This is the start to a 10-day blog series sailing on a Lagoon 450 with the yacht charter company BVI Yacht Charters based in Road Town, British Virgin Islands.
The Indians, arh the Indians – my favorite. If you miss the Indians you have missed the BVI. It is an integral part of any trip here. It is a staple of the snorkeling diet – an appetizer of what is to come for the week. We just finished an hour with the head pointed down in colorful wonderment. Wow. (Click the Arrows for a slide show)
The Indians are generally the first stop on a BVI roundabout. They are 5 miles Southwest of Road Town. So your first sail is easy. Pop the main and the jib and an hour and a bit later you’re there.
While I’m writing this we’re parked up in The Bight in Norman Island.
The Bight Norman Island
The Bight, Norman Island
The day started as an awakening blur of yesterday’s travel. Not bad – 12 hours door to door from Austin, Tx to Miami to Saint Thomas, USVI. Then a haul ass to the ferry to catch the 3:30 ferry from Charlotte Amalie, USVI to Road Town, Tortolla. The last ferry was at 4:30 which coincided with catching BVI Customs closing at 6:00. Whew – basically seamless travel just a lot depends on things being on time which are out of your control like airlines.
At the end of it all, you sit back with a drink and say – Hey we’re on Island time, what does it matter? Stress has been banned from the Virgin Islands so you have leave your corporate training at home.
BVI Yacht Charters are located close to downtown Road Town – a really short taxi ride from the ferry terminal. Very convenient. And even more convenient, close to two Grocery stores RiteWay and OneMart. Most of the stuff you can order online through their websites and have delivered directly to your boat before you arrive. For the remaining items, you can take a short stroll to the store with a cold beer in hand.
Road Town BVI
Tony from BVIYC gave us our boat check out briefing this morning and after signing my life away, as usual, we were ready to head out. We were exempted from the chart briefing because … well… I did write the book on it. I had to laugh with Kirstie in the office when she said “I know you wrote the book on it but have you been here before”. She was right to ask – any area you go sailing, you need a familiarity with the area for two reasons: (1) to make sure you have a good time and take advantage of all there is to offer, and more importantly, (2) to make sure you know where all the dangerous stuff is. The NauticEd BVI Chart Briefing book and associated test is a comprehensive guide to sailing in the BVI. Those that have taken the test and passed it are able to skip the chart briefing and speed up the check-in process. In addition, it means you have all that information on hand.
I must say that the BVI check out crew were so efficient and awesome. The boat was immaculate and ready to go. They even lent us an audio jack cord for plugging in from the stereo to our iPhones (haa haa – everyone on our boat figured that each other would bring that cable – not one between all of us – don’t ever forget to bring a 3.5 mm audio jack to play your tunes.)
So, after a crew safety briefing, we released the dock lines and headed out. Yay. A short sail to Norman Island and my fav. the Indians.
For now, we are listening to a little Lyle Lovette in Pirates Bight, Norman Island. I hear some laughter on the front deck – I’m heading that way.
On shore in the Pirates Bight are two restaurants. Both are very (very) nice. Take a recently emptied credit card. But the experience and the beach is worth a visit at least.
On shore at Pirates Bight
At Willie T’s there is a universal singularity point. The laws of the universe are just different. What you think should apply, doesn’t. After drinks on the front deck of our boat, we moved to Willie T’s to observe this anomaly. But that is my point – soon observation turns into participation. If you can resist, the two things to try to avoid are: (1) the ski shots. This consists of a water ski with 4 shot glass holes drilled into the ski. When it comes off the ceiling 4 souls are drawn seemingly by magic to put their lips to a shots glass and the ski tips back on its own volition with the smooth liquid pouring down warm throats; (2) Rafter swinging – these do not end well. Assuming you’ve been working out at the gym, the challenge is to swing hand over hand along the steel rafters. The problem is that the rafters are rusty and all four crew members who tried and completed it (including one of our better-looking crew members) ended leaving the boat with less skin than they started with including yours truly. But at least the gym work paid off with a success grade in the swing. Skin was traded for self-esteem.
Willie T’s. A Universal Singularity
And, in case you don’t know about Willie T’s – William T. Thornton was the architect who designed the U.S. White House. His boat was purchased and permanently anchored in Pirates Bight. It is now a floating bar with a dinghy dock. They serve some food but the main focus is the bar. It is not really a family place if you get my points from above.
NauticEd and its expert team are global brokers for the best sailing vacations. We’ve been just about everywhere and know the best spots. We can arrange the best boats and the best prices. In particular, if you want to go to the BVI, we are absolute experts.
If you’re unsure about your competence, well we are the absolute best in the world to bring you up to a proper and safe level of knowledge, skills, education, and globally accepted certifications.
This is a partial section out of our NauticEd Skipper Course and our NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course which discusses lights on ATONs. If you find this useful then perhaps you might consider taking either of the courses. Coastal Navigation is only $39 and covers most everything you need to know when navigating a yacht. When you pass the course it automatically adds to your NauticEd Sailing Resume.
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ATONs are Aids to Navigation. The term is primarily used in the United States and Canada. Most of the rest of the world refer to them as Navigation Marks.
Lights are installed on some ATONs. The lights are usually alternating on and off on some consistent interval to distinguish one ATON from another. The series of “ons” and “offs” are listed on the charts. This helps identify exactly which ATON you are observing. The time between each series is called a “period”.
Lighted ATONs are grouped into Flashing, Quick, Occulting and Isophase.
Flashing: A light in which the total duration of light in each period is clearly shorter than the total duration of darkness – and in which the flashes of light are all equal in duration.
Example: a quick flash on then a longer period off
Example: the flashes might be grouped meaning that the ATON flashes quickly a number of times followed by a longer period of dark then repeating.
Quick Light: A light turning on more than 60 (but less than 80 flashes) per minute.
Occulting: Showing longer periods of light than darkness (opposite of flashing)
Isophase: showing equal periods of light and darkness – remember that “iso” means same.
A Long Flash: (L Fl.) A light which exhibits a long flash of 2 seconds followed by a period of longer darkness.
Morse Code: (Mo. (letter)) A Morse coded letter
Colors of lights are listed with the ATON. They are red (R), green (G), yellow (Y), and white (W). Blue is reserved for law enforcement. Or if the color is not listed then it is white.
Examples of the various types are shown below:
There can also be a composite group flashing light. In the example below the green light flashes twice then one – then repeats after some time.
You can identify the lights on the charts from the information next to the light. In the example below, the Bifurcated Lateral Maker “U” flashes composite green twice then once every 6 seconds – Fl G (2+1) 6s, while the Green Lateral Can number “9” flashes green twice every 6 seconds – Fl G (2) 6s.
At night, you’ll be able to pick out the lights against their backdrop of city lights because of their alternating nature. In the example below you can see Fl G (2+1) 6s and Fl R (4) 6s. Notice however, that you have to concentrate on one at a time, so that the other does not distract you.
Here is a slightly visually annoying summary.
Fl R (2) 5s
Occ Fl R
Iso Fl R
Composite Fl (2+1) 6s
In most countries, including the USA, the white quick flashing light is used to mark Cautionary ATONS
Safe Water Marks
In many countries, including the USA, the Safe Water mark is used and is a white flashing Morse code “A”. One short followed by one long and then repeating at least 8 times per minute. Just remember A – ok.
But also, a safe water mark can be exhibited by other white lights as shown specifically on the chart.
A long 2 second flash over a 10 second period (L Fl. 10s) is also reserved for a safe water mark.
Special Purpose Marks
If a Special Purpose Buoy is lighted it displays a yellow light with fixed or slow flashing characteristics.
Isolated Danger Marks
If lighted, a white light shall be used and the chart will announce the flashing sequence. The image below shows Fl (2) 5s but this is just an example. Any time you see a white flashing light you should be on guard.
Sector lights are sectors of color that are placed on lantern covers of certain lighthouses to indicate danger bearings. On a chart, the sector bearings are true bearings according to the chart and must be converted from magnetic bearing if using a compass. A red sector indicates a vessel is potentially in danger of running aground. Note however, that red can be seen beyond the danger zone as well.
This is also seen here below in a real case of a Nautical Chart #12354 Long Island Sound Eastern Port. Can you spot the Red Sector light?
Spot the Red Sector Light
Cardinal Mark Lights
Cardinal Marks if lighted use white quick flash lights. They are easily remembered from thinking of a clock dial.
North – Continuous quick flash
East – 3 quick flashes (3 o’clock)
South – 6 quick flashes followed by a long flash (6 o’clock)
West – 9 quick flashes (9 o’clock)
Publications that list all the lights usually exist for each country. In the United States the Coast Guard publishes the Light List, which can be found at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=lightlists For your country, or the country you are visiting, just search on “coast guard light list (country)” or you might replace coast guard with navigation or atons.
Below is an excerpt. Each ATON is listed by number (from the index at the back of the light list), it’s name and any distinguishing location, its lat and long position, its characteristic, height (if it is a light house), the range that the light can be seen from, the type of structure and any remarks about the light.
Light List Excerpt
Putting It All Together
The graphic animation below shows what a harbor entrance may look like at night.
And the corresponding chart symbols might look like this below
Day six of seven: Sailing out from Athens with The Moorings on a Leopard 3900 Catamaran
Thursday Epidavros to Ancient Theater to Vathi
Clang Clang Clang go the Saxons to wake everyone’s ass up. We gotta get to the Ancient Epidavros Theater.
Well at least that was the intention. The crew was dancing pretty hard on the quay last night. Anyway by 9 am we were up and at em. It’s a 40 euro round trip taxi ride to the theater about 15 kms away from the port. Rather than talk about it too much here, here is an excellent youtube video on the Epidavros Theater.
Quick run down – it was built in the 4th Century BC yes that’s BC. What was interesting to me was to note how conceited we are in this day and age to think that nothing was going on back then. Here is an incredibly constructed theater that is an acoustic wonder. You can talk in the center stone at the bottom and be heard at the top. Dave stood in the center while we climbed all the way to the top. When we were ready, he began to sing Elton John’s “Money,” which was very rudely interrupted by the guards telling us that no one is allowed to smile or have fun (not really). Apparently you can’t sing or have fun there. Anyway, Dave was only one line away from the end when he had to stop. Everyone there clapped and appreciated his talent. Rules – bar hum bug.
Here’s the fun video we snapped of Dave Singing at The Ancient Epidavros Theater.
The theater seats 12,000 people who, in ancient times would come from miles away to indulge in the arts. And here we are in the 21st century thinking all smart and stuff but we still can’t figure out kindness and benevolence and stop warring with each other. Come on humanity – let’s up the game here a little shall we?
The museum next door to the theater was incredible – displaying ornate statues carved in marble which had been dug up from the ruins and recovered and restored. Truly amazing.
Back at the boat, I paid the port authority 2 euros and 30 cents for the mooring fee. Really? E2.30? The ice cream I bought next door cost the same. Compare that to the BVI where you often pay $US 30 for a mooring ball overnight.
In all, we’re all finding that this is a cheap holiday. So far with all the food, booze, taxi rides, ouzo shots and dinners out, we have spent a total of 1000 euros total for 5 of us. Oh and that includes the mooring fees as well.
I’ve always wanted to shoot this photo. Just my weird sense of humor. So here it is shot in the Port of Epidavros.
Down the Hatch
The motor sail over to Vathi for our next evening was about 6 miles on calm seas. The steep cliffs to the west display was another impressive array of wind turbines. A good time to think about how wind has shaped our past from ancient trading and discovery to awesome sailing vacations and generation of electricity to power our modern day “necessities”. Wind is cool!
Epidavros To Vathi
The tiny Port of Vathi is a must visit. It is a small port with space for 8 or so charter boats. You back up to the quay where there are 4 great little restaurants. The staff from the restaurant come out to help grab your docklines – so awesome (which makes you feel obliged to buy a round of ouzo shots from them).
Click the arrows for a slide show.
The bartender Micheaonos (something like that – everything ends in nos in Greek – no offense meant, rather our own ignorance to be able to pronounce things that don’t come off our English speaking tongue so well) suggested that we take a visit to a volcano not far away. Wow! What a highlight and a must do. The track is a bit steep and a bit rocky and a good trek after almost a week on the boat. The view from the top is impressive – we could see all the way to Athens. There is a crack in the rock wall that we were able to climb into. The crack turned out to be the vent of the volcano. Slightly scary for the weak at heart, but kinda cool to say you’ve been inside a volcano – albeit it hasn’t exploded since the 2nd century BC.
Fun Video of some BS we made up along the trail.
For dinner — my favorite, Anchovies and a Greek salad (again) – oh man, yum!
This was Day 6. I mean come on – what a day! These are the kinds of things you do on a trip like this. You just have fun – you sail a bit, you visit a piece of history, you meet cool people, and see cool things you did not expect. Ever thought about being inside a volcano vent?
Cock-a-doodle-doo goes the local town rooster. “Last day” he says in rooster talk. I want to kill him. This has been such an amazing trip. But still … another day of fun ahead.
Over a coffee in Vathi Port, I had a chat to our dock neighbors Di and John. A lovely retired couple from England who spend 4 months every year sailing their boat around the Greek islands. They leave in August they said because it gets too crazy with tourists and “bling” power boats. Next week they are heading up through the Corinth Canal over to the Ionian islands and up to Corfu to spend the rest of the summer. Note to self for retirement ideas!
Remembering the awesome coffee in Pardiki which coincidently is on the way back to Athens we left our Vathi home and set off for a quick stop in Pardiki to visit Remetzo restaurant rated 5 stars on Trip Advisor. They lived up to their rating with me with the Sardines, Baked Feta Cheese and Beetroot salad. Just don’t stir Greek Coffee – learned that one the hard way.
I feel like I am writing up a foodie tour of the Greek islands.
Perdika is about 20 nautical miles from the Athens Moorings Base in Marina Zea. At just over 6 knots (under power no wind L) will take just over three hours. We had to have the boat back by 5 into the marina so we left Perdika at 1pm leaving some time for time sake.
Here is a pic of the route I set up on my Navionics App on iPad showing we will be in by 3:56pm as we rounded the top end of Aigina.
Route To Athens
So this is it – last leg home. Boo!
Summary: A sailing trip around the Greek islands out from Athens is a huge bucket list item checked off. It was just big wow and a fantastic experience. From the people to the food, from getting 3 lbs of swordfish from a local fisherman to the gelatos and bakeries, from the quays to the back street ouzos at local bars, from the amazing sailing to the dead blue flat water of the Aegean sea and from the stories we created to the ones we can’t talk about – we all had an experience not to be missed.
Get trained up to go bareboat chartering.
Get trained up for Med moorings.
Get trained up for maneuvering under power.
Get your ICC license.
Get your butt on an airplane to Athens Greece.
If you want to book a charter to Greece or any other place, NauticEd is happy to help out. We’ve been to most charter destinations in the world and know the cool places to go. We are brokers for Sailing vacations – we don’t charge you a fee. You get the same price as going direct but… you get a ton of expertise and advice with the booking through us. Fill out our Sailing Vacation request form here
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The International Certificate of Competence
aka the ICC – How to get one
To gain the ICC is now a simple process.
You can do it in one of two ways. The first is a simple assessment of your theory knowledge and sailing competence by an RYA qualified instructor. The assessment takes one day. It is a pass/fail assessment whereby no instruction is given. See ICC Assessment details below.
The second is that you gain the RYA Day Skipper Certificate which automatically qualifies you for the ICC. Note: that you can not do this process with the ASA because the USA has not signed Resolution 40 and thus ASA is NOT authorized in anyway to issue any government Sailing or Boating License. Their IPC is not sanctioned or recognized by United Nations.
Gaining the ICC via the RYA Day Skipper Certificate Route
Watch this video which discusses the RYA Day Skipper Course.
First, pass the online RYA Day Skipper course at NauticEd. The course is quite extensive and covers everything required by the United Nations Resolution 40 which authorizes the ICC. See below for the UN knowledge requirements. No matter your experience, we also guarantee that you will gain some great sailing knowledge.
Once you pass the Online theory Day Skipper Course, you then attend one of 500 RYA sailing Schools in the world. North Americans should attend the Yachting Education RYA Training Center in Charleston, The Bahamas, or The US Virgin Islands.
The Online RYA Day Skipper Sailing Course
Complete the theory requirements for the RYA Day Skipper Course and ICC online at home
The NauticEd RYA Day Skipper online course requires a real person to take the time to grade your exam and that you do the exam with RYA Charts and an Almanac which we include in the cost of the course. Thus, the cost is a bit more than our regular other eLearning courses.
Essentially, the course is a combination of the NauticEd Skipper Course and the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course ($95 combined cost). Thus, if you have already purchased these courses, you will gain an approximate equivalent credit for these courses when purchasing the RYA Day Skipper Course.
If the NauticEd courses are not in your curriculum we have provided an easy start method whereby you can gain access to the RYA Day Skipper course for less. For just $155 you gain access to the course and we send to you the RYA charts and materials. Note that you will not yet be able to submit your exam to our RYA instructor if you select this option. – Eventually, you will need to upgrade to the full pack ($195 upgrade) to submit the exam but at least this is a way to get started with a budget in mind.
The full RYA Day Skipper course if you want to start out properly is $350 (with appropriate credit automatically calculated for Skipper and Coastal Navigation Courses purchased prior). When you pass this course – you are issued with the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course and Exam complete certificate. Your practical time on the water after that is a breeze, you’ll be doing no exams on the water.
The RYA Day Skipper Practical Training
To complete the RYA Day Skipper Certification, take the 5-day vacation/learn to sail sailing course. By the end of the 5-day training, as long as you demonstrate competence to the standard then you will be issued the RYA Day Skipper Certificate. This automatically qualifies you for the ICC and NauticEd will arrange this for you upon passing the theory and Practical.
The one-day assessment is a slightly grueling assessment of your theory knowledge and practical competency. But don’t be intimidated, just make sure you know your stuff.
There is heavy emphasis on the theory knowledge of navigation (plotting courses, currents, tides, chart work, day and night ATONs and markers), passage planning, and navigation rules of the road in the assessment. Thus you should learn and get comfortable with this in the theory training online prior to the assessment. The last thing you want to do is fail. Most sailors can not “wing” this assessment without some study (even experienced sailors). Given this, our North American assessor will not allow you to test out of the assessment without having completed either the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master bundle of online courses or the RYA Day Skipper online theory course. He simply does not like to fail people but will if they try to wing it. For example, can you draw a North, South, East and West Cardinal Mark? What is the distinguishing light of a safe water marker or an isolated danger mark? Can you calculate at what time could you enter a shallow harbor given the tide almanac? Your sailboat under sail is overtaking a small powerboat on its port side, who must give way? In IALA-A is it Red Right Returning or Red to Red on Return? What about IALA-B? Given a specific current flow rate and direction changing over a tide cycle, could you plot a series of courses to arrive at a destination and estimate the time of arrival? What about fire extinguishers, can you name on the spot the best types of extinguishers for the type of fire?
In addition to the on-the-spot theory assessment, the assessor will test your practical competence including backing into slips, springing off the dock, and all aspects of maneuvering in the marina under power, your ability to lead a crew and give proper instructions using proper terminology for all types of sailing maneuvers.
Usually, we find the sailor is practically competent but are lacking on the specifics of the theory. This is why we strongly suggest the student to take the online classes prior to the event else your $400 assessment fee could be wasted. Additionally, we have schools worldwide who can give you training prior to the assessment.
(1) Doing the one-day on-the-water assessment with NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of online courses or the RYA Day Skipper online course.
(2) Gain the RYA Day Skipper Certificate via the RYA Day Skipper online course and the 5 day on-the-water training at an RYA training center. This automatically qualifies you for the ICC.
Which one do we recommend?
Well, it really depends on you. If you are open to learning new tricks and tips and get some solid formal training, you can not beat the full RYA Day Skipper route. If you think you know enough practical, then do the assessment with the Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of courses.
United Nations Resolution 40 ICC Standards for Knowledge
1. For the issue of an international certificate the applicant must:
(a) have reached the age of 16;
(b) be physically and mentally fit to operate a pleasure craft, and in particular, must have sufficient powers of vision and hearing;
(c) have successfully passed an examination to prove the necessary competence
for pleasure craft operation.
2. The applicant has to prove in an examination :
(a) sufficient knowledge of the regulations concerning pleasure craft operation and nautical and technical knowledge required for safe navigation on inland waters and/or coastal waters; and
(b) the ability to apply this knowledge in practice.
3. This examination shall be held with regard to the zones of navigation (i.e. inland waters and/or coastal waters) and must include at least the following specific subjects:
3.1 Sufficient knowledge of the relevant regulations and nautical publications:
Traffic regulations applicable on inland waters, in particular CEVNI (European Code for Inland Waterways), and/or in coastal waters, in particular the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, including aids to navigation (marking and buoyage of waterways).
3.2 Ability to apply the nautical and technical knowledge in practice:
(a) general knowledge of craft, use and carriage of safety equipment and serviceability of the engine/sails;
(b) operating the craft and understanding the influence of wind, current, interaction and limited keel clearance;
(c) conduct during meeting and overtaking other vessels;
(d) anchoring and mooring under all conditions;
(e) maneuvering in locks and ports;
(f) general knowledge of weather conditions;
(g) general knowledge of navigation, in particular establishing a position and deciding a safe course.
3.3 Conduct under special circumstances:
(a) principles of accident prevention (e.g. man over board maneuver);
(b) action in case of collisions, engine failure and running aground, including the sealing of a leak, assistance in cases of emergency;
Using our nano forum technology, one of our student’s asked the question.
Q: Please help! In the image, a sailboat has a powerboat (looks like a cabin cruiser) to port, apparently adrift in this example. However, there are no sails deployed on the sailboat. The sentence beneath this picture says the powerboat must give way, making the sailboat the Stand on boat. Why is this the case? Is it because the powerboat has the sailboat to starboard? Is it because the powerboat is adrift? Is the sailboat under power or adrift? This picture is confusing me because it seems the sail boat is also either under power or adrift. It’s certainly not overtaking the powerboat from the rear. Can anyone help with this one?
Here is our answer
A:Powerboat rules apply. The power boat sees the power driven sailboat on its right (sees a red light) and thus must give way. Additional note: adrift is still under power regardless if the engines are on or off. Why is that? Well, how could the sailboat know if the engines on the powerboat are on or off? For consistency of the rules then, adrift IS underpower. Further note: the sailboat even tho stand-on still has the responsibility to not cause a close quarters situation. Thus, let’s say the power boat could not start its engines, then there is no problem because of the sailboat’s continued responsibility. Further note: the student also asks what if the sailboat is adrift. Well, that point is moot because both adrift would not cause a collision. However, even if the wind was pushing the adrift sailboat towards the adrift powerboat, technically both are still underway and the powerboat is still the give-way vessel. Further note: if the powerboat was at anchor, then it is at anchor no longer underway.
Thanks to Perry G of Oregon for asking the question using our Nano forums “SeaTalk”.
On every page of our sailing courses, there is a SeaTalk button. Use this button to ask and answer a question. In particular, please help the community by answering questions when you see that there are comments or question on the SeaTalk page.
GET TWO FREE SAILING COURSES AND A FREE ELECTRONIC SAILOR’S LOGBOOK
PLUS BE A LUCKY WINNER OF THE NAUTICED CAPTAIN’S EDUCATION BUNDLE
NauticEd International Sailing Education is the proud title sponsor for the May 12th 2016, Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race. Two of NauticEd’s practical sailing schools, Island Sailing Club and Vancouver Sailing Club are a significant part of this title sponsorship and many of their students are participating.
The race, in its 40th year is 193 miles long and begins off the coast of Astoria, Oregon and finishes in the harbor at Victoria, British Columbia.
As part of the education sponsorship, NauticEd is giving away 6 Captain’s Sailing Education Packages to 6 lucky participants. This represents over a $2000 donation to the cause of keeping people save on the water with advanced sailing education. View the contents of the Captains package below. This represents extensive and vital education for all sailors wanting to sail more than 20 miles off shore or over long distances.
All participants are encouraged to create a new account with NauticEd whereby they will receive 2 FREE NauticEd courses, Navigation Rules and Basic Sail Trim and a FREE sailor’s electronic logbook.
Students of Island Sailing Club and Vancouver Sailing Club are encouraged to join in on the race.
WINNERS: If you are a winner of one of the 6 Captain Education Packs, sign up for a free account at www.NauticEd.org/signin then send us an email. Once we verify with the Committee your prize, we will drop the 12 sailing courses into your curriculum. Congratulations!
ALL OTHERS: Set up a free account at NauticEd here Sign in to NauticEd you will automatically be given two free courses and a free sailor’s electronic logbook. You’re Welcome!
After the anchor has set and adequate rode has been paid out, take time to ensure you are not drifting. And considering changing winds and tide height and tidal current, it is important to periodically monitor how well your anchor is set.
Check your anchor set manually and electronically. Do this manually by sighting bearings to objects on shore and determining that they are constant. Note that the boat will swing back and forth with the wind making it a little difficult to check that you are remaining steadfastly connected to the bottom. But, over time, you will get a feeling that through each successive swing, bearings to objects on the shore are not changing.
Using an electronic means will give you a more accurate determination of anchor set. If you have a GPS device, turn it on and turn on “show track.” Observe over time the history track of your boat. If the tracks overlay each other then you are holding steadfast. You can also use an anchor alarm on your depth meter. To do this, you set the maximum and minimum allowable depths. If the depth goes out of this range, the alarm sounds. There are also Apps for your mobile device. Here are a few:
Chances are that you will be switching over to an inflatable PFD pretty soon given that they are so comfortable. Here the adult is wearing a Type II inflatable PFD while the Child is wearing a comfortable Type III PFD.
Inflatable PFD’s are available in a variety of styles (and colors) and are generally more comfortable and less bulky than traditional foam vests. They need to be worn on the outside of all clothing and weather protection for obvious reasons of gaining access to the inflatable tube and also allowing the water to activate the automatic release of the gas cartridge.
They come in different sizes for children and adults. International standards on inflatable PFD’s require them to be fitted with a whistle and reflective tape. For vessels operating at night they are also required to have a light attached. It is recommended that you buy PFD’s, especially child ones, with a crotch strap to prevent the PFD from rising over the head.
The air chambers are always located over the breast, across the shoulders and encircle the back of the head. They may be inflated by either self-contained carbon dioxide cartridges activated by pulling a cord, or blow tubes with a one-way valve for inflation by exhalation.
Some inflatable life jackets also react with salt or fresh water, which causes them to self-inflate. Some inflatable life jackets are only inflated by blowing into a tube. These are more dangerous and should be avoided because it is possible the person falling or being knocked overboard may be unconscious. The latest generation of self-triggering inflation devices responds to water pressure when submerged and incorporates an actuator known as a ‘hydrostatic release’.
Regardless of whether manually or automatically triggered, a pin punctures the cartridge/canister and the CO2 gas escapes into the sealed air chamber. However, there is a chance that these water pressure activated inflation devices do not inflate the life jacket if a person is wearing waterproof clothing and falls into the water face-down. In these cases the buoyancy of the clothing holds a person on the water surface, which prevents the hydrostatic release. As a result, a person can drown although wearing a fully functional life jacket.
To be on the safe side, a pill-activated inflation device is preferred. A small pill that dissolves very fast on water contact is the safest option, as it also works in shallow waters where a hydrostatic activator fails. This type of jacket is called an ‘automatic’. As it is more sensitive to the presence of water, early models could also be activated by very heavy rain or spray. For this reason, spare re-arming kits should be carried on board for each life jacket. However, with modern cup/bobbin mechanisms this problem rarely arises and mechanisms such as the Halkey Roberts Pro firing system have all but eliminated accidental firing.
Looking after your inflatable lifejacket
The care and maintenance of your inflatable PFD/lifejacket is your responsibility. Here are some simple tips to help you properly care for your inflatable lifejacket.
Have you read the instructions?
Your inflatable lifejacket should contain information on how to wear, operate and look after your device. It is important that you familiarize yourself with these instructions.
How do I look after my lifejacket?
Check the following for excessive wear, cracking, fraying or anything to indicate possible loss of strength:
all fastening mechanisms and devices.
Also, check that:
the gas cylinder is screwed in firmly so as to allow the firing pin to pierce the cylinder bladder
the lifejacket has not been previously activated without refitting a new activation device and cylinder
there is no rust on the gas cylinder
Important – Rust on the gas cylinder may damage the fabric of the cylinder bladder allowing the gas to leak over time.
Don’t forget to manually inflate the lifejacket from time to time. To do this:
open up the inflatable lifejacket to expose the inflation tube
inflate with dry air
leave it inflated overnight
check for loss of pressure the next day. If you believe there is leakage, contact the manufacturer immediately. If there is no obvious loss of pressure, deflate the inflatable lifejacket by turning the cap upside down and holding the topside (with the knob down) pressed into the inflation tube. This will open the one-way valve.
make sure all the air is expelled and the life jacket is repacked correctly.
What should I do with my inflatable lifejacket at the end of a day out?
If your inflatable lifejacket is equipped with automatic inflation, remove the bobbin or cartridge before washing to avoid accidental inflation.
Rinse: If it has been exposed to salt water, rinse thoroughly in fresh cold water.
Wash: To clean the outer shell of it, hand wash with warm soapy water. A clothing cleaning agent can be used for removing grease and stubborn stains.
Dry: Hang it up to dry thoroughly before storing.
If your inflatable lifejacket is equipped with automatic inflation remember to replace the bobbin or cartridge once the inflatable lifejacket is thoroughly dry. The bobbin can only be inserted one way and the cartridge simply screws in.
Bobbins and cartridges
Some automatic inflatable lifejackets are equipped with sacrificial water-soluble bobbins and others with sacrificial paper element cartridges. They are prone to accidental inflation if exposed to humid conditions for any length of time. If you have any difficulty, contact the manufacturer or place of purchase.
What if I have deployed my inflatable lifejacket?
If you use your inflatable lifejacket, you will need to replace the CO2 gas cylinder and the activation device once it has been used. It is recommended that you have your inflatable lifejacket serviced each time it is deployed. The inflatable lifejacket can then be checked for any damage which may have occurred during the incident. For automatic inflatable lifejackets, it is recommended that the bobbins or cartridges be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Does my inflatable lifejacket need to be serviced?
Your inflatable lifejacket should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for full servicing details relevant to your inflatable lifejacket. However almost all manufacturers recommend at least annually.
Transporting Lifejackets on Aircraft
Is it OK to take inflatable lifejackets on commercial aircraft ?
IATA publish Table 2.3A regulating the transport of dangerous goods which states that: Subject to prior approval from the airline, self-inflating life jackets are permitted if they contain not more than two small cylinders with a non-flammable gas in Division 2.2 plus not more than two spare cartridges per person. They are permitted as: carry-on baggage, checked baggage, or on one’s person.
Not all airlines follow these rules, so consult with your airline well in advance and also allow additional time for check-in. We also question whether the average security check person knows this. So we advise you to call the airline ahead of your flight and check your lifejackets in your baggage if allowed.