Return to WhimSea's Home Port. Trans Superior - June 2009

Archives for: June 2009


Permalink 02:08:10 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 1278 words   English (US)

Third Cruise

With leaden skies, thunderstorms forecast, a decent 15 knot breeze and seas of 1-3 feet, WhimSea and crew slipped the docklines. The tasks for the day were originally to do some whiskerpole work, stand abbreviated watches to get used to having an available four man crew, do an MOB exercise, rig and use the preventer stay system and watch some training videos. We got all of it done excepting the whiskerpole work and I was pretty tempted to do that.

Since we had moderate seas it was nice to get some helm time in with the newest members of the crew, Michael and Matt. Sailing downwind is probably the more tiring of conditions especially as the seas pick up and start playing with the boat. It's more taxing physically and difficult to be able to keep the course and wind directions more constant. The forecast was calling for the wind to diminish in the afternoon but while we had it we sailed towards Duluth on a broad reach. With the crew in training mode and a bit of an abbreviated crew in the first place, it didn't make sense to pole out and run deeper.

The preventer stays worked awesome! What we did was to connect a line to the first mainsheet bail, run it to a shackle connected to the toe rail even with the aft lower shroud and ran it aft to the cockpit and aft cleat. The line floats so if it goes over the side we shouldn't have to worry too much about prop fouling (might as well make it as idiot proof as possible). It's also a bright yellow so while cluttering the decks a bit more it's still easy to see. Since it's run aft to the cockpit there's no more leaving the cockpit to secure a preventer. In the past we had used a dockline that we tied to the toe rail. Doing that involved so much more effort and opened us up to the possibility of an accidental gybe (even more likely when considering the helmsman's activity lookin' around during the preparation). With this in place the stay can be unsecured but still held by one of the afterguard while everyone else is on station. It's sweet!

We were figuring on sailing in the Duluth entry, doing a beam reach through the harbor and then beating back to Knife River. About 2:00 or so we hove-to and had lunch. Deb had made us the most excellent sandwich relished by the entire crew, thanks again Deb!! Seeing as how the wind was diminishing fast and the lake lying down it seemed best to start heading back. I don't think we sailed more than five miles when the wind deserted us entirely. We fired up the engine and took everything down to motor back. We did get wet though on the way down and a bit on the way back from some rain but nothing too bad. Never once did the rumble of thunder make itself heard.

After getting back we worked on hoisting an MOB aboard. During the last cruise we outfitted the boom-vang with quick release shackles (with a breaking strength of over 3300 pounds). When I had last replaced the vang line I did so with the idea that I would use it as a hoist, for getting stuff off the boat in the fall when she's on the hard, maybe bringing our dingy on the fore-deck with the whisker pole and spinnaker halyard and using it as an MOB hoist when attached to one of the reefing bails on the boom.

Our cockpit lifelines detach allowing for an easy embarking/debarking process. I had originally thought the easiest way to get a person aboard, considering our three feet plus of freeboard, would be to detach the lifelines, connect to the MOB and do the hoist. Now here's the rub. If a person is in cold water, and I mean water below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, after 10 minutes their capacity to even do rudimentary things is diminished to the point of non-existence. Having a hook and a hoist is not going to do anything for the crew in the water if they can't help themselves (and that's not even considering they were injured in the overboard incident). We worked on two scenarios, having a harness with D rings and having just a lifesling.

In the harness scenario if the MOB could connect the d ring to the hook, no problem. If not, no dice. If we were doing the lifesling with no D ring we could haul and connect the hook ourselves but with the tackle and the length of line, we would run out of hoisting space before the MOB was still mostly in the water. We learned that with our freeboard there is no way for someone on deck to connect the hook to someone in the water. Furthermore, now keep in mind it's not necessarily the case that the MOB could even get themselves in the Lifesling, we would not be able to haul the MOB aboard without having three or four guys heaving at the side of the deck without lifelines. Not a pleasant scenario.

Unlike a lot of boats of our vintage (1988), we have a swim platform and ladder. I think in many instances the MOB drill figures that the MOB would be able to use the ladder. In some instances this may be true but doesn't the adage go; 'plan for the worst and hope for the best?' Having the same MOB, putting a person on the platform brought us close enough to hook on to the MOB and hoist and it didn't matter if it was the D ring or the Lifesling. Furthermore, we had some play in the stern pulpits, the closer to the deck we were the better off we were. I think we figured out what we need to do. Now we just need to make sure that the rest of the crew understand what needs to happen when it comes to the process.

Lastly, we watched some training videos. When I bought the life raft we have aboard an instruction DVD was provided. The more familiar someone is with the process the less likely things will be forgotten even in a panic situation. Hopefully that'll help should it ever need to be deployed.

When I sail I typically don't wear a lifevest. We sail in water that has a year round average temperature of 40 some degrees (Lake Superior). The common wisdom up here is that life jackets are merely to help retrieve the bodies. It gives a person a somewhat fatalistic perspective when it comes to lifevests. Karen and I had chanced upon a video on one of the TV channels that was talking about the Cold Water Boot Camp ( ) which put people in cold water and examined what happened. It was powerful and the good people there sent me a DVD for me to use in our training. At first the crew watching it were talking over it a bit, but when we got to people's reactions there was no idle chatter, everyone was focussed on what we were watching. The video really gave away this basic take-away - the 1-10-1 principle. If you are the one in the water; take a minute to get your breath under control, you have 10 minutes of meaningful movement in the water and you have one hour before loosing consciousness due to hypothermia. That last part is important - you have one hour before loosing consciousness due to hypothermia. That means that your lifevest will save your life.

A most successful training day.

Trans Superior

This is the blog for the Trans Superior. The longest freshwater race in the world.

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