sailing innovation anyone?

It’s about time I wrote about sailing again. There is too much going on in our world that could drive the best of us into depression. So back to the good stuff.


One tiny, wincy, incy bit I am missing in sailing is innovation. What I mean is that other than some different sail and hull materials not much has happened in sailing or boatbuilding over the last 20 years really. Yes, some foilers, a bit of carbon here and there but in principal …nope.

Well some. Here we go.

Electric engines
When Elon Musk came up with his Tesla Roadster the first thing that came to my mind was: hang on, this would be ideal for a sailing boat. I am talking about the electric engine. It has only taken 12 years (2008 was the year the electric roadster was introduced) to put some (working) electric engines into boats. Why?

I totally get it that people initially get a bit scared when they think of the water/electricity combination. However, an electric engine will even operate underwater if properly insulated. Not to mention the low weight, advantages of maintenance, ease of operation, longevity, power ratio and above all no fossil fuel. It can be charged via solar cells or, what some people do, via generator as a back up (which obviously still uses diesel). But that’s more relevant for long-distance and blue water cruising.

For any weekend sailing boat (which is about 85% of the global market) an electric engine charged via shore power and topped up via solar will do just fine. This is a long topic so I’ll write more about electric engines in a separate blog post but this is one development that falls under the category innovation. By the way, there is still not one sailing boat builder out there that offers an electric engine as an option!

Couple of links for you with regards to electric engines:

Oceanvolt: a Finnish electric boat motor manufacturer
Torqueedo: electric outboards
Belmarine: electric inboard motors
Electric Marine: e-motor boats

The flipper folding winch handle is a masterpiece of engineering. I have had the pleasure of using one these on a recent sailing trip and once we found our boat I will buy these for all winches.

These winch handles stay in the winch at all times and fold to the approximate dimension of a winches diameter – solving two problems at once. First of all, you can easily wrap a jib sheet around the winch without having to remove the handle first, and secondly, you greatly reduce injury from falls or sudden shifts that result in a handle to the rib cage. More importantly in a racing environment, you save heaps of time for not looking for the winch handle and sticking it into the winch.

On top of that, you can fold the whole winch handle flat which gives you greater leverage when trimming the sails.

Clutches and jammers
Spinlock’s XTX is a new rope clutch that uses pressure from a fibre sleeve to hold the rope, which is much less abrasive and reduces the damage to lines drastically when compared to metal or ceramic clutch cams. More pressure means more friction and the XTX actually grips better the higher the load.

The sleeve also distributes the load across a longer section of rope to reduce wear.

All clutch adjustment is handled with one pull toggle and a button, located at the back of the jammer. When the button is down, the rope will move freely in one direction, but lock if the direction changes. Pulling the toggle slightly allows for short, controlled bursts of rope to be released. The clutch is easy to maintain without removing it from the deck. Taking off the rear cover allows the whole braid mechanism to be removed in one piece. You can then inspect it, clean it and make sure everything is in order before re-assembling. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds.

Well, let’s agree any antifouling paint isn’t the most environmentally friendly paint you can put on a boat. Most antifouling bottom paints contain cupreous oxide which is a neurotoxin. It constantly leaches into the water around your boat, creating a plume. … Other neurotoxins used in the past have been banned worldwide because of their destructive effects on marine life. So not too good at all. On top of that, depending on where you keep your boat you’ll have to renew the paint once a year. Which in turn means hauling your boat ($) and the whole process of reapplication ($$$).

Rik Breur is the inventor of Micanti Antifoul film. The film has millions of tiny fibres or hairs on the foil and are resilient and vibrate constantly by the water movement. This combination of prickliness and swaying of the fibres makes the surface unattractive for organisms to settle. The nylon fibres are similar to the spiky hairs that organisms have to combat fouling. With Micanti Antifouling, it is possible to prevent all sorts of macro-growth (think of mussels, barnacles, algae) from settling. Apparently it lasts up to 10 (!!!) years and is 100% environmentally friendly. It doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients. the film is a nylon fibre, polyester film and two-component water-based adhesive.

Some user feedback (sold under finsulate brand which is the same)

As always would love to hear your views 🙂

back to finding a boat

It is about time to re-focus mind and soul and continue our search for our future home. Being confined to our land based place combined with plenty of time (ok, the kids have been given their Minecraft 60min) at hand I continue my search of the “perfect” vessel for a long term trip, if not circumnavigation.

Apart from being a very helful writiing and research excerise it is much more fun doing this than talking Covid.

I have a sailed a few boats but most of the sailing boats I am going to describe here have either been recommended to me or have a reputation for Bluewater sailing by there very nature – build for bluewater sailing.

Let’s get started with bluewater sailing and what it actually means.

Bluewater sailing is a type of ocean cruising: it refers to long term open sea cruising, for example, passages (ocean crossings). Bluewater sailing implies a lack of support and requires a certain amount of self-sufficiency since you’re away from land for long periods of time. An example is crossing the Atlantic. Bluewater in general means, you can only see blue water wherever you look. No land in sight. Not that is matters but I read somewhere that the difference between offshore and bluewater sailing lies in the fact that you can go offshore for 10-15 km (that’s when you lose sight of land based on the earth curvature) and if you return home at that point you have been offshore sailing, if you keep going you are to different shores you are bluewater sailing. It doesn’t really matter but I thought I’ll entertain you a bit.

So obviously the above needs a capable seaworthy bluewater sailing boat to deal with everything the oceans can and will throw at you.

There are two types of sailing boats (well three if you count trimarans) that work for bluewater sailing. Catamarans, or cats, and monohulls. Catamarans are part of the multihull group like trimarans so in the end we are down to two categories of boats – multihulls and monohulls. I am not going to bore you to death why we won’t be using a catamaran. I don’t like them, but they can be capable bluewater boats. Check Sailing Zatara and La Vagabonde crews they love their cats and there are plenty of blogs that explain the difference between a cat and a monohull. You will see that most times cats score higher on the “livability scale” because given the same length they have mich more space, little to no heel, fast and more. Still, I don’t like them. The landbased equivalent ould be a caravan or a heavy motor home. It’s just not me. Check out the O’Kelly’s video about Cats vs. Monohulls it is very entertaining.

Back to bluewater sailing boats. Bluewater boats are generally stronger, more stable, and the majority has centre cockpits (although that’s not a requirement but I prefer them). The main difference is usually the build quality and hull thickness or composition.

Another difference between a blue water and inland sailboat is the production method, hull type and shape, material, and general safety and quality of the boat. The most important aspect of ocean sailing really is a strong hull and strong rigging. Most production boats are made of thin layers of GFK are pretty light and flimsy. Don’t get me wrong people have been crossing oceans in nutshells from 10ft onwards – check out this article and The Sailing Frenchman’s Video channel (26ft boat)

So to close this blog entry I leave you with a list of requirements for our boat and will introduce our shortlist of boats that fit most of our requirements in the next blog post.

Our requirements:

  • Most likely used ($$)
  • Length minimum 45 ft to maximum 60ft
  • Displacement of 15 to 25 tons
  • Centre cockpit or safe aft cockpit
  • Hull – aluminium or GFK composite
  • Maybe centreboard keel
  • 6 or 8 berths (3 double cabins – 2 identical port / starboard)
  • min 2 heads
  • diesel capacity 1000l
  • water capacity 1000l
  • sloop rig
  • in-mast furling mainsail or lazy jacks
  • electric winches main
  • forestay, staysail, main
  • genset
  • watermaker
  • solar

Let me know in the comments what your think. I currently have 6 boats on my shortlist and will introduce them to you over the next few weeks.

the big trip

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

On Monday I’ll be flying to Melbourne and then sail from the Port of Melbourne back to Sydney.

Continue reading “the big trip”

sailing knowledge vlogs

“Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.” – Confucius

As part of my blue ocean family cruising research, I come across some valuable resources in the form of YouTube vlogs.

Continue reading “sailing knowledge vlogs”