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RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:19 pm
by saintpeter
Yes, I thought that would get your attention.

Well, it's finally happened! On Tuesday, and after 63 summers of staring out the P.P.B. Heads, I finally got to sail out and into Bass Strait.

I was a little early for slack water ebb, so there was a bit of wind against tide which popped up 2-3m seas (not breaking) over the Rip Bank. Kittiwake handled it very well on autopilot. This was only a day sail, so after standing on for about 3nm among the mutton birds, it was time to re-enter, about an hour into the flood. I used the excellent advice given by the ORCV Rip Tour tutor, and all the lines and leads were observed and committed to memory for next time.

This has opened up a whole lot of possibilities, and (in good conditions) was easier than anticipated.

Peter .. S269 - Kittiwake .. Queenscliff.

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:52 pm
by Phillip
So where are the photos Peter??

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:57 pm
by Miker
Well done Peter,

We Sydney siders take heading out into the ocean for granted. Sydney Heads or Pittwater/Broken Bay are large entries, with very little issues from tidal flow. Unless you're in Brisbane Water and need to negotiate Box Head and Half Tide Rocks....

You must feel great satisfaction at getting into the Strait proper. Congratulations.

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:45 pm
by saintpeter
Sorry, Phillip. I do have a smart phone, and indeed a good digital camera; but I have just not caught up with the fashion of recording everything. I will remember for next time.

I also made a post on the SeaBreeze forum, in which I expressed my doubts about relying on only one form of self-steering (Autohelm 2000, working well) when sailing longer solo trips. I know there are one or more TopHats with a vane system, but that may be overcapitalizing. Would the TopHat brains trust think it reasonable to carry a spare Autohelm (even a cheaper ST1000) ???


Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:23 pm
by Phillip

On my last return trip from the Whitsundays I was leaving Iluka when my ST1000 gave up.
I returned to the anchorage and set about ordering a new one. If I remember it took 4 days to get to me [over a weekend].
Mate of mine repaired the dud one for $3.50 in parts but it took him over a couple of days to extract the part and replace it.
It would not have been repaired by a commercial business.
Now I brought that original ST1000 second hand in 2009 and I had done over 6,000 nm with it, let alone what the previous owner did before it failed.

So, do I carry a spare, yes but its the untried repaired one and the new ST1000 I brought in 2015 will do for at least 10 years plus which will probably see me out :D

Does that answer your question?

PS the ST2000 is over kill for a Top Hat. With all these auto-helms [1000 & 2000] you have to remember

that when it gets rough and the motor starts to heat up or it cannot handle the situation- its time to hand steer. [Been there done that for over 7 hours non stop :shock: ]

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:13 am
by Shaun
Good one Peter,
I carry a spare ST2000, it is a repaired unit that I repaired myself after it overheated & a diode fell out of the circuit board when the solder melted.
I also made up a sheet-to-tiller kit (there are heaps of info on an internet search), mine is just lines, a couple of blocks & some black bungy cord),
as a spare means of self-steering, in case the main tillerpilot fails, its cheap & reliable. You could also look on gumtree or similar, & pick up a cheap second hand tillerpilot down the track.

Heres a quick video of my first attempt of rigging sheet-to-tiller, I only made the video so I could remember how I did it. I tied a line to the jib sheet with a rolling hitch.

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:01 pm
by steve
Hi Peter,

I owned my boat for over 25 years before I took her out through the Heads a few years ago, so you have got on with it far quicker than me.

On the day I was going out the forecast was for the wind to build during the day to 25-30 knots. I was going to cancel the trip as I do not normally go sailing if over 25 knots is forecast, but I was sailing in company with Dave on Tales and he did not want to cancel. I reminded myself that the reason I do not sail when the wind is strong is because of the difficulty of picking up the mooring and rowing ashore, rather than any problem while sailing. As I was going to anchor and stay on board at the end of the day my initial doubts seemed irrelevant so we went ahead. The day went well, with light wind at the heads gradually building, resulting in a great trip.
There are a couple of short, poor quality, videos I took:- ... ...

Regarding the need for more than one form of self-steering, it seems that almost everyone sooner or later has problems with electronic pilots in strong winds. Most advise that a back-up is desirable unless you will always be within hand steering range of your destination. While windvanes are more expensive than electronic pilots, the sailors I know who have fitted windvanes have never regretted it. Windvanes get better and better as the wind increases. On your Seabreeze post you mention Flemming windvanes. Windpilot Pacific Light windvanes are much cheaper than Flemmings and I have never read a bad review of them. Shea (Sailtime) fitted one a year or two ago and was pleased with it.


Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:55 pm
by saintpeter
Thanks all for the comments. I am glad to hear that a few TopHats tackle Bass Strait. After a lifetime of bay sailing, the feel of the open sea was absolutely intoxicating, and longer trips beckon.

The jury is still out on a backup self-steering system. But I think I will look out for a backup ST 1000 or 2000 (S/H). My next yacht will be a little bigger and definitely sport a vane.

I have found that for solo sailing, I need some way of holding course, for the most basic sail trimming or tacking, let alone for going below! The natural helm position on the TH, being forward of the primary winches, is not ideal. The TH will hold a close-hauled or close-reach reasonably well with sail trim and 'lashed' tiller; but broad reaching or running in any decent wind gives a ferocious weather helm unless one hands the main altogether. And a big following sea is a challenge for the autohelm.

Some time ago I looked at the Windpilot vanes, and will do so again.

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:02 pm
by Iluka82
Well done Peter! Any trip through the heads is worth celebrating, especially when done solo. I think that anyone solo sailing needs multiple ways of self-steering the boat, so practicing sheet to tiller steering or lashing the tiller is a good idea. 2 auto helms are not so good if you loose power for some reason. I had the bracket on my alternator break when sailing in bass strait a few years ago, although I didn’t loose all power, I wasn’t confident to run the auto pilot though out the night without charging the batteries. Luckily there were 2 of us so we were able to take turns hand steering. I find my auto helm doesn’t work so well when the batteries are even a bit flat, I might need to up the wire gauge between the pilot and the batteries.
Cheers Nick

Re: RIP Virgin

PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:20 am
by Shaun
Good point about the wiring for the TP Nick, when I re-wired Blue Moon I gave the TP the priority over all other electrical items, & using 15amp wire for it between the electrical switch panel & the TP, (with a blade fuse box between the switch panel & the TP(as does everything), I think a 7.5amp blade fuse was found to be the right size, it can handle a bit of abuse with the st2000 TP at full extension, where the 5amp was blowing too quickly).

Webb Chiles just uses st2000 & a Pelagic TP, aswell as sheet-to-tiller to sail his Moore 24 around the world, although on each leg (say between 3000 & 6000nm) all of the st2000's usually fail (he carries about 4 of them). Sheet-to-tiller is his saviour. Here's one of his video's showing his sheet-to-tiller set-up.