Update #10 – Preparing for The Next Big Journey….

Roberta and I have now finished our summer cruising, and are home in Seattle. We won’t be aboard the boat again until the start of the Fubar (San Diego to Mexico rally) which starts Nov 5th. I’m using a delivery crew to move the boat south the San Diego.

Sans Souci will be an escort vessel for the rally, and I will be sending out a daily blog report as we work our way south. A sail boat rally, the Baja HaHa, has been running south to Cabo San Lucas each year for 13 years, with 184 boats making the run last year, including a couple of power boats. The Fubar will be the first ever powerboat rally down Baja. The level of interest in a power boat rally to Mexico caught me by surprise. We will be traveling with over 60 boats!

The rally was organized by Bruce Kessler, who was amongst the first to circumnavigate a trawler, and produced the documentary on our Atlantic Crossing in 2004. Although I agreed to participate as an escort vessel, and in assisting with communications, I have consciously avoided getting involved in rally logistics. I have lived very happily in Mexico for 10 years, and would recommend cruising in Mexico to anyone. That said, there are aspects to this rally that will make planning “difficult”. The foremost problem will be fuel. The west coast of Baja is light, by any definition, on infrastructure. Many of the boats on the rally have limited range. The official rally rules say that all participants must be capable of 450 nautical miles at 8 knots. Looking at the list of boats, I suspect this will be an aggressive goal for some. I’m also trying to imagine fueling 60 boats, and know that this will be a challenge. I’m sure the rally committee has all the logistics under control, and I’m happy it isn’t me trying to sort it out.

After the boat arrives in Cabo, Roberta and I will relax at our home there for a few weeks before starting our run further south to Costa Rica. I’m approaching this assuming that we’ll need to be self-sufficient once we cross the border. I used an outside service to help me work through every piece of equipment on the boat and identify all maintenance and spare parts needed. Actually, most spare parts are already on the boat. We’re now preparing lists of everything on the boat, and where it is hidden away, and working to identify anything that may have been forgotten.

Those who have been reading my blog for a while may recall that I had signed up with Yachpath to deliver my boat from Seattle to San Diego. I even prepaid them for the trip. Yachtpath would have delivered my boat to San Diego onboard a freighter. Our trip up the coast was a perfect break-in for the boat, and I have since decided that I’d like the boat put under the same stress again prior to leaving the US. If anything is going to break, I would prefer it happens in the US, not off the shores of Guatemala or Nicaragua. Fortunately, Yachtpath were quite helpful, and agreed to apply my prepayment to the long trip north to the Pacific NW from Costa Rica. My apologies for what I realize is a boring blog update. These next few weeks are not about fun. The current focus is on trip planning, taking on spares, organizing things on the boat, doing maintenance, cleaning the boat and trip preparation. Don’t worry though, once we get moving, in just a few short weeks, we have 5,000 miles to run, and things will get a bit more interesting (although hopefully not too interesting).

I did put some new photos of the boat on the website (EXTERIOR) (INTERIOR).

In my last “Update” I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how to handle tendering ashore in an area with large tide fluctuation. The problem is that if you take the tender to shore and spend any amount of time, your tender may find itself on dry land. I received a couple of emails with good ideas:

 “…Ken/Roberta, As usual your latest blog is a fun update of your latest trials & tribulations. It seems mostly tribulations. Good show! Re the dinghy trip to Spencer strip. We use a device called “Anchor Buddy”. Basically a long bungee cord attached to the skiff anchor. Drop anchor about 25 to 30 feet from the beach (over the stern) and motor on in. Get off and pay out a long bowline. Skiff will back off and anchor itself in most all conditions. After the beachcombing, pull in skiff, retrieve anchor and off you go. We use this a lot in BC and Alaska and it saves worrying about getting hung up with a falling tide…”

 Chuck & Antje

N35

 “…Ken: About your having limited time ashore at Spensor Spit, due to tide going out and potentially beaching the tender; this should seldom if ever be a problem on most beaches. We carry on our tender a small (maybe 15-lb) folding anchor and a typical 75-ft (or longer) X ¼” poly water-ski-type floating line. [1] Connect the tender’s painter (should be about 10ft) and the poly line (both) to the anchor. [2] Set the anchor on the very-edge of the bow of the boat and carefully coil the painter near the anchor. [3] Lay out the water-ski line up the beach. [4] Gently push tender away from shore in a way not to drop the anchor until ready, and let it coast slowly into deeper water. [5] Once in deeper water, gently snap the anchor off the bow by tugging the end of the water-ski line. [6] Tender is now anchored and may be retrieved by pulling anchor, boat, and all, (the whole thing) back to shore with the long water-ski line. I have attached a crude drawing illustrate. We have been doing this successfully for many years. Oh one last thing, be sure to tie the long poly line to something on the beach, so it doesn’t float away or overtaken by an incoming tide. I have had to swim for the tender more than once. Hope it helps. Good luck….”

 

Dean H, N55


Lastly, I just received this email with questions about AIS, the system that shows information on my chart plotter and radar about surrounding boats. I spoke about it in my Update #8. AIS is fairly new, so I thought there would be enough interest to respond to this as part of my blog.

Ken:

 As always I enjoy your blogs, sadly the number is diminished now that the building phase of Sans Souci is now over.

 Read with interest how everyone extols the virtue of their AIS system and it is very worth while system. However,  ships are not required to enter into their AIS systems all the data you currently see on your display. The minimum that must be transmitted by a ships’ AIS is the ship ID#, and one then has to look that up in a reference text to determine what kind of ship you are ‘seeing’.

I have this on the authority of a senior master for a major oil shipping company (20+ super tankers) – the company’s instructions for AIS is ship ID # only, absolutely no other data. In the same vein the super tankers must run at least 300 NM off shore of Africa and they are to stop for no one for whatever reason! This is to foil piracy and the like. (With the current price of oil a super tanker is worth ??? millions of $)

I asked you about monitoring exhaust/cooling water temperatures about a year ago – how is the Simon system performing in that regards

As with many others wish I could cruise with you!!

 

Best regards

Rod S

All boats over 65 feet are required to have an AIS (Automatic Identification System). As Rod mentioned, it is possible to enter information into the AIS such as your vessel name, length, width, weight, what you are currently doing (moored, anchored, running) and where you are going. Most of the vessels I’ve seen on radar comply with this, but not all. I’ve never been certain whether or not it is a requirement to keep all of this information current in my AIS unit (it only takes a minute). Here’s what it says on the USCG website:

“…The Coast Guard has noticed that many Automatic Identification System (AIS) users are not updating their unit to accurately reflect voyage related information—navigation status, static draft, destination, ETA, etc. Further, the Coast Guard has encountered AIS units that either do not transmit at all or improperly transmit the vessel’s dynamic data—position, course, speed, heading, etc. The former problem requires due diligence on behalf of the user, the latter is most likely due to the improper installation or operation of external sensors—gyro or heading device and vessel GPS system—inputted into the AIS. AIS users are compelled to properly operate their AIS at all times (33 CFR § 164.46). They should pay close attention to these matters, and are encouraged to make each other aware of AIS discrepancies they come upon. Improper operation of AIS could subject the user to civil penalties not to exceed $25,000. …”



I found it interesting that the Coast Guard not only says that keeping the information up to date is a requirement, but talks about fines, and encourages mariners to alert other mariners to any non-compliance.

As to Rod’s question about the Simon monitoring system: Sans Souci is my first boat with a monitoring system. For those not familiar, it is essentially nothing more than a computer that surveys all of the equipment on the boat continuously. Whereas I might glance at something like an exhaust temperature gauge once every 15-30 minutes, the computer can do this every few seconds. The monitoring system, on Sans Souci, is monitoring over 200 different sensors around the boat. The sensors include water temperatures, engine room temperature, shaft temperatures, port holes, hatches, doors, fluid levels and more. The monitoring system knows for all of these things what a “correct” value is, and alerts me immediately if something is wrong.

Both AIS and the monitoring system are important tools, but technology such as this has a dangerous aspect if not used correctly. For instance, boats with AIS represent only a small fraction of all the targets one sees on a radar. In other words, it is important to keep reminding yourself that AIS information is good to have, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Similarly, the monitoring system is likely to alert me to a problem much faster than I might spot it myself, but I don’t believe it takes the place of human engine room checks. A monitoring system cannot hear if the engine sounds funny, or if there is a burning smell in the air. It doesn’t know if there is a strange vibration. In fact, I don’t even think it can be relied on for the things that it does monitor. If a porthole sensor fails, with a porthole open, and you rely on the monitoring system before going to sea, a potentially dangerous situation would exist. These things have to be thought of as supplemental to what was already required, not a replacement.

Thank you, and I’m looking forward to Mexico!

-Ken Williams Sans Souci, Nordhavn68.com

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Credits     |     Video produced by: Rock Steady Media     |     Teletype photo: Arnold Reinhold     |     PDP-11 photo: Trammell Hudson