Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Latest tech - drone to replace masthead wind indicator

First there was the masthead Windex which replaced the burgee, then we all became familiar with masthead sensors connected to visual displays either below or in the cockpit giving clear and accurate readout of wind speed, direction apparent and true. Later refinements are internet connected versions so that you can check wind conditions remotely from your computer or mobile phone before you left home.

The problem with all these devices are they only measure wind conditions where the boat is not where it's heading. As every racer knows anticipating wind shifts and changes, especially in light airs can mean the difference between being at the head of the fleet bringing up the rear.

Some innovative local sailors have harnessed drone technology to solve the problem. Simply the Tactical Integrated Wind Transducer is a lightweight miniature drone, which is programmed to fly on a semi circular arc up to 200 meters ahead and above the boat. Sensors send wind data back to an app which displays to the helmsman or navigator (both android and iOS are supported) giving early warning of changes wind conditions.

There is some debate over the legitimacy as using the technology clearly gives users an advantage over those of who constantly scan the water surface for signs of wind shifts.

The diminutive size means the device can be used by dinghy sailors. Equally it's also a slight disadvantage since the makers state that it's only suitable for up to wind speeds of Force 4 , although they claim to have developments in place which should allow the device to fly in winds to F6.

Investment requests to put this into production will be up on Crowdfunder soon, No pictures yet but see sailing anarchy for details

Monday, 30 March 2015


FMB - Fast Motor Boat is cruiser extraordinaire Steve Dashew's idea for a fast, ocean going motor boat. Built in aluminium and unpainted she has the look of a fast naval frigate.

As a fast and practical long range cruising yacht I think it's a fantastic and highly practical design.

Even the dinghy is aluminium.

Friday, 27 March 2015


Ripsey has been owned by a fellow  RAFYC member for as long as I can remember, I think she's a 9 ton Hillyard but I've been wrong too often so maybe someone will correct me.

We had an adjacent  mooring about 10 years ago and Ripsy always struck me as a great sea boat.

Monday, 23 March 2015


Well maybe more like fender bender. Rowing down the river fairly early on Friday morning during a rare day off work, I spotted this boat clearly where it shouldn't be. It looked like the down stream mooring line had failed and the tide was pushing it up onto the upstream pile and the adjacent pontoon.

Hauling it off from a tender rowing skiff didn't seem like a good idea, not least as it was a big spring tide at full flood, so I called the harbour office. A launch was quickly dispatched and the boat was soon back on its mooring, hopefully no damage done.

Friday, 20 March 2015


With a day off work I thought I'd row down the river early to see the eclipse. It was a grey, overcast morning, which got gradually more the eclipse passed.

 Despite warnings in the press about power cuts as our solar generating capacity went off line and cars crashing in the sudden darkness, there was pretty much nothing to be seen around here.

It was interesting all the local bird life went quite for a while, but soon the morning birdsong was back again, a sort of double dawn chorus.

The last major UK solar eclipse was in 1999, I remember going down to Hamble Point to view, but it was equally unspectacular.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Another blast from the past,  the mid 70's when flares were something to do with trousers, the government was encouraging people to share a bath and save water and the Sex Pistols hadn't met Eddie Grundy.

The Allegro Express is not the peculiar Austin with the square steering wheel, I kid you not. It is an interesting boat, not that I saw one at the time or indeed since. A 20 foot high performance keel boat with a heavy ballasted lifting keel, easy to transport and a spirited boat to sail, sounds like a winning combination?

At nearly sixteen hundred quid plus VAT, plus spinnaker, plus trailer, plus outboard it wasn't an especially cheap boat back in 1976.  Nor is it clear which part of the boating demographic the builders were targeting. Back in those days I was lusting after a Laser or a Merlin Rocket while Westerly built nearly 3000 Centaurs for the cruising set.

These kind of small open day sailors seem to be much more popular in Holland, Van de Stadt Spanker, EF Six, Centaur and Randmeer to name but a few. Maybe they are better suited to slightly protected waters or maybe the Dutch are more intrepid sailors, whatever the reason the Allegro doesn't seem to have caught on in the UK,

Monday, 16 March 2015

No more heroes anymore

"Ben's put you on the guest list for the Stranglers concert on Monday night." Ben, I should explain is Erica's nephew and a member of the Strangler's tour crew who are playing Portsmouth tonight.

In the event I couldn't go, but Erica took Joseph along to the sound check after school. Seen here Joseph getting guitar lessons from cousin Ben who is a fine musician and singer. Joseph and Erica also got to meet drummer Jet Black doing his sound check and still out and doing it well into his 70's.

All the tour crew made Joseph really welcome, how cool is that for a "nearly 6 year old".

I went to see the original Stranglers at uni, probably 1977 or 78 and most likely at the Coventry Apollo Theater although I could well be wrong, things from that far back are a little hazy. I'm more than miffed at not being able to go tonight, having just got back from foreign parts I picked up some nasty bug while I was away, "of course it's not bird flu, I'm a bloke!"

And you all thought Bursledon was a sleepy backwater.