by Dave Davenne
5:53 am | 2 Comments » |
Finally we seem to be getting some good weather and I see a gradual increase in the number of boats in the waters on the South Shore. It is amazing how the number of boat and the number of moorings seem to be on the rise each year. The need to be able to manage the placement of moorings in our harbours and bays is becoming a key issue as the trend towards retirement increases and the greying members of the baby boom bulge find themselves with more time available for recreating – and many are turning to boating. But I’ll save that thought for another day.
One of the decisions that I have struggled with every few years is the replacement of my tender – my dinghy - my little boat that I tow behind the (not so) big boat. The tender I have been using is an Avon inflatable that is approximately 25 years old – and it certainly is showing its age (aren’t we all). I have it checked over each year and any minor preventative maintenance repairs made. This year however, the folks at Seamasters Marine in Dartmouth advised me that the old boat is getting pretty tired and that repairing it is becoming a more costly activity. They left me with the decision whether to buy a new dinghy or to get the old one repaired yet again with the realization that the process will likely be repeated next year and beyond. And therein lays the dilemma: repair or replace?
And a decision to replace then requires a choice of options for choosing a new tender – hard hull or inflatable. I suppose there are pros and cons for every kind of tender available. Should I buy a fibreglass dink – a hard tender certainly will have the durability over the years. The right design can be rowed easily and it will take a decent sized outboard. It can be towed or hauled onto the foredeck for longer trips. And there is broad cross-section of tenders to choose from many of them built right here in Nova Scotia. Boat builders like Rosborough Boats, Transom Boatworks and John Crowell Boatworks, just to name a few, all offer different iterations of a fibreglass tender – some in finished form – and some in a finish-it-yourself hull arrangement.
On the inflatable side, the range of tenders available is indeed broad. Of course there are the old standards such as Zodiac, Avon, Achilles, Quicksilver as well as many others from which to choose. There is also the relative newcomer – Dong-Seo built boats – available from Seabright Marine that seems to be a reasonably priced alternative. Most of these dinghies are relatively light, and with things like inflatable keels or floors and removable wooden floors, they can be rolled up and stored below decks if you’re on a long trip. They can be easily towed for short her local sails. I find these boats are not easily rowed, but of course you can always use an outboard.
The prices of these tenders can range from a low of $750 for one of the basic fibreglass ones to tens of thousands of dollars for some of the inflatable boats available depending upon the size, special equipment and any outboard power that you may add.
When I consider the options for a new tender each year, I very quickly moved to a rationalization of how often I actually use one given the typical coastal cruising that I do each summer. With access to a local tender service, I rarely use my dinghy. When I go out for the day, I rarely stop off at anchor so I return to my home mooring and the tender service at night. If I am away on a cruise I tend to remain on the boat at anchor and if I do go ashore, it’s because I’ve been able to find a piece of wharf somewhere to tie up alongside. If my planned destination required a dinghy, I will store it on the foredeck rather than deflate it and store below. Davits of course are always an option – see the rationalization previously noted.
Choices…choices…choices…repair or replace. So as not to change past-behaviour (and let someone predict my future behaviour correctly), I had my Avon inflatable repaired yet again. I’m sure I have paid for a new one many times over in repair fees and expenses for this little boat but it has have served me well. Maybe next year I’ll get a new one – but I’ll have this one checked out first of course.
In the meantime, I did find a few useful pieces of advice relevant to towing a dinghy. Let me know if you would have some to add:
Never tow the dinghy at night.
Never tow the dinghy if there is a chance of rough seas.
Never tow the dinghy if the passage is more than 15 miles.
Always tow with a bridle through the dinghy’s bow towing eye and back to the transom.
Care to share your thoughts and experiences with dinghies?
2 Comments »
June 1, 2008
11:36 am | No Comments » |
Preparations for launch day continue in spite of the intervening variables. It seems that home business, volunteer community activities and even a bit of work that pays combine to minimize the amount of time available to get the myriad of last minute things done. And the weather is not cooperating. In spite of the best laid plans, things still arise that cause further problems.
Of note is a transmission shifter cable that has seized. It appears that I had left the shift lever in position at the end of the season last year and the inner cable was left exposed without enough lubricant. Some corrosion developed resulting in this new problem. I could probably take some crocus cloth to the inner cable and probably remove the corrosion to enable the cable to function but I think that will only delay its inevitable replacement – and set the stage for a future problem that cannot be as easily resolved as it can when the boat is on shore.
I called Ted Derivan at Transom Boat Works - a full-service boat building and repair shop working in both traditional wood and composite boatbuilding material. Transom Boatworks, located on Herman’s Island Road, is almost disguised from the roadway but once inside you will find a traditional boat shop where Ted and his staff focus on the repair and restoration of traditional wooden boats.
When I stopped by the shop, Ted showed me a Roue 20 that was dismantled for a restoration – only the ribs and keel were showing. This particular boat had been built in 1956 as hull # 12 by the Smith and Rhuland yard. Derivan spoke enthusiastically about the work he is undertaking with the Roue and he predicts that the fully reconstituted boat will be a work of art as much as it a working sailboat.
In spite of their personal passion for wooden boats Ted and his staff have many clients who are seasonal residents who live away from Nova Scotia during the winter but who want their boats ready and waiting upon their arrival in Nova Scotia. Transom also offers boat management programs for the visiting boatowner. All of their clients expect a high standard of workmanship, service and reliability – and Transom Boat Works is committed to providing that.
Ted has a staff of three working with him at Transom: Chris LeBlanc is an apprentice boatbuilder, who is part of the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association apprenticeship program; Troy Herman is a master cabinetmaker executing his craft on the wooden boats and Joan Fetsko handles the marketing for the shop.
Transom Boatworks consists of two buildings: the old shop measure 48’ x 28’ and is primarily used for offices, storage and smaller boats being built or repaired. The new shop is 42’ x 30’ and boasts an 18′ ceiling height which can accommodate most full-keel boats of 40’ foot in length, in a heated, climate-controlled environment.
Transom boat Works is the Atlantic Canada dealer for Eastern Boats and Ted currently has an 18 foot center console boat as well as a 22’ Cape style boat in stock.
But back to my problem…I explained the situation with my shifter to Ted. He offered a couple of alternatives for repair or replacement. He agreed to drop by and have a look at the cable and determine what was needed to change it up. Ted came over to my boat a couple of days later, removed the old cable back to the shop, re-created it precisely and then reinstalled. The shifting mechanism is now as good as it ever was – smooth as butter.
See how easy it is to get side-tracked when the topic is the ‘Boating Life’!
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May 18, 2008
7:06 pm | 1 Comment » |
The season is finally upon us. Most folks toil away Monday to Friday, waiting for the weekend to come so they can get down to business of doing the final preparations on their boat before launch. Wash and wax the hull; sand the bottom; put out her new coat of antifouling paint; oil the teak; sand and Cetol the bright work; polish the stainless and the brass – lots of things to do to get the boat into the water. If only the weather would cooperate. Of course you can always work on the boat after dinner in the evening…just bring your insect repellent – the black flies and no-see-ums are waiting for you.!
Just about this time a year. I start to go over my lists of “to-do’s” that I made in the fall before I put the boat away. These lists become more important as I get older and the gaps in the memory become more common. What? Oh, yeah! I need to make sure that I get everything done that I had planned to do along with the new bits of gear that I had planned to add to the boat this year. Invariably I end up with bits and pieces in my shop that remain after the boat is fully prepped for launch. And it’s always a problem – what to do with those left over, unwanted and unnecessary pieces?
I think I may have a simple way to help new find a way to dispose of those surplus boat parts or to find out if someone else has the part available that you might need. Write back to me via ‘Comments’ and share some info on what you have for sale, what you have to trade or what you’re looking to buy. The only requirement is that anything you would list should be directly related to ‘The Boating Life’.
So now is your chance to find a buyer for the old head that you took out of your boat in favour of one that was a better bum fit. Those sails that are still in good shape but unsuitable for a serious racer such as you. The old outboard that still works fine; the winch you replaced with self-tailers; the VHF radio that still works fine but that you replaced with one that provided the differential function. Even the whole boat – as traumatic an experience as that can be.
Examples of some of the things that would not be appropriate to list for sale trade or to buy would be that favourite sweater you always wear on the boat that is well stained with evidence of dark and stormy spillage from round the Liars’ table or a favourite hat that Aunt Tilley liked to wear on the boat until she got sea sick and had to use it as a bucket; or the old set of pots and pans that ended up on your boat because the bottoms were burnt from making popcorn on the stove at home.
We are looking for marine focussed items that have supported your Boating Life. Send me a brief one line description of what you have for sale or trade; or, that you would like to buy. That one line should also include your e-mail address so that our blog readers can contact you directly. If the item that you would add to our list is not related to ‘The Boating Life’ it will have to be removed. I would also hasten to point out that South Shore Now does have an opportunity for you to list items for sale in their ‘Classifieds’ section on the website. And of course the same opportunity exists through all of the Lighthouse Publishing papers.
And I am still looking for your input on ‘The Boating Life’ related events that are scheduled for your club, association or area on the South Shore this summer. Share them with us and we will add them to our list of ‘must-do’ activities for summer 2008!
1 Comment »
May 11, 2008
6:26 pm | 1 Comment » |
Now that all of the children (some grand and some not so) have quieted down and Mother can finally get some rest from your celebration of her day, she can take a few moments to surf round the web and check out the info on a few marine sites. Consider:
The Mother of All Maritime Links (a good place to get lost for days on end looking at boat stuff)
Brokerage (Database): Yachtworld
Did I miss your boating oriented club in the South Shore area? Let me know.
Marinas: Brooklyn Marina
Gold River Marine
Oak Island Inn Marina
Lahave Outfitters & Marina
Mahone Bay Civic Marina
Shipyard Bay Marina - Mahone Bay
South Shore Marine
May 24 – 25: Chester Yacht Club: Opening Regatta
Jun 19 – 22: St. Margeret’s Sailing Club: Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card Course
Jul 1: Lahave River Yacht Club: the Challenge Cup
Jul 18 – 20: St. Margeret’s Sailing Club: Laser Canadian Championship
Jul 24 – 27: Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club: Founders’ Day Regatta
Jul 26 – 27: Lahaver River Yacht Club: Junior Regatta
Jul 31 – Aug 3: Mahone Bay Classic Boat Festival
Aug 9 – 10: Lunenburg Yacht Club: J-29 Regatta
Aug 13 – 16: Chester Yacht Club: Chester Race Week
Aug 17 – 22: Lunenburg Yacht Club: OPTI Canadian Champinships
Aug 21 – 23: Lahave River Yacht Club: Soling Cup
Aug 23 – 24: Chester Yacht Club: Maritime Bluenose Championships
Sep 26 – Sep 28: St. Margaret’s Sailing Club: Canadian Laser masters Championship
If you have a boating activity to add to our calendar – a regatta, poker run, dory races, etc. – let me know and I will add it to the list.
1 Comment »
May 4, 2008
11:14 am | No Comments » |
This is a large spring day indeed and time to get busy with spring chores. But first, I must to stop to try and recall the situation Nova Scotians were living 65 years ago. Today is Battle of the Atlantic Sunday and we celebrate the 65th anniversary of the end of that seaborne effort (although the global war effort continued for a further two years).
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest single battle of World War II. The Battle began September 3, 1939, with the sinking of the Montréal-bound passenger ship SS Athenia by a German submarine west of Ireland. Of the 1,400 passengers and crew, 118, including 4 Canadians, were killed. The Battle then raged for some years and was considered to have been won by the Allies in 1943 (65 years ago), although hostilities in the Atlantic lasted the duration of the Second World War, which in Europe ended May 8, 1945.
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) began the war with 13 vessels – 6 destroyers with 3,500 personnel – and ended it with the third largest navy in the world. At war’s end the RCN had 373 fighting ships and over 110,000 members, all of whom were volunteers, including 6,500 women who served in the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Services. Approximately 2,000 members of the RCN died during the war, and 24 RCN vessels were sunk.
The RCN’s chief responsibility during the Battle was the escort of merchant ship convoys. The first convoy sailed from Halifax on September 16, 1939, escorted by the Canadian destroyer St. Laurent. By mid-1942, the RCN, with support from the RCAF, was providing nearly half the convoy escorts, and afterward carried out the lion’s share of escort duty.
And the effort and sacrifice was not limited to the RCN. On August 26, 1939, all Canadian merchant ships passed from the control of their owners to the control of the RCN. No Canadian-registered ship or merchant ship in a Canadian port could sail without the RCN’s authority and direction. When the war began Canada had 38 oceangoing merchant vessels of 1,000 tons or more. 410 merchant ships were built in Canada during the war. More than 25,000 merchant ship voyages were made. The Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance lists the names of approximately 1,600 Canadians who died at sea during the war, including those of eight women.
The Atlantic battle on the ocean continued until the end of the war although by 1943 the RCN and the RCAF had turned the tide in their sector of the Atlantic.
And I am mindful this was not the Atlantic that I choose to ‘play’ in each summer. It was not the ocean where I choose to venture out a few miles on warm days with favourable winds. It was not the patch of calm blue water I look out on this fine sunny May morning.
It was the North Atlantic of winter – freezing temperatures, howling winds, stinging sea spray and ice so thick on the superstructure that many boats became top heavy and in danger of capsizing. It was the North Atlantic spent in a Corvette - uncomfortable living conditions, wet clothes and cold spaces, meals of ‘red lead and biscuits’ and of course the ever present threat of being blasted to smithereens without warning. Try to imagine the conditions which the RCN and the Merchant Navy endured; consider the constant state of anxiety – and then think about the stress - hour after hour, day after day, month after month – for 6 years!!!!!!!
If you know of someone who stood this watch on guard for us then so we can go play on the ocean today, try and get them to share their story with you. Save it for future generations so they will know what has been done for them. And then say thank you!!!
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April 27, 2008
5:07 pm | 2 Comments » |
I think springtime might actually be here. The peepers are singing in their nightly chorus, the days seem a little milder and the warmth of the sun seems stronger. Let’s hope the winter has indeed passed.
Now it’s time to turn attention to the pre-launch jobs on the boat (with due regard for the list of yard chores the first mate has on her springtime agenda).
One piece of work I have been planning is the replacement of the portlights is the main cabin. Not unlike many other boats of the 1970s, the existing portlights are aluminum framed with an internal gasket that holds a piece of thin plastic window material. The portlight is frame is approximately 35” long and 8” wide. Unfortunately, the plastic clouds over time obscuring the view and the portlight gaskets tend to leak. I have already replaced smaller portlights with opening versions. I have also changed the plastic inserts in these larger portlights on two prior occasions but they have clouded over again and I would like to replace them.
My plan for replacement this time is to remove the frame completely from the cabin and mount the portlight directly to the hull – no frame. This seemed to be more the trend on boats manufactured in the 80s & 90s except for the hard-core blue water boats where stainless or bronze frames, well-secured, are the order of the day. Many of the newer boats reveal windows that are attached by the application of some type of adhesive without any mechanical fasteners. I plan to use both methods.
Once the old frame is removed I will wipe the fiberglass with a solvent type cleaner to clear away any residue on the gel coat. I have some 3/8in. thick smoke plexiglass that I will cut to the outside dimension size of the aluminum frames and then ease the edges slightly with a shaper. With the old frames as a guide, I will mark and drill clearance holes in the plexi which match the position of the existing screw holes in the hull. I will install a double-sided, self-adhesive butyl rubber gasket between the plexi and the hull. I will also mechanically secure the plexiglass to the hull using #8 or #10 stainless pan head screw with a rubber washer underneath to seal and a flat washer/lock washer/nut on the inside of the cabin. Self-locking nuts are also an option. Before I tighten the screws, I will put a narrow bead of silicone caulk between the inside edge of the plexiglass and the hull, on the top of the butyl. With a second pair of hands down below I will tighten the screws securing the plexi, sandwiching the butyl between it and the hull while squeezing the thin bead of caulk to seal the edge of the tape.
I am still considering whether to make teak trim ring for the inside of the hull or leave the curtain in place to hide the inside of the mounting screws.
What have you done in the past to change-out portlights in your boat?
Were you able to get direct replacements from a marine supply shop?
Did you have something custom-made?
Please share any suggestions or ideas from a similar change on your boat?
2 Comments »
April 20, 2008
5:53 pm | 2 Comments » |
Today is a beautiful sunny Sunday in April…what is a boater to do…I know, take the first mate into Halifax to pick up three of the grand-sprogs and take them to Rebecca Cohn to see Franklyn the Turtle. But what was I to do while they’re all at the show?
I made a quick trip down to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to take in the Maritime Ship Modelers Guild annual showcase. Albeit these are somewhat smaller representations of marine craft, but these boats are built and maintained with the same dedication and care as their full-size counterparts. Any number of different models of boats and boat engines were available.
There was a complex diorama under construction of HMC Dockyard as it would have looked in 1816 – complete with a man-o-war on the careening slip. There were even tiny rowing boats fully crewed with oars shipped. This large 10′ x 4′ model is indeed quite complex and will represent literally thousands of hours of work when it is finally completed – provided of course they can keep errant fingers away from the myriad of little pieces – sorry ’bout that!
I also saw a number of displays of boats that would be familiar to any of us here in Nova Scotia: a fleet of Coast Guard boats (part of the full time museum dispaly), a St. Margaret’s Bay Skiff, naval vessels, sailboats or a model of the famous Tancook Whaler.
The Tancook Whaler model was built by Mike Concannon in 1/48 scale from plans drawn by Howard Chapelle, who took the lines off a boat in 1935 (known as the middle River boat). The sturdy fishing boats originated in the latter part of the 19th century and originally had no power, but they were easy to row and they were very fast sailors. In later years they were often fitted with one-lungers (single cylinder engines). One major concern of this design was the little freeboard and the large open volume of the boat. It seems an even more daunting concern when you consider the kinds of work and weather that the men encountered when they were out in them. Not unlike the original schooner rigged Tancook Whalers that likely bore sails built by Randolph Stevens, the sails on the model are done in the traditional tanbark. And it is no small coincidence that they were sewn by Michelle Stevens of Second Peninsula.
Of particular interest was one of a number of models that were built by Archie McAllister who was on hand to discuss his fine work. One model was of a square-rigged Baltimore Clipper called the Harvey. It was a ship that had been involved in the 19th century slave trade to America. Archie noted that although the boats were built in the Baltimore area the shipwrights were Bluenosers, who were lured by gift or by graft to relocate to Baltimore and to put their ship building skills to work there.
In discussing the detail of his work, Archie noted that much of the equipment on the boat was specifically installed to make the transport of human cargo as free of incident is possible. He also observed that although the vessel was approximately only 200 feet in length, the Harvey routinely carried between 700 and 800 slaves on a trip – a rather ignominious history. But the fine workmanship of Mr McAllister renders the Harvey simply as something to be seen as a beautiful ship built with the highest craftmanship regardless of how some might have chosen to use it. As is often the case, Archie suggested that model building began for him as a hobby but eventually it has become an all-consuming passion. It shows in his work!
There were also a number of supporting displays. One in particular was of a row of model steam engines that were connected to a compressed air source and could be activated to demonstrate how they would work if they were installed in a boat. There was also a fully fitted steam powered launch there complete with a working steam engine for operating the boat. That launch was scratch-built by Bob Payne of French Village.
Unfortunately, the event at Rebecca Colin only lasted for an hour so that was all the time that I had to look at the efforts of the members of the Nova Scotia Modelers Guild. It was hardly long enough to do justice to their work so I will be watching for another opportunity to see their displays…it is well worth the time to drop by and inspect the intricate, laborious, painstaking work that they do to construct these boats. If you don’t have a chance to see them before then, some of the Guild Members will be at the Mahone Bay Classic Boat Festival, July 31 to August 3, again displaying their models, and perhaps operating some of them near the wharf.
PS – the covers are off, now it’s time to get to work on my boat!
2 Comments »
April 13, 2008
8:32 am | 3 Comments » |
The weather outlook is improving. It is time to get stuck in to the preparations for launch and a safe boating season. Here are a few suggested considerations for a pre-launch checklist:
____Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary. Ensure thru-hull fittings are double clamped. I actually saw a 53-foot, million $$ gin palace partially submerge on a mooring – the head discharge hose slipped off the thru-hull because the single hose clamp ($3.50) failed.
____ Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft – if it’s loose, the cutlass bearing may need to be replaced. Replace shaft zincs.
____ Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn’t been bent. Check stock bushings for wear.
____ Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks – what is under the layers of bottom paint?
____ Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion and properly secured.
____ Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check these as well as through-hulls for leaks. Keep an appropriately-sized wooden plug tethered in a convenient location close to the stuffing box. Do the same for any thru hull.
____ Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.
____ If equipped, ensure that stern drain plug is installed.
____ Ensure the log impeller is in place before launch (actually saw a boat sink due to an impeller left out at launch.
____ Inspect fuel tanks and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean fuel filters.
____ Inspect cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.
____ Inspect exhaust manifold and exhaust hose for corrosion or damage.
____ Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water. Ensure adequate ventilation if you are charging the batteries in the boat. Be wary of polarity when re-installing batteries.
____ Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks – test run the blower. Consider adding a fume detector if your have a gas inboard.
____ Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers – old flares can be unstable; old extinguishers may not function when you most need them to do.
____ Check stove and remote tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses – do the soapy water test on all propane fittings. A friend had the deck blown off his 26’ Grampian when a light switch ignited leaking propane. Propane fume detectors are also available…
____ Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure it’s working properly – remote and automatic.
____ Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.
____ Have your mooring inspected – riser, swivels and shackles.
____ Ensure your bridle is intact and adequate for your boat and mooring situation
____ Update or replace old charts – don’t rely solely on electronic charting – have key back up print charts.
____ replace all minor batteries (AAA, C, 9V, etc.) – have stock of spares on hand
____ Check all lighting – navigational and interior…have spares on hand
____ Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed
For the rag-baggers:
____ Inspect standard rigging fittings for cracks and rust. Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for “fishhooks” and rust.
____ Lubricate winches
____ Have your sails inspected by your favourite sail-maker
____ Check bearings in the furler for easy movement; replace furling line if required
____ Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape.
____ Recaulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade) – leaks can wreak havoc with cored decks
____ Check stanchions and lifelines for wear, cracks or damage
____ Check running rigging and sheets for wear
For the stink-potters
____Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect.
____ Check power steering and power trim oil levels. Replace worn-out zincs.
____ Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable has to be replaced.
____ Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges.
For your trailer:
____ Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don’t forget the spare!
____ Inspect bearings and repack as necessary.
____ Test tail and back-up lights. Test winch to make sure it’s working properly.
____ Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.
What is on your routine maintenance or pre-launch checklist? Share it with us.
3 Comments »
April 6, 2008
12:48 pm | 1 Comment » |
I wasn’t sure what I would write to you about this week but I kept thinking about the recent situation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Last weekend, if you recall, a disabled fishing trawler under tow from a coast guard icebreaker slammed into a piece of ice and capsized in the dark early Saturday, sending six seal hunters into a mad scramble for survival that ended with at least three dead and a fourth lost. Most had been below asleep!!!
There will be an investigation where a whole raft of authorities will sit around the table in Ottawa or Québec City and probably in Ile-de-la-Madeline. No doubt they will discuss the events of that night and no doubt there will be a litany of shoulda/coulda/woulda and finger-pointing and accusations. Meanwhile the families of the four lost seaman will suffer and try make sense out of the tragedy as they try to move forward with their lives. And the crew of the Coast Guard vessel will have to shoulder grief and mis-giving and the despair wrought by twenty-twenty hind sight as they come to grips with their role in the tragedy.
The bottom line is, any time you venture out onto the water the potential for something life-threatening to happen exists.
And, it certainly is not something that’s unique to any particular part of the country. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you live on salt water or fresh, a river or lake, the undisputed global reality is that we humans are not designed to live in water without some type of support system.
Locally we have all likley heard of the Great August Gale of 1926 that struck without warning, catching two Lunenburg schooners, Sylvia Mosher and Sadie A. Knickle as they fished off Sable Island. Both vessels disappeared with all hands. The tragedy was made worse by many households having to deal with the loss of more than one family member. A problem that was created through years of tradtition when fishing was a common livelihood and passed from one generation to another – fathers, sons, brothers and uncles often went to sea together.
In 1927, just a few days after the anniversary of the 1926 tragedy, the August Gales again swept the waters off Sable Island. This time the toll was even greater. Four Lunenburg schooners, Mahala, Uda R. Corkum, Clayton W. Walters and Joyce M. Smith, succumbed to the waves and took all aboard with them. In two seasons, 138 men from in and around Lunenburg had lost their lives. In Blue Rocks it was said that every household lost at least one family member and the male population was virtually wiped out. Families and whole communities faced financial ruin, Of course, even then an official inquiry was launched.
Go down to the Lunenburg waterfront nearby to the Fisheries Musuem and you will find a monument to the men from the local area who lost their lives to the sea. Standing like a modern day Stonehenge, black monoliths are engraved with the names of 87 boats that have been lost in just over a hundred years. They also list another 41 boats that were lost with all hands. The names of over 600 seafarers are etched into the rock. The lists begin before 1890 and continue to have names added to the markers almost every year.
And when boats were made of steel, the sea still laid claim to those who ventured out. The Titanic is probably the best-known maritime disaster. It was a ship that was described as unsinkable but it managed to disappear in the quiet darkness of the frigid North Atlantic on an April night taking with it over 1500 souls. Only a few survivors lived to tell the tale of the events of that night.
The Maritime Museum of Nova Scotia in Halifax lists over 5000 shipwrecks on the shores of Nova Scotia over the centuries. No doubt the dead number in the tens of thousands!
Just a couple of years ago a crew member from a Lunenburg-based tall ship was washed overboard by a rogue wave and lost at sea. No one expected the wave - unfortunately the sea rarely gives warning of its intention.
And the story repeats itslf across the globe in all waters – the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Empress of Ireland, the Atlantic, the Andrea Doria and every other week another jury-rigged ferry capsizes off the coast of a third-world counrty with a horrednous loss of life.
And consider that these are ‘peacetime’ numbers. Neptune demands an even greater toll from those on military exploits.
So what does all mean to me? It means that I am a speck of flotsam upon the water. I have to take every possible safety precaution to ensure that I have minimized the risks involved with being on the water. Accept that you can never eliminate the risk, you can only hope to manage it. It means that I must:
- do the necessary maintenance or have it done by someone qualified to do so;
- keep my safety equipment in top shape and current;
- have a life jacket and be sure to use it;
- when I am single-handing I use an auto inflate lifejacket;
- fit a jack line and use a harness if I am expecting foul weather;
- have some kind of communications with shore;
- keep an eye on the weather;
- when I am boating with my grand-children, I am sure that they have a life jacket designed for their use. I should not be tempted to dash off to the local automotive supply store and buy a life vest that may be approved by Transport Canada, but will do little to help a small child keep their face out of the water. A life jacket designed for small children should roll them over in the water automatically so they keep their face clear.
But most importantly, wear the damn lifejacket – you and your crew. If you’ve just come around Little Duck Island and you’re heading for the Chop between the Tancooks and you are off Bull Rock and you happen to get tossed over the side by a rogue wave, or a misstep or a gybing boom, you are probably not going to be able to swim to the nearest point of land. It may be equally difficult for you to tread water long enough to await rescue, particularly if you were alone on your boat and no one is even aware that you are over the side. If you have a life jacket, wear it whenever you’re on deck. It will give you the best odds of surviving an accident when you’re on the water.
And if there is someone else on board, do they know enough to bring the boat around to pick you up – even in a 20 kt wind? Do they have the strength to get you back aboard? Can they radio for assistance?
Smarten up, boat smart!!
And don’t forget the old line “O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small”
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March 30, 2008
8:41 am | No Comments » |
I am still waiting for springtime. Someone had said it was right around the corner but when I walked up the street to look, I couldn’t see it!!!
In the meantime, there are always training options to consider in order to hone our boating skills. Some upcoming events include:
1. North U (North sails) is offering a seminar for sailors at St Mary’s University in Halifax on April 13. North U Trim Seminars teach the latest in racing skills with an emphasis on practical, proven, real world techniques that will help you win. You will learn the fundamentals of upwind performance, advanced techniques which balance angle of attack, sail depth, and twist in both main and jib to optimize speed & pointing in different conditions.
This course covers the latest in spinnaker trim and control for both conventional and asymmetric spinnakers. The course also teaches boat handling methods which put you in control. You’ll see how to set, jibe, and douse all types of spinnakers in all kinds of weather. You will leave with the tools to make your boat handling second nature, and your boat speed second to none.
For more information or to register, check out the North U website:
3. SMSC sponsors a number of boating maintenance course with one entitled ‘Batteries & 12 V Electrical Systems for Boating’ upcoming on April 3. Have you have ever been out on your boat and all of a sudden everything failed – no VHF, no instruments, no engine – absolutely everything? And then it all returned, springing back to life with alarms and lights blaring and you still haven’t figured out why it happened. If so, this may be the course for you. It can be useful and safety-enhancing to have some basic knowledge of all of the systems on the boat. You don’t have to be an engineer or a mechanic but it would help if you could manage some basic trouble shooting and repair – like being able to identify and repair a faulty ground connection in the electrical system. Contact SMSC for more information or to register.
4. At the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club, the Shelburne Sailing School Association offers a series of one-week courses by Canadian Yachting Association certified and insured instructors. The courses provide an introduction to sailing theory, safety, and boat handling. The association provides eight, 9-foot sailing dinghies (Escape Rumbas), a safety boat, on-the-water instruction, and learn-to-sail manuals, which outline sailing theory.
Each student receives 30 hours of instruction (approximately 15 hours on-the-water and 15 hours on-land instruction) with boats and equipment, the learn-to-sail manual, a test at weeks end, and a certificate on successful completion of each course. Basic Safety Procedures will be emphasized including the method for righting an overturned dinghy, rules of the road, and dangerous weather signs. On the water, you’ll learn how to adjust sails, make your boat go in the desired direction, and how to moor and dock a boat. For more information or registration, contact the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club.
5. And if you are still looking for a convenient way to prepare and successfully write your Operator’s certificate, you can do so on line. There is a study guide available on-line, a test you can take even and interim Operator’s certificate you can print off while you are waiting for the ‘official’ certificate ordered. There is a fee of course and you will have to find a non-family member to act as Supervisor. The role of the Supervisor is to ensure the test is undertaking correctly. Check out the opportunity at the Boater Exam website.
These are just a few of the training opportunities that are available. I believe there is more planned but not yet scheduled around the South Shore. What boating related training is available in your area or club?
P.S. Notice I did not mention the continuing #*^f%~* weather!!
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