Not in vane..

The wind vane of the Hydrovane steering system looked like being a pain to assemble, so it has languished in its box until today, when ai decided to give it a go.

It is a nylon envelope which is stretched taut over an aluminium (English spelling) frame, and the open end is then laced up “like a corset”, as the instructions say.

I followed the instructions (an unusual event) – liberal sprayings of silicone spray playing their part – and have almost finished.


The stubby vane is now below decks, left overnight to stretch to fit. I will remove the zip ties in the morning and tidy up the corset strings.

Getting closer to the off.

Imminent. Impending. Fast approaching.

I have a busy few weeks coming up. Finish the holding tank installation, finish the satcom & radar pole struts, to keep them attached to the stern and stable.

Service the winches. Buy an IPIRB, get the hull scrubbed and anti fouled, new anodes, fix the shaft play and sort the rudder out.

Provisions. Work out how to securely store the water and diesel. Clean the diesel tank and fix the webasto (fuse).

First Aid kit. As Captain I can buy drugs! Get the AloftAlone kit working, and get up the mast a few times – check the mast instruments, trilight and install the camera aloft. Rig the video recorder.

Solar panels for backup power gen. Update the echarts on the Garmin chart plotter and my Garmin iPad app. Make sure I have satcom for email etc all configured, plus phones (Iridium and backup IsatPhone).

Plot courses with emergency ports of call, look at weather patterns. Finish rigging up the HydroVane. Work out some sun protection. Weather seal that port which leaks onto the chart table via the light!

Satcom pole

Gary Stainless has completed the crossbar, which Geoff helped him install.
The Iridium dome will sit atop the pole, some 10 feet aloft. I need to get some extra bracing to hold both the satcom pole and radar pole firmly in place, but major progress!

Once I have the satcom BDE (Below Deck Equipment) wired up to the ADE (yes, Above Deck Equipment), I can work on the solar panel placement.

Currently I am testing GRIB programs for weather forecasting.

Also, I am working with Aloft Alone to get some kit on the boat and learn how to use it. More anon…20140810-132139-48099865.jpg




Official Registration

Frank was finally registered as Frank with the Isle of Man Register of Shipping, Official Number 701429. The number stays with the vessel for life (life on the British Registry, that is).

So Geoff crafted an official number, which is now affixed just under the hatch!

The number is referred to as the carving, as it would originally have been carved into the main beam. Not being wooden, or course, I have compromised and used epoxy.


The white thing with the two red circles is the holding tank, pre-installation. With help from Geoff, it is now installed and partially piped. Some trimming and adjusting required. The sanitary pipe is a bitch to work with, unless you but some better pipe at £27.50 a meter, say $15 a foot. Six feet later..

I ran out of time getting the extraction and vent pipes installed, and the anti-siphon pipes look rather untidy at this stage. But it is progress!

No pics yet.

Rode Eh Oh!

(No Pulitzer Prize for me!)

I whipped out the anchor chain and painted it to mark every 5 meters/15 Feet. Here it is prior to being marked.

I also fixed the bow light and solved the mystery of no windlass or winches: one battery, showing “green”, was dead as a doornail. So I replaced it and now have a windlass and one electric Haarken winch – the other has power but needs servicing.

The Third Man (but no zither).

Frank has a Raytheon Autohelm, which is integrated to the GPS and allows a course to be held and modified. It was upgraded by the previous owners from a device which controls the tiller to a ram which is connected to the rudder quadrant.

These devices are not good for sustained use, because of their power consumption and inability to work under pressure in heavy seas. Besides, it is a bit flakey, and the wiring came undone halfway through my sail to Gosport.

Whilst I have fixed it, this is not a good solution for long distance sailing. So I invested in a Hydrovane, more info here

Craig Grantham, who rebuilt the engine, installed it, with a little help from me. Pics below.

The Hydrovane requires no electrical power: it have a wind vane (a sail) above the water, and a rudder below water, and it uses these to keep the boat at a set angle to the wind. It was a big investment, but I think it will pay off by taking the strain of driving Frank across the Atlantic. Most customers report that their Hydrovane does 90% of the work!