The Captain’s Log
s our friend Brian Corbett says,
“Every good Pyrate must have a great hat and a powerful yarn to spin during the middle watches“.
Aye tis true maties that wise old skipper Mark Twain said it proper,
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn‘t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” and to that I might add try along the way to help as many others as you can. So draw near me hardies and harken to a tale of the good ship Vega and her adventures during those glorious months of November and December in the year of our Lord 2010.
Since this is the last issue of our newsletter for 2010 Meggi and I want to wish all of you a very happy and prosperous New year. A bit late for our friends with the Roman calendar and quite early for our friends who use a different calendar, but for everyone the wish is the same, may 2011 - or what ever name your calendar puts to this new year - be the best one yet for you and all your family.
Well, it is official! Vega has been presented with this years Asia Pacific Laureate Foundation annual award for Social Services.
For more »
Well our shipmate Andy Woodward finally managed to marry the lovely Rachel in Langkawi at the Westin Resort - one of those super luxury places with all the stars, bells, and whistles. Not only was there a big reception with food and drink everywhere, but the party afterwards was in a gigantic luxury villa with private infinity pool and the whole 9 yards of toys and pampering.
Meggi and I made it for the food, being typical yachties, and the beginnings of the party - rumor has it there were few if any survivors - but when the bottles of 30 year old whiskey started floating around with the champagne we quietly slipped away after wishing our shipmate Andy and his new bride all the best.
A special thanks to Kira Pecherska who seems to have become an official Vegabond by sheer force of always being around and being very very helpful at everything from painting to stuffing Scourge, the ships cat, with tuna - and helping on late night watches in the middle of Singapore‘s busiest traffic lanes. Thanks Kira for all the help and your always happy outlook - and a big Purrrrrrrrrr from Scourge, although I think in her case that means, “where is the tuna“.
Dr. Dan’s free clinic gets a fresh coat of paint.
While we were in Jakarta I was able to present the problem of paint for the Bairo Pite Clinic to our friends at Jotun Paints (Indonesia). After careful thought they agreed to provide the paint needed to completely repaint the clinic. To learn more »
Singapore Ladies Helm Race -
a charity regatta for Breast Cancer
Our friends all know we are always ready to help out a worthy cause, so without our knowing it our friend, the dynamic Prakesh had signed us up to be the committee boat for the 2010 Ladies Helm Race for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Charity hosted by Raffles Marina. Read more »
Corporate team building on
As with any volunteer operation funding is always a problem for us, so this year thanks to inspiration and advice from several of our high level Norwegian business friends we have developed an exciting new way of contributing to the further success of our sponsors while financing Vega’s maintenance and humanitarian work.
To learn more »
Navigation tips & tricks
Recently the proud new skipper of a shiny new catamaran was showing me all his electronic toys. I must admit he had left little on the shelves of his local electronics store. There were two of just about everything from big plotters to radars. In his joy of ownership he commented that he and his wife would lead a “normal“ life inside while the electronics GPS and autopilot steered the boat and the radars kept watch for them. I didn‘t say much remembering old Capt. Irving‘s saying that,“every skipper has his own compass “,but inside I though “this man is a danger to himself, his family, and everyone else at sea.
Chart plotters and GPS mark a position to within a few meters. The problem is in understanding what those fancy gadgets are telling you. First of all GPS is very good at telling you exactly and precisely where it thinks you are and chart plotters are only as good as the charts they are based upon. Many of the charts for the areas where we go were done in the 1800‘s and have been little updated since then. For example when we are moored stern to at Banda Neira the chart plotter shows us to be exactly. 49 Nm S.E. of where we should be, or right in the middle of the town Mosque other islands are up to 3 Nm off. Try depending on the chart plotter/GPS to enter there and you will soon be hard aground - or wondering where the island went. Remember nothing replaces the old mk-1 eye-ball and common sense. Being honest with yourself, do you have a functional back up plan to navigate safely should all your electronics fail?
The other problem is that of watches. Watches are called watches because that means someone is out there WATCHING out for other boats, fishnets, thunderstorms, lost shipping containers, and all the other things that pop up. The reason you can sleep peacefully when off watch is that you know someone else is ON WATCH. I once saw first hand the results of not keeping a proper watch when an oil tanker pulled into the port of Dakar with the complete mast and rigging from about a 45‘ sailboat hanging from their port side anchor. They were not even aware they had hit something. And bye the way, I have many times seen a wooden or plastic fishing boat with my eyes when the radar could not see it at all.
When we heard Norway was not participating for lack of a boat we instantly called the embassy and volunteered Vega as the Norwegian embassies spectator boat. This years event, hosted by ambassador Jansing of the Netherlands, saw 23 Embassies represented among the 29 participating boats yet all agreed that Vega with all her flags flying stole the show.
We sailed around from Raffles the day before the race and had to anchor off in strong currents and bad holding ground. At about 3:30 AM the anchor watch called us all out as a squall hit and the anchor started to drag. So it was anchor up by hand and motoring slow circles while we waited for the races to start. At least we were all still in deep sea watch mode so it was not that difficult on us.
The weather in Singapore is always unpredictable, but that day we experienced it all. From sunny spells and no wind to thunder, lightning, and squalls. But our guests consisting of Janne Julsrud, the Norwegian ambassador and Ole-johann Sandvaer the regional director of Innovation Norway - along with a select group of Norwegian company representatives all seemed to have a great time as we shuffled between the main square sail and the heavy weather sails while trying to stay out of the way of the serious racers and the big cargo ships that were using the same channel. What a wonderful group and we really enjoyed having them on board. We even flew our Norwegian “Battle Flag“ that‘s the long thin one that looks so great from the mast head as well as our Jotun flags and our QBE flag.
After our experience the night before we had all agreed that as soon as our visitors went ashore we would start back to Raffles right away rather than try anchoring again on such unsure ground. We missed a great party that night, but also missed a big squall at about 4 AM. We took our time on the way back timing it to arrive back at Raffles about 8:00 AM when the day guys come on duty. We would love to try it again next year,but only if we can tie up to the Sailing Clubs pier. With a boat like Vega taking chances on bad holding ground is not an option and who wants to miss the great after the race party to keep anchor watch?
We arrived in Port Klang early to help out with the press coverage and with getting ready for the regatta. The Royal Selangor Yacht Club are the regatta organizers and they work very hard to make it a success. Nice club they have, with some very friendly people. Just watch out for the strong currents going into the clubs floating piers.
While we were there Jotun volunteered to assist the regatta by holding a press conference around Vega and our participation in this years event. That was a big success with around 25 journalists and 9 cameramen visiting Vega on the day. Some great print articles came out in English, Bahasa, and Chinese as well as TV and other media.
Vega was pleased to welcome back Captain Marty from Asian Yachting and Scott Murry from SEA Yachting among the journalists we had on board. The first night Vega‘s draft kept us out of the new marina at Pankor so we anchored around the corner in order to be able to get out on time for the next days starts. During the night a heavy beam swell set in and we had to pull the anchor and spend the rest of the night going in circles - waiting.
In Penang the Municipal Marina is a mess. We really cannot suggest it to anyone. The piers are in bad condition, half the cleats are broken or missing, the staff could care less and know even less than that about boats. Just up the coast about 1 mile further north is a lovely new marina that will soon be open under the management of a real sailor - we know who, but cannot tell you just yet. When that marina is open visiting Penang will be a pleasure rather than a risk to your boat. Meggi and I both just love Penang with all the old shops, great food, and real bargains to be found there. It is also the best place to get your 90 day Thai visa. Only takes one day and, for now,is free.
The final overnight race from Penang to Langkawi was light winds all the way and saw us arriving early morning at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, one of our favorites in the area.
The next day we had a great crew of 7 lovely ladies and one guy join us for the final day and actually managed to have some fun sailing around the edges of the races. Racers are a mad lot who seem to love ramming each other so one must always be very careful with them about. It was also on that day the crew awarded Scott the honorary Golden Gerbil Award for distinguished sailorly deeds and tall tales.
As we were sailing back to the marina just at sunset Meggi and I looked up on the fore deck and saw this guy on his knees in front of a rather lovely girl with his hands clasped together and all. Well thinks I, that’s a long way to go to get a girl to go out for a drink. But it seems he had even deeper motives and the fore deck of Vega was the site he had chosen to propose marriage to the girl of his dreams. I volunteered to marry them “for the duration of the voyage” but they decided to wait a while and do it up proper.
One of the boats Rainbow Dream had us all laughing at their shirts with “The drinking team with a sailing problem “on them. Our old friend and shipmate Andy Woodward is a part of that crew so we were always rooting for them to win.
While there Vega usually berths at the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club which is conveniently located for everything from fast check in and out to all the better shopping places to stock provisions etc.
Being a tax free island Langkawi is the place to stock up on all the items that are bad for you like sugar stuffed chocolates, foul beverages, and smokes along with a multitude of other bits and bobs all at very enticing prices. Really opens your eyes to how much of our money goes to pay for hidden taxes for sure.
At last the professionals at Fluid Power in Singapore took the winch into their shop and after counting gear teeth and loads of other important things discovered that it is simply not possible for that winch to be converted to Hydraulic. The only option was to go back to electric, but the con-man had made off with our original electric motor leaving us with no reference to search for a new motor and of coarse the winch company has been out of business for ages. Lots of searching and hard work later we at last found the power requirements for that winch and were able to start looking for a new motor.
The old motor was 12 D.C. which meant we would not only need a motor but about 35 meters of very expensive heavy wire to supply power from the main battery bank. Thanks to Ole-johann Sandvaer we were put in contact with Mr. Ho who specializes in servo-motors for industrial installations. Mr. Ho took our small problem to heart and after a lot of back and forth at last recommended that we use a 220 AC servo motor that would supply the same power, but save us almost its cost by not having to buy the heavy battery cable for a 12 D.C. motor supply.
The usual delays and holidays saw us leaving the winch in Singapore at the machine shop being fitted with the new motor and Mr. Ho‘s promise to ship it to Langkawi via DHL in the next few days...all tested and ready to mount. Well he did his part, but over 2 weeks late on their 3 day guaranteed delivery service DHL still had not delivered the winch .I was getting tired of all the reasons why DHL‘s mistakes and delays were somehow my fault. The best is how this poor winch was supposedly held in Malaysian customs 3 times for clearance. One time in a place where it had already been cleared - another in a place that does not even have a customs office.
Exactly 2 weeks beyond the agreed 3 day delivery time DHL at last delivered our winch. There was still a lot to do as the machine shop in Singapore hadn‘t even tried to reassemble the winch in a proper manner so one day went into getting the gears in the right direction, then another day was just rough mounting and testing to get the direction right and our water-proof control unit connected. The first time we pulled up the small anchor with its chain I can imagine several of you heard the sound of loud cheering coming from the direction of Langkawi. First tests with the heavy anchor and chain in 10-15 meters of water are looking very promising. I can just hear the cheers, and quite a few sighs of relief, coming from all our old shipmates.
You know how outboards loose power when stored for a long time? Well here is why and how to prevent it.
When you take the motor off and store it without proper preparation there is fuel and oil in the carburetor. When the motor sits that fuel evaporates through the fuel jets depositing a coating much like a varnish. You cannot easily see this, but it slowly closes the jet preventing the proper flow of fuel. Do this often enough and you get a motor that is the very devil to start and runs like an old lawn mower giving little or no power.
To prevent this before you take the motor off the dingy turn off the fuel and run it at idle until the fuel in the carburetor is consumed. No fuel in the carburetor means no varnish in the jets. Now you can store the motor safely and it should run perfectly when you need it again.
After all these years afloat I am still amazed at how many people do not use biocide in their fuel. Diesel fuel by its very nature is hygroscopic, that means it attracts water, there are bacteria that have adopted to living in oil and left alone will increase to the point they block your fuel filters and cause all sorts of problems . These little critters look like a dark brown sludge in the filters. In the worst infestations the fuel will turn from that nice clear it should be to a dark reddish brown color. To prevent this happening to you there are many products designed to kill these bacteria. These are known as Biocides. Racor makes a very good one that comes in a 1 US gal. Container and has enough to last most of us for a lifetime. or 10,000 USG which ever comes first. The longer you go between filling up your tanks the more you need to use a good biocide in the fuel.
On another note keeping your tanks full is just good seamanship. Always store your boat with full fuel tanks. Half full tanks are prone to collecting water, which diesel engines are not fond of. This happens when the air in the tanks expands during the day and then contracts at night drawing in humid air from outside. The water in that air condenses into droplets that fall to the bottom of the tank and the next day the whole process starts over again. You would be amazed at how fast and how much water can build up in your tanks. Modern filters like the Racor will separate out a lot of water, but after about 1/2 cup or so they have no more place to store it and the water starts getting into your engine. Nasty experience, that is!
The best part of all the Chinese news articles about Vega while we were in Port Klang is that we now have CHINESE NAMES - and the journalist did a good job translating them from English. And then Jo did her usual excellent job translating the meaning back into English for us.
赛 sai = competition
恩 en = kindness
格 ge = character
兰 lan = orchid
杰 jie = HERO
Margarete Macoun:玛 ma = see
格 ge = character
烈 lie = strong/upright
特 te = special / secret agent
麦 mai = wheat
康 kang = healthy
So from now on just call us "Orchid Hero of Kindness & Competition" and "Strong Upright Secret Agent of Wheat & Health"
Dr. Dan‘s free Bairo Pite Clinic in East Timor manages over 300 cases everyday as well as providing training for midwives and health workers for the rural areas. Earlier this year we were able to deliver a modest load of medical supplies to Dr. Dan but the most important was the lists he gave us of items he needs. High on his wish-list was paint for the clinic.
Like most public buildings that see high traffic his buildings needed painting both inside and out years ago. This is not a small task and requires not only a lot of paint, but it should be the proper hospital paint that prevents the spread of infection. That paint is not only hard to find, impossible in East Timor, but expensive. While we were in Jakarta I had the opportunity to raise this question with our friends at Jotun Paints (Indonesia). Typical of Jotun‘s socially responsible attitude their first comments were “how much paint and what colors does he need“. Now after the usual communications back and forth I am happy to say Jotun will be providing paint for all of Dr. Dan’s needs from special operating room paints to special heat reflective paints for the metal roofs.
Thank you Jotun from all of the Vegabonds and from the people of East Timor.
Now all we need to do is find the brushes and rollers, etc needed for the painting work itself. If you want to help out this requires a very modest input to help achieve a major result. If you would like to sponsor brushes and rollers and help pay a few painters for Dr. Dan’s Clinic please contact us.
Luckily we arrived the day before the regatta and were able to have all our flags flying and the horn blowing for starts etc. The entire fleet of racers were all decked out in official pink shirts for the event. Although I have a feeling Tim was rather glad our shirts arrived late. Good thing Prakesh knows about racing because leave us to it and the result would have been a real mess. As it was there were quite a few boats and the racing was fierce. Later, back at the dock Raffles hosted a barbecue with trophies, good food, and cold liquids to sooth the tired sailors.
The regatta was a big success and raised a little over 5,000 Sing $. This is really very typical of Raffles Marina and one of the reasons we always feel so at home there. Far from being the typical money grasping lick penny marina they consistently sponsor benefit and charity events in support of everything from Coral Reef Conservation to Cancer Research.
Belonging to a team is the result of feeling a part of something larger than yourself.
Team building activities on board the 118 year old Norwegian built Historic Vessel Vega result in experiences that will change the way your team faces challenges and takes advantage of opportunities. This builds a stronger team, demonstrates the importance of each member in the team to overall success, improves decision making abilities, increases productivity, and reduces production/ quality control problems. Your team will develop a new appreciation for the importance of their collaboration as a part of the overall “Big Picture”. Focusing on teamwork through specific problem solving exercises also evokes feelings of thought, anticipation, fear, anxiety, fun, happiness and laughter, while helping to break down barriers and build confidence.
There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” training program. The challenges each company face, as well as their goals and objectives, are as different and individualistic as the companies themselves. To be effective your team building program must be custom tailored to the precise demands of your company and your people. Creating success is a combined effort where the company establishes the goals to be achieved and together with the trainers craft a proactive response that will dynamically guide your team to the achievement of those objectives. Properly prepared and implemented these sessions become long lasting, life changing, experiences for the participants - and highly rewarding for their companies.
The framework for two typical team building sessions are outlined in the PDF sample programs you can download from these links.
Download PDF sample programs, each of which can be easily adapted to your demands.
Our typical group size is between 8-12. This is only an exploration of possibilities, each program is custom tailored to meet the precise requirements of that group and company. The final structure will depend on times for arrival and departure as well as agreed upon objectives.
This prestigious award came as a complete surprise to us. We were not even aware we had been proposed for it. Meggi and I were given this award in recognition of Humanitarian Services to Isolated Island Communities. We are very excited about it. As our friend Capt. Marty says, “Great news mate ,you and Meggi really deserve this award”. But, as we see it this award should really go to our sponsors such as Jotun Paints, QBE Insurance, ModuSpec, and Scandinavian Bunkering along with all our individual supporters. Together they make our work possible. Without them we simply could not help the communities we assist in a meaningful manner.
From 1814 until 1902, Norway and Sweden formed a union officially known as the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. Merchant ships during the time of the Union would fly the Union flag until 1898 where after Norwegian vessels flew their own flag as a result of the Storting (Norwegian parliament) passing for the third time the “Pure Flag Act“. Swedish vessels continued to fly the Union flag until 1905 when the Act of Union was revoked by both parliaments on 16th October.
From the bosun's locker
For a lad who had never worked leather before Tim went at it gamely and soon had the tricks down to an art. Leathering blocks is an old trick that can be traced back over 3,000 years. The idea is that leather prevents the wooden block from banging against other rigging parts and also prevents it from chaffing against spars or sails. Throat halyards are often leathered to prevent them from chaffing the mast. Tacks and sheets are often leathered to prevent them from damaging decks and rails. Well I think you get the idea.
I have attached some pictures of leathered blocks and the kit used to do the work. The real trick is to prepare the leather properly before you start sewing it. That means making a paper pattern and testing it then cutting out the leather pieces and punching the holes in the proper places for your stitches. Be sure to allow a bit extra and cut the leather at about a 45 degree bevel so it will fit together nicely. It is important to get the holes aligned correctly or you will have a mess trying to sew later.
Tim did that with a metal ruler and made the holes using an electric drill with a small bit. He would clamp down the leather to a piece of wood ,lay the ruler beside it, and drill a hole every 7 mm - if I remember correctly. The real trick was making sure that the holes on joining pieces are correctly aligned. For sewing use 2 sail needles on the same double string - that makes it easier and faster to do that fancy cross stitching. Be sure to protect the leather on the inside before you close the block up then protect it well on the outside. We use a mixture of bee‘s wax and natural tree turpentine with a healthy dose of lanolin added to it. Heat them all together and let cool to make a soft paste that soaks in well - even better on hot days.
To make four 500 gram loaves of German Rye bread you will need
1 kg dark rye flour
1 kg wheat flour
25 grams of Instant yeast (remember yeast is a living organism, make it to hot and you will kill it; too cold, and it will never get going at all
1 table spoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 table spoon brown sugar
4 table spoons sesame seeds
1.4 ltr. luke warm water
an extra 200 grams of wheat flour for kneading the dough
Pour all the dry ingredients in a good sized clean bucket (keeps it less messy) and stir well with a heavy wooden spoon so all is well mixed. Make an indentation into the mix and poor all of the warm water mixed with the vinegar into it.
Stir well until there are no more dry ingredients left and dump the dough on a working surface well dusted with flour.
Knead it swiftly and firmly, fold the dough over into itself so that air gets trapped. Work it until it feels elastic and smooth, approximately. 5 to 10 min..
Put the dough back in the now cleaned and oiled bucket and cover with a cotton cloth to keep it from drying out, let it rise in a warm place (the perfect place on VEGA is the engine room, also a great place to make yogurt).
Proving until the dough doubles it’s original size may take one hour, or four, or eight, but it must double to be successful.
After kneading shortly a second time divide the dough into 4 portions and prove/rise the dough again for about 20 minutes in it’s well oiled baking tins. Don’t forget to dust the tops with flour and make some slits in the tops to obtain a more attractive crust.
Now pre heat the oven to between. 150 C - 175 C and shove the tins in without getting burned (on VEGA we use a paraffin pressure cooker, and any time we bake we get a different temperature and the resulting baking times are somewhere between 45 min. up to one and half hours...)
The Bread is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If you find your breads are getting burned on the bottom you can turn them over in the pan for the last few minutes of baking.
If you have no oven, put the dough into a greased pressure cooker tin, cover it with two deeply pleated layers of greased grease proof paper, and tie it down firmly. (The pleats are to allow the dough to rise.) Have an extra length of string looped over the top to form a lifting handle.
Pour 700 ml. of boiling water into the cooker. Put the trivet into the cooker and stand the bread tin on top. Close the cooker and steam the bread on a low flame for ten minutes. Now bring the cooker up to medium pressure, and pressure cook the bread for 30 min.. Reduce the pressure to room temperature, bread is cooked if it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. But pressure cooked breads tend to be damp on the top so dry it under a grill or in the hot tropical sun a bit.
That’s the basic recipe, but after a while you may feel more experimental... So try adding dried onions, cumin seeds or whatever crosses your mind to the basic mix
I have to admit that it took me a couple of tries to get it right, especially the building brick imitations I made at the beginning where remarkable (I know now the dough was to dry!!!!) But determination pays off, baking days are now one of our high lights on board of VEGA. If you freeze the loaves not needed right away they will last nicely for weeks.