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Rhumb Line, Vol 4 Issue 3 -- New at
December 06, 2016

Rhumb Line

a course that keeps a constant bearing

The Rhumb Line for Great Lakes Sailing is clear: to provide a comprehensive listing of ports around the Great Lakes basin and articles that cover a broad range of topics of interest to sailors.

The purpose of Rhumb Line is to keep you up-to-date with new additions to Great Lakes Sailing and articles of interest in a brief, easy-to-scan and concise manner. I value not only your interest but also your time.

November 2016

New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. New Ports

2. Proximity Alarms on a Chartplotter or GPS

3. Using the US Coast Pilot / Canadian Sailing Directions

4. Things Your Spouse/Partner Should Know

5. Toronto International Boat Show Schedule

6. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

1. New Ports

(a) Beardrop Harbour, ON

Beardrop Harbour is an incredibly beautiful anchorage located near the west end of Whalesback Channel, on the north side. It can be a popular anchorage but there lots of room for vessels to space themselves out.

Click here to visit Beardrop Harbour, ON

(b) John Harbour, ON

John Harbour is a beautiful anchorage located at the west end of John Island, on the south side of Whalesback Channel. The anchorage is created by a long, narrow expanse of water between John Island to the north and Dewdney Island to the south. It gets its name from John Moiles, one of four relatively disreputable brothers who made their name by stealing and transporting their bankrupt lumber mill over the ice from the USA to Canada!

Click here to visit John Jarbour, ON

(c) Aird Island ON

On the north side of Aird Island lies long, deep and very well-protected bay. It is generally overlooked by vessels moving east or west on Whalesback Channel but it is very definitely worth investigating if you want a quiet, utterly beautiful anchorage.

Click here to visit Aird Island, ON

2. Proximity Alarms on a Chartplotter or GPS

Most, if not all, chartplotter or GPS units have a 'proximity' alert – a beep when you come within a pre-set distance of a waypoint. In all likelihood, that 'beep' is also distinct from other beeps or alarms that your unit will sound. Here are some ideas on how to use this feature.

1) Approach a Waypoint
The most obvious use is to give advance notice that a waypoint is being approached A pre-set alarm set for 1 nautical mile can give you sufficient time to plan a course alteration.

Depending on the configuration of your unit, pull up the "proximity" menu or select the relevant waypoint. This allows you to select any waypoint, increase the distance of the alarm, and toggle the alarm. Your proximity alarm most likely has a distinct series of beeps to distinguish it from other alarms.

2) Turn Onto a New Course
If you have a critical course alteration coming up that will require something more than simply moving the wheel/tiller 15° or 20°, a proximity alarm can give you sufficient time to plan the execution of a heading change, falling off, tacking, or jibing. The advance notice can give you time to trim your sails for the new course, warn/prepare crew, do a careful sweep of the surrounding waters, switch from auto pilot to manual steering, etc.

3) Approaching Landfall
Approaching landfall can bring mixed emotions. There is the pleasure and anticipation of reaching a destination port or anchorage. However, there can also be the apprehension of making that final approach. For safety (and less apprehension and thus more enjoyment), you want to have time to prepare for landfall. If you set a proximity alarm 3-5 nm out (or the equivalent to 30-60 minutes, depending on your boat and speed), you will have time to plan an approach, carefully scan surrounding waters for traffic or hazards, prepare lines or ground tackle and most importantly, go over your approach with your crew.

4) Using Contour Curves.
Navigation charts show depths as regularly spaced 'contours lines'. These lines connect similar depths on the bottom and are shown in feet, meters or fathoms (Look on your chart for the units! - check the large magenta letters at the top right corner of the chart.)

If you program the proximity alarm to sound when you cross specific contour curve, it can serve as a back up to your navigation planning.

5) Danger Alert
If there is a hazard or obstruction that you need to avoid (rock awash, sand bar or reef), determine the closest safe distance to pass it. Calculate the latitude and longitude of the danger point's closest position to your course. Enter this as a waypoint. Determine how close you want to approach this danger point and then set a proximity alarm.

6) Dragging Anchor
Naturally, a proximity alarm can work well to alert you to a dragging anchor. Draw a circle around your anchored position that takes into account swing and some small amount of drag. Set the proximity alarm to sound when the boat touches the edge of the circle.

3. Using the US Coast Pilot / Canadian Sailing Directions

Both Canada and the United States publish a document called a Coast Pilot (US) or Sailing Directions (Canada). These guides are companions to charts. They provide a wealth of additional information that is usually not shown on navigation charts.

U.S. government policy is that as this information was paid for by the taxpayers, it is therefore available to citizens at no charge. Canadian government policy is that the information is paid for by taxpayers but then transferred to a private firm that resells them to bookstores and chandleries. That way, citizens get to pay to see what they have already paid for. (Links for these are available in the Free Resources section of the website.)

Using a Coast Pilot or Sailing Directions in conjunction with your chart can add greatly to your planning process. Using small coloured tabs or flags, you can mark the relevant pages for quick access. You can also use those coloured flags to indicate on your chart the location of these additional features such as landmarks, prominent features, dangerous rock or shoals and points of interest.

Using this additional useful information found in the US Coast Pilots or Canadian Sailing Directions will only increase your navigation skills and local knowledge. This in turn makes your sailing safer and much more enjoyable.

4. Things Your Spouse/Partner Should Know

While this is not always the case, many times when a couple are sailing, the reality is that it is being single-handed with a passenger on board. Male or female, there are many cases where one partner is the primary person with the keen interest and the skill set to run the boat.

So, the question becomes, have you worked out a plan to to train your spouse or partner in what they need to know to operate your boat? In an emergency or if you are incapacitated, it's vital that they could run things alone. Boating author John Vigor his terrific book The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat has assembled a list of must-knows that I have reproduced here. They bear thinking about.

1) Marine anchor and ground tackle
Show your spouse or partner how to inspect the ground tackle and explain how all of the parts link together. Teach them the easy way to estimate scope, choose an anchorage, or lower and raise the anchor.

2) How to steer a sailing compass course
Your partner should be able to steer a compass course within 3°-5 °. Show him or her how to average a course by steering to one side and then the other for equal intervals. Make sure they understand how to plot a basic compass course and plot a position by latitude and longitude from a marine GPS.

3) Sailboat diesel engine operation
Go through the pre-start checklist for diesel engines. This includes checking oil, coolant and opening the raw water seacock. Start the sailboat engine and let your sailing partner operate the shifter and throttle and manoeuvre the boat. Show them the proper way to shut off the engine. Explain safe fueling procedures. Let your partner practice how to come alongside and stop the boat next to a life-ring or other object. Explain how to use wind and current to control drift. If you fall overboard, you want to be confident that your partner can bring the boat close enough to you for recovery.

4) Marine battery and shore power
Explain how to use the battery selector for startup, charging and house power. Walk your partner through the procedure for shore power hookup and breakdown.

5) Boat sails
Point out the sailing halyards to raise and lower each boat sail, along with sail controls like the mainsheet and boom vang. Go through the steps to lower, furl or reef each sail.

Describe and practice how to heave to under sail. If you fall overboard, this could be the single most important manoeuvre for recovery. Unlike complex man overboard manoeuvre under sail, heaving-to will be much easier for less experienced sailors. This manoeuvre makes good sense in high-stress situations with limited crew aboard.

6) Self-steering
Explain the basic settings for the wind vane or autopilot on different points of sail or sea conditions. Be sure to emphasize that autopilots use lots of juice, so the batteries must be monitored.

7) Marine flares and survival equipment
Demonstrate the basic steps to use marine hand-held or parachute rocket flares. Point out the emergency "ditch-kit" and explain how a marine EPIRB works.

8) Marine stove and oven operation
Demonstrate the procedure for sailboat ventilation, lighting, using and shutting down alcohol, kerosene or propane stoves. Describe simple firefighting procedures with each type of fuel onboard.

9) Marine boat bilge pumps
Point out the location of all mechanical and non-mechanical bilge pumps. Show how to check a float switch and how to operate each manual pump.

10) Marine radio operation
Post the procedures for a Mayday distress call next to the marine radio. If you have digital selective calling (DSC), post those procedures. Go through each step with your partner.

5. Toronto International Boat Show Speaking Schedule

The Toronto International Boat Show is the largest indoor boat show in North America. It is certainly the place to be if you love sailing. There is enough kit available to test the limits any credit card!

The show runs from January 20th to 29th, 2017. Weekday hours are 1100 to 2000, Saturdays 1000 to 1900 and Sundays 1000 to 1800.

As in previous years I will be speaking at the Show about getting out and exploring the Great Lakes.

My speaking schedule is as follows:

   Sat. Jan 21st @ 10:30am (Salon 107)
   Mon. Jan 23rd @ 3:30pm (Salon 107)
   Wed. Jan 25th @ 2:30pm (Salon 107)
   Thurs. Jan 26th @ 6:30pm (Salon 107)
   Sat. Jan 28th @ 12:00m (Presentation Theatre)
   Sun. Jan 29th @ 3:30pm (Salon 107)

If you are at the show, drop by and say 'hello'. I would love to meet you.

6. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

One of the things that I have always enjoyed about sailing is how so much of what we say and do today is bound up in the customs and traditions of long ago.

Aloof comes from the old Dutch word loef meaning 'windward'. By the late 16th century, it was being used by English sailors as well. It describes a ship sailing along a lee shore with her head pointing high into the wind to prevent her being driven ashore. It also described a sailing ship in a fleet with her sails set higher so that she drew away from the fleet. Not hard to see how it arrived at its present meaning to describe someone who stands apart

Black Book refers to the Admiralty Black Book. Dating back to the 14th century, it details expectations about ship conduct and discipline in the Royal Navy. The Black Book was based on the Law of Oleron, promulgated in 1160 by Eleanor of Aquitaine to govern maritime shipping in northwestern Europe. That law in turn, was based on the Roman Lex Rhodia written in the 1st century AD which governed maritime commerce on the Mediterranean Sea

The punishments listed were very severe. A sailor who repeatedly fell asleep while on watch was hung in a basket over the side and given a knife. He could choose either to starve to death in the cage or cut it loose and drop into the sea and drown! So, ending up in someone's Black Books was never a good thing. And, you can see that this has a long and deeply rooted history!

Berserk comes to us from the Vikings. It references a practice of Viking warriors who would demonstrate their courage in desperate battles by stripping off their mail shirts and fighting without protection. The term was ber serk or 'bare sark' – ie without a shirt (sark). The word has came to mean enraged or out of control.

By the way, its not a coincidence that the same name appears attached to one of the great clipper ships (Cutty Sark) and to the whisky of the same name. Cutty means short and here the name means a too-short undergarment or shirt: i.e.the bare-breasted figurehead on the ship representing Robbie Burn's witch Nannie Dee in his poem Tam o' Shanter. Keep it in mind when you enjoy a sip of that wonderful whisky.

Thanks for reading Rhumb Line. Your opinions, thoughts and comments do matter. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me here at Rhumb Line or at Great Lakes Sailing.

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Fair winds and following seas.

Michael Leahy, Publisher

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