by Nigel Calder

Nigel Calder is an author and expert on boat systems and diesel engines

Best Boats 2010

by Nigel Calder, Posted November 19, 2009
SAIL scoured the fall boat shows for the shining stars among this year's crop of new boats. Here they areThere was a buzz around the docks at the Annapolis and Newport shows, and it wasn't the sound of the plague of locusts we were half expecting, given the disasters of recent months and years. No, the sun shone, the water sparkled, the brightwork gleamed, and you all came to the show.

Sparkling Spars

by Nigel Calder, Posted October 20, 2009
Janet Hartman of Beaufort, North Carolina, asks:"Recently I contacted the National Ocean Survey (NOS) to ask whether the authorized clearances for overhead cables shown on their charts include the extra distance needed to avoid arcing. I received an email from nautical.charting@noaa.gov stating 'The ‘authorized clearance’ for an overhead power cable does not include the

Dirty Ground

by Nigel Calder, Posted September 14, 2009
Mark Karwowski of San Francisco, California, asks:"Recently we had trouble starting the diesel engine aboard our Nordic 40. Although all the lights and other electrical equipment aboard worked fine, whenever I touched the starter button, the starter motor hesitated at first then sped up. We checked the batteries and found that they were eight years old, so we decided to

Water power

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 17, 2009
My last two columns discussed the high cost of generating electricity with a diesel engine and the relatively short payback period for solar panels on liveaboard cruising boats. The problem with solar is that it requires a lot of surface area to produce significant amounts of power. This is relatively easy to find on catamarans, but not so on monohulls.Coincidentally, I received an email

Silence on the hook

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 3, 2009
As part of my hybrid-propulsion research I have been looking carefully at large-capacity Litihum-Ion batteries as a possible energy source on modern cruising sailboats. Lithium-ion batteries are common in cell phones and laptops, but they are rarely used in higher capacity applications. This may rapidly change, because the hybrid automotive and electric vehicle markets are in

Power Savers

by Nigel Calder, Posted July 20, 2009
Lisa Jawork of Toledo, Ohio, asks:"So far I’ve only used my 24-foot Bristol Corsair for daysailing, but this summer I’m planning to take some weekend cruises. I want to be sure I have enough power, not only for the battery that currently feeds the cabin lights and instruments, but also for a second back-up battery I carry for miscellaneous uses. I’m thinking about getting

Battery Buildup

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 20, 2009
Joseph Strong of Barrington, Rhode Island, asks:"I am repowering my Bristol 35.5 with a Yanmar model 3YM30 diesel engine, but I also want to increase my electrical capacity. Currently I have two 12-volt batteries with a standard three-way battery switch (Bat. 1, Bat. 2, and Both). I would like to add two more 12-volt batteries and align them like the two-bank configuration

The Price of Power

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 17, 2009
As part of my hybrid propulsion research I have been looking carefully at large-capacity litihum-ion batteries as a possible energy source on modern cruising sailboats. Lithium-ion batteries are common in cell phones and laptops, but they are rarely used in higher capacity applications. This may rapidly change, because the hybrid automotive and electric vehicle markets are in desperate need of

Green machines

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 19, 2009
Michel Bouffard, of Sept-Iles, Quebec, Canada, asks:"I’m installing a 75-Watt solar panel and an AirBreeze 200 wind generator on my Hunter Legend 35.5. I have two 12-volt deep-cycle batteries, one starting battery, one combiner and a Perko (Off-1-Both-2) battery switch. I’m planning to use the solar panel and wind generator when I am sailing, but I also want my starting

Two speed propeller

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 18, 2009
Black clouds bearing cold rain showers are racing across the sky. The VHF radio is broadcasting gale warnings. This is not the day to be testing propellers, but nevertheless we are headed out of a marina near Aarhus, in Denmark, on a Bavaria 42 equipped with a Gori three-bladed folding propeller.The three- and four-bladed Goris are unique in the propeller world. They look much like any
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