Here is a question from a Student who posted it on Disqus. I felt it was important enough to post out here for public. Displaying correct lights on boats is important.
Could you please provide more of an explanation for the following:
Although ‘steaming light’ is used extensively, this does not have a definition within the IRPCS [International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea], the correct definition being a masthead light.
If the tri-colour light can replace the stern and red/green pulpit light on a sailboat how can it be unacceptable to use the tri-colour light with mast head light? If you are under power you of course need your steaming light/ mast head light illuminated. So if you don’t have pulpit or stern lights aboard as you are using a tri colour light how can you do this?
Agreed – lights can be confusing at the onset. In this particular topic, sailors tend to get confused because they think a mast is only on a sailboat. But, a mast head light is also used (and defined for use) on power boats. Take a look at this image shown in the rules. It shows a power driven vessel longer than 50 meters using two mast head lights.
A large Power vessel displaying two mast head lights.
Here is the definition of a mast head light in the rules:
(a) “Masthead light” means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.
Note also that is does not say the light must be at the top of the mast.
For sailboats, a tricolored light is a light described by rule 25(b) in USCG Nav Rules. It is at or near the top of the mast and is for sailing vessels less than 20 meters in length. It is an optional alternative to having the lights down on the hull or pulpits. It faces a white light to the aft 135 degrees plus red from directly forward around to port 112.5 degrees and a green light directly forward and around to starboard 112.5 degrees. This makes up 360 degrees and meets the requirement for a sailboat sailing. When the sailboat turns on it’s engines it must also in addition to the white, red and green above, display a white light 225 degrees facing forward. You can name this light what ever you like but it must exist. These white “mast head” lights are also defined by the distance they must be seen by – it does not mean they have to be at the top of the mast. On power vessels they are typically at the top of the mast because that is what the mast is for.
Here is a sailing vessel under sail only with a tricolored light
Tri-colored lights on a sailboat
On a sailboat less than 50 meters in length, a mast head light (white under power light) can by just “up the mast” anywhere. It’s not part of the tri color. It is white and faces forward 225 degrees and is to be used when the sailboat is under power. You also might be confusing the term mast head light with the two all around red and green lights at the top of the mast. These are not mast head lights. They can be used in addition to the hull or pulpit mounted red green and white. The rules prevent a top of the mast tricolored light AND the two all around red and green at the top of the mast. This would create confusion and may be your source of confusion. i.e it is unacceptable to use the tricolored and two all around red and green lights. Again the mast head is white 225 deg forward facing to be used under power only.
Here is a vessel with the two all around red and green lights.
The Vessel sailing “on starboard” is utilizing the optional two all around red and green lights.
Here are the rules as stated: Rule 25 – Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
(ii) a stern light
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length, the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a) may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen. [note this is the tricolored light]
(c) A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a), exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by Rule 25(b).
International Rules for Prevention of Collision at Sea FREE Sailing Course
We also have a Paper Book that you should order and keep on your boat for reference.
The book is a stand alone excellent explanation of the Rules of the Nautical road and is a good and quick easy read. It has additional really cool features. Through out the book you will see QR Codes. When you scan any QR code with your mobile device, the book element comes alive and shows you animations and videos.
It is pretty amazing – you can now see the content of all your sailing courses in your curriculum offline AND take the tests offline. Once you reconnect, the test results are sent up to the cloud. i.e. it does not matter where you take the test – on iOS or on online on your computer.
NauticEd Sailing App
It is pretty amazing – you can now see the content of all your sailing courses in your curriculum offline AND take the tests offline. Once you reconnect, the test results are sent up to the cloud. i.e. it does not matter where you take the test – on iOS or on online on your computer.
Right now it’s for iOS – an Android version is coming.
Also in the App, is the ability to add to your new style logbook (launched in 2014). So on the dock after a day of sailing, just right there – add the day and it will show up in your sailing resume.
A really amazing feature is that you now carry your sailing resume and certificate with you on your phone at all times and can email it in an instant to anyone.
A short blast is to be one second long
A prolonged blast is to be between 4 and 6 seconds.
Between each successive signal you should wait 10 seconds or more.
These sounds are to made by power-driven vessels greater than 12 meters (39ft) in length and when operating in a narrow channel and have sighted each other.
I am altering my course to starboard
I am altering my course to port
I am running astern propulsion
The danger signal is general and can be used by anyone to signal disagreement with another vessel’s signal, which may lead to danger or just danger in general to anyone.
Sailboat in Fog
When operating in areas of restricted visibility IE fog, a Sailboat must make the following signal.
I am a sailboat in fog
Remember this by an average sailboat normally has two sails- thus the two shorts toots.
Powerboat if Fog
Where prolonged is a prolonged blast (lasting 4 to 6 seconds) and signals are not more than 2 minutes apart. This signal above (one prolonged and two short) is also the signal for other vessels operating in fog such as vessels towing, broken down, commercial fishing, or restricted in ability to maneuver.
Power driven vessels operating in fog must make the following signal not more than 2 minutes apart.
I am a power driven vessel in fog making way
I am a power driven vessel in fog stopped and making no way
These are international rules. The above list of signals is not exhaustive. For a list of all sound signals visit Rules 32 through 37 of the USCG regs (which again are international).
Finally, a piece of advice: Make sure you have a loud sound making device at hand at all times near the helm available with in 1-2 seconds. The day you will need it is the day you will thank yourself for heeding this advice.
This article helps you figure out the difference between the courses and which one you should invest in.
The Difference between RYA Day Skipper and the NauticEd Skipper Course
The RYA Day Skipper Course is the prerequisite course to attaining your International Certificate of Competence – the ICC. The ICC is the World’s only Sailing License created under Resolution 40 of the United Nations and is accepted and REQUIRED to sail in European waters.
The RYA Day Skipper Course on NauticEd is very similar in content to the combination NauticEd Skipper Course and the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course. Thus, if you have purchased the NauticEd Skipper and NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course in the past then you will receive $95 credit towards the Full RYA Day Skipper Course making the RYA Day Skipper Course $255 ($350 – $95).
Why the difference in cost? We must ship to you the RYA charts, Almanacs, Books, Electronic Navigation CD, and a reference book PLUS we must pay a professionally authorized RYA Instructor/Evaluator to physically grade the written (online) exam as most of the exam is not allowed under the United Nations Standard to be multiple choice.
Getting Started Pack
So keeping economy of education in mind, we also designed a getting started package of $155 for those who have not yet begun their education. This package gives access to the RYA Day Skipper Course content BUT with this package, the student can not submit the final exam for grading to the Instructor/Evaluator. The student will need to eventually upgrade to the Full package whereby the “Submit Final Exam” button is activated. The upgrade cost is just the difference of $195. Included, however in the $155 getting started pack is a set of self evaluation test blocks to help the student assess themselves as to how they are progressing and understanding the material. PLUS also included is the RYA charts, Almanacs, Books, Electronic Navigation CD, and a reference book.
The Full package is $350 (or $255 for those who already bought the NauticEd Skipper and Coastal Navigation Courses) – here the Submit Final Exam button is activated and the Instructor/Evaluator fee is prepaid.
To incent the student to go for the full package outright, we offer a free Portland plotter and set of dividers included with the full package.
NauticEd Students who have already purchased the NauticEd Skipper and Coastal Navigation Courses
You receive $95 credit towards the Full Pack
AND for complete autonomy and fairness, you automatically receive free access to the RYA Day Skipper Course – just that you do not have the charts et al to work with. They are provided for free plus the Portland Plotter and dividers when you upgrade to the Full pack $255.
How to purchase the RYA Day Skipper Course
We hope that this helps you realize that we went to a lot of trouble (and software code) to give you credit where credit is due. We very much value our students and want them to feel as though you always get more value than you expect. Not many companies would have gone to this trouble.
We are also very serious about giving you the proper education to help you gain the ICC AND be safe on the water. The United Nations Standards for the ICC are high and rightly so. You will be interacting with tankers and other dangerous traffic in foreign waters, you’ll be on the high seas (and beautiful anchorages), you’ll be in unfamiliar navigable waters with not-your-every-day navigation markers.
The United Nations, RYA and NauticEd want you to be properly schooled AND with that be proud of your accomplishment. The ICC is the ONLY Global Sailing License and you should be excited to hang it on your wall.
Practical and the ICC
You gain the RYA Day Skipper Certificate and gain automatic ICC eligibility once you pass the RYA Day Skipper Online Course and do practical training at an RYA Practical Training Center. There are 500 such schools worldwide including Yachting Education School in Annapolis. If you are completely competent, you may do a one day practical evaluation to pass your practical. If you feel as though you need practical schooling, you do a 5 day training program at the RYA Practical Training Center. Caution, completely competent means “Completely Competent”. You will be tested on navigation, course planning, tides, navigation markers, lights etc.
A Few More Details
At NauticEd we believe heavily in the skill of Maneuvering and Docking. Thus, here is something cool we have done in our software. When you pass the RYA Day Skipper Course and the Maneuvering Under Power Course we award you the NauticEd Skipper Rank (with the caveat of having to achieve the required logged experience in your free logbook). We also automatically award you with passed grades for the NauticEd Skipper Course and the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course. i.e. everything is autonomous considering that the NauticEd Skipper and Coastal Navigation courses are equivalent to the RYA Day Skipper Course. Same for the Bareboat Charter Master Rank – After RYA Day Skipper, just pass the Anchoring, Electronic Navigation, Bareboat Charter and Maneuvering Courses and you are awarded the Bareboat Charter Rank (with required logged experience). These Ranks give you an indication of how you are progressing with your Sailing Resume. Charter companies will often accept the ICC BUT our beleif is that you want to be properly educated to be safe on the water.
If you like this post and found it helpful please LIKE it and g+1 it thanks for that it really helps us grow.
What is the ICC?
Wanting to go sailing in Europe? You’re going to need the International Certificate of Competence (The ICC).
The ICC is defined by United Nations Resolution 40 of which 22 member states in Europe have adopted the resolution. It is the only sailing certificate fully recognized by these countries. Additionally, many countries who are not signatories to the resolution still require the ICC via local marine laws. There is no other sailing certificate that is government issued and United Nations accepted.
Why do you need an ICC?
By it’s very nature, sailing is an international recreation. When sailing you will invariably interact with shipping lanes and internationally bound ships operating under international laws of the ocean as well as light houses, lights, buoys etc. One such set of laws is the International Rules of Preventing Collision at Sea. Another is the international agreements on lights and buoys known as IALA-A and IALA-B. As a recreational sailor YOU MUST adhere to these laws whether educated about them or not. In considering this and remarkably so, enough countries got together and developed a minimum standard of education a sailor must meet to be able to sail in their waters. This standard was then adopted by United Nations so that the standard would extend internationally. Wow what a great idea and huge kudos to the founding diplomats and promoters of this standard.
What is the requirement for the International Certificate of Competence?
The requirement is a demonstration of competence in all areas of sailing from the rules of preventing collision, navigation techniques, safety of lives at sea, understanding lights and buoys, meteorology, tides and currents, good seamanship etc. You must be able to demonstrate theory knowledge and practical competence.
How do I get an International Certificate of Competence?
This can best be achieved in one of two ways but only through an approved ICC issuing training center:
(1) A one day assessment. This is an intensive one day on the water test out. There is no instruction. The assessor will merely ask theory questions and require practical demonstration in all the areas of requirements above. If you can’t quickly and effortlessly demonstrate how to calculate, plot and follow a series of courses, determine tidal heights and current flows, answer questions about day markers, cardinal buoys, lights etc etc – then more than likely you will fail the assessment.
(2) Complete the RYA Day Skipper Certification. This is a five day on the water training combined with extensive theory training. To do the theory training, complete the NauticEd RYA Day Skipper course online prior to your practical training. At the end of the 5 days and given that you have demonstrated growing competence, you will more than likely be awarded the RYA Day Skipper Certificate which automatically qualifies you for the International Certificate of Competence (ICC).
If you don’t do the Day Skipper Course theory onshore prior to the practical, you will not be able to demonstrate the competence required. For example, during the 5 days on the boat you will be expected to already understand the theory of navigation. On board you will learn how to apply the theory already known to the practical situation. Simply stated, if the theory takes 40 hours to go through at home, how could you go through this on board while also trying to learn the practical?
Watch this video to understand about the RYA Day Skipper Course and the ICC
Who are approved ICC issuing training centers and where are they?
Signatory countries to Resolution 40 appoint their sailing governing bodies to issue the ICC to their citizens.
But what about non-signatory countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) through the government of England is the largest governing body appointed to issue the United Nations ICC. Approved training centers of the RYA worldwide are assessing and training centers able to issue the ICC to English and non-English citizens. Americans, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis then are able to gain the ICC through an approved RYA training center. For Americans and Canadians the best place to go is the approved RYA training and assessment center Yachting Education in Annapolis, Maryland. Yachting Education’s chief instructor is Mark Thompson who uniquely holds a United States Coast Guard Masters Licence as well as an RYA Chief Instructor Licence. Mark also has over 20 years of sailing instruction under his belt. Strange as it may sound to you but no American sailing association of any type or name or school can issue the ICC.
Why is this? Well simply stated, the United States and Canada did not sign Resolution 40 and thus are not able to appoint any governing body to issue the ICC. This means that there is no certifying body resident in the USA or Canada who can issue the ICC. Other certifying private companies have tried to fake it by making up an international certificate. These are not recognized by the United Nations and are not government approved or issued and the level of tested competence is not to the standard of the ICC in any case. If there was an accident on your boat and you did not have the right Government Approved Sailing License you can be held personally responsible as the captain of the vessel regardless of the Charter Company who leased it to you.
So how does NauticEd fit into the ICC equation?
NauticEd through its approved RYA Day Skipper course provides the proper level of theory instruction as required by the standard to pass the theory knowledge portion of the ICC. NauticEd directs its North American students seeking the ICC to Yachting Education in Annapolis who is an affiliated practical sailing training school of NauticEd and an RYA approved training center. For other countries, after taking and passing the NauticEd theory, NauticEd directs its students to visit an RYA training school in their area to do the practical. As above, you have the choice of 1 day assessment or 5 day training.
Are you considering Europe for Chartering? Contact Yachting Education in Annapolis or visit your local RYA training Center.
So what about the Caribbean and Pacific etc?
As of now there is no government approved certificate required by any country in the Caribbean and equatorial Pacific Islands. While NauticEd still recommends the ICC under any circumstance, our Bareboat Charter Master Certificate without the ICC stamp is sufficient proof to Charter Companies of competence. The Bareboat Charter Master Certificate is not the easiest to obtain. It requires at least 50 hours of home based theory study with extensive exams plus it requires 50 days of logged sailing experience on the water – 25 at least of which must be as master of the vessel and 25 at least of which must be on a vessel 28 ft or greater. Other companies will issue a Bareboat Certificate after a weekend on a boat training – but we just say “come on everyone – really? One weekend? With the potential of all the what-if scenario’s at sea one weekend or even two is asking for trouble and is irresponsible”. Fortunately, Yacht Charter Companies require a practical resume even if a student shows up with one of these weekend or two certificates. If the experience is weak then the yacht charter company will not accept the charter reservation despite the “certificate” and will require a captain on board for the duration. This is exactly why NauticEd provides it’s cloud based sailing resume built automatically from experience logbook entires and eLearning courses passed in addition to practical instructor electronic signoff and NOW the latest – CrewMate Authentication whereby your sailing logbook can be fully authenticated and digitally signed.
Practical instructor sign off can be achieved through a NauticEd affiliated sailing school where instructors have been socially rated by pier students. And if 5 days on the Chesapeake Bay is out of the question for you, then get instruction at your local NauticEd Sailing school then do the one day assessment option in Annapolis.
Some students have asked us the obvious – if I can get a bareboat charter certificate easier through another company why would I not do that. Our answer is two fold (1) Yacht charter companies go off a resume not the certificate. It maybe so that they approve you anyway based on the NauticEd certificate we digitally produce for you based on your courses and own logbook entries (2) our personal belief is that if you have not yet achieved at least our standard of education and experience then we think you should prior to risking lives of friends and family at sea. What if … ?
Additionally, NauticEd is the only company in the world that produces a cloud based authenticated logbook. This gives charter companies the confidence that your stated time is more than just made up. It is living proof of your experience. Learn more about the authenicated sailor’s logbook.
Given all the time constraints and directional pulls in our lives, there are few things left for us to be able to achieve on a personal basis. What about achieving for yourself an International Certificate of Competence. It means that you will be approved by the United Nations to sail anywhere in the world. Let’s hang that on the wall in your office. Maybe even your boss might recognize it. But it’s going to take some work and sweat investment.
Two sail boats collide. One had wind over their port side and one had wind over their starboard side. The starboard tack boat saw the port tack boat and gave the port tack boat plenty of warning with a horn, but the port boat just kept on going straight. Who will loose the legal battle in court? Are you really sure? If you said starboard is the stand-on boat over port you could be dead wrong.
Below, the aft boat who is on a starboard tack catches up to the forward port tack boat. Port tack boat does not get out of the way and starboard passes close just to prove the point that port should give way because port gives way to starboard right? right? But there is a collision because port refused to move – who’d loose?
Starboard Tack Boat and Port Tack Boat – who gives way?
Power boats give way to sailboats right? So if a power boat collides into a sailboat the powerboat looses in court right? Well maybe not!
The above might have a few sailboaties jumping up and down wanting to pick up the phone and call us – first you might want to take a look through our new Navigation Rules Course.
Inspired by our Sailing School Instructor, Tim McMahon of Sail Quest in Thailand we have revamped our Navigation Rules Course. And because of Tim’s passion for explaining the dry – we were able to turn a completely dry topic into something interesting and engaging. In fact, we actually guarantee that you will love this course AND we guarantee you will learn something. If you do neither then we’ll give you money back on this course – well that’s slightly hard because the course is free. But none the less – OUR NEW NAVIGATION RULES COURSE ROCKS – thanks Tim McMahon of SailQuest Thailand.
What we did with the revamp of this course was to go through the International Regulations on Preventing Collision at Sea. We pull the rules apart and describe them with animations and example situations. Then we added a discussion about that rule to show who and why you might loose in court if there was a collision. What you say? But I was in the right! The discussion points out why even though you may have been the stand-on boat you might loose.
What this means is that everything you have learned from reading and learning the Rules of the Road might be wrong. This free sailing course is a definite must do and a definite must share.
Rounding up is so – so – so dangerous. Last weekend we were out sailing and a speed boat came ripping by at about 20 knots to the windward of us and only about 60 ft away. Yes they are stupid – yes they should know better and yes they should be shot – but that is not going to save your life. You have to take responsibility for yourself out there. Think about what could happen if a last minute gust hit you and you rounded up into that speed boat. You’re dead – and actually by maritime law it would be your fault.
So you’ve got to know how to handle a wind bullet and you’ve got to be at the ready. A last minute gust can kill you and your crew.
… and btw if you are a speed boater please pass to the leeward side of a sailboat … (leeward is the downwind side btw)
First a definition and explanation of Weather Helm:
Forces from the wind aft of the keel are balanced by the rudder.
Weather helm is when the boat wants to turn towards the wind and you have to hold the helm in a leeward turning position to maintain a straight course. i.e. if you let the helm go the boat would automatically turn towards the wind.
Usually a boat is trimmed so that you purposefully have a little weather helm. Why? Well if you are turning the rudder so that you are fighting the weather helm it means that the leading edge of the rudder is pointing upwind. i.e. the boat wants to turn upwind but you are counteracting this by turning the boat downwind. Turning the boat downwind means by definition the leading edge is pointing upwind. See the graphic.
All this means that as the water hits the rudder there is a component of the water force that pushes the rudder (and thus boat) in a windward direction i.e. it actually makes your boat climb upwind from the water force on the rudder. This is a desired outcome when sailing towards a windward destination. Few sailors know this.
I say all that to say this – your boat should naturally have a little weather helm.
Here is what a wind gust does:
First, it immediately heels your boat over. Because of the heeling angle, less and less of the rudder area is effective in providing turning force to counter act the weather helm. See the animation below.
Second, in a gust, the wind force on the sails increases with the square of the velocity but the counteracting force from velocity of water over the rudder does not increase because in that instant the boat speed has not increased.
So you’re trying to dip twice to use the rudder – eventually there is none left. The helm will be all the way over and the wind force has completely overpowered the rudder = round up.
Third, by definition an increase in true wind speed across the water shifts the apparent wind angle on your boat so that it comes more from an aft angle. i.e. if you are on a close haul, the wind now more feels like a beam reach. This exacerbates the heeling force because your sails are now in too tight. The wind gust is pushing sideways on the sails rather than flowing smoothly around both sides of the sails. This is now a triple whammy on the rudder. Poor Rudder!
Why does an increase in wind increase weather helm?
A boat is trimmed with weather helm by raking the mast backwards. This shifts the force on the sails backwards. To see the effect now, push sideways on a pencil on your desk. If you push in the center, the pencil moves laterally sideways. If you push towards the eraser end the tip moves “upwind”. Increase the force, the tip mores upwind more. i.e. the more force towards the back of the boat, the more the boat wants to turn up into the wind = weather helm.
But remember – a small amount of weather helm actually helps you “climb” upwind using water force from the rudder.
Why does an increase in wind speed move the apparent wind angle more aft?
Best you take a look at our free sailing course on sail trim. There is an excellent explanation there.
Wind Gust Directions
Offshore the wind gust is more likely to be in a consistent direction as the existing wind. Close in to cliffs, the gust can be heading in many different directions.
Back to dealing with gusts.
First off – you can see them coming. They are a change in perceived water color because the light reflects different off the small ripples generated by the extra wind. Seriously – they are easy to spot. Haa haa during the daylight.
As the wind gust approaches you should be prepared in your mind and with your crew for the outcome. Don’t leave it until the gust hits to start battle stations. Remember, gusts can be dangerous. Unprepared crew members can be thrown around. Boiling water in the galley can be splashed. People tossed out of bunks. Gear can be thrown around into someone. Someone can be thrown against a bulk head. Someone can loose footing and go overboard and finally as we started, you can be rounded up into another boat.
A crew member should be stationed and attentive to the traveler. You should warn the crew member of the approach. As the boat begins to heel, the traveler crew member should begin to ease the traveler. With a big gust, the traveler may need to be dumped all the way to leeward. This spills the wind out of the mainsail.
The mainsheet crew member should be made aware that if the traveler dump does not work that the mainsheet should be eased. But make sure that both sails are not being dumped at the same time. Traveler first then mainsheet if needed.
Tune the crew into whether an ease will work or a complete dump is needed. A good crew member will be able to anticipate and adjust. Training is good!
As the helmsperson, you can turn up into the wind gust a little assuming it is a lift. A quick look at the masthead wind indicator can tell you that answer. The gust will hit the top of the mast before it hits the boat. Turning into the gust will alleviate the heeling a little and allow you to take instant advantage of a lift. But make sure that you don’t overturn.
The headsail (jib or genoa) is to be left alone in a gust. Since the force on the headsail is positioned forward of the keel, the headsail does not contribute to rounding the boat up into the wind. In fact it acts opposite it helps prevent rounding up because the force on that sail is far forward of the keel. i.e. push on that pencil on your desk again. The head sail does however contribute to heeling. But again, the heeling in a gust can be controlled by the mainsail traveler and sheet.
If you’re getting hit by a lot of gusts and the crew is working hard to control – consider reefing the mainsail. This has three effects:
It shifts the center of pressure of the sail forward so that the rounding up effect from aft pressure is reduced
It reduces sail area aloft which reduces the heeling moment
It reduces the sail area in total which reduces the heeling moment
Heeling will be reduced by reefing the headsail, from the above arguments then this helps the rudder effectiveness.
Don’t try to tough out a windy situation by not reefing. Your boat will actually sail faster if you’re not weaving all over the place each time you round up and your crew will have a better time.
A professional delivery Captain told me once that his motto when crossing the Atlantic was “if you are thinking about reefing you should have done it yesterday. If you are thinking about shaking out the reef, wait until tomorrow”.
If you think Badges are a great idea and help people become better sailors, please LIKE this via facebook and g+1 it. Thanks it helps promote safety on the water.
Earn Sailing Badges and Status with NauticEd
Earn Sailing Badges and Status by doing the right kind of activities on the water. This training system is FREE and gives you instant feedback on how you can be better.
Watch this explanation video
Why Do We Sponsor This?
Boating is dangerous. Because of our extremely wide student body reach, coupled with deep technology implementations, NauticEd is uniquely positioned to take responsibility of promoting safe and proper boating habits worldwide. These include having a well maintained boat, being properly educated, regularly inspecting onboard equipment and having the proper practical experience along with other behaviors.
Through our Status and Badge technology platform, we recognize and promote those individuals who exhibit the proper and responsible boating behavior albeit through anonymous user names for privacy. We believe this leads to a viral and peer pressure effect to make our global waterways more safe and enjoyable for all.
Thus, this is no gimmick. When you participate in this effort, you are showing the world you’re also committed to safe boating and you’re encouraging others. Please participate to your maximum ability!
How Do Badges and Status Work?
Each Badge has associated and related behaviors called Activities. Each Activity has an assigned amount of points.
You earn Badges by earning points from the related Activities. For example you are awarded points towards your Safe Sailor Badge if you check your fire extinguishers, inspect your rigging, have an onboard functioning and inspected EPIRB etc etc.
You earn Status from your total accumulated points regardless of Badges.
Higher Status and more Badges indicate your proper responsible behavior associated with boating.
Expiring and Declining Points
Some points expire: We do this because it is necessary to constantly keep vigilant with things on your boat. For example you’ll need to inspect your rigging and change your oil on a regular schedule. You’ll see this type of expiring points when there is a check box next to the Activity and we’ll send you an email to remind you of the correcting Activity to gain back the points (you can turn these off). In this we’re helping you keep diligent about your responsible boating behavior.
Some points decline over time: We do this because your activity in the past, while important, has declined in its value. For example, if you sailed using a spinnaker this month, this is more practically valuable than having gone sailing with a spinnaker 2 years ago. You’ll see this type of declining point activity when you see an ADD button next to the Activity. “ADD” because you can repeat this behavior many more times than once. Thus the points accumulate but then decline over time.
Some points are awarded automatically based on your NauticEd site behavior. For example, when you pass a course we know you’ve been educating yourself. When you go sailing and log the time in our online logbook we know you’re gaining practical experience. You’ll see these types of automatic points when there is no checkbox or ADD button.
The Honor System
Yes this is mostly all build on the honor system. If you cheated a boy scout badge when you were young you probably feel pretty bad about it today. Be honest with thy self.
We sincerely hope you participate. We’re sure that Status and Badges will lead to discounts with many participating and affiliated companies in the future.
This issue’s sailing tip is a pretty simple one. It will lead to you having more valuable practical sailing experience than you’d ever imagine. And it fits nicely in with any new years resolutions you might be considering.
When I lived in Austin Texas, I raced a lot with the local sailing club there on Lake Travis, an inland small lake. And I have to admit that much of my finer technical sailing knowledge came from those many regatta races.
When a sailboat racing next to you is inching ahead moment by moment you learn quickly the importance of accurate sail trim. And talk about drilling the rules of the nautical road – wow when you’re on collision course with dozens of yachts you’ve got to know the rules.
Here’s the tip: Join a local yacht club this year.
At NauticEd we REALLY believe that practical sailing experience is one of the keys to becoming an excellent sailor (of course we’re making a big assumption that you don’t have a goal to be a crappy sailor).
A bit of History: When we designed the NauticEd sailing certifications, we consulted with dozens of sailing instructors and many of the world’s largest charter companies. With out any hesitation, they all rated practical sailing experience as a must have to becoming a competent sailor (durh). When we looked at every other global sailing certification, none required practical sailing experience as a prerequisite to gaining the certification. That’s a bit strange we thought because in this digital age, it’s easy to write an algorithm that can combine theory knowledge and practical experience (well not that easy but you get the point).
Then we looked at the scuba diving industry and the scuba certifications. We found that the theory education was excellent but practically – if you can barely swim, you’ll still end up with a certification. Still strange! The scuba magazine editorials are full of complaints about new divers banging into the protected reefs because they can’t do the most basic buoyancy control.
When it comes down to it I guess, most certifying companies are more interested in the $ than the true competency of the student. Thus we decided to set the competency bar high so that the charter companies could truly trust a experience and theory based certification.
So here’s the big “but” that people ask us all the time then.
“But … how do I get sailing experience when I don’t own a boat”.
Well… in virtually every city with a sailing waterway there is a yacht club.
Joining a yacht club is pretty simple and relatively inexpensive for the return you’ll get. Costs range from $40 to $80 per month. And if you own a boat, many times the marina fees are less expensive than a regular marina.
Some clubs are very racing focused some are not. I’ll maintain however that even if you’re not a racing type person, racing experience will improve your cruising sailing skills vastly. Racing is like learning a language by immersion.
Yacht clubs are highly social and so you’re going to meet a lot of very cool and interesting people who will become your friends. Throw away the preconceived notions of the stereotype snooty stuffy yacht club and just join one and find out for yourself.
Yacht clubs many times have a nice pool for the kids to hang out in and they will get to hang out with other yachting type kids. A vast improvement from learning life skills at the mall.
Yacht clubs organize weekend sailing trips away. These are usually very fun flotilla events. Here you can learn a lot of overnighting and anchoring skills.
Occasionally yacht clubs will also organize a bareboat charter sailing holiday to places like the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the pacific islands. This is a great opportunity to join in on the safety of a flotilla.
Some people think that if you don’t own a boat, then what’s the point of joining a yacht club. However, if you don’t own a boat, then you should definitely join a yacht club. Here’s a big fact. Virtually all boat owners are desperate for crew for either racing or cruising events. This is proven by the dozens of post-its on the yacht club notice board from skippers looking for crew.
Typical Yacht Club Notice Board
So – this year, join your local yacht club. Put your name up on the notice board that you’re willing to crew. Commit to some regatta race series. Do some boat jumping to find the boat/crew/skipper that you like. Make some friends. Get lots of sailing experience and most importantly, fill out your free NauticEd electronic sailing logbook. As with above, your logbook is the single most important thing that the charter companies look at when you are trying to charter a boat.
And one more comment – years ago when I ran a large yachting membership program, the biggest reason that people dropped out was that they did not have friends to go sailing with them. A mistake that I made was that we should have promoted our boat owning members to also join a yacht club. There, they would have found plenty of new friends to go sailing with, from the exact same notice board mentioned above. If you own a boat – join your local yacht club this year.
If you tried to email us over the holidays, you would have gotten a polite “out of the office notice”. We were busy catching up with our Canadian friends who have been sailing the world with their three kids for the past four years on a 42 ft PDQ Antares Catamaran. Early last year we meet up with them in New Zealand in the Tasman Bay (see the video in New Zealand). This year we meet with them in the inland water ways around Brisbane and the Gold Coast of Australia. Sailing with the Ellsay’s on Stray Kitty is a real insight to the lifestyle of world cruisers. They’ve certainly got it down and watching the kids in action with the lines and fenders was pretty impressive. This adventure was particularly interesting because of the intercoastal navigation issues in and around all the waterways. So here, I thought I’d relate a few stories as highlights of the issues and proof that both theory and practical knowledge is king.
Waterways south of Brisbane
One beautiful sunny afternoon we were anchored at a place called Jumpingpin. We went for a walk along the beach and came across a uniquely Australian experience by encountering a group of wallabies hoping across the sand.
Jumpingpin - A popular day stop (so long as you anchor properly)
After a nice stretch along the beach we returned to the boat just in time to beat an approaching thunderstorm. And in Ausy fashion, this one turned out to be a real beaut. About the time winds reached a peak of 40 knots we realized the washing was still on the lifelines and my bald head got a real pelting with the huge sideways rain drops as I brought in the now drenched washing. All the while that I was doing this, Chis, the skipper was pulling out fenders ready to fend off any of the at least ten yachts that were now dragging anchor.
To make matters worse, the tidal range in the area is around five feet. This creates particularly strong tidal currents in the narrow waterways. As the thunderstorm pelted us, the tidal current had risen to about 5 knots and was flowing in the same direction as the wind. This put huge forces on the anchors and it was pretty hair raising to see how fast the boats that had drug anchor were flying by. As an observation, almost all of the boats that had drug anchor and were now trying to reset them were using CQR plough type anchors.
The Dreaded CQR Anchor. Leave it at home.
Stray Kitty uses a Rocna roll type anchor and it held fast. Of course, in typical style of many boaters, the scope used was also way to low on boats that were dragging. And so we were able to watch the comedy of anchoring errors unfold in front of us. In reality there was no comedy. Some of the dragging boats were coming way too close, way too fast.
Boats anchored at Jumpingpin. Anchor scope too small and CQR Anchors caused dragging.
Next, one of the boats that re anchored abeam of us did it a bit too close and so as the current reversed later that night we began to come dangerously close. We elected to raise anchor and reset further out into the channel. However this presented quite a challenge with site selection. The wind was flowing in one direction whilst the current was in the other, and, we knew the current would again reverse before we awoke. Couple this with the difficulty in determining distance at night from other boats made us both glad of our previous anchoring experiences and knowledge. The worse scenario consequence of dragging anchor in the night and being washed out of the protected albeit high current waterway into the huge breakers coming in thought the cut was not one I wanted to spend to much time thinking about.
Another challenge was the markers. First off, Australia abides by IALA-A system which is opposite to the America’s IALA-B system of navigational marks. I.E. red right returning doesn’t work – it’s green on your right when returning. And in the USA the intercoastal water way fairly consistently uses green to seaward along the full length of a waterway with specially marked intercoastal day marks. IE heading from New Jersey past Florida and onto Texas you would keep green intercoastal daymarks on your left. In Queensland, they don’t seem do that and so the green and red swap inconsistently up and down the waterway.
Red Day Marker
Sometimes the red and green swap sides, some times they don’t. They seemed to use the yellow special purpose marks to designate a channel intersection rather than a preferred channel marker with red over green or green over red that is used in the USA.
Special Purpose Marks designating a channel intersection
Twice we were caught out nearly heading onto a sand bar because the day mark swapped over. The Australian navigation system also uses cardinal marks. Being able to read these quickly kept us out of trouble when it came to isolated dangers.
East Cardinal Mark (Safe Water to the East of this mark)
On top of all that, sand bars move and so your highly relied upon GPS map showing the exact position of the day marks can’t be trusted. When sand bars move the local coast guard move the day marks to remark the proper deep channel. So you can be looking at your GPS telling you that the channel is in one place when the marks tell you some thing else. Which do you trust? You have to trust the day marks.
Waterway Chart. Even with GPS don't rely on the chart. Follow the day markers.
Twice we had to turn right angles to follow a day mark went the GPS was telling us that the depth was one foot. Of course a slow and easy pace combined with the depth sounder readings is essential. Still, when you have only two feet to play with below the keel, sometimes it’s not the greatest comfort.
We tried our best to time our sailings each day with the changing tidal current so that it would help our speed. On the day that we approached Surfers Paradise this was not the case however and our 7 knot though the water speed only gave us a three knot SOG (speed over ground) due to current. On one particular day we had to ensure that we crossed under powerlines at half tide or lower due to the height of Stray Kitty’s mast.
Under Sail (actually me just posing for the shot)
As hairy as I seem to have made the above sound, we definitely had a spectacular time visiting this area. It’s off the beaten track when it comes to top charter locations around the world and probably for good reason due to the complexity and also due to the spectacular and more popular Whitsundays area to the North.
There are two highly relevant NauticEd sailing courses to this article. The first is the NauticEd Anchoring a Sailboat Sailing Course. I’d venture to say that none of the power boats that drug anchor that day would have done so if they’d taken this course. First thing they’d have done was to leave the CQR in the garden at home and secondly they’d have understood scope a little better. Surely those people are embarrassed that they drug so badly.
The second course that would really help someone enjoy our intercoastal venture as much as we did would be the Coastal navigation sailing course. This course teaches in depth the navigation marks of both IALA-A and IALA-B systems including cardinal marks.
The other comfort to the whole trip was having very experienced world cruisers on board. After a hard day of tidal currents, thunderstorms, crazy reversing navigation day marks and shallow waters we were rewarded with gourmet type dinners under the southern sky. The crew of Stray Kitty, after living on their cat every day for the past four years, did not sacrifice food quality one bit and were even able to whip up a birthday cake for me on the 31st.
The Crew of Stray Kitty (next to their Christmas Tree)
Other tasty delights on the menu were kangaroo, pork roast, shrimp pasta, steaks, roast turkey, gammon (cooked in the oven on board), plenty of salads and cookies. Some great Australian and new Zealand wines were poured on top of the above in the warm southern hemisphere summer over the Christmas and 2011/2012 new year.
Christmas Dinner Table Setting Aboard Stray Kitty
Thanks to Stray Kitty and her Crew!!!!!!!!!!!
Christmas Dinner with Alexandra, Andrea, Grant, Ryan, Christine, Cari, Chris, (Vanessa photographer - Nikon D3100) on Stray Kitty - a 42 ft PDQ Antares Catamaran