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C-D (Cruiser's Dictionary)


CANNING FOODS - when we started out, we weren’t going any farther than the Caribbean, where a new island (and market) is just a day sail away in most cases. I therefore didn’t think that canning meats was worth the trouble of carrying the jars, lids, and going through the effort. Once leaving the Caribbean for the South Pacific, however, passages are longer, we had no freezer, and we have found great destinations where there was no civilization - indeed, wonderful anchorages where there was no land. As much as we might like fish, a little bit of beef or chicken is welcome, and the longer we do without, the more we crave it.

I preserve meatballs, stewed beef, ground beef (“mince”), and chicken. The most appreciated by Peter is the meatballs and loose ground beef. No matter how confident I am that the food is okay (opening the lid of a properly canned jar gives a resounding “pop” as the vacuum seal is broken), I still make sure that the contents are cooked/boiled for a full five minutes before consuming. And so I put up meats before any extended cruise or long passage. (See Appendix below as well as Food Canning .pdf)

Remote destinations. In 1991 we decided to stop at Cocos Island, owned by Costa Rica and about 500 miles of its coast. Back then there were only two people living on the island - members of the Costa Rica Coast Guard, stationed there for three-month tours. Cocos Island is a national park, and we aren’t sure if the two fellows were there to police the park from fishing boats, since commercial fishing was outlawed, or whether it was just to be sure that Costa Rica maintained a presence there so that squatters couldn’t just move in and claim the island. Regardless, we found it to be exquisite, and wound up staying for almost two months. At this time I wasn’t canning meats, and so we were eating fish, the occasional lobster, and whatever sparse stores I had in our locker. We shared the anchorage with a French boat, EOA, and found ourselves trading back and forth for items one had that the other didn’t. But neither of us had meat, so we grew very inventive with preparing fish in different ways. Near the end of our stay at the island, we started getting a bit silly, looking at the sea birds walking around within neck-wringing distance from us (all the wildlife on land and in the waters of this island were unafraid of humans - not having been hunted, they didn’t perceive humans as a predator), and saying, “here, chicken, chicken, chicken”, though we never quite had the nerve to catch and kill one.

APPENDIX: FOOD CANNING. Although I have been conditioned my entire life to not reuse vacuum lids, I do not care to carry as many canning jars and lids as I need for a long cruise to remote places; and thus I save pint jars with “button” pop-top lids, such as spaghetti sauce, to use once more before discarding. Also, for smaller quantities, I save smaller jars, such as the jars that Salsa comes in. The risk is the rubber gasket, which is just a small thin strip in the commercial jars, becoming worn or damaged. Be sure that whatever jars and lids you use that you leave at least 1/2 inch head space and then close them tightly before placing them in the water bath or pressure cooker and processing, or the liquid will boil over and seep out of the jars.

Process under pressure for: 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts.

Precooking meats before canning will insure that the canning broth remains clear and appealing looking. Skim off the scum and if still unacceptably cloudy, you may wish to strain the broth through cheesecloth (or a paper coffee filter!) before covering the meat in the jars with it. Be sure that the meat is covered completely by liquid otherwise discoloration and some loss of flavor will occur during storage.

I prepare meats slightly differently than if they were being used immediately. Meatballs are better if there is little or no spices, and I do not add bread crumbs; rather than browning in a frying pan, I drop them into boiling beef broth to partially cook, then lift out with a slotted spoon, pack loosely but firmly in pint jars, use the processing broth (strained to remove scum) to cover the meat, cover, and process. Ground beef: drop loose into boiling beef broth, boil for a minute or two, lift out of broth with slotted spoon, pack into jars, cover with broth, cover and process.

Chicken: remove bones and skin, process as for beef, but use chicken broth rather than beef broth. (Chicken bouillon cubes are fine). I also add 1 tsp. citric acid to each quart of broth.

CAUSTIC SODA - Same stuff as drain unclogger (such as "Drano") - useful for cleaning out the last bits of animals from seashells without harming the shell. But is nasty stuff - generates lots of heat, so add to water, not other way around; be careful of the fumes. Make up a solution, put smelly seashell in and swish around so solution goes all the way into the shell and let sit overnight. Rinse out. (Also useful when toilet in head has bits of rotting animal in it - when the smell gets too much, disconnect intake line, pump in caustic soda solution, let sit for a few hours, pump out, repeat and then flush with clear water)

CHARCOAL TABLETS - Available in most health food stores, good for absorbing ingested toxins such as Salmonella toxin from food poisoning, or for accidental overdoes of medications. It is not a medicine, but the same activated charcoal used to absorb minerals and odors from drinking water. Must be taken when symptoms first appear to have any effect. Can’t hurt, often helps, and with food poisoning, helps dramatically. (see “Allergies”, “Botulism”, “Salmonella”)

CHARTS - See “Navigation Charts”

CHOLERA - For normal healthy adults cholera is not fatal, just nasty, so one should not feel intimidated by it, nor avoid places where cholera has been reported. However, one should always take precautions against food-borne infections - very few places in the world have the same hygiene standards as in the States. As with typhoid, giardia, cryptosporidiosis, the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic - i.e., transmission is often effected by carriers who show no symptoms of the disease themselves, so the disease is transmitted by their handling of food - for this reason, even very clean restaurants can transmit various diseases if the people preparing or serving the food are unknowingly infected. We have eaten food from street vendors in cholera-endemic areas without any problems. If they are selling fried food and the food is handled with tongs and paper napkins without the vendor ever actually handling the cooked food, it is unlikely that the food is contaminated. If the vendor is dirty or the utensils are dirty, avoid it. (See also,“Cryptosporidiosis”; ”Giardia”; “Newspapers”; “Preserving Food - Fresh Vegetables”; “Rehydration”; “Typhoid”)

CIGARETTE LIGHTERS - Useful for searing and sealing cut ends of lines, webbing, etc.

CIGUATERA - Food poisoning from reef fish. Caused by reef fish eating a toxic dinoflagellate - doesn't hurt the fish, but the toxin builds up in its flesh and is really nasty to humans - can be fatal. Symptoms include shivering, severe flu-like symptoms, reverse sensations (hot feels cold, cold feels hot). The toxin is a nerve toxin, can suppress breathing in severe cases. The larger the fish, the more toxin it could have in its flesh. Is found in tropical reefs worldwide, though some areas are worse than others. Not caused by pollution, so do not think that just because you are far from civilization that you are safe. In the Caribbean, do not eat barracudas, and we suggest avoiding large reef fish, such as groupers. Intravenous Mannitol (glucose drip) has been successful in treating it, if done as soon as possible after showing symptoms. Local remedies include drinking a whole can of sweetened condensed milk.

Because the toxin builds up in the body tissues, one can eat ciguatera-infected fish without severe effect over a period of time, and then suddenly eat the one fish that puts the level in the system over the edge. It seems to take about two years for all the toxin to leave the tissues. When Peter got it, he couldn't stand the taste or smell of fish for about six months. Our island friends told us that this is not unusual. It's a scary thing and is not to be taken lightly. In many areas of the Caribbean we are so wary of it that we try to only eat pelagic fish, such as Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, tuna; never eat any but the smallest reef fish.

CLOCK - We have a small 24-hour digital clock that also shows the date at the navstation set to Universal Coordinated Time (Greenwich Mean Time). Radio and Weatherfax schedules are usually given in UCT, and this saves trying to remember what time zone we are in.

COCKROACHES - South Pacific roaches are big enough to throw a saddle on. If you see even one roach walking around in daylight, chances are you have a severe infestation (mild to moderate infestation, you won’t see one during the day). One cruiser roach treatment is boric acid mixed with sweetened condensed milk until stiff, rolled in balls and put around - especially in bilge. (This is a terrible idea if your bilge has even a little water, and if you make a lot of passages. People who found this most effective were cruisers in Baja California and dry ABC island in Caribbean. It’s not worked for us). We’ve found bombing the boat is the only sure way to get rid of them, but it means opening all lockers and leaving the boat for the day. Best bombing was set off after dark and left for a day. Prevention is better than trying to exterminate, but they’ll get on the first time you let down your guard. Do not bring store boxes onto the boat - unpack and discard before bringing stuff below. Leave stuff in sun in cockpit for an hour (if possible) before stowing it. No paper bags; even plastic bags can carry the eggs. Always keep one or two fresh roach traps around galley area. If you send your laundry out to be done by hand and it comes back the next day (as is common on some Caribbean islands), there is a possibility that there will be roaches in the clothes. Unpacking and laying out in the sun before bringing below reduces the risk. (See also “Mildew”)

COFFEE - For those who use Melitta paper coffee filters, there is a reusable cotton alternative from: The Coffee Sock Company, P.O. Box 10023, Eugene, OR 97440. They also make hand-held coffee socks with a stainless steel frame. At $3.95 per sock for a #6 Melitta filter, they are cheaper than the paper version, and it’s less trash generation. (We bought coffee socks in a plastic hand-held-type frame in Venezuela, very cheap, and in a metal frame in Phuket, Thailand - in between, couldn’t find them)

COMPUTER - Is there a cruiser nowadays that doesn’t have a computer on board? Hooked up to a short-wave (HF) radio, can receive weather faxes or can send and receive e-mail, faxes. There are several worldwide perpetual tide table programs available for computers. Hints: learn how to set “sleep” or “Suspend” mode; an inverter is a boon. We believe that a 12-volt adapter is better for the computer and its internal battery than plugging it into an inverter on the boat. (see also, "E-mail", “References” [for internet sites]; “Weather Fax”; “Tide Tables”)

COOKWARE - Handles on stainless steel pots & pans are usually not screwed on with stainless steel screws; they will rust and the handles fall off. If you decide to remove long handles and have ear handles welded on, do it before you leave the States. Another option: often you can buy small handles and screw them on in place of the long handles. Try Salvation Army or such for cheap pots with handles or lids you want.

Pressure cooker - a very useful pot. Good for home canning; fast preparation of meats and stews, thereby saving fuel; lock on cover, good for nasty rough passages; and is usually the largest pot carried. Have only found one model (European) that had absolutely no aluminium on it (if yours has an aluminium pressure valve, check frequently and clean oxidation off before using it or it might clog and not work properly). Be sure you carry a spare gasket for your particular model if you plan to travel far from your origin point, or you might find it impossible to replace the gasket when it fails.

Stove. - Be sure your stove has potholders to prevent pots from sliding around and jumping off the stove when cooking while under way. Not all stoves are fitted with them.

CORN - Corn Meal is available in Australia as “Polenta”.

- Real Corn Flour is nonexistent outside of US (except a few places in S. America). Most places, “Corn Flour” means cornstarch.

- Cornstarch is called Corn Flour in many places. Be careful.

COUNTRIES: We have visited the following countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium (via 747), Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Chile (Easter Island), Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, France (including French Polynesia and its Caribbean islands), Grenada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands (via 747), New Caledonia, Niue, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Western Samoa.

CREDIT CARDS - an easier and safer way for cruisers to obtain money than traveler’s checks. Little cash needs to be carried on board, very few places where they are not accepted, and one gets a better exchange rate than either cash or traveler’s checks, and they’re waterproof. Contrary to information we received, we were able to obtain cash from ATM's using our US VISA and MasterCard in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

CULTURE SHOCK - The rest of the world isn’t as particular as Western Europe and the US. Sanitation, food and fuel quality, services, are not up to standards we have come to expect. In addition to a sense of humor, one must be on guard to prevent problems caused by our expectations being higher than local conditions provide.

CYBERCAFES: Clumsy and paranoid, I will not carry my precious computer ashore in the dinghy for fear of dropping it overboard. With Internet cafes becoming so prevalent, under most circumstances it is easier and safer to use their facilities rather than our own computer. To save time I write most of my messages on the computer and carry a floppy disk with me to the Internet centre, and copy messages received onto the disk for reading and replying at my leisure back at the boat.

Warnings: Not all cybercafes are diligent about running their antivirus software and updating it. In Malaysia, I have experienced virus-infected computers in practically every cybercafe I visited; caught another one in Maryland cybercafe. In self-defense I have taken to checking their antivirus software, and how recently it's been updated, before I download anything, though that's cumbersome. But a great many viruses hide in Microsoft Word programs, to infect your floppy disk when you open a MS Word file to copy it to your e-mail program. There are a few precautions to take that will make it a bit safer. Write protect the disk you are using to store letters you will be sending. This prevents the virus from infecting your floppy disk, but still enables you to open and read the file. You might also save your MS Word files for transfer to your e-mail at the cybercafe, in "Rich Text Format", or simply in "Text" format. When you copy files to the disk you are bringing back to the boat, save the files in ".txt" format, which has no room to hide most viruses. When you get back to the boat, scan that floppy disk for viruses before opening anything that you have downloaded. Of course, this requires that you have an antivirus program and have been diligent in updating it.

I download updates to my antivirus program frequently (every 7 to 14 days if at all possible).


DAMP - For spices I have resorted to buying very small containers and storing them in sealed Tupperware-type containers until needed. Once the seal is broken, they seem to go bad very quickly (especially certain ground herbs). Since spices can be found everywhere, and are relatively inexpensive, it is not worth stocking up on them. Crackers packaged in foil packs keep fresher than those packed in plastic or wax paper. Pringles never seem to get any worse than they are when bought.
Flour goes bad rather quickly in some places. The best-lasting flour was put into heated metal containers which were then placed in hot oven for about 5 minutes after filling with flour, lid placed on, and lid seam sealed with plastic mailing tape after they had cooled slightly. It was well worth the extra effort.

Electronics will suffer significantly from the damp. All too often we would find that upon turning on our GPS, or SSB radio, or whatever, after having been in an anchorage for a month or longer, would not work properly. Drove us crazy. We finally realized that the high humidity was slowly corroding the electronic connections, and we found that the easiest solution to our problem was to turn on all our gear several times a week and leave them on long enough to warm up sufficiently to dry them out. So long as we turned the equipment off again long before sunset, when the relatively cooler air caused condensation, everything stayed dry and trouble-free, and our need for repairs plummeted. Computers on a boat seem to be extremely susceptible to the humidity, probably because they are not made for the marine environment. My solution is to run the computer at least every other day. Even so, I’m on my third computer in twelve years (though I probably would have replaced them that frequently anyway).

DEHYDRATION - Severe diarrhea, vomiting, or sunstroke will dehydrate a person, throwing electrolytes out of balance. Rehydration powder is commercially available - easy to carry - packed in envelopes to treat one liter at a time.

Homemade rehydration formula: 1 liter boiled water; 1/2 tsp. each salt and baking soda, and 8 teaspoons sugar. Give person sips of this every five minutes, day and night, until he begins to urinate normally. Coconut milk is an excellent natural rehydration fluid.

DEBIT CARD - It's advantage over a credit card is that it is a direct debit from one’s bank account, meaning that there are no bills to be paid, no interest charges. Some banks and most brokerage houses offer this service. The down side is that should the card be stolen, or its number only stolen, one can have one’s account gutted in a short time. If you are going to be away from prompt and regular mail service, strict safeguards need to be observed. If you have a computer and regularly use it to send and receive e-mail, you might be able to obtain bank statements on-line. Merrill Lynch has such a service.

DECKS - The debate over teak decks, good or bad, goes on and on.
Our input: In the tropics, the sun is incredibly strong, and is more directly overhead. As a result, dark surfaces, be they dark paint or dark wood, will heat up more than white, which reflects all the of the light’s spectrum. There has never been a time when our white fibreglass decks were too hot to walk on. This heat is transferred below, so that our interior is cooler as well. This is most important while underway when you don’t have a sun canopy up. Cracks, leaks, problems are also easier to see on a white fibreglass deck.

Keeping the decks clear: We carry nothing on deck during a passage. It keeps the ‘Melon looking good, and is safer - nothing to go around or trip over if one of you must go forward during a passage. Nothing to catch and offer resistance to water washing over the deck in storm conditions - yacht designers take great pains to streamline a yacht’s deck as much as possible to offer the least resistance to water, so why would you want to sabotage that with clutter? All our jerry jugs are stored below, which also serves to lower the centre of gravity.

DEPTH SOUNDER: Our depth sounder transducer is mounted well forward of our fin keel, and thus we will frequently have warning (but only seconds) that we have run out of water before our keel hits. It is preferable, in our opinion, to those boats with depth sounders behind the deepest part of the keel, especially in boats with a full keel with a cutaway forefoot - where the boat can slide up onto a reef or shoal and be well and truly stuck before the depth sounder gives you any indication of a problem. If people tell you they’ve never run aground, chances are they haven’t been anywhere.

DENTAL FLOSS - Makes a very good and strong emergency substitute for sail thread.
Caution: Because it is untwisted it frays from friction of sewing, so cannot be used in long lengths unless in a sewing awl.

DIESEL - called “Gasoil” in most Spanish-speaking countries, “Distillate” in South Pacific islands, “Solar” in Malaysia and Indonesia. (See “Fuel Filters”; “Algaecide”)

DIESEL – FUNGAL CONTAMINATION - The following was obtained from the British Petroleum (BP) website - FUNGAL CONTAMINATION OF DIESEL FUEL ON BOATS, Issued: February 7, 2002 ADF1502 BP Australia Limited A.C.N. 004 085 616 Marketing Technical Services.

Of all the users of diesel fuel the operators of boats are the most likely to encounter problems with fungus and bacteria for the following reasons:-

  • Boats operate in a wet environment and it is not always possible stop water seeping into fuel tanks.
  • The fuel tanks on boats are designed to fit into restricted or unusually shaped areas to make the best possible use of available space. This can mean that they can be difficult to drain and often have areas where pools of water can collect and sit undisturbed.
  • The fuel tanks contain baffles to stop the fuel sloshing about. The baffles can trap free water in small pockets.
  • In warmer climates boats operate in areas with high humidity. Water in the air enters the boat tanks through the breather and condenses inside the tanks.

Where water is present in pockets in the fuel tanks it will provide a site for fungus and bacteria to grow. Often the fungus or bacteria will develop for a long time without causing any problems until one day they become disturbed and stirred up into the fuel. This will be noticed when filters start blocking with a black slime which is the dead matter from the fungus and bacteria. The fungus can be stirred up by :-

  • Vigorous movement due to a storm, etc.
  • The fungus population reaches a size at which it grows out of its sheltered corner and spreads into the rest of the fuel.
  • The natural life cycle of the fungus reaches a point at which dieback occurs and the dead matter starts floating in the fuel.
  • The fungal activity reaches a point at which natural surfactants produced by the fungus cause water and dirt to be suspended in the fuel and the fuel becomes hazy.

Prevention On land the normal prevention of fungal problems is to regularly drain any water in which the fungus can grow. This may not be possible in some boats because the fuel tank shape does not provide a common draining point for all water pockets.

An alternative is to consider regular treatment with a biocide. The biocide should be one that can be added to the fuel but kills the fungus or stops it growing in the water. An example of an effective biocides is BC 250. This is available from Fueltreat Australia (phone freecall 1800 034 442) and is suitable for treating volumes up to 10,000 litres. The treat rate for a maintenance dose is 1 litre to 2000 litres and to kill a contamination the treat rate is 1 litre to 1000 litres.

Tanks treated with a dose of the biocide at every load will stop the fungus growing, regular maintenance should be carried out to remove the water. The water when removed must be treated as a waste because it will contain active biocide. It must not be allowed to run off into the storm water system.

Biocides are poisons and should be handled according to the safety instructions on the pack, gloves must be worn when handling biocides.

Treatment Should a tank become over infested with fungus then filters will start blocking with a black slimy deposit and the fuel may be hazy with water and dirt suspended in it. In such cases the biocide should be added to the fuel tank and then the fuel in the tank should be circulated to ensure that the biocide spreads throughout the fuel. The biocide should be one which will kill the fungus and then assist the water to drop out of the fuel. Fueltreat BC 250 will do this. Following treatment, the water and dead fungus will drop to the bottom of the tank. It should then be drained off or sucked out with a hose, otherwise it will sit on the bottom until becoming stirred up in rough water and again block filters. Treatment should continue for a few loads until filter operation has returned to normal. In an extreme case it may be necessary to empty and enter the tanks to carry out manual cleaning.

The cost of treating will depend on the biocide but can be estimated at about 1 to 3 cents per litre depending on the treat rate. (For further information, please call the BP Lubricants and Fuels Technical Helpline, 1800 033 558 freecall or visit the [www.bp.com.au/fuelnews Website])

DIESEL - SHELF LIFE - The following was obtained from the British Petroleum (BP) website - Issued: February 7, 2002 ADF1402, BP Australia Limited A.C.N. 004 085 616 Marketing Technical Services:

Under normal storage conditions diesel fuel can be expected to stay in a useable condition for:

  • 12 months or longer at an ambient of 20ºC.
  • 6-12 months at an ambient temperature higher than 30ºC.

As diesel gets older a fine sediment and gum forms in the diesel brought about by the reaction of diesel components with oxygen from the air. The fine sediment and gum will block fuel filters, leading to fuel starvation and the engine stopping. Frequent filter changes are then required to keep the engine going. The gums and sediments do not burn in the engine very well and can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces.

The expected life of a diesel fuel is indicated by the oxidation stability test ASTM D2276. The test measures how much gum and sediment will be deposited after keeping the fuel at 120°C in the presence of oxygen for 16 hours. It roughly corresponds to one year storage at 25°C. A result of less than 20mg/L of sediment and gum after the test is considered acceptable for normal diesel.

DIESEL ACCELERATED AGEING - The ageing process can be accelerated by the following conditions:

  • Contact with zinc, copper or metal alloys containing them. These metals will quickly react with diesel fuel to form unstable compounds.
  • The presence of water. Water allows the growth of fungus and bacteria, these produce natural by-products such as organic acids which make the fuel unstable.
  • Exposure to high temperatures.
  • Exposure to dust and dirt which contain trace elements that can destabilise the fuel, such as copper and zinc.
  • Fuel composition. Some components in diesel fuel naturally age quickly.

DIESEL - PROLONGING THE STORAGE LIFE - Prolonging the storage life is achieved by removing or controlling the conditions described in the previous section. Important measures to take are as follows: (Issued: February 7, 2002 ADF1402 Supersedes: February 14, 2000 Page 2 of 3 BP Australia Limited A.C.N. 004 085 616 Marketing Technical Services)

  • Ensure that the fuel is not in contact with any surfaces containing zinc or copper or compounds containing those metals (eg. brass). If those metals are present then a metal deactivator additive may help.
  • Establish a regular fuel maintenance program to ensure that water and dirt is removed from storage tanks. This will also remove any chance for fungus to grow.
  • Water should be drained from the storage tanks weekly. The frequency can be extended if the tank shows no tendency to collect water but should be done at least monthly.
  • Tanks should be kept full to reduce the space for water to condense, maintaining tanks half full increases the water build up and promotes corrosion in the top half of the tank. Most water will come from condensation as the tank breathes, the rate at which water collects will depend on local climate and will be higher in hot humid coastal areas.
  • Tanks should have a well defined low point where water will collect and can be drained. For example, cone down bottoms.
  • Establish a system for filtering the contents of the main storage tank through a recirculating filter system. This can be made automatic and will reduce the potential for problems by removing sediment and gums. The filters should be checked and changed at regular intervals. When the filter change interval reaches a certain frequency then the fuel should be changed over.
  • Tanks should be emptied and cleaned at least once every 10 years, or more frequently if there is a major contamination.
  • Ensure that the fuel supplied conforms to a recognised specification, in Australia that would be AS3570, and ensure the fuel matches the winter cloud point for the area to avoid filter blocking by wax drop out in cold weather. .
  • Always purchase fuel to replenish stocks in the winter season April - August. This will ensure that the fuel will not cause wax problems whatever season it is used.
  • Obtain assurances from the supplier that all components are fully refined to promote stability.
  • Establish a monitoring program whereby samples are taken at regular intervals to monitor the condition of the fuel. The samples can be examined at the site visually for evidence of haziness, sediment, darkening or sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • Regularly turn the fuel over. If possible, plan the fuel usage so that it will all be used within 1-5 years and replaced with fresh fuel.

DIESEL ADDITIVES TO IMPROVE STORAGE LIFE - The following additives can improve fuel storage life: (Issued: February 7, 2002 ADF1402 Supersedes: February 14, 2000 Page 3 of 3 BP Australia Limited A.C.N. 004 085 616 Marketing Technical Services)

  • Metal deactivators. These work by stopping copper, zinc and other reactive metals from reacting with the fuel.
  • Fungicides/Biocides. These work by stopping fungus and bacteria from growing in the fuel and so prolong the life of the fuel. They are only effective on fungus and bacteria and will not stop other oxidation reactions from taking place. They are normally active at the water fuel interface where the fungus and bacteria grow. If fungus is present then a kill dose is required. Otherwise a maintenance dose is used to stop fungus growing.

The disadvantages of biocides are:

  • Handling and mixing is hazardous because they are poisons.
  • For a kill dose, killing the fungus can lead to a build up of dead matter which will block filters and also cause the fuel to oxidise. Ideally, the fungus should be killed and then the tank emptied and drained out.
  • Maintenance doses are effective but no more so than regular water draining.
  • Disposal of water bottoms requires special handling with due regard to the environment.

Anti-Oxidants. These work by stopping the oxidation processes from taking place. They prevent the fuel oxidising and reduce the formation of sediment and gum.

Fuel Stability Foam. FuelKleenik is a stability foam which is suspended in the diesel fuel in the tank. It has been developed and tested by Department of Defence and is claimed to keep the fuel stable for up to 10 years. The disadvantages are:

  • It does not work where fungus and water are present which is why it is suspended in the fuel.
  • It's size is 2100mm x 200mm x 200mm so it has to be dropped in through a hatch.
  • After 15 years it has to be disposed of to landfill.

"FuelKleenik" is available from a company called FuelTreat - ph 1800 034442. For further information, please call the BP Lubricants and Fuels Technical Helpline, 1800 033 558 Freecall or visit their Website

DINGHIES - We never, never, never tow our dinghy if we are sailing, will tow it only if we are motoring for a very short distance in protected waters (and rarely even then). This is the result of several unpleasant experiences in our very early days of cruising. We’ve had dinghies try to board our stern in a following sea, scared ourselves when we put the dinghy onto a long (100’ or so) painter to tow, lost a dinghy we were towing on a day sail, and found a drifting dinghy that was lost from another sailboat. And we have heard worse stories from other yachts.

Wheels on a dinghy are a great idea. If you have a RIB, or a heavy dinghy with more than a 5 HP outboard, getting the dinghy into our out of the water in places where the tide range is greater than 6 feet (2 meters) can be a real chore.

Security: From all the stories we have heard, we doubt that there is any foolproof security measures that can be taken. One tactic yachties use is to raise the dinghy out of the water each night, either onto davits or hauled up to the deck using the main halyard. In Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, just hauling the dinghy out of the water alongside the boat on a halyard wasn’t sufficient for several yachts, who lost their dinghy while they were sleeping when the halyard was cut and the dinghy set free. (our wire halyard makes this a bit more difficult). We had two outboards stolen from the stern rail of the Watermelon. Both were secured with SS chain and padlock. The thieves used bolt cutters to cut the chain while we were sleeping. Amazing how quiet they were, since our cabins are in the stern, just a few feet from where they had to board the boat in order to cut the outboards free. Our alarm system was useless because they never stepped into the cockpit, which would have set it off. We have read of a boat whose outboard was chained to their dinghy, and while they were ashore one night the stern of the dinghy was cut off and the outboard made away with. In general, thieves want the outboards. An exception is in the Caribbean, where there is a big market in used (stolen) dinghies. Yachties, of course, are the victims, and also the market for the stolen goods (many are stolen in April and May each year when the European boat bums return to the Med, and the stolen dinghies and outboards are sold there). We have a small (4 HP) outboard, and we now take it on board and stow it in the lazarette each night (our lazarette is so big it could be a mother-in-law apartment!). We also row our dinghy when possible (not often enough, though).

Emergency kit - fine sandpaper to clean spark plug contacts; spare shear pins; spare cotter pins; wrench; screwdriver, duct tape or other very sticky waterproof tape for emergency leak repairs. (see “Armor-All”; “Fouling”)

St. Martin is definitely getting too crowded. Two severe accidents involving dinghies in the lagoon - two American tourists from Pelican Key were seriously hurt when their dinghy ran into an anchored sailboat; and a German fellow who worked at Pelican Key was killed when a larger dinghy ran into his at night (neither dinghy was running with any lights). The only dinghy we're using now is so slow it can't get out of anybody's way, and as a result I've gotten paranoid and won't go into the lagoon at all in it, and won't let Peter go out at night anymore, even though we always carry a light. (Peter and Irv share the same philosophy, I think - "I can take care of myself, it's the other guy I have to watch"). When he went over to see Sally and Tony at Pelican I was a nervous wreck until he got back. Poor Peter, it means we've given up our jaunts over to Pizza Hut for dinner. It's not only in St. Martin - the problem is so serious in the U.S. Virgins that the Coast Guard there is now inspecting dinghies and prohibiting them from running at night if they don't have running lights. (They patrol the dinghy docks just before sunset and "ground" anyone with a dinghy without lights. We were inspected when we were there in January. Good for them - I wish there were someone on St. Martin to do the same thing).

DISHES - Dinner plates with a moderate rim keep juices and sauces from spilling all over the place while under way. (We eat a lot of meals from deep soup bowls). (See “Non-skid”)

DOCTOR - The best friend a cruiser can have in preparing for his cruise is a doctor who treats him as the intelligent person he really is. This means accepting that the cruiser must take primary responsibility for his own health and well-being. The best doctors I have met were themselves sailors, more familiar with the peculiar circumstances in which we travel. The worst doctors were those who told us to never mind carrying all those antibiotics, just go to a doctor if we felt sick (tough to do seven or more days from any land whatsoever, with just a minimally-trained public health nurse at the end of the passage). “The Offshore Doctor” (see “Books”) includes a good listing of medications, which should be included in a cruiser’s first aid kit, and should be brought with you to your doctor’s office. “Where There Is No Doctor” (see “Books”) is another excellent book to help with medical problems encountered. Do not let a doctor put you off carrying whatever you feel is necessary - find another doctor if the first one proves intractable.

(Quoting from our insurance co. newsletter): “..in the majority of airports all over the world, one is in good hands....... which include ambulance support... an ambulance will arrive [at an airport] quicker than if called outside an airport... many airports have their doctors or other medical personnel available - the doctor's job is primarily to treat passengers who become ill during a flight as well as to ensure that incoming passengers with contagious diseases are examined before they get permission to enter the country.” The upshot of this is that, in an emergency, you might find your best medical care at the nearest international airport. Worth a try.

[Note - new Dec 98] We might take a long time to make up our minds about where we're heading, but once we decide we pursue it with single-minded doggedness. We have had all our shots for our trip to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Isls., etc. Poor Peter was sick for about three days from the shots, but since I suffered not at all I wasn't particularly sympathetic (but he had a lump on his butt the size of a grapefruit from one of the shots probably the tetanus - looked nasty). Hepatitis is a disease to be concerned about out here, so we got immunized for that (according to an Australian doctor who is an expert on hepatitis, it should be of more concern to people everywhere nowadays, and the immunization is so simple and painless it's silly not to get it). We got polio booster immunizations because there is apparently a lot of polio in Asia (?!); tetanus because our last shots were so long ago and again it's a concern for us yachties; and typhoid because it's worth getting. Elsbeth said that after traveling through the Asian countries they are convinced that any and all precautions taken are necessary. We have an advantage over a tourist who is forced to eat and drink the local food and water, though - we can draw on our own resources. Jean-Paul, as a chef, said that the worst problem they had with food-borne illness was in a very good, clean, and expensive touristy restaurant where they hadn't expected it, although this didn't surprise us after we had been educated on the pathology and spread of typhoid and cholera, etc. But in any case, we have the most astounding collection of drugs now to protect us against, or treat us for: amoebic dysentery, bacillary dysentery, malaria, thrush, staph, streptococcus, anyphylactic shock. Cost a bundle, but gives some peace of mind. We even got a prescription for morphine, although I recently learned about a non-narcotic pain drug called Toradol which is supposed to be as effective as morphine, so we're carrying the Toradol; but I had to inform the doctor of its existence so we could get a prescription for it. Annoying, this requirement that prescriptions for antibiotics, etc. be given by a doctor - in Latin America you can buy anything you want except for narcotics without a prescription which makes the cost for drugs much, much lower than in the States or here in Australia. Also, for knowledgeable cruisers, it frees one from the ignorance of a bad doctor. Our doctor experiences belong in a letter to SSCA, and I will probably write one soon. Bad advice from a doctor can be dangerous!

DRIED VEGETABLES - When I can get them, I prefer them to canned vegetables - saves weight, space, and they taste better. Canned vegetables contain a lot of salt as a preservative and flavor enhancer for flavors lost in the canning process. Peter and I are very sensitive to this added salt, and even though I rinse canned vegetables with fresh water before heating, there is usually still too much salt for our tastes. Australia and New Zealand have excellent dried vegetables, which can be rehydrated while being cooked, or can be rehydrated in advance in just water and then used in stir-fried meals with almost the same texture as fresh vegetables. Dried beans require more time, since they should be soaked, usually overnight, before being cooked, but not only do they taste better, but they will not contain as much salt.

DROGUE: When we set out cruising we did not carry a drogue, thinking that trailing a rope warp with weight on the end would suffice in an emergency. Several rather nasty storms made us reconsider this idea, and when our friends survived the Queen's Birthday Storm sailing between New Zealand and Tonga with much thanks to their drogue, we started looking for something better. A careful reading of Tony Farrington's "Rescue in the Pacific" made us doubt that the traditional parachute anchor or parachute drogue was what we wanted. We heard about a Jordan Series Drogue, and the more we read about it, the more we believed that this was the right gear to carry. We made our own from scrap sailcloth out of the local sail maker’s scrap box.
Jordan Drogue Plans (PDF download)

A few comments about our experiences and our rejection of a parachute-type drogue or anchor:

Deploying a sea anchor under the philosophy of keeping the bows to the seas where they will break with relatively little stress ignores the stresses on a boat taking on large seas on a regular basis. The most serious problem is that hanging on a sea anchor means that the boat is going backwards, albeit very slowly. Each time a wave boards the boat, it is being thrust backwards, placing severe strain on the rudder, which is not designed to take stress from that direction. No amount of lashing is going to secure the rudder sufficiently.

In K. Adlard Cole's book, "Heavy Weather Sailing" (see "Books"), which I think is a must read for anybody going offshore, he recounts, and advocates, running with a storm whenever possible. There will be fewer collisions with waves as the boat presents a moving target and is usually lifted with the wave and rides it out. But here is where one needs a device to slow the boat down so that it doesn't go careening down the face of the wave at surfing speeds, risking pitch-poling or broaching. A drogue will slow the boat significantly and evenly - the Jordan Series Drogue that we carry consists of many (over 100) small "droguelets" or small cones, spaced about 18" apart. In this way the drogue is always exerting constant pressure on the stern of the boat. The parachute-type drogues (and sea anchors) are deployed with a long line, and when the parachute is on one side of a wave and the boat on the other, the line will fall slack, to tighten with a sudden jerk as the boat accelerates. The series drogue never allows that acceleration.

It seems to be a rule of cruising that as soon as you acquire a piece of emergency gear the emergency never arises again. We have deployed the drogue only once and that was to test it more than because we needed it. But as I've said to others: if you cross oceans carrying a drogue and never have to use it, good for you! If you do not have one and are unlucky enough to be in the path of one of those big storms, good luck!

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