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Hi guys,

I haven’t been around for a while. But now I am back thinking and thinkering.

Salt showing her old number one jib

Problem: It is time to do some major refitting to the jibs. Problem is that my number one Genoa is more or less 6 meters at the lower end sweeping the deck. Getting it down and secured is a major job. Changing from number 1 to number 2 is at best a challenge. I hoist number 2, tack and get the number one on deck. But if it is really blowing and waves are building in the North Sea while you are trying to master the damned large sail – which is not fastened other than in the forestay profile, tack and sheet – two arms are not enough. The only way to get rid of the beast is to get it down the hatch unpacked – which will make everything wet down below. Read the rest of this entry »

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I have searched high and low to find an affordable waterproof box for my laptop to be used onboard. Most of what I found was either very bulky, very expensive, very unpractical, just plain not usable or a combination of all.
Ever since I started using Tiki Navigator as my navigational aid and electronic charts, I have been in need of something to protect the machine. Problem is that in foul weather the rain and spray will find its way down to Salt’s charttable. If the outside wet and cold don’t find my laptop, I will most certainly bend over it and drip salt water all over the machine or somebody is going to spill a cup of tea, leave a wet hat … you know, something bad including water will happen and the mishap will show up in the most disadvantageous time.

So here is the cheap and dirty – but effective – solution. I bought enough sprayhood-window, you know the sort of soft bending stuff used for windows in sprayhoods and yacht-canvas, to cover the laptop 2,5 times. The plastic-fabric cost me less than 30 dollars. Besides I bought some double sided Velcro and some extra broad tape.
Ten minutes

It took me less than ten minutes to make an “envelope” of the window fabric, with a double flip-cover on top of the laptop. I put Velcro underneath the laptop to tape it inside of the cover. I taped the sides of the cover, and used Velcro for the top panel of the envelope. The cord for the charger and the GPS comes out under the top flip. The cords are double bended – coming up under the flip, covered by the Velcro, and then down to the laptop. The laptop is secured by Velcro inside the envelope.

Underside of the cover has Velcro which mates with Velcro taped on to the chart table top. The hole thing just sits totally secure. It so happens that the small cheap GPS for the computer works fine under deck. All I have to do is to place the small GPS among by navigational books. This works fine.

During dark and rainy nights with hard landfalls, I can move the laptop out into the cockpit. The Tiki Navigator has a nifty night solution where everything turns read to keep your night vision keen and bright. The chart is so big that I have no trouble checking it out while sitting at the tiller.

Dry fingers

My computer has a mousepad easily used through the cover. I can still browse the charts, change sizes and find my routes. The only problem is that you have to have dry fingers using the mousepad through the cover. So I have pad of paper towels in close reach. However, it’s hard to write with the cover on. But I won’t write much as I am navigating – particularly not during cold and rainy nights.

I was afraid the cover would make the computer overheat. This is not a problem. In fact the computer is no hotter inside the cover than without it. The reason might be that navigation is not hard work for the laptop. In fact it’s hardly using any brains at all. Just sits there.

I have a cheap charger connected to my main battery. The whole contraption sucks more electric juice than I expected and the battery for lights and electronics are to small, only 70 amps. It keeps the computer and everything else going for most of a day, and then I can run the navigator on the laptops internal battery for a few hours. It works, but 70 amps is not enough anymore. I will change the battery and install another to keep it all going and to avoid running the engine to charge.

That’s it – a fast and cheap answer to my computer problem onboard. It has worked since last spring. It has worked in heavy weather, in rain, hail, summer, sunshine and dark nights. What more can you ask for 32 dollars of waterproofness?

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

 

 

 

 

 

Going full blast from Korsfjorden outside Bergen towards Stavanger last week, spinnaker drawing, some ocean swell unsettling us, but with a nice breeze from behind, the fog set in. Woolen as cotton, cold and wet as rain. I could not see more than two or three boat lengths forward into the heavy ferry and ship infested North Sea. As nightfall set inn, I could even see less.

Boy, was I glad I installed the AIS I won last year in the Shetland Race. I didn’t have any positive expectations. In fact I was rather annoyed for having to install two new antennas and another peace of equipment drawing ever more electricity.

The Simrad AIS 150 sender and transponder really made me feel safe. You can spot ships 32 miles away. That is nice. But even better, you are telling them where Salt is, who she is and her call sign, plus our speed and course.

Even ferryboats reacted to our signal. I have never experienced this before. But with the AIS going I am convinced the ferry-skippers really made an effort not to run us down.

I guess the real secret to this is that the AIS will show up on their screens, alarms go off, and a possible collision will enter the professional electronic logs. Running us down will simply look bad on the officers CV and it will be possible to find out what happened. Using their powerful radar’s they knew we where out there in earlier days too. But as a cynic I must say the AIS makes the trick of being seen and avoided so much more easy and convincing as it makes tangible and lasting electronic records of our existence.

It doesn’t draw much electricity either. Even if it did – it sure is nice to know that commercial freighter skippers know where you are and are heading as their tall sharp bows are towering over you.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

Finally, it’s all done and Salt is ready for the salty seas. I got the Keel-pro glued on, layers and layers of putty, hours of sanding, and new layers of VCTar and VC17.

No more putty

I have chosen not to add on an extra million or more layer of putty to make the Keelpro totally flush with the aero dynamical, or is it hydro dynamical, form of the keel. Instead I have chosen to make the keel protection as friction free as possible with harmonious lines.

I might be wrong

However, I have no more time for spring chores before the yacht is lifted and back in the sea. Besides – the Keelpro looks ok. There are no disharmonious lines and no lines from the Rubber Bumper along the keel that should disturb laminating water flowing along the keel. Actually, the lines along the keel are now rather modern. She looks like she has been given a modern bulp stern. In theory this should work out positive.

Positive

While most of the curiosity during the fitting has been rather negative, the attitude is now turned more positive. Most of the old salts now agree it is a good idea, and that it might protect me from hitting a rock in the first place, and if I hit one – it might give the Kaskelot some protection by flexing the rubber and getting rid of the kinetic energy by pressing the water out of the Keelpro, while seven tonnes of yacht stops dead on a submerged rock.

I don’t know for sure. However, the thing looks good, and it is adding another 10 kilos at the very bottom of the boat. The general rule is that 1 kilo in the mast has to be compensated with five kilos in the keel. Consequently, this has to work the other way around. Added 10 kilos at the very bottom of the keel will compensate for the weight of both the main and the genoa – say 50 kilos or 100 pounds. This should give me less listing and thus a better upwind performance. Besides the keel has become a little wider, which might give Salt improved helm balance.

Negative

The negative argument is of course the possible non-harmonius lines along the bottom of the keel, which might disconnect the laminating water and slow me down in no-wind conditions. If it works out negative I will add the extra million of putty layers during summer or at end seasons.

Time will show and the living will see. I’l be around to check it out.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

Just a short update for you folks. Spring is here, and I am working on the boat. I just love messing around in the marina with all the old Salts from the yacht club coming over to comment anything and everything I am doing.

Nothing catches the old salts curiosity more than the keel protection I am fitting. Nobody really believes it’s worthwhile – that is to say nobody but some of the female sailors. They know their husbands hit’s a rock every now and then.

My answer to all the curiosity is the truth. I would have sailed on happily and hoping not to hit a rock if I had not read about the Keelpro. Now that I know I can protect my happiness and reckless sailing days, it would just be too annoying hitting a rock knowing better.

I really think the rubber bumper will protect me against ever hitting a rock again.

At least I tried.

It is quite a lot of work getting off years of old bottom coating and 10 millimeters of putty to get to the iron keel. With everything off, the iron keel had to be coated with 5 layers of two component paint – witch took forever to dry. The paint needed 5 degrees or more to cure. Nowadays there are few days and nights above 5+. Weill – it worked out.

Today the Keelpro is glued on to the keel with massive amounts of glue. So far everything looks good. However, the temperature is moving up and down from 3,7 to 14 – and the glue needs 5 degrees all night. I have borrowed an infrared heater to keep the old girl hot.

Tomorrow will show whether I failed or succeeded. Salt will be put back into her element Saturday no matter what. And I am traveling to Tønsberg Thursday. 3 more days to go and that’s it.

I will write something more about fitting the Keelpro as soon as I am finished.

Soon the cruising and racing season are starting up. It keeps me bright and alert all day and night.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

Salt is up dry. It’s cold outside and I have fire in the fireplace to keep comfortable and warm. However, It’s obvious time for planning of a new season. It’s time to look at general improvements and speed enhancing in particular. We will not no.2 forever!

Seilmakeren

This years first race will be the Seilmakeren (named for Seilmaker Iversen in Bergen) – a shorthanded race from Bergen to Stavanger and back. More than 110 yachts are already registered. We where number 93 to register in November – six months before the start! There is a shorthand craze blowing over Norway. I can think of a few arguments why sailors wants to go short-handed. First of all it is annoying to keep calling to get crew while you sail almost as well without the extra hands, but first of all it is regarded as much thougher which makes participation in short hand races stand out among fellow sailors.

Seilmakeren will start early May – which is way too early and might be very cold indeed. In May the North Sea is still cold. At night it is very hard to keep going and stop shivering. And there is no way we will not have to sail hard upwind for half the race. However, we are ready for the other half. A new 110 Sq.meter asymmetric spinnaker is ordered from Westaway Sailmakers in Devon, England. I am going to mount it on a 80 centimeter long pole at deck level to get as much power at shy reaching as possible. However, the main point is to ease the downwind sailing by making jibing and setting of the spinnaker much easier and safer. By the way – we are ready for the upwind part too. Hopefully we can use the Cape Horn going upwind and keep warm by the diesel burner. I mean -if you have to, you do whatever it takes.

Hysterical competitivenessA long rainy and windy season

Another speed enhancing job is to scrub and wet-sand the under-body. Somehow parts of the paint is not as smooth as it is supposed to be. I am also considering sharpening the aft-edge of the rudder to make it slip the water more easily. I might as well sharpen the front of the keel and epoxy the former through-hole for the sounder too. I have no more use for it and it’s probably just braking by making inharmonious curls in the passing water. I know – it’s a little hysterical. But the boat is up and dry, and as stated – I’m not going to stay no.2 forever. Whatever it takes.

1000-mile race

I am considering taking part in the 1000-mile race from Netherlands to Bergen and further to the Shetlands and back. I admit it is easy to dream on while sitting warm and comfortable by the fireplace. But it sure would be cool, and this time it is possible to take part from Newcastle to Bergen, Shetland and back. It is much closer from Stavanger to Newcastle in England, then to go all the way down to the Netherlands. Besides – we did well last year.

All varnished wood that is possible to take of the Salt is home. I have stripped down most of it and I will have it ready for spring. I am also looking at the other sails beside the spinnakers. Is it possible to redo them and make the old Genoa 2 into an overlapping self tacking genoa? And what about the mainsail – could I add much more roach with battens able to cross the backstay? It should be possible…

Adding stuff

And I have to get the AIS working. I won a wonderful AIS receiver and responder at the Shetland Race last year. With the mast down I will be able to add a new VHF-antenna for the AIS. Besides it has its own GPS-antenna. The Tacktic T-150 wireless wind instrument – which worked for 14 days and then closed down – is still not back from repairs. It is unbelievable – but I hope it shows up by spring. How can they do business like this? In sum – lots of stuff added that is not enhancing the speed, just adding up space, weight and new stuff to repair…

Whale with rubber bumperKeel in need of bumper

At last I am considering a rubber bumper for the old whale. A smart Swede has come up with a keel protection device that takes the worst part of grounding away. You can read more about the Keel Pro here. I truly hate grounding. Anything that can help me from ruining a nice day by hitting a submerged rock will be considered.

The rest is just waiting for the ski-season to begin, watching the sun making the days longer and spring closing. Besides sanding varnish in the basement.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

I have to admit it – this has been a good spring-season. And summer has started fine…

Salt became number two in our handicap-group regarding the weekly Wednesday round the can races. Second is not bad when you take into account that we did not attend 3 races. If anyone had taken Salt out one of the missing Wednesdays, we would have won the series.

Two Star

The two-handed race to Shetland – the Visit Shetland Bergen Races – did not go as planned, but worked out fine. On my way to Bergen, the other two-hands (Odd) called in sick. Salt is a lucky ship. New hands turned up in Bergen. Geir-Olav abandoned a Wasa 36 and changed to the Kaskelot. However, Geir-Olav needed to be back in Bergen Sunday to tend to his new career as a non-student. Which meant we had to leave Shetland early.

Anyway, we did well and came in fourth. I am rather proud of that. All the contestants in front of us are far more experienced in short hand ocean racing and just beat us by minutes. The two of us raced the boat well. Just a little bit more will to win, and we would have done even better. I had a low-energy period – listening to the radio and enjoying the sun at the Oseberg platform, instead of trimming and changing sails – and Geir-Olav did not know the capabilities of Salt going hard on a spinnaker-reach.

Practice make good

I don’t know the Cape Horn well enough to use it during racing yet. That is – it’s fast to get it work incredibly well on a hard upwind leg. But it takes to long to set it for a reach or downwind conditions. More correct – to get it to work is fast, but to get it to work properly and fairly accurate one has to trim the boat as neutral as possible – and that takes some time.

However, Cape Horn took the helm at Bressay – just outside Lerwick, Shetland – and kept us going due East with minimal adjustments for 200 miles to Marsteinen, the lighthouse at the inlet to Hardanger and Bergen. Very impressive boat handling and very relaxing – going fast at 6-7 knots in a nice breeze, waves, but non really heavy, with Genoa 2 a few points off hard on the wind.

AIS for free

Finishing fourth is fine – and next year we will do better! Besides – today I received a gift from the race sponsors. I won an AIS-transponder to the tune of 12.000 kroner (2000 Dlrs). Isn’t that something! Just out of the blue I received equipment I never ever would have gotten money to buy as there is always something speed enhancing equipment more necessary than an AIS-transponder.

One long miserable night

Last weekend we took part in the Ryfylke Rundt race. A long miserable night, with heavy rain and rarely any wind. 2007 was the first time for short-hand-racing in this old and traditional race. It’s hard work as we change directions in and out among the islands and the fjords. I am sure I had the spinnaker up at least 7 times and repacked the wet monster as many times. All sorts of sail combinations were tried out until my fingers and hands were all sore and my back broken by all the hoisting. Well – it paid off, we won our class.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

Well, its done!

I have been in Canada, found Oka, the small city and hometown of Cape Horn, got the windvane system, carried it all to Norway, installed it and got it to work.

It looks good and works perfect. I have just tried it twice, so I am not all that experienced, but so far it works good in anything above to knots of speed. I have not figrued out how to get it to work in very little wind and downwind – but it looks like it should be possible to figure that out.

Thanks to all my friends and brother who helped me out during the installation I think it all worked out well. Lots of chefs makes lots of mess, but lots of chefs generate a lot of brainpower and good solutions. Alone with my five tombs and a bunch of carrots I would have been lost.

I tell you all about the installation and tryouts later.

Next week there is the usual Wednesday race and then its off to Bergen and the Shetland Race for two hands ( with one extra at Salts tiller…)

Please read a more elaborate page about installing the Cape Horn on “Salt”. 

The Kaskelot takes you topside

It has taken a few years, but now it is done. The system is ordered, payed and will be delivered by late May. In fact I will go to Oka, outside Montreal, to pick the parts up myselves.

I sure hope it will stand up to the rigorus North Sea and help us out during short handed racing. Originally I planned to go for the smallest Cape Horn system. But the vertical hold-it-all stainless steel tube was concidered too long without outboard support – so I was recommended to change the system to the more rugged Spray.

Guaranteed one circumnavigation

I am now the happy owner of a contract with Cape Horne Marine Products where they guarante the Cape Horn Self-Steering System, model Spray, will steer my Kaskelot Salt through one circumnavigation or 28.000 miles. That is some guarantee!

If all goes well I will install the system mid May and test it out during the Shetland-Race this summer. I will blog the installation and the testing.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

If you are looking for a cheap and simple AIS receiver for your PC chart plotter the NASA AIS Engine might be a good alternative.

I am going to order it and check it out. But as far as I understand from the bloggosphere and Google it seems to do the trick. It receives on both A and B-AIS-channels by switching – simultaneous would have been better, as a ship might sneak up while the NASA engine is busy listening on the other channel. It also seems to work well with the PC-navigators. And the price is more or less 100 – 120 Pounds in the UK.

I talked with the designer and owner of the Norwegian Tiki Navigator, who is certain the software – the navigator with AIS-integration – will be commercial available within march.
This link is a blogger who seems to have tested the NASA AIS Engine as thorough as can be expected. It ia well worth checking out.

This is a link to Practical Boatowner – who looks at radar plotting – that is AIS and Marpa.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

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