Thursday, 1 February 2018

TALK ABOUT STRUGGLE - A Malaysian Sailor Sailing Round The World

This is an archived article from a Malaysian Newspaper, interviewing Azhar Mansor prior to his 1st Anniversary returning back from solo round the world trip. He did it more than 4 months before the new millennium (2000). This is an example of courage and undying attitude to accomplish his mission. His struggles, inspires me !

Azhar Mansor Explains Significance Of Historic Odyssey

Picture of Yacht "Jalur Gemilang" in Langkawi

LANGKAWI - The success of Datuk Azhar Mansor in sailing solo round the world last year has been described by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a unique achievement among the 22 million Malaysians.
Celebrations marking the first anniversary of Azhar's triumphant return from his voyage will be launched by Dr Mahathir here tomorrow.
What is the significance of his historic achievement and what does Azhar want the younger generation, especially students, to learn from it?
In conjunction with the first anniversary of his feat on the Jalur Gemilang yacht, Azhar recapped the historic event.
He spoke of the attitude and roles required of the younger generation in tackling the challenges of the new millennium and of his determination to imbue a new spirit in society for the same purpose.
Question: Can you explain the celebrations to mark the first anniversary of your success in sailing round the world?
Answer: Actually, it is in conjunction with the first anniversary of the return of Jalur Gemilang, not Azhar Mansor. If it's about Azhar Mansor's return, people may say we are trying to promote something old.
The certificate of world record belongs to Jalur Gemilang, I was only the skipper.
I've been back for almost a year, so the focus and commitment now is on sharing my experience with the public. The experience one possesses is not something to be traded; you can't hang it up for display by keeping it. It is my duty to share my experience, as the role played by Malaysians while I was sailing was also an important factor.
I have to concentrate on sharing my experience, especially with the younger generation in schools, associations, youths and NGOs, including institutions of higher learning. So this process never stops.
This is an ongoing programme conducted with the cooperation of the Youth and Sports Ministry, associations and private companies. Private companies do finance programmes for youths.
Q: So this Aug 11 is the first anniversary...?
A: Aug 11 is the first anniversary of Jalur Gemilang's return and people feel it should not be a grand anniversary. It means we should remember the spirit we all felt when the Jalur Gemilang reached home. Everyone watched it on TV. This reflects continuity; we do not want the spirit to fizzle out, not that we do not want people to forget Azhar Mansor. The spirit was clearly visible. Thousands of Malaysians came (to await Jalur Gemilang's return). If possible, we want to maintain and remember this spirit. Just in case people have the wrong idea that Azhar is doing this so that his name will not be forgotten.
The spirit of patriotism prevailing on that day, permeating people of all races and religions, that is what we want to remember. That is what we hope to do every year, not just on the first anniversary. We will try to organise programmes, anything which can instil this spirit in the people. In conjunction with this year's anniversary, we want to launch a special documentary. The book is not ready yet, no time to give it full concentration. On that day we will also launch an Internet portal dedicated to young Malaysians.
The government has been calling for the younger generation to be exposed and given access to IT, but if they venture into IT or Internet, there is no portal or web dedicated to them. To build up on the spirit and programmes implemented, we feel there is a need for a special portal related to them. All sorts of TV channels, various types of programmes are in it.
Its address will be announced on that day and its launch will not be grand. We will do it on a moderate scale and air it live on NTV7. We don't have NTV7 in Langkawi but on that day we will.
Q: From the programmes conducted, programmes to share information, what has been the response from the target group?
A: Generally, I am encouraged... touched by the public support, particularly from the younger set. In programmes on sharing of experience and exchange of opinions, the focus is on dialogue, and from there we can exchange views on how to enhance an individual's self-esteem. So the target group is there but as to how many people can get the message and benefits of the programmes, we cannot make a measurement, that is up to the individuals concerned. But in terms of support and going to universities, there were thousands of people. In the case of Universiti Malaya, there were 6,000 people.
At UM, they used three halls, others watched on (closed-circuit) TV.
Q: How about your about time with family?
A: Of course, I could not spend much time with my family but it is just like before. For example, if duty requires me to be away for eight days, they can accept it.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with this sharing-of-experience programme?
A: As a developing nation, we have our vision and the government has its programmes. I as an individual, private enterprise, on whom people have placed a lot of hope have decided to share my experience to open the minds of the younger generation - that the Malaysian race is capable of undertaking international-level endeavours and achieving excellence. I am talking not only about sailing but various fields. One visible weakness is that sometimes they lack a clear goal in life. So when we lack this, our efforts do not amount to a struggle and things grind to a halt midway. We want to be successful in our struggle. Our weakness is that many young people do not have a clear direction in life. We can guide them until universities, but after that the objectives are not so well-defined - what to do upon graduation, what they want, their role in life, role in society, role in this world. Because of this we try to instil positive spirit in them and open their minds so that they are mindful about vision and struggle.
We need a struggle to fight a proper war, otherwise we will die. So our weakness is that we lack a struggle. Even if they have a struggle, they are just following others, not their own struggle.
Q: What do you think of your sacrifices?
A: My present role is as an individual giving a bit of inspiration to the public. So I try to play a role in helping the government and society. Based on my planning, I will slow down at the end of the year because there are more meaningful things to focus on. I would have visited many places by then, so I need to slow down. I will make fewer visits so as to concentrate on other things, like the portal dedicated to Malaysian youths. The theme of this portal is to build a second generation or the so-called Version 2. The Version 1 mind is considered not suitable, and we want to develop them for the new millennium.
So when the PM says new Malaysia, we say Version 2 in the IT terminology.
That will take a lot of effort and that is why I want to slow down at year-end and focus on this portal to ensure it contains constructive material. Apart from the Internet, we will also pay attention to physical activities. It will not work if everyone just sits in front of a computer. We must have physical programmes complementary to the material in computers.
Q: What about the launch of the special documentary?
A: We will have a launching to be shown live, and after that if many people are interested they can come and watch it live, not by invitation but open to the public. The public can come for the event expected to be held at Awana (Porto Malai Resort).
It is a special documentary on the Jalur Gemilang Challenge, not a documentary on Datuk Azhar.
It covers the aspects of building the boat, comments before and after and recordings which I made when I went sailing before.
Q: What if your name were to disappear?
A: To me, an endeavour should not be for the sake of establishing a name but should be made in the course of a struggle. When a struggle is fulfilled, it does not mean the name of the person involved is important. The success of that struggle should inspire the people. I am not asking the people to follow Azhar's footsteps per se but his struggle and efforts.
If people want to emulate Azhar, can they do it my way?
The fighting spirit is important. They say the key to excellence is self-esteem and fighting spirit.
Like I said, it started as a personal struggle but sometime in 1995 I saw the need to inject into it the patriotic and nationalistic spirit to bring it to a fruitful conclusion. It had to be continued for the sake of the country and race. It is not strong enough if merely motivated by a personal struggle, it needs to be injected with the nationalistic spirit.
That is why on my return I felt indebted to the people, those who have followed my journey and sent me e-mail, prayers and words of encouragement. Now is my turn to share my experience with the people. But I can't be doing this forever as a profession. I am not a lecturer or motivation expert. So if I just go on giving lectures, when can I do other things?
Q: What about Jalur Gemilang's condition?
A: At the moment, the facilities in this place (Awana Porto Malai) are not very suitable for hosting Jalur Gemilang. But because of the spirit associated with it, delegations to Langkawi wishing to view and take photographs of Jalur Gemilang, we decide to leave it here. Once in a while we take it out for some testing. The public will not get to see it if I berth it at another place. I think that is not appropriate.
Q: What about the project to set up the Jalur Gemilang Gallery?
A: Lada (Langkawi Development Authority) is keen, and we will cooperate. My style is I am hesitant to get the government and people's money involved. The millions to be spent on building a sophisticated gallery may be better spent on other programmes. If possible I want to do it on my own but that will take time. If they need cooperation, we can help by way of joint venture.
Q: What about the potential for the yachting industry here?
A: In terms of facilities, I think we are adequate but to develop we need all quarters to play their role. I cannot do it alone.
I mean the facilities are there for people to venture into this industry. But there must be enthusiasm, and all in the local government, the people of Langkawi, schools and associations must play their role.
That is why I said I need to slow down at the end of the year to concentrate on other things. I want to boost yachting activities in Langkawi. That is what I meant by matching physical programmes with the portal. But we have to see the response and role of all parties before we can start. Even 10-20 million (ringgit) will not be enough if you want to do it alone. There must be support from the government, entrepreneurs, schools and people wishing to see individuals improve.
Q: Can the marine industry here be said to have potential?
A: The marine activities should be at a high level... we are a bit behind... especially in Langkawi. Not just potential but we should already be established, Langkawi for the yachting industry. I do not know how people can promote Langkawi as a legend but not for yachting. That is why the role of all quarters is important. They promote the legend of Langkawi and people say they come to see the Mahsuri Mausoleum, all this is not to intensify the marine activities.
Q: Is it because of the high cost?
A: Not because of high cost. There are now already close to 20-30 small boats sailing here. If it were in the West, not just dozens but hundreds of boats would have come here already.
I saw in Australia hundreds of boats berthed at a small bay. And various types of boats, various aims - recreation, racing, and living on boats.
Q: Has this got anything to do with the lifestyle of the Malaysian society?
A: Yes. Yachting is not part of our background. But the history is there, facilities and beauty are also there, only that they are not explored. Maybe it is because in Malaysia people would rather work in banks, become bank managers and avoid physically demanding activities. They don't see that such robust work can help to mould discipline.
Thousands of engineers graduate throughout the world each year but what makes one better than another? That has to do with the individual's struggle, not the university. A university's work is to see students graduate.
An individual's struggle will determine who emerges the best. The government cannot do much.
We are used to the government providing facilities. That is why I want to make the gallery on my own without government involvement, if possible. I want it like the portal for the younger generation. By right it should be Rakan Muda or the Youth and Sports Ministry doing it but we want to do it on our own. Of course, the ministry is interested to cooperate but we do not want; we want to do it on our own, to complement their programme. We want to work together, not to compete with them. They have their own programmes, we have ours.
That is the spirit. A weakness among most of us is to be too dependent on the government. How long are we going to wait if the government does not do or give? Some people complain too much. Pampered.
Q: It has been almost a year. Don't you miss sailing?
A: Not that I long for it, but my style is to go by my commitment and I give my best to the task at hand. The rest is not a problem. Of course, if possible I want to sit here and relax, go to sea, but is that part of the commitment or focus? It is not a problem not to do something which is not a commitment.
Q: During the sessions to share your experience, were you asked funny questions?
A: There were all sorts of questions, and from these questions sometimes we can read the weakness of our people.
But there are still people who believe that to circumnavigate the world you need magical powers and charms as they have been told of mystical powers, but such things are not important.
We must be in touch with reality to succeed, not depending on mystical powers. If we are shot, we will die.
We need a religious foundation but must be mindful of reality. If I had embarked on that journey without being technically, mentally and physically prepared, I would not have made it back. I could not have depended on magic powers. If hit by 20-feet high waves, I could not possibly ask the waves to stop.
In our culture, we do not accord enough respect to other individuals. We want other individuals to be like us. That is not possible; he is he, we are we.
Because of this many people just follow certain individuals, because of their own weaknesses and the weakness of their leaders. The head wants them to do it his way, without regard to individual character. No two individuals are the same and they have different roles in life.
Q: How do you feel about your name being frequently mentioned by the Prime Minister?
A: I do not deny that this is an honour for me. I do not abuse this honour and recognition. To me, each time I exchange greetings with someone, each time my name is mentioned, the responsibility on me gets heavier, not that I get more popular. A young girl once sought my autograph with the question "Pakcik (uncle), is it fun to be glamorous?" I replied, "Young girl, this is not a question of glamour, it is my responsibility. I come here because it is my duty, I do not come for the glamour."
At one programme, a university student asked how I felt when my name was misused. I do not see my name being misused.
You are not the only one to ask this question. To me as an individual, I do not see any abuse. But I do not deny that my name gets frequent mention.
In line with government efforts to stress the building of self-esteem and Melayu Baru, there is a lot to talk about the spirit of struggle and legends.
He (Dr Mahathir) mentioned my name with the aim of instilling in the people the spirit needed for building self-esteem. So, I hope that every year we can have a programme to inculcate this spirit in conjunction with the National Day celebrations. Every Aug 11 is the Jalur Gemilang Challenge Day and Aug 31, the National Day. I want this to be maintained and I hope someone can continue this tradition when I am gone.
Q: What are your hopes for others to continue with excellence?
A: I hope more people can achieve similar success, not only me.
When you want to take on unusual challenges, write down clearly what you want to do, how to do it, and why you want to do it. Sometimes people know what they want to do, but are not clear about how to do it. Sometimes people know what they want to do, know how to do it, but do not know why they want to do it.
He wants to break a record. Why does he want to do it? Because of money... not enough. He must be very clear about the task. That means it must be accompanied by determination and sincerity. When we are clear about our duty and are committed and sincere about the matter, it will become a struggle. A struggle is meant to be fulfilled, only time will tell.

West-East Route

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Reality of Sailing the Ocean

The Reality of Sailing the Ocean

Whilst the prospect of sailing the ocean wasn't new to us - having cruised the offshore waters of England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean - an ocean crossing definitely was.
But it had to be done. After all we'd recently completed the construction of Alacazam, a lightish displacement cruising boat specifically designed for ocean sailing and living aboard.
So with gainful employment abandoned and house rented to a tenant, it was finally time to go. But go where? North or South? 
Easy question, it's south for us. Palm trees and tradewinds beat icebergs and Arctic blizzards every time for us.
So stand by Caribbean, we're on our way...
And go we did, on 6th July 2001, cruising south from Plymouth via France, Spain, Portugal, Madeira and the Canary Islands.
crowded marina at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary islandsMarina del Atlantico, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
December 2001 found us holed up in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, waiting for the tradewinds to establish themselves before setting off across 3,000 odd miles of Atlantic Ocean on the well-trodden path of the so-called 'Milk Run'.

'Alacazam' - A Boat for Sailing the Ocean

early sketch of the sailboat Alacazam'Alacazam'
Alacazam's composite construction is a marriage of traditional materials and modern technology. Her hull is built of Western Red Cedar using the wood epoxy technique; the doghouse and cockpit are GRP mouldings.
The fin keel is a lead-filled GRP moulding letter-boxed through the hull and bonded solidly in place. A lead bulb is bonded to its base.
The partially balanced rudder is hung on a half skeg similarly letterboxed and bonded into the hull structure.
The prop shaft, supported by an 'A' bracket rather than the less robust 'P' bracket, spins a two-bladed folding propeller.
The whole vessel, comprising hull, bulkheads and internal structures, is an immensely strong monocoque.
Her vital statistics are;
Length overall11.5m (37.5 feet)
Waterline length10.6m (34.5 feet)
Beam3.9m (12.5 feet)
Draft2.2m (7 feet)
Displacement7,023kg (7.75 tons)
Displacement/length ratio159
Sail area/displacement ratio18.28
Main halyard, topping lift and slab reefing lines fall at the mast, rather than being led aft to the cockpit. This keeps line friction to a minimum and allows the main to be reefed single-handed.
With two sets of headsail sheets, runners, kicking strap, genaker tack line and sheet, two part mainsheet, main sheet car control lines and Aries adjustment lines in the cockpit, we have enough string there already.

How Long Will It Take?

Alacazam's waterline length of 10.6m gives her a theoretical maximum displacement hull speed of 8.2 knots, equating to just under 200nm a day, but we know she will get up and go faster than this in the right conditions, having experienced 12.5 knots under a full genoa and reefed main whilst reaching in a force 6.
If the tradewinds hold up we should be able to achieve an average of 150nm per day, which would mean the 3,000 nautical mile passage would take around 20 days.
With such aspirations we departed Marina del Atlantico, Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 13th January 2002, bound for the West Indies.

NorthEasterly(N.Hemishere) and SouthEasterly(S.Hemisphere) Trade Wind in January

A Rig for Downwind Sailing

We set out on a broad reach with full main and genoa set, changing to poled out main with preventer, and genoa poled out to windward as the wind moved aft, driving us cheerfully towards waypoint 'BUTTER', more of which later. We were familiar with this sail plan, it being our normal way of sailing downwind when conditions weren't right for the genaker.
wing and wing rig for downwind sailing'Wing-and-Wing' Rig
It was fast and not too rolly, but we are never relaxed when sailing this way. If the wind pipes up and a reef in the main is necessary, the yacht has to be turned to windward. The genoa has to be furled or the pole taken down to enable it to be sheeted in. And then the whole shebang set up again when back on course.
In a big sea this is more work than I generally like to become involved with. Consequently I was very pleased to get into the trade winds proper where I could get the main down and set twin headsails. I had attached a block to the swivel at the head of the furling gear in Tenerife, reeved a 6mm spectra halyard through it, and tied both ends off to the tack swivel on the furling drum.
This was used to hoist the yankee up the second luff groove, leaving the genoa set in the other. I can't claim originality for this arrangement; it was suggested to me by my sailmaker.
However, unlike the in-harbour trial, hoisting the yankee up the second luff groove while barrelling downwind in big seas was disappointingly difficult.
setting twin headsails for an ocean tradewind crossingHoisting twin headsails the easy way...
Artwork by Andrew Simpson
With the genoa in the starboard groove, and poled out to starboard, the furling gear foil was pulled around such that the port groove was facing to starboard.
On hauling the yankee up the port grove, the sail blew forward such that the friction of the sail against the foil made it progressively more difficult to hoist.
The high load on the mast-mounted halyard winch indicated that I was doing the sail no good at all, but there was no option other than to grind it slowly and protestingly up the groove.
Only sometime later did the obvious method of hoisting the sail dawn on me. If I had gybed first, poling the genoa set in the starboard luff groove out to port, then the port luff grove would have been facing forward, downwind.
On hoisting, the yankee would have blown forward, inline with the groove and any friction would have been minimal. Another lesson learned; I will know next time.
The lazy genoa sheet was reeved through a block on the end of the pole and secured in the cockpit. The pole had a foreguy (the genaker tack line), uphaul, down haul and guy, fixing it in space independently of the jib sheets.
The lazy sheet from the yankee was similarly reeved through a block at the end of the boom which was squared off and held in place by the mainsheet, topping lift, kicker and preventer. Easing both sets of sheets a little a time and hauling on the furling line simultaneously rolled the twin headsails around the Furlex gear. I used it as a throttle and it worked perfectly from a mechanical point of view.
The problem was that the headsails differed too much in both size and shape, such that the rig became increasingly unbalanced as the sail area was reduced. This did little to help the appalling rolling. Although the trysail was ready for hoisting, bagged in its separate track at foot of mast, I couldn't set it amidships to dampen the rolling with the bimini in place. Of course in conditions when the trysail would normally be required, the bimini would be folded aft against the transom, and the problem wouldn't arise.
I set the working staysail amidships but it slatted about too much. Perhaps I should have replaced it with the storm staysail, but I didn't. A second identical genoa set in place of the yankee would have been perfect, and would be the only change I would make to Alacazam'slong distance downwind rig.
We generally undersailed the boat in an attempt to keep the rolling within manageable proportions. Consequently the 200 mile day aspiration was sacrificed on the altar of comfort and self-preservation. It's an age thing!

Tactics for Sailing Across the Atlantic Ocean

Traditionally the advice is to sail south until the butter melts and then turn right. Refrigeration has put paid to this technique, and modern thinking suggests 25ºN, 25ºW as being the point at which the tradewinds become properly established.
the 'milk run' route across the atlantic for sailing boatsThe 'Bread and Butter' Sailing Route across the Atlantic Ocean
After intense daily study of the on-line weather predictions at weatheronline, we programmed the GPS with waypoint "BUTTER" at 20ºN, 30ºW, our 'turn right' point. Both websites proved to be reasonably accurate for 3 to 4 days ahead, but diminishingly so after that.

First Time Atlantic Crossing

The day-by-day account of a cruising couple's first Atlantic crossing
In the event we sailed considerably further south than this, so much so that a stop in the Cape Verde's was considered. Then the tradewinds filled in and we rolled our way westwards, Cape Verde's abandoned till next time.
Before leaving the UK we had purchased a TARGET SSB Receiver and Weatherfax software, which when interfaced with our new state-of-the art laptop would provide weather information at sea. It never did though, because the weatherfax operated in DOS and the operating system on the computer (Microsoft Windows 2000ME) opened only in Windows. Even the DOS Prompt screen opened in a window, which the Weatherfax software wouldn't recognise.
The time we wasted trying unsuccessfully to sort that out was staggering. Well done, Mr Gates. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway as it was always too rolly at sea to risk taking our expensive laptop out of its protective case.
Our NAVTEX gave us weather information from the Las Palmas station in the Canary Islands for the first few days at sea, after which we became out of range.
Further weather information was gleaned from eavesdropping SSB conversations on Herb's Net on 12359kHz at 2000 zulu and Trudi in Barbados on 21400kHz at 1300 zulu. Trudi gives an English translation of the daily French forecast, which is the only one I know of that covers the crossing.
But even if you know what's coming there's not much you can do about it. You might just as well forget about weather until it arrives and deal with it then. A friend of ours left Tenerife a few weeks before us, and as a result of listening to Herb every day zigzagged about all over the ocean, eventually landing in Barbados after 30 days at sea.


Both of us enjoy helming, but not for 3,000 odd nautical miles of sailing the ocean.
aries windvane self-steering gear in action'Arry' the Aries Windvane Self-Steering Gear
We relied upon 'Arry', our ancient Aries vane gear bought second-hand for £150. Helen Franklin, daughter of the designer Nick Franklin, overhauled it to as-good-as-new condition and provided a service kit for a further £150. I had been concerned whether it would have worked in downwind conditions, but it performed extremely well. I wouldn't contemplate a long distance cruise without windvane self-steering, preferably of the servo-pendulum type.
On the few days when there was insufficient apparent wind over the blade to keep it in equilibrium we resorted to our 20 year old Autohelm 2000. I had no confidence that this would stand up to the loads caused by the large cross seas, owing to its vintage and lack of maintenance. But it did, still does and long may it do so.
In the event that both the Aries and the Autohelm fell over, I had a plan for sheet-to-tiller steering, but this was never tested in anger.


Earlier, 50nm off Portugal the active antenna of our Magellan 5200DX GPS had expired, leaving us to find a 7 mile long by 4 mile wide island (Porto Santo) in a very large ocean by dead reckoning and the occasional sun sight through gaps in the persistent cloud. Owing to the heavy ocean swells (and my lack of practice with the sextant) I was never sure if I was bringing the sun down to the true horizon or the crest of an approaching wave.
To our great relief Porto Santo showed up exactly where it was supposed to, but not wishing to put ourselves to the test again we bought a handheld Magellan 315 in Madeira and a fixed Garmin 320 in Tenerife. Nothing like a bit of system redundancy.
With waypoint 'BREAD' off Guadeloupe programmed into the Garmin, navigation was of course simplicity itself. We logged our position every four hours and plotted it at 1200 Zulu each day.
The Raytheon thru-hull log/speedo is a largely redundant piece of kit, only used now to observe the effect of sail trim, and as a desirable residence for shrimps and other marine crustaceans when stationary for more than 5 minutes.
If we were building Alacazam now' I would not bother with one, relying on the GPS when it works, and the Walker towed log and Zeiss sextant when it doesn't.


We expected Beaufort force 4 to 5 north easterlies and a sea commensurate with these winds. But the wind seldom blew less than a 5 and was frequently considerably higher. The sea conditions came as something of a surprise.
Surfing down some of the larger waves, the view from the cockpit suggested that the entire hull forward of the keel was cantilevered out above the sea. Only occasionally did we land with a crash, mainly when we were knocked off by a cross sea. Below, the hissing of the water past the hull was intoxicating.
Frequently we had a 4m to 5m wave system coming from the east coupled with a large ocean swell from the north. When the wind increased to 30 knots or more these cross seas became more confused than you'd ever believe - not something you might expect when sailing the ocean on a tradewind crossing, and made for some very lively sailing. Some 'milk run'! I was gratified to hear Trudi describe our sea state as 'rough'. I would have been a bit chagrined if what seemed to me as bloody rough was considered 'slight to moderate' by everybody else sailing the ocean at that time.
Squalls were frequent and varied in their intensity. Some were vicious with heavy rain and strong winds, and others passed overhead with little effect, but you never knew which it was going to be until it arrived. We were delighted to find that the squalls were very visible on Alacazam's newly installed Radar, and by tracking them from 12 miles or so most could be avoided without difficulty.


We know of crews who turn in when it gets dark and arise when they're ready for breakfast, relying on the statistical improbability of being run down. This approach is not for us.
We saw two ships on the crossing, both during the hours of darkness. One of them would have come very close (at best) to running us down if we hadn't been keeping watch and hence able to alert him to our presence on the VHF.
We kept to the following watch system:
12 hours daylight12 hours darkness
0800 to 14001400 to 20002000 to 24000000 to 04000400 to 0800
Watchkeeper A
Watchkeeper B
Of course night and day are not so precisely defined as the table suggests, but this system ensures that we each did the two night watches on alternate nights, and had a 6hr daylight watch every day, which seems fair.
'Leap hours' have to be applied at every 15º increase in longitude to keep the hours of daylight and darkness in the right place.
This system worked very well and we kept strictly to it. There were no concessions given as to the change of watch time. If the person off watch was called on deck for any reason, it was, well, tough. But we did allow ourselves the luxury of dozing for 10 minutes at a time while on watch in good visibility, providing the kitchen timer was set and placed 'ear adjacent'.
You can read about other watch keeping rota systems here...
Practical interior layout for offshore sailboat'Alacazam's working layout below
One of the design features of Alacazam was that key facilities would be available at the foot of the companionway; the galley, the heads, the navigation station and particularly the off-watch sea berth.
This berth was excellent in normal weather, but being at almost maximum beam it was difficult to get to sleep when the boat was rolling through 40 degrees or so every 6 seconds.
In these situations the off-watch crew slept on the saloon floor, just off the centreline, wedged between the folded-down table leaf and the starboard settee berth. Not very elegant but effective.

Food and Drink

Mary did most of the cooking, in return for which I did most of the dish washing. If the weather was reasonable then this was done in a bucket of seawater in the cockpit, but otherwise I used freshwater in the galley sink.
A seawater pump at the galley is now on my 'to do' list. We had fully provisioned in England and topped up on our passage south whenever the opportunity arose. Further quantities of tinned and packaged food were purchased in Tenerife, as it was much cheaper than it would be in the West Indies.
Consequently we did not victual up against a list of requirements for a passage of a fixed duration. We simply filled all the available lockers with food. Famine Relief would have been pleased to see us arrive anywhere.
net hammocks for storing fruit on passage in a sailboatFruit 'hammocks' in the forepeak
We'd purchased plenty of fruit and vegetables in Tenerife, which were stored in net hammocks in the forepeak.
These must be sited such that it is impossible for adjacent hammocks to crash into each other or the hull sides.
It is also better if the string doesn't break as ours did, resulting in mortal injuries to a number of tomatoes and avocado pears. Nothing was wasted though, but you can eventually tire of a diet of tomato soup and guacamole.
dorado caught on a trolling handline in mid atlanticPerfect for the galley - a small female Dorado (or Mahe Mahe)
Mary had entered all her purchases in a database on the laptop, which she had printed off before leaving Tenerife. This was used as a stock control sheet on passage and enabled her to locate ingredients for her chosen meal without too much difficulty.
It also meant that the boat would not be taken apart in the futile search for the delicacy that had been eaten a month previously.
Our diet was enhanced by the occasional dorado (also known as the mahé mahé, or dolphin fish), which fell to my lure trailed astern on a trolling line
There would have been more were it not for a Brown Booby (that's a bird, if you're wondering) that spent its annual vacation with us for 11 days, and which may have grabbed the lure had it been deployed.
Flying fish found on deck were scaled, gutted, opened up and grilled whole. Delicious!
brown booby resting on sailboat in mid atlantic'Bird' - our own Brown Booby!
Apart from our delightful booby, pictured here trying hard to hang on to the guard rails with its webbed feet, the only seabirds we saw while sailing the ocean were tropic birds and petrels.
The Bird, as he became known, enthralled us daily with his magnificent flying displays, gliding effortlessly through the wave troughs with his wingtips just clear of the sea.
Read more about Bird..
We saw very few dolphins but we did have a False Killer Whale circling the boat for two hours one day.
We have three excellent reference books on board, 'Seabirds', 'Shorebirds' and 'Sealife' to which we regularly refer for identification of marine wildlife.
I was happy to drink the Tenerife water from the tanks, which was drawn through a Jabsco AquaFilter and tasted fine. Mary preferred the bottled mineral, of which we had a 25 litre supply. Bottled beer is very cheap in the Canaries, hence it seemed prudent to make a considerable investment in this essential commodity, which was stowed in the bilge.
On arrival in Guadeloupe we had used an average 13 litres of water per day, and there was noticeably more space in the bilge where the beer used to be.
Alacazam's galley surfaces are properly fiddled which prevents things falling off, but does nothing to prevent things sliding about. Enter non-skid tablemats! In our view they are right up there with 'Arry' the Aries as essential cruising gear.
One day we noticed some small black bugs crawling around. They were quickly despatched but shortly after we noticed a few more, then a little later a lot more. Clearly we had an infestation, which had to be dealt with. So in this rolling sea we started to unpack the food lockers. It was a nightmare, tins rolling everywhere but eventually we found the source. Several packets of rice purchased in Spain were alive with the little blighters.

Weevils! They had invaded packets of pasta, cornflour and breakfast cereals. I had learned to accept these as part of my diet in Libya, but neither of us could do with them crawling all over the boat like some kind of interactive wallpaper.
It took us all day. We were exhausted, but someone had to do the next watch. "Unlucky, Mary"!So all the contaminated food went over the side, the boat was doused liberally with insect repellent which gave us both headaches.

Power consumption and battery charging

We have a single fuel tank of 175 litres capacity. Our three cylinder 27hp Nannidiesel uses about 1.5 litres per hour in pushing Alacazam along at 5 knots in a flat sea. We had a further 25 litres in a plastic jerry can as a reserve. Consequently we had a maximum of 130 hours of engine usage available to us.
I think this is plenty, but other skippers were aghast that I intended to set of with 'so little' fuel. One skipper of a 53 foot Amel Super Maramu 2000 intended to run his engine (or generator) up to 6 hours a day just to charge the batteries.
Unbelievable! This push-button boat had electric everything; sail controls, microwave, watermaker, washing machine and tumble drier, air conditioning, dishwasher, two electric flush heads, even toothbrushes probably. It was new so I suppose everything worked, but just imagine when the appliances start to get a bit tired in a few years time. A full time janitor will be required.
But Alacazam had no such luxuries and needed only about 120 amp hours a day to keep things ticking over. Two 140Ah house batteries provided this power and were charged by the combination of two 50 watt Solarex solar panels, a Rutland 910 wind generator and a 65A alternator on the engine. A separate 140Ah battery provided power to start the engine. The alternator charged through an Adverc TWC. Net current draw and battery voltage was monitored by an Adverc Digital Current Monitor.
The DCM registered a net current input during the day due to the solar panels, and a net draw at night due to the navigation lights. The downwind rolly conditions were not good news for the wind generator, which contributed probably no more than 60Ah per day.
The solar panels contributed a further 35 amps hours, leaving a deficit of about 25Ah, which was made up by running the engine for about an hour each day.
The solar panels would have performed much better, perhaps avoiding the need to run the engine at all, had I not done something particularly crass before leaving Plymouth. I had mounted the radar scanner on the gantry, along with the radar reflector, above the solar panels. This together with the wind generator, various aerials and the anchor light all conspired to throw shadows across the panels. I have also mounted the panels on a ply base, which reduces ventilation under the panels, further affecting their performance.
The wind generator, radar scanner and reflector will now be moved further outboard, and all the other stuff resited, and the ply dispensed with to give the solar panels a chance to perform to their optimum.
Even so, when we arrived in Guadeloupe we had used less than half a tank of fuel.
We never did achieve the 200 mile day though. Our best noon-to-noon run was 177 miles, and our average daily run was 150.3 miles.
So what broke in 3,000nm of sailing the ocean? Nothing! (unless you count the tomato and avocado incident).

Excerpt taken from Mary Smith

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Understanding my ancestory passion for the sea

Recently, I found an article from a CNA reporter in Singapore researching about Bugis Culture and attributes. It's interesting to note the labelling given to the Bugis people then and even now, that they are "pirates". Labelling a certain race or religion is still predominant now, so as to demoralise and cause anger to the community and religious believer. As an example: "Muslims are terrorist" or "Jews are Zionist". Owing to a few of them committing such crimes, the whole race and communities were labelled. Human beings were given the ability to think for themselves. We know a lot of our fellow being, are misguided and followed the wrong path. Some commit suicide upon them self, some became suicide bombers, some form atrocious group, some became gangsters and so on. They come in many forms. This smear tactics works to the not so knowledgeable folks. To the enlightened one, they will simply ignore the condescending remarks and carry on doing what's right and same token resurrecting the truth.

The Bugis people comes from the Indonesian Island of Celebes. It has a maritime culture. As you know, Indonesia has 17,504 islands. Maritime activities will without doubt becomes a normality. The World would probably knows only about the islands of Bali, Java, Sumatera and Kalimantan (Borneo) and Papua. What about the other 17,499 islands ? Mind boggling......About 50 per cent of Malaysians and probably 15 percent of Singaporean have their ancestors trace back to some of these islands. I was told that my great, great grandfather was from Makassar in the island of Sulawesi (Celebes). Hence, by descenders I'm a Bugis. To give you an idea how numerous those islands are, lets look at the old Dutch East India Company map of the areas.


Were the Bugis really pirates?  

Here are 5 things we found out :

The Malay Heritage Centre’s latest exhibition looks at proud, seafaring folk from South Sulawesi who made Singapore their home. It also runs parallel to the centre’s annual Malay Culture Fest 2017.

A Malay-Bugis wedding in contemporary Singapore. Note the Bugis dagger worn by the bride, which is unusual in a typical Malay wedding. (Photo: Jamal Mohamad

SINGAPORE: They have a couple of malls, an infamous street, a movie, and even an MRT station named after them – but how much do you really know about the fierce and proud seafaring Bugis people?
The Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) is putting the spotlight on the Malay sub-ethnic group in Singapore in a new exhibition titled Sirri Na Pesse.
The show – which means “Honour And Pride” in Bahasa Bugis – runs from Oct 14 2017 to Jun 24, 2018. 

image: The old Kampong Bugis located along the Rochor-Kallang River. (Photo: National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board)
Done in collaboration with the Bugis community in Singapore, it features around 40 artefacts as well as interactive installations and an artwork that takes visitors on a journey, from the group’s South Sulawesi roots to how they found their way to this part of Southeast Asia.
It’s the fourth instalment of the centre’s exhibition series on Malay sub-ethnic groups called Se Nusantara (Of The Same Archipelago). Previous exhibitions have put the spotlight on the Bawanese, Minangkabau and Javanese communities.
The Bugis exhibition runs in parallel with MHC’s annual Malay Culture Fest, which kicked off on Friday (Oct 13) and runs until Oct 28 2017. The festival lineup comprises various Malay cultural programmes, including those that highlight Bugis history and culture.

Malay Heritage Centre's new exhibition Sirri Na Pesse: Navigating Bugis Identities in Singapore. (Photo: Malay Heritage Centre)
These include the opening night performance Aga Kareba, which looks at the history of the Bugis, several guided trails, language workshops and demos on Bugis Silat and drums.
To start your initiation into Bugis culture, here are some interesting facts to note.
Yes, you heard that right. There’s the masculine male and feminine female, but also the feminine male (calabai), masculine female (calalai), and bissu, an androgynous person who transcends everything.
According to curator Suhaili Osman, for the traditional Bugis, it was less about strict categories and more about what role they play in society. The bissu, for instance, acted as mediums who performed spiritual and magical roles.

A bissu, one of the five Bugis genders, conducting a ritual washing ceremony. (Photo: Mohammad Ridwan)

And even in Singapore, these fluid identities were evident. MHC programmes manager Jamal Mohamad, who is Malay Bugis, recalled seeing “joget pondan” during weddings in the 1980s. “These were groups of men dressed up as women who were dancing. That scene has slowly disappeared but that was what we were used to – seeing effeminate men and masculine women who were not queer,” he said.
There are hints of this at Jamal’s own recent Bugis-inspired wedding. His wife, who was also of Bugis descent, wore a badik or a Bugis dagger – something you don’t normally see women wear at Malay weddings.
It’s a mistake people often make, mainly because they’re both seafaring folk, said Suhaili. There’s one main difference: The orang laut or “sea people” in Malay spend most of their time on water.

Portrait of a Singapore-Bugis family. (Photo:: Family of Abdul Wafi Waliyudin)

They were also already present in this part of the region before the Bugis even arrived, acting as middlemen, navigators and hired guns for sultans. If that sounds familiar, it’s because when the Bugis came in during the 17th century, they basically took over the sea folk’s role.
“The Bugis wanted to be part of the political structures of the times which the orang laut were not interested in. The British and the Dutch then eventually came to rely on them rather than the orang laut,” she said.
It’s a stereotype that apparently has some ring of truth to it. There were indeed stories of English merchants being taken hostage by roving Bugis on their phinisi – or traditional sailing boats – and tall tales by the Dutch about bogey-men coming to take away children.
But it had mainly to do with the fact that they, at the start, were a pain in the backside of European colonisers, who tended to label people. The Bugis were originally farmers who took to the seas after the Dutch took hold of the port of Makassar, strangling their livelihood.

An early 1900s photograph of a phinisi, a traditional Bugis ship. (Photo: National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board)

But Suhaili pointed out that while there were indeed pirates among the Bugis, they are also known as traders and businessmen – something that they continued to do upon migrating to other parts of the Malay archipelago, like the Riau Islands and Johor.
“It’s said we’re quick-tempered, brash and proud but also industrious, adventurous and brave,” said Jamal. “I’ve heard comparisons, that the Bugis were the Vikings of the Nusantara – and that was where the piracy (stories) came from, because raiding was a way of life for people who didn’t have resources. But after the raids, they would trade.”
It’s actually a bit further up the road and nearer Lavender MRT – an area that Raffles had allotted for the Bugis settlement beside the Rochor Kallang River. It’s been slated for development but there’s still a street called Kampong Bugis there.

The old Kampong Bugis located along the Rochor-Kallang River. (Photo: National Museum of Singapore, National Heritage Board)

As for Bugis Village of today, story goes that there used to be a canal running through the area where the Bugis would park their boats to trade. They established a settlement in the area from Kampong Glam all the way to Rochor River, before they were asked to make way for an Arab kampong in the early 1820s.
Interestingly, the area – especially Bugis Street – would gain a reputation for both gender-bending folk and sailors on R&R, two things that are closely linked to the Bugis identity.
It would seem they’ve got a penchant for singing as well. Two of the three Singapore Idol winners have Bugis blood in them. Taufik Batisah’s family is apparently of Indian and Buginese descent, while Hady Mirza’s family has roots in Sulawesi.

Other famous folk in Singapore with Bugis links? Well, there’s Suria celebrity BJ Kadir and contemporary artist Zai Kuning, for starters. Across the Causeway, there are plenty more, such as pop singer Ziana Zain and actress Lisa Surihani. And don’t forget Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Most notable are the Johor and Selangor Royal families!

For the most part, though, identifying a strictly Bugis identity is pretty hard today, simply because they swiftly integrated into the Malay community. “When the Bugis came to this part of the world and immediately participated in the politics, they needed to speak the language to gain any sort of influence,” said Jamal. “They needed to pretend to be Malay so they adopted Malay culture.”
Source: CNA/mm