Archive for March, 2009

Daylight saving, changing the ship’s clock and time at sea

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Well, it seems that I was misinformed. The switch from daylight saving here in Australia takes place next Sunday, 5 April. In the circumstances, my comment about the maritime world using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) was apt.


When on a long voyage, it’s up to the skipper to decide when the ship’s clock should be changed to reflect the crossing of the meridians, including the International Date Line. Such changes, of course, would affect the timing of the changes of watch – and I mean when the crew go on and come off watch, not what you have on your wrist! The skipper and/or navigator also has to keep track of times of skeds and weather forecasts to keep in touch with the world and get informed about the weather conditions coming their way.

Daylight saving

Friday, March 27th, 2009

As well as Earth Hour taking place on Saturday evening, it’s also the end of daylight saving for us here in Australia. Daylight saving ends next Sunday, 5 April in Australia – see blog post dated 30 March. This will mean the end of our season of twilight races, which are always a good way to end the day. In the case of our yacht club, they end the working week – Friday twilights just blow the troubles of the week away.


In the Northern Hemisphere, conversely, daylight saving is just beginning. In the USA, it started on the second Sunday in March. The European Union makes the change this Sunday, 29 March.


Most of us these days rely on our computers to know when to change the time. When Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympic Games, daylight saving started on 27 August and we had to correct our computers manually.


Isn’t it lucky that the maritime world works by UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), formerly known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)?

Earth Hour 2009

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

If we want our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy sailing as much as we do we need to look after Planet Earth.

One way is turn off all the lights and have a candle-lit dinner on Saturday evening. Of course, the more appliances, TVs, computers, etc. you switch off, the more power will be saved.

Sign up for Earth Hour! - PARTICIPATING: Ann Reynolds

   Sign up for Earth Hour!

Why not join us?

Still an adventure

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Annie and I have just been to a very interesting two-day symposium called In the Wake of the Beagle at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney. From time to time we will bring you snippets about UK Government surveying voyages in the South Pacific by vessels such as the Fly, Rattlesnake, Erebus, Terror, and so on.

The first is of a saying by the world’s – so far – youngest non-stop round-the-world sailor, Australian Jessie Martin. It was told by Dr John Collee, scriptwriter of Master and Commander and Happy Feet, who spoke at the symposium, as representing the discomfort amounting to pain of all on board such cramped, stinking, filthy vessels.

Jessie said that, if at some stage during an enterprise one didn’t say “I really don’t want to be doing this”, it isn’t an adventure.

I think a lot of sailors nowadays can identify with that.

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Thursday, March 19th, 2009

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Matthew Flinders and deviation

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

We’ve just uploaded an article, Matthew Flinders – an unsung hero. It’s about his place in our maritime history for discovering deviation of the compass.

Why not read the article and then return here to post your comments?

An uncomfortable feeling

Monday, March 16th, 2009

When I wrote the other day about being woken by a boat’s preparations to tack, seemingly against my instructions to the crew, it reminded me of waking on a yacht moments before it was dismasted.

The yacht was Uptown Girl, the race was the 1988 Sydney-Hobart and we were entering Bass Strait in 40 knot winds and confused, although not very big, seas.

At first I thought it might have been a change in motion that alerted both me and the skipper, Rod Winton, that something was very wrong on board. Moments later, as we hurried up on deck, we found that the mast had gone over the side.

Interestingly it had broken into sections 25 cm* above each set of spreaders. The breaks above the spreaders did not crimp in the way that is usual when a tube fails, although the bottom break did. The other breaks were clean, as if the section had been cut through. There was no sign of any crimping.

Months later computer modelling showed that the failure was caused by harmonics and what had disturbed us were inaudible but subconsciously discernible sound waves!

I’m glad to say that more often than not I’m awakened by the whistle of the kettle, signalling the change of watch.

Have you ever been on a yacht when it was dismasted?
Please share your experiences by commenting on this post.

* 10 inches

Instructions to your crew

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Some years ago on a Five Islands race as navigator, I gave my instructions to the on-watch and went below for my first rest. The race had started at 8 o’clock the night before and now, at dawn, I felt I could trust the crew to follow my instructions not to tack until the cliffs were above them.

Some time later, my rest (I rarely sleep soundly on overnight races) was disturbed by obvious noises in preparation to tack. I was instantly out of my bunk and on my way up the companionway, complaining bitterly that my instructions were being ignored. The watch-captain merely gestured upwards and continued with the tack. The cliffs were certainly above us and not to tack would have brought us to a sudden halt.

How well does your crew follow your instructions?

In Skipper and Crew, Knots and The Language of the Sea we talk about what makes a good skipper and how to find good crew.