The adventures of Yacht Flirtie

15 July 2021 | Sicily, Milazzo (position: 38 13.206'N 15 14.741'E)
10 July 2021 | Vulcano, Spaggia di Cannitello - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 22.318'N 15 00.287'E)
07 July 2021 | Lipari, Praia di Vinci - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 26.417'N 14 56.978'E)
30 June 2021 | Salina, Santa Marina - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 33. 071'N 14 52.208'E)
29 June 2021 | Lipari, Porto Pignatro Marina (position: 38 28.677'N 14 57.816'E)
27 June 2021 | Porticello, Lipari - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 30.636'N 14 57.963'E)
25 June 2021 | Caletta dei Zimmari, Panerea - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 37.600'N 15 03.993'E)
22 June 2021 | Porticello, Lipari - Aeolian Islands (position: 38 30.615'N 14 57.962'E)
16 June 2021 | Porto di Ponente, Vulcano - Aeolian Islands (position:38 25.221'N 14 57.182'E)
15 June 2021 | Milazzo (position: 38 13.217'N 15 14.710'E)
13 June 2021 | Taormina (position: 37 50.794'N 15 17.433'E)
12 June 2021 | Monte Pergola, Augusta (position: 37 14.234'N 15 14.010'E)
06 June 2021 | Siracusa anchorage (position: 37 03.604''N 15 16.734'E)
04 June 2021 | Portopalo (position: 36 40.140'N 15 06.726'E)
02 June 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
28 May 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
25 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
15 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
05 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
20 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)

Meet our new crew member - "Stick"

25 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
In previous blogs (Windy Wind Vane Steering) and (Windy Wind Vane Steering (part 2)) we were researching wind vane steering options for Flirtie. After many email exchanges we decided to purchase "Windy", a servo pendulum wind vane steering solution with a customised mount specifically designed for Flirtie. "Windy" is manufactured in Estonia so fortunately there was no import duty or additional charges payable in the EU.....something that unfortunately doesn't apply to the UK anymore :-(

After the payment of a small deposit, Imre Aljas started the build. Delivery was scheduled for approximately 4 weeks.

True to his word, "Windy" was ready for shipment 4 weeks later and after paying the outstanding balance we received "Windy" here in Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa just 1 week later.

"Windy" was shipped in a custom made plywood box and arrived safely without any damage.

plywood shipping container

Everything inside was extremely well packaged and secured so we would be confident that "Windy" could be shipped anywhere in the world without sustaining any damage.

"Windy" well packaged

As for the installation, it's fair to say that it was extremely straightforward. Just 4 x 8mm holes through the teak planks and the stainless steel framing beneath on our bathing platform after ensuring the mount was on the centreline.

"Windy" mount clamped on the centre-line

The accuracy of our measurements and the engineering from Imre's perspective ensured it fitted perfectly with the mounting bolts in precisely the right location.

holes drilled

After that it was just a case of sliding "Windy" into position and securing it in place with an oversize thumbscrew.

"Windy" in place

With "Windy" now mounted on the bathing platform we turned our attention to the steering drum which is attached to Flirtie's wheel. This wasn't quite so straightforward to fit requiring three nylon blocks to be shaped to match the angle of the steering spokes of our wheel. Imre provided stainless steel pipe clamps, self tapping screws and leather cloth to secure these nylon blocks in place but instead we preferred to use stainless steel U-bolts for the purpose. Either solution was perfectly acceptable but we felt our solution was slightly neater and a little stronger.

U-bolts securing nylon spacer blocks

With the nylon blocks in position it was then just a matter of bolting the drum to the nylon blocks.

drum in place

Next we needed to mount a couple of blocks by the wheel and on the pushpit.

turning blocks adjacent to wheel

turning blocks on pushpit

Finally all that was needed was to feed the 6mm dyneema line (low stretch) from the wind vane to the drum.

dyneema control lines

It was about this time that we happened to receive a video call from Caroline's sister Jo. Caroline explained what we were doing and turned the camera towards "Windy". Jo not fully understanding responded with 'you mean that "Stick" thingy? '. Since then "Windy", our third crew member has been christened "Stick".... Lol.

All that remained was to see how "Stick" performed.... take a look at the brief video below.

It goes without saying that this was our first outing in favourable conditions but from what we've already learnt and experienced we're extremely confident that with practice "Stick" will become a crew member that we can both trust and rely on. I'm sure in future posts "Stick" will certainly say hello on occasions.

Windy - Wind Vane Steering (part 2)

07 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
Bruce Trott
In my previous blog "Windy - Wind Vane Steering" I was about to contact Imre Aljas for more information about his Wind Vane Steering solution.

Specifically I was looking for him to tell us more about the mounting options for our particular yacht/transom style and I was keen to see further pictures focusing on the quality of his engineering.

Whilst Imre provides a standard mounting bracket that would work with many yachts

standard transom mount our case he recommended a customised bracket that could be attached to our bathing platform.

On the Windy website, Imre details various transom styles (Type 1, 2 and 3) and the measurements that he requires but in our case he needed additional measurements which he clearly communicated with the aid of drawings. It was all very clear and simple to follow. This was the outcome once all the dimensions were provided:

customised mount

As for the quality of the engineering, I think you'll agree it looks "Pretty Dang Spiffy" - Mads Dahlke Sail Life's youtube channel... thanks Mads for the catch phrase ;-)

detail of bronze drum and control wires

vane attachment and counterweights

steering oar and mounting

standard mount on a vertical transom

without remote control

with remote control

a unit ready for shipping

To be continued.

Windy - Wind Vane Steering

26 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
We have aspirations to travel further afield in due course and to do that there are a number of enhancements that we would like to make to Flirtie that will make life aboard more comfortable, quieter and arguably safer than she already is.

One of those enhancements is to install "Wind Vane Steering". For those of you not familiar with the term it is a mechanical form of steering the boat using just the wind. We're actually well versed with some of the design principles that are used and we have installed wind vane steering systems on two of our previous boats the most recent a Plastimo "Navik", sadly now out of production on our Heavenly Twins Catamaran "Camargue" . Prior to this (sometime in the early 80's) we also considered making our own wind vane steering system having sourced and read Bill Belchers book: Wind-Vane Self-Steering: How to Plan and Make Your Own: once considered the bible on Wind Vane Steering.

There are a number of companies out there today that manufacture wind vane steering systems but many of them just don't lend themselves to being fitted to Flirtie or indeed to many of the modern yachts currently on the market with their full width transom doors.

Examples include:

Wind Pilot:
South Atlantic:
Cape Horn:

Whilst there is an ever growing trend towards using electric autohelms over wind vane steering systems there is the challenge of reliability and power usage. With regard to reliability, today's autohelms are typically far more reliable than they ever used to be and like many other modern electronics - mobile phones and gps etc.... many cruisers just carry a complete replacement that they can call on as necessary. If that was the only consideration then we would have followed suit but power usage is also something that needs to be considered.

For yachts typically of 50 feet + carrying a large bank of batteries to cope with the power draw it isn't really a problem since they have both the space and can carry the additional weight that goes with it. They typically also have a generator and/or a vast amount of surface area to mount solar panels to ensure the batteries are kept charged during the day.

Flirtie on the other hand is just 40 feet and space is at a premium and we would prefer not to carry the additional weight of further batteries if possible. We do have an autohelm and wouldn't be without it but running it for 24hrs a day consumes in excess of 40amps when sailing in relatively calm conditions when it's not working very hard.

Some of you will be aware that advances in battery technology has and continues to move at a rapid rate and today lithium batteries are becoming more readily available and popular in the cruising world.

The technology in these batteries typically means most cruisers can halve the size of their battery banks for the same useable capacity as traditional lead acid batteries . This was certainly something we considered but sadly their price is still significantly more than we are prepared to pay, so hence our continued interest in wind vane steering.

Prior to purchasing Flirtie we shortlisted a few wind vane steering solutions that we thought would work for us. These were the:

Wind Pilot Pacific:
Cape Horn Jade:
Scanmar Auto-helm:

and that was as far as the research went at the time. In all three cases the steering gear can be removed (with the aid of tools) and stored on deck/below allowing unrestricted access through the transom door to the pontoon/wall when Med moored and when at anchor we can use the bathing platform as intended.

Some of you that are more knowledgable on the subject may say we could also consider the hydrovane mounted off centre but unfortunately because our transom is relatively narrow and we carry a solar arch that would interfere with the vane that rules out this particular option.

With plenty of time on our hands thanks to the pandemic we were reading numerous sailing journals/articles when we came across a new company marketing the "Windy - Windy Self Steering":

What we read we liked!!

In summary it satisfied pretty much all of our requirements:

1) Simple but strongly constructed using marine grade stainless steel and bronze components.
2) German engineered bearings, bushes and bevel gears.
3) Tried and tested with at least one circumnavigation and a number of Atlantic crossings.
4) Designed to be easily removed by undoing a single thumb screw
5) Powerful & very sensitive - (Servo Pendulum). You can read about the design differences here and why wind vane steering makes sense:
6) Custom made to fit various transom styles.
7) Custom made to ensure the wind vane and remote control fall at the appropriate height.
8).... and Cost effective.

After much consideration and after analysing pretty much every detail that was written and presented on the Windy website: it was time to make contact with the company director "Imre Aljas"!

To be continued.

Vessel Name: Yacht Flirtie
Vessel Make/Model: Trident Voyager 40
Hailing Port: Dartmouth, UK
Crew: Bruce and Caroline Trott
Welcome to Sailing Yacht Flirtie's blog.

Our blog serves as a personal record of our adventures and experiences since leaving the UK in 2012 whilst allowing family and friends to keep up-to-date with our whereabouts. [...]
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Yacht Flirtie

Who: Bruce and Caroline Trott
Port: Dartmouth, UK

Where are we now?