Salty John : The Blog

I’ve just watched a film about the Hiscock’s round the world trip in 1952 to 1955. Here’s the link – Beyond the western horizon

It’s a 90 minute step back in time to an age before GPS and chart plotters, digital cameras and social media, refrigeration and other mod-cons.

This journey was undertaken on Wanderer III, a Laurent Giles designed 30 foot sloop, by Eric Hiscock and his wife Susan. I found it fascinating on several levels – the simplicity of the boats systems, the sailing and navigational skills, the accents and attitudes, the politics. Enjoy.

If you’re having problems with your existing VHF radio or AIS system here’s an article on troubleshooting antenna systems:

Troubleshoot your antenna system

If your considering installing a new VHF antenna system, here’s what you need to know:

Installing a VHF radio or AIS antenna system

I hope you find these articles interesting and informative.

I see in the yachting press that an Austrian company has introduced the concept of a “sailing island” as the next big thing in luxury yachting. This bizarre, err, sail boat has been called Kokomo Ailand, you can read about it here:

Kokoko Ailand

I have no problem with people coming up with this sort of super-vessel to part the mega rich from some of their lucre, but hijacking the name Kokomo is a bit of a liberty. To me, Kokomo conjures up tantalising images of an idyllic tropical island lifestyle, with not a beach club, helipad, VIP suite or Jacuzzi in sight.

When we first arrived in the Florida Keys on Adriana, our 32’ sloop, the Beach Boys had just released their tune ‘Kokomo’ about a relaxing island paradise. The song certainly caught the imagination of our little band of adventurers and the concept of Kokomo was never far away as we each made our plans for heading ‘down island’ as soon as money and commitments would allow.

It was bit of a bubble-burster to eventually realise that the Beach Boys were not, in fact, accomplished surfer dudes, nor were they impoverished buskers eking out the means to fit out their little boats for blue water escape; they were too busy building a mega-million dollar phenomenon for that. More Kokomo Ailand than just plain Kokomo, I suspect.

Kokomo was the dream that drove us on to wonderful adventures in exotic places. We might not have found Kokomo, but many times we were damn close to it. And it didn’t look like Kokomo Ailand.

Here are the instructions on how to make your own dinghy bailer (or baler) from a milk carton:

I’m bilingual; I speak fluent English and American. When I worked in the USA a colleague and I wrote an English/American dictionary and it was a surprisingly weighty tome. Once you get past the well known boot/trunk, queue/line, hood/bonnet translations there’s plenty more to go at: Catty-corner, for instance. It means diagonally opposite. You guys can as easily refer to a married couple as to a group of blokes and a buddy is a mate. Definitely not a chum – chum in America is what you throw over the side of a boat to attract big fish. (Does anyone call there friends chums any more? I never have and I’m old).

My proficiency in American extends to nautical terminology as well. But the first thing you have to learn is that, just as Americans drive on the wrong side of the road, they also sail on the wrong side of the water – they use the IALA B system (red, right, returning) and not our IALA A system (is there any red port left?). This is quite an important distinction to grasp – I tried driving on the left in America and it was quite noisy.

Once you’ve mastered IALA B you’ll need to know that you dock your boat in a slip, you don’t take a berth. And if you want to talk like a native, navigational marks are boo-eys.

Running dead downwind with a sail out each side, as the boat in the picture is doing, is called wing n’ wing over the pond, here we say goosewinged. To stop the boom from lifting in this situation you use a kicking strap over here, a boomvang over there – or so I was forcibly reminded by the skipper on my recent Scotland sailing adventure. Actually, I thought that was a dinghy versus keelboat thing, but I would never argue with my skipper.

You shelter behind a spray hood here and a dodger over there. To add to the confusion, they call a dodger, the thing we use to keep wind out of the cockpit, a lee cloth which is the term we both use for the thing that stops you falling out of your bunk. I tell you, it’s a minefield.

So, if you need a translator for your upcoming luxury yacht charter in American waters, give me a call (a ring).

It’s always interesting to stroll around marinas and boatyards:

The wind was gusting over thirty knots as we approached a pontoon in Oban Marina on the island of Kerrera but with a little help from a couple of lads on the dock we were soon snug in our berth and then snug below partaking of a little amber fluid to warm us up.

We’d cast off at Ardfern that afternoon to round Dorus Mor at slack water, passed to the west of Luing into the Firth of Lorne and continued north. We decided to give the anchorage at Puilldobrhan a miss because the swell was rolling hard across the entrance, preferring to beat up the east coast of Kerrera to the marina. The northerly wind climbed from Force 4, to 5 and then to a gusty 6 as the day progressed.

The next day we had sunshine and moderating winds for our run down to Craobh Haven on the west side of the Craignish peninsular but first we walked up the hill behind the marina to enjoy the wonderful views.

From Craobh Haven we sailed past castles and fish farms, circumnavigated the little island of Shuna and then meandered south again, eventually to home base at Ardfern.

Claymore is a sturdy little pilot house yacht and lusty winds, choppy seas and swift currents were all taken comfortably in her stride. She belongs to our friends John and Liz who had invited Carol and I to join them on this little jaunt. We enjoyed every minute of it – wind, rain, sunshine and, always, that majestic scenery.

We’re just back from a delightful few days sailing in the Hebrides about which I’ll be posting in more detail over the coming days. For now, though, here’s a few pictures to whet your appetites….

Where a mast is stepped on deck the mast cables, typically antenna coax and navigation light wiring, have to be routed through the deck to their destination below. The method of achieving this must be water tight, rugged enough to resist damage from the feet of crew working around the mast and should be of a shape that avoids snagging lines.

Deck plugs for each individual wire are notoriously prone to rust, corrosion and leakage. Deck glands are better because any joint in the cable can be made below decks. Unfortunately both methods are prone to damage by being stepped on by crew working around the mast. Another available method is the swan neck tube but this has the disadvantage of snagging sheets and lines if not carefully sited.

There’s another solution: The Swedish manufactured Cableport is a low profile stainless steel Dorade-type vent that can be stepped on with impunity and shrugs off rain and green water over the deck. The patented Cableport’s sleek profile avoids line snagging and looks attractive.

The cables enter the Cableport via slots on each side and are routed below through a 49mm diameter pipe within. The wire entry slots are sealed with rubber gaskets. Any water that enters around the cables is prevented from going below by the upstand around the pipe as you can see in the drawing.

The Cableport is standard equipment on many fine yachts and is available from Salty John – there’s a link over there on the right.

A properly tuned rig will have equally tensioned shrouds so that the boat will perform well on both tacks, the leeward shrouds won’t dangle flaccidly and the forestay won’t sag. She’ll feel right on all points of sail.

Having the correct rig tension is important, too, because a loose rig can impart shock loads to shrouds and chainplates and an overtight rig can cause structural damage.

You don’t need a tension gauge to set up the rig – there are methods whereby you can measure the change in length of the shrouds and stays as the turnbuckles are tightened, and there’s always the tune your rig like a guitar technique: Twang! – middle C, that seems about right.

But the Loos tension gauge gives you a quick, accurate, check and that will encourage you to test often, making sure all is well. For racers who set their rigs to suit the prevailing conditions a Loos gauge is an important tool in their race-winning armoury.

There are Loos gauges for wire rigging from 2.5mm to 10mm and for rod rigging of all sizes. Salty John stocks them all.