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Home / Newsletters / Newsletter December 2020
Home / Newsletters / Newsletter December 2020

Newsletter December 2020

GHYC Commodore's Logbook Dec 2020

Welcome to December and the Festive Season

Firstly, I'll take the opportunity to wish everybody a very happy Christmas and New Year. And secondly, I'd like to reinforce the message of safe boating. We'll all be out there somewhere at some time, and so let's keep an eye out for each other. I think that Enigma1 will be on the East Coast of the North Island; with the caveats of 'weather dependent' and Captain Sarah Morgan's wishes. Fly those GHYC pennants proudly!

I'll also take the opportunity to thank the Executive, Social and Sailing Committees, Office Staff and various Members who have stepped up to make our Sailing and Social Calendars happen that is, 'doing the stuff that allows us to do our stuff'. I gratefully acknowledge the efforts of our Sailing Series Coordinators and the Social Committee; the people who stitch it all together.

Reflections and Looking Ahead

For many, 2020 has been a challenging year, and for some, the challenges of 2020 will prevail for a considerable period. If I take a GHYC centric viewpoint, I assess that we've defensively weathered the storm of the 2020 dynamic environment; however this active defence has not been without its challenges. 2021 will present challenges, and we'll need to be offensively prepared, and often the best offence is a solid defence.

Your Executive has started a formal review of our (still current) Strategic Direction, an important piece of work that strives to best position your Club for 2021 and beyond. This is our 'solid defence' and I will ensure that we deliver a refreshed Strategic Direction for your endorsement.

As an active boating club in New Zealand, I proffer that we are a very fortunate group of people. We are going boating, we are socialising, and we are enjoying the togetherness that our Club fosters. The gathering back at the Club after the 'Club Day Out' on Sun 06 Dec is testament to our togetherness, and I'm grateful for the organisation that led to the Club Day Out. The smiles and stories that prevailed certainly indicated to me that the day was a success. Perhaps, we should do this sort of activity again, and more often?

Thanks for a great 2020, and let's look forward to and set ourselves up for a successful 2021. See you on the water and in the Club; and I wish you all 'fair winds and following seas'.

Best regards,

John Butcher

Commodore, GHYC

News from the Sailing Committee

The November weather wasn't too kind, resulting in three cancelled twilight races and a Cruising weekend reduced to a day sail.

Whilst talking 'Cruising', the Inter-club (Waka) Trophy is contested in every cruising race that is combined with Weiti Boating Club, the top 10 placed boats in each race earning points towards the trophy. We look to all our participating boats to keep the Trophy at GHYC for another year.

The 'Old 4 New' Coastguard Lifejacket Upgrade is here again. To find out when they will be at a location near you visit:

December hosts the last races of the year, a Taylor & Co Ladies Twilight, a Gulf Harbour Marina Twilight and a Burnsco Cruising Weekend.

The Cruising Weekend on Sat 12 /Sun 13 is our traditional Christmas outing to Kawau with everyone invited to join in the BYO BBQ and Christmas sing-along, led by our music maestro Peter Cooke. Song sheets provided.

Early 2021

Anniversary weekend sees the first race of 2021, another Burnsco Cruising Weekend, sailing to Mahurangi on Friday evening, taking in the magnificent Mahurangi Regatta on Saturday, then an interclub event with Milford CC & Weiti BC on Sunday

Waitangi Day, Sat 6 February is the annual Saddle Island Race with GHYC keelboats hosting youth sailors & some adults from Manly SC, in a race to Saddle Island, with a picnic lunch at Mahurangi. In January we will be asking skippers for expressions of interest to support this very worthwhile event.

We are pleased to announce that AA Solar have come aboard as the sponsor for the Gulf Series racing in Feb & March.

The second race of the Gulf Series is the MARSDEN COVE RACE. Race co-ordinator John Allemann writes:

This has been the premier longer distance race on our sailing program since 200. At 55 nautical miles and a start time of 0900 a favourable breeze should see the fleet berthed in Marsden Cove marina in time for dockside post mortems.

The race is run in conjunction with Richmond YC and their Route 66 fleet will be chasing us up the coast and berthing with us at Marsden Cove

Sunday morning in the marquee Onerahi YC serves up their "big breakfast" followed by prize giving. An option then is to sail back to Kawau YC who will have a special menu available for race entrants

Further info including Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and Entry form are at

For more information contact John Allemann 0274 796 341

Some skippers actual comments after last year's race

"Great time, will be back"

"Good length of race, great breakfast"

"Awesome event, It's a classic"

"Really enjoyed the race. Will be back"

"Awesome venue and breakfast"

"A must do on our sailing calendar"

The Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean Race will take place on Sunday 28th February 2021, and is a race for all dinghy classes and foiling vessels from the Harbour Bridge to Bean Rock.

For more information visit:

March 6 - 15. The 36th America's Cup . Racing will be shown live at GHYC. More details to follow early in 2021

March 26 - 28. Farmer Autovillage Auckland to Tauranga Centennial Yacht Race.

For more information visit:

March 26 - 28. City of Sails Auckland Regatta.

For more information visit:

This month's Mystery Anchorage......

Recent Social Happenings

Music students from Whangaparaoa College enthralled the audience as the Junior Band, Jazz Combo, Choir and Big Band filled the Club with their youthful enthusiasm. Playing to a full house, their talent and dedication was evident, a real credit to their teachers.

Early in November the Club hosted the Pine Harbour Cruising Club single-handed sailors on their annual weekend racing to/from Gulf Harbour. A couple of weeks later the Club was pleased to once again welcome sailors from Devonport Yacht Club following their annual, and on this occasion exhilarating, race 'Around Tiri' to Gulf Harbour.

Member Michael Green held a book launch for 'Big Aggie Sails Again' , the sequel to 'Big Aggie Sails the Gulf' with all proceeds from book sales going to Lifeline Aotearoa. Great Christmas holiday reading or as a gift. Sample copies to review and originals to purchase will be available in the Club from 14 December

The annual BOAT HOP is a sociable way to meet other members and see different boats, with 'hoppers' being hosted on boats to enjoy sundowners in the Marina. Unfortunately everyone was having such a good time they forgot to take any photos!

The fun Golf Day had to be rescheduled due to bad weather, with 29 players in 7 teams finally taking to the Country Club fairways for an Ambrose competition, won by Richard Endean and his team.

Last Sunday 8 member boats took to the water hosting non boat-owning members for a Club Day Out on the water, followed by a BYO BBQ at the Club. The weather was kind, there was lots to see out on the water and everyone declared the day a great success

Coming Events

Friday 11 December Christmas Dinner Dance.

Thursday 17 December End of Year BYO BBQ and judging of the Photo Comp. The subject is 'Bridges' so you have a week to grab the winning shot and submit your entries.

America's Cup World Series Regatta

17- 20 December, live screening daily from 1500, bar open 1430.

Food : Thursday 17 BYO BBQ, Friday 18 to Sunday 20 'bring a plate' catering.

'BoatSmart' is a new maintenance service for boat owners in Gulf Harbour. The local franchise owner is member Gavin Auld. For more information see or contact Gavin directly:

Auckland Council is reviewing their Navigation Safety Bylaw and is seeking feedback on proposed changes. Visit for more information.

Membership cards/Yearbooks

These are available for collection from the club for those members who have paid their subscription fees. If you are unable to call into the club and would like them mailed to you, please advise the office at or phone (09)4242118

The Magic of a Fluxgate compass

Part One

By Michael Pignéguy

It is highly unlikely that the English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) set about to discover how, by moving a pair of magnets encased in copper wire through the earth's magnetic field, it would be the basis of something that would make life a whole lot easier in keeping boats and ships on track by not requiring an actual helmsman.

With just basic schooling, he joined the workforce at the age of 14 as an apprentice to a book binder and book dealer. But unlike the other apprentices, Faraday took the opportunity to read the books brought in for bookbinding, one of which was the 3rd Edition of the Encyclopaedia of Britannica in which there was an article on electricity which fascinated him.

After creating a crude electrostatic generator and performing simple experiments in electrochemistry, he was invited to attend chemical lectures by Sir Humphry Davy. In 1812 Faraday became a laboratory assistant to Sir Humphry and by 1820 had achieved a reputation as an analytical chemist. It was in the early 1820s that Faraday was able to prove that a magnetic pole could be isolated and moved in a circle around a current-carrying wire. This device, which transformed electrical energy into mechanical energy, was the first electric motor.

It was on August 20, 1831 that Faraday conducted his most famous experiment and one that would eventually lead on to the manufacture of today's autopilot. He wound an insulated wire that was connected to a battery around one side of a thick iron ring. On the opposite side he wound a secondary circuit consisting of similar wire connected to a galvanometer. When the primary circuit was closed he saw the result on the galvanometer in the secondary circuit, proving that current from the primary circuit had been induced into the secondary circuit due to the influence of the magnetic fields of the iron ring. But what took him by surprise was when he 'opened' (switched it off) the circuit he saw the galvanometer jump in the opposite direction! Turning off the current had also somehow induced another current that was equal but opposite to the original current, and it was in the secondary circuit. Hopefully you are still with me here as we are still on the trail of the autopilot!

Faraday then went on experimenting as he wanted to determine just how an induced current was produced, and he discovered that when a permanent magnet was moved in and out of a coil of wire, a current was induced into the wire. He knew that magnets were surrounded by lines of magnetic force, and from his early experiments he went on to create the first dynamo by rotating a copper disc between the poles of a powerful magnet.

At that time he seemed to be unaware, at least it's not mentioned, of the influence that the earth's magnetic field would have on permeable material that was encased in copper wire. Faraday went on to discover amazing properties of magnetism and electricity in Electrochemistry, and Queen Victoria granted him the use of a house at Hampton Court ( with all expenses paid) also offering him a knighthood, which he turned down.

As with many great scientists of the day, Faraday's discoveries were all achieved by his curiosity, drive, reading, experimentation, and original thought. Mr Google was not even in the same universe at that time!

The Fluxgate Compass development

It arguably is one of the most useful, but largely unseen, navigational tools that is available to the marine industry today. Today's fluxgate compass is using the same principles as discovered by Faraday in 1831, but in ways that he probably could not have imagined at the time.

The fluxgate compass is really the electronic version of a traditional magnetic compass, but because it creates an electrical output, it has more applications than the former. It does have the disadvantage of requiring a constant electrical input and the possible failing of electrical components, none of which I have experienced in a fairly long maritime career.

A big advantage is that it can be placed just about anywhere on board, although a place devoid of very local magnetic deviations should be avoided. Having said that, the vessel that I am currently managing and skippering, a 20m nine year old 'go fast' launch, has its fluxgate compass mounted under the stainless steel work bench in the engine room, very close to tool boxes and only a metre away from one of the main engines! It's possibly the worst location for a fluxgate compass, but so far I have yet to experience any problems with it.

But it is a relatively simple device with no moving parts and consists of a wire coil wound around a permeable core which again is surrounded by a second coil. This core is magnetically surrounded by a current cycle in opposing directions which is called 'excitation'. Now this is where the magic starts to happen as the excitation results into a plus and minus saturation of the core, and with no external magnetic field present, the flux in one half cancels out the flux in the other half. It's rather like the unit is in neutral.

The 'external' influence referred to (ignoring the boat's own deviation influences which can be automatically corrected), is the earth's own magnetic field. When the fluxgate unit is now turned in any amount through the earth's magnetic field, this creates an induced current in the secondary coil which results in a signal that is dependent on polarity and the earth's magnetic field.

This particular signal (now outgoing micro electrical current) is enhanced and can be used for feedback and recovery. Using this signal as an input means that the direction, or course, of any vessel can be altered and it can, for example, control an autopilot, or give a stabilised display to a chart plotter and radar, and wind direction instruments.

Part Two continues in the next Newsletter

Answer to Mystery Anchorage: Garden Cove on Waiheke Island

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