Monday, September 28, 2015

Meeting the cruising life

Do you dream of the cruising life? Do you go to Annapolis and look at the boats and equipment? Would you like to know what it is really all about?

From mid-October thru early November what may be the biggest annual collection of offshore cruisers on the East Coast will be gathering in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area staging to go South. Events that will draw them include:

Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous (15-`18 October)
Sail to the Sun ICW Rally (Leaves Deltaville 20 October, stops in Newport News area)
Sail's ICW Snowbird Rally (Departs 23 October)
The Salty Dawg Rally (Departs 2 November, events the entire week before)
The ARC Caribbean 1500 (Departs 8 November, boats will gather the week before)

There will be about 200 boats in the area preparing for their transit South. What a great time to walk the docks and meet people who live the life!

Fair winds and following seas :)


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Crewing on Sailboats (Part 3 - Safety)

In the 1950's Grouch Marx hosted a combination TV and radio quiz show called You Bet Your Life. Of course you didn't. But in offshore sailing you are betting your life. Fortunately the risks are small but every year boats sink and occasionally people die.

The International Sailing Federation begins their Offshore Special Regulations with a call to action for the person in charge of the vessel: “The safety of a yacht and her crew is the sole and inescapable responsibility of the person in charge who must do his best to ensure that the yacht is fully found, thoroughly seaworthy and manned by an experienced crew who have undergone appropriate training and are physically fit to face bad weather. He must be satisfied as to the soundness of hull, spars, rigging, sails and all gear. He must ensure that all safety equipment is properly maintained and stowed and that the crew knows where it is kept and how it is to be used. He shall also nominate a person to take over the responsibilities of the Person in Charge in the event of his incapacitation.”

I echo the same responsibility of the Captain in my "standing orders' (available as a page on this blog.) I take my responsibility seriously and Reboot has been outfitted with extensive safety equipment.

This is all well and good. But what is your responsibility as a crew member? I suggest you have two objectives:

  1. To assure yourself that the boat is safe,
  2. To know where the safety equipment is located and how to use it.
Is the boat safe?

The first time I ran the Chicago - Mackinaw Race I invited a couple with extensive offshore racing experience to crew for me. This was my first long distance racing experience and I had just spent thousands of dollars purchasing the safety equipment required by the race organizers. Nigel (of Ranger) and his wife showed up and Nigel said "let me help you go over Reboot and make sure it is ready for the race. He made a lot of very good suggestions that I followed. In 20-20 hindsight I realize he was also doing something else - assuring himself that the boat was well founded and ready to race.

Nigel handled his safety inspection in the most gracious manner. Of course he is a Birt (you figured that out from the name, didn't you?) and they are known for the courtesy. But he taught me a lot. The easiest way to assure the boat is safe is for the entire crew to go over it from stem to stern together before setting sail. This way no one's feelings get hurt and done properly it can be a fun crew experience.

Using the safety equipment

Reboot has lots of safety and communications equipment. I know where it is and how to use it all. Do you? On my last voyage I took on a crew member. We were offshore in bad weather (the whole trip was bad weather) when my crew member got tossed by a boarding wave across the cockpit and went head first into the winch. This resulted in a 4" laceration of his scalp and large quantities of blood everywhere. Fortunately he remained conscious and was not concussed. But what if it had been me? What if I had ended up unconscious and/or concussed? My crew member would have been elevated to "the person in charge." Did he know enough to be responsible for Reboot and his injured crew (me?)

You owe it to yourself (and the rest of the crew) to make sure that you know the location and operation of all the safety and communications equipment on board. There are numerous stories (some perhaps apocryphal) of people dying of heart attacks, boats running aground, etc. because the only people available on board did not know how to call for help or operate the boat. Again the easiest way to assure that everyone knows what they need to know is for the Captain and crew to get together as a group before getting underway and doing a hands on inspection and instruction of all of the safety equipment on board.

Pre-departure Excitement

The days leading up to a departure are exciting. Particularly if you are going to travel in the company of other boats there are meetings, seminars, and parties. There is work to be done - provisioning, buying charts, cleaning, etc. In this pre-departure euphoria it is easy to overlook the two most important tasks: assuring the safety of the boat and assuring the safety of the crew. 

Resources:

What if you are new at the game and not sure what you should be looking for. The Internet has many great posts and articles on pre-departure checklists. To get you started I will link to one - the Salty Dawg rally post. It not only contains good advice but also links to further resources. You can find it here: http://saltydawgrally.org/cruising-compass-outfitting-your-sailboat-for-safety-at-sea/

Parts 1 and 2


Fair winds and following seas :)


Friday, September 25, 2015

KPK Radio (Seven Seas Cruising Association)

Seven Seas Cruising Association Logo
The Seven Seas Cruising Association www.ssca.org was founded in 1952 by six couples on six boats: Shellback, Tropic Bird, Black Dolphin, Evening Star, Norwind and Stardust. Harry S. Truman was the President of the United States. LORAN-A was the long range electronic navigation system - it utilized the same frequencies as the amateur radio (HAM) 160  meter band. There were only paper charts. No Internet. No GPS. These six couples had a dream and a joke. The dream - to cruise the world. The joke - to not be a "stuffy" yacht club. A principle output of the association was the "Commodore's Bulletin." This mimeographed (I'm guessing) monthly document bound the association together. It's most important feature was "Letters from Cruisers." These letters contained valuable information about the voyages and ports of call of the members. Frequently they contained hand drawn charts and contact information for local services. For the first few decades the bulletins were the best (and perhaps for some places) the only source of local knowledge. They also established "cruising stations," locals who would greet and help visiting cruisers.

The organization has grown both in size and scope over the years. The most recent addition to their services is radio station KPK in Florida. This is a maritime (as opposed to HAM) radio station that operates each morning from 1100 to 1130 UTC on 8.104 MHz. The primary purpose of this station is to assist cruisers in the Caribbean with a US based gateway for assistance, telephone links, and cruising information. Glen Tuttle is the net controller.

In this day of social media and online forums do we need another radio station? My answer is HECK YES. If you aspire to voyaging I suggest this simple test. Turn off your Internet connection. Turn off you cell phone. Now figure out how you are going to get weather information, talk to your friends, let people know where you are, etc.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Crewing on Sailboats (Part 2 - Expectations)

[Part 1 is here]
[Part 3 is here]

My first experience in finding crew was inviting whatever cute girl I could find to join me on my parents Sunfish. It was always a tight fit - I was 6' 6" tall. But at 14  with emerging hormones it was, as my sons would say "All good."

As I transitioned into around the buoys racing and later long distance racing finding crew was still very informal. I raced with friends and friends of friends. We were a pretty cohesive group and the trips were short enough (maximum three days) that the day to day routines were pretty easy. For example, we didn't worry a lot about cleaning or fixing fancy meals.

This all changed when I looking for crew among people I did not know. In my early career I did hire employees but by the time I was in my mid-30's I was the final decision maker. Potential employees were found by Human Resources and pre-screened by my subordinate managers. They only got to meet me for the final hire - no hire decision. I mention this because actually having to do the "hiring" was quite a shock. I really didn't know what I was doing.

Formal Expectations

Somehow I didn't realize that crewing on a sailboat was a job. I assumed everyone knew what was expected. Wow was I wrong. After a couple of trips I drafted a formal document of expectations. You can access if by clicking on the (blog page, on the right column) page "Standing Orders." I also discovered that it was difficult if not impossible to get a detailed understanding of crew skills from a phone conversation. I drafted a "Potential Crew Questionnaire." I decided this was much more comprehensive and efficient than the "job interview." You can also access this from the "pages" menu.

Compatibility and Synergy

The two most important attributes of a crew are compatibility and synergy. (I think they overlap a great deal in a Venn diagram.) As a potential crew member you should like the people you are sailing with and share common expectations. Each crew member should also add something special. The whole should be greater than the sum of the parts. When a crew "clicks" it is the closest thing to nirvana one can find on a sailboat.

To me compatibility refers to having a similar life outlook as the others in the crew. I am not talking about political or religious views. Rather, how do you live your life? Are there dirty dishes in your sink or is the kitchen clean and neat? Are you dirty clothes spread around your house or put away in a hamper? Are you the first to volunteer or do you have to be asked to help out? Do you have respect for other peoples' possessions? These are the things that make or break a crew over a long passage.

Synergy is a funny thing. The three members of the greatest crew I have ever sailed with had very different skills. One, in addition to being a very competent sailor (she always showed up at the right place - the mast, the winch - before I ever asked) brought craft materials on board. The rest of the crew was soon making bracelets and other paraphilia to commemorate the trip. The second was a "certified marine mammal spotter." Her normal activity was watching for marine mammals on acoustic survey vessels. I thought it was pretty much BS until, on a daily basis I would hear the cry "whale ho!." It made for a very cool trip. The third member was the sushi maker. We trolled for fish. Once caught she would go to work. It doesn't get better than sea to mouth in 30 minutes or less.

Captain's Privilege

Some potential crew members question the fact that I never stand watch. On many boats the Captain takes a spot in the watch rotation. I don't. The reason is that on Reboot the Captain is always on watch. When making a long transit it is unusual for me to get two hours uninterrupted rest without being called by the watch stander. This could be a sail change, a weather change, or the sighting of another boat. The early morning watches are difficult. After several days at sea just staying awake can be a challenge. By not standing watch I am free to go up and join the watch stander at any time they need support without compromising my ability to be available to everyone else. Individual boats and Captains will have their own "privilege." It is their boat and their responsibility. Grant them the courtesy to manage it their way, but make sure you understand it and are good with it.

Traps

These are things that you may want to watch out for:
  • Expense Trap: The ongoing costs of long distance ocean sailing are actually quite low. On Reboot I expect that you will share the food expenses and pay for your own personal entertainment. I also expect you to pay to get to Reboot and get home when you get off. There are a few boats that will be asking for contributions of $100 US per day or more. This is not sharing expenses. This is asking you to pay for the privilege of sailing.
  • Repairs Trap: You arrive at the boat ready to sail. You discover that the boat is not seaworthy and the Captain has a long lists of projects he expects you to help him complete for free. Unless you really enjoy this find another boat. (Frequently the boat is never ready, so you never get to sail.) Helping get the boat ready and doing some last minute projects is OK. Becoming the unpaid laborer is not.
  • Knowledge Trap: This is a tough call both for the Captain and the crew. As a Captain one has a desire for competent crew. But if one is very competent there is a natural desire to take charge. On one trip I took aboard a very competent crew member who captained his own very successful race boat. Everything he said was prefaced with "On xxxx (the name of his boat) we .... It got to the point where the rest of the crew would say on the way to the head "On yyyy the way we use the head is ....." If you are crewing on another boat you are crew. Keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that the owner is the one who is going to bear the financial burden of anything that goes wrong.
  • Incompetent Peers Trap: I once took on a crew member who kept falling asleep during the night watches. I was disappointed that the rest of the crew did not apply peer pressure. After all, their lives were being equally compromised.
  • Couples Trap (Teams:) I never take couples aboard for a transit. In my experience on my own and other boats it frequently nets out to couple vs. the Captain and/or couple vs. crew. There is a natural human tendency to support your spouse/significant other even if they are wrong. This is very disruptive to crew safety and morale.
  • Shore Pressure Trap: With the advent of rapid communications such as the DeLorme InReach and the Spot Communicator it is pretty easy for on board crew to be in contact with friends and lovers back home. Although this sounds like a good idea it can have very negative consequences. Two stories:
    • The crew member who continuously complained that he was spending a fortune on a hotel room for his girlfriend at our destination while we were becalmed during a race. We voted on either throwing him overboard or gagging him. Clearer heads prevailed.
    • The crew member who, during a long period of terrible weather, got a message from his on shore significant other at least once an hour asking if was OK to send the Coast Guard to "rescue" us. When you are on a sailboat your head has to be 100% on the sailboat!
Reasonable Expectations:

What is reasonable? This will of course vary from sailboat to sailboat and Captain to Captain. But some things are pretty straightforward:
  1. Stand watch in a professional manner. This is "Job 1."
  2. If you are expected to clean the boat then clean the boat. It is difficult underway but you should make a decent effort.
  3. If it is your turn to cook for the crew then cook for the crew. I had a crew member who was a vegan. Her attitude was "I will cook for me since I am a vegan and the rest of you can cook for yourselves. Not the agreement she made when she signed up to come on board.
  4. Make a reasonable effort to learn the boat. Modern sailboats go way beyond knowing how to put up the sails and steer. You should learn how to use the chart plotting system, the radar, the radios, etc. You should understand thing like SOG, COG, CPA (not to mention how to use the head!) Not knowing is not a crime. Not putting in the effort to learn is one. Most Captains love to teach. Take advantage of it.

Take Responsibility for what you Break:

I once had a crew member that dropped over $1,000 worth of equipment overboard. Needless to say I felt they were obligated to replace the equipment. They did not agree. They will never crew for me again. Things on sailboats break and, at least on Reboot, I take responsibility for the cost of replacement. But if you dump the dinner dishes overboard, or leave a winch handle on the deck where is gets swept off the boat, or you drive the dinghy into a channel marker I expect you to take responsibility for your actions. (And yes, crew members have done all these things to me.)

Sex and Drugs:

A sailboat is a work environment. You should expect the same rules about sex and drugs to apply. I would also emphasize that most countries have very severe drug rules. You may be tempted to "let it all hang out" when on a cruise. Under the rules of most countries the owner is going to lose his boat if you are caught doing drugs on board. Are you ready to buy him/her a new boat? Also, with the advent of Instagram, Facebook, and the like your antics are very likely to make it back to your home country immediately if not sooner!

Documenting Your Experience:

You found the (maybe) perfect boat. You sailed with the (maybe) perfect crew. You have reached your destination. What now? There are three things you should do:
  1. Get the Captain to document your experience. This might be the U.S. Coast Guard CG 7195 or the UK "Yachtmaster" logbook. Even if you never get a professional yacht certification you will have these on file as a memory and a resource for your sailing resume / CV. If in the future you decide to apply for a Captain's license these will be important documents.
  2. Ask the Captain for a reference on the crew matching site (if that is how you met.) This will help you find future crewing jobs.
  3. Write a reference for the Captain on the crew matching site. This is the best way to say "thank you."
In addition if your voyage accomplished one of the famous landmarks - crossing an ocean, crossing the equator, crossing the international date line etc. you should definitely get the Captain to issue the appropriate certificates. Examples can be found at several sites, one is: http://tiffanypublishing.com/certificates/shellback/. I would expect that you would pay the cost of the certificate, although not terribly expensive the cost of multiple certificates can add up.

Fair winds and following seas :)

 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Crewing on Sailboats (Part 1 - Finding a position)


As we approach the departure of the Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton to the British Virgin Islands I am once again in the process of interviewing potential crew for the trip. My experiences have motivated me to write a series of blog posts about crewing on private sailing yachts. We will "start at the very beginning, its a very fine place to start,"  finding a boat.

For those of you thinking of working a a Superyacht this post is not for you. The very best source I have found for you is: Work on Superyachts. The specific focus is finding a position on a modest, privately owned offshore sailboat. The duration of your stay might be event driven (e.g. The Salty Dawg  is a commitment of about two to two and one half weeks) or might be a more extended period of time (e.g. nanny to a family spending a season in the Caribbean.)

WHERE TO LOOK

There are three sources of information for available crew positions (beyond a personal relationship with a sailboat owner:)

  1. Crew matching services - primarily web sites. Like dating sites you register, fill out information about yourself and you are matched with boats looking for crew. In most cases the "crew" side of the match can be accomplished as a "free member." The boat owners pretty much have to pay a fee for the sites to be useful to them. One example (and a site I use) is: Find a Crew. Sailing forums also may have crew finding sections (e.g. Sailnet.)
  2. Event specific web sites. Most events (rallies, races, etc.) will have a "looking for crew" section (e.g. Salty Dawg Crew Want to Crew)
  3. Walking the docks: If you happen to live in a area where boats are departing for an event or because it is a normal departure point (e.g. the Canary Islands in November and December) you can walk the docks and ask each boat if they need crew. Depending on the location you may easily find a boat or find it very difficult. For example, in past years boats staging in the Canary Islands for the winter transit to the Caribbean were always looking for crew. In the past few years so many potential crew have shown up in Gran Canaria and Teneriffe that crew are asked to pay as much as 5,000 euro for the privilege of crewing on a boat.
IT'S A COMPETITION

Crew positions are a "buyer's market." Since most modest sized sailboats (35' to 55') are sailed by their owners the concerns of the boat are similar to those of a person hiring someone to work in their home on shore (e.g. as a nanny or housekeeper.) Most boats represent a substantial part of the owner's assets. It should go without saying that you need to be trustworthy, respect the owner's property, and deliver on your promises with respect to crewing on the boat. Most owners would rather go without crew than take someone they don't trust and/or who isn't going to contribute.

How do you compete?
  1. Your biggest competitor is yourself: Except in movies like The Devil Wears Prada being totally unprepared for a job interview will  result in you not getting hired. This starts with your posting on the web sites. I am contacted by numerous people who have not bothered to fill out the requested information. A contact message from someone who has not posted a picture or given me any substantive background information is going to get an instant no.
  2. Do your homework: Sailboats travel to certain places during certain seasons. Looking to crew in the Caribbean in the summer is an instant turn-off. You should know that it is hurricane season. Wanting to crew for a couple of weeks on a trip that takes several months is another indication you haven't been serious enough to do some research. Learn enough about the areas to be visited, the length of any potential trips, etc. to be literate when you speak to the Captain.
  3. Bring something to the party: Most people self describe on web sites as the kind of person I would want to bring home to my mother. (Well, she is dead, and a lot of the people posting are guys, but you get the point.) What attribute(s) do you have that set you apart from all the other hard working, charming, sailing loving individuals posting?
  4. Be realistic about what you are willing to do: The implicit contract between you and the Captain is that you are going to work in exchange for the opportunity to sail and see fun places. You are not just there for a good time and to go along with the ride.  In my experience crew members come with very different ideas about what constitutes their contribution. In my case I expect you to stand watch, cook, clean the boat, keep your personal belonging neat and out of the way, help shop and run errands while on shore, and do your fair share of pitching in with the rest of the crew to make it a safe and fun trip. This topic will be the subject of Part 2 of this serious. I will explore more fully the range of expectations for crew that have been communicated to me by other boat owners.
  5. Be realistic in your expectations: I still shutter at the memory of the young couple who approached me to crew across the Atlantic. They were walking the docks in Tenerife with two large suitcases, three guitars, and one large (and very pretty actually) dog. They had no sailing experience. I still don't know what they were thinking.
  6. References: Unfortunately these are of far less value then in the past. Fear of litigation and personal loyalty prevent most people from saying anything negative. However, if you have crewed for someone successfully ask them for a reference. If you though they were a good Captain post on reference on the crew matching web site.
FINANCIAL

The range of financial arrangements is very broad. Some boats are willing to pay you to crew. This might be for a nanny position or similar. Some boats will absorb the costs of having you on board (typically food.) Most boats will expect you to make a modest contribution - usually your share of food, and pay for your own entertainment expenses: restaurants, shore excursions, etc. Most boats pay the boat expenses: fuel, dockage, clearance fees. It is reasonable to expect to have to contribute between $10 and $25 per day to the shared expense pool.

A big concern for me (and most Captains) is that you have money to get home. When traveling internationally on a sailboat most countries will give you a tourist visa (or tourist status) when you arrive. You can not work! Most of us are not cruel enough to leave a penniless crew member behind in a foreign country. We avoid this by making sure you have enough money to get home, or agree up front that we will get you back to where you started. This second agreement is rare.

COMMUNICATIONS

This is a job interview followed by a job. Just as it is foolish to not get around to replying to a potential employer not being prompt in your communications with a potential sailboat will most likely disqualify you from being invited on board. If you post on a web site check it every day. I am unimpressed (as are most Captains) with someone who posts and then doesn't bother to check back in for weeks at a time. We assume you are not serious.

KNOW THE EMPLOYER POOL
Most cruising sailboats are owned by individuals or couples in their 50's or older. They usually have finished their careers, raised their children, and retired onto their sailboat. There are a few younger people and families with young children but they are more rare. There might be a few rich, dashing young Captains out there - I have never met any of them. Crew ages could be anything from 20's to 60's. But the vast majority of the time you are going to be living, working, and experiencing life with people in their 50's or above.

EXPERIENCE

As noted above everyone has to start somewhere. But starting with absolutely no experience on a offshore sailboat is (in my humble opinion) a non-starter. Most Captains will tell you, and I agree wholeheartedly, that the "emotional fit" between a Captain and crew is far more important than experience. But that does not mean experience is unimportant. Even if you are landlocked you can read and learn. A great place to start is Start Sailing Right. There are lots of instructional videos on YouTube. If you live near the water get down to the docks and look for a ride! Be prepared to demonstrate that you are actually serious about learning to sail.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Screwdrivers and the 50-50-90 rule

For those of you unacquainted with the 50-50-90 rule it states as follows:

If there is a 50% chance of a good outcome and a 50% chance of a bad outcome 90% of the time you will experience a bad outcome.

To the screwdriver.

When Al was on board he was up on the top of the mast and dropped a screwdriver. It of course went ping, pang, plunk, splash. We joked that he owed me $2.00 for a new screwdriver (I am holding you to it, Al.) In the store the other day I went to purchase the replacement screwdriver. Compared to the cost of the single replacement screwdriver I was able to purchase a set of seven screwdrivers for only a few bucks more even though six of them duplicated screwdrivers in my toolbox. So I did.

This morning I replaced the broken bracket for the hailing horn. I dropped the screwdriver. Ping, pang, plunk, splash. Need I tell you which of the new seven screwdrivers I dropped overboard?

Fair winds and following seas :)

Two out of three ain't bad

I have two confirmed crew for the Salty Dawg. I am still looking for one more person. Let me know (rebootagent at gmail.com) if you are interested or look at the write up on find-a-crew (search for 208909)

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

One can never have too much weather information

Bill (KI4MMZ) sent me a link to a new experimental product at the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center. It lets you download KML files of the weather predictions. These then load on Google Earth for a nice graphic representation. Fun stuff.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Salty Dawg Rally Fall 2015

I have decided to enroll in the Salty Dawg Rally. This is a bi-annual (South in Fall, North in Spring) rally of cruising boats from Hampton Roads, Va to the British Virgin Islands. The Rally plans to depart on November 2, 2015. This fits perfectly into my plan to depart on or about November 1st. The Rally is the "free" version of the transit South, it competes (I guess) with the ARC Caribbean 1500. Both provide a variety of services to people/boats planning the offshore passage from the US to the Caribbean. Although the ARC is more expensive it includes things like dockage that are not included in the Salty Dawg. I looked at the ARC and decided that since my boat was in Virginia Beach and I was going to Sint Maarten the particular benefits of the ARC were of little use to me. I now have to make a similar decision with respect to the Salty Dawg. I can become a "member" for $250. Since I don't have a car and most events take place on the other side of town or in the British Virgin Islands I am uncertain of the benefit. I am looking forward to the daily weather briefings that are part of the Salty Dawg.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Use It or Lose It

Like many cruisers my life is a succession of several weeks in port followed by one or more transits to a new area. As I cycle up for my transit South for the winter I have once again started my daily "pretend you are at sea" I cycle on everything that I would normally use at sea - multifunction display, radar, AIS, sonar, water maker. I use RMS Express and my SSB to send test messages over the RF link. I turn on my Sat phone and make sure it can register with the network. I turn off the shore power breaker and live on solar panels and battery power for a few hours. I do this not only because the repetition reminds me how everything works, but to make sure it works. Getting out to sea only to find that your Sat phone contract has expired, or the corrosion (which is always with us) has taken down some piece of equipment is not fun.In my experience things on sailboats, particularly electronic things, start acting wacky before they actually fail. Using them every day as if I was on a passage reassures me. Of course it is a false hope, that is why I (like everyone else) carries spares!!!

Fair wind and following seas :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eternal Vigilance is the Price for Finding Things that Broke

Pieces of the old Bow Roller
Actually in this case it was just washing the anchor chain! I had anchored out in Cambridge MD. When I picked up the anchor I also picked up a lot of mud. When I got to Solomons I hosed the mud off the chain only to find a couple of big chunks that were not mud but rather pieces of the anchor roller.

I got a replacement roller and took time yesterday to install it.

One of the lessons I have learned in my full time cruising experience is that things break. They seem to break a lot more frequently then when I was just socially cruising. Of course this is a function of distance and wear and being in salt water rather than fresh.
The new Roller
I sail a great deal more than I did when I was a weekend warrior. I have learned to go over Reboot very carefully before departing on a long voyage. I also pay attention to what has fallen on the deck. I use tie wraps a lot. They are very prone to failure from UV. When I find one on the deck (broken of course) it sets off the quest to find out how many others are on their last legs. Cotter pins are another area of concern. They hold in the clevis pins - and they rust (no matter what brand I buy) pretty frequently.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Do I need Pub 117 (Radio Navigational Aids?)

I spend a good bit of time while in port searching the Internet for valuable information. Of course I also spend a lot of time watching all my installed software, charts, etc. updating themselves. Recently I revisited the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency "Maritime Safety Information" web portal. Click me to go to the portal! NGIA is an intelligence agency that is part of the United States Department of Defense. Their mission:

"The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a responsibility to provide the products and services that decision makers, warfighters, and first responders need, when they need it most. As a member of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense, NGA supports a unique mission set. We are committed to acquiring, developing and maintaining the proper technology, people and processes that will enable overall mission success.

Geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information."


Why, with such a mission, would world cruisers be interested in their products? It turns out that they have a lot of great information - cruising guides, port guides, piracy information, etc. And it is all free.

This brings me to Pub 117. I had passed it over since I don't have radio direction finding on board. Not to mention that with GPS the old RDF techniques seem a bit dated. But I did read it again and found two very interesting sets of data. The first is on international assistance. It contains the telephone numbers and radio frequencies for Search and Rescue activities all over the world. The second is on piracy. Valuable information.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Windows 10

If you are like me you decided to upgrade to Windows 10 while it was free. My second motivation was the availability of high speed internet connection since it takes about 3 hours to download the update. Anyway, there is a lot to dislike about Windows 10. Particularly the fact that Google Chrome keeps crashing. However, a couple of things:

1) Google "windows 10 privacy." You will discover that in its default state Windows tracks your every move - mail, notes, calendar, etc... I turned it all off. Your mileage may vary.

2) The biggest frustration is that everything has moved. When you are trying to debug a problem all the old tricks (like right clicking on my computer to get to the device manager) are unavailable. The trick is the "windows key" plus the "X" key. This brings up all the "good stuff" that you have learned to love - control panel, device manager, the run command, etc. It has saved me hours.

3) I was having trouble with my computer. The Microsoft support guys told me to run these two routines in succession from and administrator command prompt (windows key + x key)

run sfc /scannow

dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

They suggested it would not hurt to run them once a month or so.


Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

New ID

With XO deciding to make unauthorized shore excursions I decided I better get him some ID. So now he sports a little heart on his chest. Too cute!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Marine Directory Asia - A useful resource

---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: "Anthony Gates (MDA)" < anthony@mda-media.com > Date: Oct 21, 2017 3:54 PM Sub...