Transatlantic Crossings – Part I

MS Piłsudski, Polish Ship. The first of its kind to have an indoor swimming pool. Completed 1935, Sank 1939.

Today, I would like to discuss Transatlantic Crossings.

Why, you ask, oh, no reason.  I’m just curious as to whether a motor yacht say, 60-70 feet could make such a trip – and what would be involved.

 I’ve been doing some research (ie. I’ve been looking up Transatlantic Crossings in google).  And surprisingly, there is little of interest on the topic pertaining to motor yachts.

Some things I do know about Transatlantic Crossings:

  • when relatively small vessels cross the Atlantic, they can do so in convoys which are referred to as rallies.
  • you can pay to have your smallish vessel transported on a large one.
  • you can cross the Atlantic in a rowboat (or a raft).
  • it’s much more common to find info on the net re: sailing across the Atlantic versus going in a Motor Yacht.  I suspect that’s because the sailboats haven’t got the massive fuel requirements of the motor yachts.
  • there exists an apparatus called a “Drogue” which is described as “The Sailors Airbag” which is meant to protect a boat from a breaking wave strike.  It effectively slows the boat down so that it doesn’t speed down the slope of a wave crashing into the next wave.

I think we’ll get one of those.

I’ll post Part II when I actually know something useful about Transatlantic Crossings (well, that drogue sounds useful).


Buoy, Oh Buoy!

Today’s blog is going to be a little technical, so you may want to grab yourself a coffee or a stiff drink, depending on your inclination.

Well, it was back to class last night to learn about Canadian aids to navigation.  Yes, we’re talking about buoys here folks. And I’ve learned that we (ie. Canadians) pronounce this as “boys”, not “boo-eys” (sorry Dad).

If you’re like me, then you had no idea that the various buoys that you see floating in the water are a complex communication system.  With different colors, top marks, shapes, lights and even sounds all with their own meanings.

Just to give you a taste of what I’m talking about, the following is a list of the types of buoys that you might encounter:

  • fairway

    A Fairway Buoy at Tremadog Bay in the UK. Author Sue Morgan. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
  • isolated danger
  • port hand
  • starboard hand
  • port bifurcation
  • starboard bifurcation
  • cardinal buoys (of which there are four: North, South, East and West)
  • cautionary
  • anchorage
  • mooring
  • information
  • hazard
  • control
  • keep-out
  • scientific
  • diving
  • swimming

As an example, we’ll talk about a fairway buoy.  This buoy is meant to indicate safe water, mark land, channel entrances or centres.  It should be passed on the port side.  Some characteristics of a fairway buoy are:

  • Red and White vertical stripes
  • White light, or unlighted with a spherical top.  If lighted will flash either short-long-pause at six second intervals (Morse-code A) or long at 10 second intervals.
  • may have a red spherical topmark
  • lettered (no numbers)
  • may contain white reflective material.

Got it? There will be a quiz later.

Now if all of this doesn’t seem complicated enough, well, in order to determine which side of certain buoys to pass on, you need to know at any given time whether you are travelling upstream or downstream in your boat.  That seems easy enough if you’re in a river, but what if you’re on the ocean?  There is an arbitrary determination that “generally” travelling clockwise around North America is upstream.

OK, now I promised you a quiz and I don’t want to disappoint.  So, here we go: 

Question: How on earth am I going to memorize all of this?

Note: there will be bonus marks if you provide an answer that I can actually use 🙂

Power Squadron

Canadian Power Squadron EnsigniaWell, we attended our first Power Squadron course last night.  This is an attempt to educate ourselves prior to launching (get it – launching) into our grand boat adventure.  This is just a refresher for my better half.  I’m really the one that needs the educating, boat-wise.

If you’re wondering what Power Squadron is, It’s a Canadian non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing instruction for boating enthusiasts and would-be boaters.  The instructors are all volunteers – which I find pretty impressive.  Our instructor last night also seems dedicated to making sailors out of us all, distaining the “stinky” power boats.  No worries, we weren’t dissuaded from our current course of action.  We’ll see if he manages to win us over by January, when the course ends.

So, let me tell you some things I learned last night:

Uh, oh, after I typed the line above, I sat here for a couple of minutes, my mind searching, but nothing came back.  I think more study is in order.  Surely I must remember something.  Here I go again.  So, something I learned last night was:

red, port, left  – all the short words

green, starboard, right – all the long words

The above is a way to remember that the port side is on the left (looking toward the bow), and that’s where your red light is located.  This means of course that the starboard side is on the right, and that’s where the green light is.

Given that’s the only thing I remember, I sure hope I have that right.