Thursday, April 30, 2009

Voyaging Tip #7 Laser for Anchoring

The golfers laser rangefinder is a perfect tool for a sailor attempting to drop anchor in a crowded anchorage. The helmsman can quickly laser range between vessels while maneuvering into position then range to shore for a dragging reference after the anchor is set.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Voyager Tip #6 Getting a Handle on Your Bucket

The bucket is perhaps the single most useful tool on a boat especially when paired with a scared sailor. So lets give that bucket some respect by improving the handle from wire to rope. The conversion requires 4 feet of old 1/2 inch dock line and 5/8 inch holes drilled through the original bucket handle holes. Feed the 1/2 inch line through the 5/8 inch holes from the inside out then figure eight knot each end.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Voyaging Tip #5 A Better Bitter End

Hot knifing a bitter end on modern synthetic line may not be the most durable means to secure the cover to the core. An alternate method would be to tape an end very tightly with electrical tape followed by a clean cut through the tape using a smooth edged knife. Point the cut end straight up and soak super glue into the end until fully saturated. Let stand for a few hours before removing the electric tape. What results is a tough perfectly molded tight bitter end that will glide effortlessly through blocks and clutches.

Voyaging Tip #4 Small Craft Collision Avoidance

An under utilized technique for avoiding collisions is the use of magnetic bearings taken with a hand held magnetic compass.
First take and record an initial bearing of a crossing vessel then compare to a subsequent bearing six minutes or so later. If a bearing change is observed then under most circumstances a risk of collision does not exist. If there is no appreciable change in a subsequent bearing then assume that there is a risk of collision and follow the RULES OF THE ROAD accordingly. For the most current RULES OF THE ROAD go to :

Friday, April 24, 2009

Voyaging Tip #3 LED Conversion

A few clicks on the internet can deliver LEDs to a boater which will replace most original incandescent bulbs. LED lighting offers a significant amp hour reduction, cooler temperatures, and a smaller voltage drop on the 12 volt system. Converting just the anchor light will conserve 20 amp hours per night when on the hook. Also recommended is the conversion of onboard flash lights to LED for greatly extend battery life. Start your internet search at to get a feel for cost and bulb type availability.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ground Tackle Checkup

Lay the vessels entire ground tackle cable on the dock to allow for a birds eye view. Walk the chain looking for corrosion, rode chafe, wear and tear on thimbles, swivels, shackles, and shackle seizing. Double check swivels and shackles to be sure that they are one size above the chain size. Inspect the seizing of all shackle pins (do not substitute nylon zip ties for seizing wire).  Welds on the anchor need to be carefully scrutinized. The electric windlass terminal connections should be cleaned of corrosion. Snubbers, cleats, bow roller, and chocks also need examining. When all is in order then hose everything down with fresh water, let dry, and stow. Don't forget to clean out the chain locker and tie off the bitter end before stowing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Medicine for Murphy's Mischief

Every sailor is familiar with Murphy's first law IF IT CAN GO WRONG THEN IT WILL GO WRONG but it is Murphy's second law WHEN IT DOES GO WRONG THEN IT WILL GO WRONG AT THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME that gets sailors in the most trouble. The best medicine for a Murphy happening is the new first rule of voyaging MAKE SURE IT CAN'T GO WRONG. Get an edge on Murphy by developing a full set of practical skills, have the right tools, and keep the bos'n locker full of spares. Another adage to keep in mind is that a stitch in time saves nine. This translates to DO NOT PROCRASTINATE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. So there is no better time than now to tackle potential Murphy mischief.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Voyaging Tip #2 Backup Diesel Day Tank

There is nothing like getting a second chance when you really need it and a portable backup diesel day tank is that second chance for your vessels engine. The portable day tank provides a means for bypassing the built in fuel system when a fuel filter clogs or when fuel becomes contaminated. Simply hook up or valve directly to the engine at the secondary fuel filter intake. The bonus is having reserve fuel available and being able to change the primary fuel filter with the engine still ready to go. My portable diesel day tank is mounted on the centerline above and behind the engine for positive gravity feed on any angle of heel. An inline bulb hand pump assists priming and purging. Remember to keep the fill cap vent open to break the tanks vacuum so positive gravity flow is maintained. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Voyaging Tip #1 Lightning

When sailing in or near thunder clouds where lightning  is seen or heard then it is time to protect your portable electronics from electromagnetic radiation by using the onboard microwave oven as a Faraday cage. Portable items to be protected would be the EPIRB, Sat Phone, GPS, VHF, Quartz Watch, Digital Camera, Laptop, and Short Wave.  The conventional oven will also work as a Faraday cage but protection isn't 100% unless the oven window is covered with aluminum foil. Ground the rigging with  jumper cables  and trail the  opposite ends in the ocean. Unplug antennas  from the Radar, SSB, VHF, and GPS. The prudent sailor should still carry a sextant, mechanical chronometer, and a magnetic compass just in case.