Thursday, December13, 2018

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Race Committee Timer

Race Committee Timer, RCTimer, is an Android application designed for race committees to do starts for sailing regattas. The timer can be set to a count down time, for example 5 minutes. It can also be set to a specific start time, for example 12:30. A sequence can be set so that multiple fleets can be timed in rotation, for example a start every 15 minutes. The timer can be started or stopped and minutes can be added. There is a reference page with signal flags and a lock button. The latest feature is that the app will now talk or sound a horn blast. Sounds can be programmed to occur at any count down time and anything can be said. A simple text file defines what is said or when the horns are sounded. The app is free. A version without sound is on the Google Play store under RCTimer.
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Hybrid Soft Halyard Shackle

Yet another way to make a soft halyard shackle out of Amsteel. This is one that I am using on my boat. The advantage is that the hybrid knot gives approximately full line strength but only extends a couple of inches so that the short splice will not end up making the line that goes into the sheaves fatter. This prevents extra wear in thinner halyard sheaves. The knot provides the locking action which removes most of the load from the splice. The short bury distributes the load enough so that not all of the load in on the knot. The result has been tested to near full line strength. This knot is one of just a few that do not slip in Amsteel. The knot is strong and the splice prevents slippage.
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Block Mechanical Advantage

This is the first part of a two part tutorial on mechanical systems made from blocks and line. I will explore the mechanical advantage of various systems, and shows the general principles on how to set these systems up, including how to thread the line through the blocks, or reeve them. It will go from 1:1 to 6:1 with simple systems and up to 24:1 with cascaded systems. The second part will explore some more unusual systems.
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High Strength Soft Shackle

Recient work by Brion Toss, Evans Starzinger, and myself has led to the development of a high strength soft shackle that Evens has tested to 230% of line strength. The secret to this added strength in primarily an increase in the strength of the knot, the weak point in conventional soft shackles. I should point out that Evans testing shows conventional soft shackles, with diamond knots, test at 170% of line strength, considerable above the "higher than line strength" number I have been using. While these two statements are consistant, the more percise number is considerably higher and higher than the testing I had done at NE Rope.
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In honor of the April Fools prank by Sailing Anarchy, I am putting the Forum back online. Please feel free to post.

There are two forums, one is a general topic and the other is dedicated to rope, splices, and soft shackles.

This is the best place to get answers to your questions.
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New and Improved Used Sails Listings

The "Used Sails" tab has been improved. It includes a new vendor, Second Wind Sails, and is easier to use. If you have ever looked for used sails for your boat I think you will like what we have to offer.

Find used sails that fit your boat from multiple vendors, North, Minney's, Pineapple, Beacon, and now Second Wind Sails. All presented in terms that relate to your boat. Just enter the brand of your boat, pick the specific boat from the list, and you will get a list of sails that will fit your boat. You can limit the results shown by filtering on sail type and, in the case of jibs, jib size. If you don't specify a sail type, all types are displayed. Previously, nothing was displayed and that was confusing some people. We filter the vendor results eliminating sails that we know will not fit.

This is a 93 % jib.
The clew is about 0 feet above the tack.
The luff is 91% of the forestay entered or estimated
Click HERE to get Contact information
NOTE: We make no commission and are not selling any of these sails. This is just another FREE service from
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Analysis of a Tack

Using GPS Tracking Data to Analyze Race Results
Regular readers of know that I am writing an Android application for racing sailboats. I have had the pleasure this winter of collaborating with a Dutch sailor who is practicing this winter in hopes of winning his class in a major regatta this summer. With their 9th place finish two years ago and their 4th place last summer, we believe it is within reach.

This article is an analysis of a single tack. It uses GPS tracking data to calculate the current and from that to calculate the expected tacking angle.

The upwind leg is the leg of interest. We are analyzing the third from the last tack before the mark rounding. We want to know why the boat was not able to make the mark without the last two tacks. The ultimate goal is to come up with better on the water tools for calculating laylines when there is current.

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Small Things - Big Wins

Do you ever wonder what the big difference is between the boats that consistently finish in the front of the fleet and the boats that don't? Sure, sometimes it is just one or two big things; maybe a brand new set of sails while your struggle along with sails 5 or 6 years old, or maybe you think they have some uncanny way of always being on the correct side of the next shift. But after years of racing in all kinds of fleets I can tell you without a doubt that 95% of the time it is nothing so simple but yet something that can be easily attained. The magic factor is really a combination of a whole lot of small things that add up to a big difference and a big winning percentage.
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The First Bend

This bend has been tested. Sometimes it slips, sometimes it breaks. Either way it is stronger than a triple fisherman's. Amsteel is very slippery. It is difficult to test a knot that slips and even harder when it slips sometimes. If you pull and let it sit after it starts to slip, it recovers and ends up being strong, something above 40% of line strength by some tests. There are other knots that almost never slip, see the Last Bend but it is ugly and not near as simple or easy to tie as this knot. The standard for tying Amsteel or Dyneema together is the triple fisherman's knot. This knot slips less that a triple fisherman's so it is a step forward slipping or not. When it doesn't slip, it is stronger than the Last Bend. I present it here for your consideration.

Both the First Knot and the Last Bend can slip at about 35% of line strength. When they don't slip, they are about 40% of line strength with the First Knot just a little above this and the Last Bend below this. There is another variation that slips at about 40% that I will show here as well. You can untie the First Knot, but not the variation. This knot can also be untied even after being loaded up near breaking. Just put a spike through the center to loosen it up and remove the tails from the knot center. The rest is easy.

I am calling this knot the First Bend because by the time I was done testing dozens of variations on knots and never wanted to hear the word bend again, I called the final knot the Last Bend. It did well but upon considering this knot, the first one I considered, I came to appreciate it more. In fact, I am declaring it the winner of my search for the best bend for Dyneema. That said, the variation is stronger.

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Knives on a Boat

Are you still using an old worn out knife? When I found it time for a new knife, I was amazed how much knives have changed. I recently purchased about half a dozen new knives as I explored the field adding to the way too many knives I already had. I scored the Internet for recommendations. I read reviews on Amazon. I tried knives at the local WestMarine (none were acceptable). In the end there were 5 knives I liked and would recommend. There are also whole classes of knives I would stay away from. This article will take you through the thought process and hopefully help you find the perfect knife for your application.
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Automatic GPX File Marker and Route Generator

The set of tools that will generate a GPX file for your GPS has been recently fixed and I thought it time to make people aware of this valuable tool again. With two map clicks you can get a list of all the marks in that area, select the ones you are interested in, edit their names, and download a GPX file to your computer. These are USCG generated locations from the many volumes for all US territories. The search through all the volumes is done automatically. In just a couple of minutes, you can do what might take an hour to do previously. Please enjoy these tools.
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Boating Electrical ABCs

Many sailors I know find their boat's electrical system daunting. The very same people who will tinker with practically every mechanical device on their vessel, will for some reason, shy away from the electrical side of things. Perhaps this view is shaped by those salty-dog authors who dismiss electrical systems as new fangled, and prefer stinky kerosene instead. Or perhaps, sailors have forgotten their high-school science, although it is hardly more complicated than Ohm's Law. Regardless, you have nothing to fear, as electrical systems are very straightforward and equally reliable when properly maintained.
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Basics of Sailboat Racing

This articles has been floating around the web and reprinted by some yacht clubs. It is an "introduction" to sailboat racing. It claims to be simple but is a bit more detailed than a typical introduction to racing. As far as I know, Captain Kangaroo is a fictional TV character from my youth but that is the author sited in the article. The pictures included in the article on the web are included but are enough to frighten anyone out of every trying racing. If you are new to racing, please do not assume these pictures are anything but the most extreme pictures the fictional Captain impersonator could come up with. If you are an experienced racer, they add humor to the article. See if you can pick out the bowman in the last picture. You can't see much of him, but he is in there. I hope you enjoy the article. Allen

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Velocity Headers

I don't think there is a subject so misunderstood than velocity headers. They can take an entire fleet and get them to all stop dead in the water where a boat that recognizes what it going on can sail right through them. I know because I have done it. We went from last to first to finish in a fleet where we were neither the biggest, fastest, or lightest boat and yet there they all were stopped as we went right by, sails luffing away.
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The information on this web site has not been checked for accuracy. It is for entertainment purposes only and should be independently verified before using for any other reason. There are five sources. 1) Documents and manuals from a variety of sources. These have not been checked for accuracy and in many cases have not even been read by anyone associated with I have no idea of they are useful or accurate, I leave that to the reader. 2) Articles others have written and submitted. If you have questions on these, please contact the author. 3) Articles that represent my personal opinions. These are intended to promote thought and for entertainment. These are not intended to be fact, they are my opinions. 4) Small programs that generate result presented on a web page. Like any computer program, these may and in some cases do have errors. Almost all of these also make simplifying assumptions so they are not totally accurate even if there are no errors. Please verify all results. 5) Weather information is from numerious of sources and is presented automatically. It is not checked for accuracy either by anyone at or by the source which is typically the US Government. See the NOAA web site for their disclaimer. Finally, tide and current data on this site is from 2007 and 2008 data bases, which may contain even older data. Changes in harbors due to building or dredging change tides and currents and for that reason many of the locations presented are no longer supported by newer data bases. For example, there is very little tidal current data in newer data bases so current data is likely wrong to some extent. This data is NOT FOR NAVIGATION. See the XTide disclaimer for details. In addition, tide and current are influenced by storms, river flow, and other factors beyond the ability of any predictive program.