27 August 2009
I can talk about the albatross, night sky and other things that are really wonders of nature, but this blog report is about the "toys" I carry during deliveries.
Firstly, I have a laptop computer with a special charger that charges the laptop off a 12 volt DC cigarette lighter socket. The laptop contains all the software needed to type up reports, navigate via charts of the world (with a small GPS plugged in) do email whilst on land and do email at sea via HF radio or satellite telephone. It also contains the software for manipulating or re-sizing photographs taken with my digital SLR camera. Then it has a library of over 17000 music tracks which connects to one of my other toys, an Apple iPod - one of the most handy little gadgets that anybody can take sailing.
My digital SLR is quite a good camera and is now a number of years old. I carry two zoom lenses and have taken quite a few really remarkable photographs over the years I have been delivering yachts - on the other hand I have also take a hell of a lot of really bad ones as well! But that's the great thing about going digital - it costs nothing to view your photographs and delete the bad ones.
I am a radio HAM (amateur radio operator) and my fourth toy is an Icom 706 MkIIG ham transceiver that has been altered to be able to operate on both the HAM bands as well as the marine frequencies. As most boats I deliver have no counterpoise or earth plate, I simply trail a 13.5 metre length of heavy duty electric wire behind the boat as we are sailing. Likewise, most delivery boats do not have HF antenna, so I simply buy a length of ski rope and insert a further 13.5 metre length of electric wire into the centre of the rope and, with the one length attached to a small tuner at the stern of the boat, hoist the other end of the rope up the mast - the antenna only goes about halfway up the rope and thus is kept well away from the mast and rigging. Then, coupled with an SCS Pactor modem linked to the radio and to my laptop, I can send and receive email (and update the blog) at no cost - the Winlink email system is free to licensed HAMs and may be a good consideration to folk that intend to go long term cruising. Getting a HAM licence is also a lot easier today than it was a few years back - there is no longer a requirement to learn Morse code.
Okay, the above explains some of my "toys", but on a different subject, the delivery of this boat, we are now a day away from St Helena island. We were not going to stop there but have been told that one of the other delivery boats has left us a few drums of diesel. As all the delivery boats heading for the Caribbean have been experiencing light winds on the leg between the island and the Brazilian mainland, the company thought some extra diesel will assist us on those days where the sea looks like a mirror and headway is not being made. Nice of them.
Well, from Hardy, Andries and myself, we wish you well until the next blog report. John.