Join us as we sail around the world - share our joy, experiences, trials and tribulations as we proceed.
It's lonely out here! So please comment as we love to hear from you.


New set of sails

We are about to order a new set of sails from Ullman for Revelations - mainsail, genoa and spinnaker. Considering all the available materials is complicated and complex - with no easy right or wrong answers, nor a "perfect" solution. For blue water cruising, sails simply have to last – it is false economy using a cheaper product if it fails mid ocean. Most of us have sailed with a spinnaker or cruising chute at some time and you may remember the sail is flying unsupported from the spars, hence occasionally the sail will fill and collapse. Often this can be be with quite a 'pop' and for this reason we want the sail to absorb some of that 'shock' and so we choose a slightly forgiving fabric.


We usually choose Nylon as it has a little more elasticity as a fibre and it's usually woven in a form these days that we call Ripstop. Which means it has a square weave pattern that is formed by periodically twisting a few fibre together to increase tear strength, or occasionally by added a larger fibre into the weave at even spaces.

So, Nylon downwind sail fabric is very light, a little stretchy and surprisingly strong. The fabric weight is usually expressed firstly within a generic weight category - such as '3/4 ounce', or '1 1/2 ounce' and then as a style name with a more detailed weight that may well now be in grams.

Most importantly these materials are available in attractive colours so you can personalise your sail and keep the crew entertained! Either of the weight categories will 'fly' in quite light winds even as smaller sails - but often the heavier wind range sails (or more all purpose sails) will be in the 1 1/2 ounce weight range. Because the lightest material comes at the expensive of some durability and tear resistance if the sail handling isn't quite as slick as you had planned for!

In cruising sails usually 3/4 ounce is good for light symmetrical shaped spinnakers and 1 1/2 ounce is best for heavy symmetrical shaped spinnakers, asymmetric and cruising chutes. There are also heavier weights of downwind sail fabrics for bigger yachts and for racing sails there are lighter ones ... some are more heavily coated with a stabilising resin to make a harder 'crispier' feel and support that unsupported flying sail shape.

Upwind sail fabrics are more complex and since there are more variations in weight and factors of construction to consider. The absolutely most robust and longest lasting sailcloth available in the world is Dimension-Polyant ‘Hydra-Net’. If the boat is going to be extensively cruised, particularly long offshore or in adverse conditions we recommend a style of material called Hydra-net. This material is a woven mix of Polyester and Spectra producing the most rugged and reliable sailcloth available. This material is very low stretch and provides ultimate reliability; ‘Hydra-net’ therefore provides the most rugged long lasting Blue Water sail cloth available on the market. ‘Hydra-net’ is also the softest fabric option available and is therefore the easiest to handle; this is relevant whether the sails are for roller reefing or folded into Lazy Jack systems. All other materials will be quite firm and therefore bulkier than your existing older sails and would be harder to fold away, however ‘Hydra net’ is soft and pliable and easily rolled and folded, this means that ‘Hydra-net’ is ideally suited for short-handed cruising. The final advantage of ‘Hydra net’ is that it has excellent UV resistant properties. Hydra-net is the fabric of choice for blue water cruising yachts. The ‘Hydra-net’ fabric comes in two different styles, one suitable for cross cut sails and the other for radial constructed sails. The cross cut version is fairly balanced with Spectra/Dyneema running in both directions. This fabric is the absolutely most robust and softest/easiest to fold/roll fabric available on the market, for a Blue water cruising boat or an aging family crew where soft and easy to handle sails are desired then the cross cut version of ‘Hydra Net’ is absolutely perfect. This material also has a unique to Dimension-Polyant a UVi coating in the resin that helps to protect the sail from harmful UV exposure and can increase the materials lifespan by around 15%The fabric performs better than most woven Dacron but is stretchier and therefore inferior in shape retention when compared to laminates or the radial version. The stretch that does occur is fairly elastic so any elongation that does occur is not permanent, but it does mean that although a high quality product this material is aimed at ease of handling rather than performance.

‘Hydra-net Radial’ has far more Dyneema running along the warp and offers far superior shape retention and therefore performance, yet the fabric is almost as soft and easy to handle as the cross cut version. ‘Hydra-net Radial’ out performs all other woven materials including ‘Vectran’ and most laminates. For a blue water cruising yacht where performance and shape retention is desired ‘Hydra-net Radial’ is the perfect material. The radial version is far better suited for high aspect sails and this is the style we have quoted for This material also has a unique to Dimension-Polyant a UVi coating in the resin that helps to protect the sail from harmful UV exposure and can increase the materials lifespan by around 15%.

  702 Hits
702 Hits

National Courtesy Flags

CountryFlagsWe bought a large number of national flags for the various countries we intend visiting. Flags are surprisingly expensive but we found a website with a online shop which sells them far cheaper than anybody else - Flags by SWI. Prices we encounter elsewhere for a 205 x 457 mm (12" x 18") flag ranged from US$16 to US$34 per flag (prices as at October 2104). This is quite expensive - especially when buying around a hundred flags or so. So we bought 610 x 915 mm (24" x 36") flags from Flags by SWI - each costing only US$3.50. Granted, we did receive a bulk discount for buying close to 100 flags. But even if you only buy one flag, you will pay around US$7.50 each. So not only are the flags larger, they are also much cheaper than found elsewhere.

However, Flags by SWI is not a very helpful bunch as several of our initial emails went unanswered. But then, you can't buy at the cheapest prices and expect the very best service. I now just hope that the quality will be acceptable for the money we paid.


  1093 Hits
1093 Hits

Metz DSC aerial for Icom M802

So you have a Icom M802 radio with it's DSC functionality onboard and it is rigged to it's main antenna. Yeah, real fancy (and expensive) piece of equipment. In many ways the built-in DSC function can be a life saver for both you and other mariners. But, there is a problem! Whilst you can certainly send distress messages with the DSC functionality, you will not receive any DSC messages. For you to receive DSC reply or distress messages from other mariners, you will need a second aerial - specifically, a DSC aerial. We learned about this awhile ago and ordered one from Metz Communication Corporation. It is now installed high up on the mast and connected to the Icom M802. But I wonder why we were never told us about this requirement - not the distributor nor the marine electrician.

It is reasobably priced, the product is excellent and so is their service. If you have a Icom M802 marine radio, you should get one.


  1337 Hits
1337 Hits

World's best screw?

No ... not the kind of screw you dirty minded bro's are scheming. Jeez, can't take you anywhere! What were you thinking ...
I'm talking about wood screws.

The common screw may not have been screaming for a makeover, but consider its shortcomings: stripped heads, tedious pilot holes, endless bit swapping. The company OUTLAW has developed a new fastening system that cures all those headaches and could unseat the Phillips head as the bench standard. Now we just need them in 316 Stainless Steel grade and in a various sizes!


Non-slip head
Three tiers of hexagonal recesses in the screw head provide 18 points of contact with the Outlaw bit. (A standard Phillips head has only four.) More contact means better grip, which makes the bit less likely to slip and strip the fastener. Shorter Outlaw screws have two recesses (12 contact points) but the same hexagonal shape.

Automatic countersink
As you drive a screw, small ridges on the underside of the head helps cut a shallow groove into the work surface. The extra space allows the screw head to rest flush with the surface instead of on top of it.

Self-drilling tip
Forget predrilling pilot holes. Outlaw screws have extra-sharp self-drilling tips, so they can bore their own way through wood.

A single bit
Outlaw’s corresponding screwdriver bit has a three-tiered hexagonal tip that matches any of the company’s screws. Because the bit makes more contact with a given fastener, it’s able to hold onto screws more firmly and drop fewer of them.


  1354 Hits
1354 Hits

Plastic bags keep steel tools from rusting

RustFreeBagsFishermen, sailors, and other people who take to the sea will know how quickly and easily steel tools begin to rust in a marine environment. One method of dealing with the problem involves spraying the tools with oil before storage, then wiping them off before use. New Jersey-based company Leland Limited, however, is now offering what it describes as a simpler, more eco-friendly alternative: plastic tool-storage bags that prevent rust.

Leland deals mainly in compressed gas products. Its developers came up with the idea for Ultimate VCI Protection bags when they were making steel CO2 cylinders for marine inflatable life jackets. In the production line, the cylinders would begin to rust before they reached the electroplating stage. Instead of putting them in an oil bath, the developers invented the bags, which allowed the cylinders to remain rust-free without the use of oil.

The bags are lined with corrosion inhibitors that release vapors which are attracted to metal surfaces. The inhibitor molecules reportedly align themselves on these surfaces, three to five molecules deep, and even get down into the nooks and crannies. This layer of molecules prevents oxidation, yet doesn’t leave discernible residue on the tools when they’re removed from the bags.

So, just what are the “corrosion inhibitors”? “Much like the Colonel's secret recipe, that is somewhat classified,” Leland’s Lee Stanford says. “Our standard quote is: ‘VCI products are completely non-toxic. In fact, most of the VCI chemistry is actually food grade preservatives.’”

  1254 Hits
1254 Hits

Active Captain website

ActiveCaptain is a visual database of marinas, anchorages, and local knowledge in a wiki-style that allows users to make additions, changes, and deletions. The database has free access for anyone. There is no cost. There are no advertisements. CASTINE, Maine, Jan. 23, 2007 - Active Captain Website (, an online visual marine database designed around cruisers sharing knowledge with other cruisers.

Based on the philosophy of content, communications, community, ActiveCaptain provides a framework that will allow fellow cruisers to share their knowledge and experience. Born out of the frustration felt by many cruisers concerning traditional guidebooks, ActiveCaptain has adopted a wiki-style interface that allows users to modify information, rate marinas and other facilities, and provide information not typically found in commercial guides. Having experienced the frustration first hand of outdated facts and a lack of unbiased information, Karen and Jeffrey Siegel conceived of the idea for ActiveCaptain, a place where fellow cruisers could go to share their own information, experiences and opinions.

The first release of ActiveCaptain has been pre-populated with approximately 8,000 marine facilities. Each facility entry holds 116 fields broken up into 5 sections and 49 groupings. The database includes common things like phone number, lat/lon, and website, but also tracks information not typically documented - are pets welcome, diesel price/date, internet access, slip price per foot, and many other items. There is also an extensive capability for reviewing and rating a facility. Anchorages and "local knowledge" will be added next.

All cruisers are invited to review the marine facilities in their area and make additions, corrections and reviews. Registering for an ActiveCaptain account is fast and simple. Each registered user will be able to access full details on every facility, to make corrections and additions, and to rate and review a facility. ActiveCaptain is all about community. It is sharing knowledge among the community of cruisers. Access is free for anyone. The framework allows all members of the cruising community to share their knowledge and experience. It depends on cruisers helping cruisers.

Click on the link for more information about Active Captain Website, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




  1224 Hits
1224 Hits