Lose the Wiring Harness

19 Nov

I've ranted about these before, but the plugs on engine wiring harnesses are a common point of electrical failure. The wiring harness connects the various engine electrics to the engine console — key switch, power feeds, temp and pressure gauges, etc. With a fault in the wiring harness you might not be able to start the engine or get key engine diagnostics.  

The plugs make it quick and easy for the engine installers, but any break in contiguous wires invites corrosion, and plug assemblies are notorious moisture magnets. There are many devices aboard I might want to disconnect quickly, ...

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Props for L’Hydropt

16 Nov

L'Hydroptère's latest news is that the project lost its sponsorship from DCNS. DCNS is a French company, and apparently didn't feel like it was getting any bang for its marketing buck here in California. The project is setting up a California structure and will be looking for sponsorship here. Interested, anyone? Oracle? Apple? Anyone?

I was out sailing last week and came upon L'Hydroptère on a mooring just off the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. I assumed L'Hydroptère lived a coddled existence, like one of the America's Cup boats, and got hoisted out of the water every night into some high ...

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Life Expectancy of Dynex Dux Synthetic Rigging

12 Nov

It’s about time I concluded (well, for now) my little series on Dynex Dux synthetic rigging. I’ve covered my installation, the tensioning process, and what I see as the great potentials of a return to fiber rigging. As I noted in the last post these benefits depend largely on the ability of this new fiber to hold up over time to the substantial stresses of life at sea. So far that’s a question without a definitive answer- this material, in this application, is so new that its working life has not been conclusively determined. Actually, as sailboat rigging it’s still ...

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9 Nov

I sailed solo along the Nicaraguan coast, trying to cover some distance, but it felt like I was dragging a dead whale. The bottom paint was shot after about 8000 miles, and the hull was a living reef.

I anchored in a remote bight in the coast, donned snorkeling gear, and jumped in. I scraped the propeller first, as I always do, and felt stinging all over my body.

I scraped the whole bottom of Condesa – about a two-hour job – and got stung like hell. The stinging was tolerable as long as I kept my mind on the ...

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First Time For Everything

8 Nov

Yacht porn is a well-established artistic genre, so it is harder and harder for directors to find something new to impress the audience. 

This video starts out pretty–like so many other sailing videos that blend music, slo-mo, and a cool boat–but at the one minute mark the director manages to come up with something creative and different, something that even Alex Thomson would be proud of.

All I will tell you is that it is sort of a William Tell thing, and involves a woman in a bikini.

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Requiem For HMS Bounty

5 Nov

Lots of HMS Bounty tragedy follow-up for you.

Let's start with National Geographic, which has some spectacular (and now poignant) footage of the doomed HMS Bounty's first voyage, as she sailed off to star in the Hollywood version of "Mutiny On The Bounty."

Next, the Coast Guard blog has a detailed and gripping account of the rescue. Here's a taste, but you'll want to

read the whole thing:

It didn’t take long before they spotted a survivor in the water, adrift and alone. The survivor was wearing an insulated suit and co-pilot Lt. Jane Pena spotted the

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Making Cockpit Coamings – Fun With Fire Edition

5 Nov

Here’s a fun project to add a little something extra to your woodwork. For months now, on and off, I’ve been plugging away on a new set of cockpit coamings. Coamings, being little more than a couple flat planes, seem easy enough to maintain so I decided to finish them bright (against my father’s typically utilitarian recommendations). For this we bought a couple very nice mahogany planks.

My coamings-to-be after shaping and sanding. The light in my shop is terrible so you’ll have to bear with the photos..

After a bit of shaping these planks sat for months while I ...

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Caribbean 1500: The Decision to Depart Early

5 Nov

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Hampton on Sunday night, the day after the Caribbean 1500 fleet went to sea (the day it was supposed to go to sea). I need to confirm this with Steve Black, but I think it's the first time in the event's history that it actually left the Chesapeake early. 

Fall on the US East Coast is always a difficult time for weather forecasting, and this year was perhaps the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) example of that. The challenge in planning an offshore voyage this time of year is the

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The Impossibilty of Weather Forecasting

5 Nov

Note: this is re-printed from the March/April 2012 issue of Yacht Essentials Magazine. Thanks to Chris Kennan and Brad Kovach for permission!

“This is complicated.” That is what scientists in the 1960s and 1970s decided a simple graph depicting a chaotic curve – the ‘Lorenz Attractor’ – was trying to say, without having to speak a word.

Fifty years ago, long-range weather forecasting was already a scientific impossibility, and Edward Lorenz proved it. In 1962, Lorenz published his definitive work on meteorology in Volume 20 of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, a paper made public to little fanfare

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