It’s on again! Hobart 2015

A combination of the Wooden Boat Festival and “van Diemensland Circumnavigation” [note 1] draws many of us down to Tasmania. I’ve set up pages for club cruises (RPAYC and CYCA) to Hobart. Additionally, this time we’ve also added an open cruise page.

So if you’re planning to come down to Tasmania, participating in the vDL-C 2015 or your boat is in Tasmania anyway, email if you’d like to be on the Cruise Tasmania 2015 page.

Like in 2013, we’re planning a Skipr get together on the 8th February, probably over breakfast. It will no doubt be famously dis-organised and casual, but it will again be good to put faces to many of the regular boats on Further detail here closer to the date.

Note 1: I might officially be Australian, but as an expired Dutchman I refuse to capitalise "van".

Off-shore, In-touch

I’ll be giving a talk about some of the ins and outs of keeping in touch while cruising. We’ll start by looking at the most common options to maintain reliable internet access on a boat and going over the history, operation and future of

The venue is the monthly meeting of the Coastal Cruising Club of Australia (CCCA) on Thursday 21st November at the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, 1 Green Street, Cremorne.

Here are the presentation slides:


Windflower and the Western Pacific Rally

This month’s Track/Boat of the Month is  Windflower, the lead boat of the Western Pacific Rally which has now been underway since late April. John Martin, skipper of Windflower, heads up the Island Cruising Association out of New Zealand. Their regular track is around the islands (Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu etc.), but this year a longer cruise takes them North to the Solomons and then West to Australia via the Louisiades.

As John cruisies down the East Coast of Australia, he intends to give a series of seminars about Pacific Cruising, not to be missed. In the mean time you can follow along on the Windflower page as it makes it way to Australia.

John uses the Skipr Plus facility to update his position regularly via email. He says it’s a snap to use together with the UUplus service.

The Evolution of Emergency Beacons

We’re all familiar with Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacons (EPIRBs). Yachts venturing further than 2 NM off the coast are obliged to carry them on board. In addition, some of us may also carry Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), attached to our life vests to help find us in a man overboard emergency.

Both EPIRBS and PLBs send a signal to overhead satellites to set off an alarm at the Rescue Authority, in Australia that is AMSA. While these beacons have a proven track record in saving hundreds of people in emergency situations, they still suffer from some limitations. For example, EPIRBs can only send an “all out” Mayday message, with no possibility of indicating the level of emergency, nor can rescue authorities acknowledge or establish return communications. PLBs will only send a mayday and position to the rescue authorities, rather than to those closest to the incident, usually surrounding vessels, who are in a position to provide immediate assistance.

A variety of alternative beacons and Man Overboard devices have come on the market and I thought it would be interesting to highlight two new types which overcome some of those limitations. Continue reading “The Evolution of Emergency Beacons”

Track & SEND

Yellowbrick Satellite CommunicatorFor those interested in tracking technology, we’ve launched a sister site to at Over the next few years, we’ll see a whole range of interesting devices designed to facilitate reliable communication at sea and letting others where you are at any time. These might be dedicated tracking devices or satellite phone with additional features.

Some even propose that a new generation of satellite communicators may obsolete  EPIRBs.  No doubt there will be much debate before that is accepted! So, if you’re interested in communications technology and safety gadgetry, join us at Track & SEND. By the way, SEND stands for Satellite Emergency Notification Device !


Affordable Cruise Communications

I thought we would highlight three gadgets which are changing the way we communicate on our cruising yachts. From affordable, convenient Internet access to economical satellite communications.

Prepaid Mobile Broadband

Internet at sea has become an essential part of cruising. Some of us might like to get away from emails, but easily accessed weather information and the ability to keep in touch with friends and family sways most of us. On our boat, Te Moana,  we have a permanent Wireless Broadband installation, with which we’re very happy. However, not everyone is prepared to spend $1000+ or have a permanently installed system.

Continue reading “Affordable Cruise Communications”

Where is that CCCA yacht?

[This is the online version of an article in the May 2011 issue of the Mainsheet, the monthly magazine of the Coastal cruising Club of Australia. This month it is a bit self-referential, but I thought I’d put it up here anyway – MC]

TeMoana Yacht PageThis month, we’ll take a look at [1], a Website which some friends and I especially built for cruising sailors, their friends and family.

Skipr was originally conceived on a cruise to Hobart (on Belage, the yacht of CCCA member Peter Style) in 2006. A friend had helped me build a Google map which showed the boat’s position. Having Internet access on board made it practical to build a Web based service which let others know where you were and what was happening along the way.

Today, it has matured into a popular service for cruising sailors who like to keep in touch with family and friends. I’m keen to “fold” that experience back into the Coastal Cruising Club. For those who haven’t used it, here is a quick overview of how you can have your boat displayed on the site: Continue reading “Where is that CCCA yacht?”

Tweeting all the way home

Nick Jaffe Nick Jaffe just cleared customs in Coffs Harbour after a 2 year solo sail from Europe. Apart from being an accomplished sailor, Nick also worked out how to make the Internet work for him along the way.

And not just by getting regular weather reports via a Satellite…

Check out his Website, Blog, his Flickr photostream, his Video and his Tweets. And of course, there is a tracking page.Well done, Nick!

I guess it had to be a 27 year old to show us how it’s done…

Using Instamapper to track boats

I’ve been exploring various tracking options as part of an exercise to move Skipr tracking up ” a notch”. Here is the track which we created using an iPhone, taking Te Moana from Iluka to Camden Haven recently.

GPS tracking powered by

The iPhone reported positions via the boat’s wireless broadband connection. Because of restrictions by Apple on the way applications may be developed, the phone needs to be devoted to reporting GPS positions, rather than report “in the background”. If a phone call is received, the iPhone stops tracking, but will resume after the call is finished.