01/06/2012, Burlington, Ontario
1. Question: With reference to first point of blog dated 11/17/2011: I guess next time you'll let the Coast Guard know you are testing out your emergency sail?
Answer: The Halton Police Marine Unit, working out of Bronte Outer Harbour Marina, know us: during the Bronte Outer Harbour Marina Boat Show last August, an officer told us that Stonefire was equipped with the required safety equipment, and more. After the orange sail incident, we headed in, docked the boat, and then Uwe went over to speak to the officers. The officers explained that when someone from the public calls, they are obligated to motor out to the "distressed" vessel and to receive an "OK" sign from the captain. So it is more a problem of educating the public that orange storm sails [see photo] are not red flags requesting a "Mayday".
2. Question: When are you leaving and for how long?
Answer: We are planning to leave Bronte Outer Harbour Marina as soon as the boat is provisioned this coming spring, and if all goes well, island-hop for about 2.5 to 3 years.
3. Questions: How did you like living aboard the boat during the month of October? Were you at a marina? Are you keeping the boat in the water over the winter (with bubblers around it) or are you taking it out? There are a few boaters at the Bluffers Park marina that live aboard during the winter and I always wondered how comfortable that would be. I think it would be pretty cozy, and with a good book and a glass of wine, heaven!
Answers: We loved living on board at our Bronte Outer Harbour Marina berth, as the Webasto heater we had previously installed kept our cabin toasty warm. Yes, it is heaven, especially with a good book and a glass of wine! We've seen boats at Bluffers Park Marina and Port Credit Marina with bubblers in the winter, AND some shrink-wrapped to ward off the cold, but our boat is out of the water for the winter. For one thing, we have many winter projects on which we've been working: Uwe is building shelving for lockers and the refrigerator, and I am sewing a dinghy motor cover, and cockpit bags to store sail sheets while underway.
11/17/2011, Burlington, Ontario
Listed below are additional important preparations for survival in extreme storm conditions:
1. In addition to having the rigging professionally inspected and overhauled by Klacko Spars, a second sail track has been installed on the mast in order to accommodate the Evolution Sails storm trysail. We also added a storm jib to our sail inventory. The bright orange colour of these storm sails caused some concern from someone on shore who called the marine police to "rescue" us when we were testing the sails on Lake Ontario one grey, blustery day in October.
2. Uwe and I installed Klacko Spars custom-made chain plates on Stonefire's canoe stern (photo of port chainplate is attached - the chainplate is above name) to accommodate the bridle for the Jordan Series Drogue which is a safety device designed to prevent the capsize and damage of vessels sailing on the open ocean in the event of a rogue/breaking wave strike. The drogue consists of a large number of small parachute-like cones woven into a line which has a small weight at the end of it. For more information about this type of sea anchor, check out the website: http://www.jordanseriesdrogue.com
We tested the drogue this fall and found that it was very easy to deploy and it slowed the boat to less than 3 knots when the engine was under full power. It took us one hour to winch it carefully back in.
3. We had read several stories of sailors suffering from broken ribs and concussions from flying objects during 360 degree roll-overs in heavy storms. Although our galley stove can be gimbaled while the boat is underway, Uwe decided to secure it to prevent it from dislodging should the boat roll. He also made latches to secure the cabinet and locker doors, floorboards and hatchboards.
Our next purchase will be an Emergency Beacon (EPIRB). EPIRBs are radio beacon transmitters which aid the detection and location of boats in distress. The radio beacons interface with the international satellite system for search and rescue. When the beacon is activated, a signal is sent out that, when detected by satellites, can be located by triangulation. Almost all pleasure yachts undergoing multi-day ocean passages now carry EPIRBs in addition to shortwave and VHF radios.
11/16/2011, Burlington, Ontario
For sailing on Lake Ontario or the Intracoastal Seaway along the United States eastern seaboard, we always felt that Stonefire was reasonably well equipped. In fact, Stonefire had been to Florida twice, courtesy of previous owners. But in order to sail across the northern Atlantic Ocean, we determined that several upgrades and purchases were necessary. Four of the more important refits, equipment and installations are listed below:
1. Communication. A radio with AIS capability was installed. The AIS (Automatic Identification System) is an automated tracking system for identifying and locating vessels, and supplements radar as a collision avoidance mechanism. Information from the AIS equipment, such as identification, position, course and speed of transmitting vessels, is displayed on a small chart-plotter screen in our cabin. It has been comforting for us to be able to identify a Laker and know its course upon leaving Hamilton Harbour (i.e. we can discern whether it is on a collision course with us).
2. Communication. A Pactor Modem was installed by Stand Sure Marine, so that e-mail and weather forecasts can be received using our Single Side Band (SSB) Radio. Pactor is a language for transmitting and receiving text and digital information via radio, while the interface box that connects to a radio and enables it to speak this special language is called a Pactor Modem. Insulators for an antenna on the backstay were removed and the backstay antenna was replaced by a highly recommended halyard antenna. Uwe has sent e-mails to his regular Google account from our SSB, via Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, so we know it works.
3. Navigation. A sextant is a good navigational backup should Stonefire's electrical systems ever get fried. The Captain received a sextant as a birthday gift from our thoughtful and caring adult children. Uwe found a great place under the navigation station desk to store the sextant. We both took the Canadian Power Squadron intensive 1-year course (now offered as a 2-year course) on Celestial Navigation in order to make good use of the sextant.
4. Survival. We purchased immersion suits (modified Mustang Ice Commander suits) to complement our survival gear (such as our life raft). We asked Mustang to provide neoprene cuffs on the sleeves instead of the default bulky gloves because we wanted the option of working on the boat's rigging if we needed to. One rainy cold October day we tested the suits. Because the suits only come in one size, mine felt HUGE. I had trouble climbing the boat emergency ladder because my feet would slip out of the men's size 14 boots. Nonetheless, while we floated in the cold water (see photo of Uwe in his suit), we felt quite warm and dry. Hopefully we will never need to use them in a rescue scenario.
While Stonefire is dry-docked for the winter, there are many projects to keep us very busy. The anticipation of an ocean passage next summer keeps our spirits soaring.