Let’s Take a Cruise

In our Power Squadron Boating class, we’ve been taking virtual cruises. There is much more math involved than you might think. But that’s ok, math is fun (yes it is, trust me here).

Allow me to elaborate. In the classroom, we might be given little tidbits of information like …
You start in Pelican Harbour and you’re going to head over to Whitefish Bay (I made these two names up).

Plot a course. This will simply involve drawing a line from Pelican  Harbour to Whitefish Bay along with pertinent annotations and markings.

What’s the distance to Whitefish Bay? Here we take our “dividers” – you know, the pointy things you always had in your geometry set and didn’t know what to do with. You set your dividers according to the scale on your map and walk it along your course. Add up the distance and Voila!

Dividers - By Daniel Flinkmann licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 license.

Assuming no current or wind … if you’re speeding along at 6 knots, how long will it take you to get there? 60D = st (60 x distance) = speed x time (in minutes)

What will the bearing be on your compass? We use the handy-dandy plotter that we got in our class to do that. It’s fun, it even has a spinning disc in the middle. Wheeeee!

A plotter - similar to the one we're using - By Cletzrodt.

They like to throw in a few twists and turns as well so you don’t get to go straight, and you find out you’re off course part way along the cruise.

I think a “real” cruise might be more fun – especially on one of those big cruise ships. However, I’m not sure … is there math on a cruise ship?


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.  http://www.yacht-transport.com/page/dytlatest.html
  • you can cross the Atlantic in a rowboat (or a raft). http://rowforwater.com/challenge/boat/
  • 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. http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/event_info.aspx
  • 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.

Psssst – Wanna buy a boat?

Today I thought I’d share with y’all a boat listing that is typical of what we like to see in a boat.  Here you go:  http://www.bostonyacht.com/brokerage/main.php?-vessel_basic_info.asp-&vessels_id=72922&curr_id=7

Some of the features of this yacht are:

  • twin diesel engines with < 300 hours on them
  • 80′ – holy cow – that’s about as big as we would want to go.
  • Sleeps 9
  • Move in ready
  • The price is close to budget
  • Espresso maker

    image from http://www.bostonyacht.com

This is a pretty typical arrangement for a Hatteras – which we love.

So, if anyone’s wondering what to get us for Christmas, wonder no more.  We’ve made it easy for you this year 🙂


We had some disappointing news from our realtor yesterday.  She thinks that our house is over-priced for the market.  She suggested a price reduction of from $30,000 to $50,000.  This is not good news, although hardly surprising.  We haven’t had anyone look at the house since August. 

Now our original plan had been to take the house off of the market when winter arrives – since we can’t show off the yard in the winter – and the yard (we reckon) would be a big part of the charm of our house.

With the news that we should drop the price, we have decided to pull the house off the market early.  After all, we need to be able to get enough money out of the house in order to make a sizable down payment on our boat.  We’ll test the waters again in the spring.


Don’t give up on us completely though – wouldn’t you know it, I received a call from the realtor this morning.  Someone is coming in to look at our house today.  If they only knew how much are hopes are pinned on them 🙂

Also, you can be happy for us because now, we can leave our socks lying crumpled up in a ball on the floor if we so choose.  We’re not likely to do that, but it feels good to have the option.

Happy sailing!

Random Musings

There are alot of details that run through your head (sometimes over and over again), when you start thinking about living on a boat.  Today I thought I’d share a random smattering of these types of thoughts.  If you have any insight, feel free to share.

  • how far south do you have to go before you can jump in the water and go for a swim- keeping in mind that I don’t want to be cold (brrrr)? Where does the water turn that bright blue color? Are there any special considerations when swimming off a boat when you’re not near shore (other than the obvious don’t swim out too far)?  Will sea lions carry me off?
  • where will I park my little boat when I go into shore for work?  Can I just leave it where-ever I want at any public dock – afterall, it’s pretty small.
  • where will I store my car? Could we get a car small enough to keep on the boat? What about scooters? How manageable are they to get on and off the boat?
  • What will it be like to be on the boat in a storm?
  • And what is the deal with the Panama Canal?  Do you just show up there and they let you through?
  • How is the satellite internet out there when you’re travelling? Could I work from the boat while travelling?
  • How much food can we fit in the freezer?
  • How fast do you have to work to tie the boat up when you bring the boat into the dock?  Will I be able to do it? 

Well, you get the idea.  Lots to think about, and I didn’t even mention the thoughts that would make me really look bad.  Ok, just one, because I like you … If I swim in circles around the boat, will I get dizzy?