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Sunday, August 30, 2015

INTERESTING INFORMATION FROM TECHNICAL TRAINING SEMINAR ABOARD NORDHAVN 68 – PART ONE

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina, Greece and we’re home in New Zealand, heading to Lefkas next month.
Last week I attended a technical training seminar run by noted industry guru Steve D’Antonio.
Steve has owned and managed marine engineering companies, written numerous technical articles and is a marine engineering consultant. The course was held aboard a very impressive near-new Nordhavn 68, Karajas, berthed in the stunning Akuna Bay Marina within the Ku-ring-gai National Park about an hour’s drive north of downtown Sydney, Australia. Attendance was limited to 13, both to maximize interaction and to make full use of Karajas’s impressively large full-headroom engine room for some hands-on instruction.

Nordhavn 68, Karaja is an impressive vessel

Attendees pose on Karaja's wide Portuguese bridge

There was some interesting discussion on why buyers of many brands of new boats seem to suffer an unreasonably long time before “teething problems” are resolved. Although there was no conclusion on this, Steve noted that compared for example with cars, production numbers of each type of boat are very low, no two boats are the same (as owners specify so many different options), and many trades people involved in their building don’t have the knowledge or take the care they should. Add to this the salt water and air environment and Murphy’s Law!

Boat owners in general vary in both their technical aptitude and desire to undertake maintenance work from doing nearly everything themselves to doing nothing at all, but Steve emphasized that as a minimum an owner should understand the function of installed equipment; have all switches, breakers, fuses, and controls clearly labeled; and be able to change primary and secondary fuel filters, vee belts and pump impellers.
The general theme of the seminar was that paying attention to detail will pay huge dividends in reducing operating problems. This not only applies to owners undertaking work themselves but also to ensuring contractors undertake work correctly, something which Steve says is sometimes sadly lacking due to one of or a combination of attitude, lack of knowledge and experience or ingrained poor practice (“what’s wrong … we’ve always done it that way”).
During a very full day we covered topics such as using multimeters for fault finding (particularly engine starting), using infrared pyrometers for bench marking and preventative maintenance, electrical connections, electrical safety, AGM battery security and charging, water and fuel plumbing systems, hydraulic steering systems, filter cartridge changes, prop shaft cooling, engine mounts, engine room fire suppression, aluminium corrosion protection and correct selection and use of fastenings.
Within the context of these broad subjects numerous other interesting points emerged, many of which will be of practical benefit to myself and other attendees. See our next posting for some useful tips.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WHERE TO GET THE INFORMATION YOU NEED FOR CRUISING

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina, Greece. We’re home in New Zealand but heading to Lefkas next month.
PassageMaker, published in the US, is the undisputed leading magazine dealing with passagemakers – that is boats from about 40 to 70 feet in length able to undertake extended voyages with minimal crews across open seas in most weather conditions (although like all small power or sailing vessels avoiding hurricane and cyclone seasons).
Passagemakers are a growing market with over 500 Nordhavns sold along with similar brands such as Kady Krogen, Selene, Fleming and Ocean Alexander as well as other brands and custom-built vessels.
While some passagemakers have done some very impressive blue water cruising (for example Nordhavn 46, Kanaloa, has recently commenced her fourth circumnavigation), I believe it’s true to say the great majority of passagemakers are purchased because owners like the traditional style and economy of a “small ship” rather than they intend to do much offshore cruising. We fall into this category ourselves and have only done coastal cruising aboard Envoy with our greatest distance from land having been about 60 miles.
PassageMaker has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and this reminded me how this magazine was the first source of information we turned to when we decided to buy a passagemaker, eventually leading us to purchase our Nordhavn 46.
So what sources of information are available to those interested in adopting the cruising lifestyle?
Information requirements generally fall into two categories – technical and destinations - including formalities needed, and here are the sources we have used and still use to meet these requirements:
- Our on board Nordhavn 46 technical Manual, constantly updated
- Our on board equipment instruction Manuals
- Manufacturers of the equipment in question
- Technical books such as Nigel Calder’s Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual
- Articles we have copied from boating magazines
- Discussions with other cruisers
- Selected cruisers’ blogs
- Local marine engineering companies and/or agents for equipment
- Internet searches and youtube
- The Nordhavn factory
- The Nordhavn Owners website
- Previous owners of our vessel
- Technical questions at passagemaker.com
- Charts and cruising guides
- Tourist guides such as Lonely Planet
- Google Earth
- Navionics on our iPad
- www.noonsite.com a website offering cruisers a wealth of information

Passagemaker’s special 20th anniversary edition mentioned some amusing reflections on maintenance:
- No boat project can be accomplished without creating new projects and the more complicated the first project the more new projects it will spawn
- You will never have all the parts, supplies, fasteners etc required to complete a project no matter how well you plan, and the final item needed won’t be identified until after the stores have all closed
- All projects except the tiniest will result in the entire boat being torn up
- The more deeply you are involved in a project the more people will stop by the boat for a chat
- Any dropped object will end up in the most inaccessible place possible, including Davy Jones locker

Next week I’m attending a technical training course run by well-known guru Steve D’Antonio so our next post will be about that.

Monday, August 03, 2015

BOATING ETIQUETTE

Envoy is still in Lefkas Marina, Greece and we plan to return there in September.
In New Zealand we’re fortunate that the majority of skippers have some degree of competence and sense of courtesy to others, and that we have a sensible and reasonably enforced set of Navigation Safety Rules.
But cruising around Mediterranean countries it’s an entirely different story and we frequently observe poor behavior on the water ranging from the discourteous to the downright dangerous - for example failure to observe collision regulations, crew bow riding on high speed vessels, anchoring too closely, and speeding or water skiing between anchored vessels and close to swimmers.
Most aggravation that occurs seems to revolve around anchoring, speed, wakes, jet-skis and noise and I’m going to take a light-hearted look at these issues.
The first people in an anchorage have priority and should expect skippers of later arrivals to respect their space and peace as much as possible. But this doesn’t mean they can have the anchorage all to themselves; how often have you slowly cruised into an anchorage to see one or two other skippers standing on deck, unsmiling, with hands on hips and negative body language intently watching your every move? You approach their stern and drop your anchor about two metres behind them.
“Why don’t you drop your anchor in my cockpit?” is sometimes asked aggressively.
I’m often tempted to reply, “yeah I was aiming for it but missed”.
There is nothing wrong with laying your anchor immediately astern of another boat or even close alongside it, as your own vessel will drop well back behind them respecting their space and privacy.
Sometimes you will anchor your boat safely clear of and in front of another whose skipper will yell out, “hey your boat’s over my anchor.” There’s nothing wrong with being over someone else’s anchor, provided you move your boat if necessary when they want to retrieve it. This is not to be confused with laying your anchor or chain over the top of somebody else’s, an understandably annoying practice.
It can be a good idea to buoy your anchor in rocky anchorages so that if it gets fouled you can retrieve it more easily (though this doesn’t always work). However some skippers have the annoying practice of using buoys wherever they anchor, probably with the aim of keeping other vessels away. The problem here is that as boats move position with tide and wind changes the buoy’s line can foul another boat’s running gear. Buoyed anchors and stern anchors have no place in a busy anchorage where all boats must be able to swing freely, and if another vessel’s anchor buoy becomes a hazard you should politely ask her skipper to remove it.
Nowadays we see much larger planing vessels than were apparent several years ago and most of these cause considerable wakes. Unfortunately many skippers helming this type of boat seem to have more money than sense or experience and a regular widespread problem is planing boats approaching anchorages at a speed just off the plane, pushing up huge wakes, their skippers seemingly oblivious to the fact they will cause every vessel at anchor to roll alarmingly. Good seamanship requires approaching an anchorage at a speed which will cause the smallest possible wake.

We now see ever larger high speed planing boats putting up dangerous wakes


In the Med people driving dinghies or jet skis at high speed or water skiing within a few metres of anchored vessels is a major problem, and extremely dangerous since people are often swimming around their vessels. In six years cruising here we’ve never seen any type of action by authorities to prevent this.
Many boaties enjoy listening to their music over a few drinks in the evening as they recount the day’s events, but these days there are so many high-powered sound systems that an anchorage can sound like a raging battle of the bands. If a nearby boat was anchored first and has a good sound system, why not listen to their music rather than try to drown it out with yours?
Many people like to enjoy themselves and make a bit of noise until a reasonable hour, but if you intend to party loudly all night long, best anchor well away from others.
Boating remains one of the great pleasures in life and can be made that much more enjoyable if all observe regulations, show consideration to others, keep their cool and avoid confrontation.