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Voyagertracki ngsi te HTwoessentialpowervoyaginglists

OCEAN A V I G A T O R N Jul y/ August2015 I ssueNo.227

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T H E N AT I O N ’ S P R E M I E R C R U I S I N G E V E N T







Contents Issue #227

July/August 2015


Features Ocean Voyaging

24 An unplanned swim

Luck, preparation and good seamanship combine to save an overboard voyager

Eric Sanford and Debbie Lynn


Special Section


30 Voyaging sail care A sailmaker’s usage and


Chartroom Chatter

4 Cuba-bound sailors take note 5 An emergency watermaker 5 Numbers up for Marion Bermuda Race 6 Oliver Hazard Perry hosts 12,000 7 Ida Lewis Distance Race 8 Racing the Northwest Passage 9 Brewer Yacht Yards 2015 Rendezvous

maintenance tips for long lasting cruising sails

by Brian Hancock


35 Relentless wear and tear Sail-handling on a voyaging sailboat

Marine Tech Notes

by John Lewis

42 Ultra compact sight reduction

10 Voyager tracking with a social connection by Tim Queeney

Power Voyaging

by Greg Rudzinski

12 A tale of two lists by John J. Kettlewell

Correspondence 16 Misadventures of voyagers learning to fish 20 A visit to the next “Big Ditch” in Nicaragua

Voyaging Tips 44 Extend your cruising age by Harry Hungate and Jane Lothrop

Nav Problem 48 The Titanic disaster foreshadowed by David Berson

8 For more on voyaging, follow us on:

24 On the cover: Consulting Time II (at center), a Morris 486, Med-moored at the Marine International Puerto De Vita in Gaviota, Cuba, following arrival from the Bahamas. Photo by John Snyder/Marine Media.



Ocean Nav­igator Marine navigation and ocean voyaging

CUSTOMER SERVICE: 1-866-918-6972


Twain Braden (Correspondence, ”A visit to the next ‘Big Ditch’ in Nicaragua,” page 20) first sailed deep sea on the schooners Westward and Corwith Cramer. He gained a captain’s license and then sailed on the Maine windjammer fleet and in sail training. For eight years Braden was an editor at Professional Mariner and Ocean Navigator and an instructor with the ON School of Seamanship. He’s authored three books on maritime subjects: In Peril (with co-author Skip Strong); The Handbook of Sailing Techniques; and The Complete Book of Sailing & Seamanship. Twain practices admiralty law in Portland, Maine, with Thompson & Bowie, LLP. Brian Hancock (Special Section, “Voyaging sail care,” page 30) has been in the sailmaking business for more than 40 years. His experience earned him a berth in the 1981/82 Whitbread Round the World Race and his addiction to offshore racing led him to two more Whitbread campaigns and other offshore races. In all he logged more than a quarter million miles. He wrote two memoirs and a definitive book on sails: Maximum Sail Power. Hancock is currently Creative Director of SpeedDream, a quest to build the world’s fastest monohull.

Editor Tim Queeney 207-749-5922 Copy Editor Kate Murray Art Director Kim Goulet Norton contributing editors Scott Bannerot Twain Braden John Snyder Nigel Calder Harry Hungate Eric Forsyth Jeff & Raine Williams David Berson Ken McKinley Wayne Canning


West Coast US & canada,

international Susan W. Hadlock 207-838-0401

east coast US & Canada, international Charlie Humphries


publisher/ advertising director Alex Agnew




FINANCE Ken Koehler BUSINESS OFFICE Lee Auchincloss

Customer Service

John Lewis (Special Section, “Relentless wear and tear,” page 35) a former sales and marketing executive in the life sciences, grew up sailing in Miami. He later raced his NorSea 27 in the 1994 Singlehanded TransPac from San Francisco to Hawaii. In September 2008, Lewis and his partner Shawn Maxey left San Francisco aboard their Tayana 37 Active Transport. They have visited more than 20 countries and sailed more than 50,000 miles. In October 2013, they completed their circumnavigation. They then sailed to Hawaii and explored Alaska’s Aleutian Islands before returning to Seattle.

PHONE 1-866-918-6972


ISSN 0886-0149

Ocean Navigator is published in January, March, May, July, September, October and November, with an annual special issue of Ocean Voyager in April, for $27.95 per year by Navigator Publishing LLC, 58 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, Maine, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Ocean Navigator, P.O. Box 461468, Escondido, CA 92046. Copyright © 2015 by Navigator Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted in any way without written permission from the publisher. Subscription rate is $27.95 for one year (eight issues) in the United States and its possessions. Canadian subscription rate is $31.95 U.S. funds. Other foreign surface is $33.95 U.S. funds. Overseas air mail is $62.95 U.S. funds per year. Distribution: Newsstand distribution, domestically and internationally: Coast to Coast Newsstand Services LTD., 5230 Finch Ave. East, Suite 1, Toronto, ON M1S 4Z9. Phone (416) 754-3900; fax (416) 754-4900. Contributions: We solicit manuscripts, drawings and photographs. Please address all material to Editor, Ocean Navigator, P.O. Box 569, Portland, ME 04112-0569. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the safe handling of contributed materials. All other departments, 207-772-2466. Printed in the United States by the Lane Press


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Chatter Chartroom



Havana’s skyline from the iconic Malecon, or seawall/ esplanade, which extends 5 miles from the mouth of

John Snyder/Marine Media

Havana Harbor to the Havana neighborhood of Vedado.


Cuba-bound sailors take note Morris 486 Consulting Time II at rest at Marina Hemingway in Santa Fe, Cuba. The marina is about a 1.5-hour sail west of Havana.

Thinking about sailing to Cuba? A recent thaw in U.S./Cuban relations may have made it easier for American sailors to visit Cuba, but obstacles still remain. In May, the U.S.-flagged yacht Consulting Time II, a well-traveled Morris 486, visited the island having prepared to travel under a “General License” for its crew of three. The crew included a journalist reporting on Cuba and two environmental engineers who were conducting an independent water quality survey of marinas along the route.

Having painstakingly prepared documentation for the General License, a little-known fly was discovered in the ointment. On Feb. 28, 2004, President George W. Bush issued Presidential Proclamation No. 7757, which prohibits recreational vessels from visiting Cuba without having been granted an export license for the vessel, as issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The vessel’s crew is covered under the General License, but without an export license, the vessel is illegal under U.S. law. The Bush proclamation reverses Clin-

ton-era law that permitted recreational vessels to visit the island. In a conversation with Comodoro Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich of Club Nautico International Hemingway de Cuba, Cuba’s only yacht club, Escrich stated that the Bush proclamation has created a difficult situation for the club and American sailors. Escrich explained that prior to the Bush proclamation, the club held five to six yachting and fishing events a year. Now they are struggling to host one. As of this report, the club has plans to host a Hobie Cat regatta with boats from Key West, but so far all of the support vessels have not received the required export licenses from the U.S. Commerce Department, making planning difficult. Escrich urges American sailors to contact their elected officials and President Obama, and ask them to no longer require the export license and grant American recreational boaters the right to visit their neighbor to the south.


DongFeng crew were forced to use a manual watermaker when the main unit needed repairs.

DongFeng race team

An emergency watermaker Volvo Ocean Race boats are

took each crewmember one hour of pumping per all at the cutting edge of day, for a total of nine sailing technology, right hours daily. But, as Dongup to what the crew eat Feng’s onboard reporter and drink. Freeze-dried Sam Greenfield wrote, the meals and desalinators Katadyn 35 was quite literare the order of the day ally their “lifeline.” He said — no heavy water tanks that, by pumping hard, he and regular food to weigh them down and slow them could produce one liter of down. So what do they do drinkable water from the if their desalinators break? manual desalinator in 15 minutes, which is about in The DongFeng race line with Katadyn’s claims team, at the time oscillatof a 4.5-liter output per ing between 4th and 5th hour. place, faced this problem Hand-pumping every on April 21, 24 hours into Leg 6 from Brazil to New- drop of water is a huge demand on an already port, R.I. With 18 days busy racing crew — the to go and no assistance permitted, the crew of nine Katadyn 35 and its smaller sister the 06 were designed had to find a solution — for life rafts — so the team and fast. Authorized by and their shore support the race committee, they opened their survival pack worked quickly to repair and started using their Kat- the electric desalinator. adyn Manual Survivor 35. The problem was a bad leak in its casing. After It’s no easy task to handpump all the water needed much discussion between for nine freeze-dried meals boat and shore team, crewmember Kevin Escoffier three times a day, plus wrapped the split tube drinking water. In fact it

with carbon fiber to seal it. The epoxy glue took 20 hours to dry, during which the team added 9 hours at the handle of the Katadyn 35 to their usual duties. The repair held and DongFeng was thus able to avoid a 12-hour pit stop that would have been the alternative to an onboard repair and which likely would have put them out of the running. Instead they went on to win Leg 6, ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by three minutes and 25 seconds. This puts them in second place overall, behind Abu Dhabi by 6 points. The DongFeng sailors are the same ones that broke their mast a few hundred miles from Cape Horn in March. That crisis was resolved by pulling into Ushuaia where a jury rig was fashioned. DongFeng dropped out of Leg 5 and motorsailed to Brazil to install a replacement mast and start Leg 6 with the fleet. The boat is sponsored by the Chinese automotive company DongFeng and is managed by French sailors. Ellen Massey Leonard

Numbers up for Marion Bermuda Race The 2015 Marion Bermuda Race starts on June 19, 2015 in Marion, Mass. Currently 51 yachts are entered in the race. Since its inception in 1977, the Marion-Bermuda Race has been a Corinthian event, and yachts are accepted by invitation. All yachts are participating for the fun of sailing and competition. The race is open to all cruising boats over 32 feet LOA and the course is 645 nm. There are three divisions: Founders Division, yachts 32 to 80 feet with cruising sails; Big Yacht Division for yachts 65 to 100 feet with a full sail inventory; and Classic Yacht Division, training vessels and classics. There is also a celestial navigation division and navigator’s trophy for racers navigating by celestial until they are within 50 miles of Bermuda. The celestial division has 15 boats. The race is supported by the Beverly Yacht Club, Marion, Mass.; the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, Pagert, Bermuda; and the Blue Water Sailing Club, Boston. More info at:


Chatter Chartroom

Oliver Hazard Perry hosts 12,000 For the first time since


Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, the Ocean State’s 75th and first female governor was on hand at Fort Adams. The governor met with the public and toured the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.


the dedication ceremony

in 2013, the general public had the opportunity to tour the Ocean State’s official sailing education vessel, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. During the weekend of May 9 and 10, and for three days after, more than 12,000 people visited the vessel for onboard tours. The event was part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new 240-foot pier at Fort Adams, which is the tall ship’s permanent home, and the opening of Volvo Ocean Race Village. The race village has been built to accommodate a stopover for seven Volvo Ocean Race 60s making their way around the world in one of the most grueling sailing contests on the planet.  The 200-foot-long, three-masted SSV Oliver Hazard Perry was a show stopper, with a constant flow of visitors boarding then circulating on deck and below for a closer look at her rigging and a peek at her liv-

ing and teaching spaces. The traditionally rigged ship reaches 13.5 stories high. Its list of other superlatives is impressive: a total of 19 spars that have been turned from massive Douglas fir trees on the largest spar lathe in North America; 7 miles of rope and wire that have been made integral to the ship’s operation by tradesmen trained in both modern and traditional rigging techniques; and 20 sails, both square and foreand-aft, that total 14,000

square feet. Below decks, Oliver Hazard Perry offers accommodations for 49 people on ocean voyages, a climate-controlled environment, a modern galley, science lab and a full array of electronic navigation and communication gear. The ship is nearly complete and will return to Hinckley Boatyard in Portsmouth, R.I. to continue its final phase of construction and Coast Guard inspection and systems testing.

For more than a decade, grand prix sailors and rac-

ing/cruising enthusiasts have sailed to Newport, R.I., to compete in the Ida Lewis Distance Race and on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, the tradition will continue with another year of “just-right” overnight racing planned for the waters of Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound. Depending on weather and wind conditions, organizers can choose to send IRC, PHRF, One Design, Multihull and Double-Handed boats of 28 feet or longer on one of four coastal round-trip race courses, ranging from between 104 and 177 nautical miles in distance. Co-chair Skip Helme said the race is popular

because “it’s not too long, not too short.” This is especially important for teams that might be trying offshore sailing for the first time. “It’s a way to experience world-class offshore racing without having to beat yourself up, and for many teams, it’s a matter of navigating mostly-familiar waters.” Organizers have also encouraged a new generation of sailors to try distance racing on for size through the separately scored Youth and Collegiate Challenges. Seven teams in last year’s record 47-boat fleet participated in one or the other of these challenges last year. To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40 percent of the crew must have reached

Ida Lewis Yacht Club

Ida Lewis Distance Race

their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to Aug. 14, 2015. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program. Last year, Kevin McLaughlin’s Farr 47 Crazy Horse (representing Duquesne University) won the Collegiate Challenge, which similarly required that more than 40 percent of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by Aug. 15, 2014. Collegiate teams also are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US Sailing yacht <<

Above, boats line up for the start of last year’s Ida Lewis Distance Race. Left, Lime

Ida Lewis Yacht Club

Rock in Newport, home to the historic Ida Lewis Yacht Club

club or community sailing program. For the first time this year, the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and Bristol Yacht Club have joined forces to create the Rhode Island Offshore Challenge Trophy. This perpetual trophy (to be crafted and donated by GMT Composites), will be presented to the boat with the best combined score in the Ida Lewis Distance Race and the Sid Clark Offshore Race (Bristol Yacht Club), scheduled for July 10, and featuring a variety of courses ranging in length from 75 to 160 miles. The Ida Lewis Distance Race also is a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and DoubleHanded Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series. For more information visit


Chatter Chartroom

Racing the Northwest Passage ish Columbia, will route sailors through the Northwest Passage if conditions permit. “The more ice that’s being melted, the more free water is there for us to be sailing,” said Robert Molnar, the founder and CEO of the race. “Normally we should not be able to do that, but we can.” Sailing gear manufacturer Harken has already weighed in as a sponsor of the race with other prominent gear manufacturers reportedly to follow. “Although end-ofsummer ice conditions in the Amundsen route of the Northwest Passage have become milder over the past decade, ice conditions have been, and will remain, highly variable,” said Mark Serreze, head of the

National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. “At the end of summer 2017, the route might be more-or-less completely ice-free. It may be choked with ice. A great deal will depend on the summer weather patterns,” Serreze said. Data from Environment Canada suggests that since 2000, the minimum level of ice cover in the passage (usually seen in August, September, or October) has been below 5 percent most years. Since the 1980s on, voyages through the Passage have become an annual event. The Department of


During the last four years scientists have seen new lows for Arctic sea ice, both for its seasonal winter peak in 2015 and its summer minimum in 2012. Despite the damage this climate change phenomenon will have on Arctic ecosystems and indigenous cultures, some people are seeing it as an opportunity. The shipping industry is already planning new routes and the oil industry views these changes as a chance to exploit a treasure trove of oil mineral deposits. These dramatic changes may also offer a challenging opportunity for adventurous racing sailors. The Sailing the Arctic Race (STAR) is being proposed for the summer/fall of 2017. The 7,700-mile race from New York City to Victoria, Brit-

Five proposed stops along the race course from New York to Victoria, B.C.

Environment and Natural Resources of Canada’s Northwest Territories says that the number of transits increased from four per year in the 1980s to 20 to 30 per year in 2009-2013. Katy Campbell, a spokesman for STAR, said that if conditions aren’t favorable, the race can shift its schedule — or the course of the race — for safety reasons. Visit for more information.

Ocean Navigator videos: Steering system maintenance Few systems are more important to a voyaging yacht than its steering system. Without the ability to steer, even the best equipped yacht becomes little 8 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015

more than a barge. To help boat owners maintain this essential system, contributing editor Wayne Canning presents an instructive video, sponsored by Edson

Marine, on a few simple steps you can take to keep your system running smoothly. Go to: www.ocean

Brewer Yacht Yards 2015 Rendezvous Brewer Yacht Yards is organizing Brewer members to join in a series of East Coast gatherings this summer. The events begin in Mystic, Conn., with a visit to the Mystic Seaport Museum on May 29 to 31. There will be a guided tour of the Sabino restoration in the shipyard and a slide/video presentation of the “Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan” followed by a “docktail” party. Contact

Mystic Seaport dockmaster Greg Zabel for reservations at (860) 572-5391. Next in the line-up is a visit to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, from July 10 to 12. The gathering will begin with music, a waterside breakfast, a docent-led tour of the Museum’s extensive small craft collection, a tour of Bath Iron Works by trolley, a “docktail” party and more.

Contact the museum directly for reservations: Christine Titcomb at (207) 443-1316, ext 322. A visit to the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, R.I., is scheduled for July 25 and 26. Home of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, there will be a tour of the model room and a docent-led visit to the Reliance project. Make your reservation with the Herreshoff Museum at (401) 253-5000, or by

emailing Museum entrance is included in overnight mooring or dock rates. To round out the season, Brewer has planned a fall foliage weekend on the Connecticut River in Essex, Conn. There will be a “docktail” party followed by a potluck supper, music and dancing. Contact Stephanie McLaughlin at (860) 767248 or at n

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MARINE tech Notes

Voyager tracking with a social BY Tim queeney connection

J Combine GPS and geo-referenced charts with email and social media tools in a web interface and you get Farkwar, a tracking service written by a live-aboard voyager.

ust as people like to stay connected when ashore, voyagers increasingly want that capability as well, whether at sea or in far-off destinations. Voyaging blogs, email, social media like Twitter and Facebook, and position reporting have all become popular and now there’s a new positionreporting effort called Farkwar that aims to make position reporting easier and more social for voyagers. The Farkwar site (farkwar.

com) displays positions of boats and of self-organized “fleets.” You can burrow down to see the positions of the boats in the fleet, then to the individual boats and can also see info about each boat. This type of map-based position reporting has been around for awhile, but according to its developer, a voyager named Tucker Bradford, what makes Farkwar dif10 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

ferent is the easy way position reporting can be done via email and its built-in connection with social networking. “Farkwar meets a whole slew of needs that I have been wishing for in my travels,” Bradford wrote in an email. “In addition to the fundamental features (like parsing email for positions and other data), it provides seamless integration with social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter) that we already use to stay in touch with friends and family back home. For those less-networked, Farkwar provides a direct email option, too.” Voyagers start by registering their boat on the site, where they are provided with a “secret” email address to which they will send their position reports. Then voyagers need to set up a new address in the AirMail email via HF radio service. Bradford says that Farkwar has been optimized for AirMail, but that users can employ another email client if they wish. Then whenever voyagers want to report their position, they send an email with their position reported like this: “At 13/05/2014 04:36 (utc)

our position was 27°27.22’S 153°01.55’E.” The Farkwar program reads the position and puts a pin on the map for your boat. What you write in the body of the message becomes a note attached to the pin. Bradford is not only the developer of Farkwar, but as a live-aboard voyager, he’s the target market for the service. He and his wife Victoria and two children left San Francisco in October of 2011 aboard their Cal 43 sloop Convivia. They first sailed to Banderas Bay, Mexico and spent about five months there before crossing the Pacific by way of French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu. After making landfall in Bundaberg, Australia, Bradford and family continued on to Brisbane, where Bradford works for a company writing software for rainforest conservation. Farkwar was developed by Bradford during a programming camp in Australia that a friend asked him to organize. When he was done with the organizational tasks, he realized he wanted to do something to help voyagers like himself stay in touch and so developed

Farkwar. “I feel strongly the best software comes from marrying technical skill with passion,” Bradford wrote. “And it’s easy to be passionate when you are scratching your own itch.” Bradford noted that about a year into the development of Farkwar, which was put together with the Ruby on Rails framework, the user base exploded. “I started getting great feedback from a few core users and started noticing trends,” Bradford wrote. For example, he noted that when a member of a group of buddy boats posted a position, the other members of the group posted too, even if they had been silent for a while. Feedback like this allowed

him to focus on features to make the site more useful. “I added the Fleets functionality,” Bradford wrote, “which makes it easy for captains to associate with other boats (for regattas, informal groups, or in the case of ‘kids boats,’ a special interest) and keep track of the group’s positions in an organized way. I added a few new parsers including one for Iridium Go! and another for DeLorme’s InReach tracker. “Another feature that I had always really wanted to see in other position trackers was an easy way to export and import positions. I would like to be able to hand off my waypoints to friends that are following in my wake,

or re-import them into my chartplotter if I change software (or just as a backup). I also want users to be able to bootstrap their accounts with past positions, if that’s something that they find valuable. Farkwar makes import/export as easy as drag and drop.” Bradford enjoys getting feedback from users and improving the site. “It really tickles me to add these features and then watch them get picked up, slowly at first, and then with increasing enthusiasm as the social aspects take hold.” While Farkwar is a gift to voyagers, Bradford does include a way for users to make donations. n

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A tale of two lists Above, voyaging is about repairing your boat in exotic places. Below, John Kettlewell’s pocket list includes parts for boat and motorcycle.


emember when you used to read those magazine articles about voyaging off into the sunset to get away from it all? And now that you’re out there doing it, you realize that to stay out there you need to be more organized than you used to be, with more lists of things to do, and your job description has grown longer by pages. Voyaging is really about repairing your boat in exotic places, so you have to embrace it or the voyage will be short, unpleasant and not have a happy ending. Oil changes, filter changes, coolant changes, engine adjustments and lubrication, battery top-ups,


Story and photos BY JOHN J. KETTLEWELL

pump maintenance and many other chores have their own schedules that will rule your life. When the hours are up, you will be doing your oil and filter changes or eventually you’ll be doing an engine change. We all know this and plan for this, but I have found that you need two lists to replace the one your significant other used to hand you as headed off to work. Stop and shop The first list is both contentand time-based. It is the list of routine maintenance stuff needed over the period of time between major stocking ports. What is a “major stocking port”? There is no master list, but they are generally easy to identify from afar. The surest sign of one is the presence of the very first-world Travelift-type of

boat-hauling gear located in a marina with floating docks loaded with pleasure boats. These signs indicate a proximity to stores selling motor oil, filters, batteries, paint, etc. Chances are your voyaging plans will include a few of these, and for my part I try to include one every year for the annual haulout and maintenance binge. Yes, it is possible to get hauled at fishing boat yards, commercial yards, etc., but in my experience the cost savings does not usually make up for the inconvenience. Often the cost savings of the cheap haulout place evaporates if you add in the necessity to take taxis to find stuff, or the need to ship in heavy supplies. Keep in mind too that in many parts of the world there is no reliable mail service and shipping is often very

Twice is nice In any case, I recommend a yearly arrival at your chosen haulout port where there is a reasonable chance of finding the quality and quantity of maintenance supplies you need. Obviously, the distance and time between two of these stops will determine the quantity of oil, filters, etc., needed. My rule of thumb is to have on board at all times a minimum of twice the quantity of these expendables I plan on using. In other words, if I am expecting to run 200 engine hours during the year, that will add up to two complete oil changes and two oil filters, so I will have at least double those quantities of my preferred brands on board. By the way, the existence of oil recycling facilities are also limited to those first-world boatyards you will be seeking once a year, so please plan on retaining your dirty oil until you get someplace where you can dispose of it in an environmentally sound manner. What quantity of engine cool-

ant to bring is problematic. I have found that quality coolant is often harder to find than engine oil. I purchase coolant that is rated for five years of life anyway, so the need to completely replace it is low if I collect and reuse coolant when doing system repairs. I like to carry enough coolant to provide a complete change if needed, though I don’t plan on doing that very often. In a pinch it is certainly possible to use water from a reverse osmosis watermaker or even just plain drinking water. I always have at least one white plastic utility bucket and sealing lid on board that can be used to capture drained coolant when necessary. Being white makes it easy to see if it is clean before the coolant goes in. Filters tend to be harder to locate than the proper oil and they are also easier to store, and basically last forever. I stock up when I find them at a reasonable price, so I often have multiple years’ worth on board. This is important, particularly for fuel filters, in case you have an emergency situation where filters are plugging up due to bad fuel. I know of voyagers who limped back to Florida from the Bahamas by changing fuel filters


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An important element of all your lists should be engine oil specifications so you can pick up oil when you run across it.

every few hours as they plugged up one after the other. I choose a dry day with low humidity and then seal my filters in zipper-type freezer bags, then store them in plastic boxes in a dry spot. Stored like that, filters have lasted years on board in the tropics — so don’t be shy about bringing plenty. The second list This “double the spares” rule means if you get to that boatyard with the lift and there is no oil, or more likely they don’t have the right type of oil, you can probably make it to the next first-world marina before your maintenance situation becomes dire. This is where the second list comes into play. The first list — the master list — of everything you need and in what quantities is your on board list, while the second list is your pocket list, or backpack list, or maybe your phone list. It is the one you will always have on you as you explore the backstreets of exotic backwaters around the world. 14 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

The second list is the oil you need, the filters you’re running low on, the spark plugs for the dinghy outboard, etc., that you were unable to replenish at the last nice marina you were in almost a year ago. You never know when you’ll stumble upon a treasure of such stuff, and you have to pounce when you do. I remember feeling like a kid visiting a toy store when I walked into a fishing boat supply store in Honduras and there before me were racks of marine hardware, shelves full of oil, fresh-looking batteries, and so on. I spent several days anchored nearby just to make sure I had all the bits and bobs I needed on my various lists. The same situation played out over the many weeks I spent in Cartagena, Colombia. My pocket list was always there if I spotted some auto parts store, or a hardware store in an odd spot. I found quality gasket-making material in one shop, another happened to have silicone sealant, one down on the waterfront happened to have two-stroke oil, while it took two or three shops to piece together the various hydraulic fittings I needed. None of these things were available in the small marine stores

near the marinas, but I was always ready to switch into list mode while out sightseeing, etc. Of course, it will be impossible to purchase the exact brand and quality of material you are replacing so it is important to have notes on the pocket list providing you with alternatives. Mine includes numerous filter types that cross-reference to my engine oil filter. It is important to get close to your engine oil specs, but don’t be surprised if you can’t find exactly what you want. In Panama I couldn’t easily locate my usual 15W-40 diesel engine oil so I had to make do with some Texacobranded straight 40 I found in a large supermarket of all places. In Colombia I found a fast oil change car place that advertised Shell products and was able to order a case of diesel spec Rotella for me, but it was in different bottles and had different specs than oil I have purchased in the U.S. Luckily, my engine manual had a long list of alternate oils and specs that were allowable and I had notes on my pocket list. For both lists I prefer to use the simple old paper list. Sure, store the information in a spreadsheet on your computer, but print out a few hard copies so these are always readily available. A paper list folded twice fits neatly into a zipper-type sandwich bag for water protection. You never know when you’ll be fueling up and you’ll spot something you need behind the counter, and you don’t want to be firing up your

computer just to check your oil or filter specs. I keep the most important info on oil, filters and impellors written within the first few pages of my logbook so it is always handy. Phone it in Inevitably, there will be something you can’t locate in your exotic anchorage, so be prepared with a contact back home who is ready and willing to assist. Ideally, this person will be another boater or at least someone who is mechanically savvy and can locate that odd pump part that is impos-

sible to find in Fiji. I like to have on board several marine master catalogs from places like Hamilton Marine, Defender and West Marine. Yes, the Internet is your friend, but connections are not always available and it can be useful to be able to compare images in the catalogs to the installed part on your boat. It is often better to order the parts yourself, have them shipped to your friend and then have that friend consolidate various orders and ship them to you when you arrive at a place with reliable connections to the outside world.

If your friend is capable, you can leave behind one of your master lists just in case you need him or her to hunt you up some new fuel filters. Always seize the opportunity of guest visits becoming parts delivery runs. My father arrived in Colombia with a suitcase bulging with unobtainable spares. Don’t worry, most guests will see it as part of the excitement of their exotic vacation! n John J. Kettlewell co-authored, with his wife Leslie, the Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook: Norfolk, Virginia, to Miami, Florida.



Misadventures of voyagers learning to fish

Right, for England! James holds up the first fish he and Jess ever caught. Below, gutting and filleting on deck keeps the scales, blood and smell out of the cabin.

Jessica Lloyd-Mostyn


to us by a friend, we tried our luck for the first time when crossing the Atlantic. We had brightlycolored and fun assortments of lures — ranging from pink toy squids to silver imitation flying fish. Much to our amazement we succeeded in landing and identifying our first mahi-mahi, also known as dorado, and managed a quite nifty technique of reeling it in close to the boat, scooping it on board with a net and delivering a swift blow to its head with a winch handle. It was the most delicious fish and was large enough for two days of eating for the four of us on board. During the next two weeks at sea we caught two further mahi-mahi, each bigger than the last and significantly harder to land. The net broke with fish number two and, as we had no gaff Jessica Lloyd-Mostyn

It’s an unspoken rule, almost a seafaring law, that those who are liveaboard, long-term, worldwide cruisers can catch the freshest, finest fish that the oceans have to offer. Any old salt can throw out a line and reel in dinner with the ease and polish of one who has made those same moves and gestures since they were small fry. However, those of us relatively new to the cruising life — who are learning all the lessons of the sea simultaneously — have a far less stylish, less effective and unsophisticated approach towards the obligatory fishing activities. Neither James, nor I, had even attempted to fish in our landlubber, preboat lives. But the thought of catching food for our table while living on board had a certain appeal and we were keen to experiment. Armed with a few shiny new hand reels that we bought in the Canary Islands and a simple fishing rod gifted

To the editor:

on board and, at that time, no functioning autopilot, our somewhat shambolic method of securing our dinner involved reeling in as much as possible by hand and then hurling the catch into the cockpit, whilst whoever was hand-steering did their best to duck. Then you are left with a wildly thrashing and angry fish at your feet while you try to dispatch it as quickly as possible. Chaotic, yes, but we did at least get three gorgeous fish that fed all the crew on that crossing. In hindsight, my

by unseen fish who then promptly swam away. Our next score was in Cuba and I was the poor soul at the helm trying to keep our course while James unceremoniously flung the fish over my head onto the cockpit floor. It was a tasty bonus and meant we could extend our stay in the southern islands but, to this day, we have absolutely no idea what kind of fish it was. Which brings us to a major hurdle of the novice cruiser fisherman — identification. Granted, there are times when it’s not too vital to know what you’re catching and eating; fortunately for us that time in Cuba was one such time, but I’m only able to say that as neither of us had any ill effects from the mystery fish. We hadn’t even given a thought to whether or not it might have had ciguatera, a gamble that we wouldn’t take now that we’re sailing and fishing with an infant. There are times when catching food for the table is an ability that even we can carry out with total cool and aplomb. The most satisfying of these times are, undoubtedly, when you have visitors on board. Catching some-

thing fresher than your landbased friends and family have ever tasted is the climax to the cocktails-on-deck-at-sunset, picture-perfect, cruising holiday experience that we all relish giving to our guests, even though the live-aboard reality is often a far cry from this scene. But, I should probably admit that we’ve only managed this with sheer dumb luck.

The biggest fish caught on Jess and James’ boat Adamastor to date, was landed by crewmate Chris.

Jessica Lloyd-Mostyn

sion is that mahi-mahi are a particularly stupid breed of fish that, although undeniably beautiful, like to follow boats on the Atlantic crossing route just to lull voyagers into a false estimation of their own trawling skills. Because, upon our arrival in the Caribbean, everyone had experienced the same accomplishment — many catching far more than we did and all with little skill or knowledge. The Atlantic also brought the added bonus of our first encounter with flying fish. These iridescent lovely little creatures literally fly onto your decks and get stranded, meaning that for no effort whatsoever you can have fried fish for breakfast. Just in case it wasn’t apparent, I should point out that we are solely interested in catching fish for necessary food. We never attempt it if the fridge is full or with any idea of fishing as a sport. So, after this crossing and returning back to our crew of two, it was some time until we tested our talents again. Or perhaps the fairest way to put it is that it was some time until we actually managed to catch anything again. I remember several toy squids and plastic fish being eaten



In Panama we got serious and invested in a small spear gun. Brilliant, we thought, you have a nice time on a snorkelling adventure and simply take the spear with you and then point


and shoot at anything that looks tasty. It’s actually quite tricky to even arm the spear underwater and then you have to adjust for everything looking magnified. So much so that you think you’ve caught

something sizeable but it’s revealed to be tiny when you resurface. Luckily, one way to practice is the local custom of shooting lionfish. These striking fish are indigenous to the Pacific and managed to infiltrate the Atlantic by mistaken human intervention. They eat just about anything they can swallow but almost nothing eats them, which makes them a very easy catch. They pose a real threat to reefs, as many corals rely on herbivore fish that are no longer there thanks to the lionfish. There are now huge numbers of them in the Caribbean, in much greater densities than in their native Pacific waters. So, they make for a good deed and target practice all in one. Plus, once you get past the venomous spines, they make for good eating. The real snag to our all-or-nothing luck with fishing has to be that the lures we put out bear very little relation to the size of fish we eventually land. On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica we landed a 17-pound (8 kg) mahi-mahi, which we ate for a week. That was with a really simple, three-inch metal “spoon” lure, which had only ever caught us much smaller fish before. But to gut and fillet so large a beast on the aft deck, while sliding around in a rolly sea is quite a challenge. Fresh sashimi on day one became breadcrumbed fish and chips on day two, and we ended the week with fish curry. We even fried the roe in butter and had it with toast for breakfast. Our most recent catch, another mahi-mahi, dwarfed that one by

comparison as it weighed in at a whopping 27 pounds (12.5 kg), so we donated some to other cruising families to ensure none of it would go to waste. To wrestle and kill a fish of that size isn’t something we’d be keen to repeat anytime soon. Our techniques have at least improved but, though we now have a trusty working autopilot and a wind vane, we still don’t have a gaff on board. So now the helmsman is spared the fish missile being aimed at them, but we still have the issue of how to land the thing. Happily, we’ve discovered that the baby netting around the guardrails stops the friskier of our catches from wriggling away and we’ve upgraded from using the winch handle to strike the final blow, to using broken stanchion. And a length of “tracer” wire attaching the lure to the line has stopped us from losing quite so many fish and lures. The plastic squids have even become a favorite toy of our baby daughter — minus the hooks, of course. We’ve even learned a thing or two about the best places to attempt fishing, with reef passes from deep to shallow water yielding the best results. But, in truth, it’s still total luck as to whether or not we have fish for dinner and, in spite of everything we’ve learned, there seems to be no rhyme or reason about when our efforts will come off. I think our chances are much like those of finding flying fish on deck when the sun comes up. We cross our fingers, cast our lines

and hope it won’t be too long until we fill our bellies.

in Mexico and logged her first sea miles

—Jessica Lloyd-Mostyn and James left

They got married in Fiji and are currently

England in 2011 aboard Adamastor, a

in New Zealand where they are expecting

Crossbow 40, intending to sail around the

their second child. Follow their progress at

world. Their daughter, Rocket, was born

on their Pacific crossing in March of 2014.

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A visit to the next “Big Ditch” in Nicaragua To the editor: In December 2014


at its discretion. Nicaragua, meanwhile, relinquishes its sovereign immunity and yet is contractually obligated to abate any pollution that results. The contract was debated for three days in Nicaragua’s legislature. Since called the “costliest boondoggle” and a “giveaway” by the press, including The New York Times, National Geographic and the Associated Press, and decried for its “lack of transparency” by Wired magazine and almost every local observer, the GCN nonetheless appears to be moving ahead. From the east, the GCN will trace its path to Lake Nicaragua from the Caribbean along the San Juan River, which is known locally as “the drain” since it empties the lake’s fresh water into the Caribbean. The 119-mile river has been navigable for centuries, although not of the scale that the GCN will require. From the source of the San Juan, the GCN route calls for a

Proposed Project Infrastructure: N I C A R A G U A La



Las Lajas River Valley





Canal 10 km canal corridor Reservoirs

Tule River Valley


Caribbean Highlands Pat Rossi/Navigator Publishing

a centuries-old plan to dig a 173mile trench from the Caribbean to the Pacific, connecting Central America’s largest lake in between, began in earnest. Almost everyone has said it cannot be done but the fact is that, as of this writing, trucks and giant earthmovers are tearing into the ground, widening access roads and leveling hills. In addition to shortening the distance between the Atlantic and Pacific for commercial vessels, a new canal will also assist voyagers as well. The Gran Canal de Nicaragua (GCN) is a collaboration between the Chinese development company Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group (HKND) and the Nicaraguan government. The deal resembles many civil infrastructure efforts that Chinese companies are deploying throughout the developing world: a local government approves a massive public-works project and offers absolute autonomy to the company in exchange for vague assurances of future prosperity. The South China Morning Post reported last year that the project would bring 200,000 jobs, while another report predicted only 50,000 jobs. The structure of this deal is simple: HKND builds the Canal, gains a 50-year exclusive management contract, keeps all income from ship traffic, enjoys legal immunity and therefore cannot be sued, has the power of eminent domain to take land, and pays no tax. HKND can extend this deal another 50 years

massive east-west dredging project across the southern end of Lake Nicaragua. The lake in this area is only a few feet deep in many places; therefore, the canal will require dredging since the plan calls for a charted depth of up to 98 feet and a width of between 274 and 1,700 feet, depending on the location. Once ships reach the western edge of the Lake, the canal will cross the 30 miles through what is now rural farmland with a few rolling hills. This stretch will involve wholesale removal of earth by the largest Terex diggers on the planet. The eventual route will be three times longer than the Panama Canal but will shave 500 miles off the trip from Los Angeles to New York. With my 11-year-old son Oakley, I set out one morning this past winter from Playa Gigante, a small fishing village on the Pacific near where the canal will meet the ocean, to see for ourselves the emerging project. The motorbike was a 100-cc Kawasaki that shuddered in the crosswinds and

Brito River Valley

Pacific Ocean





Punta Gorda River Valley

Caribbean Sea


30 Miles

Left, low hills on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast near where the western end of the planned canal will enter the ocean. Twain Braden

labored on the hills. With Oakley on the back, I needed to anticipate the hills and get a running start, downshifting into third gear to crest each one, shifting up to

Below left, the planned route of the canal.

fourth on the descent. The road from Gigante wends inland for a few miles along a rock-strewn, rutted washboard before meeting a smoothly-paved, two-lane coun-

try highway — the Nicaraguan equivalent of a Vermont country road with a top speed of about 40 mph. Coming around a bend, we initially missed the turn toward the digging site, a sharp corner in the road with a small sign indicating the town of Miramar (Sea View) to the right. Doubling back, we soon were on a dirt track again, the motorbike’s front tire jittering in every rut. It was a Sunday, which meant there was no activity. Along the two-mile road were signs of recent digging: piles of earth, a few brown construction signs bearing “GCN” superimposed on a map of Nicaragua, and a hand-



Twain Braden’s son Oakley alongside a beach-launched Twain Braden

ful of idle earthmoving machines parked along the side of the road. The road soon ended in a T, and that was it. I stopped the bike, and Oakley jumped off and snapped a picture of me looking puzzled. A young man on a motocross bike soon roared to a stop at the intersection and smiled at us. I asked him where the canal was. He smiled wanly and held up a hand, indicating around us. “Aqui.” A few cows grazed in a meadow opposite. The only sound was the dry wind in the trees. To the east, back toward the lake roughly 20 miles away, a few scrubby hills blocked the view; the same was to the west, where an almost-dry riverbed trickled toward the sea some 10 miles away. This was the extent of the GCN I had been reading about. Everyone I asked about the deal had the same response: resignation tinged with a bland observation about how they expect it will affect their lives. In an area where poverty has been a way of life for as long as anyone can remember, it is as hard to hope for improvement as it is to 22 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

challenge the combined forces of government and big business. The following day we were up before dawn, rolling the panga Eunice toward the surf across the sand using a pair of logs. Soon we were waist-deep in the surf, holding the hull steady as the captain and mate positioned a 90-hp Yamaha onto the transom and the hull was buffeted by waves. We had a few seconds to drive the boat further into the surf and tumble in while, moments later, the shaft could be lowered and the prop engaged — all between sets of breakers that could catch us sideways or flip us end over end. It was a wellrehearsed and skillful maneuver that the men appeared to do effortlessly and with grace, jeering and laughing when someone caught a wave in the face or tumbled awkwardly into the bilge (as I did). That morning, as the sun rose over the dry hills, we pulled up net after net, plucking king mackerel, red snapper and the occasional lion fish, puffer and electric eel, from the gill nets. To the south, the bluffs of Costa Rica appeared a hazy green. The Pacific swells

fishing boat in the town of Gigante.

rolled beneath us. Surfers were popping through the waves from the beaches. A few miles to the south, the beach of Brito was where in the next few years the Chinese would be building a “free-trade zone” resort and digging a trench for 18,000-TEU containerships. My host shrugged when asked about the GCN, saying it would be bad for fishing. The dredging will churn up so much silt as to make it all but impossible to fish these waters where no one ever sets nets more than a mile or so from the beach. Will the fish come back? No one knows. Several Nicaraguans have spoken out against the project and its potential destruction of the natural and cultural environment, pollution of the fresh water of the lake, which is the largest supply of drinking water in Central America. Others have complained about the disruption of migratory routes of jaguars and monkeys and others that depend on unfettered corridors for daily and seasonal migration. Also, indigenous villages will lose access to fishing in the lake and game in the surrounding forests.

Split Lead SSB Antenna M

“The canal could create an environmental disaster in Nicaragua and beyond,” said Jorge A. Huete-Perez, a molecular biologist at University of Central America in Managua. “The excavation of hundreds of kilometers from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rainforest and wetlands.” To the north, the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, contains 2 million hectares of tropical forest and is home to innumerable disappearing species. Turtle nesting sites and coral reefs will simply be bulldozed; rivers dammed; villages of Garifuna, Mayaugua, Miskitu, Rana and Uliva will be evacuated. The freshwater ecosystem of the Lake will be exposed to the salinity of the sea and its ballast-born microspecies. President Daniel Ortega promises that the GCN will “eradicate poverty” in Nicaragua. But no one has taken the time to contemplate the significant economic, environmental and cultural consequences that such a project will entail. In the meantime, Panama recently began constructing ever-larger locks to keep apace with the increasing size of ships. This relatively modest expansion project will be completed long before the GCN sails its first ship. n

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ocean voyaging

An unplanned swim

by Eric Sanford and Debbie Lynn

Luck, preparation and good seamanship combine to save an overboard voyager 

Above, the Sanford’s 46-foot cat Indigo. Below, Eric and Debbie in port.


ric’s story: Debbie and I had been bashing our way east from George Town, Bahamas, for several days, heading to Turks and Caicos. With 30 to 40 knots


of wind right on the nose, of course, and 8- to 10-foot seas, we were taking a fierce pounding in Indigo, our 46-foot Leopard catamaran. With just 50 miles remaining from Mayaguana Cay to Caicos, and assuming that the wind would clock around to the east, our planned heading of 136° would mean that we could sail for the first time in many days rather than just motor. At dawn we navigated our way through the narrow, intricate passage of nasty reefs at the west end of Abraham’s Bay and headed southeast into open ocean for the next 10 hours.

Amazingly the wind actually did turn to 090°, and at a manageable 20 to 25 knots for a change. We hoisted full sails and were treated to closehauled sailing at 7 to 9 knots for several delightful hours. Emergency manual Indigo has a detailed 30-page crew handbook that lists, among other things, all our emergency procedures. The evening before we set out, as we sat in our cockpit watching the sunset and savoring a well-deserved beer, Debbie and I had decided to go over our safety plan again. We discussed the four methods of

72° 30’ W

Left, the man Mayaguana

22° 20’ N


O S C A I C 40° N

overboard situation occurred while on a passage from the Bahamas

Man overboard 22° 00’ N

to Turks and Caicos. Below,


Indigo’s Route

procedures page from Indigo’s


West Caicos

21° 40’ N

crew handbook.


Pat Rossi/Navigator Publishing

the emergency


72° 50’ W


emergency communication in the event of a disaster (SSB, VHF, EPIRB and satphone), where all the emergency gear was located (life raft, EPIRB, flares, radios, ditch bag) and lastly our man overboard (MOB) procedures: push the MOB button on the GPS, head the boat into the wind, try to keep the person in sight, throw the life ring attached to the MOB pole, turn on the motors (if not already on) and sail/motor to the person from a downwind position. Debbie is pretty new to sailing — we’ve only had Indigo 18 months — so she wasn’t particularly confident about her ability to actually effect a rescue in real-life conditions, even though she had taken several ASA sailing classes with lots of MOB practice (mostly rescuing hats and cushions). In reality, no one is actually sure they can pull off a rescue in openocean, real-world conditions until the time comes. Lastly, as the sun set and we headed to bed early for our dawn departure, we agreed that if there were any chance at all of getting tossed over the edge, we would always wear an inflatable life jacket and tether ourselves in. We practiced quickly donning life jackets and clipping into the lifelines. Everything was set for a tempestuous bluewater crossing the next day. Debbie’s story: We had left from George Town, Exuma, for the Turks and Caicos where we




were scheduled to meet a friend in 10 days. Gale force winds and high seas to match were relentless, yet we pressed on. Every morning we were hopeful that we would get a different wind forecast, but to no avail. So, we did what we said we would never do and that was to try to beat the clock — big mistake. Quoting the illustrious words of my husband, Captain Eric, “How bad can it be?” Let me tell you, it can be bad. Really bad… The prevailing winds were sustained at 36 to 42 knots from the east, so we knew what was coming — after all, we had “been there, done that” all the way down the coast of Florida. With a shrug of the shoulders we battened down the hatches and sucked it up. High



winds on the nose equal big swells, no sailing, no following or rolling seas — just a bashfest for hours on end. I figured the sea god must

have had an argument with the wind god and they were at each other once again like nobody’s business. JULY/AUGUST 2015 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 25

ocean voyaging

Halfway across the Caicos Passage the wind got increasingly fluky and we turned on one of the cat’s two engines to help keep our forward progress at a realistic pace since we did not want to enter the Caicos Bank after dark (the bank is seven to 12 feet of green water liberally strewn with hull-crunching coral heads and old wrecks).

Below, the harness attachment point for Indigo’s tender. Below right, the broken bolt discovered by Sanford.

A boat check With the engine on I decided to do a quick survey of the boat, a constant task since we were taking such a beating. I checked a suspiciously wobbly SSB antenna and found that the connection to the upper bracket had come loose. Since it was around eight feet above deck level, and we were still pounding into 6- to 8-foot seas, I just


rigged some shockles (like a bungee on steroids) around it and tightened them to the adjacent railings. That’s when I saw it. Looking down into the tender that hung from the big fiberglass davits on the stern, I realized that one of the four U-bolts that held tender to the harness had broken — meaning that the heavy, motor end of the tender was hanging by just one suspiciously weak U-bolt as we pounded along. Yet another fire drill on our eastbound odyssey. I stared down into the tender as it shuddered and shook with each new wave that slammed into our bows,

they came out easily, leaving two holes that I could attach something to. Now of course this was the moment when any sane person would immediately put on a life jacket and tether himself onto something secure — very secure. Unfortunately I have never been known as a sane person. Indeed, quite the opposite. One would need many extra fingers and toes to count the times that I should be dead: rock climbing falls, bicycle and motorcycle crashes, avalanches, ultralight and small plane crashes, downhill ski racing wrecks and, yes, I have even been hit by lightning. Twice.

throwing spray clear over the top of the flybridge. How the heck was I going to fix this? Especially in these conditions? The first thing to do was somehow secure the tender before the other U-bolt gave out. I grabbed a hammer and screwdriver, leaned over the transom and into the tender, and hammered the failed bolts out of the holes. Luckily

Trouble follows While I don’t usually go looking for trouble, it seems to follow me around, something Debbie acknowledges and accepts for some crazy reason. Thus she was up at the helm, holding the boat steady in the pounding seas while I was running around with a screwdriver in my mouth trying to figure out what to do next. Eric discovered that our dinghy was hanging by a thread (or I should say a broken bolt) and it had to be fixed immediately or we would risk losing it right off the davits. So he did what he always does, many difficult and dangerous moves preformed underway while I pray

he doesn’t get hurt, or worse yet, fall overboard. I found a stout eyebolt in my toolbox and decided that it might work. Back out to the tender where I again dove halfway into the dangling inflatable as the waves surged under the hulls and gushed up between the stern and the tender in a constant and violent drenching. Remarkably, I managed to get the bolt in place and the nuts fastened. Now I had to reattach it to the harness. The 300-pound tender, laden with an extra 50 pounds of sea water in it and bouncing around like a beachball in a hurricane, was not about to be lifted up. I tugged as much as I could (the adrenaline released from the thought of losing the tender certainly helped) and secured a line from the bolt to a cleat on the davit. But it needed more. I grabbed another piece of line with a carabiner on one end to hook to the outboard motor mount and secure to one of the stern cleats, then I deftly swung under the stern safety lifeline and out onto the middle stern step so I could reach around onto the motor. Yes, something that Debbie and I had agreed we would never do. But with adrenaline coursing through my veins and success in my eyes, I was indeed invincible. Until I slipped. Indigo lurched up over a

swell and suddenly slipped sideways as another wave hit the hulls. The tender, still not completely secure, swung away from me just as I lunged for the motor. My wet hands hit the side of the lower motor and slipped off. In an instant, I was in the water. Complete shock Those two seconds played out in depressingly slow motion as I went under water. I came up to watch as Indigo sped away, a feeling of complete shock taking hold. “Debbie!!!” I screamed as loud as I could manage, at the same time thinking that there was no possible way she could hear me over the howl of the wind while sitting high up on the bridge. It was a cry of sheer desperation. I was at the helm, we were doing about 8 knots and the seas were moderate compared to what they had been. Eric grabbed all the essentials needed to take care of the problem and he began to secure the dinghy with more lines. I took a look back on occasion to check on him and as he dangled out of the tender with tools hanging out of every pocket he seemed to have everything under control. In the back of my mind I was thinking how much I truly hated it when he did those things… So, I resumed my watch at the helm, put my headphones

on and enjoyed the ride. Then to my alarm and surprise I suddenly heard him call out loudly and desperately, “Debbie!!!” Somehow she heard me. She instantly turned around and saw me, a look of horror taking hold of her face. Here we go again. I watched as panic took over for a brief instant, then I could see no more as a big wave crashed over me and Indigo was lost from sight. I came up and waved frantically to be sure that she could still find me. To my utter surprise and relief she waved back Now I have heard my name called, my name yelled, and my name cursed by others in all kinds of tones and volumes, but not like this. I turned around and much to my horror Eric was in the water. I was stunned to say the least. Fear gripped me and I momentarily froze and just stared, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I shook it off and ran to the

The rear harness holds the weight of the tender and the outboard.


ocean voyaging

him helped calm my nerves a bit even though I was going through so many emotions it was hard to think.

Sanford demonstrates how he leaned into the tender to make repairs.

stern. I saw him waving. My first reaction was, “WHAT THE HELL?” Then I finally began to process what I was looking at and what had happened. I waved back at him and went into emergency mode. Panicked and shell-shocked, I stalled again for a minute while I tried to remember what to do. Things started coming back to me at what felt like a snail’s pace. I hit the MOB button on the chartplotter, slowed the boat, got the sails de-powered and checked on his location. In my flustered and frenzied mode, I thought I could get the jib down but there was no time for that and far too much wind. At this point I was beyond upset but kept saying to myself, “Get it together, get it together, I can do this.” I could see him (he was visible because he was wearing a white shirt). A life jacket, unfortunately, was not on his scheduled attire that day — grrrrrr. But being able to spot


Turning the boat around She hesitated a bit trying to figure out what to do, then did the exact correct thing: With the engine running, she turned the boat around and headed back to me. Ha! Cheated death again! Assuming she didn’t lose sight of me in the boisterous seas, that is. I could hear him yelling to turn the boat around and I was ready to make the turn, but first I ran back to throw the life ring off the stern. I clipped the line to the boat but it was not long enough to reach anything, let alone a MOB 50 yards away and that made me very mad. (Note to self: I should have used the Lifesling). By the time she got Indigo turned around she was already a quarter mile away. Trying to locate a head bobbing around in 8-foot seas in the middle of the ocean at that distance would present a mighty challenge for even the best navigator. As she neared me she jumped down from the helm, grabbed the orange life ring, tied it to the stern and threw it overboard. But in the big seas she was still 50 yards away and I couldn’t reach it. “Just head right for me and I’ll grab it,” I yelled. Indigo once again disappeared in the swells and I was

swimming hard as she swung around for another try. In her adrenaline-fueled state Debbie was going too fast and I couldn’t grab the ring. “Stop and boat and I’ll swim to you,” I yelled. I made my way back to the helm and started what I thought was my “slow and deliberate” 360-degree turn, but as I was turning I lost sight of him because I was actually going way too fast. That horrible, helpless feeling rushed back in for a moment until I heard him call out, “Slow down! Reverse, reverse!” I followed his voice and instructions — extremely glad I didn’t run him over — and I saw him off the port side. I put Indigo into neutral and the boat slowed. When the boat slowed, I swam, shoes and all. I grabbed the transom step and hung there for a second before I flung myself on board as another swell lifted the stern high above the water. I rushed back to him, he could see the look in my eyes — too mad to cry, too scared to be pissed, and my adrenaline was off the charts. I kissed his wet salty face and collapsed back into the helm for a moment. Eric kept saying, “I’m OK, I’m OK, now get her (Indigo) back on course.” I was thinking, “Really? Is that all you have to say?” But I did it, just as if nothing had happened. I put her in gear, back on our line, and we headed off to Caicos.

Once I got back aboard, I wanted to say, “Hi honey, I’m back! Thanks for saving my life. And oh, what’s for lunch?” The gamut of emotions that we both went through was unreal. Eric WILL NEVER EVER fix or attempt to fix anything underway again without his life jacket on and clipped on to a line attached to the boat! Was this the end of it? Hardly. I travel with a man of adventure. A man who defies rules and doesn’t have an ounce of fear in his body. Needless to say, we never have a dull moment. There is always something happening, breaking or something going awry — it is a boat and he will take care of it. A side note to all those who stand second in command, (the wives, the first mates): Only a week or two earlier a fellow cruiser had asked, “If something happened to your husband, could you manage the boat?” I said, “Yes,” but with some trepidation, which led me to stop and really think twice about my skills and knowledge. So I asked Eric if we could go over our safety equipment and guidelines just the night before his swim in the big blue ocean. Ironic? You can decide, but I can proudly say now that Eric has taught me well and I can somewhat manage the boat. However, if he (my husband, my love, my captain) does something stupid like this again, I just might look back and wave. A single chance Had the circumstances been even a tiny bit different — had the wind been stronger or the waves bigger or had the prop had become fouled by a line — well, I’d be a goner. As I splashed around in the water

watching Indigo sail away, a million thoughts flooded my mind. If she doesn’t hear my one yell — my one single chance for rescue — I’m dead. Gone. Poof, just like that. Even if she noticed me missing only five minutes later, the chances of finding me in these conditions was remote at best. Instinctively I started swimming after the fleeing boat as soon as I hit the water. I remember thinking, gee, this water is nice and warm. Nice day for a swim out here in the middle of the ocean … too bad I’ll never make it home alive. Many years ago I was in a small plane crash where two people died and the pilot was severely injured. As I lay in the hospital bed a friend came to visit. “Someone is saving you for something special; that’s why you’re still here.” Not being particularly religious, I balked at the idea. Unless that reason is to show other people what not to do. Once again I’m alive and kicking after a very close call. All I know is that when I got back on board I put on my life jacket, clipped in my harness and stayed that way the rest of the day. I may be invincible but I don’t need to be that stupid ever again. n Eric Sanford and his First (and best) Mate Debbie Lynn have cruised together for seven years in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and the Caribbean. Based out of Hood River, Ore., their “summer” boat is a 43-foot Ocean Alexander trawler while their “winter” boat is a 46-foot Leopard catamaran. Follow their adventures at JULY/AUGUST 2015 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 29


Since UV light can rapidly degrade sail fabric, sails need to be well covered when not in use, especially in the tropics.

Voyaging sail care by Brian Hancock Alex Agnew

A sailmakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s usage and maintenance tips for long lasting cruising sails



ail care is an important part of overall seamanship, whether you race or cruise. With the line between high-tech racing sails and high-tech cruising sails being fairly fine, there are a number of important things you can do to take care of your sails so they will last longer, and more importantly, not fail when you need them most. This is becoming increasingly important as many cruising boats are being fitted with high-tech sails rather than traditional Dacron, and many cruisers do not have a great deal of experience dealing with modern, high-tech sails. With that in

mind, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s start by looking at the factors that fatigue sails and some things that you can do to mitigate the damage that is being done. Flogging The number-one factor for reducing the life of a sail is flogging, and this applies as much to a membrane sail as it does a Dacron sail. Modern fibers like Twaron and Carbon are very sensitive to being bent, and over time even the best sails will find a natural hinge around which to bend. This hinge will quickly become a weak spot in the sail and the delicate yarns will slowly start to break down

and disintegrate. Flogging comes in a variety of different ways and can be as simple as letting your mainsail flog as you are motoring in light winds. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to sheet the sail on hard and to sail a few degrees off dead upwind. This will keep some overall tension on the sail and keep flogging and flapping to a minimum. The same thing can occur when a headsail is being hoisted. The helmsman should keep the bow of the boat pointed into the wind but not motoring forward so as to create extra apparent wind, and the person trimming the sail needs to wait until the sail is fully hoisted

Proper wind range Molded and laminated sails are particularly susceptible to damage when the sails are used beyond their designed wind range. The mylar film, common to most laminate sails, handles off-threadline stretch effectively, but the film is fairly delicate and needs to be cared for. Sail designers understand the realities of sailing and know there are times when you get caught in a squall, and they factor that

into the engineering. However, pushing the sail beyond its limit on a regular basis will lead to the mylar stretching to a point where it can’t recover and the result will be a distorted sail shape. You need to think of the life of your sails as how long they hold their shape and not just how long they hold together. Distorted mylar will ruin sail shape, rendering the sail useless. Some sailmakers will stencil the maximum wind range on the clew of the sail so that it’s clearly visible to the person trimming the sail. If it’s not there, ask your sailmaker for the designed wind range and either write it on the sail or write it on a laminated sheet and place it where it can be seen by all. There are a number of things you can do if you suddenly find yourself in a squall with too much wind. Remember that a sail is at its most vulnerable when it’s sheeted on tight. When you are using the sail within its wind range this is the perfect situation because all those individual yarns are

there to take the anticipated loads, but when a squall hits the sail can be damaged. The first thing to do is to quickly ease the sail out. This immediately reduces the load on the sail but it has to be done in coordination with the helms-

Alex Agnew

before sheeting it on. Cranking the sheet on early places undue loads on the sail that will, over time, weaken it. Flogging also happens in subtle ways. A sail that is not trimmed correctly will often have some flutter in the leech. This is actually the worst kind of flogging as it’s rapid and can quickly lead to the breakdown of the yarns along the leech. The leech also happens to be one of the high load areas of the sail and if the fabric is compromised it could lead to the sail ripping apart. Make sure that the leech line is tightened so that it takes the flutter out of the leech and also make sure that the tail end of the leech line is tucked away into its pocket so that it does not catch on the rigging when you tack. Most reputable sailmakers will use Spectra or Vectran leech and foot lines so that any adjustments you make will hold.

man. If the sail is eased and starts to flog, you may end up doing more damage rather than less. The helmsman needs to bear away quickly so that the sail is still drawing and not flogging. It’s worth noting that a sail that has a maximum wind range of 15 knots of wind (when sailing upwind and under full load) can be carried in 30 knots if you are sailing off the wind with the sail eased out.

The process of flogging can break down the yarns of a sail and cause them to fail. Voyagers should control sails with running rigging and wind angle to prevent them from flogging.

Over-trimming Many modern cruising boats rely on electric winches to hoist and trim sails and while JULY/AUGUST 2015 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 31

SAILS & SAIL-HANDLING this is a great convenience, it can also be very detrimental. If you are manually cranking a headsail, there is a certain amount of information being transmitted through the winch handle. If you are winding away and suddenly there is an extra load on the sheet, it’s very natural to stop winding and to look aloft to see if there is a problem. Electric winches know no such thing and will keep winding so long as you keep pushing the button. In addition to damaging the sail — if indeed it was hung up on something — you often end up over-trimming the sail, placing undue loads on it that, over time, will distort sail shape. It’s futile to suggest that sailors not use their electric winches because convenience is king, but there are some things that you can do to minimize potential damage. When using the winches during the day, have someone keep an eye aloft to make sure that the sail clears the rigging and is not snagged on anything. When using the electric winch at night, consider handcranking the sail the last few feet. If the sail is hung up on something, you won’t be able to see it and the sail will rip, but at least if you handcrank the last bit you will not overtrim the sail. Another thing you should do is mark all halyards and sheets with a maximum trim mark. On a calm day at the dock, hoist your headsail all the way up and when it is at max hoist, mark the halyard against some corresponding point on the boat. The edge of the winch is a good place. Whip the halyard with twine in addition to marking it with a marker. This way you will be able to feel it stand 32 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

proud when it’s dark. Do the same on the headsail sheets. Trim the sails perfectly and make a mark on the sheet. The sail trimmer will know to look at the sheet and never trim past the mark that you have made. UV degradation Sunlight has always been an enemy of sailcloth and the battle against UV degradation continues. Fabric engineers have become very clever in their quest to rid sail cloth of UV degradation, but sunlight is insidious and can do a lot of damage if left unchecked. Fabrics are engineered so that the delicate yarns are encapsulated between taffetas that have been treated with antiUV additives. In some cases the mylar films are also treated with UV inhibitors and all of this goes a long way toward protecting those fibers that are most susceptible to UV degradation. When ordering new sails, bear this in mind and make sure that the sailcloth that your sailmaker is recommending has adequate UV protection engineered in to the fabric. You can also do your part by ordering an acrylic sunshield that runs down the leech of the sail and along the foot so that when the sail is rolled up on the furler, the sunshield protects the body of the sail. Even better is a separate genoa sleeve that covers the headsail when furled. An added benefit of the sleeve is that you can use it with multiple headsails. Always cover your mainsail with a mainsail cover, especially if you are in the tropics. For real bulletproof protection you might consider having a mainsail cover that has a foil liner on the inside. The

foil liner is the same material that is used for making space blankets and it completely blocks the sun’s harmful rays. An investment in a bulletproof cover and UV-prohibiting films and adhesives and sunshields on your headsails will go a long way toward extending the life of the sail. Moisture and mildew While moisture and mildew will not actually weaken your sails, an excessive amount will make them unsightly and render the sail useless, unless of course you don’t care about cosmetics. These days fabrics are treated with anti-fungal coatings that are very effective and if you want to exercise an abundance of caution you can have the entire sail dipped in a coating that protects against mildew. This may be an option if you live in a damp, warm climate and regularly put your boat away with wet sails. This applies to all sails — woven, laminated and molded. Chafe Chafe is something that occurs on all sailboats, especially on those boats that are heading offshore as the sails are subject to long hours of continual use. If you do not guard against chafe, your sails will wear out in short order. A single chafe point can wear a hole in the sail and that hole could lead to a rip; this happens on all sails no matter the fabric and engineering. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to both the sails and the boat. Start by installing spreader patches. Each time you tack, the back end of your headsail is dragged

or if you are going for an extended cruise you might want to have your sailmaker sew sections of webbing

Alex Agnew

across the spreader ends. Mark the sail where the spreader rubs and install patches. Consider covering the spreader ends with leather, or tape them with sticky-back Dacron to minimize chafe. You can also install stanchion patches where the sail rubs up against the stanchions and, if you want to be really diligent, you can take the process even further and add an additional chafe strip along the foot of the sail where it clears the lifeline. The areas where your battens rub up against the rigging when you are sailing downwind are also very vulnerable and you need to install chafe protection. This can be sticky-back Dacron like the spreader patches,

Above, over-trimming, especially with an electric winch, can damage a sail. Right, another way to extend the life of sails is to use them only in their designed wind range.


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SAILs & SAIL-HANDLING where the batten pocket connects with the rigging. There is also a lot you can do on the boat and rigging itself to help minimize chafe. Take some time to go over the boat carefully in search of snags. Cover exposed cotter pins with tape or silicon, and see where you can cover rigging with leather. This extra effort will really help your sails last longer. Lastly, be aware of how you handle your sails. Dragging them along the non-skid deck or down the dock will damage the stitching, as will a leeward running backstay that is up against the backside of your main. It won’t take long for the running backstay to wear away the thread, resulting in your stitching coming undone and the sail coming apart. Care and maintenance Taking care of your sails at the end of the sailing season is very important and there are some basic things that you need to do. Start by rinsing off all your sails with fresh water and drying them thoroughly. If you do not rinse them, the salt water will evaporate and tiny salt crystals that are barely visible to the naked eye will materialize. The crystals have sharp edges that can wear away at the individual fibers and, over time, weaken your sail. You can use a mild detergent like dishwashing liquid to clean most areas that are dirty, but you will need to apply special treatment to places that have stained. For oil and grease, use an automotive degreaser such as Simple Green. There is only one chemical that removes rust stains and that is hydrofluoric acid, but be aware that it’s very toxic and 34 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

this should be done by your sailmaker in a controlled environment. For mold and mildew, you can use a mild bleach solution, but never use bleach on nylon sails or aramids like Kevlar, Twaron and Technora. Those fibers will disintegrate rapidly. Bleach is fine on Dacron, Spectra and Vectran. Also never rinse your spinnaker in a swimming pool. The chlorine will have the same effect as bleach and your spinnaker will be rotted through by the next sailing season. Once the sails are dry, either roll them if you have enough storage or fold them and put them in the bag. Pay particular attention the patches and make sure that they are completely dry otherwise you may end up with a mildew problem. The best place to store your sails is any place that is warm and dry —but the most important thing is that it’s dry. The temperature does not have a great deal of effect on the sails except if you have a laminated sail, as freezing cold weather can damage the film. If you are going to roll your mainsail, you can leave the battens in the sail. Just be sure to release any tension on them. Finally, avoid forcing any hard creases into your sails. A common cause of these are overly tight gaskets (sail ties). High-tech sails require quite a bit more attention than Dacron, but it’s not an excessive amount. If you pay attention and carry out good endof-season maintenance, your sails will last for many years. n Brian Hancock has worked as a sailmaker, raced around the world and written several books, including Grabbing Life.


Sail-handling on a voyaging sailboat

Relentless wear and tear Story and photos BY JOHN LEWIS


efore we left San Francisco on Active Transport, our Tayana 37 pilothouse cutter, we made quite a few decisions that were based both on prior experience and what we were able to learn from other voyagers. By the end of our voyaging adventure, we had made many changes in the sail plan and sail-handling equipment on our boat. Some of our choices were driven by gear failures, and others by the differences between our needs for weekend and vacation sailing and the requirements we experienced crossing oceans. Even different parts of the world required different options for the sail plan and sail-handling gear. For example, the west coast of the Americas involves a lot of light air sailing, but once the boat enters the trade winds the game changes a lot. The genoa that helped us in light air sailing was more sail than we needed in the trades.

During our circumnavigation the vast majority of our sailing was downwind, so compromises in upwind performance were acceptable to us (like reefable headsails). Weekend sailors when we started out, we had little appreciation for the relentless wear and tear that sail-handling gear sees when exposed to 24/7 motion on a small boat at sea. As our experience grew, so did our confidence in our ability to make our own decisions regarding the appropriate compromises for our boat and our goals. Some of our changes were made with cost and/or the availability of skilled labor in mind, while other decisions were driven by ideas we got by checking out other peoples’ boats. We are big fans of walking down docks and seeing how others have solved the same problems. Most of our better ideas are borrowed. By the time we completed our circumnavigation, we

had become very conservative about the way we sailed the boat on long passages. We learned that it’s not always wise to push the boat — or ourselves — and there were several cases when pushing hard broke gear, and one case where pushing too hard resulted in a ride that was rough enough to crack some ribs (the human kind). The broken gear prolonged the passage and thereby canceled out the benefits of an extra knot of boat speed we got by pushing hard. The cracked ribs made that passage seem a lot longer and made the captain grumpy. We made our choices work for us, but our solutions are not the best for everyone and every boat. The message we would like to get across is that oceancrossing sailors need an open

Above, an extended run of 30 knots off New Caledonia broke Lewis’ whisker pole. Below, the bottom of the Alado furler on the yankee jib. The turnbuckle can be seen at the bottom and is accessible for adjustments. The entire furler can be lifted an inch or two for inspection of the cable where it enters the Sta-Lok terminal.


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41 Hart Systems (Tank Tender)..............................................Tank Gauges on_house_50h 9/25/09 4:20 PM Page 1


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mind and should be critical about any solution to a sail control problem, even if the solution is one they came up with themselves. Active Transport is rigged as a staysail cutter with a bowsprit and a long-footed main. We installed roller furlers on both headsails and replaced the yankee jib, which the boat’s designer had intended, with a 110 genoa. That was a decision we came to regret and we swapped the genoa for a yankee about halfway through our adventure. The boat was delivered with a jib boom to allow the staysail to be self-tending when tacking. This was a handy feature when short tacking out the Alameda Estuary in San Francisco Bay, but we considered the boom too dangerous for use at sea. Besides, we tacked fewer times in our circumnavigation than during a typical summer sail on the bay. Eliminating the jib boom also freed up the foredeck for the dinghy. As delivered, the boat carried a significant weather helm on some points of sail and we made several changes to the rig to ease the heavy helm and make our wind vane’s job easier. The changes to the rig also made the boat faster. During the first three years after leaving San Francisco, we removed the aft rake of the mast that had been part of the original design. Understanding how this modification would help with our weather helm problem came from insight I gained when I learned to wind surf; but, changing the mast angle on a cruising sailboat involved a lot more than simply leaning the mast one way or the other.

We had to replace the forestays and lengthen the backstay to get adequate adjustment to allow us to move the masthead far enough forward. We ended up with the mast perfectly vertical with just a small amount of pre-bend. The modifications to the forestays required alterations to the sails and furlers. Luffs and furlers had to be shortened. Eventually we also shortened the foot of the main by 15 inches and that change resulted in a nicely balanced helm. Let’s look at specific elements of Active Transport’s rig. The bowsprit We will never own another boat with a bowsprit. The idea behind a bowsprit is that it extends the length of the rig and allows it to carry more canvas. This was an appropriate solution in a day and age when mast heights were much shorter (think gaff-rigged vessels). Today a bowsprit is a historical anachronism that has a lot of disadvantages: • Anchoring is a pain with a bowsprit. The bobstay gets in the way and if you do not rig a bridal, rather than a single snubber line, you will be awakened by the rode hitting the bobstay. You will also worry a lot about chafe. • The bowsprit is a weak link in the rigging. The integrity of the bowsprit is critical to the support of the mast because of where the forestay attaches. • The attachment point of the bobstay to the hull is a difficult thing to build sufficiently strong. A weld on our bobstay attachment

fixture broke as we approached Easter Island. The failure was due to a faulty weld in the stainless steel fixture that was not obvious upon visual inspection prior to the failure. There was only one man on Easter Island who knew how to weld stainless and he was on vacation when we arrived with our problem. • A bowsprit is an expensive vanity when you stay in a marina. On our boat we end up paying for three extra feet of slip space to accommodate the bowsprit. That is expensive air to be renting in places like Australia. Furlers We have a love/hate relationship with our furlers. On one hand, they provide a lot of safety when we can avoid going forward to change sails at night or in rough weather. Being able to reef our headsails eliminated the need for a larger sail inventory. We also like the fact that the sails are stowed on the forestays so we don’t have to deal with bagged sails on deck or below. The downside of our furlers was that they were responsible for close to 80 percent of our failures at sea and greatly complicated pre-departure inspections. We installed furlers on both headsails and would probably do the same thing if we were to set off again. We say “probably” because we had enough serious problems with our furlers that hanked-on sails sometimes seem like an attractive idea. We were constantly tightening or replacing set screws that held the foils together. We learned how to JULY/AUGUST 2015 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 37


Above, after cleaning up the failure on John Lewis’s yankee jib furler. The entire bearing came free from the base of the furler and the drum and foil jumped up the forestay. Initially there were bearing fragments and a lot of grease wrapped up by the furling line. Lewis had to cut the furling line so they could furl the sail. At the point this photo was taken, Lewis had used a line to hold the drum and foils down so that the foil was not grinding into the top of the forestay.

drill new set screw holes and carried the appropriate screws, drills and taps for the job. The most serious problem we had was that one of our furlers suffered a catastrophic failure in the Indian Ocean. The “sealed for life” bearing in the furling drum disintegrated and released the foils from the drum. This allowed the stack of foil sections to slam into the top of the forestay. This was a gear failure that prolonged our crossing of the Agulhas current — not a welcome change of plan. When we finally got to South Africa and were able to remove the forestay and furler, we found that the top end of the forestay had been damaged by the furler when the fail38 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

ure occurred. We were glad we had exercised the self-control to avoid using our yankee jib following the furler failure. We eventually replaced the furler for our yankee with a model from Alado, a company in Brazil. Their design eliminates fasteners in the joints between foils, and the furling drum rides above the bottom terminal on the forestay. That facilitates rig adjustments and pre-passage inspections. Also, the halyards are run through sheaves in the terminal block at the top of the furler so there is no halyard from the mast to the sail. This eliminates the risk of halyard wrap. We found it was necessary to replace the sun cover once during the life of a headsail in the tropics. The worst part of the job is picking the old stitches out. Whisker pole We had an extendable aluminum whisker pole that was mounted on a track on the front of the mast. The pole was stowed there when not in use. We never experienced conditions where we felt the need to move the pole down on the deck to reduce windage. If we had it to do again, we would have a fixed-length pole fabricated and be more concerned with strength than weight. There were very few times when the weight of our whisker pole had any impact on performance in light air. We did, however, break our whisker pole while sailing between New Zealand and Vanuatu. It was the thinner extension part of the pole that broke.

The adjustable feature was of very little use and increased the price and fragility of the pole. Off-the-shelf poles don’t have sufficiently stout mounting points for guys and topping lifts. We ended up using a loop of double-braid line around the pole that was run through a pop riveted pad eye on the pole to keep it from slipping. We attached guy lines and the topping lift to that loop of line. Running back stays We replaced the stainless steel cables that were part of our original runners with AmSteel (Dyneema). After six years in the tropics our Amsteel runners still look fine. Amsteel is as strong as stainless, lighter, easier to use and a lot cheaper. We used Garhauer boom vangs for the block and tackle we use to tighten the runners. We also rigged lines to pull the runners forward and out of the way when they were not in use. We ran those lines to the cockpit using roller furling line blocks on lifeline stanchions. We became big fans of any solutions that kept us from having to leave the cockpit. We also replaced our lifelines with AmSteel when they started developing meat hooks. We were able to fabricate new lifelines when we were far from the nearest rigging shop. It is becoming more and more common to see cruising boats with AmSteel lifelines rather than traditional stainless. Amsteel is easy to splice. You just have to make sure you sew the splices because the material is so slippery that the splices can slip loose.

Rigid boom vang We had a rigid boom vang when we left on our cruise and started having problems out of it in the first year. It frequently sheared off the bolts that attached it to the boom. The vang’s manufacturer made a stainless-steel backup plate for us. We pushed the plate into the boom using our longest batten and sandwiched the boom between the backup plate and the mounting plate on the vang. The backup plate did help. It prolonged the interval between sheared-off bolts. When we had the rig inspected in New Zealand, the rigger zeroed in on several details based on his experience surveying cruising boats. One detail was the pin that connected the goose neck to the mast. He found that the stainless pin had enlarged the hole through the aluminum goose neck casting. He said this was a common finding on boats with rigid vangs, and he thought it was due to the fact that a rigid vang pushes as well as pulls on the boom and that the constant motion of crossing oceans caused the wear. We were about two and a half years into our cruise by then. Another disadvantage of the rigid vang was that it got in the way of complete rotation of a long winch handle when using the reefing winch under our boom. We replaced the rigid vang with a traditional four-fall block and tackle vang, and the wear on the goose neck fitting stopped. I doubt we would have ever seen a problem with the rigid vang if we had spent the same years weekend sailing.

Mainsail We had the boat delivered with a full batten main and have been very pleased with its performance. We wore the original main out and it finally came apart on our second-tolast passage (between Mexico and Hawaii). Sun damage did it in. It was 13 years old and still in adequate shape that I was able to repair it and use it for the balance of that passage. We almost always put the sail cover on the sail but we used the main a lot when motoring at sea. Even a triple-reefed main was incredibly effective at damping roll at sea. We also installed a strong track system on the mast and that greatly improved the performance of a full batten main. We were able to easily get the sail up and down, and reef it, in 40 knots downwind. The sail always came down very quickly. Without the strong track, the battens put so much pressure on the sliders in the mast that the sail was difficult to hoist and lower, especially downwind in a stiff breeze. We did not have lazy jacks. The top of our pilothouse lets us get good access to the entire boom when furling sails, so we have never felt the need for them. If we had a bigger boat or a center cockpit boat where access to much of the boom was difficult, we would probably have lazy jacks. We used a Scott Boom Lock gybe controller. It worked very well and mounts up against the underside of the boom so it’s much less likely to injure crew than some of the other boom brake devices we looked at that hang well below the boom and have arms that stick out.


SAILS & section SAIL-HANDLING special

Above, the proper dog bone reef point that was a retrofit installation. The sail was delivered with straps sewn to the sail and with rings that were too small to be grasped securely with gloves on. Lewis found that many things on the boat were better if they were larger. According to Lewis, smaller rings would be strong enough but the larger rings make reefing much easier.

Reefing We have found it is very important that reefing be easy to do, otherwise we find ourselves tempted to put off reefing past the point where it should have been done. Our original main had three reefs. On every boat we have owned we have had to argue with sailmakers to get the third (very deep) reef added to the main. But we always end up using that reef a lot. We have spent many hours at hull speed with a triple-reefed main and staysail. Before we had our new main made with a shorter foot, we had to be careful when motorsailing that the upper battens did not chafe against the backstay. We always put at least one reef in the main when motorsailing. The sail works just as well to damp rolling and the chafe at the battens is eliminated. 40 OCEAN NAVIGATOR JULY/AUGUST 2015   

When we had a new main made, we had the foot shortened and decided that two reefs would be enough as long as the second reef was deep enough. We also decided to try a loose-footed main for our new sail and that feature gives us a lot more control over sail shape. The downside of the loose-footed main is that the sail no longer catches rainwater very well. The loose-footed main eliminates the need for slots in the foot to accommodate the reefing lines that are tied around the boom. Those slots frequently needed repair where the reefing lines damaged them. Our boom came with internal cars that allowed for single-line reefing but we were unable to take advantage of that feature because the pilothouse on our boat makes leading lines aft impractical. We removed the cars and used the empty boom to carry a spare batten the same length as the longest one in the sail. We needed the batten. One of the hardest things to get shipped to remote places in the world is a long batten. To handle the jiffy reefing lines, we installed a 40ST winch that fits perfectly under the boom. We use the largest line that will fit on the sheaves in our boom for our reefing lines. It is much stronger than needed but easy on the hands and less likely to slip on the reefing winch. We have also found that

larger diameter line lasts a lot longer in the tropical sun. For the nettles that are used to gather up the excess sail when the main is reefed, we used half-inch nylon webbing. I sewed loops in one end of the nettles so we could secure them the same way we secured gaskets on the furled sail. It was much easier to secure the nettles that way than putting in reef knots. We did not always find it necessary to tie up the excess sail that bunches up when the sail is reefed. Our pilothouse gives us good visibility under the sail even when it’s not too tidy. We did tie up the sail with nettles when we needed to prevent chafe against the boom gallows or when it was raining hard and water filled the

Above, one of Active Transport’s nettles secured the same way Lewis secured the gaskets around the furled sail. One pull on the loose end releases the knot. Note the loop that is sewn in one end of the nettle. This makes it easier to secure the nettles, especially when the boom is outboard. Left, loop sewn into one end of the nettles on the main. The webbing is twisted before it is sewn down so that the loop will be open when it’s time to thread the other end of the nettle through.

bunched-up sail. We later heard that some cruisers install extra grommets to serve as drain holes — that seems like an idea worth borrowing. Blocks and lines Over the course of our six years crossing oceans, we have replaced most of the running rigging blocks with Garhauer blocks and have not had a single failure since we did that. We had some early failures of other brands’ blocks that had white nylon sheaves and no ball bearings. We also found that the cheaper nylon sheaves tended to get brittle from sun damage and the edges damage line. We started out with double-braid polyester lines for all our sheets but eventually changed to a single-braid line for the main sheet. We plan to use single-braid lines for everything as the double-braid sheets wear out. Single braid is much easier on the hands and coils very easily. The line also takes up less space when stored. The only disadvantage of the singlebraid line is that it does not come in different colors. We will continue to make use of pre-stretched Dacron for halyards.

Lewis has decided to no longer use splices in halyards. This halyard knot from the Selden Rigging Guide works fine and does not result in a splice riding on the sheave at the masthead when the sail is fully hoisted.

We have found it a good idea to always add a few extra feet to halyards when we replace them so that we can occasionally cut a foot off the top end. Any worn line that results from the line riding on masthead sheaves can be cut off and discarded. This is especially important for spinnaker halyards where there is a lot of motion on the sheave, but we have shortened the main halyard and jib halyards, hart_13h 3/20/07 6:50 too. The whisker pole topping lift also needs shortening on long passages. We stopped using eye splices for

halyards that pass over masthead sheaves. We found a very nice halyard knot in Selden’s rigging guide (www. and now use that knot exclusively for main and jib halyards. The knot is not bulky so the hoist can be just as high as if there was a thimble in an eye splice and has the benefit of it being easy to cut off a bit of halyard from time to time in order to eliminate chafed areas. When we were weekend sailors we usually used eye splices or a single continuous line for jib sheets. That eliminated knots that could catch on shrouds or the furled staysail when tacking. During our cruising years we started using bowlines to attach the sheets to headsails because that allowed us to end-for-end the sheets when chafe developed at blocks on the genoa track or because of the whisker pole riding on the sheet during long downwind passages. n John Lewis and partner Shawn Maxey circmnavigated aboard their PM Page37, 1 Active Transport, visitingTayana more than 20 countries and sailing more than 50,000 miles.

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Ultra compact sight reduction



ecently, Hanno Ix, a retired engineer and a member of the online NavList navigation forum (, presented a challenge to the forum for the development of a manageable means of sight reduction without the use of logs, slide rules or calculators and, if possible, also eliminating special rules and ambiguities. The group took up the challenge and we began with the classic Law of Cosines navigational triangle formula:

This formula was almost manageable with two multiplication steps but is still classified as time consuming and error prone. The breakthrough came with the discovery of the haversine/cosine Doniol formula in the 1977 Volume No. 1 of Bowditch. The beauty of this formula caught my eye as I was leafing through the pages. Very close to perfect, with just a single multiplication step and a few special case rules:

Sin h = Sin L Sin d + Cos L Cos d Cos t

n = Cos (L - d) m = Cos (L + d) – same name n = Cos (L + d) m = Cos (L - d) – contrary name a = hv (t)

This formula requires three time-consuming, error-prone multiplication steps. The next effort centered on the Davis haversine/cosine formula: hv ZD = hv (L ~ d) + hv (t) Cos L Cos d (L~d is the same as L +/- d — L - d when latitude and declination are the same name and L+ d when contrary name.)

L 34°10’N d 21°11’S L+d 55°21’ L – d 12°59’

Pat Rossi/Navigator Publishing

LHA 302°43’





Sin h = n - (n+m)a

The haversine/cosine Doniol formula was rewritten by forum member Hanno Ix to all haversines that have only one multiplication step and no special rules. Beauty was looking me square in the eye: hv ZD = n + [ 1 - ( n + m) ] ( a ) A sight reduction using

L 34°10’N Hc 12°22’

the Doniol haversine

hv . 2 1 5 7 + hv . 0 1 2 8

hv .2157 +P .1773

L – Hc 11°48’ hv .0106 L+Hc 46°32’ + hv .1560

1– . 2 2 8 5

hv–1 .3930

1– .1666

.7715 hv . 2 2 9 8

ZD 77°38’ Hc 12°22’

61720 694350 1543000 .15430000 P .1773

.8334 PD 111°11’ hv .6807 L – Hc 11°48’ – hv .0106 .6701 83

hv–1 .8 0 7 6 7.0 664 600

Z 127.8°

method (latitude and declination contrary in name). L=latitude; d=declination; hv=naural haversine; LHA=local hour angle; P=product; ZD=zenith distance; Hc=calculated altitude; PD=polar distance; Z=azimuth (LHA > 180° N. Lat.).










90 90


C: .1


.2 .3




With a Bristol Channel Cutter

.4 .5


C = 0.66







40 .8


30 .9



20 Pat Rossi/Navigator Publishing






Z 0

0 0











Hanno Ix’s azimuth graph. Step 1: Mark dec. on right scale, draw horiz. line. Step 2: Mark LHA on top scale, draw vert. line, it interlifeline25v sects horiz. line at “A.” Step 3: Mark alt. on left scale, draw horiz. line, it intersects curve “C” at “B.” Step 4: draw vert. line through pt. “B” and line intersects bottom axis to indicate azimuth: 44.

Bristol Channel Cutter was designed by the late Lyle Hess. The vessel is attractive to blue water sailors because of her seaworthiness and outstanding performance. Cape George Marine Works builds the Bristol Channel Cutter and the Falmouth Cutter, along with their other range of vessels. In January 2011, Cape George rolled out their first completed hull 11/8/10 8:50 AM Page 1 using the original Sam L. Morse BCC mold.

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n = hv (L - d) m = hv (L + d) same name n = hv (L + d) m = hv (L - d) contrary name a = hv (t) ZD = Zenith Distance Hc = 90 - ZD L = Latitude d = Declination t = Meridian Angle hv = Haversine Azimuth is solved with Hanno Ix’s fantastic azimuth graph. I developed an “index card” version of the process (see diagram at left). Here’s a summary of benefits for the all haversine Doniol sight reduction longhand method: 1. Full coverage of latitudes and declinations 2. Uses DR as the assumed position 3. No special rules 4. Ultra compact 5. Quick solution time 6. 1’ precision 7. Not reliant on electronics or mechanical devices. n Greg Rudzinski is a retired merchant mariner who lives aboard a Bruce Roberts Offshore 38 ketch at Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, Calif.



Extend your cruising age STORY AND PHOTOS by Harry Hungate and Jane Lothrop


fter 16 years of cruising full time and some 55,000 miles under the keel, we certainly do not have the strength and stamina that we started out with in 1997.

Above, a twopart main halyard setup makes raising the sail easier. Above right, Harry Hungate using a heaving line to bring an LPG bottle aboard.

However, we have no plans to quit cruising. We would like to share a few ideas that we have developed to extend our time afloat. While our intent is to have several more years of happy and capable cruising, these ideas will no doubt be of interest to the younger cruisers as well. Handling the mainsail Our mainsail is the conventional type — no in-themast furling for us. We have always had lazy jacks to aid in furling the sail. Several years ago we reduced the hoisting effort by adding a


two-part main halyard with a single block on the headboard of the mainsail, and one end spliced to a thimble and bolt on the masthead. With this simple idea, Harry can hoist the mainsail almost to the masthead without the use of the winch. We also made the new two-part main halyard long enough to reach the electric anchor windlass in order to be able to haul one of us up the mast in the bosun’s chair. Around the same time, we added Antal reefing blocks to each of the three reefing cringles. These took away the resistance created by the reefing line trying to slide through the reefing cringle. We also had the aft end of the boom modified, adding individual sheaves for each reefing line and the topping lift with the bitter ends leading to the mast, where we have a reefing winch to use if needed. Now putting in a reef — and shaking it out — is almost a joy. Bringing heavy items aboard Whether from the dinghy or the dock, heaving heavy

items aboard is much simplified with the use of a length of line kept handy for use. This is especially useful for bringing aboard full jerry jugs of diesel. For very heavy items we can always swing out the boom and use the boom vang, or use the outboard motor hoist on the stern. These back-saving features are more important with each passing year. Hauling items while ashore A folding cart is a handy item to have aboard. We have a plastic one that serves us well and we use it to carry laundry bags, gas cylinders and groceries.

Eliminating heavy items aboard When we purchased Cormorant in 1997, it had some group-4D lead acid batteries aboard. I fell while lifting one of these very heavy batteries, so we now have a battery bank consisting of five group-31 AGM batteries. I can lift one of these batteries with one hand but have never had to in seven years, as they are maintenance-free. I just wish that I had done this when we started out. Shortly after purchasing Cormorant we added a crane to lift our outboard motor. This allows for safe handling of the outboard motor even when the sea is less than calm. Commercial models are available and most welding shops can produce a custom model at reasonable cost. Wash day Doing the laundry aboard became increasingly problematic due to loss of hand

strength from arthritis. Wringing water from the clothing is now much easier and painless with our oldfashioned clothes wringer. Search the Internet for Mennonite websites that offer such devices. A simple bracket made of two two-by-fours can mount the wringer to the pedestal guard. Exercise It goes without saying that exercise is a vital part of continued good health. We do quite well exercise-wise when offshore just by holding onto a constantly moving boat, although our leg muscles suffer a bit. We make up for it while ashore, as we have no automobile, so we walk everywhere we go. Memory aids We have inventory lists of medicines, foodstuffs, tools and supplies with their locations clearly marked. We print out the inventory lists as we find that keeping the paper lists up-to-date is much easier than firing up the computer each time we add or use something from the inventory. Lately, we have begun to use the iPhone app “What’s On My Boat?” but we still maintain the paper lists. Medicines Review your medical kit con-

tents every year, not only to remove and replace expired items, but to add items that the aging body might need. Two items that you might consider adding are a catheter kit and an EpiPen. Prostate trouble almost ended Harry’s cruising while on the fivenight Cape York to Darwin, Australia, passage. We should have had a catheter kit aboard — we do now. n

Below left, Jane Lothrop using a cart to haul items down the dock. Above, a crane for handling the dinghy’s outboard engine.

Harry Hungate and his wife, Jane Lothrop, have circled the globe aboard their Corbin 39 cutter Cormorant, from 1997 to 2012. They have recently sold her and have purchased a Grand Banks 32 sedan trawler to continue their cruising in the inland waters of the U.S. JULY/AUGUST 2015 OCEAN NAVIGATOR 45

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Nav Problem

The Titanic disaster foreshadowed

International Ice Patrol

A modern ice chart shows significant ice in the area off Cape Race where William Brown struck an iceberg and sank.


65 passengers, mostly poor Irish and Scottish immigrants, in March of 1841 bound for Philadelphia. Five weeks out of Liverpool, on the night of April 19, William Brown, with all sails drawing, struck an iceberg about 250 nm south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, at N 43° 30’ by W 49° 39’. The skipper and eight crew took to the ship’s jolly boat while nine crew and 32 passengers went aboard the long boat. Thirtyone souls, many of them children, went down with the ship. The long boat was in danger of foundering and crewmember Alexander Holmes took command. He had to make some quick decisions: in order to save some, he would have to sacrifice others. He forced 14 men and two women out of the boat into the freezing sea. Ultimately, all the male passengers, except for two married men and a young boy, and two women perished. Even by the rough and tumble standards of the day, this was murderous behavior. The longboat was later spotted by a passing ship and all aboard were rescued. When the crew reached America charges, were brought against them, but they had all scattered and only Holmes was apprehended and put on trial He was indicted for manslaughter, receiving a

BY DAVID BERSON laughable six-month sentence and a $20 fine. However light his sentence though, the trial raised an issue that “self-preservation is not always a defense to homicide.” The Holmes case became important in the legal canon, as it established a fact that “seamen have a duty to passengers that is superior even to their own lives.” Even though mariners understand this, there are those who place their own safety above their passengers, e.g., the captains of the cruise ship Costa Concordia and of the Korean ferry Sewol. Let’s join the captain while he’s taking a noon sight of the sun. The DR on April 10 is 43° 22’ N by 46° 15’ W. HE is 25 feet. There’s no sextant error. He’s taking a lower limb sight of the sun. Sextant altitude of the lower limb of the sun is 54°32’. Use 2015 Nautical Almanac. A. What is the time of LAN for the noon sight? B. What is Ho? C. What is the latitude?

Answers A. Time of LAN in GMT is 15:06:00 based on DR B. Ho reduced from Hs is 54° 42.6’ C. Using the declination for 1500 hrs the latitude is N 43° 6.3’


y 1841 the packet lines from New York City to Liverpool were already well established; companies with the now-famous names of Black Ball and the Swallowtail Lines regularly operated a schedule of ships carrying both cargo and passengers back and forth across the Atlantic since the early part of the century. The sinking of William Brown in 1841 was a terrible tragedy that notably foreshadowed the sinking of Titanic 71 Aprils later. For those who could afford firstclass accommodation, the passages were less than miserable; for those in steerage the passage must have seemed like hell. This was especially true in the winter months on the westbound run from Liverpool. Sinking ships with loss of life were unfortunately almost commonplace. Every so often though, an especially horrific foundering captured the headlines. One such instance was William Brown. The vessel — mostly likely a brig or barquentine — under the command of George Harris, departed Liverpool with 17 crew and

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Voyages include celestial navigation, meteorology and square-rig seamanship Destinations will include Newport (RI) to Canada (Fall 2015) and Bermuda (Spring 2016) (dates and details TBA) Sleeping accommodations include both two-person cabins with ensuite heads and traditional pilot style berths Unplug | stand watch | climb aloft | take the helm

Photo credits, clockwise from top right: Al Weems, Mike Rutstein/ Marlinspike Magazine, Nonni Sansoucy, Al Weems, Al Weems, Al Weems, Nonni Sansoucy (boat stern), Al Weems, Al Weems, Nonni Sansoucy

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Ocean Navigator July/August 2015

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Ocean Navigator July/August 2015