-out containers, bags, and more. Then, there are the fishing nets: some attached to boats, some just drifting. Friends of ours sailing straight through last month ran into nets and timber multiple times along this stretch, and were lucky to get away with nothing more than a bent prop.

my lovely assistant showcases some of the larger traffic in Port Klang

Then, there’s the weather. Because our delays pushed us into the transition to the southwest monsoon season, there’s a higher incidence of squalls and storms, and (lucky us!) they will come from the direction to which we are most exposed. This area has earned the name “lightning alley.” Great! Most of these happen at night. Radar is a huge help for tracking squalls at night, except… well, we need a new one. So we watch the clouds, and use our eyeballs, and we have another reason to stay put at night.

grim clouds

The upshot of all this: day hops only. It’s not a big deal, and protected anchorages are within ranges we can easily manage during daylight hours. Sure, we’d like to get south sooner, especially after all the delays with our engine service, but are happy to trade the hazards for a more cautious, slower pace.

Vigilant passage makers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Safe passagemaking in the Straits of Malacca

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:37

There’s a long history of piracy in the straits of Malacca, and plenty of modern bandits too- this area currently has more pirate activity than any other part of the world. But those aren’t our concerns as we sail south from Langkawi toward Singapore. Unlike the Gulf of Arabia, the piracy is focused entirely on commercial vessels- not private boats like ours. Thank goodness, because we’ve got plenty other things to worry about.

not pirates of men, but pirates of fish

There’s a lot of traffic here. Close to shore, small fishing boats are everywhere. At night, they are improperly lit, or not lit at all. They trail long nets behind the boat, and you can’t tell how far they reach behind the boat in almost every instance. Others run buoyed, flagged nets like these- sometimes attached, sometimes drifting. These long nets keep us on constant watch during the day and would be impossible to spot in the dark.

the best-marked nets look like this

Fishing boats stay out of the shipping lanes farther offshore, but we don’t want to sail there either: massive commercial vessels bear down at tremendous speed. Between these zones, tugs lumber along with their tows. These boats are also poorly lit, if they’re lit at all. Totem’s radar expired last year and has yet to be replaaced. We have an AIS receiver, but only the container ships transpond around here. You have to use your eyeballs, all the time.

Tug and tow, just… you know, hanging out

Debris is a serious problem, too. At no time during our passage south have we been able to look at the water without seeing plastic garbage: water bottles, Styrofoam take-out containers, bags, and more. Then, there are the fishing nets: some attached to boats, some just drifting. Friends of ours sailing straight through last month ran into nets and timber multiple times along this stretch, and were lucky to get away with nothing more than a bent prop.

my lovely assistant showcases some of the larger traffic in Port Klang

Then, there’s the weather. Because our delays pushed us into the transition to the southwest monsoon season, there’s a higher incidence of squalls and storms, and (lucky us!) they will come from the direction to which we are most exposed. This area has earned the name “lightning alley.” Great! Most of these happen at night. Radar is a huge help for tracking squalls at night, except… well, we need a new one. So we watch the clouds, and use our eyeballs, and we have another reason to stay put at night.

grim clouds

The upshot of all this: day hops only. It’s not a big deal, and protected anchorages are within ranges we can easily manage during daylight hours. Sure, we’d like to get south sooner, especially after all the delays with our engine service, but are happy to trade the hazards for a more cautious, slower pace.

Vigilant passage makers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

The “Match” is Back

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-06-04 12:03

By Kimball Livingston Posted June 4, 2014

It’s far from the most important feature of the newly-released Protocol for America’s Cup 35, but it just jumps out. The word, match.

After a long, belabored attempt to get people to speak of the 2013 match as the “America’s Cup Finals,” this time out, the powers that be have let the verbiage slip back to tradition. As in what it is, a match. A match between two boats following whatever runup, trials, eliminations are required to get there. And no, barring an intergalactic spasm, there will be no Louis Vuitton Cup awarded to the winner of the 2017 challenger selection. Vuitton had a thirty-year run and put its stamp on the history of Cup competition, but the days are long gone when breathing the air at the America’s Cup was a salty equivalent to hanging near the Queen’s box at Ascot.

What we have in the 78-page document revealed on Tuesday is a reminder of what we knew already, that it is a tortuous process to tie the America’s Cup match to a world tour. Doubly tortuous to imagineer a tour that might generate revenue and somehow be relevant to The Match. It’s a made marriage, and you will love each other.

Even at a quick march through the read, it comes clear why the negotiations between Defender and Challenger of Record ran so long that we are only now seeing this document. There’s a devil in every detail. And, oh yes, the guy in charge of the Challenger side for Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club is Iain Murray, whose long record of success on the race course and in related business was most recently seen in his service as CEO of America’s Cup Race Management for AC34. Does Iain Murray know where the bones are buried? Does rhetorical question carry an extra “h?”

Here’s one devilish detail by way of example: There will be racing in 2015 and 2016 in the familiar one-design AC45s, then racing in 2017 in new 62-foot foiling catamarans—the generalities were leaked months ago—and the AC62s will sail a Qualifiers series leading to a Final Four Playoffs to decide who actually becomes the Challenger for America’s Cup 35. If the winner of the Qualifiers becomes the Challenger (having, obviously, then won the Playoffs) that boat enters the first-to-seven America’s Cup match with one point in its pocket.

Only the final-four eliminations (the “Playoffs”) are guaranteed to be held in the venue of the Match. And where is that, you ask? We are assured of an answer by December 31, 2014.

I repeat, December 31, 2014.

What I can tell you about that, not that I “know” a danged thing, is that San Francisco Bay is the likely place, because it is the right place, and if the Golden Gate Yacht Club as Defender, and Oracle Racing as the home town team, were not trying to make it happen on San Francisco Bay, they could already have a deal elsewhere. I’m betting on the waters where Jimmy Spithill recently won a six-mile standup paddleboard event hosted by one of Larry Ellison’s two (that I know of) San Francisco yacht clubs.

The Qualifiers leading to the final-four, we should note, will be put out to bid separately.

Even shortened ten feet from the boats we saw last year, a foiling AC62 catamaran—per the 2017 protocol—will be a handful for a crew of eight, reduced from eleven crew in 2013. What makes that doable, in theory, is a new prescription allowing for limited stored energy in the boats that will be raced in 2017.

That is, one of Oracle’s comeback tricks last year was that the grinders never stopped grinding on the upwind legs. The trimmer always had juice to work with in the hydraulic systems and never had to ask for “trim.” But as a vision for the future of sailing, well, that’s a bit much. And people are the biggest cost, and promises have been made about trimming costs, and there we go. A crew of eight.

Wind limits of five to twenty-five knots true. Much simpler. Much better. And the boats will be up to handling the higher wind range.

The next cycle kicks off with nonfoiling AC45s sailing, we are assured, at least six events each in 2015 and 2016. Each challenger is offered an opportunity to run an event in-country, which, obviously, becomes a financial conversation. There also are two youth events to be placed on the calendar, presumably one per year. Youth racing was popular on the last go-round, in part because “youth” is an easy sell but also because that was fleet racing, and plenty of boats on the water spells visual drama, and here we have one more chapter of the made marriage between what people want and what they get, the America’s Cup being the America’s Cup.

For all the talk about a nationality requirement, the stipulation under the protocol that 25 percent of the crew of an AC62 must be nationals of the challenging “yacht club” brings it to a total of two, which is a yawn. And the definition of yacht club continues to be stretched like taffy, and that’s what’s happening, baby.

Personally, I’d be fine without no nationality component at all, even though I get the history. The original winner, after all, was a schooner called America, and no one took the America’s Cup away until Australia II appeared on the scene 132 years later. But that was 1851, and then 1983, when nationalities were much more defined, and sources of resources were much more clear than they are now, and people simply did not move around as much. Now the organizers naturally want to encourage new countries to participate, and bring money, and two-out-of-eight is a milktoast number that is close to meaningless.

Not a wrong number, because no number could ever be right . . .

And the only parts of the boat you have to build in-country are the outer skins of the hulls.

Two more details: For the youth racing, the 18-25-year-olds must each be nationals of the country they represent, but for two years of AC45 racing, 2015 and 2016, six events or more per year, one national aboard will do. National by birth or by passport. Said World Series racing in AC45s—not modified to foil, apparently—will determine the “seeding” of the Qualifying round in AC62s, which means to me that the AC45 competition continues to be more show than go. As well it should, having no inherent connection to The Match.

Golden Gate Yacht Club as Defender and Hamilton Island Yacht Club as Challenger of Record “shall publish the AC62 Class Rule prior to the start of the Entry Period” which opens June 1 and continues through August 8. Plenty of the intent of the rule-to-come has already been leaked. A number of one-design elements to lower R&D costs, fewer restrictions on trimmable surfaces, etcetera. But, returning to our consideration of what negotiations must have been like—

The Defender gets to build two boats. Each Challenger gets to build one. But that simple language simply won’t do. It’s more like this:

Oracle Racing may build two pairs of hulls and two pairs of crossbeams, but the second pair of hulls must come from the same molds as the first pair. Any modification cannot exceed 20 percent of the surface area.

In a world where catamaran hulls have become foil-delivery devices, and we’re expecting the rule to require that all boats have fuller (safer) bow sections than Oracle carried in 2013, do we much care?

Modifications to crossbeams cannot exceed 50 percent of surface area, and all of this is tied through detailed specification to the risks of repairable versus unrepairable damage. Under clause 35.3 (b), the Defender is required to race its first pair of hulls and crossbeams unless etcetera etcetera. Challengers face similar percentage limits on surface modifications of their one pair of hulls and crossbeams.

Wing spars are limited to two, lower daggerboard sections to six (but they count only if installed). Considering the copious verbiage dedicated to defining one-piece versus two-piece daggerboards, there must be room here for mischief, and determination is specifically allocated to the Measurement Committee.

The Qualifying races in AC62s will be sailed in 2017 at a date and place still to be set, and no challenger may launch ahead of 150 days prior to race one of the Qualifiers. The Defender may not launch a second pair of hulls more than 30 days prior to race one of the Qualifiers.

The Defender may not sail two boats together until the Qualifiers are complete.

Are you with me?

The Defender will sail in the Qualifying round, according to the Protocol, and the mere thought of having the Defender mix with the Challengers in their Cup vehicles takes us back to some ugly conversations of the past. In the Qualifying round only, not later. But still. The Match may be back, but not all of the traditions associated with it. The Protocol Governing the 35th America’s Cup, dated June 2, 2014, is one helluva barrel of sausage. As we grope toward a formula for high-end sailing in the 21st century, and a public face for the sport, the adventure continues. Gosh, how I look forward to explaining it. And explaining it.

“And Tiny Tim said, ‘God bless us every one.’ ”

Which is the right way to speak. When cameras are rolling, under 47.2, there are fines for profanity. Careful, Scrooge.

Maintenance on board: how mechanical are you?

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-06-03 07:54

We just had a crazy stretch of boat work on Totem, and knocked several big items off our list of essentials for maintenance or repair as we anticipate next year’s Indian Ocean passages. Sometimes it was just a matter of paying a vendor. Sometimes it was work we did ourselves. Typically it was a combination, where we invested a lot of effort too: replacing the boat batteries wasn’t just a swap out. Jamie built a whole new box to store them in and decomissioned the old one. Over and over, I was grateful for his diverse skills and creative problem solving in everything from carpentry and fiberglass to fabricating the new roll pin needed with positioning a bearing on the autopilot. What else happened?

sleek stack pack, nearly invisible dodger sides

Battery bank. This was the top priority, as our existing bank was on fumes. A Malaysian supplier, Pollux, had the right batteries at the right price. It looks like we nailed not only bank size for our use, but our green power generation, and corrected Totem’s starboard list at the same time. DONE.

Engine service. With a referral to a skilled Yanmar tech, we completed major service (for 5,000 engine hours) that included cleaning and pressure testing heat exchanger, replacing fresh water pump, servicing raw water pump, replacing seals for turbo, servicing start motor, replacing the start solenoid, servicing alternator, de-greasing and cleaning, painting, and alignment. DONE.

Replaced mainsail cover.  A tidy new stack pack replaced the dead mainsail cover. Very happy with how it looks, and even happier about how easy it is to get the main down now. DONE.

Replaced soft sides on dodger. We nearly didn’t do this, since it’s costly and could have been deferred, but ended up taking an eleventh hour, lower cost approach that we love. Instead of getting Sunbrella-bordered sides with large clear windows, as we’ve had since 2007, we put in 100% clears around the front and sides of our hard dodger. It is stunning to have the full viewable range, and Totem gets a sleeker profile. DONE.

Replaced settee covers. New covers once again protect the foam beneath, and light colors are a great lift for the main cabin. Splashy pillows set it off, and the whole place feels brighter. DONE.

There’s a lot left on that list of pre-Indian Ocean essentials, since they’ll either need to wait for a specific location… or for our bank account to take the impact. Meanwhile, slowdowns on the engine service ended up causing a three week delay for getting south from Langkawi, but that’s a tradeoff we don’t mind for having great work done by quality techs who really know Yanmar engines. It also meant: more time for MORE MAINTENANCE! OK: some new stuff, too.

Some of these were standout Jamie did an incredible amount of work during our stay. The delays meant we could do more, and it’s all good. This is the short version:

- New SilentWind 420 watt wind turbine installed, with external regulator
- New 270 watt solar panel installed
- New 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller installed
- Autopilot motor and linear drive unit serviced
- Watermaker motor service: brushes replaced
- Replaced eye bolts for steering cable at quadrant, added Dyneema lashing as backup
- Removed autopilot drive mount (rusting I-beam) and fabricated new fiberglass mount
- Cleaned main diesel fuel tank and polished diesel
- Serviced Lavac toilet (there is no escaping maintenance on the head…)
- Installed three new cabin fans (costly Caframo BoraBoras failed inside 15 months)
- Serviced two winches on mast
- Installed low friction rings at leech reefs

the shop where we brought the alternator, starter, and watermaker motors for servicing

Those projects just what he did on Totem, roughly over the last month. Here’s what he did on other boats in our watery neighborhood, while we swung at anchor in Telaga Harbor:

helping remove the engine going out for an overhaul from a friend’s boat

- Rig inspections: 8
- 16:1 cascading vang installs: 2
- Fix poor mainsheet setup: 1
- Replace hardware with strop to connect mainsheet to boom: 2
- Service winches, windlasses, and autopilots: 4
- Dyneema check stays installed: 4
- Dyneema lifeline installation: 1
- Steering cable replacement: 1
- Install a complete new propane system: 1
- Solar panels installed: 4
- Pactor modem install and setup: 1
- Installed / wired wind turbine: 1
- Configured and installed charge management systems for dual alternator systems: 2
- Wires replaced or repaired ends: way too many to count!

Mechanical skills: if you want to go cruising and you don’t have them, well, hope that your partner does!

Hands-on types know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Maintenance on board: how mechanical are you?

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-06-03 07:54

We just had a crazy stretch of boat work on Totem, and knocked several big items off our list of essentials for maintenance or repair as we anticipate next year’s Indian Ocean passages. Sometimes it was just a matter of paying a vendor. Sometimes it was work we did ourselves. Typically it was a combination, where we invested a lot of effort too: replacing the boat batteries wasn’t just a swap out. Jamie built a whole new box to store them in and decomissioned the old one. Over and over, I was grateful for his diverse skills and creative problem solving in everything from carpentry and fiberglass to fabricating the new roll pin needed with positioning a bearing on the autopilot. What else happened?

sleek stack pack, nearly invisible dodger sides

Battery bank. This was the top priority, as our existing bank was on fumes. A Malaysian supplier, Pollux, had the right batteries at the right price. It looks like we nailed not only bank size for our use, but our green power generation, and corrected Totem’s starboard list at the same time. DONE.

Engine service. With a referral to a skilled Yanmar tech, we completed major service (for 5,000 engine hours) that included cleaning and pressure testing heat exchanger, replacing fresh water pump, servicing raw water pump, replacing seals for turbo, servicing start motor, replacing the start solenoid, servicing alternator, de-greasing and cleaning, painting, and alignment. DONE.

Replaced mainsail cover.  A tidy new stack pack replaced the dead mainsail cover. Very happy with how it looks, and even happier about how easy it is to get the main down now. DONE.

Replaced soft sides on dodger. We nearly didn’t do this, since it’s costly and could have been deferred, but ended up taking an eleventh hour, lower cost approach that we love. Instead of getting Sunbrella-bordered sides with large clear windows, as we’ve had since 2007, we put in 100% clears around the front and sides of our hard dodger. It is stunning to have the full viewable range, and Totem gets a sleeker profile. DONE.

Replaced settee covers. New covers once again protect the foam beneath, and light colors are a great lift for the main cabin. Splashy pillows set it off, and the whole place feels brighter. DONE.

There’s a lot left on that list of pre-Indian Ocean essentials, since they’ll either need to wait for a specific location… or for our bank account to take the impact. Meanwhile, slowdowns on the engine service ended up causing a three week delay for getting south from Langkawi, but that’s a tradeoff we don’t mind for having great work done by quality techs who really know Yanmar engines. It also meant: more time for MORE MAINTENANCE! OK: some new stuff, too.

Some of these were standout Jamie did an incredible amount of work during our stay. The delays meant we could do more, and it’s all good. This is the short version:

- New SilentWind 420 watt wind turbine installed, with external regulator
- New 270 watt solar panel installed
- New 60 amp MPPT solar charge controller installed
- Autopilot motor and linear drive unit serviced
- Watermaker motor service: brushes replaced
- Replaced eye bolts for steering cable at quadrant, added Dyneema lashing as backup
- Removed autopilot drive mount (rusting I-beam) and fabricated new fiberglass mount
- Cleaned main diesel fuel tank and polished diesel
- Serviced Lavac toilet (there is no escaping maintenance on the head…)
- Installed three new cabin fans (costly Caframo BoraBoras failed inside 15 months)
- Serviced two winches on mast
- Installed low friction rings at leech reefs

the shop where we brought the alternator, starter, and watermaker motors for servicing

Those projects just what he did on Totem, roughly over the last month. Here’s what he did on other boats in our watery neighborhood, while we swung at anchor in Telaga Harbor:

helping remove the engine going out for an overhaul from a friend’s boat

- Rig inspections: 8
- 16:1 cascading vang installs: 2
- Fix poor mainsheet setup: 1
- Replace hardware with strop to connect mainsheet to boom: 2
- Service winches, windlasses, and autopilots: 4
- Dyneema check stays installed: 4
- Dyneema lifeline installation: 1
- Steering cable replacement: 1
- Install a complete new propane system: 1
- Solar panels installed: 4
- Pactor modem install and setup: 1
- Installed / wired wind turbine: 1
- Configured and installed charge management systems for dual alternator systems: 2
- Wires replaced or repaired ends: way too many to count!

Mechanical skills: if you want to go cruising and you don’t have them, well, hope that your partner does!

Hands-on types know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Stitches, Burns and Breaks: The Injury Hall of Fame

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-06-02 19:12
Here I am again, that old good-for-nothing bird, runaway Mayzie – still on vacation and still just as lazy.* Today, let’s review some of the better injuries we’ve had aboard. I have even included a bonus, hitherto-unreported injury for those of you willing to make it to the end. (But be warned: this post contains mildly yucky photos, so if you don’t like blood, you’d best skip along.)

Injury 1: Amy’s broken finger.  Originally appeared in Question and Answer Time, November 15, 2010.
Q:  What is worse than having to do the dishes by hand three times a day?
A.  Having to do the dishes by hand three times a day with a finger you can’t get wet.

It was a sunny morning.  We’d gotten the anchor up with minimal annoyance (read: mud), and I was clearing up the deck and feeling rather good about life in general and this trip in particular.  I opened the port deck box to put away a hose.

Wham!

The spring holding the lid buckled.  Down came the lid onto my right index finger.  It hurt so much I didn’t make a sound; I just crumpled onto the deck.  And just how bad did it look?  Well, let me show you.

And that was back when it looked good.  The nail is lifting off now, and the tip remains swollen enough a week later that I’m pretty sure I broke it.

Lucky for me, I married A Man of Many Talents.  Behold, Erik’s excellent bandaging job:

Copper fuel line: it’s not just for diesel anymore. Combining skills learned from instructor Doug at St John Ambulance and helping his dad bandage up declawed cats, Erik made me this lovely splint/bandage ensemble.  If the girls would only stop smashing into it, it might actually heal this calendar year.

Update: June 2014
Yes, I managed to break a finger one month into our cruising adventure. Way to go, Amy! For a couple of years afterwards, I could feel the scar tissue when I pressed on the pad of that finger – it felt like ball bearings under my skin.  I still have a thin white scar under my nail to remind me of the experience.  I remain cautious of the deck boxes to this day.

Injury 2: Stylish’s chin.  Originally appeared in State of the Children (December 8, 2011),and So Much Fun, We Had To Do It Again! (December 13, 2011)
When I was young, I was Wonder Woman.  I don’t mean, “I liked Wonder Woman,” or “I often pretended I was Wonder Woman.”  I mean I was, every minute of every day, Amazon princess and warrior Wonder Woman.  I would only respond to the name Diana Prince (which drove my sister wild).  I wore my costume year-round, contributing, I’m told, to a severe case of laryngitis one cold January. ( I suspect no one really minded.)  And while I don’t often have a reason to don my golden bracelets of power these days, Wonder Woman I remain. The resemblance is uncanny. My progeny have inherited my superheroism.  Indy is a souped-up version of Lightning McQueen, a flying racecar ready to beat the pudding out of any bad guys that cross her path.  That is, of course, when she isn’t being a  bad guy herself.  Indy often chooses the role of The Bad Witch or similar, and is content to terrorize whatever playfellows she has at the time.  (I approve; villains are often the more interesting characters.  I had far greater sympathy for Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker, and it was many a long year before I could watch Return of the Jedi without crying when Vader became one with the force.) But imagine my pride when, as I was sitting on the foredeck two days ago, I saw Stylish take a flying leap to dive over the boom to escape her sister.  It was a Wonder Woman move if ever I saw one. Don’t be distracted by my excellent art – it was really quite a dramatic leap. My pride turned to concern when Stylish started rolling around on deck, gasping out tears and bleeding copiously. Landing is less fun than flying. Young Stylish had a gaping wound in her chin.  Erik bundled her off to the hospital and, four stitches, a misaligned first cervical vertebra and a prescription for antibiotics later, she was back.  Somewhat chastened, certainly willing to vow never to leap over the boom again.  Some superhero antics are better left untried. Tired and injured, but still smiling. Stylish’s Schedule: Monday:  Jump over the boom and knock chin.  Visit local hospital and get four stitches. Tuesday:  Run a high fever from the virus that is going around.  Show no signs of brain injury.  Nonetheless stress mom out. Wednesday:  Fever gone.  Get head and neck checked by fellow cruiser expert in head injuries.  Adjust first cervical vertebra.  Continue to take antibiotics. Thursday:  Go back for second neck check.  Antibiotics. Friday:  Antibiotics. Saturday:  Finish antibiotics.  Dad removes stitches at the end of the day.  Wound looks great. Sunday:  Visit local friends.  Roughhouse with older girls.  Knock chin and start to bleed copiously under bandage.  Have Mom and Dad check.  Yes, the wound is fully reopened.  Return to local hospital for four more stitches. Chin injury, mark II Update: June 2014
Stylish has a small scar on her chin to mark the excitement.  She is rather proud of it, and shows it off whenever she can.  It may not be as exciting as her sealion bite, but it still rates.

Injury #3: Indy’s Eyebrow; June 2012. (100% new content!)
We’ve been to a lot of amazing places on our trip, but, I have to admit, the Galapagos were special.  I try to get too excited in advance about our destinations – unreasonable expectations and all that – but we were all excited about the Galapagos, and it lived up to our dreams.

But before we could get there, we had to, well, get there.  We spent a few days in the Las Perlas south of Panama, initially to visit the pretty islands, and later because I gave myself a very bad burn while making pasta. (Tip: always, always, always use a waterproof apron when dealing with hot liquids aboard.  Always.) So the anticipation had time to build.

Once I was sufficiently healed, it was time to head out to my favourite place: the seasickness place.  Four guaranteed days of feeling like someone was scraping holes through my skull with a spork in seventeen different places.  And this time, I would have the bonus of a 8″x3″ tender spot across my abdomen.  (To give you an idea of how bad it was, I used gel burn pads for weeks, and it took more than a month just to close up.)

Off we sailed. A couple of days in, just as the sun set, Indy was doing what Indy does best: tiggering. She was leaping around the cockpit like a mountain goat, like she had a thousand times before, while Erik and I asked her to stop, like we had a thousand times before. Then Papillon shifted one way while she jumped another way, and bang! Indy had whacked her eyebrow against the cockpit combing, and there was blood everywhere. The briefest survey showed that she needed at least three stitches.

The troops sprang into action: Erik gathered the suturing supplies, Stylish disappeared to find a book.  And I held Indy, whispering to her softly, and trying to keep her calm, while at the same time trying to keep from losing my dinner.  Blood doesn’t bother me; I’ve seen a lot in my day, although that was mostly in eppendorf tubes as opposed to fountaining out of my child’s scalp.  And there is something comfortingly familiar about that sharp, iron smell that always takes me back to working in the lab on a too-hot summer’s day. But being coated in blood and facing the prospect of helping Erik stitch Indy up didn’t do my seasickness any good, and I was whispering to keep myself together as much as to reassure her.

As night fell, we patched Indy up, while keeping as best a watch as we could.  Erik stitched, I assisted and held the patient, and Stylish read to us from Junie B Jones.  It was our biggest medical crisis aboard – an injury days from land – but we made it through. It was a family effort.
Does it look bad? Nah, I’m fine.


Indy now has a scar curving down from her eyebrow.  Like Stylish, it doesn’t bother her a bit.  And she’ll happily tell the story of when Daddy stitched her up at sea.

We made it to the Galapagos a few days later.  Sure, two of us were on antibiotics and had injuries to mind, but what is that in the face of swimming with giant, unafraid sea turtles?  Priorities, people.  Priorities.

*Oh, please.  Like you didn’t recognise Horton Hatches the Egg.

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