Other PicoMicroYacht

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Why is PicoMicroYacht so tough?

I was prompted to think about PicoMicroYacht's construction by some well-wisher asking me what would happen if it sprang a leak and sank - what would I do? Answer: radio the coastguard quickly get out my personal locator beacon, remembering to take some rations.

However, it turns out that PicoMicroYacht is constructed in a fashion that sinking is very unlikely.

It is made of roto-moulded tough plastic.

The Laser Pico is said to be thermo plastic tecrothene 100 rotmolded. Plastic is put into a mould and  and heated and whizzed around in the air, turned and flipped such that the plastic all sticks to the inside of the mould forming the hollow cavity of the boat. Through heating and cooling it sticks solidly in place. It is called 'roto' because the whizzing involves rotating in different directions.

But an ordinary process, such as making plastic petrol cans, would not make it stiff enough for a boat, so a foam core and another layer is added. I don't know how they do this as well, but they do.

Below is not the Pico, but the photo shows similar layering.

Image result for roto molding

The plastic process makes PicoMicoYacht incredibly tough, which why it can do things like be dragged across shingle beaches, dropped on the slipway and not need any maintenance. Also I am told that if it did spring a leak the foam core makes it unsinkable - but the Titanic was unsinkable so I am not relying on this thought too much.

Another very tough feature is the daggerboard - which seems to be solid steel reinforced fibreglass.

It doesn't snap in half -  as I have found on numerous occasions when I have grounded.

This could be a life saver - as this tale from PicoMicroYacht's hero, Jack de Crowe might illustrate:

Sandy Mackinnon

'Sandy' MacKinnon, an English and Drama teacher, and witty raconteur writer,  voyaged his Mirror dinghy, Jack de Crow, through the canals of England, down the Thames, across the English Channel and then across Europe to the Black Sea, all  in incredible good humour and lack of moaning about his difficult experiences. However, his most perilous experience was off the Isle of Sheppey in South East England when he smashed his daggerboard on a sandbank. With the strong tides and winds and inability to sail or row efficiently he was at risk of being swept out to sea with Jack De Crow being made into small bits of wood on the treacherous sandbanks off the North Kent coast. He saved the day by fashioning in situ a new daggerboard out spare wood he took on the journey and so lived to complete his voyage and write his wonderful book 'The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.'

You can't be too careful about daggerboards and PicoMicroYacht has a tough one.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Whats in a race?

It is sometimes hard to envisage going through a race in a small boat. What will it do to the boat? How big a race could PicoMicroYacht enter and get away with it?

In the various sea trips I have managed to avoid races altogether by going at slack tide or well out to sea.

A trick played by races is that a very calm sea can give you a false sense of security and lead you into the race, the tide accelerating; then you are committed.

These kayaks had a go through the St Catherine's race, where you can see it goes from smooth calm with a slight swell to a challenge in about 45 seconds.

They were experienced and knew what to do; after another two minutes the sea calms down comparatively. It would have been what a sailor calls a 'hairy moment' talked about in the pub afterwards.

A race often forms by headlands where the moving water is compressed, speeding up and causing rougher conditions.

This is exacerbated if there is a ledge, the rough water just after shallows.

If the turbulent water also encounters waves going in the opposite direction, the water is more likely to break, with short sharp waves collapsing.

Also, if two streams converge then this results in rough water as in the illustration of tides off the Hurst Point, entering the Solent. I avoided this by keeping close to the Isle of Wight.

However, the same things happens off the Needles and I had to go through the rough patch on that occasion, but with such a calm sea and the tides almost slack it was no problem until mainly through.

There is a great book called 'Coastal Turmoil' that explains it all, the above illustration taken from this book.