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Optimisations

A folding table arrangement for a confined cabin
Mounting a reasonably sized table in a confined cabin can be a challenge. A decent sized table can consume a large proportion of the available space and can make accessing the fore cabin inconvenient. Yet a table that is not in the way will be too small and unpleasant to dine off.

Optimising the alternator's charging profile without an expensive 'smart' charger
The typical modern alternator and regulator charging system found on boats comes from the automobile trade and hasn't changed much in over 40 years. The alternator, such as pictured above, produces electricity to recharge the battery. A typically integrated regulator sits between the two systems deciding the power output from the alternator to optimize the battery charging. It refreshes the battery with a tapered charging process that is the default charging mechanism of a standard alternator. The taper causes the battery to charge rapidly at first and then slow down as it reaches full charge. This eliminates the risk of overcharging and battery damage.The standard system works well refreshing a single vehicle battery that it is designed for. However the default alternator taper is highly conservative, i.e. it drops down the charge output too quickly, in the context of refreshing a well-used boat battery in a short amount of time. The performance shortcoming is dramatic when refreshing a bank of batteries. Although the default charge setting will charge a vessels batteries in time, the alternators taper drops the output so as to make it unnecessarily inefficient.

Increasing the roles a galley sink cover may address
Cruising yachts are very limited in space so one has to carefully measure the usefulness any item serves against the storage space it requires to judge if specific items are worth having.

Optimising electronic automatic pilots on tiller steered boats
The most common tiller pilot on a smaller sailing boat is an electrically operated ram connected between the tiller and the side of the cockpit area. By changing the length of the ram, the autopilot changes the position of the tiller. Tiller pilot installation typically involves a simple two-step modification. First drill a hole in the cockpit combing and hammer in a brass pedestal socket for the tiller pilot base unit. Alternatively, a cantilever socket can be used to mount against the cockpit side with wide vessels. Finally, you then either drill a hole and hammer in a pin, into the top of the tiller itself or mount a bracket underneath for the pilot arm to gain purchase. The problem with this set up is that over an extended period of use the pin in the tiller or bracket typically works itself loose. The constant back and forth motion is simply too much for the timber grain to sustain, holes widen causing the pin or screws to rock back and forth and then the rate of wear increases exponentially. This causes the pilot arm to increasingly fall off and finally to become inoperable. Although the cockpit fibreglass is less subject to this wear the pedestal socket will also fail just the same as the tiller pin in time. In use, the setup is less than convenient as the tiller is down and sweeping the cockpit under the instruction of the pilot. Another problem emerged in conditions when we used the tiller pilot most, when running downwind when the wind steering gear mechanical devices are less reliable, and in this sailing condition we often had a roll. Too many times we were surprised by a roll, overbalanced and where normally we would just drop across to land on the opposite seat of the cockpit we instead fell upon the tiller with all our weight. This weight in turn transferred in a highly leveraged fashion into the controlling tiller pilot ram mechanism. Something that I am sure can only dramatically shorten the working life of our piece of equipment.

Optimising a yacht with a bowsprits for marina berthing
Classic yachts with extended bowsprits look absolutely beautiful. The issue with the vessel is once they berth in a marina. As the marina has to provide a berth that caters for the vessels entire length, they also have to typically charge the cost of the larger berth the vessel occupies. This means boats with extended bowsprits are a highly expensive vessel to berth in a marina. Although you may have a small or medium-sized sailing vessel, in this particular instance you will receive a bill similar to that for a very large boat.

Improving a cruising vessels charging by right-sizing the alternator
Most all inboard sailboat engines have a standard alternator size range from 35 to 55 amps and use it to top up batteries. However the modern cruising life is electrically hungry and we quickly add batteries without considering the alternators capability to charge an expansion.

Optimising VHF performance
The potential performance of a marine VHF radio is limited by the quality of the antenna and its installation. A badly designed antenna fitted with undersized cable and imperfect connections will make the performance of even the most exquisite and expensive radio unacceptable. It is important to select the right antenna and install it in such a way that it maximises the performance of the radio to which it is attached.

Protect your engine with an exhaust swan neck
Most cruising vessels have an inboard diesel engine with a ‘wet’ exhaust system. Salt water is injected at the riser, which is the outlet from the exhaust manifold and a mixture of water-cooled exhaust gas and water is then passed through a series of bends and components until it exits the boat at the exhaust outlet, typically at the stern.The problem is the exhaust pipes are subject to taking water in through the outlet. This is a common and dangerous occurrence and is entirely down to poor exhaust design. If this happens in quantity the exhaust system will backfill right up to and into the pistons. Exhausts should be as high above the waterline as possible but they are always vulnerable. Following waves can push water from behind into outlet pipes and they may go a long way under when heeling. Long distance cruising boats are more subject to this as they are typically loaded more and so they go down a few inches on the waterline making them more vulnerable. You will know your engine is full of water if you cannot turn it over, generally after a long sailing period or having been hove to.

Keeping doused jibs and spinnakers aboard
Doused jibs and spinnakers can be a challenge to keep aboard, especially if conditions are boisterous.

A simple solution for holding heavy locker lids open
Locker lids are heavy and awkward to deal with when open. Typically you have to hold them open with one hand whilst rummaging around with the other for what you are looking for. With deep lockers, this is particularly awkward. This is a far-from-ideal way to retrieve often awkward equipment and particularly so on a rolling boat where the seagoing rule-of-thumb is one hand for the boat, one hand for yourself. Likewise, if they were to fall upon you the heavy lids would doubtlessly cause a painful injury. There are also times you may want to get into the locker to pack or retrieve deeply stored items or carry out some work. In these circumstances, the lids have to be wedged securely open in a totally reliable fashion. As a proper seagoing lazaret lid self-fastens when it falls closed, there is the potential that you could be trapped in the locker.


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