Lifestyle chat, News, features, reviews and photos for sailors and landlubbers alike

22 February 2018 | Dartmouth, Devon, UK
31 December 2017 | Dartmouth, Devon, UK
19 October 2017 | On sea Trials
21 September 2017 | Torbay, South Devon
17 September 2017 | Kingswear, Devon
02 September 2017 | Sharphams vineyards, Sharpham Estate, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7QT
01 September 2017 | Plymouth Yacht Haven
01 September 2017 | Plymouth Gin, PL1 2LQ
31 August 2017 | Dartmouth, Devon, UK
31 August 2017 | On board Dark Ivy at Darthaven Marina
31 August 2017 | Kingswear, Dartmouth, Devon
30 August 2017 | Mew Stone, Froward Point, Dartmouth, Devon
30 August 2017 | Kingswear Devon
30 August 2017 | Fowey, Cornwall, UK
30 August 2017 | Warwickshire

Waiting for the weather

22 February 2018 | Dartmouth, Devon, UK
Purnell/Too Cold
Lots of pre season work to do on Dark Ivy. The weather is just too cold to enjoy the work!

Happy New Year 2018

31 December 2017 | Dartmouth, Devon, UK
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my friends and fellow sailors a healthy and happy 2018.
I hope that 2018 has some fantastic sailing adventures in store for you all.
Happy New Year!

OLAS Man Overboard Tag Product Review

19 October 2017 | On sea Trials
Anthony Purnell

MAN OVERBOARD!” A phrase that I hope never to hear for real whilst on board any vessel let alone mine.

It is perhaps one of the most dreadful of events at sea and we should always prepare ourselves, our boats and our crews for the possibility of the event and especially if you are sailing shorthanded.

Like most sailors, I hope, I have life-jackets, flares, a marine VHF and have been on the RYA survival at sea course, one of their better ones may I add.

Whilst window licking my local chandlers I came across a wrist worn gadget that according to the marketing blurb would alarm if the wearer fell overboard and direct you to their last position.

Of course I needed no further encouragement to buy a gadget and for under £50 would add the ultimate safety net in case one of the crew or Percy my Boarder Terrier decided to “jump ship”.

I purchased the OLAS product from Darthaven Marina, South Devon prior to going on a sea voyage of 50 n.m. from Dartmouth to Fowey Cornwall with just my partner Tracey and I. Percy stayed at home for this trip!

In principle I think that wearing a simple wristwatch like device is an excellent way to monitor the safety of the crew especially when we are sailing 'shorthanded'. Also to bear in mind that whenever I’d practiced the “man overboard” drill within the RYA practical sailing courses there’d always been a convenient crew member to notice it, throw safety gear, make a radio call and point at the MOB!

The app that accompanies the OLAS hardware was downloaded easily enough as per the very small and brief instruction leaflet accompanying the tracker, which resembles and is worn like a wristwatch.
As a precaution I downloaded the app to my 'Android' phone as well as my i pad in case one should run out of battery power whilst we were under way.

My fly bridge motorboat is only 10.6m, a Hardy Commodore in fact. This is a fly-bridge motor-cruiser constructed of GRP (not steel) and well within the parameters of the specified Bluetooth® 15 m boundaries of the tracker.

I had initially left the settings of the tracker as per the manufacturer i.e. as it came out of the box i.e. 8 second delay and additionally added my partners details as encouraged to do via the website. This was easy enough to do and great for identifying who is the MOB in larger crews.

When we set off from Dartmouth the weather was fair and the sea completely manageable. However later in the day as we passed Plymouth s an Easterly wind made for a considerable swell and a tricky following sea.

I also had to contend with an onshore wind blowing me towards the rocky Cornish coast.
This of course made walking about on deck somewhat precarious. I made Tracey aware that moving around on deck could be a little more tricky than usual and to mind her balance. “One hand for the boat” and all that but she was wearing her MOB device which gave me a reassuring feeling that her whereabouts was being monitored.

After a few minutes of her going below to the galley the OLAS alarm sounded on my phone for the first time. This caused me distress as I could not see Tracey nor after yelling “ARE YOU OKAY TRACEY?” a few times with no response I thought that she may have fallen overboard.

I checked the sea and looked carefully in our wake to see if she had gone overboard as the alarm continued to sound loud and clear.

This was not the case and as she emerged from the cabin below, unaware of the the MOB alarm sounding up on the fly-deck I felt a sense of relief and frustration.

However this was the first of about five false alarms of my newly purchased gadget.

I decided that I should adjust the sensitivity of the tracker to alarm after 30 seconds instead of 8 seconds. Note that you can’t adjust the boundary only the delay time of when the Bluetooth link is broken and the actuation of the alarm.

The consequence of this now meant that the alarm would sound after a much longer time lapse and if Tracey had of gone overboard after 30 seconds had passed then she would have been left behind some 370 metres! That’s over three and a half football pitch lengths away!!

That's before I start any MOB manoeuvres. Therefore a 30 second delay is not ideal and is indeed the tardiest of alerts.

The device also started sounding (false alarms x 3) after I had changed the setting to the 30 second setting. This was when Tracey was in direct line of sight and just adjusting the fenders on the bow in good weather/sea conditions and well within the 15 m Bluetooth perimeter.

This became most tedious, especially when we were attempting to communicate with the Fowey H.M. tying up to a fore and aft buoy in the river. The alarm on the phone gets progressively louder and irritating, as any good alarm is supposed to be I guess.

This being said I did find that the false alarm was a dangerous distraction when I was trying to focus my mind on getting an eleven ton vessel safely berthed midstream close to other vessels including the Harbour Master’s!

Upon our return I contacted the product manufactures and told them of my experiences with the false alarms. I asked them to respond as I would l be writing a consumer review on their product. I was pleased to hear from OLAS promptly and although they didn’t offer an immediate exchange because I had no receipt of purchase Darthaven Chandlery did exchange it for me and to their credit gave me another tag to test.

So I went on to test another proclaimed use which is as a dog tracker. This time Percy was on board with me and a very obliging assistant but I found that the tag actuated despite Percy being in his crate laying only two meters away from me inside the cabin. I also had false alarms whilst he was on his 7.5 m lead!

The only conclusion that I can draw from my own personal experience of the product is that of the Aesop’s fable of “cry wolf”. As with multiple false alarms the product has a diminishing effect and in my experience found that it could actually cause an unnecessary distraction when least desired.

So to be fair, I think that in principle the idea of the product is great BUT I get the feeling that it wasn’t sea trialed. I felt that it could be improved by making the alert system parameters more rigid, that is to say if it says 15m then it shouldn’t fluctuate from 3m to 15m.
The reliability of the alarm needs to be made more robust which is needed for responsible skippering so that false alarms can be avoided and decisive MOB actions can be taken.

Anthony Purnell
Freelance Photojournalist (Lifestyle)
Follow my blog here
Twitter @Kismetivy

Refueling, pollution prevention & responsibilty

18 October 2017 | Ashore
Anthony Purnell
I recently bought a diesel spill kit following a not too successful refueling at Plymouth Yacht Haven. The young chap on the pontoon was chatting away when my tank reached its capacity and overfilled leaving my teak deck covered in diesel and heading towards the scuppers!
The small pads that the lad gave me were woefully inadequate and diesel got between the locker gaps. I just wondered who has the responsibility here? The fuel issuer or the Skipper taking the fuel?, boating events

01 October 2017
All at Sea
Find out more about upcoming boating events courtesy of All at Sea

22 September 2017 | London
Royal Navy
Must see them they are superb
Vessel Name: Dark Ivy
Vessel Make/Model: Hardy Commodore
Hailing Port: Dartmouth
Crew: Percy
About: At least we are on the Learning curve, somewhere or other....
Extra: Currently researching the dangers of Carbon Monoxide on board boats/ MOB devices/Active RADAR reflectors. Read more in the Hardy Owner Magazine and All at Sea Britain's biggest waterfront Newspaper
Home Page:
Dark Ivy's Photos - Torquay (Main)
1 Photo
Fireworks and a Typhoon display over the Dart
9 Photos
Created 29 August 2017
Beautiful Salcombe views
14 Photos
Created 7 August 2017
Photos from the beginning of life on board
3 Photos
Created 6 December 2015