The 408-mile (656 km) stretch of Highway 50 across Nevada is dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America,” with only a few small towns along the way and not much else. The route was the main overland route across Nevada until the first trans-continental railway was completed in 1869, and was part of the Pony Express…
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Hell’s Backbone Bridge in Utah was a major engineering feet when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built it in the 1930s. The bridge spans Hell’s Backbone, a narrow spine of rock with canyons dropping of steeply on either side. Completion of this bridge gave the first automobile connection between the towns of Boulder and Escalante….
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is known for its many long and narrow canyons, some so tight a person can barely squeeze through and others wide enough for vehicles to pass. One of the more unique is Capitol Gorge with its Pioneer Register: as 19th- and early 20th-century pioneers and settlers passed through the…
So we’re back in lockdown again from Weds 18 August and it appears this could last a few weeks. From the boating perspective it’s better for this to happen now than later, as we move into Spring next month. It seems it was inevitable that the delta variant would hit our shores and while it’s all too easy to criticise aspects of how NZ has handled the situation (egthe way in which rooms for quarantine are allocated) our infection numbers are remarkably low. If we had the UK’s infection and death rates, then based on the population difference we’d be having 2,665 new infections and 8 deaths daily. While there are sad stories about people having problems returning to NZ, haven’t these people largely created their own problems?
Back to the subject of Cruising and firstly engine servicing.
We’ve used TerraCat for servicing our Cat 3208 10.4L V8 diesels asthey’ve had a very knowledgeable engineerwho knew our boat well. However he recentlyleft TerraCat and after considering our options we decided to change contractors to Marine Propulsion (MP). The main reason for this is it’s highly desirable to have the same person doing your servicing as they get to know the peculiarities and history of your boat. We weren’t convinced TerraCat could offer this continuity. So far we’re impressed with MP. The engineer who’s now doing our servicing is actually one of MP’s directors (so unlikely to be leaving)and he suggested coming on board a week before the service to familiarise himself with Rapport and discuss our expectations – impressive service. We wanted somebody who will not only change oil and filters, but proactively look for potential issues and provide advice on preventative maintenance. So far we’re very satisfied with our move. For example he found that two pencil anodes in our heat exchangers have not been getting replaced because access is restricted and standard anodes can’t be used. Solution: he’s going to cut some standard anodes down so they fit and then some protection will be better than none. He made suggestions re filter changing frequency to save us cost without compromising performance as well as suggesting we use our spare filters first and replace them with new ones in order to turn the spares over. That’s the kind of engagement and service we want.
Most of us have nice shiny brass barometers on one of our bulkheads and these should certainly be considered useful beyond ornamentation. So how should we use them?
The barometer’s indicator needle should be reset each morning in order to monitor changes.
If pressure rises or falls 1.6 to 3.5Mb over a 2 hour period it’s warning of a depression.
If pressure rises or falls 3.6 to 6.0Mb over a 2 hour period it’s warning of Force 6 winds.
If pressure rises or falls more than 6.0Mb over a 2 hour period it’s warning of Force 8 winds.
A drop in pressure of 15 or more Mb in a 24 hour period indicates a weather “bomb” is imminent.
As a matter of interest the world’s average atmospheric pressure is 1013Mb
2. Protection from sharp hose clips
Have you ever cut your hands or fingers on the sharp ends of stainless steel hose clamps? I sure have and to avoid this have fitted Clamp-Aid hose clamp safety guards. These are flexible silicone sleeves that easily fit over the ends of hose clamps to provide protection. Cost is about $32 for a pack of 20.
3. Mounting fittings on gelcoat surfaces
At some point we all need to add fittings such as an aerial mount to a gelcoated surface. What most of us do is drill a hole in the gelcoat, put some silicone in the hole and onto the screw and Bob’s your uncle right? Wrong. Silicone has a limited life of around 5 years, so at best water will eventually find its way in to the cavity and migrate into the substrate beneath the gelcoat. The correct way to do this is to drill a hole much larger, in both diameter and depth than what is required for the screw, fill the hole with epoxy and then drill the screw hole in the epoxy. This will ensure that moisture doesn’t get into the substrate beneath the gelcoat. In any case silicone sealants are not suited to marine applications and we should use marine sealants like Sicaflex 291, 3M4000 or Bostik Simson MSR Construction Adhesive.
4. Paint aerosols
You normally have some paint left in the aerosol after completing your job. In order to re-use the aerosol hold it upside down and press the nozzle until all residual clears out of the nozzle. Then store aerosol upright.
We weren’t planning to do much cruising during August, but hope the lockdown is over so we can start serious cruising again from mid-Sept.
Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is packed with spectacular, spire-shaped formations. Known as “hoodoos”, these red-rock pillars form over time as holes in the canyon walls form when frost enlarges cracks. The holes eventually collapse, leaving the hoodoos. From Springdale UT, near Zion National Park, we drove 232 miles northeast to Bryce Canyon,…
Utah’s Zion National Park is exceedingly popular, and for good reason. The rugged red-rock canyon scenery is spectacular, with many hiking trials, climbing and canyoneering opportunities for unique perspectives and experiences. And after enjoying a day at the park, nearby Springdale has excellent accommodations and restaurants. From Flagstaff, AZ we drove 328 miles to Springdale,…
,During the night of 2 August there was a massive blow in Auckland causing quite a bit of havoc ashoreincluding fallen trees and downedpower lines. I recall lying in bed listening to the gusts thankful not to be out on our boat.
Hobsonville marina emailed us the next day advising of gusts up to 67 knots in the marina with some vessels suffering damage to canopies and hatches. Di and I went thereto check on Rapport, fortunatelyfinding everything was fine.
Sir Peter Blake’s former 36 metre alloy expedition yacht Seamaster, now called Archangel, which has been anchored for a long time off St Heliers Beach dragged her anchor, but fortunately beached withapparently no damage. Her current owner says Archangel had a heavy anchor and 100 metres of chain out, but there are two issues of interest here:
1. Her owner was not aboard, but able to tell remotely that Archangelhad dragged and therefore able to go and investigate. I don’t know what technology the owner was using, but see our lastposting re Anchor Watch HD as it shows how valuable this free app canbe.
2. Her owner says Archangel dragged her anchor due to a 180 degree wind shift. This is a point I have mentioned many times, that is with adequate ground tackle set (as Archangel had) you are most unlikely to drag in a consistent wind. However when you encounter a 180 degree wind shift – which often happens during storms and/or as fronts pass through, all bets are off. This is because your boat’s movement following the wind shift can pull your anchor out from its set position and just drag it across the seabed. In other cases as your chain moves in the opposite direction it mayfoul the anchor and drag it across the seabed preventingit from resetting.
But wait there’s more. You have almost certainly anchored on a weather shore, that is with your bow pointing to the shore and no matter how hard the wind blows you are unlikely to see wavelets more than about 25cm high. After the wind shift you will be on a lee shore, that is with your stern pointing to shore and in shallower water. Now the wind has much greater distance to create waves and these can quickly rise to a metre or more. Waves cause a jerking motion placing further strain on your anchor and compromising your security.
Lesson: a 180 degree wind shift is always a case for concern and for close monitoring of your situation.
Grand Canyon has long been high on our list of places to visit, and we finally got there on our cross-country road trip from Charleston to Seattle. Even after seeing countless pictures and reading many descriptions, Grand Canyon still appears unbelievably immense when first seen in person. We spent most of our visit on an…
Here’s an edited version of an article to appear in Pacific PowerBoat’s next issue.
FOUR GREAT PRODUCTS TOENHANCE WINTER CRUISING – AND ONE’S FREE!
We really enjoy our winter cruising, but when it’sdark from before 1800hrs until first light arrives about 0700 the dynamics are quite different to summer cruisingwhen we’re still on the beach or BBQing until much later. These four products have helped keep us safe, warm and entertained during those 13 hours of darkness aboard Rapport.
See the light– Techlight hand-held spot
In days gone by our hand-held lights were usuallya 12 volt spotlight with a halogen bulb connected through a cigarette lighter socket anda trusty battery powered Dolphin . Whenusing these duringnight searches as Coastguard volunteers we often found the boat’s wiring to the power socket was too light for sustained use of the spotlight, due to the heat generated, while the Dolphinhad limited range and runtime plusexpensive batteries to replace. Also if the Dolphin hadn’t been used for a while we needed to remove and replace the (same) battery, presumably to provide a better connection.
But a technical revolution has been occurring during the last 15 years or so not only with LED bulbs, that provide brighter light, give a higher quality beam and consume less power, but with rechargeable lithium batteries that continue to improve as well as becoming lower cost. I can distinctly recall when I first became seriously aware of this. Technical guru Chris aka MacGyver, our most frequent visitor to Envoy made his first visit in late 2010. We were sitting in the cockpit after sunset in a bay near Bodrum when Chris showed me a black aluminium flashlight about 130mm long, with an LED bulb and powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. This compact light easily illuminated trees on the foreshore, which I guess was about 250 metres away. By comparison the light from my largest flashlight – a clunky unit with 4 x D cell batteries and conventional bulb couldn’t even reach the shore. Flashlights using conventional dry cell batteries lose their brightness early on as the batteries start to lose their charge, however lithium battery powered lights can lose much more charge before their brightness reduces. We now carry one of the new generation MK 7 Dolphins with an LED bulb aboard as one of our low cost general purpose flashlights together with a rugged, no-nonsense looking TeklightST-3329 we bought from Jaycar Electronics for $159. The Techlight has an incredible 480 metre rangeand its 4,500 lumens of light (the Dolphin has 200 lumens) provides amazing brightness. It’s waterproof and floats, has a convenient wrist security strap and its lithium battery pack is rechargeable using either a mains charger orUSB cable, both supplied. Its full power option provides 75 minutes use while its still very bright low power option increases this to 150 minutes. If the proverbial hits the fan the unit can also emit a continuous SOS signal. In essence the Techlight provides the power of a hard wired spotlight with portability and we love it.
User tips: it takes about 40 minutes for human eyes to completely adjust to darkness so using low level red lighting at the helm and reducing brightness on navigation screens helps maintain night vision. Don’t try to use any spotlight through windows and avoid directing the beam on reflective surfaces.
Have we moved – Anchor Watch HD app for devices
When the wind is howling at 40 knots with the boat moving around during squalls as we encountered during early July’s “weather bomb” it can be difficult to tell if your anchor’s dragging during the night, especially as distance is far more difficult to estimate during night time. Most plotters incorporate anchor alarms, but as with our boat these may be on the flybridge and difficult to hear below. Enter Anchor Watch HD – a free app allowing you to maintain anchor watch from below or even while away from your boat.
When you open the app while connected to the internet it shows a Google Earth view of your current location and while Google Earth is not essential to use the system, being able to see your position on a map provides additional reassurance. This view is historical, so boats shown on the map will not be there now. You can change the scale using normal two finger zoom.
After your anchor is set press the anchor button and an anchor icon with an orange circle around it appears at your position. Now while the anchor icon remains in the original anchored position a blue/white/blue circle shows your current position. There are two on screen buttons to the right of the anchor button that increase and decrease the alarm range, which would typically be about 15 metres to allow for some sideways movement. The actual range displays on top centre of screen together with the distance and bearing from your current position to the original anchored position. If your vessel moves outside the set alarm range a volume adjustable (seriously loud at full volume) siren sounds and a dialogue box appears allowing you to ignore the alarm for 30 seconds while you adjust the scale or “raise the anchor”. The app can also send an alarm message by sms or email allowing you to monitor your anchored position while going ashore.
User tips: the app consumes a lot of power so keep your device charging when it’s using this app. Make a note of your GPS position after anchoring so that if you suspect dragging you can compare that with your current GPS position.
Stay warm as toast – Gasmate heater
Even on cold nights,once we start cooking the boat warms up quickly and when using ourgenerator we can also run our 2.4Kw electric fan heater. At other times we use our Gasmate portable heater with its ceramic burner providingan atmospheric warm glow. We bought ours from Bunnings costing $140 and usingdisposable 220gm butane gas canisters costing about $1.40 and lasting about 90 minutes. It’s very safe as a simple lever disconnects the butane cartridge when not in use and gas supply automatically stops if the unit should be accidentally knocked over, the oxygen level becomes too low or the flame goes out. It’s piezo ignition works well and it’s compact and smart with the butane cartridge housed within the casing.
User tip: when using the Gasmate allow some fresh air into your boat and never use it while sleeping.
Gasmate butane cartridge heater and Techlight spotlight
Entertainment during those long nights – RSE Mini-Lite Plus
We promised ourselves our next boat would have Sky TV capability to watch favoritessuch as Super Rugby. When we bought Rapport she already had an Avtex flat screen and a TracVision TV5 satellite dish enabling us to watch free to air TV. Our friend Chris suggested buying anRSE Mini-Lite high definition digital satellite receiver enabling us to plug in our Sky card from home.Theunit is easy to install, attaching to the rear of the flat screen and wired to our AC power supply. It’s performed welland accessesSky channelswherever we are, except for some unknown reason Oneroa.The RSE unit costs $199 and can be bought through RSE in Takanini orproviders of caravan accessories.
User tip: the power to the Mini-Lite and screen must be off beforeyou insert and remove the Sky card. If you don’t do this the Sky card will no longer work until after it’s used again in your box at home.
Enjoy your winter cruising!
We sold Envoy in late 2019 and her new owners, Larry & Catherine Wood from Queensland, planned to start some cruising in Spring 2020. However the world changed in early 2020 with covid and that plan changed along with it. For one thing G…