Number 130 / February 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Book Review - Arctic Crossing (Mark Balogh)

One of our customers, Jonathan Waterman, traveled the Northwest Passage in a folding kayak a few years back and wrote a book. I enjoyed reading the US version that was titled "Arctic Crossing". I recently saw a copy of the Macmillan version published in the UK. It is under a different title there, "Odyssey Among The Inuit, One Man's Journey Through The Northwest Passage". There was a good television show in the US about the trip as well. Jon sailed somewhere over 1000 miles during the two-year trip. If you like this kind of reading, you might enjoy this book.


Safety Issues (KeithM)

At the start of the year it is probably a good time to remind ourselves of a few areas to attend to in this "off-season", which could save embarrassment, discomfort or ultimately our skins in the forthcoming sailing year.

Boat and Rig: Maintained in good condition? Had a good look at its bottom lately, since you scraped that rock during that hairy landing? Have you oiled all things mechanical, especially if it's been near salt water? What would happen in a capsize or some other incident if your mast partially came out of its socket/mounting? It can really wreck the whole area with the forces exerted.

Buoyancy: Is it really sufficient to support the swamped boat, its gear and crew? Does it float the canoe high enough to enable bailing from outside the canoe prior to climbing back in? If it's airbags are the tie-ins still in good nick? Anything nasty lurking behind them? Like a mouldy sandwich or Mars Bar or worse a sharp stone or two ready to wear through just at the wrong time!

Rudder/Leeboards: Still easy to use? Goes up and down when you want, not just when it feels like cooperating? But readily retracted when not needed: e.g. while paddling and during landing/launching?

Sail and Spars: Easy to both rig and stow inside the canoe and whilst on the water? Can you still paddle and get into and out of the boat when the rig is down? Are your spars buoyant? For example, aluminium tube-ends plugged?

Reefing: Can you reduce sail area (quickly and tidily - by at least 20% or so) whilst on the water? Can you do it without having to think too hard about it? Have you tried doing it in trickier conditions like a F5 and waves? Would a sea anchor make that easier?

Fittings: Do ropes get snagged on any? Are they all strong enough for their function - can they all cope with brisker winds and choppy water? Any starting to deform? About to break? There are particularly large forces on rudders and their fittings especially going downwind and in waves. Any fittings, screws or bolts etc. going rusty? Stainless is best for many things; expensive, yes, but go on, treat yourself, you know it makes sense!

Paddles: Do you carry one paddle for each crewmember plus a spare? They should all be secured in some way so as not to be lost during a capsize but still accessible in a hurry.

Gear to be carried: What do you always take? Buoyancy Aid? (Of course you do...! Well except for that one occasion... Actually, now I come to think of it...) Waterproofs? (With a whistle attached?). Items like a knife, spare warm clothing, hat and gloves, hot/cold drinks (not alcohol!), food, a bailer per crew member, map and compass should all be considered carefully for their usefulness on any outing even of only a few hours. What about a checklist, written in waterproof ink on a bit of plastic and tied to the canoe? Then you can't use your failing memory as an excuse... of course you have to remember to check it though!

Outriggers - A Plea For Help (PeterF)

When I started canoe sailing a few years ago, I went for a single 8ft outrigger supported by two beams, which seemed to be what most people were doing. For me, however, it was very clumsy. I then converted to a couple of 4ft floats with at most 30 lbs of buoyancy supported by a single beam, which has been very satisfactory. Since I have to launch into a 15ft wide channel the beam is only 6ft wide so the leverage is perhaps about 90 ft lbs, enough for gusting river winds around force 4.

Off the wind the floats only just touch the surface but on the wind they obviously create drag and the question is, what is the best shape? Mine are double ended, which theoretically would be fine for low wave-length ratios but at 3 knots a four foot float would be at 1:1.5 and a flatter after section would seem to be better. Has anyone any opinions? Having totally immersed the float several times I'm thinking a flat deck is not a good idea.

I'm sure there are members who could give Peter some practical advice here. May I suggest you send it to GOSSIP, as well perhaps as to Peter, so that we can all benefit from what you have to say on a matter that is of general interest to many - (Ed.)

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