Saturday, October 24, 2015

13 Reasons not to date a sailor

Fun post:

Fair winds and following seas :)

Re: //WL2K Position Report

PLEASE include boat name!

> On Oct 24, 2015, at 7:26 AM, wrote:
> Time: 2015/10/24 11:24:35
> Latitude: 36-54.78NN
> Longitude: 076-27.39W
> Comment: Cove Marina, Virginia Beach VA

//WL2K Position Report

Time: 2015/10/24 11:24:35
Latitude: 36-54.78NN
Longitude: 076-27.39W
Comment: Cove Marina, Virginia Beach VA

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First Aid Kits

Over many years I have collected a number of first aid kits on board. Specific injuries have also augmented the collection of first aid materials - primary very large gauze pads for  a "road rash" injury of one of my crew when she was tossed off a scooter. As part of my preparations I decided to consolidate all the various kits into a couple of plastic bags. I pass on what I discovered.

  1. First aid equipment does age. In particular I discovered that much of the adhesive tape had lost its adhesive. In addition (since every boat project requires a blood donation) I discovered that the adhesive on several bandages had also become non-functional.
  2. One's memory  of prior purchases is faulty. I went through all of the non-prescription drugs: Dramamine, Imodium, etc. I thought they were fairly current. I threw about 80% of them out. Not only had they expired but they had expired a couple of years ago. I will of course replace them before setting sail.
Even so I was left with quite a quantity of first aid materials. My second step was to consolidate them from their current three locations into one that could be easily accessed and remembered by the crew. It was an instructive two hour project.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Sad Day

After 17 years of being a very loved member of the family Silky passed today. She was diagnosed with liver cancer and had lost a lot of weight and started throwing up blood. It was, unfortunately, time.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lithium Grease and Silicone

The Gooseneck

When Hurricane Joaquin was bearing down on the East Coast I took the precaution of removing all of the canvas from Reboot. Yesterday it was calm enough to bend the sails back on. Putting an ocean quality main sail back on by myself was not fun. I took advantage of the bare poles to disassemble, clean, and grease the moving parts. Even with the main off dealing with the boom was quite the task. The goose neck had been squeaking and as I started taking things apart I realized that the greasing task was much overdue. I also took the time to replace all the cotter pins holding things together.

The vang pivot
When it became time to bend on the sails I got out my trusty can of McLube Sailkote. The can was empty. This happens a lot, the frequent bouncing around seems to destroy the integrity of the seals on cans. With the advent of the newer lighter soda and beer cans it frequently destroys a few of them too. I have even found glass bottles empty with the caps intact. I walked down to the marina office to see if they had any Sailkote. They didn't but they did have a can of CRC Marine silicone spray for $4.20 (9 oz.) I purchased it and finish the task of putting the main back on.

I rarely drink and even more rarely drink alone but after a long day I decided I deserved a beer and some quiet time watching the sunset. While sitting in the cockpit I got curious about the cost of Sailkote. When I got down inside I decided to do a web search. The cheapest price I found was $10.66 for a 6 oz can of Sailkote. Is the stuff really that much better? I don't think so.

Fair winds and following seas :)

EPIRB's and PLB's

ACR Global Fix Pro GPS Cat II
My strongest emotion is apathy and my greatest skill is procrastination but the calendar is relentless. With only a couple of weeks to go my first priority is to go over everything on Reboot that needs to be fixed and that might have to be shipped in. Emergency equipment is always highest on my list. Reboot has an old Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPRIB) that still passes the self test. However the newer EPRIBs have a GPS function that reduces the search area from a radius of about 50 miles to a few feet. I spoke to the tech at ACR and he told me that even if a unit passes the self test one does  not know how long the battery  will last. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a new unit. Fortunately the price has dropped to about 1/3 of the cost of my original EPIRB. I purchased an ACR Global Fix Pro GPS for Reboot.

Since I single hand most of the time I was torn between purchasing an EPIRB and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB.) PLB's are functionally equivalent to EPRIB's with the exception of smaller batteries. Until recently they also did not float - a problem for a ship board emergency device. They are intended to be worn on one's life jacket hence are smaller than an EPRIB. My thought was that if I were to fall or be swept overboard having an EPRIB in the cabin would not do me much good.

ACR ResQLink+ 375
Since I am taking crew more frequently (and frankly since the prices have dropped to a point where they are more affordable) I decided to get a PLB for the watch stander in the cockpit. On my last trip Michael was swept across the cockpit by a boarding wave after he had detached his harness to come into the cabin. A little bit bigger wave of a different direction and he could have gone overboard. As it was his forward motion was stopped by taking a header into the winch. At least he stayed on board but took a nasty cut. ACR has updated their ResQLink to the ResQLink +. The difference is that the ResQLink + floats. A very valuable upgrade. When I am single handing I will wear it for personal protection.

I note in passing that ACR is running rebates on both devices. It reduced the pain at least a little bit.

With the advent of the Internet it pays to shop around. I ended up ordering from Defender - I have done a lot of business with them in the past and they have great customer service. The prices with West Marine were similar (WM at little more expensive) but what tipped the scales was sales tax. Since West Marine has stores in Virginia they are obligated to collect sales tax. The cost of the sales tax was more than the cost of the shipping from Defender.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Odd Case of the Group MMSI

There are three (four) very common numbers for sailboats. The first is the hull identification number assigned by the builder. The second is the documentation number assigned by a government or by a locality (i.e. in the US by a State.) The third is a individual "Maritime Mobile Service Identity" (MMSI) assigned by the government telecommunications bureau (i.e. The Federal Communications Commission in the U.S.)

[The fourth number is the International Maritime Organization (IMO) number. it is assigned to big ships]

An individual MMSI identifies a ship's radio installation. In a sense it is the "digital" embodiment of the ship station call sign (e.g. Reboot's radio call WDB8435 identifies the same equipment as the MMSI 336 958 630.) Since automatic information systems (AIS) transmitters are radios it is also used to identify an AIS transmitter.

In a digital selective calling enabled radio one can "ring" another ship or shore station by using the DSC function and the called station's MMSI rather than making a voice call (Reboot, Reboot, Reboot this is OtherBoat, OtherBoat, OtherBoat over.) An alarm (ring ring) will sound on the called station's radio. This can be more efficient. It is also very useful when a ship is bearing down on you and not answering your radio calls! With the advent of AIS this has become much easier because one of the data fields of an AIS message is the other ship's MMSI.

MMSI numbers are a nine digit number constructed with a three digit country code (e.g.366 for the United States, a 5 digit unique number, and the number "0." The trailing zero identifies this as an "international" MMSI. In some countries the authorities have permitted other organizations to issue MMSIs for in country use. They will not end with the number zero.

What if one is participating in an event like a rally and would like to call multiple boats simultaneously? Or if one wants to place a DSC call to the Coast Guard but any Coast Guard station, not a particular station. The MMSI system takes this desire into account with "Group MMSI" functionality. A group MMSI will ring all of the radios that have been programmed to respond. Unlike the individual MMSI that is "burned" into your radio and AIS group MMSIs can be added and deleted at will.

A group MMSI is constructed by starting with a leading zero. Next one might enter the country code followed by a 5 digit unique identifier (e.g. 036 6xx xxx.) Since I am about the participate in the Salty Dawg Rally I thought it might be kind of cool if the rally had a group MMSI.

Here is where the story gets strange. I contacted the FCC to ask how one gets a group MMSI assigned. They had no knowledge of group MMSIs. I contacted a couple of different people at the FCC just to be sure that I had not stumbled upon someone who was not informed. None of them had a clue. Here we have this great functionality that does not seem to have a way of being implemented. Strange. I did a little more research and discovered that I am not alone in not being able to get the answer to my question. The common practice appears to be to make up a properly formatted group MMSI and use it.

Fair winds and following seas :)