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Annual 2018 — Issue 247

24 BLUEWATER GEAR A life spent at sea

Primary fuel filtration Clean fuel is a big part of a dependable voyaging engine by Steve D’Antonio



An educational adventure



Preparing for the Indian Ocean Voyagers upgrade their boat and systems before getting underway by Patrick Childress 44

The makings of a bluewater boat A voyager looks at the elements of the offshore vessel and what’s most important by Robin Urquhart 16

Plan ahead for food flexibility Provisioning has become easier but still requires both forethought and in-the-moment adaptability by Barbara Sobocinski 50

Resolving the repower question A thorough check by a mechanic revealed the answer by Barbara Sobocinski 20



Notable mariners who passed away in 2017 52


Circumnavigators plan and practice for safety 24

The Triangle by Debbie Lynn

Emergency sutures in a seaway A case study on dealing with a medical mishap offshore by Carol Archer 30


Weather satellite to improve forecasts Latest GOES becomes operational by Ken McKinley 34 Immersion suits reconsidered A highly effective safety choice for surviving an emergency by Casey Conley 37

For more on voyaging, follow us on:


Offshore safety checklist AIS GPS compass adjustment Set & drift calculations Distance, speed & time formulas Satellite communications systems Radar controls Geographic range table Medical resources Weatherfax stations and broadcast schedules U.S. Coast Guard HF/MF weather broadcasts Temperature conversion Atlantic distance table Pacific distance table Internet links 2018 races of note Logbook 2017: The year in review

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34 37

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40 Cover: The Swan 100 Virago heads for the far horizon on a passage to the Caribbean. Marco Bava photo.




CUSTOMER SERVICE: 1-866-918-6972 EDITORIAL Editor Tim Queeney 207-749-5922 Copy Editor Kate Murray Art Director Kim Goulet Norton ASSOCIATE EDITOR Casey Conley contributing editors Scott Bannerot Twain Braden Nigel Calder Harry Hungate Eric Forsyth Jeff & Raine Williams David Berson Ken McKinley Wayne Canning


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No, you don’t race. Yes, you sail. That’s good because Harken makes products for sailors. Take for example, our new Element blocks: aluminum sideplates forged into compound curves for strength, paired with a bearing system proven to deliver for years. Compare them to plastic plain-bearing blocks from competitors—you’ll be surprised. Element. Harken design, engineering and quality—priced for sailors.

Bluewater Gear Story and photos by Peter and Craig Smith

Peter Smith at Fastnet Rock.



eter Smith was born in 1947 in New Zealand, and he has been a keen sailor since his kindergarten days. The result is that he’s spent the majority of his life on the water. After gaining a qualification in construction engineering, he followed his heart and co-founded and developed Cavalier Yachts in the early 70s. Cavalier produced a range of craft from 23 to 47 feet and is still popular today. Smith racked up thousands of miles of professional ocean racing, representing himself and the company. He saw successes in events such as the Southern Cross Cup, South

Pacific and World Half Ton cups, New Zealand One Ton Cup, and the Rothmans Gold Cup — New Zealand’s premier offshore points trophy — four years running. Smith’s long-held dream, however, was to use his skills as a boatbuilder and sailor to make a living while pursuing a lifestyle of ocean cruising rather than racing. He left New Zealand in a heavily modified

Cavalier 39, Apteryx, in 1979 at the tender age of 32, on what was supposed to be a circumnavigation. Instead he was broke within a year and the next eight years were spent cruising while chasing work in the West Pacific and Southeast Asia. A contract to build an aluminum Dalu 47 for a Brunei-based client and the desire for a bigger metal boat for exploring the less-populated high latitudes saw Apteryx sold in Brunei. He moved back on land — to France, then England — saw the Dalu completed and delivered to Singapore, and followed it up with Kiwi Roa, which was launched in 1993. Smith has lived aboard ever since. Over the years, he has amassed a range of in-depth knowledge relating to long-range cruising boat systems. As a professional boatbuilder, Smith designs, engineers and installs all of the mechanical and electrical systems and, of course, also troubleshoots and maintains these systems. Kiwi Roa is a direct result of this lifetime of combined racing, ocean cruising and boatbuilding experience. She is a 52-foot Solent sloop/cutter built from 10-mm aluminum alloy plate (up to 25 mm in some sections), displacing 27 tonnes, built to go anywhere and handle the worst conditions. Large water, fuel and stowage capacity gives the ability to be totally independent for periods up to 18 months. After launching in England in 1993, Kiwi Roa undertook a fouryear voyage back to New Zealand via North America. It was in this period that Smith started developing his ideas of a custom anchor.

Initially not a commercial exercise, a prototype for real-world use was developed in Auckland and was proven to his satisfaction during a yearlong circumnavigation of New Zealand. Interest from his friends was high, and word-of-mouth eventually made the full commercial development of the Rocna anchor inevitable by 2004. Smith left New Zealand again in 2008, directly south then east in a 5,500-nautical mile passage across the deep Southern Ocean to Chile, whereupon he spent three years exploring Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and the South Atlantic islands of the Falklands and South Georgia. After no fewer than seven roundings of Cape Horn, restlessness sent him east again to Cape Town. En route, the risks some voyagers take began to manifest: He suffered a 180-degree semi-roll/ knockdown just south of Tristan da Cunha. Damage was minimal considering; the rig stayed in place and no water penetrated below. After six months of repairs and R&R in South Africa, he headed up the Skeleton Coast as far as Walvis Bay, Namibia, before jumping out to Saint Helena, Ascension Island and finally all the way trans-Atlantic to Newfoundland — as reported on in Ocean Navigator. Further stories In This Section

A life spent at sea

• Primary fuel filtration • The makings of a bluewater boat • Resolving the repower question OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

still to be told involve Greenland, Europe, Morocco, Iceland, the Faroes, British Isles, Norway and Svalbard; Smith has plenty of longrange ambitions yet.


What is your philosophy regarding voyaging gear? Do you like a systems-rich approach or do you prefer to keep your gear simple? The KISS principle decides all my decisions when it comes to gear and systems. However, that statement needs extensive qualification. You can ask the question: Simple by what criteria? It still has to be practical, and of adequate size. Ease of maintenance and reliability are major factors. My Cavalier 39 Apteryx would have been considered a well-equipped vessel when I left New Zealand in 1978 with the vague idea of a circumnavigation. All sails were on hanks with all halyards and main slab reefing handled at the mast. She was tiller-steered, and an Aries wind vane was essential, being short-handed. There was a CQR anchor on 10-mm chain with a Simpson Lawrence manual windlass. She had a VHF with four frequencies, a DSB HF radio with four frequency-locked crystals, a hand-held RDF and three sextants. We cooked on kerosene and had a small Blake kerosene heater on the main bulkhead. The inclusion of a reliable refrigeration system that I built and could service myself, with the compressor run off the main engine, and a hand-cranked sew-



ing machine set into the forepeak workbench were the only concessions to luxury. Battery charging back then was a basic car alternator wired up to wet-cell truck batteries. It became sophisticated a few years down the track with the introduction of a rotary rheostat accessing the alternator field via a two-way switch. Output amperage was adjusted by monitoring battery voltage. Charging times were significantly reduced, although overvoltage could be equally dramatic. Although I have moved somewhat with the times in building Kiwi Roa, the underlying principles have not changed. The windlass is now electric but well maintained and bulletproof. On launching, I carried seven old-generation anchors of various types, including the primary Delta. Now, after getting into the anchor business myself, three

Rocna models are more than adequate: the 121-pound primary plus a spare, and an 88-pound on the stern. The 120 percent genoa and Solent stay 100 percent yankee (or No. 1 jib) are on beefy rollers with the working staysail remaining on hanks (for those counting, that’s three headstays). The mainsail slab reefing and all halyards and controls are at the mast. We still cook on kerosene — a three-burner gimballed top with a fixed oven — and we carry enough kerosene in a tank to last 24 months. The rarely used heater is large diesel drip-feed. The heater and the boat’s engines can run on kerosene, as will the stove run on diesel if needed. Electronics are basic and no electrical masthead or wind gear is carried. Gribs or weatherfax and text-only email are via SSB HF radio and SailMail. I have

Above, Peter Smith’s custom aluminum voyaging boat, Kiwi Roa in the Outer Scottish Hebrides. Below, Smith at Kiwi Roa’s helm while crossing the Drake Passage.


Bluewater Gear Ocean Almanac


Offshore safety checklist The following lists contain items that most well-found cruising boats have on board for extended voyages. Items not considered essential are included in the Optional list.

Navigation sextant Nautical Almanac for current year sight reduction tables chronometer plotting sheets charts for intended route ship’s log tide tables Light List Coast Pilots and cruising guides pilot charts radio receiver for time and weather radio frequency lists binoculars adjusted compass hand-bearing compass dividers course plotters and parallel rules calculator speed and distance log depth sounder GPS and/or loran spotlight

signal mirrors EPIRB fire extinguishers first aid kit backup prescription medications spare eyeglasses safety harnesses life jackets flashlights knives for each crew bungs for seacocks life ring and/or life sling storm sails storm anchor and rode parachute sea anchor and/or drogue extra chafing gear for lines emergency tiller or steering system backup autopilot or wind vane parts tools and repair materials jumper cables abandon-ship bag emergency food and water life raft

Emergency & Safety


flares spotlight horn smoke flares radar reflector


VHF radio emergency procedures card near radio emergency contact information

hand-held VHF radio waterproof case for hand-held emergency antenna for VHF horn bell whistles for crew radio frequency lists AIS receiver/transponder

Optional sight reduction calculator Radio Direction Finder electronic chartplotter or computer electronic charts radar radar detector SSB radio ham radio satellite communication weatherfax Navtex signal flags personal strobes and/or EPIRBs survival suits wet suits or dry suits solar panel for emergency charging emergency generator watermaker for life raft

a basic chartplotter and 4-kW radar at the nav station, but I still carry my main sextant and tables. I have AIS and Navtex, an electromagnetic log and an old Seafarer depth finder in the cockpit, plus a second independent depth finder back at the nav station. Every system is stand-alone. Battery charging systems are interesting in that now we have smart threestep regulators doing the job of the rheostat automatically, and batteries such as AGMs that are sealed and maintenance-free deep-cycle with faster charging characteristics. I still have a manual rheostat system in place on my panel for all three alternators if needed, however. For example, I can use the rheostat for soft-starting the 200-amp alternator if the batteries are below 50 percent. With depleted batteries, the three-step regulator demands 180 amps at the start for the first few minutes, which stresses the double belts and almost stops 8 hp at full revs. Flicking over to manual and dialing in 50 or so amps for five minutes, and then flicking the switch back to the regulator relieves the load and ensures the system is not continually stressed. The compromise is that this requires user knowledge, monitoring and control. It is not what is commonly referred to today as “user friendly.� I run a 12-volt DC generator system, custom built by myself, to save running the main 72-hp Cummins for 3 hp of work. This is a Yanmar 1GM without gearbox, mounted on a stand-alone anti-vibration plate. This drives the 2-hp compressor for the large deepfreezer and fridge, a 2-inch Jabsco collision pump and a simple Powerline industrial 200-amp alternator, as well as heating a 40-liter hot water cylinder. Ninety minutes per day gives us 10 gallons of hot water, refrigeration pulled down for 24 hours hold-over and full batteries. Alternative energy systems are notoriously unreliable, still do not produce enough energy and are very susceptible to damage in extreme weather. They therefore still have no place on Kiwi Roa. If on shore power, the compressor belts are simply switched onto a 2-kW electric motor so the refrigeration sysOCEAN VOYAGER 2018

Kiwi Roa anchored at Hannah Point off Livingston Island, Antarctica. Below, alongside the dock in Grytviken, South Georgia Island.

tems run as usual. The hot water comes from an electric element in the cylinder and the batteries are floated on a trace 120-amp charger/2000-watt inverter. Shore power comes into the vessel via an old-fashioned, bulletproof, 5-kVA plate-type step-up or step-down transformer. This isolates Kiwi Roa from the dock and any electrical faults in the mains or nearby vessels, as well as stepping 110-volt systems up to 220 volts. The different frequency has not proved to be a problem. The dinghy is a 9-footer and, when powered, only requires a 2.5-hp Mariner outboard, which is easily handled and maintained (32 years old and still going strong). With 6-inch, transom-mounted retractable wheels, it is light enough to pull up a stony beach single-handed. What tools do you have on board? Are there any tools you’d consider vital? Easy question. Barring the sails and cushions and other obvious installations, I built every part of Kiwi Roa myself so I knew what tools were required to maintain her. This includes the tools and materials required to rebuild parts for pumps, drives, winches, rigging and goosenecks, etc. I carry most tools required to rebuild my particular engine except for specialist custom tools. Over the years, I have made up handy accessories to tools such as alloy pipe extension handles for items like propeller spanners that need extra torque. I can rebuild and re-gas my refrigeration system, including silver soldering, as I can my electrical systems.



Every tool becomes “vital” if you cannot fix a part without it. The secret is not to carry surplus tools. I try to be disciplined and get rid of tools I find I will never use. For example, I will never build another boat from scratch so there are many cherished woodworking tools I have slowly and sadly discarded, passing on to younger sailors. How do you decide what spares to carry? Has your mix of spares changed as you’ve voyaged? Again, spares were bought along with every item of equipment installed on Kiwi Roa when built. After 24 years of almost continuous voyaging, I have never been wanting for a part or had a system go down I cannot fix, even if only temporarily. I have learned over a lifetime what parts are required more often and what systems are more vulner-


able to breakdown, and I buy in parts accordingly when the circumstances are favorable to do so — namely, postal services are reliable and import taxes are reasonable. I always keep a running log of parts required to replace used stock. Depending on my locality, I refer to it often to remind myself what I may be looking for. My mix of spares has been spot-on from the start. Obviously some things in the mix change with time. Items such as rigging (for the second time now) start to appear on the radar as the miles add up and things age. I am also starting to think my lifeline wires need replacing, particularly considering the long hard

miles involved in a planned Northwest Passage attempt. I know where the vulnerable bits are and they still look fine, but there is that niggling doubt. My weakness lies in electronics, such as printed circuit boards and electronic components — carrying diodes, transistors, etc., and figuring out if I can troubleshoot the problem in any way. I guess that’s why I still carry a sextant. Again, age means some priorities have changed. I now rely much more on my autopilot, so I carry a spare motor with its electric/hydraulic pump and the MOSFET diode package it relies on. I have a reasonable chance of repairing the other parts apart from the CPU itself. Is it getting easier or more difficult to find skilled boatyard workers around the world?



Bluewater Gear


There are always exceptions, but in general, it is more and more difficult. Developing countries often still have skilled traditional craftsmen, but they are of very little use on the modern yacht. Diesel mechanics and metal welders are still available almost anywhere, but do they have the parts if the engine involved is not common locally? It is much harder for the bigger and more sophisticated (read: complicated) yachts to find reliable skilled tradesmen who are familiar with their equipment, particularly sails and rigs. Modern electronics, radar, autopilots and refrigeration systems are often not repairable other than in their proprietary specialist service facilities. Most brands have representatives in the bigger yachting centers around the world, but hands-on honest tradesmen who can turn their hands to anything are becoming hard to find. Never fear though: There are lots of cowboys out there eager to make a buck. What kinds of repair work do you attempt yourself? Everything, every system in the boat. Sometimes I will need to take a part to a specialist shop to have some machining done, but it’s very


seldom required. I select my equipment with an eye to long-term serviceability. Sometimes it is not possible. Kiwi Roa’s Cummins engine freshwater pump also incorporates the main drive-belt idler pulley. It is built as a non-serviceable unit, although I carry a spare and if needed I should be able to keep it running long enough to find a replacement. I would most certainly try to fix the original and, in the process, devise a method of making it repairable. I would also shy away from the injector pump and a major engine rebuild, which would involve removing the engine. However, cylinder head, valves, head gasket, injectors, water pumps, etc., I do myself. Sail repairs requiring sewing are not possible on board; although I have the skill set required, I do not carry a heavy enough industrial machine nor do I have the deck space. I can sew sun awnings, Sunbrella sail covers, etc., with the machine I do have on board. Do you use wind vane selfsteering or do you rely on an electric autopilot? Both. In my younger days, all offshore sailing was done with a number of Aries wind vanes, then on a


Monitor. It has been bent badly in a roll, bent by a dredger in a marina, bent by big seas while on a Series drogue over the Grand Banks and the bearings worn out and replaced three times now. I have become lazy, I guess; running a biggish boat on wind vane can be hard work, and I tend to use the autopilot a lot more nowadays. I can drive the boat harder, as sail balance is not as critical as with the wind vane. In the high latitudes, no wind is more common than not, so motorsailing with the pilot is more the norm. If on the wind vane and I have to go forward in heavy weather, and always at night, I switch to the pilot. It is much more reliable and less likely to put me over the side. In areas where navigation can be difficult, such as the high latitudes with their poor charting, fog and ice, the pilot steers exactly where I tell it. I can watch ahead myself, check course on the plotter and adjust course as needed with the remote or at the companionway station where I have shelter, some warmth and still good visibility through the hard dodger windows. For me the pilot is worth two average crew and allows me to sail Kiwi Roa safely with only my partner and myself on board.

Ocean Almanac


Automatic Identification System (AIS) AIS is a shipboard broadcast system that functions like a transponder operating in the VHF maritime band. Its primary function aboard a ship is vessel identification and collision avoidance. With AIS, every ship within radio range can be identified for communication purposes (including vessel name, classification, call sign and registration number) and for maneuvering information, such as course and speed, closest point of approach (CPA) and time to closest point of approach (TCPA). When integrating AIS with radar, a navigator can now plot the target vessel’s course, speed and rate turn, along with an identity profile of the ship, simplifying bridge-to-bridge communications.


AIS Update: At present, you are required to have an AIS unit if your boat is over 65 feet in length and goes on international voyages or operates in a vessel traffic service area, or if you carry 150 passengers or more for hire. (Towboats at least 26 feet long and over 600 hp are also included). Proposed U.S. Coast Guard changes to AIS regulations call for adding boats with 50 or more passengers for hire, high-speed boats (30 knots or faster) that carry 12 or more passengers for hire, dredges or floating plants operating near channels, and vessels that haul hazardous cargo. Plus, the VTS-area re­quire­ment is being expanded for all U.S. navigable waters.

The Coast Guard’s comment period on the new rules closed April 15, 2009. Some 120 comments were received. Class-B AIS devices will be acceptable, though the Coast Guard prefers that Class-A models (SOLAS compliant) be used on high-speed boats or boats that operate in high traffic areas.

U.S. Coast Guard AIS Carriage Requirements • Self-propelled vessels of 65 feet or more in length, other than passenger and fishing vessels, in commercial service and on an international voyage; • Passenger vessels of 150 gross tons or more;

• Vessels other than passenger vessels or tankers of 50,000 gross tons or more; and • Vessels other than passenger vessels or tankers of 300 gross tons or more but less than 50,000 gross tons.

International Maritime Organiza­tion AIS Carriage Requirements All vessels of 300 gross tons and upwards engaged in international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross tons and upwards not engaged in international voyages, and all passenger ships irrespective of size.



Is your boat equipped with a watermaker? What are your reasons for having one/not having one? No watermaker. One of the most problematic systems just waiting for a disaster I have seen on the modern yacht. Environmentally a disaster, power hungry, constructed of vulnerable parts requiring continuous maintenance. The water used should be relatively clean, which is impossible in most modern harbors. To leave them unused for any period of time requires decommissioning and pickling, and vice versa on start-up again. They necessitate vulnerable filters and more through-hulls and valves. They require a watchful eye for electrolysis, which you often cannot see until the nipple breaks off, and so it goes. I can see no positive point. To make it worse, production boatbuilders are using them to justify making their boats lighter and therefore even cheaper again. It is ridiculous to make a 40-foot so-called ocean cruiser with 150 liters of water tankage. The owner has to fit a watermaker as an extra. Are modern sailors going to start doing 20-plus-day ocean crossings with six crew on 150 liters, relying on a very unreliable bit of

Smith and Kiwi Roa at Hovgaard Island, Antarctica.

kit and the ships’ power systems to keep them alive? If you want to save some weight, you can control how much water you put in the tanks, but to not have that option and to have to rely on a watermaker, it beggars belief. Kiwi Roa is designed to be selfsufficient for very long periods, and so it carries 1200 liters in two water tanks.

We balance the trim by using each tank accordingly. Tank use is monitored by dipstick; it’s accurate and not misleading. No gauges. The decks were designed and built from scratch as water catchments. Deck drains run internally through valves to direct the flow to the tanks when the decks are clean. It is easy to clean with saltwater pressure wash or bucket,

Ocean Almanac


GPS compass adjustment The following method is useful for quick compass adjustments. The services of a professional compass adjuster should be secured to obtain the best accuracy. On a calm day in an area with no current, proceed to an area with several miles of maneuvering room. For best accuracy, use a GPS unit receiving corrections from a DGPS receiver. If you are not using DGPS, each course segment should be at least several miles long to minimize bearing errors. In any case, the longer the runs between waypoints, the greater the accuracy of the GPS bearings. An autopilot can be used to minimize steering errors. GPS bearings are very accurate, especially at distances greater than two miles. However, don’t use the


course-made-good display to correct your compass. The course made good is calculated based on rapid changes in position measured every second or two, making it much less accurate than a calculated bearing to a distant waypoint. Head to the center of an open body of water. Record a GPS waypoint (#1), then proceed on a course of 090, as measured on the main steering compass, for at least one mile when using DGPS (more than two miles without DGPS). Record a GPS waypoint (#2). Now note the GPS bearing to the first waypoint saved. It should be close to the reciprocal of 090, or around 270. While holding your steady easterly course, take half the difference between the GPS bearing and 270, and turn the east/west

adjusting screw on the compass to eliminate this amount of error. Half the error is corrected for on each run since it is assumed the errors on reciprocal courses will be about equal to each other. Turn the boat around in a tight circle and steer a compass course of 270 back to the vicinity of waypoint #1. Note the GPS bearing to waypoint #2, which should be close to 090. Again, correct for half the difference between 090 and the bearing to waypoint #2. Follow the same procedure for courses at 000 and 180. Always compensate for half the error. Once you have done all the cardinal points, the compass should be about as close to compensated as it’s going to get. However, it is a good idea to run

through the procedure again to measure what the remaining deviation is. A card can be created noting the deviation on various headings. At a minimum, it’s good to record deviations at 000, 045, 090, 135, 180, 225, 270 and 315. A compass adjuster would probably measure the deviation every 15 degrees. If errors of more than 3 degrees remain on any heading, you should contact a professional compass adjuster. Unusual deviations are found due to the proximity of magnetic material, including eyeglass frames, radios, winch handles, large piles of anchor chain under the floorboards, etc. Every effort should be made to keep such items well away from the compass.


Bluewater Gear then the first five minutes of rain rinses, before turning the valves. The cockpit is a “dirty” area so it is excluded. We do not catch water that could have manmade pollution, meaning acid rain. We are always looking for rain coming off a big ocean. An advantage of internal drains is that we don’t get acid-rain pollution stains on the topsides. In a heavy tropical-type shower, we can take 1,200 liters in 30 minutes — faster than town supply with a hose. More typical is to leave the tanks open all night in sporadic showers. If we are in dry desert-type climates with no rain, we can go up to six months on 1,200 liters using various methods of conserving water, such as using salt water for everything but the final rinse, some cooking using a percentage of salt water, sponge bathing, etc. However, going to these extremes is rarely needed. There is usually a tap ashore close to the beach or dock. We carry five 20-liter jerry jugs in the dinghy; every trip ashore in daily life comes back with full cans. It’s easy to keep

ahead and good exercise anyway. In a lifetime of cruising, I have never wanted for water. Do you rely exclusively on electronic charts or paper charts, or do you use both? I am using a plotter with an 8- or 10-inch screen, so electronic charts for “micro” and daysailing. The laptop has OpenCPN’s CM93 world charts as a backup for route planning and waypoint entry on the plotter. An Android tablet has recently been acquired and has proved handy at the helm for close-in maneuvering in tricky areas using the iSailor app with Transas charts. These have proved up to date and offer a second opinion over my Navionics Gold. I then carry as a minimum a largescale paper chart of any area I am sailing, enough to get in close enough to safely eyeball the last bit. It is also much easier to route plan, visualize and get oriented with a large overview paper chart. With all the electronics in the world,


I would still log position and miles every four hours or so as well. I log the 24-hourly position on the chart. It gives a starting point if the electronics go down, and with a sextant a noon latitude can always be determined to run down a westing or easting. To what extent do you use smartphones and tablets on board? As much as I hate them, smartphones are becoming compulsory in today’s world. Being a fulltime live-aboard vessel, a smartphone makes a handy Wi-Fi modem when we have mobile Internet access. The GPS function of a smartphone makes a good emergency position finder, particularly when hiking ashore or in strange foreign cities. I do not see it as a sailing navigation tool, although I know people do use them as such. The tablet makes a handy independent backup tool and my partner likes it if we have to walk to a Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere in the harbor, as is often the case. Otherwise, we both prefer our Windows laptops. n


Ocean Almanac


Set & drift calculations


Current may slow a vessel, increase its speed and/or throw it off course. Here’s a way to determine a course to steer (CTS) to compensate for current. You need four values: the desired course, the set (direction) of the current, the drift (speed) of the current and the boat’s speed through the water.

tion (A) using navigation aids, visual bearings or electronics. Then proceed on your desired course for a specific time, plotting this course and distance on the chart (B, a DR position). Now determine your actual position (C) and compare it to B. The direction from B to C is the set of the current. The

Current set and drift may be taken from current charts or tables, or may be observed, but you will likely get the most accurate information by measuring it yourself. First, fix the vessel’s posi-

distance in nautical miles between B and C, divided by the time in hours, will yield the drift. Thus, if the time between A and B is 0.2 hours (12 minutes), and the distance from B to

C is 0.3 nm, then the drift is 1.5 knots. In other words, a line plotted between where you thought you were and where you actually are is the tidal current vector. Additionally, a line plotted from where you started to where you actually are, A to C, is a vector of your actual movement, indicating course over ground (COG) and speed over ground (SOG). Now that you have plotted the set and drift, you’re ready to determine what CTS will make good the desired COG. First plot a new desired course from your present position. Then extend the current vector for an hour to point D (this technique is known as the one-hour vector method). Then measure with dividers the distance your boat can travel in one hour from the latitude scale on the chart. Place one point of the dividers on D and

swing the other end until it intersects the desired course line. Mark that spot (E), and draw a line from D to E. The direction D to E is your CTS. So D to E is the vector of your boat moving through the water for one hour, while C to D is the current moving your boat for one hour. The sum of the vectors, C to E, is the COG that your boat should actually move during that hour (unless the current changes!). Hence, the distance from C to E will be your boat’s actual speed. The value of using waypoints with a GPS is that the unit can then do this sort of calculation continuously, delivering updated CTS as conditions change. It’s highly advisable to plot both these waypoints and connecting courses to better visualize where a route takes you and as a check against what you’ve input to the GPS.



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Bluewater Gear

Clean fuel is a big part of a dependable voyaging engine Story and photos by Steve D’Antonio

Primary fuel filtration T he mission of a primary fuel filter is to capture, separate and store contaminants, be they biological, asphalt or water based. Toward that end, the most effective primary filters typically possess some or all of the following attributes: • They must be easy to service, preferably without using tools. • The filter elements must be readily available and also easy to replace, and they should be designed to repel or block water molecules. • They should possess ample capacity for retaining water (at least a quart) and they should be capable of being equipped with a water sensor probe/alarm. • Removal of air at the time of element replacement should also be relatively easy. The ideal filter should also have the option of accepting a vacuum gauge so the degree of filter element contamination can be ascertained. Although it makes for an easy installation, avoid the temptation to install the vacuum gauge in place of the filter’s servicing T-handle; doing so negates

the first important attribute of easy tool-free service. A clear sight bowl will make it easy to determine, at a glance, if debris or water has accumulated (the sight bowl should be equipped with a metal heat shield — see sidebar). Finally, the accumulation bowl must be equipped with a large-diameter, clog-resistant, metal drain valve, which must be situated so that it is accessible and drained liquid is easily captured. The drain should be equipped with a plug, which serves as a second line of defense against leaks in the event the valve is opened inadvertently. It’s no accident that the abovelisted attributes accurately describe a Racor MA Turbine series fuel filter. The “MA” suffix and the blue label denote Racor’s marine application, and although they are typically marginally less expensive, avoid using the automotive version of these filters, which carry an FG or FH suffix — they lack metal drains and heat shields. There’s a reason Racor fuel filters have seemingly cornered the marine fuel filtration market: They work exceptionally well and are

An ideal setup, a tandem MA Turbine series filter kit, which includes a vacuum gauge. These filters

Drain valves allow easy water removal. Top, this valve is correct; it turns through

have also been

90° and is UL listed. Second from top,

equipped with

this valve lacks ABYC compliance with its

UL-approved drain valves and plugs.


spring tension seat. Third from top, this uses a drain plug, not a valve. Above, plastic valves lack ABYC compliance.


easy to service. Racor filters use a turbinelike design to spin free water out of fuel using centrifugal force, while a conical baffle arrangement enhances coalescing and separation of smaller entrained water droplets. Finally, the media used for the Racor Aquabloc replaceable elements are treated to resist the passage of water. Tandem co-mounted MAX series filters are available, which essentially allow the user to draw fuel through one of two filters at a time, keeping one fresh, clean filter in reserve. If the selector valve of the MAX series filter is placed in the 12 o’clock position then fuel will be drawn through both filters, but this setting affords no backup capability and is not recommended. If the pointer on the selector valve is placed in the 6 o’clock position, all fuel flow is shut off, which may be useful during element replacement. If one filter should become clogged, simply swing the selector valve through 180 degrees — from 3 o’clock

to 9 o’clock, or vice versa — and you’re operating on a clean filter, provided it’s been serviced. The peace of mind afforded by the tandem “ready in reserve” primary filter arrangement is incalculable; you simply don’t have to worry about replacing a primary filter element while underway again.

or at rest, accurate vacuum readings can only be taken while the engine is under load. Once you throttle back, the vacuum inevitably falls. The solution is to remotely mount the vacuum gauge at the helm (runs over 10 feet should be plumbed with metallic tubing and all plumbing must meet the same rigorous ABYC guidelines established for fuel lines, including flame resistance), or to install a recording drag needle-equipped gauge at the filter body. The former can be glanced at any time while the vessel is underway, while the recording gauge will retain a record of the highest vacuum reading experienced until it is reset; it can be checked at any time. Although it varies from engine manufacturer to engine manufacturer, most marine diesels will tolerate a vacuum as high as 10 inches of mercury. Gear lift pumps, found on larger engines, are more tolerant of high vacuum than the more common diaphragm pumps. Although no

Water and vacuum The addition of an optional water sensor to the primary filter will alert the operator to the presence of water within the filter bowl long before it reaches the filter element. Placing this sensor’s annunciator at the helm or nav station means the operator doesn’t have to climb into the engine room to check for accumulated water within the filter’s bowl. The sensor itself should be tested annually, as the contacts can corrode if immersed in water. While you can check for water in a filter’s bowl at any time underway


More than just a reliable engine...all of our new engines are equipped with a serpentine belt drive system for the alternator at no extra cost!

What a concept!

Beta 30 in a Morris Justine Engine Model Beta 14 Beta 16 Beta 20

Beta 25

Vessel Albin Vega Cape Dory 28 Catalina 30 Tartan 30 Catalina 30 Contessa 32 Island Packet 27 Pearson Vanguard Alberg 35 Morgan OI 33 Alberg 37 Pearson 35


Engine Model Beta 30 Beta 38 Beta 43 Beta 50 Beta 60

Vessel Catalina 36 Sabre 38Mk1 Valiant 37 Westsail 32 Hinckley B40 Valiant 40 Bristol 41.1 Morgan 41 OI Morgan 45 CSY 44

Some of our installations

Engineered to be serviced easily

Marine engines using Kubota Diesels from 13.5 to 100 HP. Including Atomic 4 replacements and saildrive engines. Quiet diesels with clean emissions that meet current EPA requirements, without the need for computer controlled common rail complexity.


PO Box 5, Minnesott Beach, NC 28510 877-227-2473 • 252-249-2473 • fax 252-249-0049


Bluewater Gear amount of vacuum is good — and lower is always better — this is roughly the high threshold for safe engine operation. Check your engine’s specifications to determine the maximum recommended vacuum. High vacuum can lead to fuel starvation, high fuel temperature, erratic fuel timing, shortened lift pump life, cavitation erosion within injection pumps, poor performance and ultimately engine shutdown. The vacuum gauge, rather than the calendar or engine hour meter, should be the key indicator of primary filter element replacement. Size matters Because they are rarely supplied with an engine, it’s important that primary fuel filters be properly selected by boatbuilders, boatyards and do-it-yourselfers — in many cases, they are not. Many users are under the impression that the amount of fuel an engine uses determines the specified flow rate of the filter. In fact, it’s a function of the amount of fuel an engine pumps, which is nearly always considerably greater than the amount of fuel it actually consumes (diesel engines pump more fuel than they use, returning the unused fuel to the tank in order to cool the fuel injection components). To

Why marinerelated filters? Contrary to popular belief, the marine label isn’t just an excuse by the manufacturer to charge a premium — there are genuine and critical differences. The primary difference between the MA and FG/FH models involves their resistance to flame. Filters designed to be used in marine applications must be capable of withstanding two and a half minutes of exposure to flame. The guideline, set forth in the American Boat and Yacht Council’s Standards, which, with some exceptions, applies to all fuelcarrying components, reads:


Right, it may be necessary to replace a filter in a hurry, which means the process should be relatively quick and easy and not require any tools. Below, most primary filter models are available in ABYC-compliant configuration. However, in some cases it means forfeiting the seethrough bowl because no flame shield is available.

larger quantities of fuel, often twice as much, than their conventionally injected cousins. Thus, a vessel equipped with a conventional 400-hp engine may use a Racor 500 series filter, which has a flow rate of 60 gallons per hour, while the common rail version of the same engine may require a 900 series filter with flow rate of 90 gallons per hour.

complicate matters, high-pressure common rail engines tend to pump much

ABYC H-33.5.6 All individual components of the fuel system, as installed in the boat, shall be capable of withstanding a two-and-a-half-minute exposure to free burning fuel (N-Heptane), or No. 2 diesel fuel without leakage, when tested in accordance with Title 33 CFR, Section 183.590, “Fire test.” Exceptions: 1. Portions of fuel distribution systems located outside the engine compartment if a break at any point in this system will result in the discharge of no more than 5 ounces of fuel in two and a half minutes, including fuel that may drain from

Which micron rating? The question is often asked, which micron rating filter element should I use in my primary filter: 2, 10 or 30? Engine and filter manufacturers are in near-universal agreement, although not always for the same reason, that the primary filter

the engine. 2. Self-draining fill and vent pipes located in a separate compartment from the engine compartment. 3. Fill and vent external fittings. 4. Clips and straps not essential for anti-siphon protection required by this standard. In the case of Racor Turbine series filters, making the determination as to whether they meet this standard or not is exceptionally easy. Those that meet it will carry an MA suffix (or MAM in the case of non-Turbine series filters), such as 500MA or 900MA, while those that don’t will carry an FG or FH suffix. Additionally, the label lettering

on the MA units is blue, while that of the FG/FH units may be black, brown or orange. Internally, the MA and FG/FH units are identical; the difference is purely external. In addition to carrying different color labels, MA units also include the distinctive mattefinish stainless steel bowl. The label alone isn’t a sufficient indicator, as it’s possible for the bowl to have been removed at some point in the filter’s life. In order to remain compliant with the above-mentioned ABYC standard, any fuel filter with a clear plastic bowl must either be equipped with a heat shield or the plastic


should be either 30 or 10 microns (some engine manufacturers specifically call out one or the other, check your specifications). Some users are adamant about using only 2 micron elements in their primary filter bodies. In some cases, their adamancy for this approach reaches nearreligious fervor, and it goes something like this: Why should I change two filters when I can change only one? If all the debris gets captured by the primary — and, by the way, it’s usually much easier to change and less expensive — why even rely on the secondary filter [on the engine] for anything other than backup? Here’s my position. The average 2-micron secondary filter is especially efficient at capturing millions of fine particles until called upon to also capture larger gravel-sized particles as well. The reason for this is straightforward; in spite of their absolute-sounding ratings of 2, 10 and 30 microns, these filters do not possess an absolute ability to capture all particles of their respective ratings and larger. Some larger-sized dirt inevitably slips through. However, because of a phenomenon known as micro-caking, as the filter begins to capture some contaminants, it becomes more efficient at capturing more of the smaller particles — the dirt actually becomes part of the bowl must be replaced with one that is metallic. On their own, few (if any) plastic fuel components meet the flame-resistance test. Many believe the stainless steel bowl is present to catch drips and minor leaks, but that’s not the case. Close examination would reveal a small drain hole that would make them unsuited for that purpose. In fact, the bowl is a heat shield that protects the filter’s clear plastic bowl from flames for the prescribed two and a half minutes. When I visited the Racor facility that makes all MA turbine series filters in Modesto, Calif., a few years ago, I chatted with some of the


filtering process. If, however, both large and small particles are included in the mix, then the micro-caking process is hindered; the larger “gravel” leaves holes in the caked surface layer, allowing some debris to pass through the (secondary) filter. Picture a bucket with a few holes placed in the bottom; if you pour fine sand into the bucket, some of the sand will filter through the holes, but eventually the sand will capture more new sand than is filtering through the holes. If, however, you poured a mixture of fine sand and gravel into the same bucket, the gravel would keep pathways open for the sand to continue to filter through to the holes in the bottom. Additionally, operating a 2-micron element as the primary filter means, in theory, all or most of the contamination will be captured in this element and virtually nothing will be captured by the secondary on-engine filter. Thus, you’ve effectively halved your filter media surface area — you now have only one filter that must contend with all of the contamination. If you should happen to take on a batch of particularly dirty fuel, this primary filter may quickly become overwhelmed. If, on the other hand, your primary filter is a 30- or 10-micron rating, then the contamination can be divided

folks responsible for designing and manufacturing this and other Racor products. They made it clear that without the heat shield, all bets are off where fire is concerned. The filter must have it in order to meet the ABYC and Underwriters Laboratories marine rating. Yet another important difference between the MA and industrial units is the drain. The latter come equipped with a plastic spout-type drain that’s used to remove water from the bowl, making that process quick and easy without the need for any tools. The MA filters, on the other hand, do away with the plastic drain. Because it’s outside the heat shield,

between the two filters, offering greater overall media surface area with the finer filter because of the lack of large particles, operating more efficiently to boot. While anecdotal evidence may suggest that 2-micron primary filtration works, this is likely more so the case when dealing with relatively clean fuel. Once comparatively dirty fuel is encountered, segregating the contamination into two locations is simply more efficient and desirable. Some will argue that the MA Turbine series filters are overkill on smaller sail auxiliaries and gensets. But smaller filters not of the Turbine series lack too many of the attributes, including the large water-holding capacity, clear bowl, coalescing cone and turbine, ease of service and bleeding, and water sensor among others. None of the smaller primary filters I’m aware of can be equipped with a clear bowl — all must use a metallic bowl rather than heat shield to achieve flame resistance. Having changed hundreds of primary fuel filters, I can attest to the value of Turbine series filters, even if they do represent an element of overkill. Where fuel filtration is concerned, overkill is good. n Steve D’Antonio is an ABYC master technician (

in the presence of a fire it would melt. MA filters rely on a metallic drain boss and hex head plug, making the assembly both flame resistant and especially inconvenient to service — two combination wrenches are needed for plug removal. It’s worth noting that depending on where the filter is located in relation to the fuel tanks, a melted or even broken or leaking drain could potentially empty the entire contents of a tank into the vessel’s bilge. The inconvenience of the drain plug can be replaced with the convenience of a drain valve, provided it’s metallic and UL approved — meaning it must turn through no more than

90 degrees, and it avoids the use of a spring, which is found in tapered cone-style valves. It must be stamped “Marine Use.” If your recreational vessel is equipped with FG or FH filters, the news isn’t all bad. You can retrofit the heat shield and metallic drain assembly to these models at a modest cost. Because these filters carry distinctive serial numbers, performing a retrofit is not permitted aboard inspected vessels; in the event of a fire, investigators would use that serial number to determine with which type of filter the vessel was equipped. Steve D’Antonio


Bluewater Gear

The makings of a bluewater boat O A voyager looks at the elements of the offshore vessel and what’s most important

Story and photos by Robin Urquhart


ne of the oldest debates in the sailing community surrounds the essential features of a bluewater boat. We found ourselves in the midst of this distracting deliberation when we set ourselves the goal of sailing from Vancouver to Australia. Knowing very little about what we were embarking on, we joined the Bluewater Cruising Association and asked as many people as we could about what we should be looking for in an offshore yacht. In the Pacific Northwest, the consensus seemed to be that the “bluewaterness” of an offshore yacht boiled down to six main elements: a long keel, a skeg-hung rudder, heavy displacement, reputable offshore builder, large water and diesel tanks, and a cutter rig or ketch design. This legitimacy of this list was bolstered by John Neal’s tips on what to look for in an offshore cruising boat (www.mahina. com/cruise.html) and especially his list “Boats to Consider for Offshore Cruising.” We paid attention because John Neal has sailed more than 350,000 miles — including six Cape Horn roundings — and is considered a leading expert in offshore sailboat preparation. As we looked around for a suitable sailboat, we were dis-

mayed to find that very few had all the characteristics that were recommended and almost none in our price range. The ones that did felt so old and clunky that we couldn’t imagine enjoying sailing them. As one enthusiastic seller said to us, “Takes her 20 knots of wind to start moving, but when she does, she’s a freight train.”

What’s out there? We began to ask questions. “Do we really need a full keel?” “Can we get by with a spade rudder?” In the end, we went with a boat that met some of the requirements but not all. We settled on a Dufour 35, built in 1979. It had a solid fiberglass hull and a rudder protected but not hung by a skeg. The boat was billed as a racer-cruiser when it came off the assembly line; as such, the tankage was minimal, she doesn’t have a full keel and isn’t a cutter. She also has a balsa-core deck to save on weight, something John Neal says to be careful of. We were emboldened by the report that many others had sailed around the world in this model of boat and she did appear in John Neal’s list of acceptable offshore boats, although without glowing remarks. We were never fully confident in our little Dufour as an offshore vessel until we got to the Mar-

quesas. It wasn’t only that she got us there in one piece, but more that upon arriving we saw boats of all ranges and shapes. We saw new Beneteaus and Jeanneaus and even Hunters and Lagoons — all light displacement, fin keel, spade rudder, no bilge, fractionalrigged sloops. “What’s going on?” I asked myself. “How did all these non-offshore boats get here?” Intrigued by this surprising revelation, I endeavored to learn more about what kind of boats cross the ocean. I gathered data from 56 boats that crossed the Pacific between 2016 and 2017, and researched their features to see how many checked the boxes on the bluewater list. The results called into question the traditional perspective and reflect the new era of weather forecasting and navigation. By the numbers Of the 56 boats examined in this study, nine (16 percent) met all the aforementioned criteria for a bluewater boat. On average, the boats met 41 percent of the criteria. One boat met none of the criteria, and 15 boats (26 percent) only met one criterion. Eighteen boats that crossed — just under a third of those surveyed — are on John Neal’s list of preferred boats for offshore cruising. OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

100% 90% 80%

The chart at the bottom of the page gives the relative breakdown of boats 60% by criterion. The two most often met criteria were large storage capacity and 50% heavy displacement, which are usu40% ally linked. Cutter rigs were popular 30% designs, while ketches were few and far 20% between. A full discussion of each fea100% ture is included below. 10% 70%

90% 0% Heavy Cutter Offshore Large 80% types Rig displacement rigturned builder storage The most common rig type 70% tanks out to be a cutter rig (40 percent), fol60%

gets in the way and we never use it. The main advantage of a fractional sloop is easier sailing and handling. The jib is smaller on a fractional rig than a masthead rig and makes gybing and tacking easier. Also, the spinnakers tend to be smaller on fractional rigs and easier to fly for most cruising couples or shorthanded crews. As wind speeds pick up, the main is reefed while the Skeg-hung Fullfull up to certain wind jib can remain rudder Thiskeel speeds. makes reefing easier and improves efficiency as reefed headsails have notoriously poor shape and move away from the center of effort as they are reefed.

lowed by fractional rigs (27 percent) 50% closely thereafter by masthead and 40% (26 percent). The more modern sloops light-displacement 30% Keel types boats usually 20% For the purposes of this study, keel feature frac10% Fractional Masthead Long keel shapes weren’t defined beyond long tional rigs. sloop 0% 27% keel or fin keel. Cutaway forefoot and Ketches 25% 40% Heavy Cutter Offshore Skeg-hung Full Large keels were keel grouped under long (7 per- builder fullrudder rig storage displacement keels, cent) Fin keel and winged keels or bulbed keels 7% tanks Ketch were filled out Cutter 75%grouped under fin keels. Only a quarter of the boats had long keels. As the rest of 40% seen with the fractional rigs, modern the fleet. designs overwhelmingly use a fin keel The main to provide lateral advantage of a cutter resistance. More rig is the ability to fly a staysail or storm than 13 percent jib from the innerMasthead forestay, which proLong keel Fractional of the boats vides more options sloop for both light wind 25% 27% were cataand heavy Keeping the center Keel-weather.40% attached marans and of effort close to the center of the boat Light Fin keel don’t really is more efficient and more comfort7% 21% 27% Ketch Cutter Spade The secondary fit into either able in heavy weather. 75% Heavy 40% category. advantage of a cutter 51% 52% is having a backSkeg-hung Moderate A long keel up forestay already installed should the 27% has many advantages main forestay fail. Owners of masthead 22% and many detractors. A full keel is ususloops often install Solent stays to proally encapsulated in the hull, making vide some of the same benefits of a cutthe connection much stronger than a ter. We did this, but in the end it only 100% 90%






70% Skeg-hung





51% Moderate





A chart from cruising survey showing a


breakdown of


boats by criteria.




large storage


capacity was the

Large storage tanks

Heavy displacement


Cutter rig

Offshore builder

Skeg-hung rudder

Full keel

criterion most frequently met.


80% 70%

Bluewater Gear

60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%



bolted-on fin keel. A long-keel boat is spade rudder acts like a wing under easier to make heave-to, as it doesn’t water. It’s ability to cant with the turn pivot keel the Cutter way a finOffshore keel and its fine Heavy Skeg-hung Full leading edge make it much Large on the displacement rigboat tracks builder rudder keel storageAlso, does. a full-keeled more efficient than a skeg-hung rudder. 100% tanks especially going downwind in better, The rudder design makes the boat more 90% large seas, preventing the roundups on responsive to changes in course as well 80% that are associated with many waves as enhancing overall speed. fin keel designs — ours included. The 70% main Displacement 60% detractor of a long keel is that it is much less efficient than a fin keel, The definition of heavy displacement 50% which means significantly reduced boat is anything with a displacement/length Masthead 40% It also speed. makes tacking or gybing ratio Long (DLR) keel of 270 to 360. Moderate Fractional sloop 30% more difficult and sometimes impossible displacement is anything between 180 25% 27% 40%a full keel. The same in20% light air with to 270, and light displacement is any problem extends to motoring around DLR less than 180. Roughly 51 percent Fin keel 10% 7% the marina or anchorage, where the of the boats that crossed could be conCutter 75% 0%keel makes quick and tight turns long heavy displacement. The rest Heavy Cutter Offshore sidered Skeg-hung Full Large 40% displacement rig the rig types, builder mirror rudder keel with 27 percent tanks falling into the light displacement catRudder egory and 22 percent under the moderA slight majority of the boats had spade ate displacement label. rudders (52 percent). The rest had A heavier boat will be more comskeg-hung (27 perfortable in heavy weather and is usucent) or attached ally more robust all around. One of Keel(21 percent) the Dufour 35s (moderate to heavy attached Light rudders. In displacement) that crossed in 2017 had 21% Fractional Masthead Long keel 27% sloop 2017, five just completed the Northwest Passage Heavy Spade 25% 27% 40% of the boats where it collided with an iceberg at 7 51% 52% Skeg-hung in this study Moderate knots and suffered absolutely no damkeel 27% 7% developed rud- 22%age.Fin Similarly, a CT 41 (heavy displaceKetch Cutter 75% der issues during ment) this year hit a coral head at 6 40%the crossing. Two knots and received minimal fiberglass spade rudders delamindamage at the front of the keel. ated and one seized, while the two skegBut heavy also means slow, espehung rudders developed leaks around cially in light air. A fast boat can sail the rudderposts. Most of the boats through conditions in which a heavier with spade rudders I surveyed did not design would strengthen their rudderposts but left the languish or factory postKeelin place. be forced to attached Light Skeg-hung and attached rudders motor. It can 21% 27% have an obvious advantage in that they also move Heavy Spade are protected from direct impact. The more quickly 51% 52% Skeg-hung pressure on the leading edge of the and often Moderate rudder is27% also greatly reduced, putting avoid weather 22% less strain on the rudderpost. An added systems. While advantage is that fishing lines and you might not other marine debris can’t get caught want to get caught in between the rudder and the hull. in a storm in a light displacement boat, As with a full keel, the main detractor the view is you might not have to. is diminished sailing performance. A Reputable offshore boatyard Defining a boatyard as a “reputable In his survey, Urquhart looked at a number of offshore boatyard” is a dangerous and design issues, such as whether a boat had a ultimately futile exercise. Beneteaus, fin keel or a long keel and was equipped with Jeanneaus and Lagoons made up 20 a spade, skeg-protected or keel-hung rudder. percent of the boats in the survey While spade rudders are the most vulnerable group. They are reputable boatyards to impacts with debris, most of the boats in but are not known for making offshore the survey were equipped with them. OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

boats. The rest make up the gamut of other builders, including Deerfoot, Dufour, Fountaine Pajot, Hans Christian, Hunter, Island Packet, Lapworth, Morgan, Ovni, Pacific Seacraft, Tartan, Valiant, etc. Some are known as offshore builders, while others are not. As was noted previously, only 33 percent were on John Neal’s list of recommended offshore boats. Large storage capacity This is one criterion that seemed to be consistent across the board. Seventyone percent of the boats were listed as having relatively large factory-built water and fuel storage capacity. Boats that don’t have large factory-built tankage are often augmented for longdistance cruising. Our own Dufour has had a diesel tank added and two water tanks to make it more comfortable on long passages, as well as having extra cabinetry installed. Friends of ours on a newer Dufour make up the difference with umpteen jerry jugs to hold diesel and water. Why the discrepancy? The list of boats that successfully made it across the Pacific in the last couple of years does challenge the traditionalist perspective about essential offshore elements. What explains the discrepancy between what we think should be crossing an ocean and what is actually crossing? The most likely explanations are: weather forecasting and preventative maintenance. Weather forecasting and GPS The difference between the traditionalist perspective and what we are seeing offshore nowadays might be explained by technological advances — specifically, access to better weather forecasting and the advent of GPS. These combined mean that, for the most part, heavy weather can be avoided, especially the big lower pressure systems. It is rare in the current era for a boat that has access to daily weather forecasts to get caught by a large storm. For heavy weather avoidance, the big slow boats are at a disadvantage because they can’t use light winds to sail through large areas and might not be able to move fast enough to avoid an 2018 OCEAN VOYAGER

approaching system. The longer a passage takes, the more exposed the boat and crew are to inclement weather. Based on data gathered from more than 150 boats that crossed the Pacific in the last six years (2012 to 2017), the average maximum reported windspeed was 32 knots, with 82 percent of boats reporting maximum windspeeds of less than 40 knots. The high windspeeds were almost always due to squalls around the equator and lasted less than 40 minutes. Almost any boat can handle this windspeed and the accompanying sea state. Preventative maintenance and spares So many of the problems associated with any boat can be avoided through regular maintenance and checkups. Small issues can often be easily managed with the right spares and tools before they become larger catastrophic problems. This rule applies to all boats, whether they are going offshore or not. Of the 150-plus boats that crossed in the last six years, only 16 reported no significant breakages during the crossing and the overwhelming reason touted by these sailors was preventative maintenance. The rest who had significant gear failures were usually able to manage a repair at sea. Only a few were towed into port and none were abandoned. So what actually makes a bluewater boat? You do. It is neither my intention to end the bluewater boat debate, nor to recommend one style over another. Windspeed and sea state are not the only factors to consider when offshore cruising. There are also fishing lines and nets, coral heads and other obstructions, constant wear and tear on gear, comfort below decks, galley design, sea berths and many other factors. Picking the right boat for offshore cruising is a personal choice. Most important is that you know the boat and feel comfortable sailing her in a n variety of conditions. Robin Urquhart is a live-aboard voyager who cruises with his partner, Fiona McGlynn, aboard their Dufour 35 Monark. For more, see www.happymonark. com.

Boats included in the survey A full list of the boats examined in this article is provided below: J/46 Able Apogee 50 Allied 39 Arcona 440 Beneteau Cyclades 50.5 Beneteau First 35 Beneteau Oceanis 50 Beneteau Oceanis 50 Beneteau Oceanis 461 Bristol Channel Cutter 28 C&C 39 Cal 2-46 Catalina 440 Catana 431 (cat) Contest 38 Crealock 37 Crowther 10m (cat) CT 41 CT 49 Deerfoot 60 Discovery 55 Dufour 35 Dufour 35 Dufour 440 Dufour 45 Endeavor 43 Engelmann 50 Ericson 35 Fountaine Pajot 46 (cat) Fountaine Pajot 46 (cat) Freedom 33 Gulfstar 50 GW 42 Hans Christian 38 Hans Christian 38

Hans Christian 38 Hans Christian 38T Hughes 48 Hunter 50 Hunter 50 Irwin 52 Island Packet 38 Island Packet 380 Island Packet 40 Island Spirit 40 (cat) Jason 35 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 DS Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 DS L-36 Lagoon 440 (cat) Lagoon 450 (cat) Lagoon 60 (cat) Lapworth 50 Laurent Giles 18m Lidgard 50 (cat) Looping 48 (cat) Morgan 382 Morgan 44 Morgan 45 Morgan N/M 456 Morgan Out Island 51 Nordic 44 Nordic 44 Oram 48 (cat) Outbound 46 Ovni 395 Oyster 435 Pacific Seacraft 48 Pan Oceanic 46 Peterson 44 Privilege 39 (cat) Roberts 53 Swan 42 Tartan 3800 OC Tayana 37 Tradewind 35 Valiant 40 Young Sun 35 Robin Urquhart


Bluewater Gear

Resolving the repower question A thorough check by a mechanic revealed the answer by Barbara Sobocinski Photos by Michael Hawkins

Above, Astarte, a Moody 422, under sail and not using the engine. Right, the boat’s Perkins diesel.



ur boat Astarte is a Moody 422 built in 1987, and it still has its original engine — a Perkins 4-108. We purchased the boat as the third owners in 2004. The boat did not have an engine hour meter, so we installed one immediately and have put almost 3,000 hours on the motor. The bottom line, though, is that we really have no idea how many hours are on this engine. The engine gets lots of care and regular maintenance. Oil and all filters get changed every 100 hours, though some tell us that is more often than needed. Transmission fluid gets changed every 500 hours. Antifreeze is replaced periodically, and we keep a close eye on belts, hoses and any major oil leaks (it is

a Perkins after all). The front and rear crankshaft seals were replaced in 2013, along with engine mounts. Raw-water pump bearings, seals and impellers have also been replaced when needed. We have been fulltime cruisers aboard since 2009 and have covered a lot of territory since we left Florida. We did some time in the Caribbean and went through the Panama Canal in late 2011. Then we made the Pacific Passage from Panama to the Galapagos and on to French Polynesia, Niue, Tonga and New Zealand in 2012, followed by a passage to Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. The next season we did the Marshall Islands to Vanuatu and New Caledonia, then back to New Zealand. After this, we then did a repeat of Vanuatu and New Caledonia from New Zealand and returned to the land of kiwis and rugby. Over the last few years, we have been having a few more issues with the engine and had started to

lose confidence. In Bora Bora in 2012, we had a “runaway” caused by diesel fuel filling the crankcase. We thought we solved that issue by replacing the fuel pump, disconnecting the fuel line to the pre-heater and finally rebuilding the injector pump. But over this past season, we thought there might again be diesel sneaking into the oil. We also had an overheating issue that took a long time to track. We had pulled the heat exchanger the previous year and had it serviced but thought it was leaking. The problem, however, was a hose from the water heater to the engine, which ran under the floorboards (where we couldn’t see it) and had turned to “mush.” There was a diesel leak as well that was sorted by tightening some banjo fittings on the recently rebuilt injector fuel pump. The last two problems happened simultaneously when we were in a very remote island in the Vanuatu chain. It made us begin to question whether we needed to continue to repair this old engine at about $1,000 each time, rebuild the Perkins or sell it and buy a new engine. Our confidence was rocked, and if we wanted to venture to more remote places in Indonesia, we wanted an engine we could count on. OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

The process We decided to be methodical in our approach to the decision to repair, rebuild or repower. We made a list of the costs and benefits of each option (see “Repair, rebuild or repower,” March/April 2016). The first step would be to really take a hard look at our existing engine and make sure we were not simply overreacting to two simultaneous problems. We hired a diesel mechanic in Whangarei, New Zealand. Hiring a mechanic is a tricky proposition, especially away from your home port. When we were shoreside in St. Petersburg, Fla., we had “our guy,” Dusty Rhodes (really, that is his name). He was someone we knew and trusted. He worked on our previous boat with a Westerbeke 4-107 and helped us in replacing that engine with a new Yanmar 3JH. So, we did get some experience with replacing a main

motor. The bad news was that we didn’t get the benefit of this engine as we sold that boat after a year of cruising on it, after deciding it wasn’t the right vessel for us. We’ve had mostly good experiences Ocean Almanac


Distance, speed & time formulas Formulas for calculating Distance, Speed or Time: D = S x T S = D/T T = D/S Note that the unit of measure must be the same for time and speed, usually hours. To convert minutes to hours, divide by 60. Aids to calculation include the logarithmic scale found on maneuvering boards and the use of six-minute (0.1-hour) increments.

with hiring mechanics … but also a few not-so-good ones. Sorting out a person’s skill and expertise can be difficult when you need the help. This can be especially difficult if there is also a language barrier involved; it might be worth an interpreter if the project is a big one. We’ve found that the best way to score a good mechanic is by getting recommendations. Find out whom other boaters have recently used — especially local boaters. Boaters love to talk and they all have opinions, so getting names and their thoughts on the mechanics shouldn’t be an issue. Get several recommendations from people who have used various local diesel pros and find out in detail what was done. Talk to the potential choices yourself and see if they think the same way you do. For example, are you both looking for less expensive ways to solve a problem? Make sure they know your

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Bluewater Gear

The mechanical oil pressure gauge installed by the mechanic in New Zealand so he could monitor the engine’s oil pressure. Below, the oil sample results gave the engine an “A” rating.

engine, though a good diesel guy should be able to fix any of them. You do have to be careful with hiring other boaters or even letting them work on your engine “gratis.” We met a boater in the San Blas Islands who told us he was a waiter in his land life; a few years later in Pacific, this same person was touting himself as a boatwright and mechanic. Most good diesel mechanics who are out cruising rarely mention that they have that skill — they are out cruising after all, and taking care of their own boat is plenty to keep them busy! We also wanted a mechanic who would let Michael look over his shoul-


der and allow us to do some of the work. We can save money by doing a lot of the disassembly, shopping and simple assembly with good instruction. We can take parts to specialty shops to be checked out or rebuilt, like injectors or heat exchangers for example. We found Tim Brown, a great mechanic in Whangarei, New Zealand. He came recommended by many cruisers, and after a long conversation with him we determined he was our kind of guy. The problem was he was also in high demand because he was so good. While still in Vanuatu, we booked him and talked about what we wanted. It was simple: We needed an expert to take a hard look at the engine, diagnose any issues and give us an expert’s opinion on the overall condition of the beast. Then we would decide what should be repaired or if it needed to be rebuilt … or, worst-case scenario, if we would have to dig into the cruising fund for a new main engine. The check-up We arrived in Whangarei and our mechanic was as good as recommended. He had done research on our particular engine and was ready to get dirty and take a look. The first test was to start the engine cold. The engine hadn’t been used at this point for several weeks. Before Tim started, he installed a mechanical oil pressure gauge so he could watch the oil pressure. He positioned himself hunched right over the engine for the start so he could see and hear everything. The

engine turned over immediately and started; he was checking the oil pressure the entire time. After the engine started, Tim went outside to look at the exhaust, checking for smoke and any oil slick in the water. So far, so good — everything was checking out fine. The engine warmed up and he took heat readings at each cylinder. He knew that they should be relatively consistent with the No. 4 cylinder being slightly hotter than the others. If the temperatures were all over the board, it meant that they were combusting at different levels. He also took an oil sample and sent it in to a service for analysis. We had always heard that oil analysis was only good if you had it done regularly so you could track any changes in your particular engine. Tim told us that these companies now have such large databases that they have the ability to analyze oil for the various engines without track records. We just had to let him know how many hours since the last oil change and what brand of oil we had, since each manufacturer uses different additives. We referred to this test as the “blood test.” Michael believed that there was still diesel oil getting into the crankcase. Tim said he didn’t see or smell any, but the oil analysis would tell us for certain. He was a big advocate of the oil test and told us stories about what various analyses had discovered in some of the larger fishing boats he worked on regularly. He also liked that it was an uninvolved third party doing the analysis, so there was no


vested interest in the result. The cost of this was $65 NZD (approximately $50 USD at the time). The results After a week wait, the oil test results were in. We got an “A.” The oil test is graded with a letter much like school grades. An “A” is the top grade and is good, while a “C” is bad and usually means at least a rebuild. The test answered several of our ongoing questions. We had no diesel in the oil — that was a relief. We also had no other indicators of excessive metal wear or water in the oil. No highsulfur content also meant that there was not too much exhaust getting into the crankcase. While we had our mechanic, we did a few additional fixes like a better alignment of the alternator, which required a new bracket. We had the alternator (and backup alternator) cleaned and checked out. It needed a good cleaning because it wasn’t aligned perfectly and there was a plethora of black dust from the belts. New hoses were put on everywhere and a new thermostat was installed in addition to a permanent mechanical oil pressure gauge. Tim suggested that the engine thermostat should be changed every two years as part of a normal maintenance routine. Ours, he said, was “well past the ‘use by’ date!” Michael did most of this work — getting the hoses and thermostat and installing them. Tim adjusted the valves and it turned out they were not in bad shape. He indicated this also meant that things inside the engine were working well, otherwise they would have been more out of adjustment. All the indicators seemed to show that our Perkins was in pretty good health. Tim’s line was, “You should get another 10,000 hours out of this engine.” We know there are no guarantees that it won’t blow up next month, but what this process did was restore our confidence in the engine. We improved things and did some good maintenance on the old beast. The total cost was $1,826 NZD, or about $1,225 USD. This included the cost of the mechanic, oil test and parts 2018 OCEAN VOYAGER

Hawkins have been cruising full time since February 2009. They untied from their dock in St. Petersburg, Fla., and made their Pacific Passage in 2012. Now they are sailing around in the western South Pacific and New Zealand. Their Moody 422, Astarte, is their home. Prior to undoing the dock lines, they both worked in the television business.

— the hoses, thermometer, oil pressure meter, alternator checks, bracket and miscellaneous bits. This was in addition to the sweat equity and aches and pains that Michael incurred in the process. All in all, not a bad price for n restored confidence! Barbara Sobocinski and Michael

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Offshore Safety Photos by Jack and Zdenka Griswold

Right, Zdenka and Jack Griswold in Panama’s San Blas Islands. Top right, the Griswolds’ Whitby 42, Kite, in Thailand.



sailed her in Long Island Sound and New England on weekends and vacations. Cera was followed by Kite, a Whitby 42, which took them on an extended yearlong cruise to the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick’s Saint John River and south to the Bahamas. In those pre-chartplotter days, without the benefit of reliable local weather forecasting, they learned to navigate and plan carefully while exploring the then-remote Ragged Island Chain, the Bight of Acklins and other Out Islands. They chartered and sailed with friends in the Caribbean, and Jack crewed on a friend’s J/42 to and from the Caribbean via Bermuda. Plotting a long-term cruise, they took celestial navigation and weather prediction courses, got a USCG six-pack license, and Zdenka became a ham radio operator. In 2007, Jack and Zdenka bought a Valiant 42, which they also

named Kite, left their jobs in New York City and moved to Portland, Maine. They sailed Kite south to the Bahamas twice, and in September 2009 they set out on what turned out to be a seven-year, doublehanded, westabout circumnavigation. Their route took them to the Eastern Caribbean, Colombia and the San Blas Islands, through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos, and across the South Pacific. They spent a cyclone season in New Zealand, and then sailed up to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia, where they spent the next cyclone season. The In This Section

Circumnavigators plan and practice for safety

ack and Zdenka Griswold have been sailing together for more than 20 years. Jack learned to sail at age 8 in Quissett Harbor, Cape Cod, on Beetle Cats. When he was 11, he and his younger brother raced a Flying Junior on a lake in New York. Over the years, the boats got a little bigger — but not by much. They included a 22-foot Pearson Ensign, on which Jack cruised much of Long Island Sound. Zdenka, originally from landlocked Prague, grew up there, in Vienna and in Tokyo. Mostly, though, she lived in New York City where she and Jack met while working for a nonprofit agency helping refugees. She took sailing lessons on New York’s City Island in the mid-90s. Together, Jack and Zdenka bought Cera, a 1981 Island Packet 26, a shoal draft centerboarder, and

• Emergency sutures in a seaway • Weather satellite to improve forecasts • Immersion suits reconsidered


following year took them through Indonesia, Singapore and Southeast Asia. In 2014, they left Indonesia and sailed across the Indian Ocean to South Africa via the islands of Cocos Keeling, Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion. They departed Cape Town in March 2015 for Trinidad, spending a few weeks at St. Helena and Ascension islands along the way. During the winter of 2015-16 they cruised the eastern Caribbean and Bahamas, slowly making their way home. On June 23, 2016, they arrived home in Portland, Maine. At the Portland Yacht Services dinghy dock, they looked at each other and said, “What next?” While they’re still processing that one, they spent the summer of 2017 cruising Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.


How do you approach the subject of safety? Has your experience sailing offshore affected your thinking on safety? This is a subject we spend much time thinking about while hoping we never have to put our preparations to the actual test. We have, to date, not faced a life-threatening emergency at sea, though we have dealt with our share of breakdowns, rough weather, seasickness and uncharted waters. As we accumulate more sea miles, we worry less but prepare more. First, preparation: We plan our passages carefully, studying weath-

er patterns, prevailing currents, traffic routes and obstacles such as shallow reefs or isolated islands. Every once in a while, one hears of a boat that was wrecked on a reef or, in a horrific accident a few years ago in the South Pacific, ran into an island in the dark with loss of all hands. Zoom in on the chartplotter! And be sure to identify on your charts all potential dangers in offshore waters ahead of time — they won’t be marked or lit, and on a moonless night they will be invisible. Once you’re out there, take advantage of good weather forecasting if available, and study the weather grib files. This will enable you to prepare for adverse weather even if you can’t avoid it. Second, equipment: The availability of safety products is

ever improving, which is great, but it can be overwhelming to sift through. We’re probably dinosaurs already, but during our 2009 to 2016 circumnavigation, we carried two EPIRBs, a personal locator beacon (PLB), a life raft, satphone and an SSB with Pactor modem. This provided us with the ability to contact the outside world in an emergency and provide our location, communicate with other boats or emergency radio stations, and have a chance at surviving a catastrophic loss of our boat. We pre-programmed emergency numbers into our satphone. Families on shore could reach us by means of onboard email, which we checked daily. At times, we also provided them with contact information for an SSB net or another boat on the same passage as an alternative. We display a list of all through-hulls at the nav station and check seacocks regularly. We have multiple bilge pumps, manual and electric, and two loud alarms in the bilge: one that goes off every time the bilge pump runs (which can make the off-watch crew cranky!) and one for high water. Third, practice: We probably don’t do as much of this as we should, but it’s important to conduct emergency drills. We were much better at this years ago when Jack had a beloved straw

Above left, taking on fuel at St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Below, Kite in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand.




Offshore Safety


Crossing the Indian Ocean, towing a water generator.

hat that kept flying off his head and we’d have to do a “man overboard” to retrieve it! But it’s important to think through the procedures in an actual emergency, whether it be a collision, flooding, fire or a person overboard. Sign up for one of the many Safety at Sea seminars avail-

able around the country, such as those offered by the Cruising Club of America ( What planning have you done for possible medical emergencies? Did you receive any medical training before you began voyaging?


We have a book — two, actually — that explain how to amputate a limb, take out an appendix and all sorts of other procedures. That would certainly be interesting! Seriously though, in addition to good first aid books and the indispensable Merck Manual, we have put together a fairly extensive medical kit that includes a range of antibiotics. These came in handy several times, including once when Jack was attacked and bitten by a dog in Fiji. Several years before we left, we took a first aid course. This has been the extent of our medical training. A good source for medical preparation is found on the CCA’s Safety at Sea website. We never had to deal with a real medical emergency at sea, knock on wood. If we did need to call for medical advice or help offshore, we have international distress frequencies, amateur radio mobile nets and other regional nets preprogrammed in the SSB, and regional emergency numbers pre-programmed in the satphone. We’ve also been amazed by the number of doctors, nurses and

Ocean Almanac


Satellite communications systems Globalstar Iridium GO! Inmarsat Iridium Inmarsat Iridium Pilot Hand-held Hand-held Fleet One

Inmarsat FleetBroadband 250/500

















Data speed

9.6 kbps

2.4 kbps

2.4 kbps

2.4 kbps

100 kbps

134 kbps

284 - 432 kpbs

Receive weather charts

Yes w/grib SW

Yes w/grib SW


Yes w/grib SW

Yes via Internet

Yes via Internet Yes via Internet

Street price







$10,000 - $15,000

Monthly fees

$65 +

$50 +

$40 +

$50 +

$50 +

$50 +

$450 +


$0.50 - $1

$0.65 - $1


$1 - $1.25








$1 - $1.25


$1 - $12/MB

$3 - $25/MB












50° N to 50° S


70° N to 70° S


70° N to 70° S

Pricing for airtime usage per minute and MB decreases with committed service through annual contracts. Monthly rates have trended up over the last few years. Please note that none of these satcoms currently meet GMDSS requirements for commercial vessels. Please note that both the Iridium GO and Inmarsat Fleet One feature unlimited data plans for recreational use. It is best to source your satellite communications equipment and installation through an NMEA (National Marine Electronics Association) certified dealer. Source: Dave Brengelmann ( has been working with satcoms for three decades and is a satellite communications expert at Network Innovations ( Brengelmann sails a Beneteau 411 from Vancouver Island.



dentists in the cruising community willing to help, many of them by radio. This is not an offshore story, but we were once on a friend’s boat when his hand got caught in his electric windlass; Jack rushed him to a neighboring boat with an orthopedic surgeon/nurse couple on board who performed immediate “emergency surgery” on the main salon table, and a couple of hours later he was on the mend. Super fast, excellent care, and gratis to boot! Fortunately, during the seven years of our circumnavigation we never had major problems, just things like skin infections and swimmer’s ear. For these, and for annual skin cancer checks, we went to doctors in Colombia, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore,

Left, the Griswolds at Cook’s Lookout on Lizard Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Above, flying a spinnaker while off Caledonia.

South Africa and Trinidad. Although we had U.S. health insurance, we paid for the medical care we received out of pocket. A big eye-opener for us was just how good the medical system is in most parts of the world: competent and professional, easily accessible and all at a fraction of U.S. cost. What type of life raft do you have? How often do you have it serviced? We have a Winslow sixperson Super-Light Standard Offshore life raft in a soft valise. We paid to have it vacuum-packed, and it lives comfortably in our port cockpit lazarette. By the time we got to South Africa, five years into our circumnavigation, seven since we bought the life raft and well past its three-year due date, we decided that we had better get it serviced. Unfortunately, we didn’t find



anyone in South Africa who handled Winslow life rafts so it wasn’t until we were back in Portland that we finally had it serviced for the first time, 10 years after we had bought it. Interestingly, the technician who did the job said it was in perfect, like-new condition because of the vacuum packing. Without any question, if you have that option, pay to have your raft vacuum-packed. What do you have in your abandon-ship bag? We actually have two ditch bags, both dry bags of the sort that kayakers use. In one we keep emergency flares, water and a fleece blanket. We used to keep the water in the plastic containers it came in, but the boat’s motion over a period of months would wear holes in the bottles and the water would leak out. Now, we use aluminum camping/hiking water bottles. We also carry on board four five-gallon jugs of


emergency water in case our watermaker fails. If we had to ditch, we would take as many of these as we had time for. Our second ditch bag is a little more eclectic. It includes the following: • EPIRB • GPS • Hand-held VHF • Folding solar panel sufficient to charge/run the phone, VHF and GPS • Battery-operated laser flare, strobe, two flashlights, plus extra batteries • Satphone in Pelican case • Pens, pencils and notebook • Mirror, whistle and duct tape • Two space blankets, sunglasses, gloves and hats • Fast-drying thermal underwear (tops/bottoms), rain ponchos and socks • Stugeron (for seasickness), aspirin, sunscreen, first aid cream, anti-bacterial wipes and bandages • Knife, fish hooks, lures and fishing line • Paper towels, sponge, 100 feet of 3/16 line, and compass • Energy bars and cough drops • Cup, bowl (which can double as a bailer), spoon (for all those fish we’ll catch) Do you have survival suits?


No. Partly this is because most of our cruising, until recently, was in the tropics. Do you have an EPIRB, PLB or a tracking device like a SPOT or InReach? 27

Offshore Safety Ocean Almanac


Radar controls Many of the following imaging controls are automated on modern radar sets, but it is still useful to understand how they work for those times when the automation needs adjustment or you ship out with an older set. Tuning This control adjusts the radar receiver to match exactly the frequencies of the signals being transmitted. The normal routine is to turn rain and sea clutter off, reduce gain and adjust tune for a known target. This is generally done only when starting the set and is now fully automated on some machines. Gain This adjusts the sensitivity of the entire screen. If the gain is too high, the entire screen will be covered with noise return. If the gain is too low, radar returns won’t show up on the screen at all. Generally, the gain should be set so there is a very faint bit of clutter showing. Gain often has to be lowered when switching from longer to shorter ranges. Rain clutter, or fast time constant (FTC). This control helps remove weak returns from longer ranges, usually caused by rain or snow. These weak returns can obscure the stronger return from a ship or landmass. The higher the setting, the stronger the return that is eliminated, so it is sometimes prudent to adjust the control frequently during squally weather. When the rain ends, turn it off. Note that some units have both a rain control for close-in rain and snow, and FTC for farther-away precipitation. Sea clutter, or sensitivity time control (STC). This lowers


gain for nearby targets, thus reducing the clutter of echoes generated by wave tops. Like rain clutter, it can hide real targets and should be adjusted carefully and shut off when not needed. There are numerous other radar controls you should understand, and they often have associated acronyms to simplify screen displays. Range is the most basic control, determining the distance covered by the bird’s-eye radar display, sometimes called the PPI (plan position indicator). If the range is set to one mile, the distance from the center of the scope to the edge is one mile. Shorter ranges usually offer higher resolution, meaning smaller targets can be identified closer to the boat; however, longer ranges are often useful for navigation and spotting large ships at a safe distance. Consequently, operators often change ranges frequently. Traditionally, a navigator compares the radar image to the active chart to determine which targets are fixed and to corroborate the DR. Range rings help with the cross referencing, and EBLs (electronic bearing lines), VRMs (variable range markers) and/or a screen cursor can be used to plot identified land features or aids to navigation relative to the vessel or vice versa. EBLs and VRMs are also useful for plotting moving targets. Plotted on a paper maneuvering board, you can determine how close the other vessel will get, termed the closest point of approach (CPA), and when, the T (time) CPA. With a little vector work on the board, you can calculate

the other vessel’s true speed and course, sometimes important to understanding the Rules of the Road situation and to making wise course or speed changes. There are several modern aids to target tracking. One is tracks, or wakes, which is simply the ability of the display to keep showing old target echoes, usually in a lighter shade or different color. The result is that fixed targets show straight-back tracks (actually plotting your motion), while moving targets show tracks that are the vector sum of your motion and theirs, aka relative motion. Radar sets integrated with heading and speed instruments can often perform MARPA (mini automatic radar plotting aid), able to lock onto userselected targets and show each one’s true or relative forwardmotion track and a data window with CPA, TCPA, true speed and true course. Nowadays, many vessels also have some level of integration between radar and chartplotter. Waypoints may appear on the radar screen as lollipops and/or radar cursor position may appear on the plotter as a TLL (target latitude/ longitude). There are other radar functions that an operator should learn, like IR (interference rejection), which is the ability of a receiver to reject the distinctive swirly jamming caused by another radar unit sweeping in its vicinity. Some users leave this off to help warn them of an active vessel. IR and other clutter filters can sometimes mask racons (special aids to navigation that electronically respond to a radar echo).


Yes. We have two ACR EPIRBs and one McMurdo SmartFind AIS personal locator beacon (PLB). The PLB is worn by the person on watch. One EPIRB lives in the ditch bag, the other in a readily accessible locker. They are Category II, manually activated units. We don’t really see the utility on a cruising boat of a Category I, which releases automatically from a bracket equipped with a hydrostatic release, but only when submerged somewhere between three and 13 feet. These are meant to be mounted outside where they are exposed to the elements and possibly subject to false activation by a wave. Also, if we are treading water or in a life raft, we want the unit with us and not floating off somewhere. Do you have an AIS unit on board? Absolutely, and we consider it to be one of our indispensable pieces of equipment. Ours is a Vesper, made in New Zealand. While it wasn’t much use in Indonesian waters, teeming day and night with local fishing boats, on ocean passages it was hugely helpful. It’s always amazing to us how we can be in an empty patch of ocean, hundreds of miles from anywhere, yet whenever a ship appears on the horizon it inevitably is on a collision course with us. AIS, particularly at night, adds to safety exponentially. One big asset is that it makes it possible to call other vessels by name. Containership Titan is infinitely more likely to respond to a “Titan, this is the sailing vessel Kite” call on the VHF than “This is the sailing vessel Kite calling the ship at xxx north, xxx west, on a course of …” etc. In Singapore, all vessels transiting the country’s waters are required to have an AIS transceiver. We wonder if this will be the wave of the future. The CCA home page ( includes a link to an excellent, practical hands-on article on AIS and AIS installation. What types of weather data do you use when making an offshore passage? How do you gather weather information? At sea, we pretty much completely rely on getting weather forecasts by single sideband radio through Airmail. Airmail, a free email service available to amateur radio





operators, has an extensive menu of worldwide weather information, available on request. We most often use grib files, often twice daily depending on the weather patterns. We find the gribs to be quite accurate in forecasting weather two to three days out. For non-hams, the same information can be obtained through the reasonably priced SailMail network. Some cruisers in fact subscribe to both to maximize their chances of good propagation, since the two services use different stations and frequencies. Airmail has a serviceable grib viewer. However, we installed the OCENS GRIB Explorer and find that much more useful. It’s an excellent, nicely designed and easily readable product. While we never did this, we knew several boats that relied on friends on shore with fast Internet connections to gather weather data and then email them brief synopses. This seems like a good resource if the friend is willing and has some meteorological skills. We would still, in addition, want to do our own analysis. Do you use a weather routing service? For the first part of our circumnavigation, from Colombia across the South Pacific to Tonga, we did not use a weather router. Then, in Tonga, we entered the realm of the legendary Kiwi meteorologist Bob McDavitt ( The passage to and from New Zealand can be tricky because nasty weather systems tend to come through every few days from the Southern Ocean, and it can take longer than that to make the passage. We contacted Bob and, at a very reasonable cost, he provided us with a routing forecast. We used him again to time the start of our passage from New Zealand to Fiji, and when we had to find the least punishing window to buck the trade winds from Port Vila in Vanuatu to Noumea in New Caledonia. We liked working with him and thought he did a great job. When we set out to cross the Indian Ocean, we used Commanders’ Weather (, based out of Nashua, N.H. In the South Atlantic, we were walking around the RAF Base on Ascension Island and popped into the British Met Office. We were looking for the



best route across the ITCZ, where one can encounter violent squalls and fluky winds, and conditions along the customary routes looked awful. This turned out to be a great experience, and the unorthodox routing we came up with — due north to about 4° N latitude, then change course for Trinidad — worked out perfectly! It’s not a paid service, but if you find yourself on Ascension, give the meteorologists at the RAF Met Office a visit — you’ll be glad you did. We found routing services most helpful at the start of a passage in choosing a weather window. Generally, we would do our own analysis and then request a professional report. Once underway, we would rely just on the grib files we received. There was one exception. About halfway into the 2,000-mile passage from the Cocos Keeling Islands to Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean, we noticed some ominous weather coming up on the gribs. We decided to ask Commanders’ to update their original forecast. “Probably we should adjust [our original forecast] of ‘decent trade winds,’” they began. We would see gale-force winds and confused seas, with waves to “top out at 20 feet Fri afternoon and night, but with the peak waves possibly reaching 30 feet,” with us “right in the middle of the band.” Winds were forecast at 30 to 40 knots with gusts into the 50s. This certainly got our attention. One point of view might be that sometimes it’s just better not to know! However, we found the update useful to prepare ourselves and the boat. In the event, Kite handled the conditions well and we had a fast passage to Rodrigues. What types of safety gear do you plan to purchase and why? We are currently replacing our 11-year old Raymarine E80 chartplotter and radar with a Garmin 7610 chartplotter and 24-inch Fantom radar. Otherwise, we feel pretty good about the array of safety gear we have accumulated and installed over the years, particularly in advance of and during our circumnavigation. This interview does have us thinking, however, about purchasing survival suits since we plan on doing some North Atlantic passagemaking. If nothing else, just buying them should ensure that we never have to use them, right? n


Ocean Almanac


Geographic range table The following table gives the approximate geographic range of visibility for an object that may be seen by an observer at sea level. It also provides the approximate distance to the visible horizon for various heights of eye. To determine the geographic range of an object, you must add the range for the observer’s height of eye and the range for the object’s height. For instance, if the object seen is 65 feet, and the observer’s height of eye is 35 feet above sea level, then the object will be visible at a distance of no more than 16.3 miles: Height of eye: 35 feet Range = 6.9 nm Object height: 65 feet Range = 9.4 nm Computed geographic range = 16.3 nm The standard formula is d = 1.17 x square root of H + 1.17 x square root of h, where d = visible distance, H = height of the object, and h = height of eye of the observer.

Height Feet Meters 5 1.5 10 3.0 15 4.6 20 6.1 25 7.6 30 9.1 35 10.7 40 12.2 45 13.7 50 15.2 55 16.8 60 18.3 65 19.8 70 21.3 75 22.9 80 24.4 85 25.9 90 27.4 95 29.0 100 30.5 110 33.5 120 36.6 130 39.6 140 42.7 150 45.7 200 61.0 250 76.2 300 91.4 350 106.7 400 121.9 450 137.2 500 152.4 550 167.6 600 182.9 650 198.1 700 213.4 800 243.8 900 274.3 1000 304.8

Distance nm 2.6 3.7 4.5 5.2 5.9 6.4 6.9 7.4 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.1 9.4 9.8 10.1 10.5 10.8 11.1 11.4 11.7 12.3 12.8 13.3 13.8 14.3 16.5 18.5 20.3 21.9 23.4 24.8 26.2 27.4 28.7 29.8 31.0 33.1 35.1 37.0

Source: Defense Mapping Agency, The American Practical Navigator (Bowditch); U.S. Coast Guard, Light List.


Offshore Safety

Emergency sutures in a seaway A case study on dealing with a medical mishap offshore Story and photos by Carol Archer

Editor’s note: The last thing a voyager wants is a medical problem while underway. Sometimes, however, fate and a rolling sea combine to drop one in your lap. Below is just such a case. The writer, Carol Archer, is the first mate aboard the Swan 100 Virago and has medical experience as an emergency room RN.


t is always a time of diverse feelings, leaving Newport for the weeklong delivery to Antigua in the Caribbean. Excitement for the adventure ahead, reluctance in leaving home and friends, trepidation for the first 24 hours of the

trip as they are always rough and cold. Finally, the moment arrived; the boat was provisioned and ready, the cold front moved over the area, the wind turned to the northeast and we were off! For the first eight hours, the seas were lumpy and confused and the winds were strong at 18 to 20 knots. We were sailing a reach at 12 knots and making good time. The crew were adjusting to life at sea and trying to get their sea legs under them and into the routine of ship’s life on a delivery. A heavy roll, however, and a fearful event happened. I was in my bunk trying to catch up on some sleep when the captain came in to say that one of our crewmembers had fallen and didn’t look good. I leapt up with my heart beating fast, worried as to what I would find. There was Susan, who was sailing as cook, lying Above, crewmember Susan suffered a laceration in the back of her head. Left, Susan on the cabin sole while her scalp was being cleaned and sutured. Above right, medical tools like tooth forceps help arrange the cut for stitching.


stretched out on the floor of the cabin across the hallway from her cabin. She was wedged against the open head door in a semi-sitting position. The crew in that cabin, Ben, awakened by the noise of the fall, said that it seemed like she lost consciousness for a little while, maybe seconds or so. Alert and answering questions I knelt by her side and did a quick assessment. Susan was alert and able to answer my questions, stating that she had just gotten off watch and, while beginning to take off her foul weather gear, the boat had lurched, she lost her balance and went crashing into the next cabin to leeward — a lateral fall of 10 feet! As I looked at her while she was talking, I checked her color, her pulse and respiration, her speech and her grasp of events to assess her level of consciousness (LOC), since I suspected a head injury at the very least. Without moving her, I palpated her neck, limbs and chest, finding no pain or deformity, and saw that her pupils were equal and reactive to light. I had her sit up, maintaining good head alignment, and palpated the back of her head to discover a large laceration to the occipital area of her skull. While sitting up, still on the floor of the cabin, Susan began to feel light-headed so I had her lay down fully on the floor while I began to gather the needed supplies to attend to her laceration. All the while, the boat was continuing to sail at 10 OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

Ocean Almanac


Medical resources There are numerous services and insurance plans available to sailors. Resources range from companies that assemble specialized medical kits or are ready to fax medical records in an emergency, to organizations that provide worldwide consultation and insurance, including emergency evacuation (medevac).

Marine and Wilderness Medical Training Various medical packs and bags, rescue equipment. Medical Officer, Ltd; custom training and the Offshore Emergency Medicine course for long-distance voyagers. Site to purchase otoscope (stainless model with LED is best) Wilderness Medical Associates International; one of the two major worldwide providers of wilderness and rescue medical training. Commercial supplier of medications and equipment for ships. An example of a number of similar services. Wilderness Medical Institute of NOLS; one of the two major worldwide providers of wilderness and rescue medical training. FieldTex Products; medical kits for day sailors and cruisers.

Advisory and Evacuation World Clinic; concierge physician service for travelers, comprehensive and expensive. Medaire; medical advisory, training, and inventory service. Medaire is an International SOS company. Comprehensive medical, rescue and repatriation service.

FEAR NO HORIZON. The Jackline Insurance Program by Gowrie Group & IMIS provides cruisers with the insurance protection needed to roam freely and navigate the globe. A supplier to civilian search and rescue and military medicine.


Reference memo.pdf Medical recommendations for offshore yachts from the CCA fleet surgeon. Mobile drug, disease and other medical reference. Company specializing in medical evacuation and insurance. publications/the-ship-captainsmedical-guide Free download of Ship Captain’s Medical Guide in pdf. SPOT; messenger beacon (like an EPIRB only more versatile). Centers for Disease Control links to travel medicine and alerts. Divers Alert Network; travel and accident insurance. Worth doing even if you don’t SCUBA dive. yellowbook-home-2014/ CDC Yellow Book for traveler’s health. RCC_numbers.asp U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Centers phone list. sma_index.htm Sports Medicine Advisor. Information on injuries. International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. Jimmy Cornell. Lots of info including medical links. George Washington University Telemedicine program. ComplianceManuals/ compliancePolicyGuidance Manual/ucm074403.htm FDA position statement about drugs onboard ship.

Looking for a great offshore passage? # 1 Crew Network in North America since 1993 Retail and wholesale medical products. Portlet.aspx?ID=cb88853d-5b33-4b3f968c-2cd95f7b7809 Download site for the book Emergency War Surgery – A U.S. Army publication. Retail and wholesale medical products. International Society for Travel Medicine.

Medical Suppliers Retail and wholesale medical products. Retail and wholesale emergency medical products.


OceanMedix The Source for Medical, Emergency & Safety Equipment - Since 2006 1-866-788-2642

Offshore Passage Opportunities Sail for free on other peoples boats. Build sea time and offshore skills. If you are looking for crew this is a free service for boat owners and delivery skippers. Call 1-800-4-PASSAGE (1-800-472-7724) or


Offshore Safety to 12 knots with a rather uncomfortable motion. Once all the equipment was obtained, with the help of Ben, an EMT, and John, another crewmember, we moved Susan to her own cabin but still on the floor and got her in a more favorable position to begin the cleanup and examination of the cut. I was continually monitoring Susan’s LOC, keeping her talking and making sure she was alert and oriented. It was at this time that the captain came into the cabin to see how things were. If we needed to get Susan off the boat and to a hospital, a return to Newport would take 12 hours, while pressing on to Bermuda was two days. What a decision I had to make! My initial findings were that “at this time” Susan had sustained a head laceration and had no signs of internal head injury. Her vital signs were all within normal limits, she was alert and oriented and fully aware of what happened. Susan herself kept saying that she felt fine — just a little shaken up from the fall and wanted to keep going.

into her bunk. A retake of her vital signs at this time showed everything within normal limits. I woke her up every two hours to check her vitals and LOC. Susan always awoke easily and her vitals were stable. Her head laceration continued to bleed slightly as she slept on the area so I changed the dressing often dur-

The best-trained on board As an emergency room RN, I have seen many head injuries come into the ER and know that one minute the patient can look okay and the next they are in shock or developing signs of increased intracranial pressure. I did not want to be in this position but I also knew that I was the best-trained person to make the decision. I went by my gut feeling. I felt that Susan was remarkably okay, showing no signs of any head injury or musculoskeletal injury at this time. Knowing I had an extensive medical kit on board helped me make my decision. So I told the captain to keep on going. Did I make the right choice? Susan had a 6-inch laceration to the occipital area of her head. After thoroughly cleaning the area of the wound, I injected the laceration with 10 mL of 1 percent lidocaine. Then, over the next hour and a half, I put in three internal sutures, six staples and two external sutures, aided by great help from both Ben and John who held flashlights, handed tools and gauze pads, and cut sutures. Once the laceration was cleaned up and dressed as best I could, we helped Susan out of her clothes and

• 3-0 to 5-0 non-absorbable nylon suture


Suturing instruments • Gloves, sterile if possible • 4x4 gauze pads for bleeding control and cleaning the wound • Diluted Betadine solution for cleaning • Sterile water for irrigation • 1 percent lidocaine, 5 to 10 mL depending on size of laceration • 25g or larger needles for drawing up and injecting the lidocaine • 5- to 10-mL syringe for drawing up the lidocaine material for external sutures and Vicryl absorbable sutures (the larger the number, the smaller the needle and suture string) • Two needle holders for the suture needle • Toothed forceps to handle tissue • Fine suturing scissors to cut the suture string

I have an ER sterile laceration kit prepackaged that I purchased from that has all the instruments plus towels for draping the area, a tray for cleansing solutions, gauze and medicine cups. This is a very handy kit. It is important to have the best quality instruments that you can. To decrease the chance of infection, handle the laceration carefully, keeping the area clean and using sterile technique as much as possible. Always use gloves to protect yourself and your patient. Carol Archer

ing that first 24 hours. I have to say I did not get much sleep that night! The next morning, Susan was up and ready to get back into cooking. I managed to have her rest for the day and take it easy before resuming any work. She did as she was told but didn’t like it much. After 48 hours, she returned to the galley, cooking us all amazing meals as if nothing had happened! I continued to monitor her and change her dressing until we decided it was too hard to keep the back of her head dressed and I finally had her gently wash her hair to remove the last dried blood from the area. Checking the suture line, all looked good — no redness or swelling as one would expect if an infection was starting, and there was no muscle pain from the fall. Looking back Now as I look back on the actual suturing of the laceration, I think of how I did not shave away her hair from the area, wanting to save Susan the embarrassment of having a bit of a bald spot for a while. But I wish I had. The situation was very difficult to suture in, with the boat bouncing and heeling, and having her hair in the way made it that much harder — as it also did afterward, when I needed to check on the suture line and apply antibiotic ointment. But in the end, she looked perfectly normal as we pulled into Antigua, something she was very thankful for. Once we arrived I wanted to take Susan for a CT scan just to finalize everything, but she politely refused. Perhaps I should have insisted. Being the medical person in charge on a boat at sea is a big responsibility; advanced medical help is beyond reach except for what you can carry with you. These days there are a number of companies that put together medical kits for boats and provide emergency online and phone support, and it is comforting to know they are there for you, but you still have to know how your kits work and have a working knowledge of advanced first aid. As Captain Ron says, “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen out n there!” Carol Archer was an emergency room RN and now sails on the Swan 100 Virago. OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

HYPOTHERMIA PROTECTION Stearns 1590 Type S provides quality hypothermia protection that will help protect you in rough, cold water. Made with 5-mm, stretchable, flame-retardant neoprene and featuring a lifting harness with stainless steel hardware for easy recovery from high seas, a  buddy line with a buckle and webbing loop for easy attaching to other people, and an inflatable head pillow support.

“USCG / MED / SOLAS / TC” Approved

* Generous fit for easy donning *  Color-coded storage bag included

• Inflatable head support

• Face shield for spray protection


• 3M™ Scotchlite™ SOLAS-grade 3150-A PS reflective material with adhesive backing



• Pocket to fit most brands of approved lights


• SOLAS whistle and lifting harness with stainless steel hardware


• Buddy line



• Five-fingered integrated gloves • Waterproof zipper

• Durabe non-slip soles

£ 3025 C 100 Black


Silver Gradient


Offshore Safety

Weather satellite to improve forecasts by Ken McKinley

Above, a GeoColor hemispheric image by GOES-16. Above right, a GOES-16 GeoColor image shows hurricanes Lee and Maria, taken in Sept. 2017 while the spacecraft was being tested.



ing the observation of nearly an entire hemisphere at once. GOES-16 (also known as GOES-East), began providing data in 2017, first in a testing mode, then transitioning to a fully operational mode in December. The improvement in the images sent back by the satellite is obvious, and the images are available online at the following website: GOES/index.php. The resolution of the images provided by GOES-East is much higher, which allows greater detail of smaller-scale weather phenomena to be observed. The imager also works much more quickly than the previous satellites, and this allows for a full hemispheric image every 15 minutes as opposed to every 30 minutes for the prior GOESEast satellite, and images of the U.S. are generated every five minutes. Animating (or looping) these images, which can be done on the website, gives much greater insight into the development of weather features. There is also the ability for the imager to zoom in on a smaller area of interest and gather images every minute. This allows better observation of rapidly developing weather systems, such as squall lines and tornadoes, and also improves the ability to observe tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms Courtesy NOAA

Latest GOES becomes operational

atellite observation of the atmosphere has been a powerful tool for meteorologists since the first weather satellite was placed into orbit in the late 1950s. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series (GOES) has been the backbone of operational meteorological satellites since the first in the series was launched in 1975. The most recent GOES satellite — designated GOES-R when it was launched in November of 2016 and now known as GOES16 — represents a significant leap in data gathering and observational ability. Early satellites provided only limited data compared to today’s coverage, but by the late 1960s and early 1970s, satellites had become more reliable. More regular observations allowing better tracking of weather systems became possible with the advent of geostationary satellites, which orbit the Earth at a speed equal to the Earth’s rotation, remaining over the same geographic location and at an altitude of more than 22,000 miles, allow-

and hurricanes) during periods of time when rapid changes are occurring. By going to the website referred to above, users can examine several different types of images and animations. On the front page of the website, you can see a hemispheric GeoColor image. This is a product that is designed to have the Earth look approximately as it would when viewed with human eyes from space during the daytime hours. At night, different sensors are used, which include infrared imagery to allow clouds to be observed based on their temperature. By hovering over the different “View” menus along the top of the front page, in addition to the GeoColor option, there are 16 different “bands” that can be selected. These represent different wavelengths of energy that are emitted by the atmosphere and observed by the satellite. These bands have different uses, such as measuring the amount of water vapor at different levels in the atmosphere, determining the temperature of cloud tops and observing the presence of clouds at different levels. Collectively, using all the bands helps meteorologists to determine the state of the atmosphere. After OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

clicking on a given band, a page with animation of that band will be brought up. At the bottom of each of these pages, a link is available that provides detailed information about the data included in each band and its most appropriate use. For casual users, the bands of most interest are likely Band 2 (VisibleRed) and the GeoColor image. The Visible-Red band is best during the daytime as it represents visible light reflected from the Earth and captured by the satellite. It is essentially like having a regular black-and-white camera image. The resolution of this band is the finest at 0.5 km, meaning that great detail in the cloud features can be seen by zooming in on the images. A Band 2 (Visible-Red) image of the continental U.S. taken about an hour and half after the full hemispheric image on the previous page.

Split Lead SSB Antenna M Eliminates the need for backstay insulators M Easy installation – press-fits to wire or rod rigging M No swaging, no cutting – backstay integrity preserved. M Tough, waterproof, reusable M Highly conductive RF elements completely shielded from wind, rain & spray M Watertight lead-wire to antenna connection M Stiff 34’ LDPE housing secures firmly to backstay wire GAM Electronics PO Box 305 Harrison, ME 04040 Phone: (207) 583-4670


Communications expert Gordon West reports

“I have done numerous SSB ham and marine radio checks with this system and have found no discernible signal losses, even when used with a well-grounded backstay aboard a steel-hulled vessel. The antenna...can bang out a signal just as though it were suspended in mid-air.” – Sail Magazine



Offshore Safety Ocean Almanac


U.S. Coast Guard HF/MF weather broadcasts The U.S. Coast Guard broadcasts National Weather Service high-seas forecasts and storm warnings from six high-seas communication stations, most of them remotely operated from master stations on each coast. Transmission range is dependent on operating frequency, time of day and atmospheric conditions, and it can vary from only short distances to several thousand miles. All broadcasts use a synthesized voice (Perfect Paul), and all frequencies are upper single sideband (USB) HF. Carrier frequencies shown. ITU channel numbers as follows: 4426 (#424), 6501 (#601), 8764 (#816), 13089 (#1205), 17314 (#1625). All times are in UTC. All frequencies are in kHz. Chesapeake, Va. / NMN Time Frequency 4426, 6501, 8764 03301 05152 4426, 6501, 8764 09301 4426, 6501, 8764 11152 6501, 8764, 13089 1 1530 6501, 8764, 13089 17152 8764, 13089, 17314 21301 6501, 8764, 13089 23152 6501, 13089, 13089 1 offshore forecast 2 high-seas forecast Pt. Reyes, Calif. / NMC Time Frequency 0430 4426, 8764, 13089 1030 4426, 8764, 13089 1630 8764, 13089, 17314 2230 8764, 13089, 17314 Honolulu / NMO Time Frequency 0600 8764, 6501 1200 8764, 6501 0005 8764, 13089 1800 8764, 13089 Kodiak, Alaska / NOJ Time Frequency 0203 6501 1645 6501 Guam / NRV Time Frequency 0330 13089 0930 6501 1530 6501 2130 13089 Honolulu, Guam and 25 Coast Guard Group stations also broadcast offshore forecasts on MF 2670 kHz following an announcement on 2182 kHz. Typical transmission range is 50 to 150 nm during the day and 150 to 300 nm at night. For schedules and much more information on National Weather Service marine products, visit:


Ocean Almanac

This band does not provide useful information at night since it requires the availability of sunlight to reflect off the clouds to be observed. At night, infrared (IR) imagery is needed, which senses the temperature of the clouds (or other surfaces) being observed. There are many different IR bands available and information from several of these is amalgamated into the GeoColor image, so this makes a good nighttime image to rely on. Going to the website and looking at the images is fun and informative, but for vessels offshore, limited Internet bandwidth may make this difficult. So how can ocean voyagers benefit from these great new pictures? The answer to this question gets to the most important aspect of this new satellite: the improvement of forecasts. Higherresolution data and more frequent images will allow more accurate and timely forecasts to be issued. During the busy 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, GOES-16 data was used to help forecasters determine the strength and track of many of the devastating storms that impacted several regions and, accordingly, provide better warnings. The ability to observe hurricanes much more frequently than in the past will help to determine rapid changes in strength, which is one of the areas of hurricane forecasting that needs improvement. Also, the capability for more precise tracking of smaller-scale squall lines and thunderstorm areas will allow more lead time for warnings to boaters in near-shore waters. And over time, the collection of data will form a better database for researchers to increase our understanding of weather systems. So though it may not be possible to look at the pictures all the time, this new satellite will be benefitting all mariners for years to come. The next GOES satellite (GOES-S) is scheduled for launch in March 2018 and will bring the same technology to the western U.S. and the central and eastern Pacific as it becomes GOES-17 and replaces the current GOES-West n satellite. Ken McKinley is a professional meteorologist and the owner of Locus Weather in Camden, Maine.


Weatherfax stations and broadcast schedules Radiofax, also known as HF FAX, radiofacsimile or weatherfax, is a means of broadcasting graphic weather maps and other graphic images via HF radio. HF radiofax is also known as WEFAX, although this term is generally used to refer to the reception of weather charts and imagery via satellite. Maps are received using a dedicated radiofax receiver or a single sideband shortwave receiver connected to an external facsimile recorder or PC equipped with a radiofax interface and application software. Boston Call sign Frequencies NMF 4235 kHz 6340.5 kHz 9110 kHz 12750 kHz

Broadcast times 0230–1039 Continuous Continuous 1400–2239

New Orleans Call sign Frequencies NMG 4317.9 kHz 8503.9 kHz 12789.9 kHz 17146.4 kHz

Broadcast times Continuous Continuous Continuous 1200–2045

Pt. Reyes, Calif. Call sign Frequencies NMC 4346 kHz 8682 kHz 12786 kHz 17151.2 kHz 22527 kHz

Broadcast times 0140-1608 Continuous Continuous Continuous 1840-2356

Kodiak, Alaska Call sign Frequencies NOJ 2054 kHz 4298 kHz 8459 kHz 12410.6 kHz

Broadcast times Continuous Continuous Continuous Continuous

Honolulu Call sign Frequencies KVM70 9982.5 kHz 11090 kHz 16135 kHz

Broadcast times 0519–1556 Continuous 1719–0356

All broadcast times are UTC Source: NOAA, National Weather Service


Offshore Safety

Immersion suits reconsidered

credit right


body temperature. Online sailing pack lists typically do not include immersion suits, which take up critical space on a sailboat and can cost several hundred dollars apiece. Other non-required safety equipment also tends to take precedent, including life rafts, emergency beacons and modern communications gear such as satphones. Hard data is hard to come by, but likely fewer than 10 percent of sailors keep immersion suits on board. “For our 1995-96 Cape Horn and Antarctic and 2001 Svalbard expeditions, we carried survival suits for all, but because of the space they took up did not retain them for our 2007 and most recent Svalbard and Arctic trips,” said John Neal of Mahina Expeditions, which offers sailtraining expeditions in the high latitudes and the tropics. “Few private sailboats headed to high latitudes carry them because of bulk and cost,” he Courtesy Stearns added. Courtesy Mustang Survival


hen provisioning for a circumnavigation in late 2006, Nat WarrenWhite did something a little unusual. He packed immersion suits for himself and his wife, Betsy. Warren-White, of South Freeport, Maine, recalled lousy fall weather ahead of their 2006 departure aboard Bahati, a Montevideo 43. Bringing the suits along helped put Betsy at ease — especially during the first leg in colder water between Maine and Norfolk, Va. “We had a good life raft on board, but given the weather conditions we were having it seemed like a smart move to have them on board,” he said in a recent interview. Immersion suits are mandated for commercial mariners and fishermen working in cooler climates. But they are not widely used by sailors, including bluewater veterans. It should be stated that even tropical water, considered warm at 80° F, will eventually cause a person immersed in it to suffer the effects of exposure, given the roughly 18.6-degree difference between the water and a healthy

Proven their worth That said, there are signs of a changing tide around immersion suits, which have proven their worth countless times around the world. The Salty Dawg Sailing Association is considering amending its pack list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” equipment. In the future, these lists available online to members and nonmembers could include immersion suits. “We are reviewing that issue and with the improved affordability of these in recent years and the safety benefit added, we may add that to our recommended equipment lists in the future,” said Julie Palm, a spokesperson for the Salty Dawg association, whose members include offshore sailors. Unlike some lighter-weight foam worksuits designed to be worn constantly, immersion suits are used as a last resort before abandoning ship. They are typically made from neoprene and provide full hand, foot and face protection. In addition to reflective paneling, these suits can be

A highly effective safety choice for surviving an emergency by Casey Conley

Top, many think an immersion suit is only needed in very cold water, but even warm midlatitude water can be deadly over time. Left, an immersion suit from Stearns.


Offshore Safety equipped with lights, harnesses, personal locator beacons and other equipment to assist during rescue situations.


Courtesy Mustang Survival

Reducing shock and hypothermia “They are meant to be donned quickly and they are meant to reduce exposure and shock from cold water. That shock can cause involuntary inhalation of water, causing someone to drown quickly,” said Wendell Uglene, manager of research and technology for Mustang Survival, based outside Vancouver, B.C. Their second duty is to delay the onset of hypothermia. He said international rules require suits to prevent hypothermia for at least six hours in near freezing water. Finally, they also offer buoyancy, helping keep someone afloat while conserving energy. Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 95 degrees, and it sets in faster in colder water. Symptoms can include slurred speech, drowsiness, shallow breathing and loss of consciousness. Lower body temperatures also affect heart and respiratory function and eventually lead to death. U.S. regulations require commercial ships working north of 32 degrees latitude to carry immersion suits for crewmembers. Commercial fishermen working north of 32 degrees, in offshore waters colder than 59 degrees or in the Western Pacific Ocean north of Point Reyes, Calif., also must have immersion suits. There are no such requirements for sailboats and other recreational vessels, which helps explain why so few sailors keep them on board. “It’s definitely driven by regs,” said Tim Virgin, a technician for Liferaft Services in York, Maine, which sells Imperial immersion suits. “We have to spend a

lot more time attempting to sell to the recreational sailor.” What should you know when considering an immersion suit? For one thing, size matters. Although fit varies by manufacturer, most offer a universal size as well as suits designed for children, smaller adults and oversized people. Suits can be loose fitting but not too big, which can potentially hinder mobility or reduce overall effectiveness in the water. “Sizing is important, but not crucial,” said Jeff Gayer, manager, government and industrial for Stearns, which makes a wide range of dry suits, worksuits and immersion suits. “Obviously you don’t want a person size small in an oversized suit.” Suits also can be too small. Two men aboard the freighter Exito went down with the ship near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, at night on Dec. 6, 2016. Investigators learned the two victims, who refused to abandon ship with three others, could not fully zip their immersion suits. Some sailors roll and stow their immersion suits, while others hang them in a locker. When rolled, they are roughly the size of a packed sleeping bag and they weigh about 10 pounds. Wherever they are on board, they should be accessible in an emergency. Users also should practice putting them on. “They are cumbersome, and require practice to don correctly,” said Bruce Brown, of Bruce Brown and Associates, a California company that offers training to commercial and recreational mariners. “Gloves restrict the ability to do much in the way of grabbing very much of anything, untying lines, undoing shackles or snaps or releasing latches.” There are also maintenance requirements that can vary by suit manufacturer. In general, they should be inspected manually each year. Commercial users OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

must be inspected every three years by a certified facility — which is a good idea for recreational users, too. “You don’t want them exposed to gasoline or wet all the time, you don’t want to stack stuff on them so they get compressed and bend the zippers,” said Uglene, the Mustang Survival engineer. “You should inspect them at least annually, but more is great. That inspection really means take it out and try it on.” “Storage really can affect the life of suits, but with materials these days, they have long lives,” he added. “You can get decades out of a well-maintained suit.” Warren-White bought the immersion suits for the circumnavigation aboard Bahati from an online auction site. He and his wife practiced putting them on before their trip and fortunately never had to use them. The couple also decided not to


Ocean Almanac


Temperature conversion In the United States, temperatures are usually measured in degrees Fahrenheit, in which the freezing point of water is 32° and the boiling point is 212°. Elsewhere in the world, the metric Celsius scale is used; freezing is at 0° and boiling at 100°. Fahrenheit° = (C° x 1.8) + 32 Celsius° = 5/9 x (F° - 32) Celsius Fahrenheit -25° -13° -20 -4 -15 5 -10 14 -5 23 0 32 5 41 10 50 15 59

Celsius Fahrenheit 20 68 25 77 30 86 35 95 40 104 45 113 50 122 75 167 100 212

bring them along for most of the circumnavigation, which they completed in 2011. He recalled selling them to another couple planning a voyage to Canada, where immersion suits seemed essential. Throughout the voyage, WarrenWhite said they didn’t really regret giving the suits away. “We probably never saw conditions that made us worry about cold water in the same way (as early in the voyage). Not that any water can’t get too cold after being in it for a while.” That said, he remains convinced of their value. “It makes more sense to have them if you’re going to spend a lot of time in really cold water and in areas where you might not get easily rescued,” he said. “If you needed them, n you’d be happy you had them.” Casey Conley is the editor of American Tugboat Review.


Voyaging Skills An educational adventure Photos by Phil and Aimee Nance

Top, right, the Nances aboard Terrapin: Jes-


hil Nance originally grew up in Charleston, S.C., and spent most of his childhood and early 20s messing about in boats. Phil and Aimee met at the University of Oregon in 1997 and they have been inseparable since. Phil earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California, Riverside, and worked in vaccine research in San Diego prior to setting sail. Aimee grew up in San Diego, Calif., and spent the majority of her childhood on the beach. Born into a family of landlubbers who get sick at the sight of boats, she is amazed at how well she’s adjusted to living at sea and is excited to be serving as first mate. With a teaching credential and master’s degree in education, she enjoys boat-schooling her daughters and

blogging about their adventures. The Nance family sailed away from San Diego in January of 2015, bound for Mexico and beyond. After years of long commutes, long working hours and little family time, Phil and Aimee decided to embark on their sailing adventure. Their goal was to leave the daily grind and provide a meaningful and educational adventure for themselves and their two daughters, Jessica and Emma, now 14 and 12 years old. The family spent their first two

years cruising the Pacific coast of Mexico from Baja to Huatulco. In 2016, they made the decision to cross the Pacific and left Banderas Bay for the Marquesas in April 2017. Since then, they have been cruising the islands of the South Pacific on their 45-foot Dufour ketch Terrapin. They are currently in Fiji and have plans to continue west after cyclone season.


What are the top skills voyagers need to know? The top skill that comes to mind immediately is navigation. More than a few boats have been lost just in the South Pacific this season, and almost all of these cases involved a navigational error. Many voyagers have become too reliant on electronic charts and do not pay

sica on left, the middle and Emma on right, with dad Phil in the back. Right, Jessica and Emma show off their fresh catch.


In This Section

mom Aimee in

• Preparing for the Indian Ocean • Plan ahead for food flexibility


enough attention to their surroundings. We have seen this over and over again with boats ending up on reefs that were clearly visible — if the skipper had been paying attention. It is important to remember that all charts are tools that need to be supplemented with a vigilant watch and prior planning. What is your planning routine prior to a voyage? Before any passage, we are first looking at weather. When we are in port with Internet access, Windyty is our favorite source since it uses multiple models and can show a variety of variables such as pressure, swell, wind gusts, rain and even CAPE index. When the Internet is not available, we download grib files from Saildocs using our Pactor modem. Once we have identified a safe weather window for our passage, we both go over the intended route with the weather


in mind to determine if there should be any variations due to wind direction or intensity. We then go over our charts to identify any islands, reefs, rocks or other hazards along the way and add waypoints if necessary. During this process, we pan our chartplotter along the route at different zoom levels to identify any potential hazards. Obstacles along the route are marked on the chartplotter so they can be easily anticipated. After this is done, we decide on our watch schedule based on the length and nature of the trip. What is the most valuable skill you have picked up while voyaging? Resourcefulness. Ocean voyaging will put you in an environment with limited resources where lots can go wrong. Whether it be juryrigging your autopilot underway, figuring out how to get parts sent to Tonga, rebuilding your transmission when there is no mechanic to be found, or just learning to cook tasty meals with unfamiliar or limited ingredients, being resourceful is key to successful voyaging.



Although we may have considered ourselves resourceful people before, voyaging has required all of us to hone this skill. This is definitely something I wish for my daughters to take with them and apply to their lives going forward. What skills do you most look for in a crewmember? As a skipper, I want to be able to sleep well when I’m off watch. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a crewmember on watch with years of voyaging experience; more important is a crewmember that is not afraid to ask questions or wake up the skipper if things don’t look right. Especially on night watch, it is easy to get disoriented or confused when looking at ships, land or other objects at sea. Many times things don’t seem to line up with the charts or it may be difficult to determine the direction and/or range of another vessel. In these situations, things can unfold very quickly and by the time you figure out that the freighter is coming right at you, it may be too late.


Top, the Nances’ Dufour 45 Terrapin at anchor. Left, Phil after some successful fishing.


Voyaging Skills


Jessica trims a line while under Terrapin’s dodger.

This is why it is important to have a crewmember who will wake the skipper if they see something that doesn’t look right. Aboard Terrapin, we have a standing rule that any lights on the water during night watch require a second set of eyes to evaluate the situation. As a result, we all sleep better knowing that the person on watch will wake us up if need be. Do you think the experience of voyaging has changed now that voyagers can stay more connected at sea? Absolutely. We purchased a Garmin inReach prior to our ocean crossing and used this device to keep in touch with family at home as well as other boats that were underway. Without it, we would have been limited to

downloading emails once or twice daily on our Pactor modem. With the inReach, we were able to instantly text any cellphone or Iridium device worldwide. The inReach also has a tracking feature that relayed our position to a map on our blog every 30 minutes. For us and our loved ones ashore, this was a game-changer. Our friends and family on land loved being able to send us messages, track us and hear from us in real time. We also found it very useful to communicate with other boats underway to relay information about weather, advice for fixing things or just help with the boredom of a night watch. Does the pressure to stay on a schedule sometimes contribute to you taking risks with bad weather?




They say the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar. I think one of the most difficult aspects of cruising for newbies is getting used to the idea of not being tied to a schedule. We realized this early on and now we try really hard not to have one. That being said, we have on at least one occasion, taken a less-than-ideal weather window in order to stay with a buddy boat that was on a schedule. This was a mistake that was immediately recognized and thankfully without too much consequence. Since then, we have vowed to not follow anyone out to sea unless we are all 100 percent comfortable with the weather window. What do you find most challenging about ocean voyaging? For our whole crew, the biggest challenge with long passages is boredom and restlessness. We are not the type who love being out at sea for long periods of time. Our love of cruising is derived from the wonderful places that we are able to visit by boat that we would otherwise never see. During long passages, Aimee and I try to keep our daughters occupied with activities, games, meals and fishing. On very long passages, we have had to take an active role in making sure that the rest of the crew is eating enough food, drinking enough water and generally taking care of themselves. After the initial crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas, we made the decision to get our daughters more involved


Ocean Almanac


Atlantic distance table 6800 6920 6900 6882 6300 5886 4093 6282 6452 7151 4731 2338

Cape Horn

Rio de Janeiro

Cape Town





St. Thomas





New York


Halifax 600 790 1413 756 1595 2338 1785 2708 2364 6492 4630 New York 600 271 1100 697 1434 2016 2246 3180 2815 6786 4770 Norfolk 790 271 698 683 1296 1825 2401 3335 2979 6790 4723 Miami 1413 1100 698 956 991 1249 2900 3800 3578 6800 4879 Bermuda 756 697 683 956 872 1702 2201 2903 2651 6269 4110 St. Thomas 1595 1434 1296 991 872 1072 2393 3323 3279 5904 3542 Panama 2338 2016 1825 1249 1702 1072 3439 4351 4247 6508 4284 Azores 1785 2246 2401 2900 2201 2393 3439 946 1377 5040 3875 Gibraltar 2708 3180 3335 3800 2903 3323 4351 946 977 5072 4180 Fastnet 2364 2815 2979 3578 2651 3279 4247 1377 977 5880 4873 Cape Town 6492 6786 6790 6800 6269 5904 6508 5040 5072 5880 3273 Rio de Janeiro 4630 4770 4723 4879 4110 3542 4284 3875 4180 4873 3273 Cape Horn 6800 6920 6900 6882 6300 5886 4093 6282 6452 7151 4731 2338


with taking a more regular watch schedule and giving more responsibilities in running the boat. This helped quite a bit with their boredom and dread of passages; however, we still prefer our destinations over the journey to get there. How do you handle provisioning? Do you have a system for determining the amount of food and water needed for a voyage? We plan meals one week at a time, figuring the amount of ingredients needed and then doubling that amount. Fortunately, our boat has a large amount of storage, so we are able to carry an excess of provisions. We do not have a deep freeze, so we mostly rely on canned and dried goods. We try to catch fresh fish along the way for meat and also buy fresh meat when we are in port. Otherwise we use canned meats, eggs or we make vegetarian meals underway. We try to keep it simple and do not use spreadsheets for shopping or inventories. Every month or so we go through our provisions and make a tally of what we need to purchase and identify what needs to be eaten. When we are in port, we shop once a week and base our meals on what is available in the fresh markets. We don’t have to worry too much about water. We have a 12-volt watermaker that makes about seven gallons per hour and about 200 gallons in water tankage. It is very easy for us to keep our tanks topped up by running

the watermaker for a couple of hours each day. Who or what inspired you to go voyaging? We were both working long hours and commuting 90 minutes each way in opposite directions. With the demands of our jobs, we had hired a nanny to pick up our girls from school and help them finish their homework and sometimes feed them dinner before we made it home. We would see them for an hour or so before bedtime and then do it again the next day. We felt like we were missing out on their childhoods and knew that we needed a change. I had been following several sailing blogs at the time and one in particular, Sailing Totem, was a family of five who had been out cruising the world for several years. We began to correspond with them and they were kind enough to answer our many questions about cruising the world with kids. From there we made the decision to go and in less than two years, we were cutting our docklines. What are your future voyaging plans? We try not to make plans too far in advance because they always change. As of now, our short-term plan is to remain in Fiji for the remainder of cyclone season. We have talked about the idea of heading back to Tonga to see more, as it was one of our favorite places. We would also like to explore





Emma puts her back into it on the foredeck.

the Lau Islands here in Fiji and see more of the Yasawas as well. After Fiji, we will likely continue west to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia. After that, it is anyone’s guess where the Terrapin crew may end up! n

Ocean Almanac


Pacific distance table 3620 4262 4536 4839 7682 9642 3395 5140 4135 4789 4330 1585


Hong Kong



Pago Pago



Cape Horn


Los Angeles

San Francisco



Sitka 823 1302 1640 4524 7705 2386 4537 4635 6176 6595 5136 Vancouver 823 812 1091 4032 7248 2423 4396 4549 6191 6814 6361 San Francisco 1302 812 349 3245 6458 2091 3663 4151 5680 6448 6044 Los Angeles 1640 1091 349 2913 6100 2228 3571 4163 5658 6511 6380 Panama 4524 4032 3245 2913 4162 4685 4493 5656 6516 7674 9195 Cape Horn 7705 7248 6458 6100 4162 6644 4333 5381 6232 7301 10404 Honolulu 2386 2423 2091 2228 4685 6644 2381 2276 3820 4420 4857 Papeete 4537 4396 3663 3571 4493 4333 2381 1236 2216 3308 6132 Pago Pago 4635 4549 4151 4163 5656 5381 2276 1236 1565 2377 4948 Auckland 6176 6191 5680 5658 6516 6232 3820 2216 1565 1280 5060 Sydney 6595 6814 6448 6511 7674 7301 4420 3308 2377 1280 4086 Hong Kong 5136 6361 6044 6380 9195 10404 4857 6132 4948 5060 4086 Yokohama 3620 4262 4536 4839 7682 9642 3395 5140 4135 4789 4330 1585



Voyaging Skills

Preparing for the Indian Ocean Voyagers upgrade their boat and systems before getting underway Story and photos by Patrick Childress

Top, the Childresses’ Valiant 40, Brick House, underway. Right, cruising guides from Bluewater Books and Charts.



ruising for over two years in the tropics of Southeast Asia has wilted our sea legs. We have experienced nothing more adventurous than an occasional sudden thundershower as we ghosted the coast of Borneo and all the shores of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Now it is time to get back to serious passagemaking and prepare to zigzag our way across the Indian Ocean from Malaysia to South Africa via Madagascar and many remote islands in between. Once again, we will be in belts of strong weather. In the Indian, yachting facilities are few; the boat must be in solid long-haul condition. When we depart Malaysia, we will be ready for real sailing — though the preparations have been a year in the fixing. Owning one’s own long-range cruising boat is the only way to access some of the most remote specks of land in the world, like the Pacific’s Holmes Reef, Minerva Reef, Bikini, Suwarrow

and Fatu Hiva. Now, heading out to the Indian Ocean, we cannot miss the chance to visit the fabled Chagos, where no one lives but the largest coconut crabs and seabirds on tropical islands with countless fish on the clear reefs. Departing Malaysia, our water and fuel tanks will be full, including all our deckstowed jerry jugs. Since there will be no cheaper fuel on our horizon, some of the five-gallon jerry jugs are one-time-use disposables. Months of food stores The waterline of Brick House will be further depressed by months of food stores. Food throughout the Indian Ocean is expensive, so we are stocking up in Malaysia. As we move south in latitude and into known windy areas, our load of supplies will lighten so we will become more buoyant, agile and seaworthy. As we work our way to Madagascar, where aggressive storms are a near certainty, we want to be as unencumbered and nimble as possible

in order to lift and move on top of the waves, not be washed over and beaten by them. At that point, we want on our boat no more than 50 gallons of water and no more than 40 gallons of diesel in the main tanks with the remaining deck-stored jerry jugs to be empty. We have worked hard to remove the hatches and portlights, resealing them to stop present leaks and ensure there will be no new leaks. Cracks in the side decks were ground out and repaired. The not-so-clear plastic of the dodger windows was renewed. A new mainsail cover is now in place, and all the rigging has been inspected. The hull has been cleaned with new antifouling applied. These are all parts of the maintenance treadmill any cruising boat owner must endure. But to successfully sail us across the Indian Ocean, we decided to order a new genoa. To move us through the calm weather latitudes to Sri Lanka OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

then southward to Chagos, we have on board a new 125 percent genoa from Mack Sails (, located halfway around the world from us in Stuart, Fla. We have personally visited some of the lofts in Southeast Asia and have concluded it is better to buy American. Our new genoa is made of 7.77-ounce Challenge Marblehead Dacron. According to Mack Sails, “These fabrics are the finest, most tightly woven fabrics in the world and rely on the quality of yarn and weave, rather than impregnated resins, to maintain integrity.” To distribute loading more evenly across the fabric on the genoa, and to hold the sail shape for 15 to 20 years, Mack sews their jibs with the more difficult miter panels rather than the easier to sew, long, crosscut panels. As we work into the stronger wind areas, we will replace the new 125 percent with our 90 percent jib made of 8.77-ounce Marblehead. These sails, along with our tough little cutter sail also made by Mack, give us the versatility needed for working through known soft and strong wind latitudes.

In the tropics, when a heavy downpour or sea spray breaks over our boat, we have been slipping into a cheap plastic raincoat bought at a hardware store in order to stay dry. Our “ocean” designated foul weather gear has always leaked right through the “breathable” fabric. Now we have gotten seri-

ous about foul weather gear that will do what it is advertised to do. Our research brought us to Henri Lloyd’s Freedom line of foul weather gear, which is made of polyamide coated with polyurethane. I recently tested this gear on a yacht delivery from Rhode Island to St. Maarten and it was

A new anchor After the sails, our thoughts turned to anchoring. Ten years ago, a 60-pound CQR was our primary anchor until it showed how it could plow a long farmer’s furrow and still not dig in. That anchor nearly ended our voyage soon after it began. The 66-pound Bruce became our primary anchor, and it has served us well in all sorts of anchoring conditions for the past 10 years. But the Bruce was not infallible. We wanted to keep up on the latest anchor technology, so we felt an anchor with a more pointed entry would bury quicker and could hold as securely as the Bruce normally would and possibly better. We decided to replace the Bruce with a 60-pound Manson Supreme anchor, which is made in New Zealand. Because of their sailing environment dipping into latitudes of the Roaring Forties, New Zealanders know how to manufacture their yachting products to withstand harsh conditions. I don’t want to risk having gear on our boat made in China. So far, the Manson Supreme is performing flawlessly. 2018 OCEAN VOYAGER


Voyaging Skills

Above, for the Indian Ocean crossing, the Childresses bought a new Mack headsail. Right, the PredictWind package can show ocean currents and much more. Below, they also purchased new Henri Lloyd foul weather gear.

impressive. It kept me warm and dry, and it was not cumbersome to put on or take off. There are plenty of pockets in the right places without overdoing it. An interesting highlight is the hood, which gives full wind and spray protection and can do this without ruining peripheral vision. The hood has a clear Optivision high-visibility hood system. Navigation resources At our navigation station, we have a Raymarine eS128 chartplotter with a 12-inch screen. Not only does the large screen have the advantage of being viewable all the way back to the helm, but it gives us a much better spatial awareness 46

than any of the smaller screens that preceded it. There is nothing like having a large-scale paper chart, however, to see where a boat has been and where it is going. The distances in the Indian are so great, we ordered a paper chart from Bluewater Books and Charts ( in Fort Lauderdale that covers all of the Indian Ocean. That chart will be folded flat and live under the Plexiglas of the chart table. We will be able to quickly plot the location of fellow cruisers and keep track of our own wanderings. Additionally, as we start the second half of our circumnavigation, we have found that — despite the digital plethora of information — a printed paper cruising guide is still our preferred way to organize routes and anchorages ahead. Bluewater Books and Charts has been in business for more than 30 years and offers the single greatest selection of paper and electronic charts, cruising guides, marine books and publications, software, flags and instruments available for sailors like us. We stocked up with the Indian Ocean Cruising Guide, East Africa Pilot, South Atlantic Circuit and Patagonia & Tierra Del Fuego Nautical Guide. Rebecca has also made KAP files (Google Earth charts) for every possible stop along the way. We can now go into anchorages with full satellite images; but, at our fingertips, we’ll have all the paper books and information we need in one central location without having to turn on a computer. Getting weather info Getting accurate, economical weather rout-

ing reports and communicating with those back home while we are far away from land has always been a challenge. On previous ocean crossings, we relied on our SSB radio and Pactor modem for email and weather. Sad to say, that trusty equipment is becoming equal to using a cassette player when an iPod is available. Although there is still a use for the SSB radio for communicating on a schedule with other cruisers, its other functions are waning. We have signed up for an Iridium GO marine package with PredictWind ( Iridium GO is a new-generation Iridium satellite Wi-Fi hotspot to which all our hand-held devices can connect. PredictWind also offers a myriad of downloadable weather products, including weather routing, with intuitive feature-rich software to retrieve and examine the reports it offers. But, better than using this application via a cantankerous SSB, the Iridium GO — with an external antenna — offers the best value and least complications for downloading weather and email while on a passage anywhere in the world. It’s not faster than SSB/ Pactor, but it is available around the clock when we want it. PredictWind controls all of the connections to the GO, and the two are so completely integrated that one would almost think they were using the application on the Internet, albeit more slowly. We will be able to receive and send emails, as well as utilize 150 minutes of voice time per month to be used through our smartphones for family issues back home, emergencies, ordering of parts or technical support at sea. We paired this system with another product from RedPort called XGate to add more functionality when using our laptops both through the GO and when connected to the Internet via other means. With such interoperability and so many advantages, an entire article could be written about the combination. Month-to-month contracts for service, if purchased through the PredictWind website, allows shutdown to a minimally priced plan while in port.  Another great feature of the GO is the SOS button. This is not a substitute for a stand-alone EPIRB, but it is a great additional tool. GEOS Safety OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

Ocean Almanac


Internet links Ocean Navigator. Your favorite magazine (and seamanship school) has even more stories in its 16 years of archives. All links mentioned below are posted. The mother of all maritime links. Incredible list of links to all things having to do with the water. National Hurricane Center. Extensive tropical weather reports for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. National Data Buoy Center. Get realtime weather reports from buoys at sea and weather reporting stations. United States Power Squad­rons. Navigation instruction. NOAA oceanographic products. Realtime and extended tide predictions, now improved. U.S. Naval Observatory. Sun and moon rise/set times, moon phases, eclipses and other data. U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, the office that maintains GOS, DGPS and loran. Lots of communications information, local Notices to Mariners and more. dataexplorer NOS Mapfinder. Once you master the complex interface, you can download low-resolution (85-dpi) versions of NOAA charts, aerial photos and more. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Info on ordering charts, also Chart No. 1 and many downloadable historical charts. The Weather Channel’s Internet site. Offers weather-for-dummies-style products, including radar and satellite coverage, and zone forecasts. The Royal Meteorological Society in the U.K. is a boon to the weather enthusiast or amateur sailor, providing links for forecasts, satellite and radar images, and detailed information on all weather-related activities. Another handy site for weather-related information is the French weather service, Météo France, which includes


an English-language option for Francoimpaired users. Maptech’s MapServer. Well-or­gan­ized access to charts, topos, aerial photography. Seven Seas Cruising Association. Features very lively and open discussion boards and downright scary news flashes. Panama Canal. Information on the canal, including regulations and fees. U.S. Coast Guard Office of Marine Safety. Regulations, publications and more. The Daily Sail (formerly Mad for Sailing). An excellent British site covering ocean racing. U.S. Sailing Association. The major racing organization in the United States. International Sailing Fed­era­tion. Worldwide racing news. Offshore Racing Council. Details of multiple racing rules and worldwide race calendar. Joe Mehaffey and Jack Yeazels’ GPS information website. Much useful information about GPS, particularly Garmin hand-helds. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Boating courses and safety checks. An excellent resource for prospective boat owners and for those researching products. The site also offers access to the excellent newsletter Scuttlebutt, which supplies daily racing news from around the world. Reed’s Nautical Almanac for the UK. Extensive link lists, cruising guide lists, free tide charts and more.

History, links and other resources for the celestial navigator.

News, audio/video and links to Maine boatbuilders.

Links to the marine industry in Rhode Island.


Voyaging Skills Solutions ( provides free coordination of efforts in case of an emergency, as well as affordable search and rescue and medevac if the SOS button is pressed during an emergency. Charging EPIRB batteries Recently, we hand-carried our ACR self-deploying 406-MHz GPS, EPIRB and smaller PLB on airplanes from Malaysia back to the U.S. With the batteries in the equipment, we ran into no concerns by airport inspectors. The batteries have a long shelf life even after their six-year expiration date, but we want to take no chances. In the U.S., we sent the equipment to ACR in Ft. Lauderdale. After changing the batteries, they were mailed to us at our departure address in the U.S. so we could hand-carry them back to Malaysia. Monthly, we flip the switch halfway on our EPIRB to activate the self-test mode in order to be sure it is successfully acquiring satellites and transmitting to the test-receiving station properly. Prop fouling I have never been able to keep antifouling on any propeller that was installed on Brick House no matter what material the prop was made of. Antifouling quickly disappeared, which meant the beginning again of the biweekly chore to scrub the marine growth from the prop and drive shaft. In the 85-degree tropical water to which we are accustomed, the work

ACR EPIRB showing a successful self-test. The unit also shows its status should it be activated in a real emergency.

was not terribly challenging. However, there are frigid waters in our future, which even layers of wetsuits can’t entice me to go in for a casual prop cleaning. Cruising friends who have used Propspeed, which is a silicone coating, are very satisfied. The application is a very precise process of sanding, cleaning, etching, applying primer and then the final application of the clear silicone coating. The clear coating is not antifouling but an ultra-smooth surface that marine organisms have a very difficult time attaching to. If organisms do settle, they are easily brushed off. The manufacturer of our Kiwiprop suggested it is not necessary to prime the Zytel blades before applying traditional antifouling or Propspeed. Following those directions, I have never had success with antifouling staying on the Zytel blades for an adequate amount of time. In treating the Zytel blades, I fol-

Applying Propspeed to the Zytel blades of Brick House’s Kiwiprop to improve the ability to resist fouling.


lowed the Propspeed directions in the same process as for the stainless steel components except for the etching. With a Kiwiprop however, an applicator must be careful not to build up any material in the area of swing of the blades’ trailing edge, as this could inhibit their forward-to-reverse function. Propspeed is another great product made in New Zealand; there are imitators, but only Oceanmax makes Propspeed and has a long positive track record. A major safety item is the disappearance of the nonskid on our side decks. Since they were painted nine years ago, our decks have gotten slippery over the years from the wearing away of the sand nonskid embedded in the deck paint. Where we are going is not a place for unsure footing. There are three grades of nonskid sand: fine, medium and coarse. We used the coarse and applied it to the wet twopart paint using a plastic peanut butter jar with a lot of holes drilled in the lid like a large salt shaker. The large grain is a good gripper like we need but can be a little uncomfortable when kneeling down with bare knees. Cosmetically, I think the medium grain would be nicer and may not retain discoloration and dirt like the coarse does. Going with titanium Years ago, we changed all our stainless steel chain plates to grade 5 titanium. The price of titanium parts is slowly falling, so we decided this would be the time to replace the 41-year-old stainless steel bow roller/chain plate assembly with one made of titanium. We OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

removed the existing assembly and sent it to Allied Titanium (alliedtitanium. com), now located in Sequim, Wash. Grade 5 titanium weighs a little more than half of 316 stainless steel, yet it is over three times stronger. It is not affected by salt water or electrolysis. Since we will be keeping Brick House for a very long time, titanium upgrades and the safety margin this brings us make it a good investment. While hauled out of the water to paint the bottom in Malaysia, I installed a new fairing block and sonar transducer. This is a new addition to our array of Raymarine navigational electronics. We now have on our big MFD (multifunction display) a sonar that gives a color rendition of what is below our keel down to 900 feet, whether it is rocks or alive and swimming. There is another mode called DownVision, which uses a sweep of frequencies rather than the standard

200 or 50 kHz. This gives far greater detail and definition to the targets. With this viewing equipment, we can see what the textures and contours the ocean floor below us is made of. This is especially useful when feeling our way into remote anchorages and knowing if we make a mistake whether we will be on rocks or soft mud, or how many and how big the fish are outside our cockpit once we are anchored. Soon we will be away from marinas — we will need to be energy conscious and our alternative energy sources need to be at their best. We took apart our KISS wind generator and put in new thermostats and bearings and rebalanced the blades. It now runs better than it ever has. We also ultimately determined, with help from “Solar Queen” and sailor Amy at altE (, that our 25-plus-yearold solar panels were truly at the end of their life. Her team recommended



the Morningstar ProStar MPPT-25 solar controller, along with one new 265-watt solar panel to replace our four small 51-watt panels in the same footprint on top of our hard dodger. Prior to this installation, we were seeing about 20 to 30 amp-hours per sunny day. Now we are easily seeing 60 to 70. The team at altE is passionate about solar power, and they are able to provide astounding results. For all the work we have just completed on Brick House, we should do just fine getting to Durban, South Africa, and on around to Cape Town, where we begin again on the revolving n list of maintenance and repairs. Patrick and Rebecca never expected to spend more than four years sailing away from Rhode Island. Well into their 10th year, they now see no reason to return home with so many places on the planet to explore. Visit

6:50 PM

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Plan ahead for food flexibility Provisioning has become easier but still requires both forethought and in-themoment adaptability Story by Barbara Sobocinski Photos by Michael Hawkins

Top, flying fish set out for sale on Vanuatu. Right, a openair market with plenty of vegetables.



or anyone preparing to take the plunge of becoming an ocean voyager, you should seek out as much practical help as you can. You can always learn some great tip, recipe or new technique for storing hard-to-get items, and talking to other experienced cruising boaters yields sage advice and ideas. Through the years, I have learned a lot from fellow cruisers and by experimenting — and am still learning! Who would have known that storing well-dried limes in aluminum foil can make them last for as long as six weeks? Times have changed and each new decade brings more ease in finding, acquiring and storing the goods you want aboard your cruising boat. Newer cruising boats are getting bigger and have more efficient and larger cold storage capabilities. The advances in solar, wind, batteries and power genera-

Tom Bailey

Voyaging Skills

tion along with better insulation and refrigeration technology have improved freezers and refrigeration. This alone has offered the opportunity to improve food choices while cruising. Thanks to better shipping and the desires of local populations to have more options, there are more and varied supplies available in many countries. In the main city of most of the island chains we have visited, there is now a major grocery store with a large selection of goods and brands. It may not be your favorite brand of mayonnaise — but it is mayonnaise. People eat everywhere! Part of the thrill of cruising is trying the foods and cuisine of the countries you visit. It may not be haute cuisine or what you are used to, but it will sustain you. If you are willing to try new foods and new ways to prepare things, you’ll be better equipped to keep your lockers filled. Local markets are a must-see, filled with colorful fruits, vegetables, roots, fish and unknown goods. The sellers are always willing to help you with how to clean and cook their wares. You’ll end up with some new favorites, or at the very least, a new experience. No matter how small a village we’ve visited, we’ve always been able to buy or trade for the items these folks are regularly growing and consuming. It is handy to have a good old-fashioned cookbook aboard.

Specifically, one that gives you recipes that don’t use lots of prepared foods or specialty items, and won’t call for using various cooking gadgets like processors or blenders, which you may not have aboard. Find one that has things in it like cuts of meat. That was the hardest thing to adjust to — knowing what you are buying when it comes to meat. A good picture of the animal and being able to describe what cut you want can be helpful at a local butcher. We have also found it best in many countries to have our ground beef made rather than buying the ground beef (or mince) at the butcher’s counter. Select a better cut of beef and watch them grind it for you. It costs a tad more, but it’s worth it. The cookbook I have also tells me how to pluck a chicken, which luckily I have never had to do because the person I bought my fresh bird from was willing to do it for me! Buy when it’s available Even with more availability and more choices in many countries, many places still depend on the delivery ship, a produce truck or even the generator to be working to have the goods on hand when you want them. More than once, I’ve waited to purchase something because I didn’t want to have to carry it around all day, only to find out when I went back that the product was gone. It’s happened to me with eggs and bread OCEAN VOYAGER 2018

on numerous occasions; you’d think I would learn! Now I buy the items and often can convince the seller to hold them for me until I return. Not every store has every item so if you really want something, don’t hesitate with making your purchase. If you see something you haven’t seen in a while and really like it, buy a good supply. Things will break, that’s one of the facts aboard. Be prepared in your food choices with things you don’t need to refrigerate. Have enough to get you through your passage should the cooling option you are depending upon give up the will to chill. Also, have enough choices aboard that do not need to be cooked should your stove or cooking gas system fail. Eating uncooked rice, pasta or oatmeal (which are part of your basic staples) is not an option. We have a barbecue grill with an independent cooking gas bottle as our backup, but in big seas this option becomes untenable. We do not have a microwave. If you have redundant systems for chilling or cooking, this is a less critical need. Be sure to also carry a few simple cooking tools in case your electric gadgets stop working or power issues ensue. Find a way to make coffee besides the espresso machine, keep a hand mixer aboard should the food processor crack, etc. And have a spare can opener. We have very few electric gadgets aboard and have survived. Budget buying We were told that in the Pacific Islands, personal products like soap and shampoo are quite expensive. In Panama, they were much cheaper, so we stocked up. It ended up saving us some considerable dollars over the next few years. Ask around and you’ll quickly learn where things are less expensive and which island chains are costly. For example, many French islands have great deals on wine, cheese and bread, but most other items carry a hefty price tag. Buy whatever is fresh and plentiful in the markets. See if you can buy direct from the producers of the goods in villages or on farms. Buy fish from the fishermen, bread from the local baker and produce from the farmer. Look for sales — even in smaller island groups, merchandising is alive and well and there are items on sale for the local population. 2018 OCEAN VOYAGER

Buy local brands rather than the imported ones when you can (though buy one jar or can first before stocking up and make sure it is to your taste). Look carefully at the “use by” date in all places. Bargaining is also something most of us aren’t used to in our daily lives, especially for food products. In some countries, this is expected. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can get a better deal or a few extra passion fruit thrown in the bag. In some places, being a foreigner you may get charged a higher price for the same goods. I always stand back and watch a few transactions between locals to see what the going price is for the items.


2018 races of note Volvo Ocean Race Start: Oct. 22, 2017, Alicante, Spain (ongoing) ~35,000 nm Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race Start: April 27, Newport Beach, Calif. 125 nm Antigua to Bermuda Start: May 9, Fort Charlotte, Antigua 935 nm Atlantic Cup Start: May 26, Charleston, S.C. 1,008 nm Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race Start: June 8, 2018 753 nm Newport Bermuda Race State: June 15, Newport, R.I. 635 nm Vic-Maui Yacht Race Start: June 30, Victoria, B.C. 2,308 nm Golden Globe Race 2018 Start: July 1, Les Sables-D’Olonne, France ~ 30,000 nm Pacific Cup Race Start: July 9, San Francisco 2070 nm

More than once I’ve been able to say in as friendly a way as possible, “Gee, that person just paid $1 for the watermelon, why is mine $2?” You can also negotiate in some places to get meat vacuumsealed and frozen, or simply have your goods kept in the store until a later time. Always ask. Research Find out what is available and what is hard to find or very expensive. We travel a lot between New Zealand and Fiji or Vanuatu, and there are some items it is best to stock up on in New Zealand before leaving. The same goes for heading out to the Bahamas from the U.S. Some things are available and other items will be harder to get. Cruisers or cruising forums are good places to get this info. We learned about bringing lots of items like nuts, which are hard to find or quite expensive. You also need to know what is allowed into the country where you are headed. Many have new biosecurity rules and you’ll be disappointed if you get to a country and your freezer of meat is taken or all your coveted honey is confiscated. Don’t try to sneak things in; the risk is far greater than having the item. Check right before you leave, as these rules seem to change daily. If you are lactose free, gluten free or peanut free, you need to plan ahead and stock up sufficiently to meet your needs. My husband thinks chocolate is a major food group and “must” have it — and in Fiji the chocolate is often kept behind cages with the liquor because it is so costly, so I stock up in New Zealand. In the major city stores, you may not have any problems finding your special dietary goods, but buy them whenever you can just to be on the safe side. These are the things you won’t easily find on smaller islands, in villages or in remote countries. Each year, it gets easier and easier to provision the boat. More things become available with improved shipping. There are more shops and stores as smaller island groups have access to more goods and the local populations become more n diverse. Barbara Sobocinski and Michael Hawkins are on year nine of cruising full time aboard their 1987 Moody 422 Astarte. Prior to that they both worked in television. 51

Ocean Almanac


The year in review Sailor missing during trans-Pacific record attempt Chinese sailor Guo Chuan went missing and likely perished last month while trying to break the nonstop trans-Pacific world record. Guo, 51, was nearly a week into his voyage from San Francisco to Shanghai when his shore team lost touch with him on Oct. 25. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard launched a search and identified Guo’s 97foot super trimaran Qingdao on AIS roughly 620 miles northwest of Oahu, Hawaii. Navy units boarded Qingdao and discovered Guo’s life jacket on deck but no trace of the sailor. The Coast Guard called off the search before nightfall on Oct. 26. Guo is officially considered missing until a body is found, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman, although his chances of survival appear incredibly small.

Sailing club makes safety videos available The Storm Trysail Foundation has made its growing library of Safety-at-Sea videos available online. For a one-time $40 fee, subscribers will have permanent access to the nonprofit club’s 10 existing videos and new ones as they’re produced. The current selection has videos ranging from three to nearly 30 minutes focused on weather, firefighting, cold-water survival and deploying a life raft, among others. All told, there is more than two hours of content. Access to the video library is available on the Storm Trysail Foundation website upon registration and payment. For more information, visit

American sailor sets US record American sailor Rich Wilson finished 13th in the Vendee Globe, the solo roundthe-world race that lived up to its grueling reputation. He also became the fastest American solo circumnavigator. Wilson, 66, of Marblehead, Mass., steered his IMOCA 60-class yacht Great American IV into Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on Feb. 21. Wilson completed the estimated 27,440-mile course in 107 days, 48 minutes and 18 seconds, roughly 33 days behind winner Armel Le Cleac’h, who set a new race record. Wilson shaved two weeks off his previous Vendee Globe finish in 2008-09 and also set a new U.S. mark for a solo nonstop round-the-world finish. Wilson surpassed Bruce Schwab, who set the prior U.S. mark of 109 days and 19 hours in 2004-05. “I found all the calms that exist in the Atlantic. It was never-ending in the Atlantic,” he said after crossing the finish. “Eight years ago, I said never again. But now it’s too difficult. This is the perfect race course. The most stimulating event that exists.” Twenty-nine sailors left Les Sables d’Olonne on Nov. 6, 2016, for the eighth Vendee Globe, which occurs every four years. The race follows a west-to-east course past the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn, then returns to Les Sables. Eleven sailors retired, six of whom struck unidentified floating objects. Wilson kept a detailed log of his voyage, capturing physical and mental challenges, often-unfavorable sea conditions and occasional problems with his vessel, particularly with the autopilot system and hydrogenerator system for producing electricity. Wilson communicated regularly with other racers as well as thousands of


Fiddler’s Green Robert “Robie” Pierce

Robert Pierce, a competitive sailor who advocated for wider accessibility for people with disabilities, died July 12, 2017, in Newport, R.I. He was 76. Pierce competed in the Marion to Bermuda Race, Buzzards Bay Regatta and Block Island Race Week, and also was a longtime member of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport. He battled multiple sclerosis for almost 30 years, yet still maintained his edge as a sailor. He was a multiple winner of the U.S. Disabled Championship, and in 1993 he won the World Disabled Sailing Championship. Pierce worked with the nonprofit Shake-A-Leg foundation and helped the organization launch an adaptive sailing program more than two decades ago. He also drafted accessibility guidelines for the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry. He also helped launch the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta to help sailors with adaptive needs train for competitions. At least 19 sailors who trained in the program went on to win Paralympic medals.

Stanley Miller

Stanley Miller, an accomplished musician sailor whose namesake yacht dealer was once the largest on the West Coast, died Nov. 17, 2017, in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 91. Miller formed Stan Miller Yachts in 1962 in the Long Beach Marina. By then an accomplished sailor, he helped the firm capitalize on the growing shift to fiberglass hulls. His many clients included celebrities who lived in Southern California. He sold the company in 1988. A talented musician, Miller formed an 18-piece big band and performed at charity events and private parties — including once at Frank Sinatra’s birthday. Miller twice won the Transpac race from San Pedro, Calif., to Diamond Head, Hawaii, aboard his yacht Ragtime. During his time as a Long Beach Yacht Club member, he helped launch the Congressional Cup match racing competition. The 54th annual event returns April 17-22 in Long Beach.

Bill Ficker

William “Bill” Ficker, an architect by trade who skippered Intrepid during its successful 1970 America’s Cup defense, died March 13, 2017. Ficker was 89. Ficker, who spawned the slogan “Ficker is quicker,” led Intrepid to a 4-1 victory against the smaller, lighter Gretel II from the challenging Australians. The lopsided result belied intense competition, including a duel in the final race won by the Americans by one minute and 44 seconds, according to an account from the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The


Ocean Almanac


preceding contests included dueling protests in the first race and Gretel II’s controversial disqualification in the third race after slamming into Intrepid. Ficker won the 1958 Star World Championships hosted at the San Diego Yacht Club aboard the vessel Nhycusa. He also won the 1974 Congressional Cup. The Ficker Cup race, which serves as a qualifier for the Congressional Cup, was established in 1980 by the Long Beach Yacht Club in honor of Ficker. He has been inducted into both the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Edward Allcard

Edward Allcard, a British sailor believed to be the first to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean in both directions, died in Andorra on July 28, 2017. He was 102, and the cause was complications from a broken leg, according to published accounts. Allcard sailed from Gibraltar to the Bronx over 81 days in 1949 aboard the 34-foot ketch Temptress, which itself was built in 1910. He completed the eastbound return voyage across the Atlantic in 1951. A young woman, Otilia Frayao, hid aboard Temptress and joined Allcard for a leg of the voyage from the Azores. He later arrived in Plymouth, England. Allcard, who later completed a solo circumnavigation over 12 years, wrote about his voyages in Single-Handed Passage and Temptress Returns. His last book, Solo Around Cape Horn, was published in 2016. Allcard began sailing as a child and had training in naval architecture. He continued sailing until age 91, when he sold his last boat. He spent his last years living in La Massana, Andorra, the tiny European country sandwiched between Spain and France.

Meade Alger Gougeon

Meade Alger Gougeon, a sailor and boatbuilder who developed a line of sought-after marine epoxies, died August 27, 2017, in his hometown of Bay City, Mich. The cause was skin cancer. Gougeon was a skilled builder, sailor and racer, but he made his name making epoxies and resins known as West System. These materials were developed with help from Herbert Dow, whose grandfather founded Dow Chemical. The makeup of these products became “closely held secrets,” according to an account in the National Sailing Hall of Fame, which inducted Gougeon in 2015. Gougeon, with his brother Jan, began building iceboats and sailboats with its epoxies in 1969, and within two years they were selling the epoxy commercially. Gougeon was also an accomplished sailor who earned a North American sailboat racn ing championship at age 58.


The year in review students around the world through the SitesAlive online education initiative. “What is fantastic about this race is the support of the public with all the people here,” he said after reaching Les Sables. “I remember the first time, someone said, if you finish the race, you’re a winner. I think that is correct.”

NTSB urges better hurricane forecasts, data dissemination The National Transportation Safety Board is urging other federal agencies to improve hurricane forecast accuracy following several high-profile forecast errors in recent years. The agency issued 10 safety recommendations last month that emerged during the ongoing probe into the El Faro merchant ship sinking. Foremost is the request that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develop new hurricane prediction models and new technology to sift through various scenarios. But, the NTSB also urged the National Weather Service to make storm forecast updates issued in between the standard advisories more available to mariners. Currently, these so-called intermediate advisories are not transmitted to certain satellite services — including the one used aboard El Faro. Twenty-eight American sailors and five Polish technicians died when El Faro sank on Oct. 1, 2015, in the North Atlantic Ocean roughly 40 miles northeast of Crooked Island. The NTSB expects to complete its investigation and release its findings later this year. It issued these initial findings to allow agencies a head start in implementing the reforms.

Mariners still seeking help via old frequency The U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to make sure they understand — and can operate — communications equipment on their vessels, particularly during emergencies. The Coast Guard issued a safety alert in August after learning some single sideband radio users are still trying to contact the Coast Guard over an incorrect frequency. The Coast Guard said it stopped monitoring the former international radiotelephone distress frequency 2182 kHz more than four years ago. “Nevertheless,” the Coast Guard said in the alert, “many mariners continue to attempt to contact the Coast Guard using this frequency. Also, many mariners attempt to contact the Coast Guard using their EPIRBs, cellphones, satphones and even NOAA weather electronics. “Each of these communications devices has its own limitations and specific functional capabilities,” the safety alert continued. The Coast Guard considers single sideband radio, particularly models equipped with digital selective calling, “an especially reliable” way of contacting the Coast Guard during distress. Triggering the emergency button on SSB radios sends an alert to Coast Guard Communications Command. In place of the former distress frequency 2182 kHz, the Coast Guard monitors the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System SSB-HF frequencies 4125, 6215, 8291 and 12290 kHz. For more information on Coast Guard emergency procedures, visit www.navcen.


Classifieds classified advertising Text-only classifieds are priced at $1.40 per word. Include name, address and number of words. E-mail/ Web site addresses count as two (2) words. $56/40word minimum. Black & white photos, line drawings or display classifieds are $76/per inch billed in 1/2inch increments. Add 50% for color artwork. Check or money order (US funds only) payable to Ocean Navigator must accompany order except if using Master- Card or Visa (please include name, card number and expiration date). Eight-time 20% discount if contract is paid in full in advance. Deadline is the 7th of the month, 2 months preceding cover date. Copy received after deadline will be inserted on a space-available basis or held for next issue. Send copy, photo and payment to: Ocean Navigator Classifieds PO Box 569 Portland, ME 04112-0569 207-236-7014 207-772-2466 or Fax 207-772-2879

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From the Taffrail

The Triangle A nefarious source of voyaging mishaps?

by Debbie Lynn


hen I was young, the Bermuda Triangle always seemed to be making headlines in the news. Planes, trains, automobiles and boats disappeared without a trace. It was considered a black hole in the middle of the ocean and the rumor was “aliens.” So, at the tender age of 10, with the thought of being swallowed up by the seas

Digital composition by Eric Sanford

The cruising cat Indigo in the grip of the Triangle.


on my mind, I vowed never to go anywhere near it. Ever. Fast-forward 40 years. In 2013, my husband and I bought a 46-foot Leopard catamaran named Indigo. We set sail from St. Petersburg, Fla., with sights on the Bahamas … what could go wrong? The grace of the ocean filled our hearts, dolphins escorted us down the west Florida coast and life was good — for a day. Then the weather deteriorated. No big deal; we could find a little place to hunker down until the storm passed. We picked a small cove (with a dozen other boats), dropped the hook and settled in for the night. The wind howled and our boat was tossed about like a toy. Our anchor held tight, but others weren’t so lucky. It was carnage,

boats dragged and ended up in the mangroves. This was our introduction to Atlantic sailing. A few days later, we cut east through the Keys. Coming into a strong east wind on a port tack with fully loaded mainsail, we were flying along when the jib sheet parted and all hell broke loose. The jib was snapping wildly and became a lethal weapon in 30 knots of wind. With some quick thinking we were able to head into the wind, grab the other sheet and furl the jib to replace the broken line. Chaotic and frightening, but ultimately just another day on Indigo. Our established theme for the next four years became “How bad can it be?” Lines breaking, anchors dragging and snagging, motors, pumps and generators failing, sails tearing, my husband’s real-life MOB episode and let’s not forget running aground. That was a favorite trick and we were good at it. After a few months of meeting other cruisers with similar stories, we decided the countless problems that plagued us were just part of the normal cruising life. By the spring of 2017, after cruising from Florida to Grenada and back again over four glorious seasons, we were thinking it might be time to sell our boat. This wasn’t solidified until we reached Turks and Caicos. My husband rented a scooter for the day and was involved in a head-on collision with a truck that almost took his life. He recouped in fine style and a couple months later we were back at it. Our last hurrah, our final cruise, and it started the way it began: huge seas and ferocious winds, but this time it added in some monster squalls and fear-

some lightning. Time to head home. From Turks, we island-hopped north. We were so close to home, sitting peacefully just off Gun Cay in the Bahamas one morning when the boat lost all her power. We were only a couple days back to port, but we just couldn’t get there. No wind, no motors, no electronics. Finally my genius husband figured things out and we got underway. Five miles out from Ft. Lauderdale we got boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard. Big black boots, serious faces, hostile questions — ironic, really, since we were taking Indigo to be sold. As my husband grumbled about the black marks left all over the boat, I said jokingly, “It could have been worse, we could have been stranded in the Bermuda Triangle.” He started laughing, turned to me and asked, “And just where do you think we’ve been the last four years?” “No way!” I protested. “Bermuda is a thousand miles north. We’re nowhere near Bermuda!” He shook his head, grabbed the iPad and pulled up a map with the boundary lines of the “triangle.” I suddenly realized how long we had been in the “zone.” And then it all made sense: the crazy winds, wild seas, storms, wild currents, groundings and, yes, even the MOB fiasco. The Bermuda Triangle was to blame! And all this time, I thought it n was aliens… Debbie Lynn grew up near Portland, Ore. She met her husband, Eric, in 2008 and they bought a 38-foot Puget trawler. Four boats later, they’re still going strong and are headed to Alaska on their Symbol 57. OCEAN VOYAGER 2018


O ceans A part from the R est

When searching for the perfect boat, it ’s impor tant to do your homework. All manufacturers claim to be the best, but how do you know for cer tain which boats are built to the highest standards and which ones are assembled using cheaper materials and shor t-cut methods? At first glance, they all look pretty. But smoke and mirrors won’t help when you’re stuck out at sea in weather. If you are considering the purchase of a new or new-to-you boat, we recommend you take this questionnaire with you and ask the manufacturer’s representative to explain in detail their responses and reasoning. We think there are definitive answers to these questions, answers that make Nordhavn the number one long range cruising brand in the world. Come by our display and ask us in person, or learn them by visiting and look for the ”Oceans Apar t From The Rest” logo.

• Who designs and engineers your yachts? • How have the designs developed over time from the earliest to the latest models? • How long has the company been in business? • Who are the owners and who manages the company? • How many of your brand’s boats have been built? • What is the financial history of the company? • Do you have an actual tally on your brand’s ocean crossings, circumnavigations and other serious passages and cruises of specific boats? • Why are Nordhavns so heavy compared to other manufacturers’ yachts? • Do you manufacture any yachts that are built to class and cer tified?

• What about stability? Does your brand test each model for stability and if so can I see the calculations and stability curve for each model? • Manufacturers claim to produce “Category A” yachts for unlimited offshore use. What does this mean and how do I confirm this is true? • Tell me about your company’s insurance policies. How is the yacht protected during manufacture, transport and during commissioning? Does your brand have product liability insurance? An umbrella policy? What are the limits? If you dream of safe and comfor table worldwide Adventure Cruising without limitation, you will conclude, as have the world’s most accomplished cruisers, there simply is no better choice than a Nordhavn.

• What material are your tanks made from and why?

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Ocean Navigator - Ocean Voyager 2018  

Ocean Navigator - Ocean Voyager 2018

Ocean Navigator - Ocean Voyager 2018  

Ocean Navigator - Ocean Voyager 2018