Ship Wheel Navigation
tips & tricks

The 10% rule. Time to go and ETA are only two of the many problems this little trick can help you solve quickly and with only a little thought. Very useful for racing it works best for short distances and times.
How it works »

Varnish that lasts
...means less work We just finished our yearly varnish touch-ups and it only took a few days to do it. Vega has a lot of bright work and most people think we spend weeks every years taking care of it. The truth is we spend more time painting than varnishing.
Learn the trick »


New waypoints for entering Serangan Bay, Bali. When visiting Bali you must be completely mad to use Benoa Harbor - especially the infamous Bali Marina. The place is dirty, smelly, way over priced and falling apart. Talk about marinas that see you as a floating ATM for their benefit and that place is top of the list.
Find an enjoyable alternative »

Good contacts in Serangan You have a lot available in the bay including good moorings at reasonable prices and even careenage to paint the bottom or make repairs.
Read more »

Berthing in

Singapore has several fine marinas yet when you get down to the practical aspects there is one standing out. Read more »

Vega Blog

To visit our blog go to and you will find a lot more information about Vega and what we are up to these days. The blog is new and we are still finding out how this all works but there is already a lot of good stuff there and do not forget to visit our website at

Check out Capt. Marty's great site full of useful information for what's happening with the yachting scene.

A wonderful site for environmental observations and events in the South East Asian Region. Be sure to have a look and sign up for their news letter

Double the life for your engine and generator
No one will dispute that boat’s engines and generators are important pieces of equipment and major investments. What's surprising is that so few understand the most important aspects of maintaining them.
To learn more »

Tips from the Bosun
One of the most important knots used on board is the bowline knot. I recently stumbled across this simple little drawing that makes it clear as can be how one is tied.
To learn this important knot »

Signal flags & dressing shipVega SignalflagsNothing looks more nautical than a boat fully dressed out with all her signal flags flying. On Vega we do this quite often, but only recently did we find the proper order for those flags. Read more »

The Captain’s Log

It is amazing how these little newsletters have caught on. We have people from all over the world signing up for them and many log on to read the old ones. What started as a way of sharing our sometimes hard earned or expensive experiences has grown quite a bit. The one constant is our dedication to sharing our adventures, successes, and sometimes failures in the hopes they will help you to avoid making the same mistakes or help you when visiting some of the remote places where we work.

In September we did all our maintenance getting Vega ready for the up coming season in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand when she will be on display and often have important visitors not to mention the press casting a critical eye on her. Maintaining Vega in top condition is not only a point of pride, but also a responsibility to posterity. We want her to live another 100 years and the best way to insure that is by keeping her in top condition now. It is not an easy task. We do it through hard work, dedication, and the help of our friends. Without their help we simply could not keep her in first class condition or do our humanitarian work.

October was a busy month that started out in Serangan Bay, saw a long stop-over in Jakarta, and ended up in Singapore back at Raffles Marina, one of our favorites. We were fortunate to have Andy Woodward on board helping out for the whole trip. Andy originally volunteered to sail a "few days" with us from Bali to Singapore and wound up being "Shanghaied" for almost a month. Since he was not complaining - too loudly - he must have been having fun and for sure helped out quite a bit.

Normally we would never dream of stopping over in Jakarta. That is one port that gives whole new meaning to the terms dirty and complicated. I think it was either there or Benoa in Bali where the phrase "Land of the outstretched palm" came from. But this year we had another more important incentive...helping the children in the main hospital's children's ward.
To learn more and how you also can help »

Thanks to a lot of volunteer leg work by Hendra Dunas of Jotun and the kindness of Pak Jusli who is the owner of the Jet Ski cafe and the head of the local Harley Davidson club we were able to tie up at one of Jakarta's most impressive water front locations... right beside the Jet Ski Cafe, on Pantai Mutiara. Jusli is an amazing character who has done some fantastic adventures. Try riding a jet ski from Jakarta to Singapore in 36 hours or riding a Harley chopper over 6,000 kms in true "Easy Rider" fashion around The U.S. If you go to Jakarta for any reason and want to escape the madness his place is well well worth a visit. Good food, cold ones, and a great atmosphere to relax from the insanity of the big, noisy, dirty city.

Jotun Crew sails Vega
While in Jakarta we managed to get the Jotun marine team on board for a sail. We had a great time pulling sails and sailing along at 5-6 knots on light winds. Rumor has it some were even seen climbing the rat lines.
See some pictures from that fun day »

No sooner had we arrived in Singapore than we discovered Raffles was supporting the Ladies Helm Race to raise funds for the Singapore Breast Cancer Foundation. True to form we instantly volunteered Vega to help out in any way possible. So, on the 16th we had the honor of being the committee boat for that race and of coarse enjoying the party later that evening. The event raised over S$ 5,000 for the foundation.

For years we have been splicing our old spars again and again to keep them in service "just a little longer" now at last it looks like we may just have serious replacements on the way. For more »

Navigation tips & tricks

Most navigational problems are based on time, speed, and distance. It is the interplay between these three elements that we use almost daily and in some case hourly to safely guide our vessels to their intended ports. This little trick is about time and distance as they relate to speed. It is based on the fact that 10% of your current speed represents 10% of one hour or exactly 6 minutes.

Here are a few examples: at 5 knots 10% of that 5 knots is .5 knots or 1/2 nautical mile every 6 minutes. How long will it take to run 2.5 Nm at 5 knots? 2.5 divided by .5 equals 5. So 5 times 6 minutes equals 30 minutes.

How long to run 1.8 Nm at 6 knots? 10% of 6 is .6 or .6 nm every 6 minutes. 1.8 divided by .6 equals 3. So 3 times 6 minutes equals 18 minutes.

Get the idea? It only needs a little playing with and soon you can do these calculations very quickly in your head. To get the 10% just move a decimal point one place to the left. So 10% of 7.3 knots equals .73 knots. You can use this little trick in many situations. For example time to go to the next waypoint or how far will you go in a certain period of time. I use it all the time for a multitude of time and distance problems.

Varnish that lasts

Varnish can drive you mad with sanding, scraping, brushing on coat after coat of expensive goop with special brushes, then sanding between coats all to have a nice effect that last a few months at best. That is unless you are using Rystix - Wood Sealer.

For years now we have been using a wood protection product manufactured by a small company in South Africa. The stuff is amazing. Here in the tropics where most varnishes die in a few months we have wood that was protected with Rystix in 2002 that still looks fine. Once a year we just scrub it with soap and fresh water, then bung on another coat. That is it maties, job done, and off to the bar in less time than it takes most yachties to get out all the stuff they need for the yearly scrapping and sanding drudge – not to mention the days and days it takes to apply and wet sand all those coats.

I have no idea what is in the stuff but UV just bounces off with no visible result, it moves with the wood so does no start peeling off, and protects the wood like a mad Doberman with a new bone. No sanding between coats and no special skills to get a great finish, just goop it on 3 x more or less evenly and that’s it. Even I can’t get it wrong with this stuff. In any case, here is their website HYPERLINK "" well worth a visit unless you really are looking for an excuse not to go sailing. In that case stick with the classic varnishes and you can dodge weeks and weeks of skippers meetings, in the local bar, every year.

I should mention Rystix is not one of our sponsors. They just make one hell of a good product that deserves mentioning to our friends.

Vega maintanance

Double the life for your engine and generator

Here are a few tricks to extend the life of any engine. The number one cause of most early engine failures can be traced back to skipping oil changes, using poor quality oil, and not changing oil filters often enough and what the owners did during the first 10 minutes after each start –up.

Oil is an engines lifeblood it lubricates the engine and cools it. So use only oil that meets or exceeds the manufacturers specifications. That does not mean “Super Turbo Formula-One, with whingy-dingys”, but oil that is clearly labeled with the CF, API, or other certifying approval. For example the oil we use on Vega meets or exceeds API Service Classification CI-4, CH-4/SL, and the new DHD-1 specifications. Your engines manual will tell you the grade of oil and the classification recommended. The grade, such as SEA-40 or 10W-50, tells you how thick the oil is when it warms up. The higher the numbers the thicker the oil. For our type of engines it is best not to use multi grade oils but single grade usually 40W. Synthetic oils usually resist breaking down longer than mineral oils so give slightly better protection between changes.

As oil ages it collects bye products from combustion such as soot, acids, and metal particles from engine wear. The filters remove some of these contaminants but not all, especially the acids. Old oil also looses some of its ability to properly lubricate and cool the engine. When you change oil and filters you remove these waste products.

Not respecting oil change intervals allows acid build up causing serious damage to small parts as well as bearing surfaces and piston liners. Soot can constrict oil passages limiting the ability of the oil to flow freely and the metal particles will act like micro files wearing out important parts well before there time. When oil filters become blocked they restrict the oils free flow.

The greatest wear on any engine is while it is warming up. When an engine sits for long periods oil drains down from the parts leaving them without lubrication. If you just crank her up it takes several metal grinding seconds before the oil finally reaches all the engines parts. That is where half your machines life can quickly disappear. To avoid that useless waste on diesel engines try holding down the stop button while you hit the start button. That turns the engine over slowly without starting it and after a few seconds you will see the oil pressure go up or the light go out. Then you can start it without damage.

The second greatest cause of early wear on engines happens while they are warming up to operating temperature. When cold most engines are tight. As they warm up they loosen up a bit and there is less wear. A good rule of thumb is idle the engine or genset until it reaches minimum operating temperature before applying any loads. The same applies to outboards, in fact even more so to outboards. NEVER race an engine that has just been started.

And finally if you have a turbo you MUST let the engine idle for a few minutes while the turbo cools down before stopping the engine or you can cause serious damage to that expensive turbo. I always use the start / stop button trick (See above) when starting turbo engines just to make sure the turbo has oil when the engine starts.

There are no excuses at sea. The sea does not care one sardine if you make it to shore again or not. So, if you are going to sea and would like to come back again best learn how to maintain your own equipment.

Benoa is a sewer yet on the other hand just a bit further North is the sleepy island of Serangan with its well protected bay and very friendly people. Moorings are easily available as is fuel, good clean water, and most basic services a yacht could wish for. The only problem is the entrance. It can be a bit tricky as there are reefs or shoals on both sides going in. On the other hand stick to the channel and you have a minimum depth of 6 meters at mean low water.

Until now it was easy as long as the markers put out by the village were in place - which is not always the case. The local charter boats guard the entrance waypoints as if they were industrial secrets and the locals lacked the skills to establish proper waypoints and publish them. So this trip we took a sounding line and GPS and spent a few hours charting the entrance. Here are the results from the seaward side coming in.

The white light tower is well up on the reef so ignore it. Best time is before high tide. That way if you should get it wrong the tide will float you off. There are some current swirls between Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 but once in you lose them. Do not hug the floaters, as they are often right on the drop-offs. Remember stick to the channel as there are steep-to reefs and shoals on both sides due to the dredging.

1. 08 43’ 52 S 115 16’ 40 E (Steer 270 T)
2. 08 43’ 52 S 115 15’ 40 E
3. 08 43’ 52 S 115 15’ 10 E (If it is there take the red floater to Stb)
(Turn to new heading 295 T after passing waypoint)
4. 08 43’ 48 S 115 15’ 00 E (If it is there take the green floater to Port)

Your first heading is 270 T and the second is about 295 T. Once in you will see a large floating wooden pen with flags on it. Pass just north of it and you should be fine. Once inside you have loads of water. I just warn you these waypoints worked for us with a 2.5-meter draft, but we make no guarantee they will work for you. Remember nothing beats careful pilotage and when in doubt go slow. And remember, we try our best to make sure the information we pass on to you is correct but being human means we might have got it wrong somewhere along the way. Never trust what we say implicitly and always use the old Mark - 1 eye ball with a lot of common sense when entering a new place for the first time.

Note: The 2009 C-Maps still have Serangan Bay as it was before dredging. So do not panic if they show you hard aground. The first time we came in using C-Maps to plot the old waypoints Meggi was having fits calling out, ”we’re aground, we’re aground” when I had 6 meters under the keel. The Indonesian charts have it up to date and show proper depths.

Selecting a marina for a short stop over in Singapore is not an easy task. Every marina offers luxury facilities and a whole song and dance about how they are the latest and the greatest, but what they do not talk about are the currents and whorl pools, how far out of your way is the marina, difficulties getting in and out, wakes from passing tankers, long drudges to check in and out again (doing it offshore can take all day- trust me, I know), and of coarse what services do you really get. We have spent a lot of time in Singapore and would like to save you from making many of the mistakes we made before discovering Raffles Marina.

Raffles is without a doubt the easiest to get in and out of and the safest marina in Singapore. The entire channel is well buoyed and lit all the way up to the docks. There are no tricky currents to deal with, the tide state is not a factor, and you can even make the entry in perfect confidence at night. Once you arrive customs and immigration is taken care of by the marina staff saving you the complicated time consuming job of doing it yourself. The facilities are spotless and the staff really is friendly and very helpful. Oh, and Meggi says not to forget the free newspaper delivered to the boat every morning... or the designer pool. Raffles is simply one of the most comfortable marinas we have found in the whole region. The other advantage is that if a boat needs it you can find it at Raffles so no need to spend days exploring Singapore looking for some spare part or service.

For more information visit their website at or contact them via e-mail at
Just to make life easier here are the best waypoints to use from Nongsa Point Marina to Raffles.

  • Nongsa 01 12’ 50 N 104 06’ 00 E
  • Buffalo Rock 01 09’ 39 N 103 48’ 64 E
  • Raffles Lighthouse 01 09’ 39 N 103 44’ 50 E
  • S.W. tip of Reclamation 01 13’ 00 N 103 36’ 00 E
  • Alert Shoal Buoy 01 17’ 00 N 103 36’ 50 E
  • Raffles Marina 01 20’ 60 N 103 38’ 00 E
  • I suggest you contact Made on his Hand phone at 62 87861589318 we have known him for years and always found him very helpful. He can have a mooring ready for you and will even come out to guide you in if you want. Made can get just about anything done for you from fuel at pretty good prices, delivered to the boat, to a complete bottom job. Tell him Vega sent you and he should be even more friendly.

    If you want an official agent that can offer a full line of services then contact Agus at Agus’s Bar and Restaurant. He is an official ships agent and bunkering service, they also have pretty good food and very cold beer. You will find him very friendly - his pier is the one everyone uses for their dinghies - and he has a free fast Internet connection you can use.

    A-cock-bill. The situation of the yards when they are topped up at an angle with the deck.
    The situation of an anchor when it hangs to the cathead by the ring only.
    The situation of a sailor who has had one too many.

    Avast, or 'Vast. An order to stop; as," Avast heaving!"

    Fancy-line. A line rove through a block at the jaws of a gaff, used as a downhaul.
    Also, a line used for cross-hauling the lee topping-lift.

    Jigger. A small tackle used about decks or aloft.

    Scud. To drive before a gale, with no sail, or only enough to keep the vessel ahead of the sea.
    Also, low, thin clouds that fly swiftly before the wind.

    cosair ship

    O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,

    Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,

    Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam.

    Survey our empire, and behold our home!

    These are our realms, no limits to their sway-

    Our flag the scepter all who meet obey.

    The Corsair, Canto I.


    This drawing makes it so simple even I could understand it at first glance. So, grab a piece of line and practice until it comes natural to you. If you can’t figure it out from this best think about another hobby – one that does not involve any rope work.


    Signal flags & dressing ship

    Dressing ship in the proper manner is not as difficult as it might sound at first. One of the reasons it is done this way is that there is no possibility of accidentally sending a real signal that could cause confusion for other vessels. Just follow the order as listed below in groups of three from bow to stern and all will be as Neptune requires.

    Starting forward:
    AB2, UJ1, KE3, GH6, IV5, FL4, DM7, PO Third Repeater, RN First Repeater, ST Zero, CX9, WQ8, ZY Second Repeater.

    And for those who are flag illiterate here is a nice little chart of which one is which.

    These are children afflicted with Cancer and HIV. When we heard that Jotun was assisting to make their lives a little bit better by painting the wards in cheerful colors and providing local artists to paint happy cartoons on the walls we could not resist volunteering to go and help out. Our ability to assist proved to be minimal due to the many complexities of the Media in Jakarta and the initial difficulties finding a suitable place for Vega to berth. But do not let that hinder you helping out these needy kids. There is a charity that is doing some great work for them and you can find out more by contacting Lynna who is the Singapore contact at"Lynna Chandra"

    Spars are one of our biggest problems. Being so far away from a good source of spar wood means we must do everything possible to baby the ones we have. It makes me more timid and often means we miss some great sailing. In South East Asia we find all sorts of wonderful hard woods but when it comes to wood for masts and spars there is really nothing available. Our mizzen is made form red Maranti which is about the closest we have found for the use. That said it is far from ideal, so you can imagine how happy we were when Lars Nerhus, great great, grandson of Vega's builder and himself a boat builder put us in contact with Morten Hesthammer foreman of the Hardanger og Voss Museum who have the honor of caring for Vega's older sister Mathilda, built in 1883 by the same man who built Vega. She is a beautifully maintained traditional jacht well worth careful study for many good ideas and rigging tricks. You can find them on the web at in both English and Norwegian.

    Mathilda has finer lines than Vega, being more of a general cargo boat where Vega was more of a floating tipper lorry, or dump truck as the yanks would say. I am sure Mathilda would be the faster sailer, although we would love a chance to prove that theory wrong.

    Morten has kindly agreed to venture out into Norway's famous pine forests, the same forests that would have provided Vega's original masts, this fall and carefully select then cut the wood we need for all our replacement spars. They will bring the trees back to their fine boat yard and cure them in the exact same manner Vega's original spars would have been cured. All of this takes time, but then by taking that time we benefit from the same experience, skills, and craftsmanship that built boats like Vega and Mathilda to last ...well over 100 years ago. We are currently working on a system to get those fine spars from Norway to somewhere here in the local area and may well already have the answer.