History: Time zones, Zulu time and the SS Warrimoo

I suffer from XTZT - Extreme Time Zone Traversal . Because I live in one time zone and work in another, I routinely cross time zones. Like most air travelers, I don’t give it much thought though. Time zones, like jet travel, are just a part of modern life. I only wish my body adjusted as quickly to a new time zone as easily as my gadgets do. Time zones in their modern form are a recent invention, namely, a global system of standardized offsets from a reference time, known as UTC (from universel temps coordonné , the French for coordinated universal time). For convenience, time zones have names such as Pacific Standard Time (PST) or Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), but the true genius lies in the numbers, such as -08:00 or +10:00, which represent the hours and minutes relative to UTC. This system was first proposed in 1879 by Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming and implemented in 1883. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was used as the reference until the advent of atomic clocks and an

The joy of winter sailing

If like me - and 4.4 billion other people - you live in the temperate zone, winter is probably not your prime sailing season. It seems that when autumn rolls around, most sailors turn their attention to land activities. Yet in many places around the world, there is often fun sailing to had even in the depth of winter. Here are 5 reasons to sail in winter: Reason # 1 You'll have more of the water to yourselves. This means fewer boats to dodge and more relaxed sailing. Reason # 2 A corollary to #1, you'll share less of the sea’s bounty with others. The fishing is often better, and you’re more likely to attract wildlife, such as dolphins. Reason # 3 Winter brings different wind and sea conditions and opportunities to hone your sailing skills in new ways. Reason #4 Different weather patterns also opens up new anchorages and new things to see. For example, where I sail in South Australia, the winter northerlies open up southern Yorke Peninsula anchorages which ar

Fishing while sailing

Most anglers who fish from a boat usually do so while at anchor or drifting slowly. This can be a very pleasant way to spend a day on the water, but most sailors would prefer to be actually sailing. Fortunately there is another way, which lets you have your cake and eat it, namely  trolling .  NB: Trolling can also mean fishing by means of working a line up or down a stationary vessel, but here I’m referring to trailing a line behind a vessel while underway. Also, this is not to be confused with “trawling” which is towing a line with baited hooks attached at intervals, or towing a trawl net. You may think that trolling is just an activity for slow-moving vessels, but that’s not necessarily the case. Certainly, if you’re trolling for trout on a lake, you’ll just be rambling along at a couple of knots. However trolling is also an excellent way to cover a large expanse of water at high speed. For example, if you’re trolling for tuna, go fast, as these agile predators can swim

Tech: Boat Alarm shore power and battery monitor

Back in November I wrote about "Boat Alarm", a free service I'd developed for monitoring your boat. The original Boat Alarm client ran on an Arduino Uno R3 microprocessor with a CC3000 WiFi shield. Unfortunately the CC3000 proved to be unreliable, and I no longer recommend that WiFi hardware. I've switched to using the  Adafruit HUZZAH ESP8266  for the client hardware (shown above). This microprocessor is Arduino-compatible and also has built-in support for WiFi. It has the added benefit of being very inexpensive. You can learn more about the Adafruit HUZZAH ESP8266  here. The downside of the ESP8266 is that it has only one analog port, however there are 10 digital pins available for general I/O. Since many alarms are inherently binary in nature, i.e., something is either on or off, the latest version of the client is now able to utilize digital ports as well as the analog port. Note: Pay attention to input voltages. Except for RX/TX, the ESP8266

Tech: Anchorage Finder Web App

Cruising is all about sailing to new places, whether 10 miles away or 10,000, and a big part of the fun is exploring new anchorages. Where I live and sail one does not need to venture very far. South Australia has more than 160 islands scattered around its coastline. While some, such as Liguanea Island, are rugged, inaccessible affairs others, such as Williams Island, offer calm anchorages with sandy beaches. Then there is Kangaroo Island, Australia's 3rd largest island, which is in a class of its own with over 500 km of stunning coastline. Finally, the mainland is not without it's charms too, with many a scenic anchorage. Liguanea Island. Williams Island. In the 6 years since I've owned Arriba, I've visited over 60 different South Australian anchorages (plus a few more in interstate waters). They range from tiny coves to wide-open beaches, and all are lovely in their own way. I've also written about almost every place I've visited, and severa

Cruise: Adelaide anchorages less traveled

Barker Inlet sunset. My hometown of Adelaide is blessed with 30 km (19 miles) of continuous metropolitan beach which runs north-south from North Haven to Seacliff. In the right conditions you can anchor over sand almost anywhere, providing you don’t mind a bit of swell. Yet most yachties tend to retire to a marina at the end of the day, which is a shame. The anchorages at each end of this stretch of coast are particularly noteworthy. North Haven Beach. Nestled between 2 breakwaters, the small North Haven Beach (34°47.4'S 138°28.8'E) located just north of North Haven Marina is sheltered from NW thru SE winds. It is the only metro beach anchorage that offers protection from N and NW winds. This beach is also popular with kitesurfers. Seacliff. At the other end, 15 nautical miles to the south, scenic  Seacliff   (35°2.1'S 138°30.8'E) is sheltered from NE thru S winds. This beach is also very popular with windsurfers and dinghy sailors, so don’t be surpr

10 Boating Mistakes to Avoid

I’ve made every single mistake on this list. Hopefully you can avoid a few of them! #1 Not closing hatches Of course this goes without saying, and yet it happens. Don’t forget to close your hatches; all of them! I’ve drowned a perfectly good phone and soaked a cabin by inadvertently leaving hatches open. Don’t leave home without checking. #2 Not securing halyards Halyards left to their own devices will do one of two things, neither good. First, the halyard snags on a high, inconvenient place, such as your tallest mast spreader - a place accessible only in the bosun’s chair. Second, it chafes against something hard or sharp, and starts to fray. Or, if you're really unlucky, it does both! Ensure halyards are pulled away from the mast when not in use. #3 Not securing your dinghy You only make this mistake once, since losing a dinghy ranges from embarrassing to dangerous. For example, my painter frayed and the dinghy drifted away in the middle of the night. I was lu