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Contents Issue #211

July/August 2013



Features Ocean Voyaging

20 Staying clear of piracy

Three long passages across the Indian Ocean by Ellen Massey Leonard

Special Section

26 Beyond routine maintenance


Increasing diesel engine reliability by Paul Exner

31 Diesel developments

Chartroom Chatter

Expect more electronic controls to filter down to voyaging boat engines by Wayne Canning

4 Second shot at North Pacific solo 4 Restoring schooner Lettie G. Howard 5 Tools for iPad navigation 6 Float Plan Registry 6 Ninth Ida Lewis Distance Race scheduled 6 ON Award at Trawler Fest 7 Covey Island Boatworks launches online forum 7 Notable New Titles 8 Product News


34 Ready to answer all bells

How engine maintenance routines on a Coast Guard cutter can be applied to ocean voyaging boats by Michael Cilenti


Marine Tech Notes

9 Satphone roundup by Tim Queeney

38 Info and entertainment at sea Do-it-yourself radio nets for ocean passagemaking by Nadine Slavinski

Power Voyaging 11 Taming the roll by Ralph Naranjo

Correspondence 15 Running the diesel engine in the yard 17 Better bilge emergency strategy? 18 A tale of two boats

Voyaging Tips 44 Many uses for a digital camera by Marcie Connelly-Lynn

Nav Problem 48 White squall by David Berson



For more on voyaging, follow us on:

On the cover: A crewman goes airborne on the bow of the 79-foot Fife-designed yawl Mariella off Antigua. Onne van der Wal photo



Ocean Nav­igator Marine navigation and ocean voyaging

All Departments: 207-772-2466 fax: 207-772-2879 EDITORIAL Editor Tim Queeney

Paul Exner (Special Section, “Beyond routine maintenance,” page 26) is president of Modern Geographic Sailing Expeditions ( Exner holds a USCG 50-ton license and has a B.S. in mathematical economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Exner works with sailors who are pursuing life goals in yachting and who wish to learn while making ocean passages. He teaches students offshore skills aboard his Cape George 31 Solstice. Exner has sailed more than 17,000 miles aboard Solstice on pre-scheduled or customized instructional voyages in the Caribbean. Nadine Slavinski (“Info and entertainment at sea,” page 38) is the author of Lesson Plans Ahoy: Hands-On Learning for Sailing Children and Home Schooling Sailors. On sabbatical from teaching in Germany, she cruises on her 35-foot sloop, Namani, with her husband and son. In 2007-2008, they sailed the Med., trans-Atlantic, cruised the Caribbean and Maine. Starting in 2011, they did the Panama Canal, the Galápagos, French Polynesia, Suwarrow, Niue, and Tonga. In New Zealand, they plan new Pacific landfalls this season. Her website is David Berson (Nav Problem, “White Squall,” page 48) is an Ocean Navigator contributing editor and writes the magazine’s regular navigation problem. Berson absorbed his father’s dreams of the sea while growing up in the Bronx. Through a series of friendships, most notably with Steve Burzon, Nick van Nes, Greg Walsh and Eben Whitcomb, Berson slowly got sidetracked and one day awoke aboard a schooner, holding a 200-ton master’s license in one hand and a sextant in the other. He lives in Greenport, N.Y., and is co-owner of Glory, Long Island’s only electric passenger vessel, a 30-foot Elco launch. 2 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2013    

assistant Editor Larissa Dillman

Art Director Kim Goulet Norton

contributing editors Scott Bannerot

Twain Braden John Snyder Nigel Calder Harry Hungate Eric Forsyth Jeff & Raine Williams David Berson Ken McKinley


West Coast US & canada, international Susan W. Hadlock

east coast US & Canada, international Charlie Humphries publisher/ advertising director Alex Agnew


business manager Doreen Parlin finance/partner Michael Payson


webmaster David Brunt

Customer Service 866-918-6972

ISSN 0886-0149

Ocean Navigator is published in January, March, May, July, September, October and November, with an annual special issue of Ocean Voyager in April, for $27.95 per year by Navigator Publishing LLC, 58 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, Maine, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Ocean Navigator, P.O. Box 461468, Escondido, CA 92046. Copyright © 2013 by Navigator Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted in any way without written permission from the publisher. Subscription rate is $27.95 for one year (eight issues) in the United States and its possessions. Canadian subscription rate is $31.95 U.S. funds. Other foreign surface is $33.95 U.S. funds. Overseas air mail is $62.95 U.S. funds per year. Distribution: Newsstand distribution, domestically and internationally: Coast to Coast Newsstand Services LTD., 5230 Finch Ave. East, Suite 1, Toronto, ON M1S 4Z9. Phone (416) 754-3900; fax (416) 754-4900. Contributions: We solicit manuscripts, drawings and photographs. Please address all material to Editor, Ocean Navigator, P.O. Box 569, Portland, ME 04112-0569. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the safe handling of contributed materials. Printed in the United States by the Lane Press



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Chatter Chartroom


Restoring schooner Lettie G. Howard

Second shot at North Pacific solo <<

Sarah Outen’s solo row from Japan to Canada is a component of her London2London expedition to circumnavigate on land and sea.


On April 27, British ocean rower Sarah Outen, 27, began her solo row from Japan to Canada. If successful she will become the first woman to row solo across the North Pacific Ocean from west to east and the first person to ever row solo from Japan to Canada. This is her second attempt. Her first attempt was thwarted by a tropical storm just one year ago. The voyage will cover 4,500 nautical miles and is expected to take 150 to 200 days. The passage is one leg of Outen’s 2013 

South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum

The South Street Seaport Museum has met its goal of raising $250,000 to restore the 120-year-old schooner Lettie G. Howard. Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash played an important part in the fundraising efforts by giving a special performance in April at the New York Academy of Medicine. Susan Henshaw Jones, director and president of the Museum of the City of London2London New York and president expedition. of the South Street Seaport London2London is a Museum, said, “Thanks to circumnavigation that includes rowing, cycling $80,000 in proceeds from an unforgettable night of and kayaking. great music with Rosanne “The North Pacific has Cash, income from a recent already proven itself to be Warner Brothers movie the most grueling part of my whole London2London shoot for the film Winter’s Tale aboard our Wavertree, expedition,” Outen and the generosity of said. “Physically and many donors, including a mentally, I know I will challenge grant from Anne be exhausted most of the time — the distance, the weather conditions and my complete isolation will make it hugely challenging…”

Tools for iPad navigation

President of the Museum of the City of New York Susan Henshaw Jones.


em s, I


rt S





Rosanne Cash and

phones and tablets have

become useful tools on board voyaging boats. Not all these devices can be used for stand-alone navigation, however, as some models lack GPS units. Two new products that can improve iPad navigation, for example, are Bad Elf’s GPS-2200 Pro Bluetooth receiver and data-logger and LifeJacket, a fully submersible and mountable iPad housing. Bad Elf GPS-2200 Pro: The Bad Elf company, which previously introduced a 30-pin GPS receiver for the iPad, has now introduced its nextgeneration GPS receiver and data-logger for iPad, iPod and iPhone. The new device can reportedly connect up to five devices at a time via Bluetooth and is said to be compatible will all location-based apps. The device features an LCD screen with backlighting and provides location, speed, heading, altitude, and GPS status. When connected via

Bluetooth to an iOS device Bad Elf claims a 16-hour battery life. Using the Bad Elf unit as a stand-alone device and with Bluetooth and the data-logger turned off is said to substantially improve battery life. The data-logging function can store 100-plus hours of route information. The Bad Elf unit also has a “point of interest” (POI) function to mark significant places. When paired with an iOS device the data is available for use by that device. For use on deck, the Bad Elf GPS-2200 Pro is splash resistant. Bad Elf has done No

South Street Seaport Museum

Beaumont, we hope to soon have Lettie under sail once again.” Cash’s interest in the historic fishing schooner is in part tied to her ancestors arrival in Salem, Mass., aboard the ship Good Intent in 1643; many of them where fishermen and whalers. In recent years, Lettie G. Howard has served as a sailing school vessel for the New York Harbor School, the New York City public high school on Governors Island that trains students for maritime careers. The schooner has developed rot in its keelson and the museum is now soliciting qualified shipyards to bid on the work.

Handheld devices like smart-

A submersible housing and aluminum mounting bracket help make iPad navigation a viable option.

extensive testing of their new GPS and lists a wide variety of compatible apps on their website. LifeJacket waterproof iPad housing and mount: Global Navigation Authority LLC’s LifeJacket iPad housing is a waterproof case that is also shock resistant and drop resistant and fitted with a 3M anti-glare touch-screen that will accommodate all generations of iPads. There is also an optional aluminum mounting bracket that is adjustable for multiposition viewing. When paired with the Bad Elf GPS-2200 Pro and an appropriate charting application such as MacENC this setup can offer a low-cost, reliable chart plotting solution or a backup to primary navigation electronics.


Chatter Chartroom

Float Plan Registry How many sailors take the time and effort to build and


Float Plan Registry is a no-cost solution to sharing and managing float plans. It also helps voyagers connect with each other through virtual yacht clubs.

file a detailed float plan? I’ve been fortunate to have sailed with an owner who takes float plans seriously. But many sailors are not lucky to sail with such an organized skipper. Jim Young’s new Web-

based Float Plan Registry may be a solution. Young has developed a free online float planning tool and automatic overdue notifications system for mariners. Float plans are simple to set up and share with an unlimited number of contacts. The user inputs checkpoints that are used to monitor the vessel’s progress. If the boat is overdue at a checkpoint, an alert is sent out to the contact list. Float plans can also be modified at anytime and are stored for future reference. The vessel profile, crew details, and guest lists are all stored in a password-protected, secure database. Visit


ON award at Trawler Fest! John Wooldridge (gray vest) and Geoff Leech (red vest) of PassageMaker present the Ocean Navigator Trophy to Jon and Sue McKenney who hail

Don Kohlmann



from Australia.

Ninth Ida Lewis Distance Race scheduled Now in its ninth year, the Ida Lewis Distance Race will get underway on Aug. 16, with a start in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, just south outside of Newport Harbor and finish in front of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s Lime Rock Light clubhouse. The racing venue will offer four courses: the Montauk Course, 177 nm; the Block Island Course, 150 nm; the Nomans Course, 122 nm; and the Buzzards Bay Tower Course, 104 nm. Classes will include IRC, PHRF and multihull boats. There will also be a doublehanded division, a youth challenge, and a collegiate division. The Ida Lewis Distance Race is also a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.

Notable New Titles

Covey Island Boatworks launches online forum O ne of Canada’s premier yacht builders , C ovey Island Boatworks, recently announced the launch of a new online forum. It is a public forum and will allow anyone to engage in discussions or posts involving the yard. All boating related topics are welcome, especially those that refer to construction, design, materials and methods. It will also

be an opportunity for current and prospective Covey Island boat owners to engage each other. The forum is easy to navigate and will include additional sections as it develops. Visit the Covey Island forum online at www.coveyisland. n

From Running Fix, the ON Blog Stop by Running Fix, our Ocean Navigator blog. Here’s an excerpt: “...this satellite failure right before the official start of the hurricane season comes at a bad time for forecasters.

er care has been updated to include current treatment protocols. The text is well illustrated with photographs, drawings and tables and is extremely easy to navigate. Chapter reviews and call out boxes highlight critical material that could provide life-saving information in a crisis. Anyone who ventures far afield on either land or sea will find this book to be an invaluable first-responder resource.

Wilderness and Rescue Medicine By Jeffrey E. Isaac, PA-C and David E. Johnson, MD Sixth edition Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013 226 pages, softcover

Jeff Isaac and David Johnson’s book continues to be the last word on wilderness and rescue medicine. Now in it’s sixth printing, this comprehensive guide to specialized first-respond-

Running Fix

OCEAN NAVIGATOR BLOG NOAA recently released a statement that the agency expects an ‘above normal and possibly extremely active’ hurricane season with 13 to 20 named

storms of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes, including 3 to 6 major hurricanes.” For more: www.ocean


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MARINE tech Notes

Satphone roundup


satellites 876 miles high for Globalstar. GPS satellites are at 10,000-mile-high middle earth orbit (MEO) altitude, while geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites are out there at 23,000 miles. Getting the satellites in space is only one part of the equation, of course. Satellite phone systems are unlike high frequency SSB radios: two satphones don’t communicate directly. The signal is picked up by the satellite in orbit, but then that signal needs to get back down to the ground via an earth station where it can be patched into land-based mobile phone networks or landline networks (sometimes whimsically called “plain old telephone service” or POTS). Both the Iridium and Globalstar systems require earth stations, a site equipped with a few large dish antennas and connections to the Internet and phone networks, to pick up a user’s signal from their respective satellites. With no earth stations there is no communication. Earth station coverage, however, is not evenly distributed throughout the globe. There is the obvious problem of vast ocean areas where building a station is difficult. More than

that, there simply isn’t enough telephone traffic in some of the world’s less inhabited areas, like the Southern Ocean, to make building a station economically feasible. To get around this problem, Iridium designed its system with sophisticated satellites that not only can transmit signals down to earth stations, but can also talk to each other. The Iridium satellite knows where it is located in its orbit and also knows what earth stations are in range. If there is no station in view, the satellite transmits the user’s call to a nearby satellite in the Iridium constellation. If that satellite doesn’t have an earth station in view, it can skip the signal on to another satellite. Eventually, one of them will be in range of an earth station and can transmit the signal down to earth. This relaying ability gives Iridium truly worldwide coverage. Users at the poles, for example, can make phone calls even with no earth station in view for

Courtesy Spot/Globalstar

he saga of the satellite phone is an intriguing story of ups and downs. Both Iridium and Globalstar, the two original satellite phone companies from the 1990s, went bankrupt, were sold and re-emerged in the 2000s as viable operations. In 2007, of the satphone is the ability to connect when outside of cellphone range. Land-based cellphone networks use towers that are purposely limited in height so that calls can be localized and don’t interfere with calls in adjoining areas or cells. Building offshore towers to offer service to vessels outside land-based tower range is not economically viable. The expense would be too high and the number of subscribers too low. Satellite systems get around this problem by using “cell towers in the sky.” Satphones connect to satellites and the satellites retransmit the call to an earth station hundreds of miles away. Iridium and Globalstar achieved their sky cell towers using satellites arranged in low earth orbit (LEO) constellations. Each company developed their satellites and launched them into LEO — 66 satellites 483 miles above the earth for Iridium and 48

BY Tim queeney


MARINE tech Notes thousands of miles. Globalstar took a different approach with its LEO satellites. A Globalstar satellite works as a so-called “bent pipe,” or essentially a transponder. When a Globalstar bird receives the signal from a user on the surface, it re-transmits that

tend to cost less than Iridium phones. The other major satphone system is the IsatPhone Pro from Inmarsat. Unlike Iridium and Globalstar, Inmarsat uses geosynchronous satellites as its “cell tower in the sky.” Given their much higher altitude above the earth, Inmarsat

Spot satphone coverage. Orange is the primary coverage area, yellow is blue is the fringe area.


secondary and

signal down to earth. If there is no earth station to receive the signal, the user’s call does not go through. This makes Globalstar satellites simpler and less expensive, but it also means they will not work in areas without earth stations. Luckily, much of the Northern Hemisphere is well equipped with earth stations, so Globalstar coverage is excellent in North American and European coastal waters, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and across much of the North Atlantic. South American, Australian, Japanese and North African coastal waters are also well covered. Big swaths of the South Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean are lacking coverage, however. Since the Spot Global Phone uses the Globalstar system, its coverage will not be truly global. It’s worth noting, however, that for many people, Globalstar’s service area will encompass most of the waters they usually sail. Also, on balance, Globalstar and Spot Global Phones 10 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2013   

needs only three of its latest generation Inmarsat-4 satellites to cover the earth. And because the three Inmarsat-4 spacecraft are in geostationary orbits above the equator, they “hang” over one spot on the earth. This means they are always available and in view of Inmarsat satphone users. Since the earth’s surface is curved, however, Inmarsat satellites can’t “see” users at latitudes greater than 70° north or 70° south. This is the main limitation on coverage with IsatPhone Pro. Another geosynchronous satellitebased satphone is from Thuraya. This company provides satphone service in Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia. Returning to the Spot Global Phone, some observers see it not as a new satphone player per se, but as a rebranding effort by Globalstar to tie its satphone product into the company’s popular Spot line of tracking and short messaging products.

power voyaging

Taming the roll

former, and added complexity with the latter. Combine this with the fact that some roll mitigating measures, such as a ballast tank on the upper deck, carry a big sea keeping downside, and it becomes clear that further help is needed. Commercial fishermen and some trawler owners tow paravanes on outriggers, and West Coasters long ago learned to deploy larger and larger flopper stoppers in roll-prone anchorages. Such “non-powered” efforts helped to solve the problem — but none offer quite enough roll dampening. Active stabilization arrived on the scene and it delivered better results. Fin stabilizer systems incorporate roll-sensing electronics linked to servo switches and hydraulic valves that actuate rams for changing fin angle. Like a semi-balanced spade rudder aboard a sailboat, the axis of rotation supporting a stabilizer fin is well aft of its leading edge. This gives the low aspect ratio fin stabilizer some “balance” or force to help make the angle changes. In essence, there’s a power assist created by water pressure acting on the control surface that lies forward of the stock. The roll dampening effect of these large foil shaped fins

stems from the low pressure lift developed on one side of the foil. This force is used to counteract the roll caused by the seaway. The two most important variables are the amount of force generated by the fins and the timing as to

Ralph Naranjo


ctive stabilization won’t turn a rough sea ride into the feel of a flat calm, but these ingenious examples of marine engineering will make life aboard much more tolerable. When a power cruiser is tethered to a marina slip, making way in a flat calm, or anchored in the proverbial millpond, she mimics the stability of a house ashore. Add some chop on the beam or a swell rolling in from the open sea and just six words are needed to define the resulting chaos. Pitch-roll-yaw-heavesway-surge are terms that describe a vessel’s misbehavior, and they’re exacerbated by hull shape, buoyancy, center of gravity and your boat’s course and speed. Roll is the biggest culprit and naval architects go to great effort to mitigate the effect. The basic rule of thumb is that narrow round bilge powerboats roll more willfully than their wider, flatter bottomed, hard chine cousins. A low center of gravity lessens the risk of capsize, but it can also shorten the roll period — not always a good attribute. Bilge keels and steadying sails tamp down roll to some degree, but there’s increased skin drag with the

By Ralph Naranjo

where in the roll period it is imposed. If the roll countering force is too small a percentage of the heeling moment generated by the seaway, the damping effect may be insufficient. Even more problematic is the mistiming of a fin angle of attack change. Turning fins at the wrong moment will result in lift and a force that’s in phase rather than in opposition to the roll. Such resonance can make a bad

An active stabilizer unit changes angle to counteract roll effects.


power voyaging

Courtesy Seakeeper

The sportfishing boat at top is equipped with a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer, above, that uses the inertia to combat roll.


situation even worse. Fin stabilizer designers and engineers have long recognized that timing is a big deal, and they have developed elegant gyroscopic and accelerometer-based roll sensors and linked them to faster and faster processors that engage powerful fin adjusting servo systems at just the right moment. Over the years, fin shapes have improved and the lift per square foot of surface area has increased. Digital switching, and more powerful computing have given rise to control systems that learn the roll rate and righting moment of your boat. Imbedded in the software are algorithms that automatically calculate the right time to introduce the roll countering force. Some software packages are capable of delivering more than 200 angle change instructions per second. The net effect is an uptick in fin stabilizer efficiency, but also greater demand on component parts. The bearing surface supporting the single shaft or stock must handle bending loads imposed by the righting moment of the vessel as well as the torque load developed by the steering servo. Stainless steel shafts and roller bearings are a favored approach. Older technology relied on bushing-type bearings and regular application of waterproof grease. In every case, designers must face the implication of fatigue cycle loading, a destructive trait that responds to every torque input of the servo system and each seesaw induced roll of the vessel. Building in appropriate scantlings to handle the working loads and formidable fatigue cycle

are all part of a good installation. The details include everything from the GRP panel stiffness and strength of the hull skin where the bearing is supported, to the metallurgy of the stock and weldment that forms the foil’s internal armature. If your boat is quite roll prone and you spend a lot of time offshore, it may make sense to scale up the size of the unit you choose. By picking a system that puts your boat in the lower half of its recommended size range you gain increased fin lift and structural durability. It’s always helpful to caucus friends with sister ships and never pass up a sea trial. If you have a chance to steer a season-the-beam course, try shutting down the fin stabilizers to get a feel for what they had been adding to the equation, but first warn the crew and make sure every loose cup and dish has been stowed. Most fin stabilizer manufacturers now add a fence or end plate to the tip of the control surface. This helps to lessen the parasitic cross flow that can add drag and decrease lift on the low-pressure side of the foil. By changing the fin angle with reference to the vessel’s centerline, lift develops on the low-pressure side of the control surface. This lowpressure region always develops on the side opposite to where the trailing edge of the fin has been angled. For example, if the trailing edge of the fin is to port of the centerline, lift will develop to starboard. The hydrodynamics that cause this effect involve water flow in the boundary layer of a foil. In this case, the acceleration of flow on the starboard side

clear, fin stabilizers do significantly dampen roll, they can make steering less of a zig-zag net result, and they’ll even add greater fuel efficiency by keeping your power cruiser “on her lines.” Pros we spoke with alluded to ABT-TRAC, Naiad and Wesmar in their descriptions of attributes to look for.

causes molecules of water to spread out resulting in a density disparity and lower pressure on the flow accelerated side (to starboard). At anchor, units with larger control surfaces and fast acting, wide range of movement servos, dampen roll with a paddle-like force countering the roll moment. Underway, overly large angles of attack can cause excessive turbulent flow on the negative pressure side of a fin stabilizer, and a potential for cavitation does exist. Improved software and precise digital controls lessen the chance of such problems occurring. But the bottom line is

Another option Gyroscopic roll stabilizers, or as technology pioneer Shep Kinney likes to put it “gravity in a bottle,” can also do a lot to dampen the roll and abate the discontent of those on board. In this case, the operat-

ing principle is very different from the fin derived stabilization we’ve discussed thus far. With a gyro, there are no fins to worry about, no through-hulls, bearing systems, servos or a roll reacting digital control. The Seakeeper gyro is comprised of a precisely balanced flywheel that runs in an airtight pressure reduced sphere, spinning at 8,000 rpm. The net effect is a turbo version of the top-like gyroscope we all played with as children. Those more familiar with equations rather than words recognize that mass and rotational speed are directly proportional to torque resistance.

Sailing success is a combination of analytics and instinct. They’re both critical, but how they are used together is more important when developing a strategy or reacting in a tactical situation. For analytics, a great electronics package is essential. It’s critical to have good information delivered in the best format when you need it. For that, nothing beats B&G. Bill Lynn I Noted one-design and grand prix helmsman/tactician CMO and Partner, Atlantis WeatherGear

Zeus Touch from $999

Triton Displays from $599

iPad displaying GoFree control app



power voyaging

once it is running at full 8,000 rpm. Resistance to spin is decreased by evacuating air from the chamber in which the gyro spins. Full spin up time takes about 40 minutes, but after about only 20 minutes there’s

A large Seakeeper 8000 gyro, with 17,143 Newton meters of anti-roll torque, will dampen boat roll — both underway and while at anchor. The gyro requires 3 kW of startup current but only 2 kW

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noticeable effect and the current has dropped to the 2 kW run rate. Installation involves setting up a load bearing surface that can handle the forces generated as the boat’s roll moment attempts to force the gyro away from the plane on which it currently resides. The nuance here is that instead of developing lift in opposition to the heeling moment, the gyro continuously opposes the roll moment with a fixed torque related to its mass and rate of spin. The specific location of these units is not as crucial as where fin stabilizers must be placed, and their at-anchor contribution to stability is just as powerful as what they deliver underway. Installers must make sure that the bedding stringers will spread torque loads evenly into the hull. Subconscious motion awareness is what’s behind all this effort to tame a motorboat’s trajectory. The semicircular canals of the human ear are tuned to sense anomalies to a level plane and constant velocity. And thanks to the circuitous wiring of the vagus nerve, our stomachs are also networked with this inner-ear architecture. In fact it often acts as an alarm bell signaling an increase in unpleasant nautical gyrations. The good news is that active stabilization causes the tiny specs of calcium carbonate known as otoliths to stop flailing about in the semicircular canals, quelling the queasy feeling and putting smiles back on the faces of all of the crew. Ralph Naranjo is a circumnavigator, author and freelance writer based in Annapolis, Md.


Running the diesel engine in the yard She, of course, got very wet. It was impossible to judge how much water was needed by the engine; should the hose be opened all the way or not? You can’t hold the hose in place for more than a few seconds when cranking, before the engine starts, without running the risk of filling the exhaust manifold with water and sooner or later filling one of the cylinders — a very bad situation. Also, running the engine

Hose to pail or bilge

Engine cooling “T” Plug removed to pump from pail or bilge

Straight brass pipe Alfred Wood/Ocean Navigator illustration

who winter on our boats and leave them propped up on jack stands, where they soak up the hot Florida sun during the summer, always hope that the diesel runs when we go back aboard in the fall. We always run the engine on our Tartan 34 Endeavour in the yard just to be sure. It’s not the same as a shakedown cruise, of course, but at least we can be reasonably satisfied that the diesel will run properly once we’re in the water. For the record, ours is a 17-year-old Westerbeke 30B Three with 3,800 hours. A great deal of the engine hours were from charging batteries, not propulsion. Now we use a Honda 2000 generator to charge the batteries, instead of the diesel. Assuming the batteries are charged and there’s fuel in the tank, running the diesel in the yard when the boat is on jack stands or in a cradle means supplying cooling water to the engine. Most times a fresh water hose is available at the yard. There are several considerations. The first is how do we get the water to the engine? In the past my wife Kathy was designated to hold the hose up against the cooling water input seacock under the boat.

water pump dry (without a source of cooling water) is not a good idea. There is another way to solve the problem. A few years ago, I connected a short brass pipe to the half-inch engine seacock with a “T” at the end inside the boat. The

Dick de Grasse

To the editor: Those of us

Sea cock closed

T stem goes to the seawater filter and on to the engine water pump; the top end of the T has a brass plug in it. I made up a four-foot length of hose with a brass fitting on the end to screw into the T after the plug is removed. The hose needs to be long enough to reach a pail of water we set in the bilge. With this setup in place we can cool the engine without the risk of too much or too little water, we simply shut the seacock off, remove the plug and install the fourfoot length of hose. The open end of the hose is placed next to a 10-quart pail. We fill

To provide a steady supply of cooling water for the diesel on his Tartan 34, above, Dick de Grasse put together the T fitting, at left.



the pail with water from the yard hose and then, and only then, try to start the engine. The moment the engine starts we quickly place the hose into the pail of water. Several things happen: first the engine takes from the pail of fresh water only the amount of water it needs to cool properly; and second, there is no risk of filling a cylinder with water while cranking the engine since we don’t put the hose into the pail until the engine starts. An additional benefit is that Kathy doesn’t get soaked holding the hose up against the seawater through-hull. The interesting question for me was how much cooling water


is needed to cool a 30-hp diesel at idle? I was amazed. The 10-quart pail emptied in a very short time; about 15 to 20 seconds. The yard water hose was barely able to keep the pail full the entire time the engine was running. I usually run the engine until it reaches normal operating temperature. There are two additional benefits to this rig: 1) the engine can serve as a high-capacity bilge pump in case of emergency and 2) I keep a two-foot length of #12 copper wire available for cleaning the seacock. If the engine overheats, the first thing I check for is something clogging the seacock; grass, bar-

nacles, etc. While at sea, I can run the wire down through the T and out the engine seacock to clear obstructions. If the T is a little below the waterline, as it is with us, I hold a rag over the open T while using the wire. Some owners put their boat in gear while running in the yard. I don’t do that for fear of unnecessarily adding wear to the drive shaft stuffing box and cutlass bearing; both are designed to be lubricated by seawater. —Dick de Grasse and his wife Kathy live aboard their Tartan 34 Endeavour in the Caribbean during the winter and Maine in the summer.

Ralph Naranjo’s recent article is excellent in its coverage of bilge pump options and their pros and cons: the equipment to deal with flooding (see “Pumps and priorities,” Issue No. 209, Ocean Voyager 2013). I wish to comment on the strategy a crew uses for flooding management, especially for those boats, the majority I think, who are sailing with just two people. The emphasis on the qualities and importance of manual bilge pumps concerns me as I would like to consider that, for shorthanded crews, manual bilge pumps are a dangerous distraction. For example, we carried an Edson manual pump on board for decades never having a boat big enough to have it built in. It would take (in practice conditions) two to four minutes to get out the pump, get out the two hoses, attach hoses (quick connect) and run the discharge hose out a portlight, tie off the discharge hose (or it flies back into the boat at first pump). It is then most likely in the way of exploring for the flooding. In those two to four minutes the boat could be lost because the leak may now be impossible to find. For emergencies (flooding), I would suggest no crew go to the manual bilge pump. The leak needs to be found and found fast or the boat is lost. As water rises and covers more interior hull territory, it becomes more difficult or impossible to find the

To the editor:

leak. Seeing a leak (or its geyserlike signs) is much more efficient than trying to “feel” water coming in when water is so deep as to disguise the ingress spot. Speed is essential and I believe it is an unwise allocation of resources to have 50 percent of your searchpower on a bilge pump, a bilge pump that is very unlikely to keep up with the flooding. If there is more crew, yes, give yourself exploration time by assigning the gorilla to the manual pump. But with two crew, I would come up with a strategy (another whole article) for examining first the boat’s likely water ingress spots, quickly and efficiently with each person assigned specific areas and procedures. I would go over it with your partner and practice it, as if/when flooding happens, being speedy and having a practiced plan may make all the difference. The above strategy leads to an emphasis on early warning (bilge alarm(s) are essential) and automatic pump(s) of high quality, well installed and maintained, and a shared procedure that is practiced. —Dick Stevenson is a retired clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst. He and his wife Ginger have made their home aboard their cutter, Alchemy, a Valiant 42, for more than 10 years. They are currently in Kiel, Germany.

Ralph Naranjo replies:

Damage control strategy aboard a small vessel prioritizes leak stopping with pumping playing

Ralph Naranjo

Better bilge emergency strategy?

Should a short-handed crew put a man on a manual pump or have every available hand look for the source of a leak?

a secondary role. The smaller the boat, the less volume to fill, and the more dangerous a specific sized leak becomes. As the reader points out, the value of an electrical or engine-driven pump revolves around its automation and higher pumping capacity, but batteries and diesels are low in the bilge and vulnerable to flooding. A manual pump is like boots in a foul weather gear fashion show. No one wants to run on deck naked wearing only boots, but standing watch barefoot in a cold sea-swept cockpit isn’t a complete picture either. Fitting out with a manual bilge pump in the mix makes sense — that’s why the International Sailing Federation and U.S. Sailing rules mandate that each boat entering the Newport Bermuda Race carries two manual pumps — one operational from the cockpit and one from below. JULY/AUGUST 2013 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 17

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Rich Feeley about a rigging problem he experienced aboard Lora Ann, an Express 37 (“Disaster averted,” Issue No. 208, March/April 2013), reminded me of trips I have made to and from Bermuda. One trip was aboard our 1964 Rhodes Reliant 41-foot yawl. We sailed from Cape May to Bermuda and back to New London, Conn. We encountered a storm on the trip to New London, well forecast by Herb Hilgenberg, that pinned us down for a night. I’m not sure how strong the wind was because we don’t have a masthead anemometer — 30, 40 knots or more? After the working jib blew out, we weathered the storm with storm jib, storm trysail, and reefed mizzen. This was reasonably comfortable. The low sail plan let us make slow progress on a close reach. Squalls and gusts came and went, but we felt secure. We were bounced around to some extent, but no one was injured, no bones were broken. The only other damage we suffered was that the glass chimney of our kerosene lamp fell off and broke on the cabin sole. I contrast this with the broken rib suffered by a crewmember on Lora Ann, a light racing boat, probably less than 40 percent the weight of my boat. The motion on Lora Ann must have been far more severe.  This difference shows up clearly on Carl Adler’s website (www. The Express 37’s specifications are not listed on this website, but when a comparison is made with

fairly similar boats, there is a very large difference in the “motion comfort” indices. The Reliant’s motion comfort index is 44.95. Boats similar to the Express 37 show motion comfort indexes in the 21 to 22 range. The motion comfort index shows a very important aspect of a boat’s performance in bad conditions. Lora Ann also suffered a serious rigging failure — the port lower shroud turnbuckle broke. The spreader pushed in and bent the mast, leaving the rig very vulnerable to total collapse. The rig has only one lower shroud on each side, well inboard to enable close sheeting of the genoa. The experienced, skilled crew quickly jury-rigged the mast and avoided disaster. In contrast, the Rhodes Reliant has two lower shrouds on each side terminating at the bulwark, providing a good base for both lateral and fore-aft support to the middle of the mast.  I learned a lot about the importance of having two lower shrouds at the spreader bases when I crewed on a hot racing boat in the Bermuda Race decades ago. The boat originally had two lower shrouds, but the owner decided to re-rig with only one lower shroud per side, terminating on the same chainplate as the cap shroud. He wanted to reduce windage and weight aloft. In the midst of a Gulf Stream squall, when the main sheet was eased, the mast started to pump back and forth, unrestrained by the single lower shrouds. The vigorous pumping broke the spreader base

and the mast folded over, the masthead swinging wildly around, seven feet above the cabin top. Ever since then, I have been acutely aware of the importance of having two shrouds per side to support the middle of the mast — fore lowers and aft lowers. Two pairs of lowers not only hold the mast in column, they also provide the extra strength and redundancy to support the rig safely. The lower shrouds have to support both the pressure on the lower part of the mainsail (which has most of the area) and the pressure on the top part of the mast coming from mainsail and jib, transmitted to the middle of the

mast by the cap shroud pushing on the spreader. Another difference in our experiences had to do with setting a storm trysail. On my boat, the mainsail uses a classic track screwed to the classic wooden mast, classic slides, and a classic track switch. The mainsail comes down attached to the mast, and the trysail slides up a few feet on a side track and is easily switched to the primary track.  In contrast, on Lora Ann, the mainsail has its boltrope in a mast slot, and the crew was unable to take the mainsail off the mast safely, so they could not use a trysail. With a double-reefed mainsail, they had

too much sail up, moving too fast in heavy seas, which probably meant uncomfortable motion. Maybe the turnbuckle for the lower shroud was over-stressed in this situation. Lora Ann is a very successful, hot racer. My Rhodes Reliant certainly is not as quick around the buoys, but I know where I’d prefer to be in an ocean storm. —Ben Stavis’ family bought a Rhodes Reliant named Astarte in 1964. Astarte spends summer in New England and fall in the northern Chesapeake. Stavis also maintains two websites, one for Rhodes Reliants and Offshore 40s, the other for Philip Rhodesdesigned sailboats.


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ocean voyaging

Staying clear of piracy Three long passages across the Indian Ocean

Story and photos by Ellen Massey Leonard

Above, Ellen and Seth Leonard’s sloop Heretic just visible to the left of a collection of signs left by visiting yachts at Direction Island anchorage, Cocos (Keeling).


oyagers looking west from Australia at an Indian Ocean crossing can choose to go under Africa or over it: either around the Cape of Good Hope, or through the Red Sea and Mediterranean. Interesting ports beckon on each route. Sailors heading for the Suez Canal can anticipate the Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, India, and the Maldives. Those bound for the Cape can detour to Chagos, Madagascar, and East Africa. But Somali piracy has


The southern route A year later, when my husband Seth and I were in Australia planning the details of our Indian Ocean crossing, a yacht and a tourist boat were captured near the Seychelles. From the outset of our circumnavigation, Seth and I had planned to round Cape Agulhas and the Cape of Good Hope, but we had wanted to call at Chagos and the Seychelles on the way. These most recent attacks changed our minds. We decided instead to take Heretic, our 38-foot cutter, even farther south and skip those two archipelagos. Sadly, hindsight validated our fears: in October, the very month when Heretic would have been in the Seychelles, British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were captured en route from there to Tanzania.

changed the considerations for this route. In September 2008, heavily armed pirates captured the French yacht Carré d’As IV a few hundred miles off Somalia. Before this, the pirates had focused on commercial ships with bigger crews and valuable cargo. Carré d’As IV, however, was sailed by an ordinary cruising couple. Although the French military successfully rescued the two sailors, the incident highlighted the danger of the Red Sea route to voyaging yachts.

Our new route, across 6,000 nautical miles of almost unbroken ocean, was the only one remaining. The pirates had closed the Gulf of Aden, and their greatly extended range had even rendered much of the islandhopping on the southern route impossible. We faced three long passages to make the crossing, and at least one of them would probably be rough. The voyagers in Darwin who had wanted to cross to the Red Sea planned to wait in Southeast Asia until the Somali situation got better; most are still waiting. Quite a number of them marveled at our decision and tried to dissuade us from it. But this route is unduly shunned. It may be long, and South Africa does live up to its reputation for gales, but with careful planning and

a little fortitude, the South Indian Ocean crossing can be a rewarding experience with unexpectedly interesting stops on the way. Jumping off point Darwin (12° 28’ S, 130° 50’ E, in Australia’s Northern Territory) was the most convenient of our options for Australian exit ports, as it had a full-service boatyard (now it has two), supermarkets, hardware stores, and chandleries. Seth and I spent six weeks on the hard giving the 40-year-old Heretic a new barrier coat and rebuilding a patch of osmosis around her rudder post, as well as finishing a host of more minor projects. If one does not require Darwin’s services, Bali in Indonesia is another possible jumping off point. One can

clear out of Australia on Thursday Island and stop on the predominately Hindu island of Bali (8° 25’ S, 115° 15’ E) before making the Indian Ocean crossing. Yacht services are limited, but tourist options are not, and one can enjoy anything from visiting rice terraces to scuba diving. From a sailing standpoint, Darwin positioned Heretic on a direct course for Cocos (Keeling) Islands, 2,050 nautical miles west. Had Seth and I continued into Western Australia to the exit ports of Dampier, Port Hedland, or Broome (17° 58’ S, 122° 14’ E), we would have had to cruise south and then turn north again for Cocos. This would have enabled us to visit the striking sandstone landscape of the Kimberley region, but Seth and I

Heretic at the wharf at Port Mathurin on Isla Rodrigues.

ocean voyaging decided to spend that time on Cocos: we are both avid divers and this was to be the last coral atoll on our voyage. From Cocos (Keeling) Island, we would make another 2,000-mile passage to the Mascarene archipelago (Rodrigues, Mauritius, and Réunion islands), and thence 1,400 miles to Richards Bay, South Africa. Although these two passages might be rough, the Australian high-pressure zone would make the first third of our crossing from Darwin a slow drift until we passed the continental shelf.

Right, a strong wind in the lagoon as a yacht leaves Cocos (Keeling) ahead of Heretic. Below, Heretic’s route across the Indian Ocean.

up to Force 4, 5, and even 6. Heretic did drift the first 450 miles of her crossing. Just as we sank the flat, red land of the Northern Territory, the clutch began slipping in Heretic’s transmission and she was left to wallow in a hot calm. Seth and I hadn’t yet turned around and headed back to a port during our trip, and we didn’t want to start now.


Indonesia Bali Christmas Island

Cocos Islands


Madagascar Route of Heretic


Mascarene Islands



d i a n I n

Durban Cape Town





a n

St. Paul Is.



50° 20°




This anticyclone sits over the Northern Territory in the dry season (May to October) and ensures clear, settled weather and light winds or calms, blocking the Pacific trades. The pilot chart for August showed 5 percent calms and no winds above Force 3 until the edge of Australia where the percentage of calms became 0, and winds picked 22 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2013   


120° Alfred Wood/Ocean Navigator illustration

So for six days we drifted. A half-knot current pushed us slowly west until finally a breeze ruffled the water. Two days later we spied clouds lined with green; we had reached Ashmore Reef on the edge of the continental shelf. Ashmore Reef Seth and I paused there for three days. As an Australian

marine reserve, the lagoon has government moorings for visiting boats, all adequate for a cruising sailboat. We picked up one that could have accommodated the Customs ship stationed nearby. It is essential to notify the authorities in your Australian exit port if you intend to call at Ashmore, but with the officials expecting you, clearance is simple. In fact, the Customs men welcomed us so warmly that we got a tour of the ship and a guided walk around a partially restricted cay. The public is normally allowed only on one section so as not to disturb nesting birds and sea turtles. Aside from this sandy islet and two even smaller ones, Ashmore is a pelagic reef with no land, and stopping there is a surreal experience (see “Moored in mid-ocean,” Issue No. 192, March/April 2011). The last 1,600 miles to Cocos took us two weeks since the trades hadn’t built to the strength promised by the pilot chart. We didn’t mind, though. We were bowling along wing ’n wing, and yet we rolled little; the days were warm but not hot; and the seascape teemed with flying fish and cawing tropic birds. We even spotted a pintado petrel, a bird rarely seen

office. Seth and I managed to get our transmission repaired by a resourceful mechanic there. above the tropic line. My only regret about our route is that we skipped the Australian territory of Christmas Island (10° 30’ S, 105° 40’ E). Upon our arrival on Cocos (12° 08’ S, 96° 53’ E), the trades never dropped below Force 5. We entered the pass into the lagoon at dusk, following lighted navigation markers, just before a gale hit. From then on, the wind blew 20 knots or more. This made the two-mile row to town in the dinghy wet and difficult, but it didn’t prevent Seth and me from appreciating the unique culture and natural beauty of Cocos. Yachts are welcome in the designated anchorage off uninhabited Direction Island, in my opinion the most picturesque of the atoll’s islets. Used as a cable station during the world wars, it has a landline telephone, but otherwise nothing but picnic tables and an outhouse. Giant hermit crabs scurry in the forest and glossy coconut palms lean over soft white beaches. The water was as clear as in the South Pacific. The Rip, a small pass in which, thanks to the waves breaking over the outer reef, the current is always flowing into the lagoon, supported some of

the most vibrant underwater life I had ever seen. Seth and I hurtled down it almost every day, gazing at giant clams, reef sharks, and Napoleon wrasse. Two miles away is the Cocos Malay village on Home Island. Imported as laborers for a coconut plantation, the ancestors of the Cocos Malays formed their own culture and language. A post office, drygoods store, and trash bins make up the facilities, but the Cocos Malay museum is of particular interest. From Home Island a ferry crosses the lagoon to the tiny Australian community on West Island. There one finds the Customs office and police station (although the Customs officer comes to your boat for clearance), the airstrip with expensive thrice-weekly flights to Perth, a grocery store, dive shop, motel, restaurant, and tourist

Long run to Rodrigues At the end of September, we set off for Rodrigues, the most northeastern of the Mascarenes. Although the pilot charts for October showed predominately Force 4 winds from the ESE, for us the wind never slackened to less than 20 knots, and we often saw 25 and 30. Occasional rain squalls brought even more wind, which made for choppy sea conditions. Added to this was a swell from the Southern Ocean, crossing the trade wind swell and causing Heretic to twist in a corkscrew motion. Built in 1968 to a traditional design, Heretic has low freeboard, so waves regularly doused the cockpit. Our naysayers had been more prescient than we had hoped: this was an uncomfortable, unpleasant passage. But it was over quickly. Despite

Below, an Australian yacht at anchor off Direction Island.


ocean voyaging

even though we were tied to the town wharf in the capital, Port Mathurin. The island’s residents, mostly African Creole, seemed to have a strong sense of community, picnicking every Sunday and sailing races in felucca-like boats. Port Mathurin had an interesting mix of cultures as well, including Chinese, Tamil Indian, and Muslim. But it is a sleepy place, more suited to voyagers interested in bird-watching than to those wanting busier scenes and shops.

Above, Piton Cabris, Cirque de Mafate, Réunion Island. Right, a roadless hamlet inside the Cirque de Mafate.

a constantly double reefed main, we screamed over the 2,000 miles in only 15 days, quite a speed for a yacht with only a 27foot waterline. And though unpleasant, the 15 days were manageable: our Aries wind vane steered in everything but the worst squalls, and we never missed a hot dinner. Rodrigues, a semiautonomous territory of Mauritius, rewarded us. Seth and I appreciated its slow pace of life after our rough passage. We never feared to leave Heretic’s hatches open


Mauritius, a fast and squally 350 miles southwest at 20° 10’ S, 57° 30’ E, is much bigger and more populous. Port Louis, where all boats, whether or not they called at Rodrigues, must clear Customs, is a bustling capital city of about 138,000 people. Tamil Indian culture dominates, but African Creole exists too, and one can walk to Chinatown from the boat basin. The basin is not ideal — yachts make fast

to concrete walls — but it is secure, situated in an upscale shopping center and next to a five-star hotel. Showers and laundry are two steps away; vegetable and meat markets are in easy walking distance, as are grocery stores; and the immense Jumbo supermarket is a taxi ride away. Seth and I were able to find a machinist in the commercial shipyard to repair our steering quadrant, which had been worked by the rough seas from Cocos to Rodrigues and again on the three-day passage to Mauritius. Outside Port Louis, lush forest grows on the volcanic hills, and beaches and coral make for pleasant snorkeling and diving. After another 150 miles of bouncy sailing, Seth and I reached the French department of Réunion. The most dramatic of the Mascarenes, the island still boasts an active volcano. Its highest point, reaching over 10,000 feet, forms the center of three large calderas through which runs a network of hiking trails. La Maison de la Montagne in Saint-Denis, the capital city close to Le Port where voyaging boats moor and clear Customs, runs dormitory-style cabins along the trails. Those in Cirque de Mafate, whose terrain is too rugged for roads, are in hamlets whose only sounds are roosters crowing and people talking. The lush

mountains, roaring waterfalls, and towering caldera walls made the three cirques the best hiking experience of the voyage for Seth and me. Tough slog to the continent The last 1,400 miles of the crossing to South Africa are notoriously difficult. Depressions bringing cold gales from the Southern Ocean collide with the southwesterly Agulhas Current, which in places flows as fast as five knots. Strong SW winds hitting the current can create dangerously steep breaking waves. These fronts come regularly: when Heretic rounded Cape Agulhas and the Cape of Good Hope, we generally had three days between fronts. There are enough ports down the coast to be able to time one’s passages for good conditions, but when first making landfall, one doesn’t have this luxury. The trick is to time one’s crossing of the Agulhas Current for fair weather, so access to GRIB weather files is important. The earlier in the season this passage is made, the more likely one is to see gales and storms. One cannot leave the passage too late, however, as cyclones begin to brew in the Indian Ocean. The large mass of Madagascar blocks their

progress and thus makes South Africa a safe place for the Southern summer. Seth and I were lucky. We left Réunion on December 1, just as a hurricane was forming about 1,500 miles east of the Mascarenes. We had time to get beyond Madagascar, and the Southern Ocean lows were weakening, making the worst storms less likely. In fact, the most notorious third of the South Indian Ocean was our best passage. For the first week we glided west, pushed by 15-knot trade winds. We stayed well south of Madagascar to avoid its shallow bank, which can make even the calmest of swells uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. Then fronts began to hit us every three days, but they were weak, and conditions were better than on our bouncy passage to Rodrigues. We crossed most of the Agulhas Current under clear skies and mild breezes. For the last 30 miles we did experience what makes this passage feared:

30- to 35-knot SW winds whipped up almost without warning and turned the sea into foaming 15-foot waves with very short periods. We decided to slog ahead closehauled for Richards Bay (28° 48’ S, 32° 06’ E), thinking we could make the port before conditions worsened. We tucked three reefs in the main, and kept up our staysail and a scrap of jib. In five hours, at midnight, we reached the protection of the breakwater, and I could smell the warm land. Our Indian Ocean crossing had proved much better than its reputation. It had been uncomfortable at times, but it had never been dangerous, and along the way we had visited a series of eclectic and interesting islands.

Strong wind entering Port Louis on Mauritius.

Ellen Massey Leonard and her husband Seth circumnavigated aboard their Westphal 38, Heretic. They sold Heretic and purchased Nahma, a 34-foot ketch. OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2013 25


One of the keys to engine reliability is keeping the engine and engine compartment clean so leaks can be quickly detected and repaired.

Beyond routine maintenance STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL EXNER

Increasing diesel engine reliability


nsuring that your diesel engine works when it should is the goal of any engine maintenance program. We have to use preventive methods, however, that reach deeper than routine practice. There are several points to consider beyond routine maintenance to ensure a diesel is properly commissioned for sea. Engine additives All diesel fuel contains some water, and microbiological organisms (fungi, bacteria, and yeast) live and reproduce at the fuel/water interface. Hormoconis resinae (a sac fungi member of Ascomy-


cota phylum), is the most notable contributor to the creation of biomass sheets inside fuel storage systems (sludge formation). The indirect and negative effects of more than 250 types of microorganisms living in diesel fuel are numerous: microbial influenced corrosion; organic acid accumulation; fuel-line flow restrictions; filter plugging; engine wear; corrosive deposits on metal tanks, injectors, and cylinder linings; and changes in fuel properties (pour point, cloud point, thermal instability). A common and unavoidable source of water in fuel tanks is atmospheric

condensation, caused by changes in temperature and humidity, via the tank’s vent. Warm moist air stabilizes in the tank by day, while H2O sweat forms on tank sides above the fuel level as the ambient air cools at night. Water droplets sink beneath diesel fuel and stay. The easiest way to minimize H2O condensation in the tank is to keep the tank full with fuel, minimizing the airspace. Obviously, diesel engine performance becomes unreliable when the pickup-tube sucks water or biomass sludge… water won’t ignite in the cylinder, and sludge clogs fuel lines, filters, and

injector nozzles. Either way, lack of atomized fuel in the cylinder means combustion doesn’t take place. Water separating fuel filters are extremely helpful to isolate water and capture sludge, but the water must be drained from the filter frequently. If a boat hasn’t been used, and suddenly sets out in rough conditions, sludge and water will slosh inside the tank and get sucked into fuel lines in a heartbeat. This scenario is a common cause for engine failure. Fuel lines must be cleared or filters changed multiple times. Worse, a cylinder may not fire because an injector nozzle is plugged. Rather than set-off on a voyage aboard a yacht that’s been sitting idle, it’s prudent to treat the fuel first. A fuel management methodology that combines mechanical and chemical treatment of stored fuel is most prudent. Mechanical fuel polishing (when properly administered) will completely rid your contaminated tank of harmful microorganisms. Two types of chemical additives (biocide or enzyme) are available to treat and manage microbial contamination of diesel fuel. An antimicrobial biocide may be added to diesel fuel to kill

microorganisms. When biocide is introduced to fresh fuel, biomass particulates (sludge) won’t grow, or may be scarcely visible. If a tank shows signs of sludge contamination, the biocide “kill” will dramatically increase dead-biomass particulates in the tank resulting in frequent filter changes. Heavily contaminated tanks should receive a combined treatment of fuel polishing and biocide to completely ensure stored diesel is ready for use at sea. Enzymological treatment is an alternative to biocide use; it offers biochemically engineered results that improve diesel engine combustion, and minimizes harmful exhaust emissions, while purifying microbial contaminants in fuel tanks like Hormoconis resinae. Uniquely selected enzymes promote specific molecular reactions within diesel fuel, and within its combustivephase. Lyase enzymes begin by cleaving hydrocarbon substrate bonds in an attempt to increase diesel’s burn rate; while isomerase and transferase enzymes then rearrange hydrocarbon molecules by

attaching atmospheric oxygen to a weakened carbon structure to hyper-oxygenate the fuel at the point of combustion. In effect, this decreases fuel consumption (comparative reports of enzyme use between similar engines show a 10 percent improvement of fuel economy). Enzymes also reduce the emission of harmful NOx acid-rain gas and diesel-soot because ignited fuel isn’t being forced past the exhaust valves. Emission test data indicate that enzymes successfully weaken Polycyclic Aromatic Sulfur Heterocycle (PASH) molecules in diesel

Above, the raw water strainer and seacock. Should the strainer fail the vessel can rapidly flood. Left, adding enzymes to a diesel tank to deal with microbial fuel contamination.


MARINE DIESELS fuel to reduce SO2 in exhaust, showing that enzymes render diesel exhaust safer — a glimpse of good news since the World Health Organization and IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer)


classified diesel exhaust as a carcinogen in June 2012. Wet-exhaust circuits and components The most common diesel exhaust

system installed aboard yachts is the wet-exhaust, where raw seawater is pumped through a heat exchanger that indirectly lowers the temperature of coolant flowing around the engine block in a closed circuit. The raw water then cools and mixes with exhaust gases to finally be pushed out of the yacht by built-up exhaust pressure. A properly plumbed wet-exhaust circuit should not sink a yacht, nor induce seawater to back-siphon into the engine’s cylinders. Located at least six inches above the vessel’s waterline at operating heel angles, a siphon-break should be incorporated into the wet-exhaust circuit to prevent backsiphoning. Two connection locations are found: 1) between the heat exchanger and the exhaust elbow; or, 2) between the water pump and heat exchanger; the former being more widely accepted. Not all siphon-breaks are equal; some require maintenance, and some don’t work under certain circumstances. Aside from numerous valve fittings designed to break a siphon when needed and keep water from splashing out, the open-tube led high above the waterline is the simplest effective option. Anti-siphon valves with rubber seals tend to stick, and mechanical valves with springs and balls bust-open and scatter pieces. Another valve-type that leads “vented” water directly overboard or to the bilge seems innocuous and convenient, but can become dangerous if the end of the discharge pipe drops below bilgewater, or is submerged beneath the waterline — creating a siphon

that the unit should prevent. These vents are often installed in confined dry-areas near electrical equipment or inside cupboards where you’ll add insult to injury if water splashes out of the vent. Thus, two workarounds must be performed in the field to create the siphonbreak for this valve-type: 1) add a small air hole at the top of the discharge pipe (may still leak water); or, 2) run the discharge pipe into a larger diameter pipe with airspace between the two. Raw-water strainers are located before the water pump to strainout sucked-up debris. The strainers are often located below the vessel’s waterline and sometimes have their lids held down by hand-tightened wing nuts. If this is the case, the watertight integrity of the vessel is sustained by a couple of wing nuts! If proper tension isn’t applied to these wing nuts, or should any part of the strainer corrode and fall apart, the strainer can leak enough water to sink the vessel. The easiest precaution is to close the raw-water seacock when away from the boat, or plumb the strainer above the waterline if space is available and the hydraulic head doesn’t overwhelm the water pump. Some engines have zinc anodes mounted within their wet-exhaust circuit to manage electrolysis in that specific system. These zincs should be replaced at least annually or corrosion will attack the heat exchanger or the exhaust mixing elbow. It is common for the mixing elbow to corrode and blow exhaust into the engine room or become plugged. A plugged exhaust mixing elbow will create excessive back pressure and

hinder an engine’s performance. Corrosion inside the heat exchanger will eventually cause an engine to run too hot — a problem that must be addressed soon or the engine’s life will be shortened. If the

outlet pipe feels warm, then water flow is good and heat is exchanged properly. If the outlet pipe is hot, then water flow is poor. If the outlet pipe is cold, then water flow is good but the internal piping of the heat


MARINE DIESELS exchanger is likely corroded. Failed heat exchangers should be replaced rather than repaired. Raw water that exits the exhaust mixing elbow flows into a waterlift which muffles engine noise and collects raw water that wasn’t forced out of the exhaust port after the engine was shut down. Acting as a reservoir, the water-lift’s volume must be sufficient to collect all nonvacated water; otherwise the engine cylinders may become submerged by back-wash. Excessive back-pressure in a wet-exhaust system may be caused by an improperly specified water-lift that constricts free flowing exhaust, thereby restricting the intake of fresh air required for diesel combustion. If an engine seems starved for power, check the exhaust circuit for blockage including the possibility that the water-lift unit was improperly specified. Water pump impellers should be replaced annually, and spares should be carried. Impellers still function even with one blade intact. Visually inspect the flow of water spilling from the exhaust port every time the engine runs to establish a general feel for normal flow. If the flow decreases at any stage, it’s likely that impeller blades have broken off. Change the impeller immediately at any sign of failure. Water pumps themselves may fail once or twice during an engine’s life. The first sign of a failing water pump is water leakage from its shaft-seal on the back of the pump. Change the water pump at the first sign of leakage. Ancillary equipment, such as a dripless shaft-seal, may require a water-injection hose to be connected to the wet-exhaust circuit. 30 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2013   

Depending on the manufacturer’s installation guide, a T-connection is made in the raw-water circuit to create a positive flow of water to lubricate the shaft-seal while the engine is running. Because the seal is connected to the stern-tube below the waterline, a back-siphon will be induced if a siphon-break isn’t installed appropriately in the circuit. Typically, the T-connection must be located “up-stream” of the siphon-break, and common sense dictates that the T and break should be located between the water pump and the heat exchanger, not between the heat exchanger and the exhaust elbow which is the widely accepted plumbing installation on yachts. If a professional installer of after-market ancillary equipment isn’t careful, your installed dripless-seal can put seawater in the engine cylinders. Sea trial The sea trial for me is a practical and analytic evaluation of a vessel’s operation in the open ocean, where the organized testing of each system and the co-dependence of systems is the only way to ensure a yacht’s seaworthiness. The sea trial however, is a double-edged sword because you ultimately have to be at sea to identify what works and what doesn’t — many problems with yachts just don’t occur at the dock, they only haunt us “out there.” Hopefully, any problem with a yacht, especially with its diesel engine, that makes it a challenge or danger to operate can be identified and fixed at sea. It’s the continuous operation of an unproven vessel at sea under “real” conditions that allow problems to rear their ugly head.

A proper sea trial is more extreme than a yacht survey. Brokered yacht sales will often evaluate a yacht underway for an hour or so in protected sea and wind to check basic operation (Does it power on/off? Do the gauges work? Does the engine show signs of leaking oil? Etc.), but this effort barely scratches the surface to uncover complex problems related to a vessel’s operation. Yacht owners and captains are left to prove a vessel themselves. I’ve seen many new or re-commissioned yachts fail during offshore sea trial conditions following a “good” survey report; for example: falling off a wave as you normally would at sea and hearing each bulkhead separate ever-soslightly from bow to stern as the hull twists; ball-bearings falling out of mainsheet blocks; seized engine due to improperly plumbed raw-water circuit; clogged fuel system due to dirty fuel; improperly specified propellers; high-water alarms and pumps that don’t activate; etc. Every change to an engine’s components or maintenance protocol (even by marine service professionals) should be scrutinized so the changeeffect to the vessel’s operation will be understood, and subsequently tested for system-integration compatibility during a sea trial. By taking time to validate and understand the service work performed, we take steps toward a sea-ready engine system. Paul Exner owns Modern Geographic Sailing Expeditions ( and provides coaching and consulting for offshore sailors. He has logged 22,000 miles teaching sailing aboard his Cape George 31 cutter Solstice.

MARINE DIESELS Large diesels such as these are likely to have the latest advances in common rail injection and electronic control.



lthough the basic core of today’s modern marine diesel engine remains essentially the same, the controls, fuel systems and accessories have changed greatly. With the advent of common rail fuel injection and its associated computer controls the lowly iron wind has entered the computer age. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements for cleaner burning engines have also driven the new computer technology in an effort to reduce emissions. Common rail fuel delivery came of age back in the early 2000s. Common rail is primarily used on engines larger than 100 hp. With this system, fuel is delivered to a common rail or pipe, to all the injectors at the same time. The electronic injectors are then controlled by an electronic control unit (ECU), a computer that will

use data from things such as throttle position, engine temperature, and engine load to determine just the right amount of fuel to send to the cylinder. Not only can it control the amount of fuel, but also how that fuel is delivered to the combustion chamber. The fuel can be delivered in varying amounts and bursts lasting microseconds that will make sure all the fuel is burned as efficiently as possible. Part of the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, the proposed rule for marine engines will require a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter (PM) emissions, 80 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides, and additional reductions in hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and air toxins. The proposed marine reductions occur in two phases, with implementation of the most stringent standards slated to begin in 2014. Proper

controls of the injection system are a key part of meeting these tough new standards. Computer transmission control Computer controls are not limited to the fuel systems alone. Marine transmissions and drive units are now becoming part of the overall system packages, all being controlled by the engine ECU and helm control. With full control over the engine and transmission a vessel is now easier to operate at low speeds when docking or maneuvering. This, of course, is when the owner or captain needs the most control. The days of pulling a control or flipping a switch to operate a manual bypass trolling valve are long gone. With today’s electronic controls, the transmissions are automatically handled from the helm control when in low speed range. Electronic variable

Expect more electronic controls to filter down to voyaging boat engines


Index to Advertisers Page Advertiser


Page Advertiser



AB Marine Inc........................................................... Propellers


Mantus Anchors............................................................Anchor


Beta Marine............................................... Engines/Generators


NMEA.............................................. Marine Electronics Assoc.


Cape George Cutter........................................ Boatbuilder (sail)


North American Laser Flare............................................ Safety


Celestaire................................. Sextants/Navigation equipment


North Sails.................................................................Sailmaker


DeLorme............................... Electronics and Communications


NV-Charts....................................................................... Charts


Epifanes.........................................................Paint and Varnish


Para-Tech Engineering............................Sea Anchors/Drogues


Floscan...........................................Fuel Management Systems


Radar Flag Co....................................................Radar reflector


Furuno USA............................. Marine Electronics - Navigation


Simrad/Navico/B&G.................................................... Autopilot


GAM Electronics (Split Lead Antenna)........................Antennas


Spectra Watermakers ........................................... Watermaker


Hansen Marine Engineering............................ Engines/Gensets


Speedseal ......................................................Impeller changer


Hart Systems (Tank Tender)................................. Tank Gauges


Surrette Battery Co Ltd............................................... Batteries


Lifeline Battery/Advanced Power................................ Batteries


Trawler Fest by PassageMaker Magazine................Boat shows


Maine Yacht Center........................................... Boatyard/Refits


MARINE DIESELS valves allow the transmission to slip as needed to reduce propeller speed at low speeds and to reduce slip as the vessel is throttled up, giving instant control over speed and torque. The introduction and popularity of pod type drives such as Volvo Penta IPS and Cummins Zeus further adds to maneuverability in tight locations. Even standard drive systems are see-

tronic control is added to improve efficiency. Additionally, many smaller engines now offer an option for electronic controls and displays. Some offer NMEA 2000 integration as well, allowing you to have your engine information displayed on your chartplotter. Less obvious developments include more horseManufacturers of smaller diesel propulsion engines and gensets for voyaging boats, like these from Westerbeke, are offering electronic controls as an option.

ing the traditional lever control being replaced with a joystick control. At low speeds the operator can use the joystick to control twin engines and transmissions with one simple intuitive control, increasing maneuverability and safety. At higher speeds traditional wheel steering and rudders are used to control vessel direction while electronic controls operate engine speed. For smaller sailboat auxiliaries the changes have not been so great. Since most engines less than 100 hp are exempt from the EPA requirements, not much has been done with common rail injection or electronic fuel control. This doesn’t mean these engines are being completely left out of this new revolution in electronic controls, however. Some manufactures are starting to work with unit injectors. These are similar to the traditional single injector, but

power with less weight and a reduced engine size. For the sail voyager this means better performance under sail as well as under power. Greater fuel efficiency means less fuel needs to be carried, reducing weight and increasing range. Most engine manufactures are also adding larger alternators for battery charging. Hybrid systems? Although there has been a lot of talk of hybrid systems like those that have become popular in cars, these systems have yet to have a big impact in boats. Although hybrids offer some improved efficiency for boats, it is not likely we will see the gains cars have seen — unlike boats, cars can recover some lost energy when braking. For powerboats the fuel efficiencies come from operating the diesel engine at an optimum steady rpm that maximizes fuel efficiency

while varying the speed of the electric motor for vessel speed. For sailboats the efficiencies come from being able to allow the propeller to work backwards and turn the electric motor as a generator while sailing. This places drag on the vessel under sail, but the increased fuel range could more than make up for this. Another big asset to the hybrid is quieter operation. Being able to run a generating engine at a lower, steady rpm can reduce noise and vibration. What does the future hold for the marine diesel? We’re likely to see a greater integration with computers and communication systems. Some manufacturers are looking into systems that would allow an owner experiencing engine problems to upload engine data real time via a satellite link to receive live troubleshooting help even while at sea. Controls and displays will continue to follow the “fly by wire” protocol. Joysticks are likely to become common on boats of all types. Drive pods like those now seen in large shipping vessels are likely to find their way into our pleasure craft giving us even greater control and fuel efficiency. As the automotive industry pushes improvements in batteries and hybrid drives we will find these will prove more useful in our boats. Capt. Wayne Canning lives on his Irwin 40 VAYU, in Wilmington N.C. Canning is a full-time marine surveyor, freelance writer, and consultant/project manager on major repairs. Canning also runs websites for other marine professionals, and those restoring project boats. Visit and for more information. JULY/AUGUST 2013 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 33

Ready to answer all bells BY MICHaeL CILENTI


How engine maintenance routines on a

ver the course of a three-year assignment as the Chief Engineer of Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911), an 1,800-ton, 270-foot long medium endurance cutter, I was responsible for keeping the engineering plant “ready

ing on the systems to which they were assigned. There is obviously a big difference between a 270foot cutter and a voyaging boat. Some of the same principles we use on board Coast Guard cutters, however, apply to the less humble

Coast Guard cutter can be applied to Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

ocean voyaging boats

The propulsion engines and generators on a Coast Guard cutter, like the 270-foot Forward seen above right, require a high level of maintenance.


to answer all bells.” This rather broad description included the maintenance and repair of two 3,650-hp propulsion diesel engines, three 450-kW diesel generators, fuel and oil purification and transfer systems, heating ventilation and air conditioning plants and numerous other propulsion, auxiliary, electrical, and damage control systems. The engineering department, which I am honored to have led, included about 30 officers and enlisted crew who had each received both formal and on-the-job train-

but no less important engine on your boat. Stand a taut watch One of the best ways you can ensure your engine is reliable is simply by spending some quality time together. On Navy and Coast Guard ships at sea, the watch manning the bridge is only a small part of the team that is up and about keeping the ship safe 24 hours a day. Among other places there is also a watch team in the engineering control center keeping a close eye on all of the machinery that keeps the vessel running smoothly.

On board Forward we had a three-person engineering watch section: an Engineer of the Watch (EOW) who was directly responsible to me and the Officer of the Deck for ensuring proper operation of the entire machinery plant, a Propulsion Watchstander whose primary role was to monitor the propulsion engines and diesel generators, and an Auxiliary Watchstander who made near-constant rounds outside of the main engine room, focused primarily on the multiple compartments containing the ship’s auxiliary systems. While at sea, I would frequently stand the EOW for the 0800-1200 watch on Sunday mornings to spend some quality time with the plant. Some EOWs liked to stay in the engineering control center, where they could monitor the various readings on the main control console and be ready to respond to an order from the bridge or an unexpected casualty. I preferred to spend the majority of my time on watch walking around with a flashlight, a rag and a spray bottle of cleaner — watching and listening. I found you can learn a tremendous amount just by spending some time

really observing the plant. Additionally, I firmly believe that the engineering compartments on a ship should be the cleanest spaces aboard; this way you can more easily find a small problem while it’s still manageable and before it becomes an emergency. After four hours walking through the engine room, I usually had a fairly comprehensive list of items that needed to be addressed — nothing major, but that was the whole point. Any boat owner could take the same approach of spending some time in your engine compartment with a flashlight, a rag and a spray bottle of cleaner. Inspect all the components of your engine and get comfortable with what each of them do and how they work; look for leaks or drips and make sure everything is spotless — from the engine itself to the fuel filters to the bilge below. If you do this regularly, you’ll find small problems before they become big ones.

For the biggest benefit, don’t just do this at the pier with everything quiet and secure; make sure you spend some quality time with the engine running (under load is best). You’d be surprised how quickly you can tell when something doesn’t sound or even smell quite right once you have a good baseline. Planning and scheduling Whether we were towing a disabled fishing vessel to safety in 15-foot seas, rescuing Haitian migrants from a grossly overloaded sail freighter, or interdicting multi-ton loads of cocaine in the deep Caribbean, keeping all of the ship’s systems running was vital to ensuring Forward could accomplish her missions. Ensuring that we were prepared for regular maintenance and all but the most complex or unusual repairs was a constant challenge while steaming independently for weeks at a time

Voyagers can help ensure their diesel, like this 75-hp Volvo Penta on the Lyman Morse built Kiwi Spirit, is reliable by John Snyder

spending the time to know it in detail. JULY/AUGUST 2013 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 35


Marine gensets Marine gensets suitable for sailboats ranging from 36 to 50 feet LOA: Westerbeke Gasoline Marine Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model 3.5 kW 3.5BCG 5.0 kW 5.0BCG 6.5BCG 6.5 kW 8.0BCG 8.0 kW Westerbeke Diesel Marine Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model 5.5 kW 5.5BCD 7.6 kW 7.6BCD 8.0 kW 8.0BTDA 10.0 kW 10.0BTDA Northern Lights Diesel Marine Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model 5 kW M673LD3.3 6 kW M673L3.3 9 kW M773LW3.3 12 kW M843NW3.3 Kohler Diesel Marine Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model 6 kW 6EKOD 9 kW 9EOZD 11 kW 11EKOZD 13 kW 13EOZD Cummins Onan Marine Diesel Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model 4 kW 4MDKBH-5933 5 kW 5MDKBH-5567 6 kW 6MDKBJ-1100A 7.5 kW 7.5MDKBJ-1101A 9 kW (space saver) 9MDKBK-6003 9.5 kW 9.5MDKBM-5872 Fischer Panda Marine Diesel Generators (60 Hz) Kilowatts (kW) Model (Incl. Sound Shield) 4.1 kW 4200 Mini Plus 4.2 kW 4200 ECO 7 kW 6500 7.4 kW 8 Mini DP 11.2 kW 12 Mini DP


and hundreds of miles from the nearest technical assistance or parts suppliers. As you can imagine, keeping track of both the work we had done as well as the work we needed to plan for in the future could easily become overwhelming without a way to manage all of this work. Enter the Coast Guard’s system of preventative and corrective maintenance. Through years of experience and close work with the equipment manufacturers, the Coast Guard has developed detailed preventative maintenance procedures for each class of ship. Some procedures are time-based (e.g., lubricate watertight door hinges every month) while others are hour-based (e.g., change the propulsion diesel engine oil after 500 hours of operation). Each of these hundreds of maintenance items has a card that lists both the parts and supplies required to complete the jobs, as well as a detailed description of the procedure to complete the task. Granted, some of these are simple and the card is more a formality than a requirement, but for other complex or rarely performed tasks, it helps ensure proper procedures are followed and mistakes that could lead to equipment damage or personnel injury are avoided. The electronic database that organizes all of these tasks helps make scheduling and tracking historical data significantly more manageable. In this computer system, you can look up a piece of equipment (e.g., No. 1 main diesel engine) and find all of the maintenance procedures that are

assigned to it, in addition to all of the corrective maintenance (e.g., repairs) that were completed and logged into the database. Alternatively, you can look up an individual maintenance procedure and see when it was last completed and when it will next be required. Perhaps most useful, you can plan for the future and identify all of the preventative maintenance items that will be required in the next month in order to accurately plan your work. While I certainly don’t recommend that you invest in a complex electronic database to track all of your maintenance and repairs to the extent described above, something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or log book can go a long way to making sure that you aren’t overlooking some infrequently performed maintenance. You can make different spreadsheets for different pieces of equipment, and add some notes if you noticed something unusual while performing the work. Keep in mind, nothing says that you should only record maintenance on your auxiliary diesel. How about inspecting and lubricating the steering system, winches or anchor windlass? Of course, the first step is probably determining what maintenance you need to accomplish. I recommend spending some time with your OEM (original equipment manufacturer) manuals. They won’t give you all the answers (and might not be the most exciting reading), but they’re a great start and a fine way to gain a little more knowledge about the systems you have on board. Next,

read through some of the plethora of boat maintenance books out there. While these will be more generic and not have details specific to the equipment installed on your particular boat, the principles are the same. These two approaches, along with spending some time with a mechanically-inclined friend, will put you in a good spot. Perhaps even more important for the long-distance cruiser or voyager, these recommendations will give you some insight into mechanical issues you’re likely to face. This knowledge will enable you to make sure you have the right tools and parts on board to

handle these issues, especially since Murphy always seems to make sure they happen when no one else is around to help and when you absolutely need to have the equipment back up and running. If you want to take preparation a step further, you could package all the parts for each job together. For example, keep a spare water impeller, together with the gasket, and any required sealing compound together in a zip-close lock bag, with the needed wrench size written on the outside. That way, when the impeller decides to fail while you’re getting tossed around in a cross sea while trying to snake your way through a narrow chan-

nel at 0300, you won’t have to dig around all over the boat to find the right parts. It’s easy to ignore all that hot and hard to reach equipment that the boatbuilder has crammed into a tiny, poorly lit shoe box behind the companionway stairs, but by taking a little extra time and effort and incorporating some of the principles described above, you’ll have no problem making sure your engine and genset are “ready to answer all bells.” Michael Cilenti is a former Coast Guard officer. He served as Chief Engineer of the 270-foot Coast Guard cutter Forward.

With a Bristol Channel Cutter

Bristol Channel Cutter was designed by the late Lyle Hess. The vessel is attractive to blue water sailors because of her seaworthiness and outstanding performance. Cape George Marine Works builds the Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter, along with their other range of vessels. In January 2011, Cape George rolled out their first completed hull using the original Sam L. Morse BCC mold.

Cape GeorGe Marine Works, inC. 1924 Cape George Rd. Port Townsend, WA 98368 360.385.3412


Do-it-yourself radio nets for ocean passagemaking

Info and entertainment at sea Story and photos by Nadine Slavinski


ong bluewater passages can be daunting, for seasoned hands as well as for sailors venturing into their first major offshore adventure. Safety is one cause for concern, and potential loneliness is another. But you don’t have to go it alone, even on the open sea. With single sideband radio, you can reach across the ocean to communicate with sailors thousands of

Above, Nadine Slavinski’s husband Markus on a radio net. Below, a meetup offshore. HF radio nets allow voyagers to stay in contact even when not sailing in close formation.



miles away. It isn’t necessary to join an organized sailing rally or tap into a tightly regulated net: we cobbled together our very own radio net for our Pacific crossing and found the result an unqualified success. This “homemade” radio net enhanced our ocean crossing experience in every way — with weather information, advice on fixing gear, and a healthy dose of

comic relief during a monthlong Pacific passage. Creating your own radio net can be easy, especially if you are following the seasons along cruising routes where sailors congregate in stepping off points such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Canary Islands, or Panama. We found a crowded anchorage full of cruisers in the Galápagos Islands in March, most of them equipped with SSB and like us, looking for “company” heading west. All it takes is an agreed-upon time and frequency. Of course, sailors can also tap into established venues such as the Pacific Seafarer’s Net, but some of these nets are quite formal or longwinded, and require participants to hold ham radio licenses (unlike informal nets operating on marine frequencies). For this

reason, a small yet robust net of five to 12 boats offers the perfect combination of safety in numbers without being overly rigid. Our radio net was initiated by two crews, ourselves aboard 35-foot Namani and our friends on 42-foot Astarte. Early on, there were only three boats underway, so checking in was an easy-going, unstructured affair. As more boats set off and joined us, we moved to a more formal structure, with Markus of Namani and Michael of Astarte alternating net control duties. Some of the late-comers were crews we had recruited before setting off, but several were boats who just happened to stumble across our fledging net on the air. Our choice of frequency proved fortuitous in this regard, since we used 8143 kHz on the upper sideband two hours after the fading Panama Pacific Net that was familiar to many cruisers. Soon we had a dozen boats in our international group, all 35- to 50-foot monohulls that set sail within a three-week period. Every good team needs a name; one early proposal was “The Close Reachers,” reflecting the frustrating conditions encountered by the first to depart, but we eventually settled on the “POST” net (an acronym for Pacific Ocean Sailing Tribe, a gang that soon developed clan-like characteristics). Most were heading for the Marquesas, while a few set a more southerly course for Easter and Pitcairn islands.

Galápagos and Polynesia, we turned to an alternate 12-MHz frequency. Invariably, some boats have better SSB transmission than others, so relays were necessary to compile the entire group’s information. This

was another time we were thankful for the relatively small size of our group, since relays can quickly grow monotonous, not to mention energyconsuming for short-handed crews in the midst of never-ending watch

Spanning an ocean The 8-MHz frequency served us well throughout most of the passage, but when the POST net boats spanned the entire 3,000 miles between the


schedules. We met for 25 to 30 minutes each morning, with the net stretching a little longer in its most sociable and humorous late editions.

Heike of the yacht Victoria works the net with her two radio assistants.

What if a yacht failed to call in one morning? In our group, each vessel put forward an individual request as to whether the Coast Guard should be notified with a message of concern should they fail to report for two successive days. This would corroborate a possible EPIRB signal without creating waves of panic in case of a more innocent loss of power or transmission ability. Unexpected fringe benefits Our initial aim in creating a net was to be able to report our position to an outside source daily so that we wouldn’t disappear unnoticed into the depths of the Pacific in the event of some disaster. How-


ever, we soon discovered a number of practical advantages to our net, such as hearing local weather and sea conditions observed by other boats. For example, when the first crews to depart ran into a powerful contrary current, those behind knew to follow a more southerly course. It proved extremely valuable to have a realtime picture of what might be developing ahead or behind throughout the passage. Similarly, the first boats could also inform the others about what to expect once they had made landfall. Another advantage of the net was the ability to solicit technical advice. Astarte’s steering problem was discussed and correctly diagnosed, and Mary Madeleine’s seemingly serious gearbox problem was resolved by advice from Adventure Bound. This extended to discussions about sail configurations, both in the immediate sense and for future reference. How were those under twizzle rig (twin foresail setup) coping with the rolling swell, in comparison with a prevented main and poled out genoa? Was the money invested in a pricey

lightweight sail paying off? Members of the net also pooled resources. For instance, when Adventure Bound couldn’t make contact with a radio ham on Pitcairn Island, Astarte stepped in to help, using onboard SailMail to contact the islander. Another example was the guessing game among Marquesasbound cruisers concerning arrival procedures: would there be dire consequences to visiting spectacular Fatu Hiva before officially clearing in on Hiva Oa? Several boats e-mailed ahead for the latest update, which they then shared through the net. Several members tuned into one of several other radio nets as well, creating a tangled web of cross-alliances. We on Namani had two appointments each day, including the POST net and a German-speaking “Funkrunde.” Greg and Danielle, francophone Canadians aboard Mary Madeleine, also tuned into the evening Frenchspeaking net. Several of our members likewise reported to the Pacific Seafarer’s Net. By connecting with a variety of nets, each crew could filter and pass on pertinent information to our small group, thus keeping us connected to a much wider network — a global village, if you will, united by the sea and bouncing radio waves. Once, a mysterious flare was reported on a different net; this information was passed on to us, and thus 12 more crews

were alerted to a potential vessel in distress (happily, it turned out to be a false alarm). As Barbara of Astarte aptly put it, our net was like Facebook on the ocean. Above all, we enjoyed the social aspect of the net, especially as the long passage stretched into week three and then four. Crews tallied fishing scores, commiserated over poor conditions, and shared many a laugh thanks to good-humored sailors who revealed their funny, funnier, and funniest sides. In fact, when we offered Katydid’s Robin, the only single-hander in our group, to shorten hisAMtimePage on the lifeline25v 11/8/10 8:50 1 air by moving to first in the roll call, he replied with a vehement “No! This is my social time!”

Cast of characters Our radio net quickly developed a two-part rhythm. The first 10 to 15 minutes of radio time were dedicated to position and weather reports, followed by a sociable second section of advice, banter, and jokes. On the open sea, days can be rich in overall impressions but generally uneventful, and the net let us glimpse life beyond our own limited horizons. It was a little like watching TV, and in fact, we had the choice of several channels. It all started innocently, with Darramy’s fishing success drawing calls for advice on lures. This led to a few episodes of the cooking channel, featuring Adventure Bound’s recipes

for all those tasty fish. The latter crew also spun off an adventure channel, chronicling Zimbabwean Bruce’s antics in the deep blue sea (going overboard to clean the hull in a calm, he ended up spearing two mahimahi!). The father-son team aboard Sophie issued a race report, racking up consistent daily runs of 160 to 180 miles. Meanwhile, the Dutch couple aboard Happy Bird offered a home-improvement program shortly after Roderick sent Yvonne (grandmother of two) up the mast in a heavy swell to recover a parted halyard. Ever-upbeat Michael of Astarte ran the weather channel, with Brian of Darramy reporting painstakingly exact measurements from his

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Above, Hiva Oa in the Marquesas was the end point for the Pacific Ocean Sailing Tribe (POST) net. Below right, Nadine Slavinski’s boat Namani underway.

“wavometer” (2.3-meter swells on every sixth wave) and “cloudometer” (37 percent cloudy skies). Brian also directed the comedy network, starring his imaginary crewmember, Roger the cabin boy, who would be sent off on errands up the mast and even to other boats with various complaints. We laughed ourselves silly and knew that our friends were all doing the same in their notso-solitary stretches of ocean beyond our horizon. Since few of the POST net

members had met in person before setting off, it was great fun forming a mental image of each person over the air. Even more fun was actually meeting many of the cohort in French Polynesia. As it turned out, a number of other boats (equipped with SSB receivers only) had been tuning in, too. We discovered this when perfect strangers greeted us in the Marquesas and said they had been tracking our progress all along. A contrast The POST net and our German-speaking “Funkrunde” make for an interesting comparison. Both consisted of approximately 12 boats exchanging positions and local

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conditions over roughly half an hour. However, each went about this in a different way. While the POST net operated via established net controllers, the German Funkrunde subsisted for two weeks in a much looser (and decidedly un-Teutonic) system. Rita of Aninad would simply come on the air, hail a friend, report the basics, and exchange a few pleasantries. The friend would then call on another vessel and initiate the next two-way chat, while the rest of the group patiently listened in and noted each vessel’s information. Each boat would eventually draw in another, in no established order. This seemingly haphazard method worked because the crews were already familiar with each other from a group dinner in the Galápagos, and if someone was left out, well, they could be counted on to pipe up at the end! Eventually, the German fleet spread out and transmission clarity faded, so they also shifted to a designated

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net controller. The task fell to Heike aboard Victoria, who not only possessed strong transmission capability, but also a clear voice and perky radio personality fit for professional broadcasting. Interestingly, most calls on the German net were made by the female members of each crew (most of whom were couples, plus three families with young children), with Corinna of Moin handling much of the relay work. To keep things interesting, Heike pulled her 6-year-old son, Niklas, into the fray, allowing him3/20/07 to hail each the 1roll in hart_13h 6:50boat PM on Page turn. Who couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t resist a smile when his sweet, tiny voice came on the air? This kind of personal

touch is only possible within a small-scale net, allowing a scattered group to become a community, no matter how far-flung. The main challenge for both nets was accommodating the last crews after the majority had made landfall. Ideally, a team of net controllers should stay on duty until the last boat arrives safely in port. Poor SSB transmission within the mountain-ringed Marquesas made it difficult for those at anchor to communicate with vessels still underway, though e-mail progress reports via SailMail could still get through. In addition, the last three POST boats were able to sidestep to another informal net and thus

maintained direct outside contact throughout the entire crossing. Our experience shows that informal radio nets can be great fun and bring many advantages. With a few like-minded crews and a decent SSB set, sailors can cross oceans with a feeling of safety and camaraderie, regardless of the region they explore. In fact, many of the crews remained friends throughout their Pacific travels. n Nadine Slavinski is the author of Lesson Plans Ahoy: Hands-On Learning for Sailing Children and Home Schooling Sailors. With her husband and son, she sails a Dufour 35, Namani.

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Many uses for a digital camera by Marcie Connelly-Lynn


hen I first bought a digital camera more than a decade ago, the photo results were mediocre. It’s no secret that digital cameras have come a long way since then. The photos are high quality. The optical zoom capabilities are outstanding without adding extra

Marcie Connelly-Lynn

A digital camera can document how pieces of voyaging gear, like the battery setup above, go together, easing reassembly.

lenses. Image stabilization eliminates tremors when using the high magnification, so you don’t always need to rely on a tripod. The results are immediate and can be stored easily. Most important, we’ve found that digital cameras have many more uses than just taking


great sailing photos to show our friends. While offshore, we’ve used our digital camera on many occasions to confirm the name on a ship’s transom or its country flag when we couldn’t quite decipher it using binoculars because of the motion of the boat. Optical zoom coupled with image stabilization makes getting a clear shot easy, even for non-professional photographers. There have been times when something floating in the distance is definitely something to be avoided. Identifying exactly what it is becomes not only important to us, but also provides the necessary information to alert the local Coast Guard and other cruisers in the area of a floating obstacle. In one case, a huge plastic oil tank about half the size of the boat was just bobbing in the water and we identified it with a photo long before we could see it with a naked eye. Closer to shore, we frequently take pictures of markers to confirm that we are where we think we are and to get a better look

at the coastline. Coastal navigation is certainly made easier and safer by identifying landmarks with certainty. There are times, especially in the South Pacific, when the GPS and chartplotter tell us one thing, but our eyes and the digital camera tell us another. There’s never a doubt about which to trust. Low-lying reefs are easy to miss at a glance, but the camera provides a much closer view and facilitates locating easyto-miss entry passes and breaks in the reef line. Have you ever seen a screw just lying on the deck and wondered where it came from? It’s easy to check the stanchions and mast pulpit and hardware at deck level. When you can’t figure out where it came from on deck, the next logical choice is up. The digital camera has saved many a trip up the mast when we confirmed all screws and bolts were in place and just kept looking on deck and eventually found the location for the missing screw. Alternatively, we once identified, in

transit across the Atlantic, that an errant screw had come from the spreader and we made haste to make it right. Just recently, we used the camera to help identify a broken sail slide on the mast track. It’s also an easy way to check, in close detail, the condition of the sails when they’re hoisted. Probably the biggest time saver we’ve found for reassembling whatever we’ve taken apart is to have a digital photo on hand. When we unstepped and refitted our mast a couple of years ago, we photographed every piece of hardware on the mast, boom and spreaders in place before taking it apart. Each location was numbered and the associated hardware was tagged and put into Ziploc bags, so it could be easily identified and located. Whether it be a winch, electrical wire routing, the mast or the engine, we take photos in advance of anything to be disassembled in order to confirm the correct replacement of parts and their orientation. This has saved many a headache and hastens the reassembly process considerably. We also take photos of all of our personal and boat paperwork. Current U.S. Coast Guard documentation is necessary for proof of ownership and to check into foreign countries. Certificates of insurance are many times required for marinas. When saved as JPEGs, these digital documents are easy to print and avoid the necessity of having a scanner aboard. Additionally,

since we’re rarely in the U.S. when documentation papers arrive, my sister photographs the document and sends it and any other important mail she receives via e-mail. This always suffices until it’s convenient to mail originals to us, although we’re finding it less and less necessary to have anything original aboard. Sure, there are image stabilized binoculars now, but the starting price for the low end models is about the same price as a good digital camera. Binoculars don’tgam_17v 1/9/07 9:30 AM Page 1 take photos and the amount of magnification offered is significantly less than the newest digital cameras. We prefer to have a camera that has multiple uses. My current camera is a Canon Split Lead SX40 HS with 35x optical zoom SSB Antenna and 12.1-megapixel resolution. It costs less than US$400. It has an M automatic point-and-click mode, N as well as several other options for M No need for backstay more customized photography. insulators M Easy installation We highly recommend the M No swaging, no Canon, although we’re sure there cutting M Tough, waterCommunications are several other options out there expert Gordon West proof, reusable that are comparable. Optical zoom reports M Highly conductive RF elements “I have done and image stabilization are two M Watertight leadnumerous SSB ham main factors to consider when wire to antenna and marine radio connection checks with this sysmaking a purchasing decision for M Stiff 34’ LDPE tem and have found an onboard camera for the uses housing secures no discernible signal firmly to backlosses, even when that we’ve discussed. We now stay wire used with a wellgrounded backstay consider our digital camera part of aboard a steelour essential boat gear. n hulled vessel. The Marcie Connelly-Lynn and her husband David Lynn live aboard their Liberty 458, Nine of Cups. They have sailed more than 71,000 miles since leaving Kemah, Texas, in May 2000.

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Nav Problem

White squall



A microburst is a powerful, localized down draft. A vessel caught in the initial gust front can be knocked down.


to the German government in 1937. During World War II the Germans utilized Albatross for communicating with U-boats. After the war Albatross was sold to the Lloyd Shipping Company of Amsterdam as a sail-training vessel for future Dutch merchant marine officers. In 1954, writer Ernest Gann, an accomplished pilot who also loved sailing, bought the vessel, re-rigging her as a brigantine by added square sails on the foremast. Gann cruised the Pacific for three years. During that time Albatross was used in the 1958 film Twilight of the


Gods, starring Rock Hudson. In 1959, Albatross was sold to the husband and wife team of Christopher Sheldon and Dr. Alice Sheldon. The couple met aboard Irving Johnson’s Yankee when Christopher was first mate and Alice was medical officer. Sheldon and his wife created Ocean Academy out of Connecticut as the instrument for operating Albatross. Young students were instructed in biology by Dr. Sheldon, taught Spanish by Capt. Sheldon, who had a Ph.D. from the University of Lima, as well as English, math and celestial navigation. In the fall of 1960, with a crew of four instructors and 13 students, Albatross sailed from the Galápagos Islands to Nassau in the Bahamas. On the morning of May 2, 1961, Albatross was hit with a white squall (a microburst) about 125 miles west of the Dry Tortugas. Heeling over and sinking in a matter of seconds, taking six lives including Dr. Sheldon. The remainder of the crew took to the lifeboats and were rescued. Subsequently, the sinking was attributed to its square sails. When rigged as a schooner, Albatross had withstood 100-mile-an-hour winds in the North Sea.   Sheldon later said, “It was

as if a giant hand took hold of us. In 15 seconds Albatross was on its side. In 60 seconds it filled with water and then it was gone.” Sheldon was exonerated by the Coast Guard of any wrongdoing, but he was devastated. He gave up the sea and worked for the Peace Corps. He died in 2002 at the age of 76. The Coast Guard created new stability parameters for sail training vessels. In 1996 a film was made about the sinking called White Squall, starring Jeff Bridges. Let’s join Albatross on April 30, 1961. We will use the 2013 Nautical Almanac. The DR is 22° 30’ North by 92° 30’ West. We’ll use a lower limb observation of the sun. Height of eye is 15 feet. Observation time is 14:25:30 GMT. The Hs is 37° 20.2 minutes. We want to find the Ho, reduce the sight for the intercept, then plot an LOP and find the estimated position (EP). n A. What is the Ho? B. Using HO 249 Vol. 2, find the intercept. C. What is the EP?


A: Ho is 37° 31.1’ B: Intercept is 5.9 nm Away C: EP is 22° 29’ N by 92° 13’ W


he loss of sail-training ships is, unfortunately, not unprecedented. Some sink due to misjudgment on the part of the captain, while others are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The story of Albatross belongs to this latter group. Albatross was built as a steel pilot schooner in Amsterdam in 1928. The vessel was sold

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Ocean Navigator #211  
Ocean Navigator #211  

July/August 2013