Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sailing in Extreme Weather

There have been some extreme weather systems around the coast of South Africa in the past week or two. The weather around this very inhospitable coast, from Cape of Good Hope (aka Cape of Storms) through to Richards Bay, teaches the locals to be very hardy sailors who are able to handle their boats in sometimes wild conditions. This is justifiably one of the three Great Capes of the world and many circum-navigators tell of their passages through these waters being the most scary periods of their voyaging.

The first storm was from a deep depression and cold front that had come in from deep down in the South Atlantic. It hit the Cape Town area and produced very intense gales and heavy rain, unfortunately not enough to break the long-lasting drought that currently plagues the Western Cape.

The other storm was from a cut-off low in the Indian Ocean off Durban, 1000 miles from the first storm. It produced gales that broke numerous large ships free in the port, with a large container ship lying broadside across the entrance channel. It also wrecked the marinas in the yacht basin, with some yachts sinking on their moorings.

Two boats of our design sailed through these two storms. Both were in the hands of very capable skippers. Survival of any boat and crew in extreme conditions is through the partnership between a capable boat and an equally capable crew. Put the most seaworthy boat in the hands of an inexperienced or irresponsible skipper and that good boat may be doomed. On the other hand, a capable and experienced skipper has the best chance of bringing an inadequate vessel through tough conditions.

The yacht in the first storm was the steel Dix 38 Pilot "Bryana", on delivery by Jeremy Bagshaw. Jeremy and wife Anita own the bigger sister Dix 43 Pilot "Jerrycan" and have sailed many thousands of miles in her in the Indian Ocean. Jeremy has written of his experience in this storm on his blog entry titled Some Thoughts on Big Weather.
Dix 38 Pilot "Bryana" in much calmer waters.
The yacht in the storm off Durban  was the fibreglass Shearwater 39 "Ocean Spirit". Her owner, Neville Bransby, was out sailing on her in that storm by choice, single-handed. He wanted to prove himself and his boat in storm conditions. He did that effectively, losing only his anemometer in the process, when it blew off the masthead. Meanwhile, the catamaran moored right next to his normal berth sank on its moorings. You can read of it in a blog post authored by Richard Crockett, titled A Case of Sound Seamanship.
Shearwater 39 "Ocean Spirit" racing between Durban and Port Elizabeth in less extreme conditions.
All of us who go to sea in small boats have to accept the strong chance that sooner or later we will be caught by extreme weather. That chance goes up with every mile that we sail. If we sail trans-ocean or long coastal passages with safe havens separated by miles of rocky coast then we have to know how to handle our boats to come safely through whatever it is that is being thrown at us by Mother Nature in a foul mood. We cannot learn how to handle these conditions only by reading how in books and magazine articles while snug in a soft armchair next to a winter fire. We have to experience these things to know what we need to do to safeguard boat and crew, to have confidence in the abilities of ourselves and our boats.

I don't mean that you must go sailing in the meanest weather that can come your way, I mean that you must not only sail on those idyllic days when it is all sunshine and cocktails on flat seas. Those conditions teach us nothing, unless we are novices just getting into sailing. If you have plans to sail across oceans or offshore coastal then you really have a need to go sailing in 35 knots, to know that your reefing systems work in strong winds, that you know how to set your storm jib and storm tri-sail, that your jackstays allow free movement from bow to stern while always tethered in your safety harness, that you know what your boat likes if you have to heave-to or lie ahull, how it will behave, how fast it will drift or at what speed and direction it will sail under different sail combinations.

There are so many things to be learned by doing this, things that will stay logged in your brain as experience rather than knowledge, to be called into use with confidence when needed.

Lets go sailing but lets also be safe.

To see more about our designs, go to out main website or our mobile website.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

New Agent & Kit Supplier in Australia

We have a new agent in Australia. In future we will be represented by Ron Jesche of Stainless Boatworks in Adelaide, South Australia. Ron is an accomplished boatbuilder, working to a high standard. He is currently building a Cape Henry 21 for his own use.

Ron's current boat "Lioness" was his own build, to a custom pilothouse design. He saw a similar boat at the Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania, which put him on the path that ended with him building "Lioness" for himself and wife "Carole".
"Lioness" on the hard recently for maintenance.
Nicely finished pilothouse of "Lioness".
Stainless Boatworks is able to sell plans for any of our range of designs, which will be printed and shipped by our office here in USA. They can also supply CNC kits for our plywood designs.
Ron Jesche's Cape Henry 21 build, fairing and deck in progress.
Interior of Ron's Cape Henry 21, showing nice detailing.
Ron does nice work. He has built the Cape Henry 21 from scratch. That has given him good knowledge of how our designs work, as well as the experience of building one of our designs. That makes him well-suited to represent our designs in Australia. Whether you want to build from plans or a kit, Ron can supply.

Also, if you want one of these boats and don't have the time or inclination to build it, maybe Ron will build one for you if you speak to him very nicely.

We look forward to a long and mutually satisfying relationship with Ron Jesche.

To see more about our boat designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Another Argie 15 Build in Russia

Our designs have been built in 90 countries, including well over 300 boats across the length and breadth of Russia, even in the middle of Siberia. They span most of our design range, from the little plywood Dixi Dinghy yacht tender through to the steel Dix 57 world cruiser. Nearly half of those boats are to our ever-popular Argie 15 design.

The most recent launch of an Argie 15 was by amateur builder Ilia Bogdanov, who lives in Khadarovsk in Far Eastern Russia, 760km north of Vladivostok. Ilia is a cardiovascular surgeon in his day-time job and built his Argie 15 in his spare time. Compared with the very delicate and intricate work of repairing a patient's heart, building a wooden boat must be a big change of scale.

Ilia has built a good boat of nice quality, in sometimes unpleasant conditions, certainly far from optimal. Seeing what Ilia has accomplished, with the help of a friend, should be an inspiration to boatbuilders in other faraway places, where finding suitable materials and build location can be a major challenge. It shows how fortunate we are if we are able to build our boats in a moderate climate or a heated/cooled/dry workshop and with a wide choice available to us of plywoods, epoxies, hardware etc to craft into a beautiful and safe vessel.

I see criticism sometimes of materials and methods used by builders in other countries but those resourceful builders have to hunt out the best materials that they can find to go into their boats. Those materials may not be as workable or as aesthetically pleasing as what more fortunate builders may choose but they are available and they do what is needed by the builder.

I will let Ilia's photos and my captions tell the story of his build, an achievement of which he can be proud.
Ilia's workshop was his garage, 2nd from left. It has water in it when the snow melts or when it rains.
Ilia started with a kit, bought from Peter Tatarinov, our Russian kit supplier in Irkutsk, Siberia. The water on the slab is snow melt.
Ilia unpacking his Argie 15 kit.
Hull completed, seat framing going in.
Scuppered gunwales with a difference, the slots are on the outside rather than the inside. 
Ilia filled the side seat compartments with foam flotation.
Home-made access covers using the details on the drawings.
Ilia and his children ready to use their new Argie 15.


Running under power from the 6hp outboard.

And here Ilia is racing in a mixed yacht club fleet on the Amur River.
Congratulations Ilia on your project.

To see more of this and out other designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.