Things are starting to come together for the big trip. The boat is out of the water at Delta, and has more people crawling over it than can be imagined. Jeff and I have been chatting every morning, as decisions need to be made.
I swapped an email with one of our crew members, Kirt, who is a diver. I’m working on making sure he has the right equipment on board for cold water diving. Between the three boats, we will be running over 15,000 miles of heavily fished water (3 boats @ 5,500 miles each). It’s tough to believe one of us won’t snag a net somewhere along the way (hopefully not me!).
As I was thinking about outfitting him, I realized that he shouldn’t be diving alone. I asked Grey Pearl and Seabird whether either of them has a diver onboard. Nope. Argh. This means one of two things. Either Kirt dives alone, or I dive with him. Of course, the hope is that no one dives ever. This isn’t a trip where anyone will be doing recreational diving. If someone dives, it’s because something is broken or tangled. I’m at best a rookie diver, and am not sure that a handful of dives each year, in 80+ degree water, is proper preparation for underwater operations in the Bering Sea. That said, I do feel plenty competent to keep an eye on Kirt, and assist him in getting to the surface, should anything go wrong.
This means buying a dry suit. A dry suit is roughly the same as a wet suit, but keeps you completely dry while diving. A dry suit is mandated for any diving in water under 60 degrees. Our last house happened to be in front of a beach, in Seattle, where they train new divers. I’ve seen hundreds of divers suiting up for diving in the cold waters of Puget Sound. It looks like a lot of effort, and a lot of bulk for diving. I was always amazed that anyone would want to do cold water diving, and am surprised that now I’m seriously considering it.
I mentioned this topic to my boating friend, John, and he said that one way or the other, I should buy a dry suit, to always have on the boat. I argued that I am a warm water guy, and have as a clear goal to never go anywhere near cold water ever again. I mentioned to John my fear that a dry suit would be confining and bulky, and that I wouldn’t be able to move. He said that this was nonsense, and that a dry suit can be just as comfortable as a wetsuit. I’m still skeptical, but he softened me a bit.
I have a ton of questions, all of which will be easily answered, but it is another project to be added to the pile. My guess is that the dive shop will be happy to answer my questions, as they ask for my credit card. I did some quick googling, and the first dry suits that popped up were $2,000, which has me thinking: Perhaps diving alone isn’t such a bad thing… Argh. That said, I know me. Compromising safety to save a few bucks is not my style. As an alternate idea… my recollection is that the water in the Bering Sea runs around 45 degrees in July. With my 5mm wetsuit, booties and a hood, could I safely dive for 15 minutes? I’d hate to be wrong. Speaking of which, it seems wrong to spend this much money on a backup that we are highly unlikely to need. Where does one draw the line on safety issues?
And, on a different topic…
I usually monitor the “Passagemaking Under Power” forum, and they’ve been talking about pilothouse placement on boats. Someone made the comment that they thought the Nordhavn 62’s pilothouse was in the perfect location, and I posted this message:
I can definitely say that the pilothouse sure seemed to be in the perfect location. It is at the center pivot point to the boat. We were in wild seas on several occasions, and you could clearly see where the center of the boat was. The closer you were to the center, the more stable you felt. On the N62 this meant the pilot house, or the aft deck behind the pilot house. It also meant the main salon. Interestingly, the pivot point didn’t seem to be at the middle of the length of the boat, but about 1/3rd of the way from the back of the boat. My interpretation has always been (and, correct me if I’m wrong), that this is because the center of the vessel (the center of gravity) is at the center of the vessel’s weight, not its’ length, and that with the engines towards the back of the boat on the N62, the center of gravity is aft of midship.
The other nice thing about the pilothouse location on the N62 was the huge bow in front of the pilothouse. Rarely did waves coming over the bow hit the windshield. In the pilothouse, we were a good 25 feet back from the bow. This also gives the N62 a HUGE bow which is perfect for tenders.
This led to my being asked whether the N62 is better in head seas, or the N68. Here’s how I answered:
John (Seahorse) said: “… Question – how does your 68 compare to the 62 in a head sea?…”
It’s impossible to really compare the two boats accurately. We sold our 62 nearly five years ago, and I have such fond memories of it, that it is difficult to be objective. But, I’ll do my best…
The N68 is amazing going into head seas. I’ve never seen a boat take head seas as well, and I have a few theories as to why:
– The “center of pitch” on the N68 is closer to the middle. This helps keep the bow down. Because the 62 has it’s fulcrum point further aft, the long bow has to move up and down more (imagine a teeter-totter, with an off center fulcrum).
– The 62 has a bulbous bow, and the 68 does not. The bulbous bow on the 62 is an older technology than what is being used today, and has a tendency to slap the water on re-entry.
– Weight is certainly a factor in the difference in the ride. The 62 weighs sixty tons, whereas the 68 weighs over 100 tons.
– The twin engines in my 68 may be a factor. I’ve never had the boat slow down when punching into head seas, unless I slowed it down, or a current did. I have plenty of power available, and the twin props take a big bite at the sea.
Despite my saying that it is impossible to directly compare the boats, we’re about to do it! Two 62s (Grey Pearl and Seabird) as well as my 68 (Sans Souci) will be running the Bering Sea, backwards, this July. We’ll be battling a head sea, and head wind, side by side for a couple thousand miles. Overall we’ll be running together for over five thousand miles. My guess is that by the time we arrive in Japan we’ll have some good quantitative information about how the boats compare in every type of condition imaginable. I’m just hoping that my stomach fares as well as either model of boat.