"Alka" is a Czech name for Alca torda (Razorbill)
[Razorbill in flight]

[photo - on trailer] "Alka" is Austral 24, it was built in 1999 by Austral Yachts in Adelaide.

We sail her mainly around Melbourne, most often on Western Port as Hastings Western Port Marina in Hastings is very nice place to keep "Alka " in dry storage. And it is only thirty minutes or so from the place where we live. [photo - in Hastings marina]
[photo - on Glenelg River] galley slave Our first longer trip was to Glenelg River. It is on border between South Australia and Victoria, mostly surrounded by National park. There is over fifty kilometers of calm, deep, safe water. National parks even provide jetties in many places. Our visit was during top season - Christmas 1999 - but there were not many other visitors on the water. It is really beautiful place.
We also visited another interesting place - Murray river above Tocumwal. Water level is lifted by Tocumwal dam and so this section of river is deep and without many obstacles. It is also a maze of old side channels and reedy lakes deep in eucalyptus forests. [photo - on Murray River]
Alka in Port Adelaide We took Alka to Adelaide for New Year trip, on trailer. The photo is from trip on Adelaide River, to Port Adelaide.
Another nice and interesting area are Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria. We spent couple of days at Loch Sport but we will be back!
marina in Loch Sport

We made number of changes since we took delivery of Alka..

... just a few of them:
We installed a new rear mast support. It can be easily folded down to get under low road bridge (and more importantly through our garage). We can also walk through it when we go aboard on dry land
Rear mast support
We also added a new mid-mast support for transport to limit movement of mast during transport. We actually put it in place even when boat is parked in our backyard as mast becomes much less flexible and provides safer support when crawling over boat.
Mast mid-support

I stuffed up a few of our first berthing manoeuvres because control of motor AND tiller was too much when changing from forward to reverse.

Our answer was to connect outboard and tiller with a rod - I used special rod for connection of main outboard and trolling motor on big fishing boats.

This setup gives well assorted options which are not confusing. Normally we berth at very slow speed, switching between idle and forward but steering with tiller, mostly. If we need to, we can give full power - possibly in reverse to "apply brakes" - and then we can effectively steer with motor, but still using tiller.

Connecting rod between outboard and tiller
We tend to use combination of GPS (Magellan or Eagle) and forward looking sonar (Interphase Outlook) for most of our navigation. 

Details on GPS usagesonar usage .

Magellan and Outlook
We installed Eberspächer D1L-CC oil heater. It worked without a hitch so far.

Photo on the right shows heater as it is installed between hull side and cockpit locker on the starboard side. The big sealed pipe is exhaust which ends in stainless outlet on transom. Hot heating air is forced to the cabin in forward direction (top on the photo - only hose clamp is visible).

Any maintenance is likely to be a tricky job though.

Heater after installation
We asked Harding Caravans to replace original single-axle hydraulic brakes with 4-wheel electric brakes.  
We redesigned and rebuilt mast lifting system. It is now lifted by slider, pulled down by mainsheet tackle while it is supported by couple of support bars.  lowering of mast  
We solved another problem recently (September 2001): how to retrieve Alka single-handedly. Launching is not a big problem - the boat usually just slides down from trailer and it is possible to keep her under control. 

Retrieving is much more difficult. Until recently two people were needed: one to position Alka on first roller of trailer and the other to attach winch cable and winch her up.

Alka on her trailer with poles still attached. Boat ramp Warmies - West Gate Bridge in background. We tried a new technology during our September trip: two pole vault poles were tied to trailer to form flexible extensions of side profiles. Boat was driven between poles under outboard motor and stopped when it was in the right spot. She was kept there by poles for a few minutes until cable was attached, ignoring quite unpleasant side wind. Poles are flexible enough to let boat slip through during winching. Photo shows the rig after retrieval, with poles still attached.

There were two of us on that day, but the same approach can be used for single handed retrieval. Another stone to mosaic of tricks, which should allow easier - and therefore safer - single-handed operation.

New bimini with clear sides replaced original - note very useful - one in 2003

Last changed: 16.8.2003