Archive for 2001
We’ve been looking for the edge of the short-handed cruising envelope for a lot of years. Improvements in sail handling gear, materials, and our own experience have allowed us to push the horizon further and further. And even though BEOWULF looks pretty aggressive for a couple of grandparents, she is not yet at the edge of what the two of us can handle.
The forecasters at the Tropical Prediction Center have put out a 71-page booklet in PDF format on hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin. We’ve just finished reading through it and it is a great resource – an excellent tool to go along with the material in Mariner’s Weather Handbook for dealing with hurricanes.
Click here to download.
In the Bernhardts’ April 01, 2001 discussion of their cruising budget, they state that they pay $2280 for medical insurance for the year for the whole family. I’d like to know which insurance company they use. Their boat insurance is fairly inexpensive also, since their cruising area includes Europe…Love this site. Thanks. Claire D
The registration you filled out when you purchased your EPIRB is good for two years, after which it needs to be updated. Failure to update means valuable time may be lost if you ever need to use the EPIRB! You can get data on line at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/beacon.html , or in the US call 301-568-8649.
If you don’t have your beacon ID number handy, the folks at the registration office can look up the data for you with the name of the vessel and vessel owner’s name. They will then fax you the form to update.
Also, remember to check the replacement date on the battery. Most are good for five years.
In the olden days, before turnbuckles and shackles, all sailing vessels were rigged with line. Now, with high-modulus fibers, we’re making our way back to the old approach. Today, many racing boats use multiple wraps of spectra or vectran line to make the same connection that used to be made with a stainless steel shackle.
Few boats have an accurate dip stick for their fuel (or water) tanks. These are easy to make if you have a bit of time. Start out with a half inch dameter wooden dowel, which will fit into an access hatch or fill for the tank in question (we typically have a stand pipe welded to our tank tops, which is headed with a ball valve and a threaded cap).
Start with an empty tank, and then pause every 20 or 25 gallons to allow the fuel to level out and any foam to subside (you may have to wait 15 to 20 minutes). Drop the stick into the tank, note the liquid level, and mark it with a pen.
When you have finished the process, give the dip stick a clean, and seal with epoxy or varnish.
From time to time we seem to need a bit of thin rod stock-to replace a hinge pin, or make a catcher for fishing wires of ropes. The cheapest and most diverse source for stainless steel rod is a welding shop that does stainless work. Pick up three or four pieces, typically three feet long, in different diameters.
They will come in handy one of these days.
Good ventilation in the tropics is a key factor in enjoying the cruising life. This applies to charterers as well as full time cruisers. It also applies on those hot, wind-challenged summer days closer to home.
One of the keys to maintaining onoard ambience is a good flow of wind through the interior. This can often be augmented with wind scoops over hatches. When working out the rigging of the scoops, one also needs to consider reduction of sun load and protection from rain squalls.
The three photos below give some interesing options (for more information on awnings and wind scoops see pages 152-170 in Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia).
We’ve been using “traction” batteries for years in our boats. Our experience is that these have the best ratio of cost/space/weight to USABLE amp hours available. The cells we use are typically guaranteed for 1500 80% cycles! In the marine field, assuming you equalize them periodically, they will last 15 to 20 years, and withstand a huge amount of punishment.
Hi, I am enjoying reading our book “Surviving the Storm”. I know you could not cover all the topics, and I have not read the whole book yet, but I could not find data or reference to world storm patterns. If one was chicken, and wanted to avoid category two and three heavy weather storms (page 16), what cruising routes could be planned, and where not to be at what time of year? I recall some published charts that show wind direction and speed at various locations. What about information on routes and the best time of the year to avoid bad storms. Could you name a few good sources for me. I get the hint that New Zealand is risky at best. If I missed this information in your book, please let me know where it is located. Thanks, Mike
We’re headed back to the boat (in Norfolk, VA) in the next few days and are in our usual pre-going-away period of trying to get our respective desks cleared off. It will be really nice to get away from the daily overdose of news to which we subject ourselves when there are televisions close at hand. (Such equipment is banned from the boat for exactly this reason.) And, of course, the usual list of pre-departure projects, check lists and stocking up will keep us occupied and away from the news.
The two of us have been having some dialog about our philosophy of self-defense, in light of the “new reality” in which we all find ourselves. When we cruised years ago, and the kids were little, we looked at this in the same way we dealt with our medical kit. We were well prepared for almost any eventuality, and hoped like hell we’d never have to use that preparedness.
But with the kids on their own, the defense mechanism tends to moderate. On the other hand, the hassle of carrying an arsenal continues-there can be a lot of paperwork and running around when clearing in and out-if you have guns aboard. So, in recent times we’ve changed our approach to this very controversial subject.
I found your web site today and was fascinated with all the possibilities. We are in the process of buying a 42′ cat and will be sailing from the US East Coast through the Panama Canal and out to the South Pacific and points beyond. The boat does not have anything other than self steering and basic instruments and we would like to equip with radar, gps, plotter, etc…running into a PC and of course not spend a fortune. What would you suggest as someone who obviously has a great deal of experience? The route plotting seems like a great idea and we will have a sat phone but are unsure about a SSB. Thanks, David
Seems like most folks have problems finding the right frequencies and times to receive fax broadcasts. The best times and frequencies vary with the sunspot cycle, time of day, and how far you are from the broadcasting station.
Sitting here in Antigua, with Boston and New Orleans stations just 1500 or so miles away, you would think everyone would be pulling them in. Yet a lot of folks have told us they are hearing nothing. We are getting good coverage, so I suspect there must be a common problem with picking the correct frequencies.
One of the maintenance issues that is bound to occur is a bad salt water pump impeller.
The photo above is from Wind Horse‘s starboard engine. Notice the missing vane in the lower right portion of the impeller? It would have been better to change this impeller on a proactive basis, before it got old and tired. The missing vane reduces cooling water flow, and we now have to find the piece so it does not block one of the heat exchangers.
It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been fighting this mother of all wars for five long, hard years. But yesterday we tasted the sweetest of all fruits-Victory!
Yes, friends, after running our Yanmar diesel hard (2800 rpm continuously) for an hour, not a trace of oil was to be found. Danny, our miracle-working mechanic from Billings had indeed found the elusive oil leak which has plagued us since launching BEOWULF in New Zealand. And now our engine sump will stay CLEAN!
Linda & Steve, In your recent article on the new passage planning software (I hope to see more on this later) you made a comment regarding downloading weather forecast data during your passage. What method do you use to access internet at sea?? Regards, Mark
A reader asks:
I have a 1997 Beneteau 461 with roller furling main and genoa and need to replace both sails. The main is relatively new but is poorly shaped – the leach cups, etc. I read that you use vertical battens in BEOWULF’s roller furling jib. If you used a 135% genoa instead of a 100% jib would you still use vertical battens or is their application only for jibs?
The British firm, Maxiroach makes roller furling mainsails (and headsails) with full length vertical battens that appear very attractive on paper. Doyle Sails makes a swing batten main. Quantum makes a main with vertical battens. Could you give me any advice on which of these products is the best or recommend someone that may know.
If you were going to buy a new roller furling main ( I know this is not likely to ever happen!) who would you go to for advice on the best way to go?
We asked Dan Neri of North Sails to answer this question:
We’ve used slab reefing on our mains (and mizzens) on all of our boats going back to the 1970s. We’ve looked at in the mast and in the boom systems as they’ve come along and worked out their bugs, but have yet to see anything as fast, reliable, light, or inexpensive as good old slab reefing.
As we’re cruising on the East Coast and occasionally reading the New York Times, we feel it behooves us to be politically correct. We are already at a disadvantage in this regard due to the fact we have no burgee halyards to either masthead, and so cannot fly our owner’s signal or yacht club pennant correctly. The situation is made worse by the fact that in the land of Hinkleys we have neither varnish on deck, overhangs fore and aft, nor polished blue topsides.
We woke up this morning pondering this problem when Linda had an epiphany. “We’ll equalize the batteries! It’s been three months, they are overdue, and there are bound to be one or two cells lower than the rest, which has to be depressing for the poor dears.”
So, we’ve been sitting in this lovely anchorage in Somes Sound, with the smells of the verdant forest wafting around us on deck, and the smells of batteries being equalized wafting below. We started the process this morning at 0900, and should be done by 1300.
Steve: A new Iridium Satellite LLC has just announced on CNBC that these satellites are back in business with coverage over 100% of the globe. Great for offshore roaming types. Phone cost looks like $1500US for the handset, which accepts on-line data. I don’t have info about operating costs. Regards, DM
We’re anchored in Newport, Rhode Island, to say hi to some friends and take care of some business. A pleasant couple of sails and anchorages have allowed leisure time to review a couple of the things we’ve been testing, and the results are positive.
We seem to get a lot of questions about anchors and anchoring systems – especially after one of the magazines runs an evaluation article.
If you are always anchoring close to home, in a good holding bottom, and bring your anchor up by hand, then having the most efficient, lightest weight anchor for your conditions makes sense.
But once you start to cruise a bit, and some of those anchorages become less than perfect, you need a good all-around anchor. From our experience, there is nothing that will touch the Bruce in this category. Yes, it is not the most efficient hook in terms of holding power per pound of anchor, but in thin sand over coral, or rock it is unbeatable (and these are amongst the toughest situations). What we do is go up on size a notch or two – for example, on the Sundeer 56/60 we specified a 110 pound (50kg) Bruce. In a lot of conditions you could get away with a much lighter version of another anchor, but this is enough weight to hold the boat in a poor bottom in a real blow, and in a good bottom you can anchor on very short scope.
It took a long time for us to become fans of roller furling. However, starting with Beowulf, the combination of the size and weight of her sails, and the increasing reluctance to get salt water on our bodies, forced us to take a harder look at this gear.