Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Photos for 2014 Calendar

I am starting work on our 2014 calendar and I am still looking for a few more photos to complete the 12 months plus cover that I need. If you have any nice  photos of your boat of our design that you would like to be featured in this edition, please send them to me. The boat doesn't have to be sailing or even in the water yet. If the photo is clear and interesting then we might use it. It also needs to be at least 300dpi resolution, preferably more.

Cover from 2013 Calendar, with Italian Dix 38 "Imagine".
August photo, Challenger 13 in Lithuania.
Boat size is not important, as long as the photo is interesting and high quality. We even have our smallest design, the Dixi Dinghy in the 2013 calendar in a photo that caught my attention.

To see our range of boat designs, please go to .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New Didi 26 in Germany

Ole Ehlert bought plans from us in 2006 to build a Didi 26 for himself in Kiel, Germany. It took Ole 6 years to build his boat because he lived 40 miles from the cow-shed building site, belonging to his in-laws. Two new kids and a house got in the way also but Ole kept going and launched his new boat last year.

Ole has sent me some photos of "Mary Jo", named after his daughters. It looks like he has made a beautiful job of building her. She looks very pretty on the water.

Ole's new Didi 26 "Mary Jo".
 Ole says "I enjoyed building the boat from keel to mast top as well as sailing it now. It´s very fast and enters the waves as soft as cutting through butter with a hot knife!"

The Didi 26 is one of our most popular designs, a great option for those who want to compete round the buoys in a big sportboat that can also be used for weekending or short holidays. Added to that, it is of plywood construction that is within the abilities of most amateur builders, yet it looks like a round bilge GRP boat. With those benefits it is easy to understand it's popularity with our builders.
Bow view of Didi 26 "Mary Jo".
 Congratulations to Ole on the beautiful conclusion to his project.

See our full range of designs at

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cape to Rio Race 2014

I have done it 3 times before and I am soon going to do it again. Sail in the Cape to Rio Race, that is. I have crossed the South Atlantic 4 times, so this will be my 5th crossing.

In 1993 I raced on the Shearwater 39 "Ukelele Lady" (yes, I know that ukulele is spelt incorrectly but the guy who carved the name board was a bad speller) as sailing master and navigator. The boat was owned by my friend Nick Taylor, entertainer and TV personality.

In 1996 I sailed on the Didi 38 "Black Cat", as skipper and co-owner. Between the 1993 and 1996 races I had designed and built the new boat for the race. After Rio, we cruised her to the beautiful Bay of Islands SW of Rio before I raced her back to Cape Town, double-handed with Jay Barnes, in the South Atlantic Challenge.

Built in my garden in Hout Bay, here we are turning the hull.
 In 2000 I sailed on "Black Cat" again, as skipper. By then my co-owner, Adrian Pearson, had bought my share and was sole owner. Clive Dick and Adrian sailed her back to Cape Town.

Now "Black Cat" is 18 years old and has many thousands of ocean and coastal miles under her keel. We are about to head out onto the South Atlantic Ocean again, in the 2014 Cape to Rio Race. We have assembled the same crew as in 1996 with the exception of the navigator. My good friend Brian Cole was navigator in 1996 but is now getting on in years, so we have a younger man in his place.
Launch day in 1995.
  I am skipper and you all know me. No more info needed.

Adrian Pearson is owner and has sailed about as many miles  on "Black Cat" as I have. He does not skipper, preferring to be one of the crew.

Sean Collins sailed many miles with me on my CW975 "Concept Won", racing in Cape of Good Hope waters. He was with me for many double-handed events as well.

Gavin Muller was the "baby" of our 1996 crew, having graduated from high school the month before the start of the race. Now, 18 years later, his age has doubled but he will still be the youngest on the 2014 crew.

Dave Immelman is the new member, sailing as navigator. Dave has done extensive international offshore and ocean racing and is in charge of the major refit of "Black Cat", which is currently in progress.
Flying out of Table Bay after the start of the 1996 race.
 "Black Cat" has gone through big changes since I last saw her. She has been prettied up on the inside with hardwood trims and teak/holly cabin soles. Some comfort items added, like hot and cold pressure water system, separate fridge and freezer and inside shower. She also has a lot more in electronics, like radar, chart plotter and sailing computer, with instrument repeaters and dual compasses in the cockpit. Rig and deck hardware are also seeing upgrades to carry the increased shock loadings of a new suit of tougher hi-tech sails. I am looking forward to sailing on her with all the new toys and go-fast goodies.

She will go back into the water when this work has been completed, then Dave Immelman will do extensive sea trials to test her thoroughly before I arrive in December to give her my own check-over.
Relaxing in the Bay of Islands, Brazil.
For anyone interested, you will be able to track our progress on the Cape to Rio Race website and we will have a blog for "Black Cat" to pass on stories from onboard.

And, if anyone has an interest in sponsoring "Black Cat" in this event, please contact me to discuss what we can do for each other.

To view my boat designs, please go to

Friday, August 16, 2013

Online Security

I know that this is a subject that has no more to do with boats than it has to do with any other aspect of our lives. Nevertheless, I am writing about it. This is a natural extension of my recent posts about hackers and my steps to circumvent the problems.

Thee are many, many people and organisations in the modern world that are trying at all times to separate you from your money or to harm you in whatever way they can. These organisations are illegal but they are big business. So we have to all take whatever precautions we can to foil them in both personal and business dealings.

Today I read a white paper titled "Ten Current Security Threats for Individuals". Some of what it says is simple common sense, much of which is ignored by most people. "It will never happen to me" works for everyone until it does "happen to me", or someone close. Other parts of it contain important information that we can act on, particularly how we set up and use our smartphones and how we use open WiFi connections at restaurants, hotels,  airports etc. We tend to brush off or disregard the dangers of these services because they can be so useful.

Take the time to set up the proper security features on whatever devices you use, to protect your own information from those who are out to harm you. They are not specifically targeting you or me, or the kid next door. They are taking advantage of whatever avenue is open to them to steal whatever they can. The victim just happens to be the one who left the door or window open to give them access, or didn't lock it securely enough. Take the time to read the white paper, it will help you to understand the dangers that we all have to guard against.

To get back to my hacker problem, I remedied the situation very quickly, thanks to my vigilant supporters who alerted me. The problem was fixed before Google or Norton's knew about it. The site scanner that was set to scan my site hadn't even picked it up yet but found it when I queried it. Since then I have investigated further and found that the scanning service that I had signed for only scanned 500 files and my site has nearly 700 pages and more than 3,000 files. It gave me an "all clear" report that morning but had obviously looked at the wrong files. The service that I have on my new server scans all files every day.

I will continue to do all that I can to keep my website safe for visitors. It is, after all, my main connection to my supporters and builders, present and future, in faraway places. For your part, please do whatever you can to keep yourself, your electronic devices and your finances safe from the baddies of the digital world.

To see our boat designs, please visit

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hacker Update

Today I moved our website and all associated systems to a new server. All is up and running except that we have lost our mobile website due to the change. When I have the time to do so, I will build a new mobile site. In the meantime can you please use our main website at for mobile access as well.

To make this easier, I have simplified our homepage and removed outdated or redundant info and links. It is cleaner, loads faster, is easier to read and is better for zooming to access links. It will be a big benefit if our Turkish supporters will also be able to view it.

When I do build a new mobile site I will announce it on this blog.

Website Hackers

We had a hacker problem a few days ago, someone hacked our main website and implanted malicious code into all of our pages on Sunday. Two of our alert supporters were very prompt in notifying me about the problem so that I could fix it. Thank you Vincent Houle and Luca Lafranchi for helping us, instead of deleting our website from your bookmarks.

I replaced all of the bad files about 1pm Eastern time but I don't have a record of the time that the hacker posted on my site on Sunday. I also replaced my password with a much more complicated one for added security. The old one was quite complicated and way out of the ordinary, so I don't know how the hacker figured it out. I guess that it is possible but not likely that someone at the hosting company stole it. In an attempt to cover all bases I am moving my website to a server that I consider to have a better level of ethics and better security controls.

I hope that the transition will go smoothly, probably later today or tomorrow. If you do notice a break in our web and/or email service, please bear with us and try again in a few hours. If you continue to have problems then please post a comment below this post.

A major reason for my decision to change service providers is that many supporters in Turkey have not been able to view our website for a year or more. It is being blocked for some reason in Turkey and I have not been able to get this corrected. I hope that the change of server will reconnect us with our Turkish supporters.

Everyone should have good security software on their computers that have access to the Internet. Your security software should have caught the malicious code if you visited our website while the code was active. If you visited Sunday or Monday and your software didn't alert you to a virus then please do a virus check on your computer for the JS/Kryptic ANQ trojan, which can compromise your computer system.

Thanks for your support and for bearing with us through the change of servers.