Thursday, June 2, 2016

You'd love this, Dad!

My father, Tom, died in 2008. He was a lovely man, and we enjoyed a great friendship once the storms of adolescent rebellion had settled. He taught me many recreational skills, especially sailing, fishing, and woodwork, all of which get used when we are cruising. With time on my hands, I often find myself in conversation with Tom, and showing him things that I think would interest him.

After my wife Liz died, I asked him if there was anything he would like to do before he died. He replied that he would like to sail around the Whitsundays with me. I sailed my last boat, Sahula, to the Whitsundays, and Tom flew out. We had a lovely fortnight together.

'Hallelujah' sung by Anna Straton

He enjoyed techie things, and would have loved some of the technical developments that have occurred in the last eight years. 

Check these out, Dad!

Solar power and MPPT. We had solar panels on Sahula, of course, so you knew about them. But on Nimrod, there is a lot more real estate available for panels. We have 490 watts mounted on the shades above the cockpit. The biggest breakthrough has been Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) regulation. It takes a high voltage, of the sort that you get when you run solar panels in series, and converts it to a lower voltage but more amps. I have seen 35 amps charging in full sun! I don't know what you would have got from your charging arrangements, but I know that would have impressed you. 

Watermaker. We have a Spectra Ventura 200T 12-volt watermaker. It uses about 8 amps. You used to take great pride in frugality when we cruised your boat Styria around Brittany in France. We don't need to worry. On a sunny day, if we go for a walk, or if we are motor-sailing, I put on the watermaker for a few hours, and we get an extra 100-200 litres in the tank. George and I use about 40 litres a day between us.

GRIB files. The principle cultural input into our family when I was a child was the weather forecast on the radio. No TV (thanks for that). Negligible music. But whenever the weather forecast was on, all ears were on it. Now we can instantly call up detailed weather for the next seven days, with hour by hour wind strength, rain etc, for anywhere in the world. Phenomenal!

AIS transceiver. Crossing the English Channel was a fraught exercise, dodging the streams of ships heading east and west. We used to carry a metal contraption like some folding origami hanging from the spreaders in the faint hope that we would be more visible to the radar of these ships, and that someone would be watching. Now the Automatic Identification System (AIS) allows vessels to be shown on our chartplotter, with full details. Since we got the transceiver version, we transmit as well as receive, so they can see us too. Far more visibly than by radar. For good measure, we now have AIS units attached to our self-inflating life-jackets, so that if either George or I fell over the side, our position would be shown on the chartplotter, greatly assisting a successful retrieval. How cool is that?


  1. Hi Dave, It's a nice way to remember people by thinking about how they have influenced our lives, parents in particular. As you say, once past the teenage tensions, things tend to settle in the relationship, however, I was always somewhat bemused that my father thought my development stopped when I left home, so he expected of me as I was at 18 yrs old! I love the tribute to Tom, and the music by a fabulous musician - who needs to be acknowledged... (Dad!) Delightful to hear and see Anna too! Enjoy your travels, Liz

  2. Blogs confuse me a little - that comment was re a previous post... Anyway, did you use a tripod for the HDR photos?

    1. No. I hand-hold the Nikon D800 with high speed shutter (about 4 fps). I set bracketing at one-stop and shoot seven frames. Thus -3, -2, -1, normal exposure, +1, +2, and +3. At 40MB per click, that is about 280 MB! I then import them into Lightroom 6, and either combine them there (Photo/Merge/HDR), which produces a mild HDR effect, or transfer them to Aurora HDR Pro from Lightroom (File/Plugin Extras/Transfer to Aurora HDR Pro). Both programs allow you to 'de-ghost', or align the shots in case of movement by the camera, or wind in trees, waves etc. They work remarkably well. I have learned to only merge three of the shots (-3, normal, and +3) and delete the others, so it makes the process faster. Aurora is amazing, but one can get carried away. I'm enjoying extreme HDR, but will probably grow out of it in due course :)

  3. Hi Dave - sounds like your dad was a major influence in your life - good to remember and celebrate. just a quick question, how does your home made after taste? We have a small unit on board here, primarily for drinking water but it tastes, I don't know, yuck.

    1. Hi Bruce. Our watermaker (Spectra Ventura 200T MPC) is pretty good. Generally better than the average marina supply, which we put through two filters as it comes on board.