Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Yes, we've moved!

We've settled in at our new address:

The archive has moved with us and there's a search facility.

Join us, you'll love it!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

We've moved!

We've moved to our new address:

Come over and join us - new posts at least twice a week on a wide range of nautical subjects. There's also a large archive to browse through.

Monday, 12 May 2014

New host

We're in the process of migrating the blog to a new host. I hope the switch will be seamless, but you never know! It's difficult to type with all my fingers crossed.

The new blog will be at but it takes time to get everything switched over so some of you may not see the new blog at that site for a few hours.

Nothing will change other than the decor, and the functionality. Same twice weekly posts on a variety of boating and travel subjects. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Whitby, Yorkshire

I don’t do bucket lists but I've always had a hankering to visit Whitby on the north Yorkshire coast. I don’t know if this urge stems from the town’s association with Captain James Cook or a desire to sample the fish & chips, but this weekend I finally achieved my ambition.

Whitby is where Captain James Cook trained as a seaman, working for a local shipping line transporting coal to London. From here Cook went on to join the Royal Navy and thereafter to embark on his famous and well documented voyages of discovery.

Whitby is a popular destination for day-trippers and holidaymakers and on this sunny weekend was teeming with people. Thousand upon thousand of them.  The streets were crammed, the trip boats were doing a roaring trade, the pubs were packed. Whitby was full.

We climbed up and down the 199 steps to the ruined Abbey and rewarded ourselves for the not inconsiderable effort with exceptionally good fish, chips and mushy peas at one of the many harbour side eateries. 

I’m glad I’ve finally seen Whitby. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Someone has discovered that if you cover one eye, thus acquiring 2D vision in place of your normal 3D vision, you are less likely to get seasick. 

This discovery comes on top of the earlier discovery that if you wear one earplug you will, similarly, be less prone to the dreaded mal.

I see a trend. Half of a sense isn't enough to convince your brain of the need to send the signal to the vomit reflex, which is what sea sickness is all about: Your brain doesn't like to be told two different things by two different sources – your eyes say one thing your ears another so your brain assumes you’re being poisoned and tells you to throw up, violently. But, it would appear, one ear or one eye aren't convincing enough.

Why not be doubly sure? Put a patch over one eye and wear an earplug in one ear.  I’d love to test the efficacy of this plan myself but I don’t suffer regularly from the affliction. Have at it, you sufferers, it has to be worth a shot.

P.S. I wonder if this is why pirates wear eye patches?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Antenna extension poles

I've mentioned before that the best antenna for boats of the size most of us sail is a 1m whip antenna because it has a nice fat radiation pattern that suits the rock and rolly platform on which it needs to operate.  With this plump rather than thinly focused pattern there is always some portion of the signal being directed at the horizon, where it needs to be, rather than at sea or sky. 

The best place to locate it is at the masthead to gain the benefit of a longer horizon distance and, therefore, range. 

On RIBs, motorboats and for deck mounted applications on yachts you benefit from mounting the antenna on a pole - 1.5m to 2m is typically enough to increase range a little and get the antenna above the level of cabin tops, people and other clutter which can block the signal.

You can buy proprietary poles which have a threaded top end and a threaded base so they can be screwed onto a deck mounting plate or a rail mount, and an antenna can be fitted to the top of the pole. 

Another approach is to make your own extension pole using an appropriate length of stainless steel, aluminium or plastic tubing and a pole mount conversion bracket, seen in the picture. The pole can be attached to the boat using any of a wide variety of clamps and sockets available at most chandlers or hardware stores.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

I say IALA A, you say IALA B...

Busy, busy at the moment with the season getting into full swing. Here's a post I made a year or so ago about bouyage here and over the pond, for no better reason than a recent post on the YBW forum reminded me of it:

I’m talking about the World’s buoyage systems and, in particular, about lateral buoyage. Here in the UK, and most of the rest of the world, we use the IALA A system: When entering a harbour or heading up a river, the cans you leave to port are painted red and the cones you leave to starboard are painted green. 

The mnemonic is “Is there any red port left”.

In North, Central and South America, Japan, Korea and the Philippines these marks are painted the opposite way around: Port hand markers are still square cans but they’re painted green, and starboard markers are conical but they’re painted red. This is the IALA B system. 

The mnemonic is the much slicker “Red right returning”.

This difference can confuse sailors heading for the Caribbean, say, or the USA on a charter holiday. So, some clarification:

Only lateral buoyage is affected – port and starboard marks and their associated bifurcation marks, those striped ones which show the preferred side of a wide channel. We’re not talking about cardinal marks or special marks; they’re the same in both systems.

Navigation lights on vessels are the same in all areas – green is starboard, red is port.

The direction of buoyage is the same in both areas – towards the harbour or towards the source of a river – unless stated otherwise on the chart.

If buoys are numbered the number goes with the colour, not the shape. Red marks have even numbers in both systems; green marks have odd numbers in both systems. Numbering starts from seaward and increases towards shore.

So, that’s clear then. I think I need to go and lie down.