Odds ‘n Ends

This is not our yacht. Photo By Pline, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Hi everyone!

I thought today I’d bring you up to speed re: what’s happening in our lives that’s boat related. Here it is, in no particular order:

1. I passed my boating exam! Yay! You can now rest easy that I won’t ram into your boat when I’m out cruising the waters, as I’m down with the Collision regulations. Now, don’t go worrying about hubby, he’s also legal, but he didn’t have to take the exam since he already took the course (lucky him). He was a real trooper though, and went to all of the classes with me (when he was in town, that is).

2. We’re registered for a new boating course. It’s Maritime Radio and is only three nights – much shorter than the last one. This course will provide us with a restricted radio operating certificate, or something like that. I’m looking forward to the class because I never did learn when to use Mayday versus Pan Pan in the boating class. I don’t want to get the two mixed up. Once we’re finished, we’ll take a bit of a break from boating courses for awhile.

3. We’ll probably be heading out to BC for a couple of days (I won a trip!) towards the end of Feb. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to scope out potential boating location #1 while we’re there. We’ll also get to check out a Canucks game as part of the prize winning package! Whoa, it just doesn’t get anymore exciting than this. Unfortunately, the prize package is just for me, so I can’t bring hubby into the hospitablity suite at the game ūüė¶ I will be sure to text him and send photos showing him how great it is. He’ll appreciate that.

4. We waded through snowbanks to enjoy a social evening hosted by the local Power Squadron chapter last Friday. Two couples shared their adventures sailing on the Westcoast last summer. Looked like great fun, and it made us both wish we were there.

5. We haven’t checked out any new boats, nor have we had anymore interest in the house … soon, soon.

Well now you know what we’re up to. BTW if you did buy us that boat for Christmas, I think there’s been a mix up at the dealership, as we haven’t received a call about it yet. You might want to follow up on that.

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?

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 ūüôā

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  Рall 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.

That Boating License

As I mentioned¬† yesterday, one of the items on the to-do list re: staying motivated is to work towards getting my boating operator’s license.¬† Toward that end, I had a gander at the Boat Smart web page today www.boatsmartexam.com¬†At this site for the low price of $50ish, I can access the course material, practise exams and well as take the exam.¬† Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell anything ūüôā

I read through the material for the first module:¬† Boating in Canada, which provides such key information as “what is a capacity plate”, “what legislation covers which illicit boating acts”, etc.¬† There is a practise quiz at the end of the unit.¬† I had to go back to the material to look up some of¬†the answers (not a good sign).¬† Also, I couldn’t find the answer key, so I just have to hope that my answers were correct.¬† I did re-read the appropriate sections when I was in doubt.

After my first exposure, I suspect this undertaking may take longer than I had initially thought (ie. longer than 2 hours).  I have seven more modules to review Рlikely more than once to make sure the info. sticks. 

I can take the exam on-line which is good, however I need to ask some¬†sucker nice person to sign up as my supervisor to watch me and verify that I’m not cheating.¬† That’ll give me some added pressure to pass the first time.¬† I need to get 75% to pass.

I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.