New high-performance yachts for 34th America’s Cup

We are extremely impressed by the way BMW Oracle is running the defense. It truly is being run for the benefit of all contenders. A good example is the process of selecting the next A/C design — in particular whether a 72-ft multihull or monohull. Our design team of Morrelli & Melvin is responsible for developing and presenting the multihull option. The next America’s Cup is going to very cool!

(…) “We’ve always said that the new design will be for the America’s Cup community. The result with be a ‘non-partisan yacht’ rather than a ‘defender’s yacht’,” said Ian Burns, Design Coordinator for BMW ORACLE Racing. “A great deal of input was sought from the America’s Cup community and the concept briefs given to the rule writers reflect that feedback.”

In a twin-track process, US SAILING will author a multihull rule and the RORC’s Seahorse Rating a canting-keel monohull rule.

“It would be premature to rule either a monohull or multihull in and the other out at this stage,” commented Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. “Which type of boat is best for racing and media impact is one of many evaluations we will be testing over the coming months.”

The choice between monohull and multihull will be made after the conclusion of these trials, the first round of which is scheduled for Valencia in late July.

(…) Download the concept papers for AC 34 Monohull and Multihull design

AC 34 Class Rule Multihull Concept (2035)

AC 34 Class Rule Monohull Concept (updated 19 July 2010) (1925)

Read more »


Adagio laptop does not like drinking cafe mocha

I spilled a full Cafe Mocha into the Macbook Pro 15″ enroute from New Zealand to New Caledonia. Yikes – we love that laptop – this is definitely not a Good Thing! That is the first time that has happened — Adagio got hit hard enough by a beam sea that it just blasted my coffee cup straight up, it turned over at the top of the arc, then fell straight down in the middle of the keyboard. Mocha splattered over about a 2 meter radius of the saloon. It was such a mess I didn’t even make a log entry of the incident, but rushed straight into the task of minimizing damage.

Key priorities for a laptop keyboard spill: cut the power so you don’t fry any delicate innards; get the contamination out without doing more damage; be sure all is completely dry before reinstalling the battery — again to avoid electrons traveling unplanned paths.

I turned the MBP upside down – removed the battery, washed externally with fresh water whilst maintaining the MBP inverted position (messy!). Then I sprayed all the crevices with contact cleaner to drive out as much of the water as I could. I left the laptop out to dry for 3 days, then reinserted the battery and restarted. The Macbook Pro booted up normally with its happy sound. After some brief testing I noted at least 3 keys were not working, so we connected a spare keyboard and mouse. The MBP seemed to run fine for about 3 days.

Then we noticed that the menu bar charge status showed “charging” but battery state = 0%. The next day the magsafe connector green light was dark, and the MBP would not boot. Wanting to enjoy NC for a while (instead of pretending to be an Apple service center), we then switched to Backup Number Two, our trusty old iBook G4.

Which iBook I had been using happily just a few months ago — for our very-outdated CAD software which will not run on the modern CPU and OS. Dang — after a few hours we start getting hard drive errors! I did some directory repair, no joy; erased the drive; then installed a diet-clone of the Mac Pro boot drive; that worked for a day; then more drive errors. OK — I already had a 150GB Firewire portable drive running an older clone of the Mac Pro — I booted the iBook from the portable drive. That worked – so we hauled the iBook + external drive to Kou Bugny for one brief internet session. Inconvenient trying to balance laptop on lap + external drive + cable which must be firmly connected at all times, etc.

Over the next few days we found that the iBook booting off the external wasn’t reliable – possibly because the Firewire connections aren’t absolutely 100%.

So, on to Backup Number Three — the Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. It doesn’t have internal wifi, so I inserted the EnGenius 200mW wifi PCMCIA card, wrestled the Windows configuration “Lizard” until it finally said “Uncle – OK, I’ll connect”. Then I downloaded and installed the latest Google Chrome browser so Dorothy would not have to fight with Internet Explorer. Hmm… Google is so smart, that noting our IP address in France it insisted on installing the French Chrome. More practice for Dorothy 🙂

But after a couple of hours, the Dell wouldn’t recognize the wifi card. Sigh… So we have decided to focus on Newcal and just use Adagio-accessible wifi, which means iNet around Noumea or the Hotel Coral Palms wifi at Ilot Maitre. We’re looking forward to Telstra NextG wireless broadband when we get to Australia.

So in the space of a couple of weeks we have had more computer problems than the total of nine years since 2001. 2001 was the year of the Windows infestation with the “cursor from hell” which caused a fruitless month on the phone with Dell “support” in Malaysia. I finally figured out that Windows Professional was doing a logical OR of the GPS NMEA stream with the mouse. That is a Windows feature (not a bug according to MS$).

HydraPower Hydraulics

It has been six years since HydraPower Hydraulics built a beautiful custom hydraulic cylinder to give us complete control over our Reef-Rite boom furling mainsail. ADAGIO’s “hydraulic spring” boom-lifting system was designed by engineer Chris Mitchell. This earlier post summarizes the design.

Because the hydraulic system has worked flawlessly since installation we had never actually used the manual hydraulic pump to pressurize the accumulator and cylinder. When I couldn’t figure it out on my own I twice rang up Paul Lamont at HydraPower Hydraulics in Christchurch with questions. Paul quickly accessed the original design drawings for our system, then stepped me through the correct process for re-pressurizing, bleeding the cylinder.

That’s the sort of customer service that makes us smile!

Iridium satellite phone service

If you use a lot of satphone minutes within a 12 month period, then pre-paid minutes will likely be the cheapest per-minute air time. Typically around USD $500 for 500 minutes (which expire after 12 months).

We use very modest air time, so what works best for us is a “pay as you go” plan. The best plan we have been able to find is the “Casual Plan” offered by Australia’s TR Telecom “Iridium satellite call plans Australia “[PDF].

There is NO activation/cancellation fee, but there is a four month minimum at AUD 30/month, which includes $10/month call credit. Any time after the four months minimum period, we have the option to cancel when we are done passaging, or to suspend service, for AUD 15/mon — which allows us to keep the same number. Air time for voice calls is AUD 1.98/minute.

We have hard-mounted our Iridium so it has a high gain external antenna and is always on the charger and always connected to the serial-USB hub if we need to download e.g., a GRIB and Steve isn’t willing to wait until propagation improves. If we need to make a voice e.g., med emergency call we have to sit on the port hull steps 🙂 We use Sailmail (or Winlink) first, Inmarsat-C second, Iridium third or for data too big for Sailmail. If we wish to get a quick note off to our weather router, Rick Shema, we just use Sat-C because the msg is short, and we know we will get an alert soon as Rick’s msg comes in.

Diesel Bug (Bacteria Contamination of Diesel)

Whilst preparing samples for the NZ Goughs Fluid Analysis Centre I came across the labs info page on diesel bug. Since 2000 we have been successful avoiding becoming hosts for bacteria by treating all ADAGIO diesel fuel with DFT 1500 Hammerdown (produced by LV Petro, Inc.)

Bacteria in diesel is a well known problem to anyone who works with diesel engines, so what is this bug and why does it contaminate diesel?

Diesel is an organic fuel so it provides an ideal environment for microscopic fungi, yeast and bacteria to feed and grow.

This environment provides:

  • dissolved water for germination
  • carbon for food
  • oxygen and sulphur for respiration
  • trace elements for growth and propagation.

As many as twenty seven (27) varieties of bacteria are responsible for the majority of problems with diesel engines and their performance. There are many differing types of bacteria which can infect systems and form bio-films on steel surfaces. Accelerated corrosion can also occur wherever the bio-film settles, usually in pits or crevices. Unlike general corrosion, it is an attack on a very specific area.

It is very difficult to determine when a system is first contaminated, but once contaminated diesel enters the fuel system, it is very difficult to eradicate.

Diesel bug can originate from the air or moisture, or during tank filling and/or expansion and contraction of storage tanks, the bacteria cover themselves in a protective film (slime) to protect against biocides and can lie dormant in the minute crevices of the metal, rubber and polyurethane coatings of the fuel tanks and fuel systems.

Then, when water is present (a droplet is a lake to a microbe) and the environment hits the right temperature range, they begin reproduction in the area of fuel/water interface.

Microscopic in size, they can develop into a mat easily visible to the naked eye very rapidly. A single cell, weighing only one millionth of a gram can grow to a biomass of 10 kilograms in just 12 hours, resulting in a biomass several centimetres thick across the fuel/water interface.

Each species has its own characteristics:


Bacteria utilise hydrocarbons and reproduce asexually by binary fission; swelling in size as they feed, they then separate into two cells. In this way, microbes double their numbers every 20 minutes, one spore converting to 262,144 in 6 hours.


SRB’s are a specific group of bacteria utilising simple carbon, not hydrocarbons, and require the activity of other microbes in a consortium. Aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen) bacteria have a combined effect. The aerobic bacteria (sulphate oxidising) create a film to consume the oxygen first. This allows the anaerobic (sulphate reducing) bacteria to thrive.

SRB’s reduce sulphates and produce hydrogen sulphide (a lethal gas). They are directly involved with many microbial corrosion reactions and can cause sulphide souring of stored distillate products. Their action changes the Ph creating an acidic environment, conducive to accelerated corrosion. They attach themselves to the steel as a film and go to work. They derive their nutrition from the surrounding environment and multiply. They are particularly difficult to deal with and produce a sludgy by-product with a strong sulphur odour similar to rotten eggs (hydrogen sulphide).


These also contribute to corrosion, eating steel and reducing ferrite to an oxide through a chemical reaction.


Yeasts prefer acidic environments, such as produced by SRB’s. They bud on the parent cell, eventually separating. Reproduction takes several hours.


Fungi grow in the form of branched hyphae, a few microns in diameter, forming thick, tough, intertwined mycelia mats at fuel/water interfaces.

All of these can and do cause damage to the fuel system.


Maintain the fuel system by draining water very regularly, keep the tank as full as possible, (especially over-night) and try to ensure your supplier maintains his system well.


Clean the entire system with a cleaning agent available from or recommend by your diesel supplier.

Nine Questions, Nine Answers.

Science-Based Medicine is a great resource. Mark Crislip provides a good example with his rebuttal for the anti-vaccine clowns:

(…) What brings on this particular bit of angst is a bit of whimsy on the Internet called “9 Questions That Stump Every Pro-Vaccine Advocate and Their Claims.” by David Mihalovic, ND. Mr. Mihalovic identifies himself as “a naturopathic medical doctor who specializes in vaccine research.” However, just where the research is published is uncertain as his name yields no publications on Pubmed. BTW. I specialize in beer research. Same credentials.

The nine questions show up frequently on the interwebs, similar to questions on what to ask when you want to stump an evolutionist. Similar to the supposed stumpers for evolution, the vaccine questions are grounded in misinformation, ignorance or laziness. Let’s go through them one at a time.

1. Could you please provide one double-blind, placebo-controlled study that can prove the safety and effectiveness of vaccines?

One trial? It took me 55 seconds to find ”Efficacy of 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine in preventing pneumonia and improving survival in nursing home residents: double blind, randomised and placebo controlled trial” and that included time to boot the browser and mis-spell the search terms. ’Vaccine’, ‘efficacy’, ’randomized’ and ’placebo control trial’ results in 416 Pubmed references; add ’safety’ to the search terms, you get 126 returns. 416 is easily more than one. Of course, to find them you have to look.

Of course, I am a highly educated adult who constantly searches the web for medical information. For hoots and giggles, I asked my 12 year old son, whose passions are basketball and filming comedy videos, to find me a reference that met the same criteria and I timed him.

Twenty two seconds, not including boot time, to find “Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine in Cuba” from the NEJM. Can anyone beat my son?

12 yo one, Mihalovic 0. Served.

As long as we are on the topic, since he evidently place great store in science, could Mihalovic please provide one double-blind, placebo-controlled study that can prove the safety and effectiveness of naturopathy? I would be happy at this point to know just to know he was able to do a pubmed search correctly just to make me look the fool.

There are eight more smackdowns to enjoy.