Yachting Monthly experts and seasoned skippers share their advice on a whole range of issues for the cruising sailor. Do you have a tip to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding cheap materials
When sailing, we are enjoying ourselves, whether it’s the spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Dry and warm summer breezes are nice, but winter solitude is sometimes even better when we are just savouring the emptiness.
I am not the only one who prefers to sail as much as possible, if only to compensate for the many hours of hard work I spend on board to make my yacht the best it can be.
Part of that ‘work’ is to find the best and preferably cheapest solutions to the equipment and materials we need.
For the cheapest, we can surf the internet, especially when it comes to the more expensive (electronic) parts.
If, however, you are looking for the best solutions and advice, then chandlers are your best bet, and it is a good job there are still some around.
One of my favourites is the ‘Vrijheid’ ( which means freedom) in Loosdrecht, The Netherlands.
The picture says it all.
In all honesty, I spend a lot more time than is necessary here, if only to find things I never knew existed.
Who says that men don’t love shopping?
Decarbonising diesel heaters by running on paraffin
When I took my reluctantly starting Eberspacher in for service, its problem turned out to be excess carbon deposits choking the glow plug, screen and combustion chamber.
The engineer commented that such heaters tend to suffer in this way when running on red diesel; while white diesel might burn cleaner, he advised an intermittent run with paraffin for a few hours.
Aboard Aurial, the fuel is drawn from the main diesel tank.
I decided to install a dedicated second tank with its own fuel pump to give an alternative fuel supply; a change-over electric switch and a Y-piece for the fuel line means that I can change fuel sources at the flick of a switch without even turning the heater off.
I’ve had no problems with carbonisation since, and a recent strip-down of the diesel heater showed that all was in perfect, clean condition inside.
Fluxgate compass interference
Nearly every modern yacht fitted with a chartplotter displaying heading information will source its orientation data from a fluxgate compass.
This is usually fitted below, with a sensor situated well away from metal or electronic devices to avoid interference.
A common site is tucked under the top of one of the wardrobes in the aft cabins; a yellow sticker warns of its presence.
It is important to brief the crew that mobile phones, radios and sets of spanners should not be placed on the shelf above the wardrobe.
On a transatlantic trip from Antigua to the Azores we sensibly swung the compass before departure.
The skipper had a quantity of ‘shorepower cooking equipment’ that he stored in his own spacious forepeak cabin until he got fed up with it getting in the way and put an induction cooker hob on top of the fluxgate cupboard… It was lucky we didn’t hit Greenland.
We always carry a small waterproof bag for when we are tucked away in a safe sheltered anchorage as a big system vents its spleen.
Unfortunately these wonderful bolt holes are often mobile black spots and so cut out all the wonderfully detailed weather that only a mobile can access.
I know we have the shipping forecast but sometimes I feel that a bit more detail is required before breaking cover.
Using one of our phones as a mobile hotspot in our waterproof bag at the top of the mast often finds the elusive signal, which also means we can let friends and family know we are OK.