Marking the dinghy

Our insurance policy states that our dinghy needs to have an “identifiable mark”. When we bought the boat, the dinghy already had “Artemis” written on it in three places so Heidi brushed up the lettering a bit and we sent a photo to the insurance.

Here in the Caribbean everyone says “always lock your dinghy up!” and “don’t write the boats name on the dinghy!” The logic being that when your dinghy is on the beach, the bad guys know your boat is empty. We explained this to the insurers who agreed and said they would never mark the dinghy with the boats name (?)

Even the police lock up their boats in Martinique

Half a day with Acetone and Heidi’s work had been destroyed. Now we had a naked dinghy and needed an “identifiable mark” that had nothing to do with the boat but clearly said “It’s ours!” Sounded a bit contradictory.

Our solution is a generic email address that is now “permanently” marked on the dinghy and which passes any mails received on to both our email accounts. In addition, any one who writes to us on this address gets an autoreply with a thank you and our mobile phone numbers. The address has nothing to do with the boat or us so the potential thieves can spend an enjoyable evening looking for a fictive boat called “Soseies”. Hopefully if the dinghy is stolen and discarded some one will contact us. If not, at least we have complied with the insurance policy.

Amazing what good solutions we can work out when we have so much time to think about the problem. And thank you Gremmel lending us the generic address.

Stinky generators

We have written so much about electricity, solar panels, wind turbines and towed generators that you are probably bored with reading about it. But our neighbour here in Le Marin has a petrol generator on the deck of his boat and so each day, when he switches it on to charge his batteries we are SO GLAD that we don’t need one.

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His decks are covered in fuel canisters and containers of oil, the thing is loud and he seems to spend half of each morning running and servicing it. We are sure he has a freezer, microwave, wide screen TV and air conditioning running. No matter what he is feeding electricity in to, it can’t be worth the noise, smell and trouble of having a stinky generator on board.

A Parasailor for Christmas

On Christmas Eve while sailing south towards the Cape Verde Islands we were becalmed. Two hundred miles off the coast of Africa the wind dropped completely and left us drifting at half a knot with the current. Alone on the Atlantic, we dropped the sails and went to sleep bobbing on the swell.

On Christmas morning we were woken by a light wind heading our way so we set the genoa and tried sailing with that while we ate breakfast but the wind was much too light and the sail flogged so it was time to finally unpack our christmas present – a Parasailor.

We first came across this downwind sail while in Spain. Stuart, from parasailor.co.uk, was also in Ayamonte and gave us a demonstration of the sail out on the river We were impressed; Shane said it was just what we needed and Stuart agreed to deliver it to the Canary Islands so the next morning we ordered a huge orange and black version.

Stuart delivered the sail as promised and also flew out from the UK with a bag of goodies to set the sail up for Artemis. Twice he came out with us and drilled us in hoist sail, jibe sail, strike sail, hoist sail, strike sail, … At the end of the second day we both had back ache and sore muscles.

So on Christmas Day it was finally time to hoist and rig the sail with no Stuart. The bad news was we were hundred of miles from anywhere if we needed help. The good news was we had another ten hours of daylight to get everything working and a few hundred miles of open water with no one in the way. To add to the fun there was the typical Atlantic swell rocking the boat and we had to do everything while clipped on to the boat with our safety lines. We tidied away the jib, rigged all the lines, brought the Parasailor on the foredeck, struck the Genoa, hoisted the sail in its sock, opened the snuffer and – were sailing. We only took ninety minutes from “OK let’s do this!” to “Yippee, we are Parasailors!”

In the last nine hours the apparent wind has varied between two and seven knots but we have an average sailing speed of 4.8 knots and no flogging sails. We are both happy with our Christmas present.

Aquair towed generator

When we bought Artemis there was an Aquair generator at the bottom of one of the lockers. Getting this working again has been on the “todo list” since we left but was never priority number one as we mostly have enough power from the wind generator and the sun. Now however, with a few long journeys ahead of us, the time had come to get it plugged in and earning its keep.

The generator is designed to work as either a towed generator or a wind generator. The basic housing is the same and you change out the wind vanes or the towed propeller as needed. We currently have it affixed to the stern of the boat and operating in “water mode”.

A long rope is attached to the axis of the generator and streamed behind the boat. At the far end there is a torpedo shaped weight with an integrated propeller. As we sail along the propeller turns the rope which drives the generator.

The Aquair produces a 12 volt output so we have it connected it straight in to the battery. Originally we thought we needed a regulator but recently a long time user of the system rightly pointed out that if the onboard systems are using roughly the same as the generator is producing, then you can’t overcharge the batteries. With our fridge switched on we use roughly the three to four amps that are being generated.

Above about 12.7 volts our house batteries and engine starter battery automatically switch together so we then have over three hundred amp-hours of capacity. Even if the generator was to produce six amps, that would still only be a charging current of 2%. I doubt if the batteries would even notice it.

Forty eight hours after leaving port, we still have three fully charged batteries and a cold fridge. It looks like the towed generator is the perfect complement to our solar and wind systems.

Antares Charts

Where ever we sail we need charts to navigate. Mostly we use digital charts because they are so much cheaper and take up far less space. Often it is a problem to find detailed and up to date charts. In Scotland that was not a problem.

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There are official charts of Scotland which are very good and then there are the Antares Charts. These are extremely detailed, extremely accurate charts created by Antares Charts.

The people behind these charts (Bob Bradfield and friends) go and do really detailed surveying and then publish the results for a ridiculously low price.

Using these charts, we were able to visit some amazing anchorages we would never have ventured in to otherwise. There is no way we would have dared enter Loch Tarbert on Jura without them.

If you are planning on sailing the Scottish Islands these charts are a “must have”.

Folding Mountainbike (Paratrooper)

I am a cyclist. I have been cycling on my mountainbike and roadbike since 1998  when I cycled across the UK just to “see if I enjoyed it”. (I must have done – the next trip was across the Alps.)

Information_SignJon’s Adventures is a bike shop in Nesselwang in the Barvarian Alps. Jon is a qualified ski instructor and the business started offering guided bike tours in summer. Nowadays he concentrates on selling, building and modifying bikes to exactly fit his customers needs.

I bought a bright orange “Frenchie” bike as soon as Jon started building and selling them and used it non-stop, even taking it to China for six weeks. Most of the parts have been replaced as I wore them out but at least it still had the original frame.

And now I am off sailing and have to accept that, even with both wheels removed, a mountain bike just isn’t designed to fit on a boat. It was looking like I was going to be riding one of those funny little fold up things with tiny wheels and a strange looking frame. I just couldn’t see myself riding up and down mountains on such a bike but what are the alternatives?

X90 Montague frame
X90 Montague frame

It turns out that there is a solution that offers a no compromise mountain bike but which will also fit onboard. The answer is the Montague Paratrooper. This full size, foldable bike was designed for paratroopers and can be thrown out of planes and then ridden by a fully loaded soldier. It sounded like what I had been looking for. Continue reading “Folding Mountainbike (Paratrooper)”

My experience with a Garmin eTrex Touch 35t

I have been using Garmin devices for years to navigate to new places and to record my adventures. Additionally I use a Polar Training Computer to record my fitness training. Recently I updated to a Garmin eTrex Touch 35t partly in the hope that I could reduce the amount of devices I need and the complexity of my data aquisition.

etrexMy first Garmin device was yellow and easy to find if I put it down or dropped it. Continue reading “My experience with a Garmin eTrex Touch 35t”

Experience with a Polar Training Computer

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Polar FT60 training computer

Elsewhere I mentioned that an important factor in achieving your adventure is to make and then keep to your training plan. This applies equally to training new skills or to your physical training.

I enjoy cycling (mountain bike and road bike) and the last few years we have been doing a week long road bike trip each Spring. Obviously it is vital to have a route planned but, with routes of a thousand kilometers, it is your fitness program that decides between success and failure.

Since the beginning of 2014 I have been using a Polar FT60 training computer to plan and monitor my training. This article describes my experience. Continue reading “Experience with a Polar Training Computer”