Weather, October 2021

Weather, October 2021

Sometimes we just need to laugh. Dealing with the global pandemic over the past year and a half has been tough on all of us. On top of this, the past two Atlantic hurricane seasons (this one is not quite over yet) have been extremely active and have resulted in significant property damage and destruction that has seriously impacted the lives of many people. Unfortunately, there have also been many injuries and fatalities associated with sone of these storms. The forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center have done a great job providing timely and accurate forecast information for the…
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Voyaging Tips, August 2021

Voyaging Tips, August 2021

Good skippers don’t experiment with long-standing shipboard routines. They know how to delegate important duties to qualified people and then let them do their jobs without micromanaging them. Choose one cook to be in charge and one assistant cook to occasionally help out. Don’t make the cook stand watches and swab the decks too. Meals take time to prepare, cook, serve, and clean up. Multiply that by three meals per day, and that’s enough work right there for anyone. Don’t forget to give your cook some days off by using that assistant cook as an occasional relief. No one wants…
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We are now well into the 2021 hurricane season and are watching the evolution of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and the Pacific. In the past I have used these newsletters to present some information about particularly memorable hurricanes, but this time let’s take a look at a system that, while impactful for some, has not been a historic system by any measure. This system was very slow to develop despite traveling over some rather warm ocean waters at times during the first part of its history. I will examine this system through a series of satellite images with comments…
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Being seen is critical to being rescued. Even if you are equipped with a modern EPIRB that can get rescuers very close to your position, the rescuers still must see you to pick you up. This can be challenging when weather conditions are extreme, it’s nighttime, or if a rescue aircraft or ship has limited on-scene loiter time.  A person overboard faces a rescue dilemma similar to that of a crew of a sinking boat, even if it occurs from a slow-moving vessel. At six knots a boat covers 200 yards, or 600 feet, every minute. If it takes a…
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The possibility of someone stealing our floating palace or some high-end piece of onboard electronic equipment is a frightening thought. Fortunately, there are efficient, affordable digital tracking devices available to assuage our fears and keep our thoughts focused on our cruising aspirations. The SPOT Trace Theft-Alert Tracking Device offers a broad set of features to keep you in touch with its location at all times via your cellular device or home computer. What’s more, it is the only, or one of the only, tracking devices offering coverage in virtually all of North America, Mexico, Europe and Australia, plus limited coverage…
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A hole or break in your boat’s hull is among the worst situations you can face offshore. If your boat is sinking, sort out what to do immediately and what can wait. The first priority is to determine how much water is coming in the hole. Flooding means water is coming in faster than the bilge pump(s) can pump it out. Any lesser amount is leakage, not flooding. Though the difference may seem obvious, it is an important distinction. Leaks can be controlled by pumping alone — no other immediate action is required. Flooding, on the other hand, must be…
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From the Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship weather course A comma cloud system is really nothing more than a more descriptive name for a cyclone or low-pressure system. Learning to recognize the elements of the comma cloud will help voyagers when they’re studying satellite images and weather charts. In general, a comma cloud is a deep mass of multilayered clouds that is often shaped 1ike a comma. It reflects a region of positive vorticity advection (PVA) and can vary in size from a few hundred miles (a clump of thunderstorms whose anvils combine in the shape of a comma) to…
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Any sailor who ventures out on the ocean will very quickly find himself standing on deck with a length of line in his hand facing the need to fix, adjust, repair or lash some crucial item of equipment. No matter how much gadgetry is aboard, the harsh environment of the open ocean will soon reduce things to the lowest common denominators: a sailor, the sails and the rope. A sailor needs to be able to tie a variety of knots, perform a simple eye splice and be capable of intelligently lashing one item to another. The Ashley Book of Knots…
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Until recently, the only way you could have a VHF radio with AIS capability in the palm of your hand was through a remote working off a base unit. In my July 2016 ON electronics newsletter, “Wireless remote VHF-AIS radios,” I predicted the eventual advent of the VHF/DSC/AIS/GPS handheld radio. Well, folks, it’s here. Now you can have access to DSC with AIS and GPS in your VHF handheld radio totally independent from your vessel’s VHF base-mount unit.  This new, expanded capability offers a number of advantages. First, if you leave your base unit on while you leave an anchorage in your dinghy to do some exploring, you can find your way back to your yacht even in a dense fog by simply honing…
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Fire! It's a scary enough thought while ashore. Just imagine cowering in the cockpit of your boat, staring down the companionway as ugly black smoke starts to pour out. What do you do now? If you don't have an answer, think the problem through before you head offshore again. Aside from any knowledge of firefighting techniques, there are three basic steps that will make it much less likely to have to abandon a vessel because of fire. First and most important is to take all action possible to prevent a fire from starting. Second, prepare yourself for fighting the fire…
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