Articles for Boat Owners

DIY Boat Monitoring System

esp32/DIY2.jpgEvery morning when I get up there is an email ready for me from my boat. I can look at that and see that the main pump did not go on (good), that the small pump ran for it's usual 5 seconds (also good), that the battery is charged, the shore power is on, and the 12 volt vent fan is on. (all good) These all come to me from the marina WiFi and a module based on the amazing ESP-32. In these few pages I am going to tell you not only how I built it, but I am going to give you information you need to build one yourself. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Ultimate Unassisted Mast Climbing

UltimateMastClimbing/big_s.jpgI have tried dozens of way to climb my mast. In the process I have accumulated 7 ascenders, three rappel devices, a GriGir, and numerous carabiners. I think this climbing system is the best. It is simple to rig, quick going up, requires very little to transition from up to down, and very fast and controlled going down. I can get down in 2 1/2 minutes including rigging the rappel device. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

PC Boards for Boats

PCBoard/thumb.pngIt is so easy and inexpensive to turn your pet electronic project into a professional PC Board that nobody should hesitate either due to time or money. For me the issue was how to do it. After some false starts, I found that the combination of Eagle design software (free) and PCBWay.com, was the answer. This detailed step by step overview will guide you through the process. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

More Unassisted Mast Climbing using a GriGri

grigri/top_small.jpgI use the GriGri system to climb my mast although I still don't recommend it because it is a bit complicated. But I find it just too easy to use to pass it up. Initially there were a number of problems that made it unacceptable but now that I have solved those, I wanted to share the tricks that made it work. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

SSH and FTP from your phone to embedded processor

wifi/thumb.pngUsing free android apps, you can use your phone when there is no wifi network to log onto your embedded processor such as the StartLine RaceBox. You can also transfer files to your phone and then send them via email to anyone. This is great on a boat where there is typically no wi-fi network. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

How to Tie a Bowline (fast and easy)

bowline/bowlineindex.jpgThere are lots of ways to tie a bowline. I think this is the quickest, fastest, easiest to do and remember of all the ways. I learned this when I was a kid from my dad. He probably learned it in the navy in WW II, not sure. But I do know he was a sailor and knew how to tie a bowline fast. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

GPS NMEA Plugin for Android

startline/btgpsplugin.pngThis article shows how to modify an Android application that uses internal GPS and external nmea data and add gps over nmea. It also explains how to take that app and use it. The secret is using the plug in feature of Bluetooth GPS Provider and adding their Plugin code to the build stack of the Android app along with some simple changes to the target app. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

StartLine Video Series

startline/video.jpgThis page links a series of video clips on using StartLine. There is an overview that covers how I use StartLine as well as detailed videos on the main pages. More pages will be added by request of users. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Unassisted Mast Climbing

unassisted_mast_climbing.jpgThe setup of the modified approach is fairly simple. The boson's chair is attached using a carabineer to an Microcender. The foot loops are made of climbing grade tubular webbing and are attached below the microcender to the lower basic Petzl ascender. The attachment is with a second carabiner and it is hooked through the top hole in the Basic Ascender. The reason for using the top hole... CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Race Committee Timer with sound

RCTimer/thumb.pngRC Timer is an Android app for Race Committees to use in starting sail boat races. It is free and was created as a thank you for all the hard work that Race Committees to to allow the rest of us to race. This article gives a little color on the app and a detailed description on how to use it including the sound feature that seems to give people trouble. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE


leeway/thumb.pngThis article discusses leeway and its influence on measurements of the True Wind Direction using standard sailboat instruments. In particular I will addresses the notion that is presented in other sites online that leeway can be added to apparent wind angle. I will show that this is not the case and discuss the implications of leeway on measurement accuracy. Along the way I will explain leeway. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Knife Review - One year later

7thumb.jpgIt has been a year since I wrote the knives on a boat review. It was really a review mostly of every day carny or EDC knives with one specifically marine knife with a marlin spike. I have lived with these knives and find my favorites to be a little different than my first impressions. I still like all these knives very much but the question is, which ones do I end up using and what do I use them for. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Unassisted Mast Climbing Update

grigri2_thumb.jpgIn the article on Unassisted Mast Climbing I prefer the modified method but mention that the GriGri method is easier to use. There are two things I did not like about the GriGri method 1) It requires re-rigging the setup at the top of the mast. That is really a most unpleasant experience. 2) The descent, while quick and easy, it jerky and can be frightening and if you panic, can be really scary. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Racing with a Whisker Pole

whiskerPole/thumb.jpgMost sailors have whisker poles to hold a jib out to weather. Not that many use them in racing as a spinnaker is the preferred sail for racing downwind. But not everyone wants to use a spinnaker and some of us race in classes that do not allow spinnakers. Over the years we on Papoose have tried to prefect using a whisker pole while racing.

What I am about to discuss conflicts with the instructions you will find for using a whisker pole. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Hybrid Soft Halyard Shackle

image/HybridHalyard_HybridHalyard10.jpgYet 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Block Mechanical Advantage

image/blocks_mechanical_advantage_simple_block_system.pngThis is the first part of a two part tutorial on mechanical systems made from blocks and line. The second part is HERE. 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Analysis of A Tack (using GPS)

image/AnalysisOfATack_SpeedCourse.pngThis 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. That is compared to the actual tacking angle to see why two additional tacks were required. The boat that is the subject of this analysis is not pictured to the left, but that is a pretty boat isn't it?

The upwind leg is the leg of interest. We are analyzing the third from the last tack before the mark rounding. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Small Things Big Wins

image/ep_advice_ep_boat.jpgDo 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Knives on a Boat

knives/knife_thumb.jpgAre you still using an old warn 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Boating Electrical ABCs

electrical_abc/thumb.pngMany 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Basics of Sailboat Raceing

racing_basics/thumb.jpgThis 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Velocity Headers

image/velocity_herader2_flag18.pngI 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. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Unassisted Mast Climbing

mast_climbing_s.jpgSix methods to climb a mast unassisted are reviewed including a modification of mountain climbing techniques adapted to climbing a mast that has the best score of all six. This articles represents many weeks of testing and improving the techniques presented. It is the result of over 20 years of frustration with trying to find the ideal unassisted mast climbing technique. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

How to Fly a Spinnaker

spinnaker/thumb.png Updated 6/9/2014
This 8 page tutorial covers all the terms, positions, and tasks of flying a symmetric spinnaker using the end for end gybe technique. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

How to Point Higher

image/spyc_racing_spyc_racing.pngNOTE: This is an article I wrote for our local yacht club newsletter.

I have been racing at SPYC for 5 years and that represents almost all my racing experience. I am thankful to the club for this experience and it has helped me a great deal to become a better racer. I am also grateful to other skippers who are far better racers than I will ever be for sharing many insights and tips on sailing. While I do not consider myself an expert racer, I would like to continue the tradition... CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

More Low Friction Rings

fairlead/333s.pngIn the first article of this series we gave results on using fairleads and showed how the added friction is not significant with low deflection angles. In this article we consider using low friction and other standard rings with high deflections and analyze how these can be used in systems to provide simple and inexpensive mechanical advantage. Again we used the digital scale shown on the right to make the measurements. This scale reads up to 220 pounds with 1/2 pound resolution. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Fairlead Friction Explained

fairlead/amsteel_friction_s.pngHave you ever wondered hom much, if anything, you are giving up by using fairleads instead of blocks? How much friction is there. How does this compare with a block? Does the style of the fairlead matter? This article attempts to answer these questions. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Jibsheet Fairlead

fairlead/fairlead_s.pngDo you find that you get wraps on your jib winches or just want give a better lead angle to the winch? In the last race we did, a new crew member got a wrap so tight that the only way to release it was to cut the sheet with a knife. We strung the lazy sheet to the secondary winch and took the pressure off but that was not enough to free the wrap, that is when the knife came out. The winch manufacturer recommends between 3 and 8 degrees as the ideal sheeting angle. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Mainsheet System Analyzed

oslo_rigging/small.jpgIt isn't often you see a completely new way to rig a mainsheet. I saw this posting on Sailing Anarchy and though I would share an analysis of what they are doing and why. Here is a picture of the boat CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

More on Rings as Twings, Inhaulers, and Twings

tp52_jib_rig/fairlead_s.jpgI have several articles on using rings as inhaulers and twings. This can be taken to extremes and the jib car can be eliminated and just the twing and inhauler used. It not only can be, that is how the TP-52 fleet is rigged. Here are some pictures to show it. This is a picture I took a couple of years ago at the Big Boat Series in San Francisco of the TP-52 Mayham CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Calibrate a Marine Compass

image/compass_south_1.pngEveryone understands that a marine compass needs to be calibrated. It is easy enough to find articles on how to calibrate a marine compass but I found them lacking in two areas. First, they did not explain what was really going on such that I could understand why things were being done. Second, they all recommended you don't actually do the calibration yourself but rather hire an expert. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Low Friction Ring Mechanical Advantage

image/low_friction_rings_block_and_scale.pngI recently saw a picture of a three stage cascaded block system using low friction ring instead of blocks. This article analyzes such a cascade and shows how to calculate its effective mechanical advantage. The techniques shown can easily be extended to other systems. I will discuss one such system that I use on my boat. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Make your own Telltails

image/telltails_IMG_0250.jpgI admit it, this is sailing nerdiness at its extreme. When I was a teenager I was a sailmaker at Spencer sails in Huntington New York. That was almost 40 years ago! I used to make the telltales when I worked there. It was always fun bringing pockets full out to customer's boats and giving them away like bringing cake or wine to a visit. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

GPX CSV Waypoint Editor and File Converter

gpx_waypoint_edit.pngNew tool to enter waypoint files in either gpx or csv format, add new lines, convert them to either gpx or scv format and download them back to your computer. This is useful for creating and editing waypoint files for StartLine the new racing application for Android form L-36.com CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Buying New Sails

image/buying_new_sails_small_EPSails.jpgNew sails represent one of the biggest investments you make in your boat. So when getting ready to make that purchase what things should you consider to make sure you get the product that best fits your needs and to insure you spend your money wisely? CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Bluetooth GPS Receivers

image/bluetooth_gps_provider_qstarz.jpgIn this article, I will explain why you might want an external GPS receiver, what the various Android drivers do, and why I picked Bluetooth GPS Provider as my preferred app. Finally, I will explain all of the Preferences in Bluetooth GPS Provider, something you will not find anywhere else. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Almost Lost My Rig

papoose/shroud_s.jpgThe ground for my antenna combined with a new lashing of my lifeline to the shroud almost caused the rig to come down. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Rock Box Blue -- First Look

rock_box/thum.jpgThe new Rock Box is an impressive product. The waterproof case, O-ring sealed looks solid and well made. There is more to this product than just the start function as I will explain below. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Buying Used Sails

used_sails/image003.jpgGiven the cost of purchasing new sails for your boat these days, some are turning to the used sail market. Here at Pacific Sail Trader we wish to give you the lowdown on how best to do it. Purchasing a sail without seeing it in person is the greatest concern of most buyers. Not being able to actually touch it seems to be the missing sense. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Phone or Tablet On Board

starting/tablet_onboard_s.jpgUsing phones and tablets for marine applications is very attractive. Applications are a fraction of the cost of dedicated marine products that seem to perform the same function. But the marine environment is very difficult and there are problems with both phone and tablet applications. There are many articles on the Internet showing you which 10 apps are the best. This is not one of those articles. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Starting Apps

starting/thumb.pngI had intended to review both iRegatta and BC Racer. Both are excellent well done apps for smart phones and tablets.

After testing both, I decided not to review the programs themselves, but to talk about limitations on this class of device. Perhaps you can overcome these limitations but after reading this you will at least you will know what they are. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE


starting/thumb.jpgWouldn't it be great to have an application or device that would get you to the starting line right at the gun going fast. There are several phone/tablet apps that say they will help you do that and a few dedicated boxes that say they will do it better.

This is the first of a series of articles on using GPS devices to get to the line on time going fast. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

No Shackle Halyard

toggle_halyard/overview.jpgA simple and easy to use method of attaching a halyard to the head of a mainsail is shown. There are no parts to drop or complicated things to do. The toggle is permanently attached to the halyard and a simple trick makes it all work. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Vang Systems

cascade_vang_thumb.pngA 8:1 Vang system that is cheaper than using two fiddle blocks, lighter, and stronger. What is not to like?

The second vang system shows is the 20:1 vang on Papoose. This is a unique system with some advantages that are discussed.

This page also has a link to 16 standard variations on vang systems. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Evantide Sails Again

eventide/1.jpgL-36 Eventide returned to the Bay on New Year's Day 2012 after our very well photographed adventures at the 2011 Master Mariners Race. Her hull had basically been sawed through from deck to just above the water line by the other boat's chain link bobstay, and her spruce mast and boom were shattered into multiple pieces beyond repair. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Easy GPS Waypoints and Routes Creation

LightList/article/marks.pngWouldn't it be great to just have a list of all the marks in the area and just check them off, rename them to match the names the race committee uses, import them into a program, copy and paste the race committee routes onto a page and press a button and have a file you could download into your GPS? So I built just that. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Gross Fine Mainblock Reeving

mainsheet_systems/mainsheet_lazy_lightning.pngTwo ways of reeving the mainsheet in this gross fine mainsheet system are shown. One way avoids the problem of the lines hitting each other. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Finding Target Boat Speed to Windward

polars/thumb.jpgThis is a series of web pages designed to allow you to find target boat speeds without fancy instruments. Target boat speed is the speed that will take you upwind as fast as possible. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Bonding Sinks Boat

bonding/small_sunk.jpgLightning strikes a boat with a bonded through hull and it sinks in an hour. See the photographic proof in this short article. Be sure to read the "Bonding Your Boat" CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE


inhauler/inhauler_small.pngAn inhauler, sometimes called a Barberhauler, is used to pull the jib sheets inboard from their normal position. You can do that to decrease the sheeting angle or to keep the sheeting angle the same as you let the sheets out to add fullness. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Calibrating your Knot Meter

polars/knotmeter.pngIn many area calibrating a Knot Meter is a simple matter of setting it to read what the GPS reads. But if your boat is in areas where there are tides, local current can make this method inaccurate. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Printing your own NOAA Charts

charts/sfbay_s.jpgUsing free software and you can download edit and print free NOAA charts just like the paper ones are are all familiar with. I wish I had know about this before I did it by scanning a paper chart! CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Repowering your Sailboat

repower/38-repowering.jpgIf your present engine is always hard to start, has constantly smoky exhaust, burns or leaks a lot of oil, is low on power, has coolant or water in the oil, or parts are difficult or expensive to acquire, repowering solves ALL these problems. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Amsteel to StaSet Splice

halyard_splice/LL4U0145.jpgSplice of 1/8 inch Amsteel-Blue to 1/4 inch Sta-Set is shown. This is ideal for the halyard of a small boat and is also a scale model for a 3/16 Amsteel to 3/8 Sta-Set splice, which would be good for a 36 foot boat. I have tested this splice to the breaking strength of the StaSet and the splice holds fine. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Jib Twing

twing/twing_icon.pngA Jibsheet Twing is sometimes called a Jib Sheet Downhaul. It is used instead of moving the jib car when you sail off the wind. At least that is what I do and it is so much easier than trying to move the car even if you have lines to move the car. This article also discusses sail trim for off the wind and how a twing can help get good trim. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Bonding your boat

bonding/aftends.jpgThe topic of bonding on boats has more myth and misinformation than most any other topic. This article tries to present the reasons to and not to bond so you can decide what to do. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Lightning on a Sailboat

lightning/lightning.jpgAs part of a project on bonding on boats, I have put together this reference to various articles on lightning. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Humidity Below Deck

img_humid.pngFollow this blog of my struggles with mold and humidity or jump to the end where the data is in. The conclusion is keep all the compartments open an inch, use a StorDry to provide low level heat that promotes air circulation and get lots of air moving through. A couple of nice humidity calculators are included. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Low cost High Tech Halyard

halyard_small.jpgFor about $75 I have a 100 ft long light weight easy on the hands halyard to replace the wire main halyard. The trick is the choice of cover material and the splice while keeping the strength thought the entire length. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Mainsheet Systems

mainsheet_systems/papoose_thumb.pngPapoose has a Double Ended 5:1 Mainsheet System. I explain it as well as show most other popular mainsheet systems in this mainsheet systems page. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Rig Tuning

wire_small.gifI have not tried this but it looks like it would be a very accurate way to measure rig tension. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Loos gauge accuracy

loosthumb.gifThey didn't look very accurate to me until I found out that you have to do a little trick not covered in the instructions. Before that, I got readings at mid scale from two new Loos gauges that differed by 26% or more. See my write up. Now my gauge agrees with what I know to be correct from the measurements discussed in the article. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Foot Block Wedge

turnthumb.jpgHow to Calculate the Dimensions of a Wedge Pad for a Foot Block Turning Block. I take into account the distances involved and determine the angles and heights of the bad that goes under the turning block to make the leading angles fair. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

Replacing Cockpit Drains

haulout/drainthumb.jpgThe replacement of the cockpit drains on Papoose April 2009, the planning, the parts, and the finished result. CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

The San Francisco Bar

sfbar.jpgClick Here for article on the San Francisco Bar. Must reading if you are going out of the bay CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

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