Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Show Me Your Leaves, Dearie !

Just a reminder that if you find that the wash behind your boat is a different pattern on the water to usual or is making a strange noise, it could be leaves.

At this time of year, the leaves fall off the trees (so that's why the US call it "the fall" ??) and land in the canal (can I say that ?).

The leaves then start to sink and often get wrapped around the leading edges of your propeller as you're cruising, spoiling its hydrodynamics.

This causes a loss of efficiency.

Its worth just putting the gearbox into neutral every now and again whilst travelling and giving the engine a burst in astern, to blow the leaves off.

Obviously, make sure you do this on a straight stretch when no other boats are around.

Its also quite refreshing to see the leaves come to the surface with the reverse thrust, confirming your diagnosis...

The pattern of the wash is generally very telling. Not quite like tea leaves in the bottom of a teacup, but it can indicate things fouling your propeller.

Large objects like mattresses, fleeces, whole tyres, etc have a way of announcing their own arrival - usually by killing your engine as you are approaching a lock entrance with a fair amount of way on.

However, smaller objects like carrier bags, leaves, fishing line, can just affect performance and this is often where wake watching comes in.

Get used to your normal wake pattern for different speeds, so you recognise anything abnormal.

I find the wake has a habit of not flowing directly behind - it goes sideways slightly, which is usually a sign of fouled prop blades, which plays with the thrust.

Something to think about as you are chugging along.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Piracy and Death in Dubrovnik

I have just returned from working in the fortified city of Dubrovnik in Croatia.

It is believed that the trading republic sprang from the remains of the roman city of Epidaurum, in the 7th century.

Although now very much a part of Croatia, the ex-Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik has an air of independence about it.  

Originally known as Ragusa, it became a independent trading centre, heavily dependent on ships. 

At one point, it had 4000 sailors living there and laws were passed to stop them sailing away on foreign ships.

Today, Dubrovnik is a tourist haven and a centre for visiting cruise ships.

The ships anchor off and the passengers come ashore in launches, as can be seen here, just in front of the fortress of St.John.

I first went to Southern Croatia in the mid 1990's and the famous and much photographed walls of the city were pock-marked from bullets and shrapnel from the war with Bosnia.

Now, the damage is repaired, the sun shines and the tourists come again in floods.

Dubrovnik is watched over by its patron saint, St.Vlaho, who is to Dubrovnik, what St.Mark is to Venice.

A Jadrolinija ferry at Dubrovnik port on the Lapad peninsula, seen here under attack from a pirate vessel.

Still fishing in the same way as they have for centuries.

This is the mysterious island of Lokrum, just offshore of Dubrovnik.

The locals say that if you spend the night on the island, you will be cursed and die - nice..