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Archives for September 2010

Sidereal Time

This is one mean solar day. I mean its hot.

The reason, well we've not been this close to the Equator since about a week before we got to French Polynesia. Then, unlike now the sun was tracking north. As we've been as far as 20° south of the Equator its been Winter down there.

Algal Blooms and Cruising Chutes

We're now up at less than 11° south, and the sun is now south of the Equator. Its very light winds, shallow water. The temperature sensor is part of the log. That's not a piece of wood, though that's were it gets its name, nor the thing Capitan Kirk spoke to as a voice-over in Star Trek. Its a little paddle wheel under the hull that tell you how fast and how far. Its made by raymarine so, as previously mentioned, its got more bugs than windows Vista. Back to the point. Deep ocean's the sun warms the surface, shallow seas don't have icy depths so get hotter.

For those of you who've forgotten your school geography/science, here comes the science. The Earth goes round and round spinning on its axis, the north and south poles. It also goes round the sun. The earth's axis is not quite at the same angle as the axis of the earth's orbit of the sun. So during the English winter solstice the sun is 24 degrees south of the equator at local noon. On June 21's its over the tropic of cancer 24° north of the equator.

That means at the Autumn (norther hemiphere) equinox its directly over the Equator. Were a week aflter that so its, very soon going to be right over head.

In short its hot.

For those of you asking the question "what the hell does 'sidereal time' mean" or even, for the more enlightened, "what the hell has sidereal time got to do with this blog post". The answer to the second is not much, but I must explain my self answering the first and proving I'm not an ignorant savage.

What's a day? Well at Noon the Sun is directly over head - or highest in the sky unless its an equinox and your on the equator, or even a solstice and your on the right tropic. So every day the earth goes round once. Sun over head to over head. This is a day, or technically a solar day. Hang on I here you cry, but the earth is going round the sun, so we will have move about a degree of our orbit round the sun. (we go around the sun every year. 1 year = 365days. 360° in a circle, so roughly a degree a day). So the sun should be 1 degree off over head for a day. We work to the solar day cos its easier. If you were to work by the time it takes for the earth to rotate one complete circle, this day would be slightly different length to the one your used to. This is called a sidereal day.

You've learned something today. Of course after we got atomic clocks, we realised that the earth's spin isn't entirely consistent, not every day is quite the same length if you measure it accurately enough so we talk about the average or mean solar day. I was making a physicists joke there with the heat gag.

Position: 10° 56.8' S, 134° 42' E | Posted: Wed 29th September 2010

Going Home

No not me, not yet. My hat.

The Hat goes to Glastonbury

I've several old pieces of clothing, I've always been keen on urban combat trousers and T-Shirts. Not the funny logo ones, there appeal would fade, but ones that mean something to me. Bar my Therapy? T-shirts most are from regattas, events or similar. Some free some I had to buy. I feel much better going around with "F18 Nationals" or "Kings Cup Regatta" type T-Shirts, as far as I'm concerned they say who I am in a way the most trendy stitching on the outside or F U C K (yeah I'm dyslectic) never can. What others read into what I wear I neither know nor care.

I've 5 pieces of clothing older than a decade. 2 are sentimental only now, one, being the defaced sleeveless remains of my old school blazer is unwearabley small, the hooded embroidered smock thing that was virtually uniform for me for a decade is too weak, rotten and manky to wear.

The Hat goes to Garda

Only 2 T-Shirts survive the magic ten years, the Kings Cup (Thai Regatta) 99 shirt is grey and stained enough to star in Red Dwarf, the other is my renegades (Trini Steel Orchestra) is with me and I still wear, the inside has faded but thats nothing compared to the outside which has faded from dark green to almost Karki the hem has gone, but its unholy and the logo's are all in tact. Its not going to live for much longer.

No the only really old piece of clothing I have going strong is my hat. You all know the one I mean. Hell this hat has done 3 Atlantic Crossings and 2 Pacific Crossings, its sailed further than most sailors will in a lifetime. Its developed some character along the way. One side is permanently warped up, its still sporting the Paddle Round the Pier 09 volunteers pass on the band. For a couple of months it was sporting several beer labels.

Thailand (when it was new)


The Hat Crosses the Pacific

The Hat goes to Cov

The Hat Goes to Gran Canaria

The Hat goes to Tonga

Its my hat. It was bought here in Darwin, almost exactly 11 years ago. And goes pretty much every where with me. If left it many places and retrieved it - particularly curry restaurants for some reason. In Cairns, a massively touristy place, many were being sold, many more worn by tourists, like me, except in one respect. Age. Mine has weathered so that I didn't feel I was a tourist in it.



Position: 10° 52' S, 139° 14' E | Posted: Mon 27th September 2010

Cape Yorkie Bar

"Thank you for driving carefully through our ocean"

Slippery when wet

When I left the Panama Canal I carefully wrote "The Pacific Ocean Welcomes careful drivers" shamelessly half inched off the Red Dwarf front cover, which depicts a sign with the corner shattered by a star trek style blue streak across the stars. The sign reads "infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers", presumably in the motorway font.

We are anchored off Adolphus Island and can see Cape York, named by Captain Cook after his favourite chocolate bar. This is my last stop in the Pacific. Probably, the exact definition of where it ends I neither know nor care.

Seriously though, poor old Cook who'd seen more of the world than any man before him, and probably precious few afterwards was getting right short of names by this point. Off the tip of the Cape York peninsula is the centre of the Torres Islands. Thursday Island. Its neighbouring islands are Wednesday Island and Friday island between us and them are the Tuesday Islets.

We're not going ashore here, not because we're afraid of aboriginal spears, but because we're not allowed. There are no aborigines here, the native inhabitance of this area are known as Torres islanders, they're Melanesian like the Solomon Islanders the Vanuatuans and the Papua New Guineans. Melanesian's are pacific islanders, boat people seafarers and have far more in common with their neighbours than either the aborigines or the white Ausie's who like the pacific islands and the Aborigines  they treated incredibly badly in the past.

Cape Yorkie Bar

They think, quite rightly that the Torres strait is they're playground and think nothing of tooing and froing with the relations and friends in PNG just across the straits. This is Australia home of the tightest most annaly retentive and zealous customs and quarantine in the world. Does this bother the Torres Islanders? No is doesn't. The net result is if we go ashore here or even at the port of enrty in Thursday Island, we will have our food confiscated and have to clear quarantine again in Darwin.

Custom's have given up trying to make the Torres Islanders go to the mountain, and have instead moved the mountain onto perfectly innocent yachtists.

Position: 10° 38.6' S, 142° 38.7' E | Posted: Sat 25th September 2010

Dealing with Morris men

We made an unexpected stop this morning. Miserable autopilot failure. Not the first time on this boat. But boy has it been well behaved for the last 10,000+ Nautical miles.

That's No log...

Previous deaths of this particular unit:

  • Lost Bolt (Atlantic 07)
  • Broken Bolt (Atlantic 07)
  • Broken Clutch (Atlantic 07)
  • No Hydraulic Fluid (Caribbean 09)
  • Loss of Hydraulic Fluid (Caribbean 10)
  • Sheared Mounting (today, Morris Island)

We happened to be passing Morris Islands at the time, named for its troop of Morris men. There are none now. Due to the large log on the beach. Which ate them.

The correct thought to be having at this point is "Pull the other one its got bells on it". Morris island is a sand bar, with a shrubbery and a palm tree. As we arrived it had half the BWR anchored behind it. They saw us coming and Laruba, Blue Magic, Jackamy, Bionic, Sol Maria and Moonshadow all hopped it. Bad news travels fast. Moonshaddow doesn't officially join the rally till Darwin. Fortunately for them their skipper was wearing a St Lucian T-Shirt in the bar in Cairns that I'd never seen before and they got an early introduction to the rest of us. Turned out nicely, they've already joined the net and as you can see from above have the jump on the other boats in joining In Darwin.

We weren't going to stop at Morris Island, and only did so for a couple of hours. Much of which was spend excavating the coal reserve that is the Stbd cockpit locker to get at the hatch to the lazerette where the autopilot is. Fortunately we have a spare autopilot bought in fretful worry in Panama. Its installation took no time at all. I'm VERY familiar with Island Kea's autopilot.

This one has done well, it did the vast majority of the Atlantic, all around the Caribbean and the whole pacific. Its Failures were mostly, inadequate bolt, and of course, the ubiquitous Antigua Rigging who were supposed to fix its ancient twin, but instead charged a fortune to empty the cockpit locker and "Fix" it. This fix involved putting it back in with no hydraulic fluid in it which is pretty dumb. They also "fixed" it by putting the seal on the ram back in the wrong way around hence expelling all its hydraulic fluid.

Gavin from Sol Maria was the only man to venture ashore at Morris Island, we'd been told of the resident croc, all 4 meters of is. And I think even my dodgy aim-the-camera-through-the- binoculars- from-a-moving-boat image above will tell you, in true b3ta and starwars "that's no moon" styley. That's no log....

Position: 13° 29.6' S, 143° 43.3' E | Posted: Fri 24th September 2010

He'd man!

Captain cook, was a sailing god. I know "I say I am a sailing god" but that's only whilst I'm overdosed on adrenalin after a particularity crazy dinghy sailing session. Don't get me wrong, I'm good. But captain Cook was sodding amazing.

Spear Chucker 

Or Lieutenant James Cook. Captain, later and of his second hand coal carrier.

We've been dodging reefs in at most 40 meters of water for days. Since we left Mackay we've not lost bottom on the echo sounder, not even close. Its deep here 25meters. I'm used to being in a kilometre of more of water 1/2 mile out to sea. Mackay is hundreds of miles away.

Cook came up here is Endeavour, with No Charts, No GPS, No Electricity, thousands of miles from the nearest help. No medicine to speak of, no refrigeration, no engine. In What, as previously mentioned was a glorified coal barge.

Jesus there's a lot to hit here, even with modern stuff. We have a chart plotter, with radar. That's a magic box. with a screen and some buttons with charts in it and a GPS so it shows you where you are  it will even show you the radar overlaid on top of the chart. Its raymarine so its got more bugs than a new release of windoze(tm)  but its still fabulous.

Cook related illustration

Yesterday we were in lizard island, famous cos cook was getting very nervous. He'd been doing what we're doing sailing north inside the great barrier reef. And climbed lizard island for a look ahead. Spyied a gap in the reef and escaped from the increasingly narrow inshore passage. Spending 23 hours on a reef just south of here may have sharpened his mind. See Chart right. Note, I have cropped the north arrow out of this picture because some idiot signwriter had it pointing East.

I know I said "what's so great about this barrier reef anyway" on twitter I think, I may then have refereed to the Great Barrier reef as being attached to the bottom if Matt's yacht. It was certainly impressive. Its great as in BIG. its great as in a great place to sail. Its great at protecting you from swell. Its great scenery. Stops the crocs getting sea sick.

I wonder why Cook called it Lizard Island?

Speaking of great navigators, saw Matt, + mum, Mei and co up in Cairns, on holiday. Daintily they drove to the Datintree national park. Then it rained. I mean rained. Jackal in Fiji sort of rain.  6 feet of water in the ford(river). They stayed in the Daintree. I know he hired a ford(car) Falcon, but even a landcuriser with a snorkel wouldn't have got out off there. Typical Matt? I think so.

I took several pictures of the reef, including cooks channel, the one he used to escape the barrier reef but even with my best fiddling with contrast and picture enchantments* I can produce a usable picture, sorry. So I've gone for illustrative instead. For the record, though my boomerang won't come back, I did have a go with a Japagai (Cairns local Aboriginal Tribe) spear thrower, even if it was a fibre glass spear. Kangeroo's should be worried. Accuracy maybe 6 out of ten velocity 7 out of ten. Compared to the other tourists, I did good.

A little of what Cook Saw. The Great Barrier Reef.

 Hmm what happened to my picture alignments? And why are the old ones fine? More work....

Position: 14° 39.5' S, 145° 27' E | Posted: Thu 23rd September 2010

Death by Misadventure

On this day in the year of our lord 2010 Mr Mrs Miss oceanhippie died as a result of MISADVENTURE involving a:

I tell no Lie
Kangeroo Bollocks bottle opener

  • Estuarine Croc (salty) 10:1
  • Shark 12:1
  • Box Jelly fish 20:1
  • Stinger 30:1
  • Spider 15:1
  • Snake 9:2
  • Aggravated Koala 100:1
  • Randy Cassowary 1000:1
  • Road Train 5:2
  • Mishandled Kangaroo scrotum bottle opener 1,000,000:1 

Place your bets now using the comments form below this post, please use the Paypal donate button left for payment. In the unlikely event of my survival money will be refunded on personal application in cfp (French Polynesian Francs) Pan'ags (tongan) Solomon islands Dollars or whatever odds and ends of obscure foreign currency I happen to have in my pocketesesssss. Please use the chart below to find me and claim our money back.

Position: 16° 55.1' S, 145° 46.8' E | Posted: Sun 19th September 2010

Hitchhiking With Serial Killers

Caught up with Sam, last seen in Gran Canaria 3 years ago. Sam, his cat, his boat and bits of the Bluebell Railway (balast along with Ross' old sash window weights) in Airlie Beach.

Ramprasad At Anchor off Airlie Beach
Just off the land mid photo.

Had a few beer. Good to see him again. Of course the Mariana wouldn't let us in....

Steve and Katrin have a daily Dilbert calendar.Which is fantastic, to save money in Dilberts' company travel expenses have been withdrawn. So Dilbert mush hitch lifts with mass murderers. The system seems to work, Sam has a boat and a car. So was hitching back to pick the car up. The bloke was on parole after doing a ten year stretch.


Sam now takes the train, instead, Not because of the risk of murder, but because thanks to the serial killer, he has a pension card for cheap rail travel.


For the benefit of latecomers to my blog (try Trip One 11 years ago) Sam's boat Ramprasad, is named after his old Indian fishing boat. Its a 37ft Ferrocement (yes concrete) boat, which Sam pretty much self built in Sussex YC. I helped launch it many years ago and did my first ocean crossing on it. Its great to see how far its come since that day it dangled off a crane over the mud of the Adur river.

Airlie Beach YC Trophies:

Rum Queen Trophy

Fun Race Trophy 



Position: 20° 15' S, 148° 42.5' E | Posted: Wed 15th September 2010

Statistics Again

I've been saying there's 8 people I've sailed across an ocean with here in Oz. Not counting Steve and Katrin. This is quite surprising.

Island Kea goes back in 

In terms of ocean passages, I think I've sailed with 2 swedes, 8 englishpersons, 4 ausies, and a kiwi. This is slightly hazy as some passages were pretty long but I've not included Mark the American and Richard the Brit. I have included Jacky cos at least 3 500 mile + passages for some one that inclined to sea sickness she deserves it.

What's truly scary is how few are in the UK. Hello Simon. I've just heard Dawn's in Brighton (New Zealand, confusingly) near the earthquake, hope she's ok. That means of the 8 English Sailors I've oceanhippied with most of them are not at home. Matt, Alan, Steve, Katrin, Sam are all in Oz. Caroline's in Antigua. Campbell's a Kiwi, but he's here too. Skana (I think) and Jacky and Christian the Ausie's are all at home here. Hmm all the English are away and the Ausies are at home, not the way around its supposed to be. Borie and Ros are MIA - last seen holding hands and heading for Australia . Thorbjorn is in Thailand.

So only 27% of my mates are at home. Discount the ausies and that's 12%. Aka Simon. Errrr Australia must be a pretty good place. Better if you assume Borje and Ros are in their last know location  - Australia as well.

Generator control

Island Kea is back together, in the water with a new genset, a rig inspection, sorted spinnaker car block, new plumbing oil pressure sensor, impeller and filters on the engine. Greased propeller. Extra filter on then new generator. The bothersome breather on the port fuel tank has been replaced. The bottom has been anti-fouled. Both toilets are working. We've a new water pump on the fresh water, filter on the taps. The charge regulator has been mounted vertically so the water can't collect in it. We're off tomorrow to the Whitsundays.


Position: 21° 67' S, 149° 13.6' E | Posted: Wed 8th September 2010

<strine> HTML5 Specification

HTML5 is still gestating even though bits of it are already out in the wild. Fortunately there's still time to get tags submitted.

I've taken the liberty of submitting one that will change the face of the web as we know it.  HTML, javascript, css hell even flash cannot represent Australianisms properly. This changes everything(again). Goodbye web 2.0 hello web 3.0

how it will work

the <strine> tab can be applied just just a block of text, as you would <strong> or <em>. In which case it will mearly act as a translation tool. Girls will become "Shelia", greetings will be replaced by "g'day", OK will become "no worries". Should the <strine> tag contain any block level elements such as tables or areas then they will be Australasianised. Red ochre will become the default colour, borders and lines will automatically be picked out in aboriginal style white finger painted dots. Any <audio> or <video> elements will have a digerido backing track automatically assigned.

Paramaters and CSS will be available to tweek the tags functionality though the W3C consultation process is ongoing some likely parameters are below.

<strine> Parameters: 

  • region [NSW QLD WA VIC], use regional slang


<strine region="QLD">that woman's ugly</strine>

would display "That Sheila's got a face like the north end of a south bound wombat".

  • celebrity [Edna Kylie Crowe ], use auzsie clebrity style


<strine> celebrity="Crowe">Hello I'm Bob</strine>

would display "G'day I'm Bob father to a murdered son, and I will have justice in this world or the next".

What people are saying about the <strine> Tag:

"this is the most important step forward since I created the world wide web back in CERN"
Tim Berners Lee

"HTML 5? What's that? Would you like to buy windows Vista Australian Edition?
Microsoft spokes-zombie

"Apple will revolutionise the universe and and take the functionality to beyond the interactive threshold of responceivity we know today"
Steve Jobs
(Frankly we're not sure if he's talking about the <strine> tag in fact we have no idea what he's talking about at all. We were hoping you could help)

Position: 21° 67' S, 149° 13.6' E | Posted: Mon 6th September 2010

Stig mode

As you may be aware, Top Gear has tamed a racing driver, know as the Stig. He's a racing driver not a sailor. Imagine a verbose Stig. That's a racing sailor is. In human, incapable of understating things like ferries, fishermen, the traffic lights lifting bridges etc. Shorn of human emotions, an ego in oil skins.

Months of chilled out world cruising then back to racing and its obscure arguments, shouting and aggression. I've missed that. Does get rid of any pent up aggression.

How to Race (Matt and Tom style).

Waiting for a Safety Inspection at SASC

Well to race you need a safety certificate. For that you find which yacht club's doing a safety inspection then park outside it hoping they don't know your not a member, It worked, apart from the sun cream, yep Auzzie, safety certs require sunscreen.

Who knew sun screen had an expiry date?

Get out the bits for the safety inspector, life jackets with whistles, anchor that appears to be made from tin foil filled with helium but is stamped "14 kilo". Hmmmm... After some shopping for in date sun cream, head for Lunch, Mei and her Brother have been waiting for us in the fish market for some time...

Get up for the race, leave Mei to have a lie in, motor up the harbour, pass Steve and Katrin coming the other way in another boat as you go under the harbour bridge. Realise you need more than 2 people on the boat to actually enter the race. Call Mei, divert boat to a dock near Mei and Matt's flat where a large sign says "no pickups/dropoffs" pick Mei up as crew.

Put the sail cover back on so the guy
doing the handicaps doesn't spot the
 brand new custom carbon/ kevlar main

 It is at this point it became clear Matt didn't know where the yacht club who's running the race actually is. Find out with a couple of GPS enabled phones and google maps. Arrive late, Find out the race isn't till 1pm.

Put the mainsail cover back on so the handicapper doesn't realise you've brand new carbon reinforced kevlar mainsail.

Immediately start bolting the bits required for flying the code 0 back on. This being matt, all the bits are in a cardboard box, millions of bits all jumbled up.

Decide that there's not much wind and feverishly start bolting on the swivelling bowsprit. I device originally devised by the Spanish Inquisition* and engineered by some brummie from British Leyland at about quarter to 5 on a friday. Its a death trap.


Realise your not going to get the spinnaker back on and start leaving the dock. Frantically tie the half rigged pole to the rail. Run the sheets for the code 0. Hoist main.

The only way this can be done efficiently (I.E. the start sequence is already under way) is for both me and Matt to run around like blue arsed flys. All the Brighton Drinking Club members will be intimately familiar with me and Matt engaged in engineering projects on the start line. Now scale that up to a 38 ft boat. Obviously you can't reach and steer at the same time like you can in a dinghy, fortunately we had Mei for that. She can helm quite well - I think she may have been thrown in at the deep end by Matt before.

Half Submerged and full of tinnies

Matt grabs the helm I grab the jib Halyard. Mei's dispatched below to "Pull the knob gently" to stop the engine. And were off. We actually have a cracking start, either that or we're over. Its fine if your not as over as "Balmain Tiger" right? Its clear right off the line that the new mainsail is good. We pull away from most of the fleet. Every one in fact except Balmain Tiger, mind you she's a s**t hot Flying Tiger 10. A very new shipping crate supplied Chinese sports boat. Engage Stig mode. Shout at fuffed tacks. Attempt to ram fishing boats, scare tourists who having their photo's take at the opera house by letting the shadow of your rig pass over them. Meet Steve and Katrin coming the other way with full sail out sailing so high on the wind Harry Potter would think you had a wand with the boat heeled well over in no wind at all. All in all we did quite well. I helmed round the top island while Matt did the Code 0. Not sure what (if any) book recommends running by the lee with a poled out code 0 but it worked for us. We couldn't hold the other sports boat down wind though. Much to Mei's annoyance (yes Mei was in Stig mode too, like a Top Gear Celebrity in a reasonably priced car). There's not a lot we could do against a tinny little sports boat with a spinnaker bigger than Island Kea's.

 And across the line.

Stop for a beer, admire the rock we hit last time, then attempt to save Matt's marriage. Now a "borrowed" half submerged dinghy (it leaks a lot, less than Matt's) full of empty VB tinnies is not Mei's idea of a nice way home. Mei and Matt's place over looks the posh part of central Sydney. Darling harbour. Home of the Maritime Museum, Zoolet, Aquarium bars restaurants fountains and crappy modern sculptures. Its also home to the cruise industry, whale watch boats, ferries, paddle steamers (they don't actually steam, being diesel, but that's OK cos the paddles aren't connected to the engines either but the motion of the boat makes them go round so that's OK) and Captain Cock cruises. These medium sized cruise liners bum around the harbour, stopping erratically and unpredictably, generally annoying the hell out of yachties. Payback time they've a dock by the flat and its half empty (were optimists, the dock is half empty).

Short walk home for Mei

 Mei asks "whats the plan". I say "get off the dock quick before someone shouts at us"

Back to the mooring for Tea and Medals.

* I bet you weren't expecting the Spanish Inquisition

Position: 33° 51.1' S, 151° 13.3' E | Posted: Wed 1st September 2010

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