Cutting Corners

There’s a continual temptation in life to cut corners, to do as little as possible, to take the path, that in the short term, seems easier.

Take my new backing plates for the cleats intended for the genoa sheets……



I hunted high and low for some stainless offcuts I knew I had lying around. Try as I might I couldn’t find them and a’ll the while, right there in plain sight on the workbench, were some perfectly sized pieces of aluminium crying out ” Use me m’Lord. Use me !”

Tempting. After all, stainless is a bugger to work and drill and I didn’t have the correct drill bits, let alone the pieces of steel themselves. Very tempting. But…… While using Al or even mild steel would make the job easy in the short term, long term nightmares of rust and corrosion lay in wait down that road.

Luckily I found what I was after and the plates are now cut to size. I resisted the temptation to dull my mild steel bits and the holes are waiting for the weekend after a visit to the hardware store.

As in many other areas of life it’s tempting to take a shortcut. Sometimes it’s better to just take things slow and do what you know is right !


The job is done. Well almost. All that remains is to mount the cleats on the yacht.

It’s done right! But it’s not cheap doing things right. The drill bits alone …….. !



The preparation off the water has paid off. It was an easy 30 minute job to install the cleats. then of course, it was necessary to cast off and give them a quick test sail.



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Weather Trivia

If you’re at all interested in sailing then I guess you have more of an interest in the weather than most. Here’s a bit of trivia that may be of interest.

Wind direction around a low, in the southern hemisphere is in the same direction as the rotation of the earth if viewed from the south pole. i.e. clockwise. [Opposite in the northern hemisphere]….

Rotation around Low

synoptic 2013.03.02

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Ready to Retire

I’ve been doing some online hunting to complete my library of manuals for all the systems and gear onboard ocean Blue.

Doing a quick Google, as you will, for ST2000 I stumbled across a review of this handy piece of self-steering kit. The thing that prompted this rant is not so much the review [because I didn’t even read it] but the following image that was part of the write-up…….

ST2000 Review

i.e. my trusty autohelm is regarded as “over the hill” and “ready to be retired”. What a load of BS!

So this is what really grates me. The implication is that I should immediately upgrade to a more modern version because I’m not one of the cool kids with my old technology. It’s got nothing to do with “fit for purpose” but is merely an insiduous, unspoken uncurrent in modern consumer society aimed at driving more sales and revenue and profits.

That got me thinking about the whole “Green” issue. You have to buy a new widget because it’s more environmentally friendly than it’s 90’s predecessor. So chuck the perfectly serviceable one you have now and buy the new one because it’s greener. While you’re at it don’t worry about the hole in the ground for the constituent raw materials and the noxious gasses belched into the atmosphere during manufacture. Just be happy you have the new greener model and proudly show the world how eco-friendly you are.

Anyhow, I’ve digressed enough. I did find the manual I was looking for and I’ve added it into my on-board electronic library, ready to reference when the gadget looses it’s mind and steers Ocean Blue in random circles.

I’m happy to have an old, recycled boat and gear. As long as they are in good working order, there’s no need to dig a greater hole in the earth. And no matter what anyone “who knows” thinks…… No! They are not yet ready to retire.

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South Westerlies

The first real chill of winter has followed this front up to the Vaal. The NW’lies preceding the front gave way to the expected, icy SW’ly at about 10h30 this morning and the mooring field turned a little bumpy as the waves built across the open fetch from Bill’s Bay.

In this weather, Ocean Blue’s stern lies perilously close to the rocky shore. So close it feels as if I could jump ashore without even getting my jeans wet. I’m up and down the companionway steps all morning, keeping a close watch and making sure the tiny gap remains the same kind of tiny. It doesn’t change and all I achieve is to get some exercise with my step climbing.

“Sick-As-Sin” “Sieker s’n” hoists all her canvas and sets sail in a good 15-20 kt breeze. As she beats out toward Game Breeders I wish I were on board as crew rather than stuck here, cutting strips of wood, drilling through electrical cables hidden behind the headlining  and regularly checking the shoreline. She looks a grand sight as she leans to the breeze and returns to sail through the Narrows and onward toward Fish Eagle. It’s funny how a boat looks so different on the water. On the hard at Manten’s I must confess to thinking “What on earth has he done?” But now, back in her natural element and under sail, I now also see the beauty in her that her new skipper saw when others could not.

The nearby jagged shoreline jolts me back into the present. It’s a funny and irrational feeling! It makes no sense at all but yet I feel too close to the rocks. If the anchor drags, I mean if the mooring line breaks, Ocean Blue will be on the rocks before I can save her.

I don’t really want to leave her here so close to destruction and I give a last look out across the water as I pack up and head for home. She’s still there, rolling a little as the westerly swell works it’s way into the bay, nodding her mast-head instruments at me as if to say “Chill dude. I’ll still be here when you get back!”

I feel a little silly actually and I park the the thought I had to ask the club manager to move the mooring further out into the bay. I mean, logically, it make no sense. If the mooring is going to break while I’m away, then it’s going to end up just the same. The 5 minutes longer that it takes for Ocean Blue to hit the rocks is not going to make any difference when I’m an hour away. And so I hit the road, back to the cubicle nation where I slave away to fund my sailing habit.

I’ll still keep an eye on the forecast and I’ll definitely keep my insurance current but I have no doubt that next weekend will find me and Blue reunited. Perhaps no DIY next weekend. All work and no play… and all that !

I think next weekend we’ll exercise those sails!

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Today is “Home-Improvement” Day

All the bits and pieces are cut and glued and today is the day they will be installed. Pity about the forecast though. It looks to be bumpy on the mooring. I hope it all goes in straight!

OB Galley Shelf


It always takes longer than you thought and it always needs modifications on the fly.

But, the new galley shelf is in and ready for varnish!

The new galley shelf

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Lammert Beach

The weekend of 18 May saw 2 yachts brave the fluky, light winds and sail out into the depths of the Vaal.

Destination, Rose Bay.

Objective, Chill!

Rose Bay proved a challenge for the anchor and so we sailed on to Lammert Beach for the night.

Strider leads the way through the Confluence and on toward the Island

Strider leads the way through the Confluence and on toward the Island

The overnight anchorage at Lammert Beach

The overnight anchorage at Lammert Beach


And then there was fog! Lots of it.

The return voyage on Sunday morning was made under motor in 10-15m visibility.

Still learning new things on the Vaal after all these years.

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Somewhere near Fools Pt

Ocean Blue and 10da2Going nowhere in particular, no deadline, no rush …. !

With that amount of wind I guess I could have been sailing, but then….you don’t always have to sail to enjoy the boat and the water. Sometimes it’s enough to just be out there.


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Favourite memories

This remains one of my favourite weekends at anchor. Total calm, deserted anchorage, beautiful sunset, sweet little yacht. Forget all those holiday brochures advertising the good life. The good life is here and now !!

Happy Memories

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“All boats leak”

“There’s always a defect, always a slow drip, somewhere. Every plan, every organization, every venture has a glitch. The question isn’t, “is this perfect?” The question is, “will this get me there?” Sometimes we make the mistake of ignoring the big leaks, the ones that threaten our journey. More often, though, we’re so busy fixing tiny leaks that we get distracted from the real goal, which is to go somewhere.” – Seth Godin

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Unbeatable Offer from Good Old Boat

I’ve always thought that Good Old Boat matches the South African inland sailing scene quite nicely. While the mainstream sailing media do their thing advertising super-new, super-big, super-expensive dreams the rest of us are quietly getting on with our sailing, content with our old sailboats and just being out on the water.

While there are the new yachts out there, the majority of the sailing scene here is made up of folk sailing older, smaller boats. Boats that are relatively cheap to buy and to maintain. Also, considering the options and costs of the few available boatyards, many sailors choose to do their own maintenance work  and improvement projects.

The content of GOB is directly relevant to the majority of us. We mostly all sail older boats from the 70’s and 80’s. Our boats are typically between 2o and 34 footers. We all need tips and information on boat improvements, maintenance methods, navigation theory and just plain good old articles on living the good life aboard to keep us focused and motivated on the sailing lifestyle. The list goes on.

As an example….there’s a interesting article in the May/June 2001 issue entitled “They Also Sail”.

IS Sailors also sail


So, you say ” I’m convinced! But I can’t fly across the pond every 2 months to collect my copy of GOB off the news stand………”

Well, the great news is that GOB are now offering their magazine in digital format

which means we can now download right here in South Africa [or anywhere of course]. They have generously made 2 FREE issues available for download to InlandSailing readers. Totally free and with no obligations for further subscriptions.

Head on over to the Good Old Boat website and try them out.


PS: InlandSailing doesn’t earn any commission or income from Good Old Boat so we have no vested interests when we wholeheartedly endorse them. In the modern world of glitz, glamour and rampant bigger-is-better commercialism, they are a shining example that sailing life can indeed be very good, even on a budget. Try them out! You won’t be sorry you did !
PPS: Don’t try downloading the Hi-Res copies. They are huge and take forever to download and are slow to read on your PC once you have them downloaded. Stick with the standard size downloads. They’re super-detailed and of excellent quality so there’s really no need for more.
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