April 9, 2014

Parenting Dangerously aka The Kids are Alright

 If you missed the news of our friends on Rebel Heart being rescued at sea and losing their boat (it’s kind of been everywhere in the news—but we do have friends who are pretty remote…) their misfortune created a firestorm.

Once it was clear the family was safe, the judgements and comments started. It’s odd having your life picked apart by the masses and I was asked to respond in a story for Slate. Slate isn’t known for having the kindest comments section and this morning as I read through them with Maia (hey, it’s her childhood people are arguing about…) we started noticing that in amongst the hundreds and hundreds of annoying comments there was also understanding, support and some really excellent questions.

The questions and concerns come in two forms. The first are about Charlotte and Eric specifically: Were they experienced enough? Were they prepared to parent under the conditions they found themselves in? Was this trip wrong for their family?

I can’t answer those. We opted to wait until Maia was older for a variety of our own reasons but we know many families who safely crossed oceans with less experience or with younger children.
Arriving in the Marquesas

The more general question: is cruising with kids okay? This is the one I answered whole heartedly and with a resounding, Yes. For us. And then people wanted know the nitty gritty:
School seems to be going fine: she loves learning and is a keen student
Are we and other cruising families living on trust funds? Because how the heck do we afford to sail the world.

Not rich. Most of us are lucky. We’re lucky in that we had a dream and we had the type of jobs (or found the type) that let us work remotely, or in other countries. We also tend to be a really frugal lot, living on a fraction of what middle class Americans live on. In some cases families we know sold or rented out their homes. But most of us skipped buying homes and cars, took cheap (usually boat-oriented) vacations, got good at thrifting and used all the money we saved to buy a boat instead. Then we set a deadline and saved and saved and saved. When we arrived in Australia our bank account was down to fumes. It was huge risk and Evan was lucky to find a job. Our alternative would have been to sell the boat and head home.

Is Maia lonely?

She’s had moments of loneliness and short stretches of travel when there weren’t that many other kids around. Our 19 day passage was just the three of us—but we all enjoyed the time together. For the most part we seek out other kid boats and have always had at least one and as many as 20 + other families around. We tend to travel slowly—mostly for this reason. This gives us the flexibility to spend month and months with other families and have been fortunate to encounter some of the same kids year after year. She also makes an effort to meet local people and has forged an ongoing friendship with one young woman from Fiji.

Is Maia weird? Because I met someone once who was dragged to sea by their parents and they are weird.

So far she seems pretty normal. But I asked her what she thought. She thinks she’s okay. Then we talked about all the boat kids she’s known, past and present. Some are weird. Mostly this applied to the boys when she was younger though. Some are the coolest people she knows. Some are sort of ordinary. She’s says what’s really interesting about them is how easygoing most of them are. They tend to be friendly, helpful, non-judgemental and strongly individual and independent. Some are super smart and excel at school, some are musical or artistic others are funny.

How do you educate her?

Right now she's in public school in Australia and seems to be holding her own with no trouble after 3 years of homeschooling. We use a really wide variety of resources to educate her though and do tend to hold her to a schedule.After breakfast has generally been the time for all of us to work--wrapping up at lunch to head out and explore. Depending on the heat and weather, we reverse that. 

You are white and speak English. Are you all a bunch of rich white people going to look at poor brown people? And cruising is a creepy name.

Yes, we are white. If it helps you feel better about our little microcosm of the world we crossed with a Jewish family and sailed for a while with a Korean woman. We even know gay people. Sheesh. Offshore sailors do tend to come from a few core countries: Canada, the US, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and South Africa. Some of that list speaks English, some not so much. The fascinating thing has been to watch sailing diversify--I correspond with a Russian sailing group, and we've met cruising boats from Vanuatu, Mexico, Japan, Jamaica, Portugal and many, many more. As more international sailors get out, and share their experience, the mix will become even more interesting.
As far as who we encounter when we cruise--it's sort of a geographic thing. The tropics tend to be home to people with darker skin. When we sailed up to Alaska we met First Nations people and fishermen. If we get to Norway I think we'll meet Norwegians.
Cruising does sound weird. I’ve never loved the term, too easy to misconstrue. We ran into trouble using ‘boat people’ when we arrived in Australia though. If you have a better phrase to describe us, bring it on…

What about sun damage, lack of pop culture and sharks?

We dip her in sunscreen. Seriously. And she has a huge hat collection. She’s had 2-3 mild sunburns since we left.
Maia is a huge Dr Who (the modern version even) and Sherlock fan and she’s going to her first concert in a few weeks: Lorde. So I while she doesn’t know what’s on TV in North America and isn’t up to date on the latest crazes, the good stuff tends to percolate to the top and she finds it.
She likes sharks. They are a sign of a healthy reef. The kind of sharks she sees are reef sharks which are pretty mellow and a few other exotics like tasselled wobbegongs. She knows enough about shark behaviour to judge if one is getting territorial—it’s a lot like interacting with an unfamiliar dog.

Why should tax payers pay to rescue you if you get into trouble?

Many people have written about the importance of a tax-funded rescue system. So I won’t. I don’t think subjecting an emergency to a means test is feasible unless there is clear rule breaking involved (I.E. heading into an out of bounds area) otherwise how do we do it? It’s hard to say if someone was 50% stupid, 25% unlucky and 25% ill-prepared or just 100% did the best they could in the situation they found themselves in.

Every cruiser knows if you call for help you’re likely going to lose your home and all your possessions. The rescue itself can also be hazardous as hell. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that outside of major developed countries there’s no one there to rescue you. This is why most of us work so hard to be safe and self-sufficient. It’s also why there is such a strong code of the sea. We look out for each other. Dangerous, incompetent sailors are a bigger risk to me and my family than they are to taxpayers. So as a community we share information, we offer assistance, we teach each other. And if something goes wrong we shut the heck up and help. Afterwards, we pick apart each and every accident, but not as a means to point fingers and lay blame. We do it to learn.

March 29, 2014

Servicing our Inflatable PFDs

On the continuing theme of safety*, which has overtaken our lives… This morning we were witness to one of those near-tragedies that reminds you how quickly it can all go wrong. A neighbour pulled into the dock and rather than hitting the kill switch she bumped her boat back into gear. This caused it to sheer off and dump her in the water. The dinghy started doing tight circles around her—and terrified she tried to get a hold of it, rather than swim to safety.

It was sheer luck that the prop didn’t get her legs. It circled over her twice before a skipper in another dinghy was able to grab it. The lesson was, ‘always wear your kill switch’—like most cruisers we’re really bad at this. But also, she should have swum away from her dinghy—there was a dock right there to jump up on and other boats to hide behind—a swimmer simply can’t gain control of a run away dinghy.
We wear them faithfully at sea, but want to be sure they are still in good condition.
So with that lesson in mind Ev and I continued on our checking and inspecting of safety equipment and pulled out the inflatable PFDs. Ours are West Marine brand and are going on 20 years old. I’m planning to replace mine with one that’s more comfortable—but Ev is fond of his (and loathes spending money when we don’t need to), so we decided to hold off replacing both based on a complete inspection.

Maia orally inflates the PFD

In AU, annual professional service inspections are required for inflatable PFDs—this strikes me as overkill. Personally, we’re comfortable with doing our own inspections on a more ad hoc basis. Roughly what this means is we’ve manually inflated ours every few years and looked them over before packing them back away. This time we decided to go an extra step and pull the rip cord on mine. We wanted to be sure all the seams held with the higher pressure inflation. And I’ve always wanted to pull the cord…
The stitching looked good and it also passed the pull and tear test
The manual inflation valve--it's a simple valve and easy to inspect
Before I got to pull, the first step was an exterior inspection for visible wear and damage. We checked that:
  1. the cover closures are in good condition (our Velcro is a bit worn—but nothing terrible)
  2. the webbing straps have no visible damage
  3. the buckle works smoothly and isn’t cracking or aged looking
  4. the stitching is all strong
  5. and the harness components are all in good condition
The whistle worked fine and the string holding it was strong and secure
The spent CO2 cartridge showed some minor corrosion
 Then I pulled the cord. It wasn’t as exciting as hoped—put the thing sure does inflate quickly and puffs up in a most gratifying way. While I inflated the easy way, Maia blew up the other one. It didn’t take long to get it firmly inflated. Then we checked that:

  1. retro-reflective tape is mostly firmly attached and more or less undamaged
  2. the whistle works
  3. the oral inflation tube has no visible damage and lets out pressure as needed
  4. fabric itself is in good condition—we inspected around the fold lines and at all the seams especially
  5. the inflation valve is in working order
Minimum weight is 145.5g for this unused cartridge it weighed 147
The seams and folds all looked in great shape and the bladder was holding air just fine

The next step is to let them sit overnight and make sure they hold air. While they sit we inspected Ev’s CO2 cartridge and made sure it was corrosion free and weighed at least what the minimum weight requirement is (it’s stamped on each cartridge).

At this point though, those old PFDs are looking remarkably good…

* Safety seems to be spreading from our cruising plans and daily life, to my work life with a story for Outside on how to survive a trip and another for Men’s Journal about getting rescued by the crowd…

March 24, 2014

Free weather books

Steve and Linda Dashew has made two of their very good books available as free downloads! 

If you read ANY weather guidebook, the Mariner's Weather Handbook is probably the best one out there.  Read it, re-read it, and understand it.  Then keep reading it while you're cruising.  His suggestion that understanding the weather is the key to happy cruising is one idea I strongly endorse.

Surviving the Storm offers a lot of good ideas on what to do if you get caught in bad weather.


No pushing and shoving, don't all crash their server at once.


March 19, 2014

What to do When the EPIRB Goes Off

Evan just wrote about updating our EPIRB. Then we argued for a while about where to keep the thing. Ev says it should go in our ditch bag, which is stored in an easy grab location. Our old EPIRB used to be wall mounted in the port hull until I had a long (and very, very detailed) nightmare about being capsized and trying to get into the port hull and find the thing. Which given its location near Maia’s books and toys meant it was both under water and buried beneath piles of stuffed animals). Seriously—the memory of that nightmare made me ditch half her stuffies and come up with a plan B for the EPIRB.

I’m still not convinced the ditch bag is the best location. But we have two EPIRBs so we’ll keep the new one in the ditch bag and choose a place for the spare that seems more reassuring to me…

Which brings me to, “what the heck happens if we set the thing off?” My sister is first in line for the phone call should something happen. As we were getting all her numbers she wisely asked, "so, what do I do when you're sinking?”

the hope is for a successful rescue
It’s a really good question. Having been witness to a few too many failed rescues I can’t emphasize enough that whoever is going to get that phone call really needs to:

1)      Want you back
2)      Be really organized and prepared to work hard to find you
3)      Have enough information to know when to work quickly

So with a few changes this is what Evan wrote my sister (credit should go to Beth and Evans who he paraphrases heavily--http://www.bethandevans.com/seamanship.htm). Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. We’d like to have the best plan possible. I respect those folks who go out there and take risks and let what happens, happen. But if I’m in trouble—I want to be found:

A high percentage of EPIRB alarms are false alarms. So, the first thing the agency will want to know is "is this a real alert"?  With us, it's a good assumption we haven't thrown the EPIRB in the garbage and had it go off by accident (like someone in Ev’s company did recently). Because our blog is typically updated daily on a passage it’s pretty easy to confirm if we might be in trouble—though we realize we need to do a better job of always including a tag at the bottom that includes our GPS position, direction and speed. Weather info is also a good one for us to throw in there. 

While the EPIRB agency is asking questions it will be a good idea for my sister to ask them a few too:
- the exact location of the emergency signal (latitude/longitude)
- time of the first EPIRB signal fix
- the location and time of the last fix (when the EPIRB batteries ran down) or the latest fix (if it is still transmitting).

This will give her some indication of whether the boat is disabled and drifting or still under its own power/sail, and help "define the optimal search area/pattern." We're a light boat with a lot of surface area, even when the sails are down the boat can drift quite quickly in a strong wind. One data point is we drift at 4 knots in 25 knots of wind with NO SAILS UP.

Locating a cruising boat that is nearby can help with coordinating a search and rescue. We’re not loners and typically go where the crowd goes—so that means chances are another boat may be within a few hundred miles of us. We’ll also be passing along the email contacts of a couple of our sailing guru friends who can hold her hand and offer additional advice.

- The WinLink position map is a helpful way to identify other cruising boats in the region, which can then be communicated with via e-mail. We told her she can look at the map here:  www.winlink.org/userPositions

If she finds a cruising boat near our distress position she can send them an emergency email even if her email address hasn’t been white listed:

Message Precedence Categories

Precedence categories are Flash (Z), Immediate (O), Priority (P), and Routine (R). Flash and Immediate messages are reserved for urgent.
The precedence indicator is included in a Winlink message by adding one of the following to the beginning of the subject line in a message whether originated from Internet email or within the Winlink system.

//WL2K Z/ - Flash (for urgent message use only)
//WL2K O/ - Immediate (for urgent message use only)

Send an email to (the boat's call sign @winlink.org).  e.g. KE7MZB@winlink.org with this: ‘//WL2K Z/Missing boat’ in the subject line. She should give them as much information as possible, a description of our boat and ask them for help and to spread the word amongst other local cruising boats. Ask them to contact authorities ashore too.

- There’s also a map of SailBlogs boat positions at www.sailblogs.com/member_map.php.

- www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ shows a world map with positions of vessels transmitting AIS.  It may be possible to find an email for those vessels by googling their ship/boat name.

She should also post messages at www.boatwatchnet.org/ and the 'Distress call/missing yacht" section of   www.cruiserlog.com/forums/ . This will get the ham nets involved in helping contact/search for the vessel in trouble.

Communications with non-English speaking local SAR people can be difficult. It is useful to involve both the Canadian embassy (and the US embassy—I know we had an American baby for a reason…) and a local yacht club in the country where the SAR is underway. They will both tend to have senior government contacts and be able to communicate in the local language.

Finally, if at all possible, she should get a designated point of contact/communication with our local agency (who will handle the initial EPIRB signals) and the foreign SAR agency (who hopefully actually look for us). This helps make sure that information gets to everyone as it comes up. A helpful site with additional collected information of SAR contacts, procedures and resources is: www.rcc-net.org/ .

One thing to keep in mind is that in many under resourced countries looking for foreign yachts is not a priority and it’s asking them to do more than they do to find their own lost citizens… So the more my sister is able to coordinate herself—the better off we’ll be.
And thanks in advance, Sis…

March 5, 2014


We didn't want to be like Totem - with their 3 EPIRB fiasco:  Totem's 3 EPIRBs.

Our old ACR beacon had to have it's battery replaced.  At a cost of > $300 for a new battery we thought it wiser to purchase a new one and keep the old one as a spare. In Australia, EPIRBs are particularly cheap because every boat more than 2 miles from shore must carry one - even little aluminum car toppers.  So there are a number of local companies competing and prices for a basic EPIRB are as low as $250 AUD.

         Aside - why keep the old EPIRB?

EPIRB batteries are usually good for 5-6 years before requiring replacement, but the batteries generally have longer real life.  No manufacturer wants their battery dying within the 'best before' date so the batteries are rated pretty conservatively.

From ACR's web site FAQ:
"Why must I replace the beacon’s battery at 5 years when it has an 11 year lifetime"
"The battery does not have an eleven year "USEFUL" life; it has
an eleven year "SHELF" life. Once you install a battery in a
beacon, current is being drawn when you self test the unit during
the first 5 year of operation. There is also a minute current (in
the micro amp range) being drained from the battery, in the rest
state of beacon. The battery is guaranteed to last 48 hours if
activated in an emergency, any time during the 5 year replacement
life. When the "replacement due date" is past, the activation
period of a beacon will start to decline and cannot be guaranteed
any longer"
Why must I replace the beacon’s battery at 5 years when it has an 11 year lifetime?
The battery does not have an eleven year "USEFUL" life; it has an eleven year "SHELF" life. Once you install a battery in a beacon, current is being drawn when you self test the unit during the first 5 year of operation. There is also a minute current (in the micro amp range) being drained from the battery, in the rest state of beacon. The battery is guaranteed to last 48 hours if activated in an emergency, any time during the 5 year replacement life. When the "replacement due date" is past, the activation period of a beacon will start to decline and cannot be guaranteed any longer
- See more at: http://www.acrartex.com/support/faqs/epirb-faqs/#q-4504
Why must I replace the beacon’s battery at 5 years when it has an 11 year lifetime?
The battery does not have an eleven year "USEFUL" life; it has an eleven year "SHELF" life. Once you install a battery in a beacon, current is being drawn when you self test the unit during the first 5 year of operation. There is also a minute current (in the micro amp range) being drained from the battery, in the rest state of beacon. The battery is guaranteed to last 48 hours if activated in an emergency, any time during the 5 year replacement life. When the "replacement due date" is past, the activation period of a beacon will start to decline and cannot be guaranteed any longer
- See more at: http://www.acrartex.com/support/faqs/epirb-faqs/#q-4504

What kind?  We chose a GPS enabled EPIRB. It was slightly more expensive but gives a much faster alert time and better location (non-GPS EPIRBs take up to 5 hours before a position is confirmed and location of +/- 5 km).  If we have to pull the pin one day, I want help as soon as possible.

 We bought a KTI.  Safety Alert SA1G.  Retail is around $290 (the cost to have it shipped to the factory for recoding and then shipped back to us would have added to the cost significantly) but ours was $379 straight from the factory, including shipping, with the factory coding it with a Canadian country code prefix number.  It has a 10 year battery life and 10 year warranty which puts other manufacturers to shame. (I'm looking at you ACR)

Complications of registering your EPIRB:  Our old ACR has a US beacon code so it was registered with the US database which will accept non-US addresses. We couldn't register it with the Canadian registry. As Totem found you can't just register any old beacon.

We had to specifically request that KTI code our beacon with a Canadian prefix. Even then, the Canadian database doesn't have KTI as an listed supplier - so I had to pick a different make and model.  Then it accepted the registration. Whew!

January 27, 2014

Technical Post - carbon fiber snatch block

How I made a carbon fiber snatch block because I wanted a snatch block but manufactured ones are heavy and expensive.

- make a mold shape with an angled step. The step height should be equal to the 1 washer thickness + 1/2 the sheave thickness.  (the sheave will have a s.s. washer on the inside between the two halves.)  You can see the angled step shape with the shadow on it.

- cover the mold with mylar packing tape - best mold release ever
- mark the mold with the size of finished piece - about 2x sheave diameter for the width and 4x sheave diameter for the length
- cut your pieces of carbon fiber cloth and unidirectional cloth. Use 1 layer of fiberglass on the inside layer to prevent corrosion where the s.s. washer would otherwise rub on the carbon fiber.  The small pieces of carbon fiber are to add thickness where the sheave axle goes through.  The twill is the top layer for looks

I'm not going to spell out the laminate schedule I used.  If you've used carbon fiber before you will know how it's a bit harder to wet out for an amateur and I don't want to give everybody the impression that they will make a suitable block the first time using carbon.  Composite properties depend very much on the skill of the laminator. If you are a so-so laminator the strength of the part might be as low as 1/3 the strength of a good laminator.  For such a safety related part, I don't feel like being responsible for the design for others to copy.

- wet out the fabric with epoxy resin, cover with clear plastic and squeegee hard.

- release the part from the mold (gentle tug will get it off)

- cut part into 2 halves, round the corners
- drill a hole for the axle and for the soft shackle. Soft shackle hole has beveled edges with a countersink bit to remove sharp corners.  Soft shackle is 5/32" Amsteel blue which should have a breaking strength > 4000 lbs.
- assemble and test

- total cost less than $15 (though I had the roller sheave).  If you don't have a suitable sheave a fixed plastic sheave with 1/2" bronze bushing would be suitable and costs about $15.  Bigger axle spreads the load better and reduces bearing stress on the carbon.

How it looks in use

On a budget and can't afford a marine snatch block? Check out a rock climbing rescue pulley.  You'll need a carbiner but quite cheap and strong.


January 25, 2014

Our Wild Life

I don’t know if it was the possum in the shower or the ducks at our door that made me realize it, but despite living on the edge of a big city we’re still firmly linked to the wild world around us.
we don't take cameras in the shower normally (though we may start) but this is a water dragon.
For the record, possums are not normally found in our shower. Nor are water dragons…
(Though enormous freaky spiders are…) But both creatures somehow showed up in the shower stalls in recent weeks and needed to be caught and released. The water dragon was first. Looking like a squirrel (except we don’t have squirrels…) in the dim corner of the shower it scurried away (and right into Maia) when I tried to get a closer look (actually, when I screeched…).

We chased it for a bit and realized there was no way it could get back out the vent, where it had most likely come in from, without assistance. So we decided to catch it and set it free. Water dragons bite—we’ve seen them tussle with the ibis in the park and the giant birds don’t win. But this one was little and it seemed very sad about being chased around the shower so after cornering him, and promising we were there to help, I grabbed him behind his shoulders and set him back out into the wild.
typically this is about all we see of a possum
Possums are much bigger than water dragons. And Maia found the possum just after getting over the water dragon, when she was finally willing to go to the showers alone again. She quickly came back out and told Saskia, who told Zack (another boater). So the trio decided that the possum would be happier if he wasn’t in the shower and successfully rescued the old guy and set him free. And Maia decided she shower some other day…

But between the creatures and the fact our shower is flood-prone, and often looks like a bio-hazard, Maia doesn’t really want to bathe anymore, ever. It brings back a memory of traveling down the US west coast. Expect with more creatures…
our handsome neighbour
Not all our interactions with the wildlife are unsettling though—we have a huge pelican for a neighbour, and the kookaburras to wake us, and Maia has a gaggle of ducks who have been visiting her since they were ducklings. Initially they’d wait patiently outside the boat for her. But then they learned to climb aboard the dinghy so they could quack through a window for her. Most recently they’ve been climbing aboard and waddling up to the door. We’re not sure if it’s because she’s been slow to respond to their visits or if they are tired of competing with the catfish for the food Maia gives them.

Yesterday when Maia fed her ducks the catfish rushed the surface, bit the duck's foot and held on. Okay, so maybe we’re not in the midst of an exotic sailing adventure but you’ve got to admit its all pretty wild.

Our resident flying foxes

January 20, 2014

It's Waterproof Right? Buyer Beware...

I was checking out some handheld VHFs recently and their specifications made me think of how waterproof they really were. When buying marine gear, one buyer beware specification is "waterproof".  That word can mean different things to different manufacturers (and their marketing department).  Others to watch out for are “submersible,” “splash-proof,” “drip-resistant,” “watertight”, and "not warranted against water damage".

Here's a quick guide to all those standards:

1)  waterproof - may withstand a heavy dew.  Meaningless without a standard to apply to it.

2)  IP ?? - the "Ingress Protection" rating.  IP Code  Often you will see these quoted as IP67 or something similar.  This is a solid standard if the manufacturer is quoting it, but make sure the rating is high enough for what you need.

The first digit is resistance to solid particles like fingers, marbles or dust getting in the equipment.  If the first digit is an X it means 'we didn't test for solid objects or we don't care'  Not very applicable to sailors. 

The second digit relates to how water resistant the item is. These include:

IP X5 - gently wetting it down with a garden hose.  Might be ok for something you keep inside but forget about real world water resistance in a cockpit.

You want IP X6 as a minimum.  This is "Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: at least 3 minutes

Water volume: 100 litres per minute.  Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m".  So basically blasting it with a powerful hose from 3m away.

IP X7  - immersion up to 1m for 30 minutes.  For a handheld VHF that might get dunked in the bottom of a dinghy this might be a good standard to look for

IP X8 - depths > 1m.  Usually specified by manufacturer.  Not very common in recreational marine equipment but quite good if you can get it.

3)  CFR - this usually is a reference to the US Code of Federal Regulation.  CFR 46 is a huge volume so just saying 'meets CFR 46' is very vague.  Raymarine is bad at using this as a specification though their newer equipment is starting to use IP X6 (displays and instruments).  Their current VHF say IPX7 (submersible) - anybody want to try?

46 CFR 110.15 gives a few definitions

Waterproof means watertight; except that, moisture within or leakage into the enclosure is allowed if it does not interfere with the operation of the equipment enclosed. In the case of a generator or motor enclosure, waterproof means watertight; except that, leakage around the shaft may occur if the leakage is prevented from entering the oil reservoir and the enclosure provides for automatic drainage.

Watertight means enclosed so that equipment meets at least a NEMA 250 Type 4 or 4X or an IEC 60529 IP 56 rating

So just saying CFR 46 doesn't really say anything unless you say 'waterproof to CFR 46' or similar language.

5)  JIS - A Japanese standard that ICOM uses frequently

JIS "4" Splashing water from any direction shall have no harmful effect (Splash resistant)
JIS "5" Direct jetting water from any direction shall have no harmful effect (Jet resistant)
JIS "6" Direct jetting water from any direction shall not enter the enclosure (Water tight)
JIS "7" Water shall not enter the enclosure when it is immersed in water under defined conditions (Immersion resistant)

 Again - JIS 4 is hopeless if you want to keep the water out.  JIS 5 is a bare minimum.

Here's a good object lesson:

Cobra Handheld VHF

Key Features
  • 100% waterproof (JIS-4)

    But it's not waterproof as you or I understand it.  It's splash proof.  IIS-4 is a very low standard as you can see above.


January 15, 2014

The To-Do list

I stole this idea from Brian, project manager supremo on s/v Delos

Because we're a light weight catamaran we use smaller Post it notes however.  It should give a nice sense of accomplishment as stuff is removed from the list. 

- Evan

January 1, 2014

Kids! Don't try this at Home

Happy New Year 2014.  Don't blow yourself up

We were exchanging a propane tank that wasn't quite empty and I hated to waste it.  This is how I transferred the extra into our barbeque propane tank.  Quick and easy tutorial on how I filled one propane tank from another:

- make up a ~6' length of hose with a propane tank connector at both ends.  You might have to search a bit to get one with a hose barb.  One of mine did (bought in a Mexican hardware store), one did not and I had to add a pipe thread to hose adapter.  Crank down on the hose clamps quite hard.  This is more pressure than a boat water system for example which may top out at 60 psi.

- use hose with a moderate pressure rating.  Around 250 PSI / 1.6 MPa.  I used clear vinyl reinforced hose, 10mm.  Larger diameters will have LOWER pressure ratings.  Clear hose is great because you can see the propane flowing and also when it stops flowing

- Connect the 2 tanks with your hose

- Hang the full tank upside down in the sun (to help raise it's internal pressure).

- Have the empty tank 6' lower, and in the shade (gravity helps - propane is a liquid under pressure)

- open both tank valves

- open bleed screw on empty tank (not wide open, just a bit). You'll smell a bit of propane but it's normal

- close both valves and bleed screw when propane stops flowing.

- make sure the gas bleeding from the lower tank does not fill a cockpit with cockpit drains that are underwater.  Do it on an open deck.
- no open flames. Make sure the stove is off, and nothing with a pilot light is on.
- do it downwind so propane won't flow back into the boat's interior
- if you want to be extra cautious you won't turn on or off any electrical switches or breakers because of the potential for a spark, but now you're getting paranoid.
- disclaimer: do this at your own risk.  These are how I did it, and you're results may vary.

Clear hose - you might be able to see the propane here.  It's clear

The bleed screw is visible right at the bottom of the valve, right in the center of the image.  
Use a skinny flat head screwdriver to open.

 The setup. 

- Evan