Monthly Archives: November 2014

The jackstays are on

Jackstay tied to the bollard on the port bow and the line tying Medina to the marina over the top

Jackstay tied to the bollard on the port bow and the line tying Medina to the marina over the top

Another task has been ticked off our To Do List, the jackstays are on. Like most things on Medina, it took a bit longer than I was hoping. It took longer because we got our jackstays tailor made, rather than buying them “off the shelf”. One of the advantages of getting them tailor made was the cost saving, about half the cost of buying an off the shelf product – which doesn’t happen that often!

So what is a jackstay? It’s a piece of rope, wire or webbing that runs along a boat’s deck.  We have decided to use webbing because it lays flat on the deck. There is usually a jackstay for each side of the boat – one on the starboard side (right side of the boat when looking forward) and one on the port side (left side of the boat when looking forward). Some boats only have one, but we prefer to have two, it means the Skipper and I can walk or work on either side of the boat in rough weather.

Tying on a jackstay to a bollard on the starboard bow (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

Tying on a jackstay to a bollard on the starboard bow (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

The more immediate purpose for the jackstays are to attach Orbit to them. Attach Orbit’s harness to be specific, when he is on deck. Once his harness is attached, he too can move up and down the boat, just like we would.

Jackstays (also known as jack lines) are used on boats (not just sailing boats) for crew to clip their harnesses on to, usually in rough weather. The theory is, if your clipped on to the jackstay and you go overboard, you will still be connected to the boat making it easier to rescue you, compared to a rescue if you go overboard and are no longer connected to the boat.

Its a pretty easy task to install the jackstays. It is just a case of tying them to the bollards at the bow (front) and stern (back) of the boat. I had an opportunity to do this on the weekend when we were taking some friends out for a sail.

The reason why it was an opportunity was because the bollards were not being used, i.e. for tying the boat up to the marina. If I was to attach the jackstays in the marina, I would have to release the line on the particular bollard I was attaching the jackstay too. I didn’t want to do this with the recent 10 – 20 knot winds we have been experiencing in the marina. It could mean if I didn’t get my timing right, Medina or the boat next to us could get damaged.

Orbit and I on the high side, his harness is clipped on to the jackstay (which is under his left foot) (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

After a bit of jovial ribbing from the Skipper about how long I was taking, the jackstays were on. No matter which boat I have sailed on, the world always looks different from the cockpit and there seems to be a time warp. By this I mean, the waves and swell are always smaller from the cockpit compared to on the foredeck. And while the person working on the bow is doing their best, working as fast and as safe as they can with salt water spraying down on them and a deck falling away from beneath their feet, 30 seconds on the bow feels like 5 minutes in the cockpit – or longer! I can say this from both perspectives, being the person in the cockpit and the person working on the foredeck.

After the jackstays were on and the sails up, we were ready for Orbit to go up on deck. Previously when Orbit was on deck, we would attach his harness to ‘strong points’, meaning he would have to stop and wait for me to disconnect and reconnect his harness each time he got to the end of the tether. And this was driving him to the end of his tether!

Orbit can now sit on the bow (in the right conditions) thanks to his harness and jackstays (thanks again to Andrew for taking this photo)

Orbit can now sit on the bow (in the right conditions) thanks to his harness and jackstays (thanks again to Andrew for taking this photo)

He was surprised when he could keep walking with out me saying ‘hang on mate, just have to clip you on and off’. At each point where I would normally say this, he paused and waited. The smile on his face when I said he could keep going was priceless! He was also quite pleased with himself when he made it all the way to the bow (which was a first). Without any encouragement from me (i.e. asking him to sit down), he found a comfortable spot to sit down and enjoyed the ride. He had a grin from ear to ear. When it was time to drop the sails, he wasn’t very happy with me when I said we had to go back to the cockpit. I am sure he would sit up on the bow all day if we let him.

As long as Orbit has his harness on and it’s clipped on, he can play up and down the deck when we are at anchor or in the marina (with the Skipper or I supervising him of course). It also means he can spend time on deck when we are sailing (in the right conditions), allowing him to explore his ever moving world at his own pace. There is an unexplainable joy in watching Orbit exercise his growing independence, to go on little adventures around Medina, to discover new things and to find his true sea legs.


So what’s in your first aid kit?

One of the non-negotiables on our To Do List is to build a quality first aid kit and do a first aid course that covers the potential accidents or illness that can happen on a sailing boat.


The first step in developing our first aid kit has been to ask other sailors. I have been throwing into conversations,  “so, what’s in your first aid kit”. Like most things sailing related, there is no definitive answer.  Each response was dependent on the person I am speaking too, their situation and their approach to safety.

Some of the fantastic advice I have received from other sailors has been:

  • know your own personal health status, any issues you have or may have, and if you can, get them addressed before you leave.
  • have Orbit’s immunisations up to date and plan to be somewhere that can provide the next set of immunisations.
  • be prepared for ‘typical male/typical female/typical child’ infections (e.g. ear infections, urinary tract infections) even if you don’t have them.
  • set up a ‘first aid’ cupboard, label everything in the cupboard and have an inventory on the front of the cupboard, so anyone on your boat knows what is in it.
  • attend a first aid class, marine first aid is better.
  • have a first aid book on board, don’t rely on your memory.
  • talk to your local GP and ask them for advice on what to take and what prescriptions to carry (if you can).
  • have a Yachting Australia Category 1 Racing First Aid kit, because if you need to call for help, the person advising you knows what you have on the boat.

The second step has been to undertake some internet research. There are all sorts of marine/yacht/sailing first aid kits that can be purchased and reading through the inventory it can be quite daunting to think that the Skipper or I may have to administer some of these things. Hence, the need to undertake a comprehensive first aid course.

Now I have some lists to compare, I can start to have more detailed conversations with those sailors who offered the fantastic advice above, our local GP, Orbit’s paediatrician and other medical professionals.

I dread having to do first aid, it means someone I love has been hurt or is sick. But I would rather know what to do and have the equipment than not, particularly when we could be a long way from someone coming to help us.

Bevels can be like belly buttons – there are innies and outies

The old shower door, outside handle on the left, inside handle on the right and bevel in the middle

Each time I used to get into the shower and close the door, my heart would skip a beat, would the door open again? Something in the lock mechanism had worn out causing the bevel to get stuck . The bevel is the bit of metal that slides in and out when you turn the handle.

Riding the wave of confidence of replacing the shower bilge pump, I volunteered to replace the shower door handle. The conversation went something like this:

Me: think I might give replacing the shower door handle a go

The Skipper: goodo, all yours

Me (thinking): this is sounding like the shower bilge pump episode all over again

Me: ok, mum is looking after Orbit tomorrow, so I’ll remove the old one and take it to the chandlery, a replacement on will only cost $50, crossing fingers they’ll have one and the new one will be on tomorrow night, so it should only take 48 hours, tops

The Skipper: you sound like your on top of this one

Me (rather proudly): yep

The Skipper: ok, all yours 

After dropping Orbit at my mum’s, I was ready to tackle my task. No dramas with removing the handle so I was off to my favourite shop, the local chandlery. At the chandlery while waiting my turn to be served, I tried to avoid looking at the clothes and shoe section – one day I will indulge and buy my new Musto outfit and a new pair of Dubarry shoes, one day … but I digress, where was I? at the counter asking the helpful staff if they have a replacement for my door handle.

Yes they do, but none in stock, so I walk away job half done, waiting for a phone call for when my new handle would arrive.

A few days later the new handle has arrived. The Skipper has a few things on his shopping list, so he’s taken advantage of the situation to pick up my handle and while getting a few things he ‘needed’ from the chandlery.

The first words on his return were ‘don’t drop it in the water’. Why would I do that? The handle is on the boat, I don’t plan on taking it outside the boat, not even in the cockpit. Maybe he knows something that I don’t? Is he referring to the water in the shower bilge? After clarification, he just wanted me to be careful because the handle was in excess of $200! It turns out the handle I found in the catalogue was a different brand to our handle, which is why there was such a big price difference.

The new shower door handle

The new shower door handle

Five days since the handle came off and child free, it was time to put the new lock on, without dropping in the water. After reading the instructions and reviewing the photos I took removing the old handle, I was ready to go.

Ten minutes later the handle was on, all I had to do was test it. There was a heart starting moment when I couldn’t get the door open, the bevel got a little bit stuck in the recess. After a few deep breaths, a turn of the handle and a slight push, the shower door was open. I didn’t think this was a big thing because the bevel was only getting a little bit stuck. So I packed up all the bits and pieces, making sure I kept all the ‘spare’ screws, allen key and instructions, just in case.

Lucky I did …

That night I proudly displayed my work to the Skipper. While acknowledging what a fantastic job I had done he stepped into the shower and closed the door. The bevel got a little bit stuck again. Similar to me, the Skipper was able to get out of the shower by turning the handle and a gentle push. After inspecting my work more closely, he informed me that the bevel on the new handle was the opposite direction to the bevel on the old one. If you look closely at the photos you’ll see the different positions. This is why the handle would turn the bevel but not all the way out of the recess, making it get a ‘little bit stuck’. Thank goodness I kept all the bits and pieces!  It meant I could pack it up and take it back to the chandlery for a replacement (with the bevel the right way around).

Tips on replacing the shower door handle, i.e. things that the instructions won’t tell you:

  1. Bevels can be like belly buttons, some have innies and outies depending on whether the door opens in or out.
  2. Take a photo of each time a bit is removed, just in case the instructions don’t make sense.
  3. Have a cup of tea after removing the lock – for no other reason than its always nice to have a cup of tea.

Because the replacement handle will take about two weeks to come in, in total my quick project (i.e. 48 hours) will turn into one that will take about 4 weeks, . This means we don’t have a handle on the shower door. But that’s ok. We don’t really need it unless we want to have a shower when we are sailing (as the boat will be heeled over). And we’re not planning on having showers while sailing over the next two weeks. Lucky there are plenty of things on the To Do List to keep me busy while I wait for the replacement handle to arrive!

Cleaning Medina without hurting my friends

One of the challenges of moving on to the boat from a house was the change in cleaning products. I can still use many of the household cleaning products but it is not possible to use others because they are not applicable to some of the equipment or the marine environment.

Kin Kin eco dishwashing liquid

Kin Kin eco dishwashing liquid

Since living on the boat, I have become more aware of the environmental impact of cleaning products. This is because everything that comes on to the boat must come off the boat, at some time. Cleaning products come onto Medina in neat colourful bottles or boxes, the contents end up being pumped out one of her ‘through hull’ openings as grey water and the bottle or box goes in the rubbish bin then up to the marina industrial bin or recycling bin.

I am aware of the age old mixture of vinegar and water as a disinfectant and I do use this in certain situations as it has a low toxicity and is biodegradable. However, I was after some cleaning products that I could buy off the shelf and know that they weren’t going to contribute to killing the bream, mullet, dolphins, toad fish, turtles, cuttlefish, crabs and other marine life we have living in the water around our boat or the birds that eat them.

It has amazed me how much marine life there is living in our marina, sometimes I see more in a day in the marina then a week at an anchorage. One of our favourite outings in the marina is watching the sea life at night when one of the large and fancy powerboats leave their underwater lights on. Its like having your own person aquarium and is better than watching tv.

So given my growing friendship with our marine friends, I have changed my thinking on the cleaning products I use on the boat. I know I don’t use a lot, however Manly Boat Harbour, with four marinas is the largest boat harbour facility in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 3,000 dry standings and wet berths, plus two public boat ramps, plus being the end of the storm water drainage system for a large urban area, the cumulative effect is pretty big. By getting used to using these products in the marina, I am hoping they do not contribute the cumulative impact from other boats and landlubbers and we won’t negatively impact the marine life when we are cruising, in a marina or at anchor.

Resparkle organic cleaning products

Resparkle organic cleaning products

I have started to use organic cleaning products on the belief that they won’t hurt the marine life as much as artificial or chemical based products. I have also tried to source locally made products where possible.

My favourite products to date include the Resparkle range and Kin Kin Naturals.

The Resparkle range of products is organic, plant based, anti-bacterial and the packaging is reusable. The refill pods are much smaller and cheaper than the store bought alternatives – so fantastic for stocking up when we are not going to be seeing the shops for a while.

I have tried the kitchen and multi surface cleaner, nursery and toy everyday cleaner and bathroom and glass cleaner. Each has done exactly what is promised on the label and I am about to order some refill pods.

Another not so joyful part of cleaning Medina’s interior was getting the smell of cleaning products out of the boat. I used to wait until Orbit went to swimming lessons so he wasn’t affected. But I endured a headache after cleaning.  So far I haven’t had a headache using the Resparkle products.

Kin Kin eco laundry liquid

Kin Kin eco laundry liquid

The Kin Kin Natural products I use are the eco laundry and eco dishwashing liquid. Given the eco laundry and dish wash liquids are both grey water safe and septic safe I feel comfortable that it isn’t going to hurt my friends when I empty the dirty laundry or washing up water. Both are ultra concentrated, which took me a while to get used to as our washing machine is so small and only needs about one third of the recommended dose. This is great from a storage perspective because it means its less to store when on an extended cruise.

I buy these and other organic products from The online store is based on Queensland’s sunshine coast and they ship all around Australia. I have their service is fantastic, the website contains helpful informative information, the shipping time is quick and would recommend them to everyone.

Help us develop our play list

Music is pretty important to the Skipper and I. Medina’s very first modification was the installation of a new radio/cd player (with iPod connectivity) and speakers.  

Points of Sail, nothing to do with this post, but I got a giggle out of it (source

If you were to come over for a visit, you would more than likely hear music playing over having the tv on. It is also my way of blocking out the noise of slapping halyards or loose foils in the marina.

Given we are going to be having loads of time to listen to music (I hope), I am keen to develop a pretty comprehensive music play list. And, given we all have our own musical preferences, I am interested in what others listen to when sailing or songs that make them feel good when they listen to them.

This is also our little way of bringing you all with us. When a particular song comes on, we’ll have all the wonderful memories of that person with us and hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon.

To get you started, below is a list of my current top 10 sailing songs, in no particular order. Some songs have been on the list for a while and others are recent additions.

  • The Divide by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
  • Feeding Line by Boy and Bear
  • Queen of California by John Mayer
  • Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd
  • House of Cards by Holy Holy
  • You and Me by The Dave Matthews Band
  • Moon River by Neil Finn and Paul Kelly
  • Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
  • Barefoot Kid by the Pigram Brothers
  • Easy by Groove Amada

Please let me know if you have any favourite sailing songs or songs that make you feel good. I challenge you to submit songs that don’t have ‘sailing’ in the title (sorry for all Rod Stewart and Christopher Cross fans, Sail Away by David Gray will be accepted though).

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