(Posted on Jan 28, 2016 at 07:39AM by Colin Jackson)

US Coast Guard Cutter tows the Swan yacht “Rocket J Squirrel” from the middle of the Pacific back through the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The cutter proudly carried the yacht’s ‘war banner’ on her bow – with the boat’s namesake ‘Rocky’ of ‘Rocky & Bullwinkle’.

The advice from the captain to this yachtsman skipper: “Next time you break down it had better be in a Winnebago in Wisconsin!”

Most recreational boats (even some of the latest power vessels), carry an emergency tiller, which allows the vessel to be steered if the steering mechanisms are lost. Sadly, that gear doesn’t help if the rudder itself is severely damaged or lost. In some cases, there are things you can do – like dragging buckets off the side that you want to turn. In other cases, the circumstances become more dire. Enter the emergency rudder.


On our LEVEL THREE training vessel “ALEGRIA X”, we have an entire emergency rudder system. When participating in long range cruising & racing, we take the fold down transom door off and attach the custom base for our emergency rudder system. Should the rudder become seriously damaged or lost, we can quickly pin the cassette for this rudder, then drop a large custom blade in that cassette, followed by the coolest custom tiller in the Pacific NorthWest (perhaps the world!). You see, our tiller goes around the backstay to give enough leverage to drive this powerful boat along without too much challenge.

So where do we store this monstrosity? Well, offshore sailing isn’t the perfect setup for slippery floors and the boat is also a little tall for every crew member to reach the handrails built into the ceiling. Sooooo… we replace the mahogany flooring with a non skid covered floor, compete with two centerline handrails that serve for shorter crew and a mounting surface for that big rudder blade.

Offshore adventures are all about preparing for the worst & hoping for the best.  Heavy weather, long passages?  Best to try before you buy. 

So far, the equipment has only been used in practice. We’d love for that always to be the case! Preparing for big adventures? Consider our LEVEL THREE COURSES & the awesome SAFETY AT SEA class run through BC SAILING

Subject: superstitions: FRIDAY the 13th & SAILORS
(Posted on Jun 13, 2014 at 05:39PM by Colin Jackson)
the tale of HMS FRIDAY, commissioned to dispell the fear of setting sail on a FRIDAY ~ only to confirm the fear... is an urban myth -

you'll see from wikipedia, that the story is really one of those legendary hoaxes, but sailors are a superstitious group & there certainly has been a hesitation to set sail on FRIDAY

~ accordingly ~ we just delivered our boat to the BROUGHTONS DREAMSPEAKER FLOTILLA by leaving late on THURSDAY ~ 

it all worked very well with some nice things to look at thanks to that decision

Subject: cinnamon buns help you learn FUEL RETURNS
(Posted on Mar 27, 2014 at 11:13PM by Colin Jackson)
do you know about FUEL RETURNS? this story of the most expensive cinnamon buns on the planet will certainly help you remember - lessons can be expensive - these are on someone else's dime

ONCE upon a time, in a marina far, far away (powell river), there lived a boat with lots of valves in the engine room.

Our student ~ or 'VICTIM' ~ decided to change a few of the valves, not fully appreciating that diesel engines draw more fuel than they require & RETURN fuel back to the tanks. Being that 'a little knowledge is dangerous,' they inadvertently set up so that both engines drew fuel from the port tank & returned to the starboard tank.   Their journey took them to the top of TOBA inlet, at which point, their boat had a heavy list that wasn't noticed until both engines died & the boat came to a complete stop.  

Receiving the call (how they had phone coverage I may never know - at least something worked), it didn't take long to determine what had happened.  The adventure in the engine room had come to an end ~ they would not extend their 'tinkering' to bleeding out the entire fuel injection system, so we dispatched help.  

Friendly STU came to the rescue in his high speed vessel.  Knowing people would not be delighted about the whole experience, STU's craft made one emergency stop in LUND to take on 'mission critical' supplies.

When STU climbed aboard the listing, motionless craft at the head of TOBA, he said with his giant enthusiastic smile ~ "Hi, I'm here to get you running again - enjoy these fresh CINNAMON BUNS from NANCY'S BAKERY while I work".  Tinkering with something they didn't fully understand lead these people to enjoy the most expensive bakery items of their life - but they fully understood what happened & it never happened again.

In delivering our new addition "KITTIWAKE" to SIDNEY this week, being the recipient of that fateful call that lead to the infamous sticky bun delivery, I was quick to realize when one tank was gaining fuel and the other was losing fuel ~ something had to be amiss ~ enter that pesky "RETURN LINE" setup once again.  A couple trips to the engine room lead to a correction.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with all boat systems, monitor your gauges & only change settings you understand.

The cinnamon bun story allows this valuable lesson to be at someone else's expense.
Subject: marina approach tips from the DOCK RATS themselves
(Posted on Apr 25, 2013 at 07:07PM by Colin Jackson)
MARLA & many of our cruising instructors become well known at all the local marinas in the GULF ISLANDS, SUNSHINE COAST & DESOLATION SOUND

its always fun for us to chat to the wharfingers & 'dock rats' - & it is kind of interesting what comes up in discussion!

to share - here are a couple 'rat' reminders as the season heats up:

# 1
marina staff relay that boats coming to the assigned slips do not have fenders & lines ready ahead of time and the staff end up trying to hold the boats OFF the docks to prevent damage and TO the docks while the crew get lines attached (skippers and crew should be more concerned about the boats!)
TIP …. pre-planning is the sign of a great skipper …… as you approach the marina:

* take the time to slow down, bring the boat to a stop in a safe place all the while keeping an eye on approaching traffic and you’re the movement of your own boat

* allow your crew the time to get the fenders set up at the correct height, get the dock-lines attached so they run from the cleats and below the life lines but back onto the boat and out of the water whilst approaching the dock

*brief your crew BEFORE you approach the dock & as skipper, give yourself a chance to look at the set up so you are happy with what you see

# 2

"RATS" also commented that boaters approach docks in gear & with speed increasing the chances of damaging the boats, the docks & with a menacing poke of a boat hook (a-la-'jousting') ….. THE RATS THEMSELVES!

TIP …. it is always easier to handle boats around docks and pylons & other stationary boats, from a position of being in neutral gear sooner rather than later ~boats still slip through the water with MO (momentum)  & as MO decreases, give your self some forward or reverse gear to deliver you in the direction you need to go ….. that’s all it takes ~ in gear & out of gear~ no speed, just movement ~ only as much as you need ~ with finesse!

if you have no idea what we are talking about ~ talk to our office crew about a docking clinic  (asap!)
Subject: do not ROB your BATTERY BANK
(Posted on Feb 28, 2013 at 07:42AM by Colin Jackson)

when thinking of the battery bank aboard a cruising yacht, I like to think of a bank account (seems a very convenient analogy) 


when your battery bank is FULLY CHARGED, you are comfortable & can use equipment at will ~ not unlike the great feeling of that full bank account


as you make withdrawals from this bank, you need to start considering how you will make deposits back ~ that same uncomfortable feeling associated with a dropping bank account comes to mind (see how relative this analogy is?)


* the alternator on the engine is one way to bring the batteries back up

* the shore power charger is another way

* some boats use solar & wind generators


unlike my cel phone, which seems to still work when the gauge says 2%, the battery bank on the boat shouldn't go below 50%


conversely, it is very hard to get right to 100%, especially when out at anchor or motoring


every boat is a little different, but you might come up with a zone between 50 - 90% - meaning you make sure you start recharging as you approach 50% & you keep that charging going until you reach 90% (knowing below 50% will hurt most batteries and above 90% might just be too hard unless you are alongside with great shore power)




some people talk about measuring voltage, but that's going to throw you bad information if you've just been charging or drawing (making deposits or withdrawals) - so we're working to add BATTERY MONITORS to our fleet - these 'battery fuel gauges' are the only sure fire way to know where in fact the bank is 




~ some people over the years think that when you plug the boat in, DC appliances magically change over to AC appliances because the boat is plugged in ~  this is not the case ~ but you may be making withdrawals & deposits at the same rate and holding your bank balance 'even'

~ be aware of multiple chargers when they exist and make sure you have engaged all charging devices you need

~ also be aware that a big invertor/charger may take everything the dock can throw at it - so not the best time to also have hot water tanks & other high load items pulling too


we're 'generalists' in this arena, if you want more specifics & an ability to dive deeper into this, check out the informative website of PACIFIC YACHT SYSTEMS - presenting at our YACHT EXPO SEMINARS

Subject: boat handling: IN vs ON the water
(Posted on Jan 30, 2013 at 11:06PM by Colin Jackson)
when staring at a boat and wondering how she'll handle, one of the first questions at a basic basic level (the best level to begin by the way) should involve how much of the boat is IN the water and how much is ON the water

large, heavy boats that displace a lot of water are effectively IN the water and behave very differently than lighter boats that sit mostly ON the water

HOW do you use this concept?

as you turn, boats that are ON the water, offering less lateral resistance, will slide sideways MORE than boats that are heavier and offer greater resistance

as you approach the dock, knowing how much sideways distance is involved can mean the difference between docking in style and something that more closely resembles a crash

but even different ends of the same boat will behave differently - in our DOCKING clinic, we show (with certain pizzazz)  the difference between the pointy end and the blunt end when it comes to boat handling - part of the reason it is the fact there is way MORE boat IN the water near the stern and relatively LESS boat IN the water up forward at the bow ~ the bow can change direction far quicker than the stern ~ an asset in certain circumstances & a liability in others  


a BOW THRUSTER and a STERN THRUSTER cannot be the same size on the same boat if you want the boat to move directly sideways ~ why? ~ there's a lot more STERN to push

case closed


catamarans come with inherent efficiency ~ they get stability by something very different than just displacing water - they are more ON the water than IN the water

lightweight RIGID INFLATABLE BOATS (RIB's) gain stability from the pontoons, but also designs work to keep those as much out of the water as possible in ideal condtions  ~ they work to stay ON the water, but when coming off a large wave & not landing directly on centreline, the tubes kick in and hep the boat from becoming further IN the water

at the most extremes lay the submarine - entirely IN the water when submerged - & hydroplanes - working to be as far above the water as possible without losing control at the other end of the spectrum - ON the water

hope you enjoyed this tidbit - we're very keen to show you more out ON the water soon (or IN... not sure, now we're getting confused!)