We may have gone back a bit too far with this article, but a challenge arose in the editorial office between “young and old,” and we realized how the accessories that have alternated on our boats over the years have evolved. Don’t believe it? Read on and eventually ask yourself: how many of these instruments were not aboard the first boats I sailed on?
The tree “pushes itself”
In the 1970s America’s Cup boats (then called 12-meter SIs but were 20 meters long) installed the first “Mast jacks” or hydraulic pumps on board to adjust the tension of the shrouds by acting directly on the mast. Basically raising and lowering the mast from the foot. Today this technology is available to all high-performance boats and becomes virtually indispensable for those with carbon masts or who use rigging made of exotic materials such as PBO or carbon.
The first boat autopilot was born in 1930, but until the advent of the computer revolution in the 1990s, it had not changed much. If you look to the left and above you will find the elements that were used in 1975, in pictures from the early issues of the Journal of Sailing. Now you only have to look at the remote control tool to realize the evolution that has taken place.
1975, after a gale during the Saint Malo-Cape Town race the crew of the “Guia” dries out in the sun. Oceanic clothing consists of raw wool sweaters, waxed canvas dungarees, and “city” pants. Thus the distant seas were crossed, as if for a daily sail. Thirty-five years later to cross the same seas, the clothing is super-technical: ocean wave-proof watertight oilskins to stay dry and warm at all times.
Charting tables compared
We compared chart tables aboard two crewed round-the-world sailing boats. In the first image from 1977, the navigator holds the radiogoniometer and plots the ship’s point on the chart: no screen, just radio signals, paper, pencil, squares. Thirty-one years later, in 2008, only screens and computers are aboard the Volvo 70 Telefonica to take the ship’s stock and choose the best course in the middle of the ocean based on the weather forecast downloaded directly to the chart…
The Rebirth of Vhf
Once upon a time, there was the VHF, the only means of communication ashore, to make phone calls, receive weather information, call for help. And it’s not prehistory, because before the advent of mobile telephony and the Internet, by sea what was once called a “radiotelephone” was the only way to communicate at a distance (see photo below left). In the late 1990s, it seemed that the Vhf was destined for extinction. Today, however, with the new DSC function (since 2005), it has also become the easiest and most economical way to launch an automatic distress signal and, interfaced with GPS, communicate the location.
1976, there is a queue at the Apelco booth at the London Motor Show. the first affordable Loran has arrived that allows for (almost) accurate ship pointing automatically with signals emitted from shore stations. A revolution. Then, beginning in 1990, Loran entered into competition with GPS, which gets its signals from orbiting satellites instead. The battle is short-lived, GPS wins. Now everything is controlled from the integrated navigation centers.
A brilliant idea without computers and GPS. It was 1975 when Musto invented the Compucourse. It works like this: by rotating the cardboard or plastic graduated movable disk according to the wind direction, data on upwind angles and course to other buoys on the course are recorded. Now there are super-softwares that predict everything.