Back to Back Issues Page
Rhumb Line, Vol 3 Issue 4 -- New at
September 28, 2015

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 in a brief, easy-to-scan and concise manner. I value not only your interest but also your time.

September 2015                New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. New Ports

2. Catching Up

3. Logbooks

4. Insurance

5. The Shedd Aquarium

6. Winter Decommissioning Checklist

1. New Ports

(a) Thessalon, ON, Thessalon Ontario is the "Gateway To The North Channel". Come visit this pretty port and begin your journey into one of the finest cruising grounds in the world. Click here to visit Thessalon, ON.

(b) Presque Isle, MI Presque Isle MI harbor is the only natural anchorage on the entire west coast of Lake Huron. Explore this beautiful natural area and listen to winds whisper through stands of old growth white pine forest. Click here to visit Presque Isle, MI

(c) Port Dalhousie, ON Port Dalhousie ON is home to the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta - Canada's oldest rowing competition - they've been pulling those oars since 1880! It is also the original terminus for the Welland Canal, begun in 1825. Click here to visit Port Dalhousie, ON

2. Catching Up

I feel that I owe an explanation for the silence in the past few months. I have been involved in a consulting project that has taken a great of time. As well, I have been on a very active search for a sailboat which has seen me spending a lot of weekends on the road. I have travelled as far west as Bayfield WI and east as far as Kingston ON on my search On thing I can definitely confirm is that advertising is certainly an arena for 'creative writing'!

The project continues apace However, I will try to get back on track with Rhumbline as I really do enjoy sharing the information with you and I definitely love the feedback I get. So, without further ado .....

3. Logbooks

Many sailors, if asked, would say that the most important documents on their boat were the registration papers or insurance papers. In fact, trumping them all is your logbook. A properly completed logbook is vital in protecting your crew and your boat in a legal case. A consistently maintained, properly filled out logbook will give weight and credence to any testimony you may have to give. It is also a mark of a competent sailor.

Here are some general points to consider. Make log entries clear and simple. Set your logbook up so that it reads like a story. If someone else picks up your logbook, they should be able to read across the columns and understand everything that has happened from start to finish. Follow these five basic guidelines.

A. Make Entries Each Hour

The Master makes the call when it comes to log entry frequency. However, once you decide the frequency, stick with it. Be consistent in your log keeping. An hourly entry is a reasonable frequency and it also offers more historical data for weather, navigation, communications and engineering (engine and systems).

If you deem it necessary, make more frequent log entries for an easier-to-understand story of your boat’s history. Those types of log entries are usually made outside the regular schedule when there are pertinent points to note – eg a significant course change, a navigation waypoint reached, etc.

B. Separate Deck Log (Navigation) from Radio and Engineering Logs

Consider separate logbooks or logbook sections to separate Deck or navigation entries from Radio or Engineering-related entries. The Deck Log recording all navigation entries can include weather because wind and sea direction have a direct impact on the available sailing course. The Radio Log would record all important radio communications – eg with Coast Guard, Notice to Shipping alerts, important communications with other vessels, etc. Engineering entries would include engine, water and fuel capacity, battery voltage, fluid pressures (oil; transmission fluid) and holding tank level.

C. Correct Mistakes the Correct Way

There is only ONE way to correct entries and most crew have no idea how to make proper log corrections. Ban scribbles from your logs. That also goes for blacking out, whiteout or erasures. There’s one way and one way alone to correct a legal entry in a boat or ship log. Use a single horizontal line and initial the correction near the entry. That way, the correction can still be read and you can address any questions to the person who made the correction. If you need to prove a case in a collision or grounding or liability issue, do it this way. It’s that important. Train your sailing crew or partner the right way before they assume the watch underway.

D. Log Times for Underway, Anchoring, Mooring, and Landfall

Start your log with the time that you cast off. For example: “0830 Underway (or Slipped) from Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Toronto Island enroute Sacket's Harbor, NY”. Log similar entries when you anchor or moor inside a harbor.

Make landfall a key entry in your boat log. Write down the time of landfall, how it was sighted (visually, by radar), and specify the name of the lighthouse, island, or point of land. You might also add comments such as relative direction of sighting (dead ahead; off the port bow; off the starboard bow) and current weather conditions.

E. Protect Your Log Book for the Future

Keep your boat log in a safe area where you can easily access it. In an emergency, your log needs to go with you, along with your ditch bag. Once you fill up your logbook, put it into a plastic, waterproof bag to protect it from mold, mildew, or water damage. When you leave the boat for extended periods, carry your logbook with you.


Over the years, especially since being in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, I have seen just about every kind of logbook imaginable. They have ranged from expensive leather-bound volumes to lined notebooks. The physical book is not the point – its the information contained within. Over the past couple of months, I have made a point to gather and organize the information I think should be in a logbook and I hope to have that available on the website in the near future.

4. Insurance

This past summer has given me the opportunity to talk and visit with sailors all over the Great Lakes. As we all know, one of the pleasurable parts of sailing comes from the conversations - on deck, underway, along side or in a cozy waterfront pub.

Rarely do these conversations include discussions on boat insurance and coverage issues.

Before we go any further on this topic, please keep in mind that I am NOT am insurance agent or broker. The content of this article is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific insurance or legal advice to readers and should not be relied upon for that purpose. Readers should not act or rely on the Information without seeking the advice of a professional.

Many boat owners are unaware that seeming acts of generosity or consideration can put their boat insurance policy at risk. Who of us hasn't accepted a bottle of wine or a cash contribution towards provisioning costs from well-meaning friends as they come aboard for a cruise?

You need to know what your policy says regarding how you use your boat. Dry reading? You bet – but vital as a miss-step can leave you completely uninsured and assuming a heavy liability burden. If you don't have a copy of your policy, ask your agent/broker to supply one. A copy should be kept with your boat papers.

If you are uncertain about what is covered, ask your agent/broker to explain it. Confirm the explanation with an email afterwards asking him/her to confirm your understanding of the points.

The key is to clearly understand the difference between sharing legitimate expenses and engaging in a business arrangement. Generally, the courts have found that accepting a contribution towards actual costs or accepting a gift towards legitimate expenses (that bottle of wine or those steaks) is acceptable.

Where things go awry is when a day sail or a weekend cruise can be characterized as a business activity – ie chartering. This summer, I encountered a number of situations where the owner takes people out and charges an amount for provisions, including alcohol, that exceeds the actual costs. In a surprising number of instances, the owner advertises that they are willing to take people out for “contributions” to provisioning expenses that far exceed actual costs. And compensation doesn't have to be in cash only. Compensation can also be in kind such as an exchange for services or goods (think case of very expensive wine). These folks are effectively running an unlicensed chartering service – an uninsured one at that!

In the likely event of an insurance claim for property damage or liability, their insurance policy is at risk of being voided by the insurance company. Coverage denials are far more common than people think or imagine. At this point, our luckless boat owner now has every single thing they own on the line plus a good chunk of their future.

The lesson here is to know what your policy will cover and what it will not. You do not want your experience to be part of the waterfront pub storytelling!

5. The Shedd Aquarium

The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago IL is one of the world's great aquariums. We are fortunate to have such a treasure on the Great Lakes. The Shedd Aquarium says it well on this page of their website - “I Am The Great Lakes”. Follow this link and learn more about this outstanding institution. (better still, arrange to visit it!). To learn more about the Shedd, click here.

6. Winter Decommissioning Checklist

BoatUS, the large US boater organization, offers an excellent winterizing checklist. Based on their extensive experience as a boat insurer, this provides a fairly comprehensive checklist. The checklist can be found here.

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.

If you like this newsletter, please do a friend and me a big favour and "pay it forward."

If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe. You will find a subscribe button on most pages of the site.

Fair winds and following seas.

Michael Leahy, Publisher

Back to Back Issues Page