Archive for 2000
The most costly and least reliable segment of your life lines is the terminating hardware. These are typically stainless on stainless turnbuckles, and are subject to galling and cracking over time. A much better approach is now possible with high-modulus line, like Spectra. Make up your life lines with nicro pressed end fittings, and then tie these in place using multipe wraps of Spectra line. There is a second advantage to this system. If you ever have a crew overboard, and need to get rid of the lifelines in a hurry, you can do so by cutting the lashings on one end.
Taking this approach a step further, when we replaced the life lines on BEOWULF this year we did so with Spectra line. It is about the same cost as the stainless steel we¹ve used in the past, a lot lighter, and not subject to corrosion like stainless steel wire.
Probably the most critical piece of cruising gear, the one which we cannot do without, is the washing machine. (Okay, Steve would do without, but Linda is much more civilized.)
For years we’ve used the Spendide washer/drier combo on various boats we’ve built. The unit on Beowulf has 28,000 miles on it. Since the motion at sea is even harder on the innards than anything which happens in actual washing, it has finally been starting to show its age.
The marriage of the PC, GPS, and electronic charts is a double-edged sword. The system, when it is operational, definitely reduces workload for a short-handed boat, and helps with navigation in tight spots.
But the system is not foolproof. One must use the same care with these systems as with conventionally plotted positions.
We’ve been using the WH Polar Pilot option now aboard our 78′ ketch Beowulf for the past year. To say that the features in this option improve the breed is a major understatement. We think the performance and comfort enhancements are nothing short of revolutionary.
We’ve been using Trojan “Traction” batteries for years in our yachts. These industrial strength batteries are designed for a full 80% discharge, and guaranteed for 1500 cycles in industrial use. Last week we removed the batteries from the keel sump aboard Beowulf and sent them back to Trojan for service. We used a combination of main halyard and boat yard hydro-crane to remove them. It is somewhat over five years ago now that we purchased these batteries, and they have sat around for the greater part of this time – not a good thing for their capacity. Trojan took them in, cycled them to the 80% level twice, and then did a voltage check. The check is done at the discharged resting voltage. Turns out that these batteries are at 105% of rated capacity. Not bad after all these years. In chatting with Mark Waycaster at Trojan about maintenance, he emphasized several things (which apply to traction batteries and their marine batteries like the L-16):
Firstly, let me say how much I am enjoying your books, Mariner’s Weather Handbook and Surviving the Storm. For anyone with the slightest interest in the weather around them and in taking a boat to sea, they are excellent reading. However, I do have a couple of queries:
On page 340 of the ‘Mariner’s Weather Handbook’ you show three photographs of tropical revolving storms, when and where they should not be, one off Angola (West Africa) in April 1991 and two of one storm in the Eastern Mediterranean in January (no year mentioned). It is my understanding that no tropical revolving storms have ever been reported in the South Atlantic (until now) and that the sea temperatures in the Eastern Mediterranean in January are certainly not high enough for cyclogenesis nor is the ITCZ anywhere near the Mediterranean. Have you any explanation for these phenomena and/or a year for the Mediterranean storm (I would like to research past meteorological records to find what conditions actually existed in the latter case).
I look forward to your reply, Brent
To Steve & Linda Dashew,
I was able to see your “Surviving the Storm” book via Reg Ellwood…I was the Co-pilot and winch operator for the rescue of the Burman’s on the “Freya”. I was also Captain of the aircraft the following day at the first light in the search for Julie Black and the “Salacia”. The latter having been reduced to pieces not much larger than this letter.
When we first started cruising in the 70s a key factor in our desire to keep going was the ability to communicate with friends and family. In 1976 state-of-the-art communication was via an Atlas ham radio. One had to watch band conditions, and the voice connection was often difficult to hear. You’d connect to a shore-based ham station who’d “patch” you into his local phone system.