GOOD OLD BOAT
NEWSLETTER -- OCTOBER 1999

Contents (what's in this issue)

How to contact us
 
Good Old Boat Magazine
7340 Niagara Lane North
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
612-420-8923; 612-420-8921 (fax)


Karen Larson, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Brent Ostbye, Editorial Assistant

http://www.goodoldboat.com/


It's a beautiful fall, however . . .
As we write this in mid-September, the loons have left our northern sailing waters, their summer chick-raising completed for another year. The geese are making noisy practice flights from watering hole to food source, their admirals ranting on all the while at the troops about proper formations. Soon they'll be gone, too. The smaller birds are flocking together and emptying our backyard feeders at a phenomenal rate as they stock up for their trips south. We've noticed colorful leaves in a few maple trees. It's a beautiful time of the year, except for just one thing. The sumac will burst into vibrant color, and we'll know what our sailing spirits are denying: another sailing season is coming to an end. Only yesterday, it seems, we were completing the launching maintenance and seasonal preparations. As we prepare for haulout, we'll be envious of our southern neighbors, and we'll dream of the sailing season to come.

News fit to print
Herewith the news from the International Headquarters of Good Old Boat magazine. (The World HQ, in case you wondered, is the former family room of our home. The boardroom table is our dining room table. These are modest beginnings. There is no bank loan or group of investors behind this launch. . . just a pair of sailors with a passion.)
In the June issue of the newsletter, we responded to the many suggestions we were receiving about the quality of the magazine's paper stock. We told you then that since we weren't on a web press, like the big guys, the paper had to be a bit heavier. We were able to cut that paper weight back one notch with our September issue, however and still be a sheet-fed magazine. Perhaps you noticed the difference. The lighter-weight magazine even saved us a bit on postage.
For the past four to six months, we've been evaluating printing costs and going through a heavy-duty bidding process. We loved our printer, but not the prices. So we selected a new printer beginning with the November issue. Even though our quantity is still too small for most web printers, we have found a Canadian web printer who can take on smaller jobs such as ours. So the production of Good Old Boat has moved north of the border with the coming issue. We're keeping the lighter page weight and wrapping the pages with a heavier cover to help the magazine travel through the mail in one piece. We hope you like the result. Let us hear from you.

What's coming in November
The November issue is at the printer. Here's what's coming:

We need book reviewers
We're looking for a few more book reviewers. The job pays a little bit, it's fun, you get to keep the book, and you'll be published. Too good to be true? It sounds like some of the spam we receive these days: Easy money for life. No work involved. Do it from your home. Your sex life will improve. You'll lose pounds. Perhaps you'll increase the size of certain body parts. Your hair won't fall out. It won't turn gray. Your wrinkles will vanish.

So what are you waiting for? Email or mail us with your interest in becoming a book reviewer, and tell us what sorts of books you like to read. We'll slip that note into a file and match notes up with books as they come in for review. We'll ask you for reconfirmation before mailing a book in your direction.
 

Ahoy Texas, California, Alaska!

And while we're on the subject, where are all the sailing writers from Texas and the West Coast? And from Alaska and Hawaii, too? We've heard from a few of you, but our strength appears to be along the East Coast, Great Lakes, and Gulf Coast. This is unintentional; we'd welcome voices from Texas and ports inland and farther west. Writers' information is available to anyone who asks. It's a rather informal sheaf of papers listing what we've got tentatively scheduled for the next several issues, what we'd like to find, and what we pay for this. Send a mailing address, and we'll mail a writers' kit to you. Then get in touch with ideas or completed articles. We'll respond as quickly as we can. Timing varies, due to production schedules. We do get swamped from time to time.
 

A word to photographers

A note to those of you who are taking photos to illustrate articles for Good Old Boat or other magazines for that matter:
First, if your camera has a date stamp, please turn it off. The date stamp has to be cropped out of your shot (or cleverly erased using Photoshop whenever possible).

Second, please don't write or stamp your name on the back of your photos, if you are sending prints. Dozens of people have sent us photos recently which were ruined by the ink which rubbed off from the photo in front of them on the stack. If there is already ink on your photos, slip a piece of paper between each, please. Otherwise we can't use the shots, and they won't be much good to you when you get them back, either. We haven't found anything that takes the ink off, and we've sure tried!
We, and all other publishers, prefer slides to prints, because slides are the original, while prints are already one generation removed from the original negative. As you know, each generation experiences the loss of some detail.

Also, electronic files seldom work for our purposes. The new digital cameras are really cool, but they work best for the Internet where 72 dpi is all the resolution you need. We need 300 dpi for printing, and that generally translates into very large files and very expensive digital cameras. That technology is changing rapidly, but it's not quite there for print production right now.
 

Maybe you saw us in Sailing

Sometime ago we were asked to write a piece for Sailing magazine about using a kayak for a dinghy. Jerry did this, and it just came out in the October issue. Unfortunately they thought I (Karen) wrote it, and have given me the byline. Now, when you see it, at least you'll know the truth. And by the way, we use a two-person kayak, not two kayaks, as the story indicates. (You know what happens when someone else gets your article and "fixes" it up for you.)
 

Cruising World, too

Cruising World also has a piece coming out in an upcoming issue which you'll recognize. Remember our "Onboard Equipment Hall of Fame" dialogue in the February and April newsletters? We asked people to tell us three pieces of equipment that they consider important to have aboard. We listed three for us - the big beam light, radio headsets, and our lifejackets. Not long after that, Cruising World did a mini-survey of people they know, asking for a list of three important pieces of equipment. We sent them the information we'd printed in February. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) they do with that. Stay tuned.
 

Renewals have been terrific!

Those who subscribed to Good Old Boat from the very beginning were asked to renew their subscriptions a couple of months ago. Their checks are still coming in, but it's been heartening. We hear our current resub rate of 76 percent is outstanding in the publishing world. And as more of them respond, we expect that rate to move even higher. The folks who subscribed with the second and third issues of Good Old Boat are also in the renewal process at this time. We appreciate you - each and every one - for having the confidence to subscribe the first time and the commitment to come back and watch us grow for another year. Many of you are sure enough of what we are becoming to send checks for the next two years. We thank you for that vote of confidence.
 

More new names on the masthead

In the last issue of the newsletter, we told you about Brent Ostbye, a part-time staffer who races to our office between classes at the University of Minnesota and sailboat races in the Midwest, pounds out a couple of hours of work keeping our mailing list and database up to date, and vanishes again in a cloud of exhaust from his trusty old pickup.

Let us introduce you to a couple more helpers who work from their own homes but are very much a part of our organization nonetheless. Hope Beecher Wright has just signed on to sell advertising for us from her Douglaston, N.Y., home, bringing a distinctive East Coast accent to our magazine. John Vigor balances that by doing most of our copyediting from his home in the Seattle area.

From a country place an hour north of the Maple Grove headquarters, Ann Dorsey manages our newsstand sales through independent retailers and other special projects primarily involving distribution of magazines.

The guy who taught us how to make our own webpages and who gets credit for that on our homepage, Jerry Stearns has just become our webmaster, since we can't seem to stay on top of ongoing webpage changes either. Jerry lives and works in the heart of Minneapolis, whereas we're really "way out here" just outside the Minneapolis outer belt.

And Mary Endres who lives across the street, has been doing some of our mailing list development and, in a more creative vein, the development of some ads for our advertisers. She's also managing our list of sailboat associations and contacts, and she'll be doing more page design in upcoming issues.

Pat Morris, another Minneapolis suburban dweller and a stickler with a red pen, is our primary proofer, although everyone gets a shot at saving us from our own goofs.

All in all, it's an impressive list of people who make things happen. Our thanks to each.
 

We're on the newsstand now!

Good Old Boat is now available (beginning with the November issue) on West Marine bookstands and at a handful of other book and marine retailers. Be sure to visit these folks, if you live nearby:
 
More boat names

My Catalina 25 is named Noname (pronounced no nam' e). A friend of my wife corrected a number of people at a Japanese restaurant about the No Name Special listed on the menu. "I have been to Japan," she told them, "and they have a meal called the noname!" Later, when ordering that meal, we were corrected by the waitress, using a very American accent, who said, "Oh, you want the No Name Special."
Michael Mathews
Houston, Texas
I got a big chuckle when I saw Erie Feeling, a powerboat on Lake Erie.
Greg Mansfield
Washington, N.C.
At Cooper Harbor, BVI, the launch selling various boat and food goods is called Deliverance. The tender for people to get ashore is Legal.
Dyke Williams
Deephaven, Minn.
Another boat name that caught our eye in Apalachicola, Fla, was on a lovely old boat: Piece of Ship. Try hailing that on your VHF.
unknown contributor
(Sorry, your note got separated from your subscription check)
The Walns, who wrote the Project from Hell story in this and the previous issue of the newsletter, have named their Freedom 40 Bright Star. Her RIB is Broad Stripe. Her red-decked Dub Dam sailing dink is Red Glare, the yellow kayak is Dawn, and the orange kayak is Early Light.
Chris and Janet Waln
Alexandria, Va.
Dammed if I Know was a small wooden cabin cruiser which approached me after riding around in circles for 20 minutes. On board were three intoxicated gentleman who asked where the hell they were. They were WAY out of the tight channel in a shallow body of water I was traversing on my way to Florida. I told them where they were, and they just turned around and continued circling until I motorsailed out of sight.
My father's beloved old wooden motorsailer, a classic 1936 William Atkin design, was named All's Well, and the dinghy on davits was named Ends Well. Many a happy childhood summer was spent cruising the Northeast Coast and messin' about in that lapstrake dinghy in the wee hours of the morning.
Hope Beecher Wright
Douglaston, Long Island, N.Y.
 

How do you do this?
Rattling pots and pans
Our C&C 30 has a small locker next to the engine and to port of the companionway ladder. We keep our pots and pans there. It's deep and tall and not much good for anything else. We don't carry a lot of cooking implements: two sizes of frying pans, two cooking pots, one pressure cooker, lids for these, a muffin tin, and a small cookie sheet. No matter which implement these we want, it's at the bottom or back of the heap. This causes a lot of banging and clanging, which I imagine is particularly annoying for the animals living in the water nearby. I find myself apologizing to any nearby loons for the disturbance.
Do you have a way to store your pots and pans that makes them accessible and keeps them quiet? If so, please tell us, and we'll spread the word.
 
Dishwashing process
On a related subject, tell us your process for dishwashing. We've seen boats with two sinks, which make it possible to manage the process pretty much the way you might at home with one sink for washing and one for rinsing. We've also seen one process in which a sudsy washcloth substitutes for the soapy sink and rinsing is done in the normal way.
On Mystic, we've gotten in the habit of heating a pot of suds on the stove in one of the pans we've just used for cooking. This container becomes the soapy sink, and rinsing is done with a spray bottle over the sink. When finished, we pour the dishwater into a large laundry detergent bottle and conserve the gray water for flushing water. It's one method. What's yours?
 
About these auction sites . . .
At Good Old Boat, we barely have time to make magazines, brush our teeth, and go sailing these days. So we don't "surf the web" often. However, we're hearing rumors of wondrous auction sites (particularly the BOAT/U.S. and E-Bay ones) for new and used boating gear. Write and tell us how these things work and the addresses of your favorites, and we'll pass the information along for the rest of us.
 
Mail Buoy
Thanks to Lenny Reich
We spent the spring and summer hastily retrofitting our boat (a Morgan 384) for liveaboard coastal cruising. The mandatory mechanical upgrades are nearly finished, but we have a lot of lower priority cosmetic projects to work on as we go. We've gotten a lot of good, practical insights and ideas from your magazine and laughed and cried with your correspondents who've "been there, done that" and lived to tell the tale.

One of our best resources, particularly since he introduced us to your magazine, has been our Morgan 38 Owners' Group led by Colby College Prof. Lenny Reich. In addition to being able to go on the web with any problem and get nearly instantaneous responses from other Morgan owners with solutions, we can find sources for parts, communicate with the boat's designer, Ted Brewer, and the production supervisor who built her, Pete Brown. Warren Pandy, at Catalina/Morgan also provides support to owners of Charlie Morgan's boats -- not bad for 15- to 30-year-old boats in an ever-changing marketplace.

From time to time members gather at boat shows and exchange ideas (and hold local rendezvous with their boats). We had a very lively forum in Chicago, photos and retrofit ideas were flying all over the place. Lenny sends quarterly newsletters with more ideas and has archived at least two bulletin boards so far. We've heard from other non-Morgan owners that our group is exceptional, but I'm sure there are many other good ones.
Barb and Walt Trela
Garden City, Mich.
What a neat resource!
Please sign me up! I "found" my boat because of your article in the September issue on Joe Palmer. I recently purchased a 1967 Ted Hood Tartan Blackwatch 37. This was all the information I had, but thanks to your magazine, I now have:
 

When I found your site on the Internet, all I was hoping for were general answers to those problems that older sailboats have. Looking forward to more issues.
Glenn Larkins
Miami, Fla.

 
Lowering the mast
Hope you can help, I have a US 25 sloop and have never lowered the mast. I bought the boat three years ago and keep it in the water, but plan on trailering it home for the winter to do some needed maintenance. I can't find any information on how to accomplish this, but it doesn't look too difficult, as the mast is hinged at the base. I was thinking of building a tripod of sorts on the bow and attaching a winch to the forestay and lowering it toward the transom. Any ideas, thanks.
David and Raelee Polda
via email

You've got the basic idea. I've never lowered the mast on a boat like yours nor on one quite that large, but I used to raise and lower the one on my Flying Scot often. A Scot is just under 20 feet on deck.

This is what I remember to watch for: The mast loses athwartship control as it is lowered and needs to be controlled so it does not fall off to the side. A person in the boat usually "catches" the mast as it comes down to prevent this.
What starts out with really great control when the mast is vertical turns into a handful as the mast gets nearer to horizontal. The mechanical advantage of the line to the forestay goes from very good to infinitely bad as the mast goes down. This puts a high load on the butt of the mast, pin, or whatever. All this starts at about the point where the center of gravity of the mast gets behind the "catcher person," since the butt tries to lift out of whatever has been holding it.

If there is a gin pole around where you are doing this, it is a nice alternative. If not, I recommend having three people for the process: the catcher, the winch cranker (this can be the trailer winch normally), and the person holding the butt down or up or against whichever way it wants to go at the moment. (In a typical situation, a fourth person could be employed to rain confusion on the actual workers by making unproductive suggestions as per common practice at any worksite. This is, of course, optional but customary.)

Support the mast for travel more than you think is the minimum, especially if it is to be transported any distance. The bouncing will tend to harden the metal if there is much deflection. Fair down the shrouds and stays and make sure none of the running or standing rigging can possibly escape the boat and get under the wheels of the trailer.

Repack the wheel bearings, and make sure the tires are up to the task. If at all possible, don't put the wheel bearings under water. If you must do this, get bearing buddies and let the wheels cool a little before putting them in the water. Hot bearings tend to suck water into them when they cool. An extra shot of grease just before the bath will also help keep water out.

It is a luxury to be able to bring a boat home in the off season.
 
Trim tabs
We asked Hiro Nakajima about his use of a trim tab. Jerry asked: How you use it? Do you like it? Would it be on the boat of your dreams? He replied:
The trim tab was so effective, the late IOR racing rules banned them outright. The trim tab, when used in moderation, provides hydrodynamic lift similar to a flap on an airplane wing.

I've used the trim tab on my boat and must say it is very effective in not only providing lift to the keel but also reducing the amount of rudder I use to counteract the small amount of weather helm I induce with sail trim. I use the trim tab independently of the rudder, and it is effective when going to weather or close reaching in moderate to heavy air. I don't use it on other points of sail because it creates drag and slows the boat down. I also use it to make extra tight turns during starting maneuvers on the race course.

The trim tab control is located along with the main rudder control. The helm station consists of three destroyer-type wheels of differing diameter. The outermost wheel controls the main rudder, the middle wheel the trim tab, and the innermost wheel is a clutch mechanism that allows each wheel to operate individually or locked together to work in unison. It works well, and I can see why this was banned from competition.

The trim tab would definitely be on the next dream boat.
Hiro Nakajima
Stamford, Conn.
 
What are these blocks and cleats for?
I am a new Triton owner. I'm looking for information on how the mainsail was set and the boom mainsheet rigged. There seem to have been two small blocks and a cleat added to the starboard side of the boom on this boat for which I don't know the purpose. Any info you can supply will be appreciated.
Bill O'Toole
via email

I'd guess the parts you're looking at that don't make sense are actually part of a slab reefing system. You can see sketches of a slab reefing system in publications that deal with sail trim.

The missing line runs from the port side of the boom to the reef cringle in the leech of the sail, back down to the block, and finally to the cleat. There would be two lines, one for each reef. In use, the leech reef line is pulled up and cleated after the main halyard is lowered and a cringle in the luff is attached to your cunningham tackle or a reef hook on the boom. The halyard is tightened or the cunningham hauled in until the wrinkles are out of the luff. The reef line need not be bar tight. Fiddle with it until it looks like the lower sail shape is right with the reef in.

There are a lot of Triton people out there. Try these connections for more or better information: From our website:
Pearson Triton Association (National)
Dorothy Stevens
300 Spencer Ave.
E. Greenwich, RI 02818-4016
suter@ix.netcom.com
http://www.netcom.com/~suter/nta/
Triton One Design Fleet of San Francisco Bay
Larry Suter
suter@ix.netcom.com
http://www.netcom.com/~suter/todsf.html
Bill responds:
Thanks so much for the info on the reef system. I met a man on the dock last Saturday as we were checking things out after the storm, and he explained it to me just as you did. It's great to be able to ask for help and get it.
 
Good old powerboats, too
Just FYI, I don't have a sailboat, rather a 1981 Crosby motorboat . . . but so much of your information is relevant to me that I really enjoy your magazine.
Paul Nelson
New Orleans, La.
OK, Paul, but don't let that news get out around the marina. Do you have any idea how many powerboaters there are out there?
 
What is this Blackwatch?
I have been looking at a cruising hull that is a 24 footer. She looks like a catboat-style hull but the mast is more aft mounted. She is used and has been in a yard for about eight years. The rig is cutter/sloop and is a shoal draft keel drawing approximately three feet. The present owner says she is a Blackwatch, and I cannot find anything anywhere on a Blackwatch sailing hull. Do you know anything about such a boat and what it would be worth?
Greig McCully
via email
The Blackwatch is a very nice little boat. It was designed and manufactured by Dave Autry, who, as it happens, is one of our readers. We published an article about one but that issue is out of stock. We would sell you a reprint for $2.50 if you want one.
The following contacts will help you.
Dave Autry, dave@swiftyprint.com
Gerry Cotter (owner of a very nice Blackwatch and the subject of a feature article on the boat), 604-898-5709
I don't know how you can put a value on a boat like the Blackwatch. We can't help you with that. BOAT/U.S. has an evaluation service, but this might be a difficult one for them, too. Maybe Gerry Cotter can help with that.
Good luck; it's a good boat.
 
 
 
Lessons learned by the Coast Guard
Reader Nathan Kirby sent the text from a speech given by U.S. Coast Guard Admiral James Loy at the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md., last April. We reprint it here with the permission of the Coast Guard. When passing this speech along, Nathan observed, "Admiral Loy's message should give all recreational boaters a renewed respect for the perils of the sea and how it is unforgiving of any carelessness or neglect."
. . . We're all full of heroic stories about response: The Perfect Storm . . . the fishing vessel Le Conte case in the Bering Sea last year told so well in a series run in the Washington Post lots of Coast Guard and Air National Guard cases where magnificent professionals saved lives at sea.

Sadly, we often learn more dramatic lessons when lives are tragically lost. In the midst of such losses, we must take the time to learn lessons and keep the losses from recurring the next time similar circumstances occur . . . My remarks will focus on the loss of the Morning Dew near Charleston, South Carolina, the winter before last. My goal is to learn, take stock and encourage prevention skills for all of us who have parts to play in making going to sea a safer experience.
 
The Morning Dew case:
The week between Christmas of 1997 and New Year's Day of 1998 was supposed to be a pleasant time for the family of 49-year-old Michael Cornett. Mr. Cornett had just bought a used sailboat, a 34-foot Cal sloop, christened the Morning Dew. He had been a recreational sailor for more than 20 years and had previously owned other sailboats. He accepted delivery of Morning Dew in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, embarked his two teenage sons and his teenage nephew as either crew or passengers, and began a transit to Jacksonville, Florida.

As near as we can reconstruct the Morning Dew's voyage, Mr. Cornett's departure from Myrtle Beach on the 27th was delayed by an electrical problem on the boat, which he corrected by buying a new battery at an auto parts store. While he made sure that the battery could hold a charge, he purchased some charts and planned an inland route along the Intracoastal Waterway.

At 2200 on December 27, the bridge tender at Little River, South Carolina, reported seeing Morning Dew in the Intracoastal Waterway. We don't know how far Morning Dew went on the 27th or where they spent the night. At 2:30 the next afternoon, the operator of a salvage vessel saw the Morning Dew heading outbound in Winyah Bay, moving toward the open ocean, cruising on engine power with the sails reefed to the boom. The operator of the salvage vessel assumed the Morning Dew had missed the turn into the ICW and hailed the sailboat on VHF-FM, but was unable to establish communication. A sport fisherman also saw the Morning Dew heading toward the open ocean, also tried to send a warning, and also failed to make radio contact.

No one knows why Mr. Cornett headed for sea. Perhaps he wanted to find some sea room so he could spread some canvas on his new boat. Perhaps he missed the ICW and decided against retracing his route to regain his intended track. Whatever his thought process, at some point, he knew his boat was pointed away from land and continued out to sea.

There were small craft advisories posted from Little River Inlet, South Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia. Winds were from the east at 25 knots and gusting. Seas were running five to six feet. Areas of rain and embedded thunderstorms reduced visibility to less than one nautical mile. The water temperature was 55 degrees.

We do not know what happened aboard the boat over the next 11 or 12 hours. What we surmise is that sometime around 2 in the morning, the Morning Dew struck the north jetty at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, right around low tide. Some time later, it sank on the south side of the jetty, probably after being driven over the rocks by the east wind and the incoming tide. Mr. Cornett, his two sons, and his nephew died.
 
The Coast Guard's role in the case:
Here's how the case developed from the Coast Guard's perspective. Coast Guard Group Charleston, South Carolina, carried out its normal watch routine on December 27 and 28, unaware that such a boat as the Morning Dew even existed or was underway within its area of responsibility. On the night of December 28, there was one watchstander in the communications center, standing a 12-hour watch from 6 in the evening until 6 in the morning. A more experienced petty officer had turned in for the night as authorized by the standing orders but was immediately available if anything unusual occurred.

At 0217, the watchstander heard a rapid and broken radio transmission on channel 16, VHF-FM. He could tell that the caller was yelling, and he interpreted the words he heard as, "U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard." He answered the call twice but heard no return call. A few minutes later he heard the keying of a microphone, and tried to respond again. No communication was established.

The watchstander did not perceive this to be a distress situation. It wasn't unusual for boaters in open craft to yell into microphones to counter wind or engine noise. Furthermore, atmospheric conditions often cause radio calls from outside the operating area to be audible in the Charleston communications center. It could have been someone seeking a radio check. There was no cause for alarm. However reassuring these explanations seemed to the watchstander at the time, later analysis and audio enhancements revealed that the call was actually the voice of 13-year-old Daniel Cornett yelling, "Mayday! U.S. Coast Guard. Come in!"

Even if the watchstander had correctly understood the call, there was very little information to go on. Without knowing the identity of the vessel, its location, or the nature of its distress, there wouldn't have been enough information to initiate a search. There would have been cause for a heightened state of alertness, and there would have been cause for some detective work to ascertain whether a distress situation did exist somewhere. But we probably wouldn't have launched a boat or helicopter because we wouldn't have known where to send them.

At 0628, the same watchstander, who had been relieved by the day watch, but had remained to perform some administrative work, received a phone call from the Charleston Harbor pilot dispatcher, advising him that the boatswain aboard an inbound automobile carrier had reported hearing someone screaming for help off the starboard side, that would be the vicinity of the north jetty. The pilot aboard the inbound ship had already taken it upon himself to direct his pilot boat to search the area.

The watchstander accepted the information and notified his supervisor. Nobody made a connection to the broken call four hours earlier. A little while later, we accepted the pilot boat's judgment in suspending the search. At 1115 two bodies washed up in the surf. The third body was found in the early afternoon. Michael Cornett's body was found about four weeks later.

It was a horrible accident and one made more horrible by the possibility that the Coast Guard missed the opportunity to rescue one or more of the Morning Dew sailors.

As I said when I began my remarks, when we encounter a case like this, it is important to focus our efforts on preventing recurrences. With that in mind, I'd like to draw lessons from this case for three distinct audiences: the American public, the Coast Guard, and the recreational boating public.
 
Lesson One: The need for investment in national distress communication system:
The first lesson to be drawn from Morning Dew is a lesson in public policy, specifically the need for investment in a national distress communication system. Most recreational boaters would be alarmed to learn how fragile this weak link in our search and rescue system is. As matters now stand, there is a vast disparity between the communications capability that the public thinks we have and the communications system that we do have.

The Coast Guard is working with a distress communications system that is equivalent to what local police and fire departments were using in the 1950s. If you dial 911 on your telephone, say the word "fire," and run outside, a fire engine will show up at your driveway in a matter of minutes, and you can wait at the neighbor's house if it's cold outside. If, on the other hand, you pick up the handset on your VHF-FM radio, say the word "Mayday," and jump overboard, you could very likely drown or die of hypothermia. Our operations centers do not have the capability to enhance and replay audio signals. And they do not have useful direction finding equipment. Our search and rescue communications depend on the ability of people whose lives are in immediate peril to explain calmly their identity, their location, and the nature of their distress. The more urgent the distress, the less likely are boaters to be able to communicate the necessary information and the less likely is their equipment to be functioning properly.

In many cases, we are lucky to get a position report as specific as "off Cape Hatteras," which may or may not narrow our search area to a couple thousand square miles, depending on what other information we are able to learn. Other times we initiate searches knowing only that distressed mariners think they are "on the hundred-fathom curve." I don't know for sure that it's true, but it didn't strain my credibility when I heard about the operator of a disabled vessel who reported his position in these terms: "I'm right about at the C -- that's the letter C as in Charley -- in Campeche."

"Roger, sir. Would that be the big C at the beginning or the little C near the end?"

We need a communications system that gives our watchstanders the ability to translate calls like Daniel Cornett's desperate Mayday into effective action; a system that allows watchstanders to replay calls, slowing them down and adjusting the quality until the message can be understood; a system that determines and preserves an electronic fix every time a signal is received.

We are pursuing Coast Guard-wide modernization of archiving, playback, and radio direction finding capabilities as part of the National Distress and Response System. But we don't expect to begin to field this system until 2001, and it is not slated to be fully operational before 2005. In the meantime, mariners must understand that voice distress communications to the Coast Guard may not produce an effective response unless they include the vessel name, position, and nature of distress. Without those three pieces of information, we're often dealing with needle-in-haystack probabilities of success.

We must carefully guard against the possibility that video footage of our dramatic rescues may lull some boaters into a false sense of security, may give rise to a misplaced confidence that the Coast Guard can bail them out of whatever peril comes their way. We can't guarantee that we'll be there. The sea remains a dangerous place, and it continues to cover a vast space.
The first lesson from Morning Dew is that upgrading the distress communications system should be an urgent priority for our national transportation system.
 
Lesson Two: The consequences of stretching a Coast Guard too thin.
The second lesson is for the Coast Guard. I have no basis for speculating whether an earlier search could have made any difference in this case. The lesson for the Coast Guard is a reminder that operational vigilance must come before all other organizational considerations. We've heard a lot of dialogue this year about shortfalls in the readiness of all military services. It's apparent to me that we have reached the absolute limit in streamlining our organization. Budget constraints have made us cut and trim everywhere we could. Morning Dew tells us that further cuts would degrade public safety if our previous cuts haven't already done so. Streamlining may have gone too far.

Our personnel are stretched too thin. Our people are working too hard. We have too little experience in too many crucial positions. A more experienced watchstander might have been able to pick up the word, Mayday. I say might because I had to hear the tape several times before I could discern the distress proword, and I had the advantage of knowing precisely what I was listening for.
Even so, a more experienced watchstander who better understood how different the world looks when you're at sea on a stormy December night than it does from a cozy operations center might have been slower to accept non-distress explanations for the two radio calls at 2 in the morning; experience might have produced more persistence in seeking additional information; experience might have caused a more seasoned watchstander to continue mulling over the incident and be more ready to associate it with the phone call from the pilots.

More experience might have enabled an immediate recognition that our awareness of volunteer search activities should not normally be a factor in determining a Coast Guard response. I cannot rule out the possibility that our service-wide training and staffing shortages affected our response to this case.
 
Lesson Three: The responsibilities of recreational boaters for their own safety
The Morning Dew case should also provoke serious self-examination on the part of the general boating public. It is bad form to speak ill of the dead, and so news reports rarely recount the errors in judgment or seamanship that cause people to perish at sea. This tendency is understandable but regrettable. We face a moral imperative to learn from the mistakes we observe. To my view, we show the greatest respect for those who have been lost -- especially for those who die unnecessarily -- when we use the occasion of their deaths to prevent others from sharing their fate.

With that in mind, what lessons should recreational boaters learn from the Morning Dew case? The principal lesson has to do with the gulf between legally mandated safety requirements and prudent seamanship. The Morning Dew case presents us with a stark illustration that boaters have a responsibility for their safety that extends far beyond legal compliance. Consider these factors.

There is no federal requirement for recreational boaters to carry distress communications devices other than flares and efficient devices for producing noise. However, as a prudent mariner, I would never sail without a properly registered 406 EPIRB that would transmit my vessel name and position in the event that I could not. Morning Dew had a VHF-FM radio, flares, air horns, and a strobe light, but it did not carry an EPIRB. Note the gap between legal compliance and prudent seamanship.

There is no federal requirement for recreational boaters to have any protection from hypothermia. However, as a prudent mariner, I would not venture out in 5-6 foot seas in a 34-foot sailboat with a water temperature of 55 degrees unless I had an anti-exposure suit for every person aboard. If I did proceed to sea under those conditions, I would require everybody to wear their anti-exposure suits at all times when topside, and I would require them to keep them immediately accessible when below decks. Morning Dew may have had the required personal flotation devices aboard, but it sailed without a life raft for keeping people out of the water or anti-exposure gear to keeping them warm in the water if the boat went down. Note the gap between legal compliance and prudent seamanship.

There is no federal requirement for recreational boaters to carry particular navigation equipment. However, as a prudent mariner, I would never undertake a coastal passage at night without a compass whose reliability I had personally verified, without some means of electronic navigation, or without the means for terrestrial or celestial navigation in the event that the electronic navigation failed. As near as we can tell, the only known navigation equipment aboard the Morning Dew was a magnetic compass of undetermined reliability. Note the gap between legal compliance and prudent seamanship.

There is no federal requirement for recreational skippers to get any particular amount of rest before or during their voyages. However, I would not think of going to sea for an overnight voyage unless there was someone else aboard who was capable of taking over the helm in the event that I became fatigued or incapacitated. When the Morning Dew went to sea, its skipper was committed to staying on watch all night in heavy weather after having stood watch all through the previous day. Once again, note the gap between legal compliance and prudent seamanship.

In describing this gap, my purpose is not to campaign for more stringent requirements for recreational boaters. I'm aiming higher. My goal cannot be legislated and cannot be regulated. My goal is prudent seamanship on the part of recreational boaters.

Eight hundred lives are lost annually from boating accidents, second only to the highway fatality totals that approach 40,000 annually. Recreational boaters have the ultimate responsibility for their own safety, and this responsibility chiefly falls into two areas. Boaters must plan to minimize the likelihood of finding themselves in distress situations. And then, because the power of the sea can overwhelm even the most careful efforts to avoid danger and dangerous waters, boaters must plan to maximize the likelihood of being rescued if they do encounter distress.

I am absolutely not picking on Mr. Cornett this morning. I am trying desperately to generalize a single case's experience to lessons that we can all take away to ensure that there are not any more tragic Morning Dews.
 
Contrast with Acapella case:
The Morning Dew case didn't have to turn out the way it did. We worked a case about two weeks ago that shows what can happen when boaters give the Coast Guard a chance to save their lives. There's a lot that could be said about this case, which provided a terrific example of every part of the North Atlantic Search and Rescue system working together. But my purpose in mentioning the case is to show what mariners can do to take responsibility for their own lives.

The Acapella was a sailboat about the same size as the Morning Dew, in fact it was a foot shorter. Acapella was underway off the coast of Nova Scotia, hundreds of miles further from search and rescue assets than Morning Dew was, sailing in weather far worse than that faced by the Morning Dew -- waves variously reported to be between 15 and 35 feet high, waves so high that they capsized this oceangoing catamaran and suddenly left it completely turtled . . . upside down with no power. Similar sized boat, worse weather, greater distance, more sudden disaster.

Yet the Acapella's crew survived. What was the difference? Principally, the difference was the crew's preparation. The Acapella was equipped with a properly registered 406 EPIRB. The boat was outfitted with a watertight compartment and an emergency escape hatch on the underside of the hull. The crew had anti-immersion suits. Once disaster struck, the Acapella sailors retreated to their watertight compartment and used the escape hatch to deploy and tether their 406 EPIRB. Then they showed due prudence by staying with their stricken craft in their anti-exposure suits until help arrived, which it did. Within minutes of deploying the EPIRB, the search and rescue system was fully alerted, focused on saving their lives, knowing exactly who was in distress and where.

If we know people are in trouble, if we know where to look, and if distressed mariners can float and stay warm for a few hours, we have an excellent chance of rescuing them.

I opened my remarks suggesting the imperative of learning from tragic events. The Morning Dew case offers many such lessons for those who create public policy, for the Coast Guard, and for the boating public. Every life in danger at sea is an opportunity. Let's all learn . . . and commit to the investments necessary to preclude the unnecessary loss of any of them.

Thank you.
<http://209.41.115.186/08C/d8diraux.htm>

 
Project from hell
Stop me if you've heard this one . . . Part 2
Remember the Walns? In the last issue of this newsletter they'd acquired the boat of their dreams, an aft-cockpit Freedom 40 cat ketch. They'd had, um, a few unplanned engine and other problems in the last installment, but things were looking up. Read on:
The next 48 hours were bliss. As we sat in a lovely anchorage on the Great Wicomico, I wondered where the pearlescent slick was coming from. A quick scan showed no other boats, and I began to hear "Tubular Bells" from The Exorcist. Looking over the transom, I saw nothing oozing from the exhaust, but seconds later I saw a drop of hydraulic fluid from the slave steering cylinder on the transom grace the waters of the bay. Quickly I went over the side and fashioned an expandable/compressible diaper from paper towels, plastic bags, and cable ties which I then changed every day until I could track down the defunct foreign manufacturer of the slave cylinder. I found the company that had bought them out, and lo and behold, they sent me the wrong parts to make the fix. That sorted out, we then got to perform the ballet "Swoon Lake" as we tried to reinstall the whole mess on the transom without going to prison for polluting or being crushed by the very heavy and free swinging barn door rudder.
RULE 9: Aged products and systems that can pollute will - have the means at hand to deal with this.
RULE 9A: Perceived sea-state is mathematically and inversely related to the degree of calm required for the job at hand.
The summer went remarkably well until I realized the $2,000 worth of Rollsbatteries weren't charging properly under the tutelage of the $2,000 smart charging system. Out came the $30 multimeter, and I quickly discovered the charging system, having been lobotomized by 600 amps of wrong polarity, had murdered the batteries through wild voltage swings and wilder current wanderings. A Newport Boat Show visit with the manufacturer resulted in, "Oh, we don't service that product anymore." "But it is only five years old," says I. "We can't waste our time on old technology," says they. I noted, politely, that it was under warranty. They noted, less politely, that I had subjected the item to abuse. I noted their wiring diagram did not call out any sort of high current or reverse polarity protection requirement. After a pause they said it didn't matter; I wasn't the original owner and turned to another vict&endash; . . . er, customer, I mean.
RULE 10: Expect to be on you own when it comes to installed equipment on good old boats, and be delighted and tell the world when a manufacturer stands behind their product no matter what.
RULE 10A: L, I, E, & R is all that differentiates batteries and ballast.
Since it was near the season's end (not to mention wit's end and wallet's end as well), I went to the Annapolis Boat Show and said, "to PROJECT with it," and got out my panting, emaciated wallet. I found the equipment that would solve our problem . . . provided I was prepared to shell out another, yep, $2,000. As I installed the new system the following spring, I discovered that virtually nothing electrical added after the boat had been built had been done to code, and so I decided to rectify the situation. And, yes, the correct size properly tinned cable, fittings, etc., to rewire a 40-foot ocean cruiser cost, surprise, $2,000.
RULE 11: All things electrical cost $2,000.
RULE 11A: No one ever has all the cable sizes you need nor the lugs to fit the cable they have.
RULE 11B: Everyone -- except the cashier -- looks at you like you are crazy when you say you're "re-doing it to code."
Free at last, free at last; thank God almighty, not so fast! Our first foray with our new charging system, new batteries, and umpteen pounds of cable would have been wonderful had the engine temp gauge not made love to the redline. We limped through the whole season motoring only enough to get us from puff to puff. Post-season, I discovered that the heat exchanger was passing about 30 percent of the water necessary to keep things cool, and so, I reconditioned it. In the process of doing so, we discovered the hot water heater was a permanent source of cooling system vapor lock, and out it came. All would be well, if it weren't for the fact I separated the cartilage between two ribs reinstalling the heat exchanger and pinched a nerve installing the new water heater (by twisting in an awkward way so as not to hurt the rib).
RULE 12: Twenty-year-old diesel engines, if rare, should be restored and displayed in a museum and, if common, should be replaced by something self-bleeding with single side servicing.
RULE 12A: 50-year-old bodies occupied by 25-year-old souls are in for rough sledding.
We have reached the point where we know the boat is ours because almost everything the previous owner added is gone . . . at least it feels that way. Her wonderful light-air performance and her windward ability continue to delight us and amaze our sailing friends, both amateur and professional. Her ability to reel off the knots on a reach is a spiritual wonder equaled only by our wonder of . . . what next?
RULE 13: Good old boats cost 30 percent or less of what a new boat of less appeal, capability, and endurability costs.
RULE 13A: Those of us with good old boats should have Nil Desperandum as our motto: Never give up.
Chris and Janet Waln
Alexandria, Va.
We hope this story has ended (not that it wasn't entertaining, you understand, but the Walns have been entertained by the mysteries of new good old boat ownership long enough. It must be someone else's turn for torture.) We're looking for your stories, too. Go on, tell us yours.

We should note that in a letter to the editor, a dockmate wrote of the Walns that
Bright Star is a beautiful boat, well maintained and sparking from bow to stern. We've also been told that the Walns love this boat, in spite of what she's put them through.
  

Pocket weather
from the 1998 International Marine Daybook and Nautical Desk Reference

by John Vigor

 Wind direction

 Barometer reading

 Barometer movement

 Weather outlook

 SW to NW

 1023 / 30.2

 Steady

Continuing fair. Temperature remaining steady.

 SW to NW

1023 / 30.2

 Slow fall

Temperature rising slowly. Fair for 48 hours.

 SW to NW

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

 Steady

Stable temperature, remaining fair for 24 to 48 hours.

 SW to NW

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

  Rapid rise

Continuing fair but increasingly cloudy. Rain and cooler within 48
hours.

 SE to S

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

 Slow fall

Rain and warmer within 24 hours.

 SE to S

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

  Rapid fall

Wind and rain increasing within 12 to 18 hours.

 E to S

1009 / 29.8 or less

  Rapid fall

Severe storm imminent, clearing within 24 hours. Winter: dropping
temperatures.

 NE to E

1019 / 30.1 and higher

 Slow fall

Summer: light winds, rain within three days. Winter: rain within 24 hours. Slightly warmer.

 NE to E

1019 / 30.1 and higher

  Rapid fall

Summer: rain within 24 hours. Winter: increasing rain or snow within12 hours.

 NE to SE

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

 Slow fall

Wind and rain increasing within 12 to 18 hours.

 NE to SE

1019 to 1023 / 30.1 to 30.2

 Rapid fall

Wind and rain increasing within 12 hours.

 NE to SE

1016 / 30.0 and less

 Slow fall

Extended period of rain 1 to 3 days or more.

 NE to SE

1016 / 30.0 and less

  Rapid fall

Strong winds and rain imminent. Clearing and cooling within 36 hours.

 N to E

  1009 / 29.8 and less

 Rapid fall

 Northeast gale and heavy rain imminent. Winter: Snow and extended
colder weather.

 S to SW

  1016 / 30.0 and less

  Slow rise

 Clearing within a few hours. Fair weather for several days.

A rapid rise or fall is one in which barometric pressure changes at a rate of
1 millibar or 0.03 inches every three hours or less.


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Published October 1999