image Navigation
tips & tricks

I use a lot of the old rule-of-thumb navigation techniques and find that in this age of modern electronic navigation they are still just as useful as they were hundreds of years ago. In fact many of them come from old sailing manuals. Since we want this newsletter to be something useful to our friends I thought I would pass along a new one every month – or until I run out of useful tips.
Read more »

power problems strike again

During the average year we spend 3-4 weeks in marinas. The rest of the time we are at sea or on anchor. That means VEGA needs to be self sufficient in her electricity needs.
To learn more »

Maintenance in Bali

It is between the seasons that we change from a working boat to a display boat. All the running around caring for nicks in the varnish or touching up paint along with all the other jobs large and small that keep VEGA in tip top health.
For an insight into how we keep VEGA in such good shape »

Winter season

With invitations for VEGA to be the press boat for the world famous Raja Muda Regatta and the spectacular Pang Nga Bay Regatta it starts to look as if our winter season will be a busy one. Talks are still going on concerning the Royal Langkawi Regatta, as well as the PIMEX and Boat Asia Boat shows. We will keep you informed as more events are added to our calendar.
Read more »

Charity sails to the rescue

One of the ways we earn funds to sponsor the programs and projects we assist is by doing charity sails or having cocktail gatherings on board VEGA.
Read more »

The Captain’s Log

August started in the Banda Islands assisting the schools and health services. The Banda islands are not poor in the way people of East Timor are. These are islands where almost anything will grow and the waters are teaming with fish. What the people need and want is help catching up with the outside world. There is one flight a week and one ferryboat every 2 weeks. In many ways they are still about 20 years behind the times which for visitors is a wonderful thing to enjoy, but for the education and therefore the future of local children it can be a nightmare. Technical training materials and help with basic English language skills, math, and sciences, even help with sports equipment are important educational needs. The health services try hard to provide modern health care with very limited facilities and supplies. One of their biggest demands was in the area of up to date medical reference texts.

The elementary schools on Banda Besar urgently need support with expendable supplies for the students. Many of the families there cannot afford the cost of these basic educational materials for their children. The clinics are usually old buildings in need of repair and could seriously use a bit of modernization. These needs are just as important as those of the people we are helping in East Timor.

Helping orphans and children from poor families.
On the Banda Islands orphans and children whose families cannot afford education are still cared for by a system of semi volunteer teachers. To learn more »

Places to stay and eat out in Banda. Read more »

Rubbish in Paradise. Rubbish is a problem everywhere these days, but nowhere does it show up so starkly as in a pristine natural environment like Banda. Doing your part not to contribute to the mess is much easier than it might seem. The people of these islands do an admirable job of keeping their islands clean and neat by gathering and burning most trash. The real problems start when the weekly ferry arrives or large yachting events like Sail Indonesia. To learn more and how to help rather than hinder these efforts. »

Good bye beautiful Banda. We could have stayed in the beautiful Banda islands forever, so friendly and open are the people there. So it was a sad moment when on the morning of the 10th a crew of friends and well wishers gathered on VEGA’s fore deck to help us with the long arduous task of hauling our 100 kg anchor from a depth of 30+ meters. It was a task that took almost an hour even with 6 strong fishermen helping. More than one of us mentioned the great hope, almost a distant dream, that our friends in Singapore will at last be able to get the anchor wench working when we arrive there in October.

Once the big anchor was fished and catted we hauled the kedge anchor we had been ridding to while we pulled the main anchor. That little 40 kg fisherman looks exactly like every other fisherman anchor, but for some reason always digs right in and almost never drags.

With both anchors catted and many fond farewells our friends left in their boat and we set sail for Bali and a long list of yearly maintenance jobs.

Wet days in Banda. The weather in Banda is rainy most of the year with the only dry seasons being the transition months of April-May and October-November.
More about the sail from Banda to Bali »

Navigation tips & tricks

This months trick is called the one in sixty rule and is a very simple way to calculate how far off coarse a heading change will put you at the end of the day. It is also useful for estimating the additional time it will take when crossing a current.

The 1 in 60 rule is based on the fact that if you steer 1 degree off your coarse for 60 miles you will be 1 mile off coarse or 1 degree for 30 miles puts you 1/2 mile off coarse. Pretty simple, but very useful. Sometimes the sea and or winds are acting up and steering your intended coarse can be a rough wet time when sailing a few degrees to one side or the other that coarse can make for a much more comfortable ride. By using this trick you can calculate how far off coarse those few degrees will put you and how much they will add to your trip time.

When crossing a current makes you steer into the current a few degrees to maintain your proper heading over ground you can apply that rule to tell you how many apparent extra miles you will need to sail to reach your goal. For example a 5 degree heading change will add 5 miles after you sail 60 miles so if you were sailing at 5 knots then you would be adding another hour to your total trip time.

If you need a few more degrees on the apparent wind angle to make good your sailing abilities then by calculating how many degrees you need you can quickly know how far to steer at 90 degrees to your intended coarse to change the apparent wind angle to one more congenial to your plans. For example if I need to change the apparent wind angle 10 degrees when heading for a port 60 miles away then I will need to cut up by 10 miles before taking on my actual heading. That will change my original coarse to steer by 10 degrees shifting the apparent accordingly. Common sense tells you which way to apply the correction.

Power problems strike again

We have a little Westerbeke generator, but it does burn fuel and twice this year has had mechanical problems that demonstrated the vulnerability of depending on a single source. During those periods we ran the main engine to charge the batteries, at a cost of 6-7 ltrs an hour rather than 1.5.

The bottom line is we need another dependable source of power to charge batteries. After careful thought the conclusion is a second small back-up generator that only charges our 12 VDC batteries and or an array of professional solar panels to help maintain the charge. Solar panels are our favorite being environmentally friendly and not requiring expensive fuel to operate, but both will somehow need to be found.

The world’s largest solar panel factory is just starting operations in Singapore. It is owned by REC, a Norwegian company that specializes in high quality industrial solar panels. Being in the process of starting up they must have panels that do not meet their high standards. Those panels would be useless for them, but very useful for us. The problem is how do we contact them and whom should we contact to ask about this? If you can help with this by finding who to contact we would really appreciate it.

The second solution is a small marine water-cooled diesel generator. If it has 220VAC we can run it through our Xantrex charger, but if not we do have a Balmar multi stage controller to run it through. Westerbeke does not make one small enough, (2.5-4 KVA) and they are rather expensive. The other possibility is to look for a used unit in good condition. Again if you have any ideas please do contact us through the contact form on our website for more details.


Maintenance in Bali

Keeping a boat like Vega in top condition is work. We are constantly after the hundreds of small things that crop up, if for no other reason than to prevent them from becoming big things demanding bigger work.

It is when we start getting ready for our yearly Northern tour that things can get hectic. Every block needs inspection and the varnish touched up, all the minor repairs that have been put off during our working season are attacked and even those pesky improvements that have been building up as innocent lists need doing. Rigging needs tarring, servings need attention, ratlines need relashing, and the lists seem to go on forever. Every year we dedicate almost 1 month to this maintenance period, but it shows and is a source of pride when people visit the boat and marvel at her immaculate state.

By keeping Vega as a museum quality show piece that actually sails she is more likely to be invited to regattas and boat shows where we can not only enjoy showing her off but meet others like ourselves who are interested in our real work helping other less fortunate than we are.

Most of the year Banda has some rain almost every day. This year the completely disrupted weather patterns sent us far more than the average rains and those rains stayed with us through out the first two days of running South West across the Banda Sea. On the third day the sky cleared and we began to see better weather, although the winds remained fickle ranging from N.E. at 20 knots to due south at 10 knots. The good news was that we could sail a lot of this route and most of it under the big square running sail.

Sailing under that big running sail is a real sailors delight. Vega is much happier under sail, and the quite without the engine is a real pleasure. The boat’s whole motion improves and she all but steers herself, even dead down wind. The interesting thing is that we can actually sail faster than we can motor. With our 215 hp engine at 1,400 RPM we average about 6.5-7 knots. With only the running sail and 15 knots of apparent wind we also do 6-7 knots. Reaching with that same wind and more sail we make 9-10 knots easily.

As the days and watches rolled bye lulled by the boats gentle motion the hammock and the bow sprite nets were in great demand. You cannot believe how relaxing to be in the bow sprite nets with a cool breeze coming down from the sail and only the sound of the bow gliding through the water. At night the stars returned with a magnificent display while a look over the side could last for hours admiring the spectacular phosphorescence rushing down the boats sides. The Banda Sea is famous for the most spectacularly phosphorescent waters in the world.

On the Banda Islands everyone is related to everyone else in one way or another so that orphans are usually taken in and cared for by the extended family. This provides for their basic needs, but when it comes to their education things can become difficult. Most families’ strain a bit to provide their own children with school supplies and the other things they need to go to school. When times are tight it is the orphans that suffer first. To address this problem several of the islands teachers have opened small evening or afternoon schools where underprivileged children can come and receive a basic education. These schools are mostly run from the teachers’ own pocket, along with what few modest “fees” they can collect. Most are working with what we would consider “nothing”. They need textbooks, exercise books, pens, pencils, chalk, and all the other small things to teach with. Having seen their work and modest needs, we feel they deserve our assistance. If you would like to help them contact us through the contact form on our website for more details.

There are several small comfortable colonial style guesthouses in Banda Neira. Most are quite reasonably priced and offer very good local cuisine with a limited offering of European dishes. With the quality and variety found in the local cuisine I doubt you will even notice the lack of your usual favorites. Fish is top of the menu followed closely by chicken and both are prepared in so many novel mouth watering ways each meal becomes an enticing new experience eagerly looked forward too. Meggi is a good cook and usually we far prefer our own cooking to what we find in most restaurants, but in Banda it was all we could do not to eat out every night.

Mutiara Guest House is one of the finest examples of gracious island living at extremely reasonable rates. It is owned and run by Aba Bahlawan and his lovely wife Dilia, Although we did not stay at their guesthouse many was the night we could be found sampling the magnificent culinary offerings. His email is We can highly recommend the place for peace, comfort, friendly atmosphere, and great food. Please tell Aba, Shane & Meggi sent you so they know we didn’t forget about them.

Another good and very interesting place to stay on Banda Niera is the Maulana Hotel. This fine little hotel belongs to Des Alwi who has made quite a few documentary films about the islands and worked with such greats as Jacques Cousteau. Des, who is 83, is a real character that will happily regale you with his exploits, screen his documentaries about the islands, or arrange for a visit to the famous Api Gunung volcano, of coarse Aba will be just as happy to help arrange visits to old nutmeg plantations on Banda Besar, and the volcano as well as some magnificent world class snorkeling or diving trips.

These are only two of the places we found while there. There are many more and even the small stalls in the market have good wholesome snacks and meals. Half the fun is in finding your own favorites so get out, make new friends, and explore. You will be well rewarded with new sights to see and some great little meals.

We truly do not realize how much unnecessary waste is generated by what passes for civilization until we see it's effects come crashing down on a pristine environment all in one go. We came to dread the weekly Banda ferry as much for its noise as for the lingering mess it always left behind. It was easy to tell when the ferry was due the next day as people would set up stalls selling very enjoyable foods and of coarse souvenirs all right by the gate to the big pier. It is one of the few real opportunities to augment the islands economy so who can blame them for taking advantage of the passengers who go ashore to wander Banda’s streets –spending some money while they do?

The offerings from Banda’s merchants are almost all environmentally friendly plates from banana leaves, and the like. It is the ferry itself that generates an effect similar to that of a rubbish lorry dumping a full load into the harbor. All of the meals served on board come in Styrofoam containers. Even the drinks are in Styrofoam cups, except the drinking water in plastic bottles. Passengers purchase their “meals”, eat them on deck, and then toss the empty containers over the side. We counted 37 empty water bottles around Vega one day where for almost 2 weeks we had not seen a single one. But that was not really the worst we saw. At least the ferries passengers’ lack of consciousness we can chalk up to lack of education. Not so that of some participants in the Sail Indonesia regatta.

One would assume by the time a person can afford to buy a modern yacht they would also have a modest understanding of cause and effect. We might even hope they would understand why they shouldn’t spread their rubbish around the local environment. Yet for almost a week, during the Sail Indonesia visit, we daily saw australian beer cans, plastic bottles etc. floating around in the harbor. I would bet money those same people would never dream of doing that in their own country. So why suddenly do it in one of the worlds last pristine marine environments?

The sad part is the people of Banda had gone out of their way to make it easy to dispose of rubbish on shore. But in fact there is no need, except for our own convenience, to leave any waste behind. If you have a bag full of rubbish why not keep it aboard until you reach the next bigger city with adequate waste disposal facilities.

I found this little ditty in the front of an 1882 edition of
The Sheet Anchor or Young Sailors Assistant, by William N. Brady,
a great little book at the time intended for first voyagers
in the merchant marine.

“Ships our cradles, decks our pillows,

Lulled by winds and rocked by billows;

Gally bound we o’er the tide.

Hope our anchor, Heaven our guide.”

Sounds like some landlubber’s idea of sailing a dream or perhaps it
was an advertisement for ships boys in a time when they were hard to
find. Maybe this guy was re-incarnated as the one who writes those
glossy adverts for modern plastic boats, you know, the ones
with the bikini in a big straw hat holding a cold drink lounging
on the bow, bit the same style in any case.

When you make the equal of only a few dollars a day it is often hard for rural families in isolated places to provide their children with the basic materials they need for learning. Often just the cost of transportation to and from school can be prohibitive for some. On the island of Banda Besar people do not have a bad life. Almost everything grows there and there are fish in plenty available at no great effort. The problem is procuring things that need to be purchased with money. Everything must be imported by sea and transportation costs are high. School exercise books, pencils, pens, erasers, and the like are 3-4 times more expensive than they would be in Jakarta. This means many children from poor families often go without.

This year the children of at least one elementary school on Banda Besar have been well provided for Thanks to JOTUN Paints (Singapore) who not only donated materials for the students, but also other basics educational materials needed by the teachers as well.

Winter season- October 2010 to April 2011

Thanks to events like these we can meet with others like our selves who wish to help those in need. People like us, who believe the best help is that which goes directly into the hands of those in need in the form of what they need to start earning a living. If your yacht club or company has an up coming event where Vega’s presence could be helpful just let us know. We are always looking for ways to meet new friends and love any excuse to get out sailing. For more information contact us through the contact form on our website for more details.

VEGA support

Support VEGA and do your company a favor

We are always talking about our charity work, but have never mentioned how we support Vega the boat. When we receive a donation to support a program we apply all of it to the needs of that program. To support Vega and her needs we rely on a different source of income, one that could be a benefit to your company.

Often we are asked why we do our volunteer charity work. The answer is simple. We do it because we can and because it keeps Vega busy at sea rather than slowly rotting away in some marina from lack of use. Also it is immensely rewarding on a deeply personal level to help others who are less fortunate in a constructive manner.

Our reward is seeing a farmers face when we provide him with the tools he needs to get his farm going again or knowing that the educational / medical supplies we provided will go a long way towards improving the lives of children. I could go on forever, but I think you have the idea. We share that experience with the people who provide the materials we deliver. Together it is a win-win-win situation with an additional win for the communities we assist. Yet, that does not keep Vega afloat nor does it pay the everyday running costs.

For that we apply our extensive professional experience and skills at high-level advertising to produce top quality photography and promotional materials for a select group of clients. We use the money earned to cover our running costs. The materials we produce for both our commercial and development clients have been setting standards in their respective market segments for over 15 years now. We have planned and implemented regional and global strategies for UNICEF, WHO, BBC World Service Trust, WWF, USAID, and others. In the commercial world we design and produce the marketing materials for such clients as Silolona,, the most successful charter Phinisi in the region. I wont bore you with the entire list, see some samples of our comercial work or NGO projects

We would love to explore the possibility of helping out with your companies promotional and communications requirements. You will receive top quality advice and production at very favorable rates and the satisfaction of helping us keep Vega alive and doing her humanitarian work. If you think we could be of assistance contact us through the website contact form so we can meet up and see how we can help each other. We will show you what we have done and if you think it fits your needs then great. If not at least we will both have met new friends. We promise no high pressure, no pestering, just honest professional advice. For more information contact us through the contact form on our website for more details.

Here follows a few old sailors' weather ditties which were taken as gospel in the forecastle:

When rain do come before the wind, sheets and halyards you must tend;

When wind do come before the rain, you’ll hoist your topsails soon again.

Evening red and morning gray, are surely signs of a very fine day.

But evening gray and morning red, makes a sailor shake his head.

A halo round the moon, especially if it appears distant and yet very distinct,
indicates a gale of wind and probably rain.

If there is an opening in the halo be sure the bad weather will come from that direction.

Charity sails to the rescue

The concept is simple. A group of friends get together and have an afternoon sail with us on Vega or an afternoon sundowner on board with friends and a few drinks. Other than the modest running cost for fuel etc, all the proceeds go to one of the projects we support. In fact you can even choose which project or what type of assistance your group wants to support. It is a simple easy way to have a good outing and support a worthy cause at the same time. If you or your club or company would like to sponsor one of these events please contact us through the contact form on our website for more details.