Category Archives: Links

Tropical Cyclogenesis

With all the work on the engine I completely forgot one of my favourite blog topics: the weather !

The marine weather report here in Fiji is quite funny: although there was not much wind during these last weeks, we were continuously warned of foul weather and heavy rain. When we had 15-20 knots, the marine weather warned of ‘rough seas’ sometimes even mentioned ‘very rough’ seas – even when the wind in this area wouldn’t even exceed 25 knots. I guess, the boys and girls from Fiji’s weather bureau don’t get out to sea much – otherwise they would know that it takes waves of four to six meters with breakers to qualify for a ‘very rough’ sea. Don’t get me wrong: I really appreciate them sending meaningful warnings out to the people cruising the oceans but if you shout ‘Fire ! Fire !’ all the time – no fire brigade will show up when it really burns. I know this analogy sucks but I guess you get my point.

A related story might illustrate it further: When we were cruising the Canary Islands in 2011 some overeager employee of the local authorities sent two DSC-alerts in front of *every* marine weather bulletin. This means that six times a day the whole crew is startled by the intense alarm of their VHF radio just because they send weather info. This resulted in most of the yachts turning off their VHF ! Fortunately we could revert to our handheld radio which doesn’t support DSC. Hopefully this dangerous and silly practise since has ceased.

Global Tropics Hazard OutlookTropical wave - infraredTwo lows form on 20131225Outlook for friday - not so good.

Well but now back towards the actual cause of today’s posting. One of the most important tasks of the local weather bureau is to alert the population in case of a cyclone. And right now there is no such warning. Although in my opinion, the situation is quite critical. Wikipedia lists six requirements for the development of a tropical cyclone:

  1. Warm ocean surface of at least 26.5°C. – check
  2. Atmospheric instability (tropical wave north Fiji towards Tonga) – check
  3. High humidity in the lower atmospheric levels. – check
  4. sufficient Coriolis force (always given near the equator) – check
  5. Preexisting low level focus or disturbance (two lows north of Fiji) – check
  6. Little vertical wind shear (hard to tell but likely)

Two additional factors are left out: El Nino, which has influence on hurricane activity – but this year is no El Nino event. And the Madden-Julian-Oscillation which seems to have massive influence on the frequency of tropical storms. In a scientific study done in 2009, the area of Fiji-Samoa-Tonga was investigated and the study came to the conclusion that in case of an active MJO there are five times (!!) more cyclones forming than during the inactive phase. The MJO develops in a 30 to 60 day rhythm in the indian ocean and then travels east. According to current observation, the MJO will reach our area during the next days. Although it’s not extremely active, it still enhances my alertness.

Let’s hope, Fiji’s meteorologists know what they do. I’d be happy if I’m proven wrong.

Posted in Learning for life, Links, LosLocos, Observations, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov | 1 Comment

Patience with the patient !

There’s not too much to do here in Savusavu. We knew that already before we came here and that’s ok. Gui is organizing the trip to Argentina. We all will travel there and we need plane tickets and visas for Australia (a pain in the a.. !!) In Argentina Gui will work on the upcoming collections for Coquito and the Kids will have fun with the grandparents.

Frueh morgens in SavusavuSpiegelglattes WasserUnsere mini-Nachbarinsel, heute mal doppeltBruno und der iPod. Unzertrennlich.

So what’s the captain doing ? Fixing things – of course ! I can’t sit still for too long and there’s enough work on the Suvarov. Our engine still tends to overheat so again I took apart the whole cooling system. All the tipps of the boat neighbors and of Leon (the local machanic-guru) are implemented. The whole system is checked from inlet, impeller, all hoses, mixing elbow, water collector to exhaust. But the problem is IN the engine which is no surprise since the above mentioned parts were checked before we left Polynesia.

Der japanische PatientEin Kristall ? Nein - eine Opferanode.Der Deckel mit der vorderen Anode - und die Silikon(!!!)-'Dichtung'Das innere unserer Tropfsteinhoehle

During that check I was quite confused that I didn’t find a thermostat. Now – with the proper manual I could verify: It’s indeed missing ! Luckily somewhere with the boat tools I found a box containing four used thermostats who after checking were all verified to work correctly. They just needed some cleaning.

The next surprise was the air filter – I wanted to clean it but – there is no filter in there ! Well. That safes me a little work. ;-) Next step: replacing the sacrificial anodes. That’s convenient because while doing that I can have a look inside the cylinder head and see wherther there’s any calcium builup. Next surprise: instead of a gasket someone used household silicone ! – On the front of the cylinder head !! The backward plate had no gasket at all. :-) Luckily we have gasket paper on bord and Gui made nice new ones for me.

So sollte das eigentlich aussehenDer Mischer - in dem Auspuffgas und Kuehlwasser zusammenkommenEntrostet und neu lackiertUnser Patient bei der Chemotherapie - mit ausstroemendem CO2

Inside the cylinder head it looked a lot like a flowstone cave. Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites – and even some crystals ! What a beauty !! Well – and why the cooling of the engine isn’t really working well is clear now. After consulting the almighty internet I find out that it’s best to use 10-15% acetic acid to remove that calcium buildup. Unfortunately the only related liquid available in Savusavu is white vinegar. So I decide to take a little risk and use 5% sulfuric acid to remove the crud.  I fill the (warm) engine with four liters of acid and let it sit until it stops hissing and bubbling. From the connection on the top of the engine we can see the CO2 escape. A nice chemical experiment for our schoolkids. The acid cleaning will continue for the next days. We’ll see whether it works…

While I was at it I also changed the oil, de-rusted and painted some parts, replaced hose clamps and hoses, etc. A nice little service for our engine. As you might be curious it’s a Yanmar 3QM30H with saltwater cooling. And as I had to search forever to find it, I safe others the work and put a link to the service manual !

Posted in Hardware, Learning for life, Links, LosLocos, Pics, Sailing, Suvarov, Work | 2 Comments

Interview on Segelradio

Shortly before the arrival of my family, I did a long interview with Hinnerk Weiler of Segelradio. You can listen to it HERE. It’s in German. So not sure, why I’m writing about this on the english side of the blog…

Oh – and yes. We’re all happy together again. The first day after the LosLocos returned, we sailed back to Moorea again. And here we’re right now enjoying the beach, the palms and the beautiful water while being happy to be together again. Soon I’m gonna post some more pics and stories. – Yes, many things happened already….

Posted in Coquito, Kids, Links, LosLocos, Pics, Rancho Relaxo, Sailing, Suvarov | 6 Comments

Beautiful story in the Himbeer magazine

There is a very nice article in the german kids/fashion magazine Himbeer. German only.

Click the image to get to the story.

Posted in Links, LosLocos, News, Pics, Rancho Relaxo, Sailing | 4 Comments

New gadget: LunaWLANnet

Today the newest gadget arrived: The famous LunaWLANnet. So what’s that ? It a gigantic WLAN antenna to be mounted on the top of the mast. It will give us access to the internet whenever there is a marina or hotel with wlan nearby. I just ordered it a few days ago and was amazed when today it arrived in a huge box… The thing is 1.2m long !!
So I unpacked the gigantic antenna and put it out in the garden. Connected the 20m network cable and went inside to connect the power adapter and connect the LAN cable to the computer. The cable that goes to the antenna also delivers the power for the antenna using PoE. So there’s no need for another power cable to put into the mast. VERY convenient !
After all was setup, I open the webbrowser and go to the website of the LunaWLANnet to select the WiFi network of my choice. Done. After three minutes I was online. And most of those three minutes I spent searching for my own network – the list of available access points is amazing in our neighborhood.

Here’s a pic of our new gadget. Our old-school telephone is just for size comparision. Go to lunatronic to get your own antenna.

Posted in Hardware, Links, Net, Pics, Rancho Relaxo | Comments Off

Some minor updates to our website

As the time draws near that we are without our DSL-connection, I’m starting to rearrange and update our website:

We’ve added a new page: FAQs – where you’ll find all those questions everyone keeps asking us…

We’ve eliminated the ‘books’ page. There’s not enough room in the menu bar and I’m doing book reviews in normal blog posts from now on. And that’s where you’ll find them: Just select the category ‘books’ in the menue to the right. Or click here.

Update 20110413:
And finally I’ve managed to translate the description of our ship, the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas. Also the Pictures section was cleaned up (but still requires registration for access).

Posted in Links, Projects | Comments Off

The Windvinder

Sometimes you have to do discoveries twice, I guess.

A couple of weeks ago, Micha mentioned a quite crazy project called ‘Windvinder’ on the Ironlady blog. I scanned the page, confirmed the crazyness and forgot about it. Well, yesterday while browsing the TO-Forums, I ran across a witty posting and somehow the user ‘Wipke’ sounded familiar. That’s how I ran into that website the second time. And this time, I stayed and klicked pretty much through all the content there is.

This is really one amazing project. And the website, the style, the pics are first grade. – As is the Windvinder itself. What an unbelievable beautiful vessel ! I hope the followup expedition to catch the Windvinder will be a success. It’s gonna be a good journey anyways (-> Crew wanted !).

Posted in Found, Links, Pics, Sailing | Comments Off

First short-wave experiments

On saturday I did a few first steps in short wave technology. One of the basics is to be able to receive a wather fax. This is hardly anything new. People have been doing that since the eighties. The thing is: I don’t have a shortware tranceiver and I don’t have a Windows(TM) PC.

So I coupled my trusty handheld SW radio with my MacBook using a 3.5mm ‘headphone’ cable. The software I was using/testing was: CocoaModem 2.0, Fldigi 3.2 and MultiMode Cocoa. After fiddling around with the receiver (using mode: USB) I finally received a faint signal. But that was enough to pull that first weather fax from Northwood, UK !

It’s actually quite amazing that one can receive quite precious data using only standard components and free software – without internet, telephone, WiFi… Well. It was only a test for getting used with the software. The final setup will hopefully consist of a proper tranceiver and a dedicated small Netbook or Laptop with all software installed and configured. Unfortunately the ONLY piece of software that doesn’t exist on Linux or Mac is the SailMail program for sending/receiving emails via SSB. But maybe I can find a solution for that, too.

Posted in Amateur Radio, Apple, Hardware, Links, Net, Pics, Sailing | Comments Off

Sailing during the wintertime

So what am I supposed to write about when Berlin is like frozen hell, lakes are covered with ice and the air is -18C ?

Well, we’re still doing preparations. I’m on the way of getting my Amateur Radio License and when I’m not reading sailing books, I try to improve the webpage or we’re doing journey planning. Speaking of. Here’s a temporary link to our planned route. Later on I’ll link the finished page somewhere on the top of our site here. Beware: all dates and coordinates are still subject to change and of course, everything more than one year ahead is pure speculation… And as I’ve said before: Maybe we don’t have the guts to sail through the Gulf of Biscay, we’re back in Berlin before the year ends… ;-)

Oh and btw: A happy new year to all readers !

Posted in Berlin, Links, LosLocos, Rancho Relaxo, Travel | Comments Off

Book review: Learning all the time (by John Holt)

Learnin all the timeLearning all the time

written by John Caldwell Holt

An amazing book about the learnin with and from children. It was this book that took my fear of home-schooling away. It also let me see our current school system in a completely different light.  The book is packed with really practical tips and stories and I consider it absolutely mandatory reading for everyone who wants to do homeschooling. This book is also strongly recommended by Jill Schinas (see Kids in the Cockpit).

Posted in Books, Links, Sailing | Comments Off

Book review: The missing Centimetre (by Leon Schulz)

The missing centimetreThe missing Centimetre

by Leon Schulz

Another book about a family going cruising. It wouldn’t be worth mentioning but there are a couple of features that make this book stand out: It’s design is really nice, the printing is amazing quality and it has brilliant photos in it. Also: I like the book for it’s good tips.

In general, I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s still in the ‘dreaming phase’ of the journey. Leon makes good points for getting started and he shows very clear that from the first thought it always looks impossible but as one starts into the dreaming phase, the first step is done. Soon you could find yourself in the ‘planning phase’. ;-) Go to the homepage of the SY Regina.

Posted in Books, Links, Sailing | Comments Off

USA: The war on truth ?

After the very successfull ‘War on Drugs’ and the ever popular ‘War on Terror’ – are we now ready for the ultimate fight ? Maybe Sarah Palin would like to start a ‘War on Truth‘ ? Comment on FB: “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

And one other thing that really confuses me about that last wiki-leak: The whole world seems to be discussing Julian Assange’s problems with two swedish girls and whether it is good/bad/illegal/whatever that wikileaks does… When will people start discussing the CONTENT of the leak ?

I’ve just donated 50€ to ! Go, Julian Assange, go !!

Update 4.12.2010, 15:15h: is offline – the webspace at amazon is cancelled, the Website in Switzerland is partly inaccessible… What’s next ? An US drone bombing the suspected H.Q. of wikileaks ?

Here another excellent article – from Reporters without borders !!

Update 4.12.2010, 22:37h:

Very interesting story on Slashdot about the shutdown of wikileak’s PayPal Account
The story comes with plenty of very insightful comments. Here’s a good one:

Re:Rather symbolic isn’t it? (Score:5, Insightful)
by lexidation (1825996) writes: Alter Relationship   on 04.12.2010 18:21 (#34444302)

I spent ten years of my life as a “real” journalist in several major US media markets. The primary difference between the news “we” presented and what’s being presented via Wikileaks is precisely that Wikileaks allows more or less unfiltered access to the source material. Ask yourself: do you really want someone else selecting what’s fit for you to read? Trust me, having unfettered access to original sources, so that you can independently develop your own take on what’s happening, is infinitely better for you — and better for society — than having the news dished out to you by a “professional” like me in my former incarnation.

What’s happening to Wikileaks is astounding and should be scaring the living shit out of each and every one of you. They have been transformed into a “criminal” organization in the eyes of many members of the public and many members of the mainstream media inside of a week. From the beside-the-point rape case involving Julian Assange to the loss of hosting, DNS services and, now, the possibility to gain funding. That’s how easy it was to get the job done.

I’ve been an observer of political life, professional and otherwise, for more than forty years. Never have I seen an assault on free speech like this one. It doesn’t matter what your personal view is on the wisdom of exposing the day-to-day minutiae of realpolitik. Free speech — and your right as citizens to live under an open government — are under attack. I can only hope people will speak up to defend them.

Posted in Freedom, Links, Net, News | 1 Comment

Multilingual Blog

I’m experimenting with a couple of plugins to make the site bilingual. You can choose the language in the menu to the right.

This also works for the RSS-Feeds. Example in German.

Posted in Links, Net | Comments Off

Book review: Maiden Voyage (Tania Aebi)

TaniaAebi-MaidenVoyage Maiden Voyage

von Tania Aebi

One of the absolute must-reads in sailing literature. Tania Aebi left New York in her Contessa 26 when she was 18 years old. She circumnavigated the world in about 2 and 1/2 years – and without much knowledge about sailing – but that would soon change… A fantastic read !!

Posted in Books, Links, Sailing | Comments Off

Server migration complete…

We’ve been relocating our website to a new server. This also involved a major upgrade of the underlying hardware as well as an upgrade to WordPress 3. We switched to the new URL: – since our little yacht is flying the Austrian flag, that should make sense, although we’re still living in .de ;-)

What else is new ? Well, I’ve decided to switch back to english. Most of our readers actually are not native german speakers, so be happy that now you too can decipher our gibberish.

The Gallery (up above, see ‘pictures’) can now only be accessed by registered users. We will keep posting selected pictures to the blog, but the bigger portion is for friends and followers only.

Other enhancements (booklist, shiptrak, position alerts, …) are still to come, stay tuned…

Posted in Links, Linux, LosLocos, Net | Comments Off

OpenCPN 2.2 unter Mac OS X 10.6.4

Ich bin ja ein grosser Fan freier Software und begeisterter Nutzer von openCPN. Leider wurde bisher die OS X Version nur stiefmuetterlich behandelt, heute habe ich aber mehr oder minder zufaellig eine aktuelle Version gefunden und diese auch relativ problemlos zum laufen bekommen. Hier also eine Kurzanleitung fuer alle, die auch an bord gerne auf Windoof verzichten moechten:

OpenCPN 2.2 Beta fuer Mac auf der deutschen Seite von openCPN runterladen. – Zu finden unter Beta-/Testversionen. Der Download funktioniert ueber Mac’s Mobile Me. Hier muss man mit Passwort einloggen (findet man auch auf der download-Seite, oben). Danach den Ordner OpenCPN Beta…mpkg auswaehlen und den ‘Download-Pfeil’ am oberen Fensterrand anklicken. Nun wird ein .zip Archiv erstellt, das anschliessend am eigenen Rechner gespeichert werden kann. Das .zip Archiv zuerst auspacken (Doppelklick) und anschliessend openCPN installieren (Doppelklick).

Nun zum komplizierten Teil:

Leider fehlen noch zwei Bibliotheken, ohne die das OpenCPN nicht laeuft. Diese erhaelt man ueber MacPorts. Dieses also runterladen und installieren.

Leider ist OpenCPN als i386 Applikation kompiliert, weshalb die MacPorts-config angepasst werden muss:

Die Folgenden Kommandos fuehrt man in einem Terminal-Fenster aus:

edit /opt/local/etc/macports/macports.conf
Nach build_arch suchen, und die Zeile wie folgt anpassen:
build_arch            i386

Danach die Datei speichern, hierzu ist das Admin-Passwort notwendig !

Nun die erforderlichen Bibliotheken installieren (dies dauert ein paar Minuten !). Und nicht wundern, auch diese Kommandos benoetigen das admin-Passwort ! Beim der ersten Verwendung von sudo wird auch noch zusaetzlich eine Warnmeldung ausgegeben.

sudo port -v selfupdate
sudo port install libpng tiff

Nun noch einen Link anlegen, damit OpenCPN die Bibliotheken auch findet:

sudo ln -s /opt/local/lib /usr/local/lib

Das Terminal-Fenster kann nun geschlossen werden.

OpenCPN starten und freuen ! – Ueber Erfahrungsberichte oder Verbesserungswuensche freut sich der Ersteller des Paketes ! Seine Email-Adresse ist in der Datei Liesmich.txt zu finden, diese befindet sich gleich neben dem openCPN download, am selben Server.

OpenCPN Version InfoOpenCPN 2.2 screenshot

Posted in Apple, Links, Net, Sailing | Comments Off

Book review: Kids in the Cockpit (by Jill Schinas)

Kids in the cockpitKids in the Cockpit

by Jill Shinas

Everyone who has plans to go sailing with kids: READ THIS BOOK !!! It’s by far the best book on that subject, I’ve read so far. And it has two more big advantages: It’s written by Jill Shinas – who herself has spent pretty much all her life aboard. And of course she knows what she’s talking about since all of her three kids were born on the boat ! Also – The Shinas family has a really nice homepage, full of good stories, hints and pictures. Visit them at the homepage of the Mollymawk !

Posted in Books, Links, Sailing | Comments Off

Die aktuelle Position der Rancho Relaxo

Gibt’s jetzt auf Knopfdruck und zwar rechts oben ! Zur Zeit stimmt das natuerlich nicht, weil ich nur mal die Uebermittlung der GPS-Position testen musste, doch ist dies ein wichtiger Test fuer unseren Toern, der am Samstag beginnt.

Und wenn ich noch rechtzeitig eine Antwort von Mike aus Neuseeland bekomme, dann schaffe ich es evtl. auch unsere Position via ShipTrak bekannt zu geben. Das waere natuerlich nett.

Ach ja  – und moeglich wird das Ganze durch den SPOT satellite messenger. Das Geraet werde ich dann nach dem Toern vorstellen – wenn es sich bewaehrt hat.

Posted in Links, Net, Rancho Relaxo, Sailing, Travel | Comments Off – singuläre Kinderklamotten

Zur Zeit ist nur ein Flyer zu sehen. – Aber vorraussichtlich ab 1. Juni gibt’s unter den neuen Webshop von Gui mit traumhaften, handfgemachten Kinderklamotten zu sehen ! Yay !

Posted in Berlin, Links, Net, Work | Comments Off

Book review: Meer als ein Traum

Meer_als_ein_TraumMeer als ein Traum

von Michael Wnuk und Nathalie Mueller

Dies war in vielerlei Hinsicht der Startschuss fuer unsere Reise. Nach dem wir schon oefter mal vage von einer derartigen Unternehmung traeumten, dieses aber voellig utopisch erschien und angesichts zweier, kleiner Kinder beinahe unmoeglich, war dieses Buch ein wahrer Augenoeffner. Nicht nur ist es unterhaltsam, sehr offen und ehrlich geschrieben. Auch zeigt es, dass man nicht nur eine Weltreise mit Kindern unternehmen kann, sonder diese vielmehr auch unterwegs erst aufziehen kann. Super Buch !

Hier die Homepage der Iron Lady.

Posted in Books, Links | Comments Off