Extending diesel storage capacity in a one off situation, with short funds
Extended cruises require more than a typical yacht's fuel tank capacity and supplementary jerry cans are normal on a blue water cruising yacht. However, there are the occasional peak fuel passages where you are likely to be becalmed for extended periods or are going into areas where fuel is scarce, undependable or is very expensive, where it makes sense to vastly increase your fuel carrying capacity before departing.
Vastly extending the motoring range without modifying the vessel
Extended cruises require more than a typical yacht's fuel tank can cater for, and it is often the case that a few particular legs of an extended cruise require an excessive amount of motoring and therefore fuel. Capacity can be augmented with ‘Jerry Cans’ but these consume valuable space. Then when the cans are not serving a purpose the bulky empty containers still have to be stored.
How to identify water leaks in pressurised freshwater systems
Pressurised water systems load up freshwater pipes and joints. Often small leaks can develop typically at joints. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to detect where these leaks are.
Minimising fuel consumption and maximise range whilst operating under power
Fuel is an expensive resource and a range limiting factor during long passages.
Preventing your dinghy and outboard from being stolen
Yachtsmen tend to have good, and often new, equipment and look after it. In the case of tenders and outboards this unfortunately tends to make them prime targets for theft, to which they are very vulnerable.
Securing 'down-below' lockers for heavy weather conditions
Tests have revealed that almost any yacht can capsize when hit beam-on by a breaking wave taller than 55% of the vessel’s length overall. It is believed that some "beamier" modern production boats can be capsized by a breaking wave of as little as 40% LOA. If a yacht enduing heavy-weather conditions is subject to a knock-down, or worse a full 360° roll, chaos will reign below decks if the internal lockers spill their contents into the cabin.
Adding additional storage for charts and small continually in use objects
If cruising outside home waters where multiple charts will be required, you will find they are difficult to store as ideally they need to be stored in a large flat dry area. This creates a dilemma on vessels that have made no provision for the storage of charts.
An easy retainer to stow warps and lines and have them ready to hand
Line stowage is important on any type of vessel, but especially so on sailboats. So many lines are needed to operate the boat they can easily find themselves fallen in heaps just where they were last used.
Personal portable light for close hand work in the dark
When working on decks during hours of darkness the old sea maxim of ‘one hand for the boat, one hand for your life’ becomes most strained when it is most needed, there is no free hand to hold a torchlight. This forces most people to hold a small penlight in their mouth to provide some directional illumination.
Sailing in reef-strewn waters is very dangerous. The only safe way to operate in tight reef waters is to use eyeball navigation. To do this you need to get at least six feet above deck level to view the patterns in the water.
Fairleads are hard on warps, anchor/mooring/dock lines. The constant flexing and tugging on the warps over the jaws chafe through lines.
Protecting chart portfolios from wear and tear
The optimal way to store charts is in a well-protected chart table. This allows them to be stored flat, or folded depending on the size, in an organised way that allows for easy retrieval. However, when there is a large number of charts or chart portfolios involved, and/or they need to be moved from boat to boat, this becomes impractical.
A convenient and sturdy boat hook
Boat hooks are unwieldy and difficult to store on a yacht, particularly so the traditional strong and durable wooden boathook. Although more convenient, telescopic boat hooks which are available are not good for continuous or challenging use.
Removing rust marks and stains
It is easy to get rust stains on a seagoing yacht. When carrying out work such as cutting an anchor chain link off, or bolts and shackles, fine metal particles can get left on the boat. Likewise, it is easy to accidentally leave a piece of ferrous metal on deck and come back to see it rusting. The worst, and probably the most common culprit, is taking up rusty old mooring chains and having them sit belay at the stem for a while. All of these will quickly cause rust marks or an ochre discolouration across a wide area that bonds with the gel coat. Once that happens the discolouration is virtually impossible to remove by normal cleaning methods.
The single most important sailing knot to learn, the bowline
Sailing is a world of knots, bends, hitches, loops etc each targeted at specific roles. There are far too many to learn them all, unless you take pleasure in the art, and for a starter trying to get to grips with rope handling can be daunting.
How to plan long distance cruises or circumnavigations
Long distance sailing is unlike any other form of transport because you typically cannot plan to simply go from A to B. In fact a sailing passage from A to B can often turn out to be a voyage from A to E to G to C to get to B. This is due to the cyclical patterns of oceanic winds, currents, regional and seasonal weather that are at play at all times. It may even be the case that the scheduled arrival at a destination B would be imprudent and could place the crew and vessel in jeopardy. On the other hand, a much more attractive alternative destination may make perfect sense but is not considered. In short, long distance sailing is complicated and requires knowledge, careful consideration and planning.
Avoiding fender rolling chafe
Laying alongside in a chop, or near a very busy waterway where the wash of passing boats rolls in, will cause a vessel to continuously jostle back and forth upon the fenders.
Acquiring cheaper moorings
Boat acquisition is expensive but the ongoing costs of keeping a boat operational can be prohibitive. Especially if you live near a metropolitan region where there are a lot of boats competing for the limited number of berths available to the area.
Protecting the external appearance and reducing spring recovery of a wintered boat
Time off can be especially hard on a yacht. Hardstanding boats being stowed for winter have to endure the full force of the winter elements. Left unchecked, corrosion will spread, moisture can intrude and freeze, lubrication can congeal and neglect can take root over the long, cold months. The extended period of inactivity can accelerate wear and tear and contribute to a large-scale rejuvenation effort the next season. In addition, boatyards are typically stored in industrial areas or near towns. This causes a deposit of grime and pollutants from the nearby businesses. Even if you are lucky to store the vessel in a rural coastal setting the birds tend to enjoy the benefit of the rigging as a perch. The resulting droppings can bond with the gel coat over the course of the winter making them difficult to remove.
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.
Reducing galvanic corrosion or electrolysis throughout the vessel
When different metals are in contact with each other, and are either submerged or subject to seawater spray, galvanic corrosion or electrolysis occurs. This is an exchange of electrons, atomic particles, ions etc causing an electronic difference of potential between the metals. The less noble or anodic metal can be very quickly corroded away by the seawater conducting its ions to the more noble or cathodic metal. Aluminium, ordinary steels and the more base metals are less noble and highly subject to corrosion. The more noble materials include bronze and stainless steel.
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.
Re-floating techniques after running aground
Always embarrassing, but seldom disastrous, every now then you will run aground. It is part of the life of an adventurous cruising sailor. However heavy seas or uneven ground can make the situation dangerous and many vessels, large and small, have been broken up by running aground in rough weather.
Fitting a PL259 aerial connector to coaxial cable
A high quality VHF installation is required to maximise reception and reduce interference. However cabling connections revolve around fitting PL259 plugs, an if that appears daunting it may lead you to call on expensive specialist help.
Preventing the topping-lift from chafing the leach of the mainsail
When the mainsail is raised the topping lift should be relaxed, but with not so much slack so that the boom could fall upon the dodger. Whilst sailing, you generally don't want it under tension as it will put too much twist in the main. The problem with this is the loose line then flops about and tends to rub and chafe the mainsail. Over time chafing wears on the edge of the leach generally leading to a dirty frayed look.
Making the assembly of washboards easier
Washboard assembly is far from convenient. Assembling a set of washboards requires the correct washboards to be dropped in place, in the right order, the correct way round. The bottom washboard is normally the most easily distinguished but its orientation may not be. The middle and top are easy to muddle.
Winterising 'checklist' for hardstanding where power is available
When a boat is lifted out of the water for the winter there is a range of tasks that will help it come through the winter intact, the most important being to prevent frost damage when it turns cold. It is vital that these tasks are undertaken to protect the equipment and the longevity asset the vessel represents. Moreover many insurance policies do not cover damage caused by lack of maintenance, so you could also be out of pocket in the short term.
Protecting windows and portholes during heavy weather conditions
Hull openings, hatches and so on are vulnerable in storm conditions. Should the vessel fall badly off a wave, or a heavy broaching wave should fall directly upon the window, it is possible for the weight of water could smash or drive a window or porthole through, letting in great volumes of solid water.
A stubborn and resistant headsail furler that jams, or releases and jams alternatively when furling
The headsail furler jams or is highly resistant to furling. Or, the furling system will partially furl then stops, and then furl again, and then stops etc. A complete furl may be achieved but it is a battle and the furler rotation is far from smooth or consistent. These are the symptoms of 'halyard wrap', the number one issue that causes furling systems to jam or be rotation resistant. What is happening is that the halyard is starting to wrap at the top, locking up the furling system, and then unwrapping when you ease the pressure on the furling line.
Taking a vessel alongside and holding it stationary with just one dock line
Coming alongside a berth or slipping one can be a challenge. In the case of coming alongside, the boat has to be tethered with shorelines quickly so that it does not overrun or fall off forcing the helmsman to go around again to make another attempt. When departing, at least the last two shorelines have to be released from the wall or pontoon in quick succession. This is a challenge for two-handed vessels, because once one end of the boat is let off you then have to run to release the other almost immediately and clamber aboard. Even with slip lines set, the person releasing the lines has to run from one end of the boat to the other and it requires more time to take in the long lengths of line that form the bight. Single-handers are severely challenged.