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"They’ve upgraded their warning. The storm's going to be a lot worse." And so starts the drama of staying alive in “The Martian,” which is one of our favourite movies because not only are the effects impressive and the acting convincing, but also because crossing an ocean aboard a small boat is something akin to being isolated on a faraway planet. Help can be a long time coming so self-sufficiency is paramount to our safety. Jack and Jude have crossed a lot of oceans and have survived some horror situations, and so following on from last week’s great article on storm tactics by Jessica, I thought I’d record what I think is equally important. That is fatigue.
Shorthanded crews thinking of sailing the world as well as coastal sailors will find tips here on how to mitigate fatigue and survive. So here goes.
Preparing for an extended voyage is daunting. It’s a tiring task ensuring everything is in good working order, then gathering long lists of provisions and getting them aboard. Doing so takes heaps of mental concentration that’s sometimes not evident until the lines are cast off, when relief floods the mind as we slump to gaze at the land slipping astern.
Take all the rest you can get
In our earlier days of sailing when we took other people across oceans, we’d often have to tend to their mal d’mer or keep them company with their amazement or anxiety. Or they’d slump below and fall asleep because the sudden never ending motion simply knocked the last bit of energy right out of them. So the rule is. Take all the rest you can get.
From firsthand experience, fatigue deepens over time and that can cause bad judgment and the inability to focus on a problem. In the extreme, I’ve even hallucinated, when one night I imagined that a passing vessel had turned about and thought they were pirates, only to find it was another craft.
Sea berths and hammocks
So, rest all you can, even if it’s just a lie down. Falling asleep is a bonus. A good sea berth helps. One that is low, fore and aft, and a tight fit so you don’t roll back and forth. Stuffing cushions in around your body and head helps. I sometimes use our hammock. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re asleep, it’s like being on solid ground, so much so, getting out can be tricky. There’s a reason the navies of the world had their crews in hammocks besides saving space.
As the days go on and on, our set routine for off time is invaluable. I generally always lie down. Even if I do not sleep, just lying horizontally polarized gets me ready for my night watch. In rough conditions I might go two or three nights without sleep and I find lying down, mind as blank as I can, refreshing.
Prepare as much as you can before departure
Another point is to prepare as much as you can before all the rocky-rolling action begins. Jude prepares meals in port and stores them in the fridge, which is so handy the first few days out when we’re at our lowest. Tasty prepared food is also available off the shelf, very handy for a single late night meal.
On board Banyandah, unless the wind is expected to lessen, we’ll put a reef in the main during the midnight changeover, ensuring the off watch doesn’t have to get up if conditions freshen.
Learn to hove to
For us, crossing an ocean is not a race, so the next tidbit is to learn to hove to. It’s a handy technique to avoid arriving in darkness as well as getting much needed rest. Therefore, when you get buggered battling the bad stuff, take a break and be refreshed. Just so you know, at the other extreme, when there’s no wind, we mostly drift. Why spoil all that peace and isolation with a noisy engine. While drifting we’ve had the most magnificent seabirds paddle up to us, looking for a hand out.
That favorite movie of ours ends with the hero standing in front of a classroom of new recruits delivering a humorous, yet serious monologue that we all could follow.
“When I was up there stranded by myself, did I think I was going to die - yes, absolutely. And that's what you need to know because it may happen to you. This is space. (pencil in ocean) It does not co-operate. At some point, everything is going to go south on you, everything. And you're going to say, this is it. This is how I am going to end.
Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You solve one problem. Then you solve the next one. And the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”
This week marks the completion of the on-water restoration project at Abell Point Marina in the wake of the Tropical Cyclone Debbie. In the immediate aftermath, 20% of the on-water berthing at Abell Point was damage amounting to approximately 120 berths in this 507-wet berth marina. In a coordinated effort between Superior Jetties, CGU Insurance and Oceanic Marine Risk, the restoration works commenced 3 April, a mere five days after the cyclone passed over the Whitsundays.
In the initial stages of the project a team of volunteers from BIA (Boating Industry Australia) Queensland, arrived on-site to assist with the make-safe stage of the restoration project. Experienced marine trades personnel from marina managers, to pontoon specialists arrived on-site, including representatives from Superior Jetties to offer support and assist with commencing repair works.
Within days a temporary walkway for L Arm and the marina’s fuel dock was fitted, and by week six the walkway had been replaced for new.
With considerable coordination between the Superior Jetties and marina team, commercial operators and private vessels were relocated to the south marina for the pontoon replacement works to commence. Abell Point Marina is the busiest commercial marina in the region and with the Whitsunday region being so reliant on the tourism sector, a priority for the project was to ensure minimal disruption to the marina’s on-water tourism operations whilst the repair works commenced.
Superior Jetties, Project Manager, Ryan Hogan remarked of the project, “This project has been the culmination of our team down south working some very long hours to produce a fantastic product; and outstanding subcontractors who went above and beyond to get the marina operational again. It’s been a real pleasure to work in North Queensland again and with a client that’s dedicated to running a truly world class marina. This has definitely been the best project team I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”
From initial damage assessment, to temporary repairs around the marina, from demolition of debris to piling works and the manufacture/ transportation and installation of the new arms – H/ J/ K/ F/ G and A – the team coordinated by Superior Jetties worked tirelessly to restore the marina to 100% capacity. Mr Hogan goes on to give a special mention to services provided throughout the project by Orca Marine Services, Proserpine Electrical, Whitsunday Drainage Contractors and Pacific Marine Group.
With a busy cruising season scheduled, the launch of a new Abell Point Flight Collection from the marina’s heli-pads and the opening of their floating customer lounge Ocean Club, the timing of the project completion was essential to ensure business as usual. To round off a challenging year and give cause for celebration, Abell Point Marina took out the coveted Marina of the Year Award at the Marine17 conference in August.
Luke McCaul, General Manager, Abell Point Marina explains “To have the pontoons replaced and operational in time for our cruising season was essential for the marina, but also for the region. The Whitsundays has bounced back from this weather event in record time and the natural environment around the islands is following suit.” Mr McCaul goes on to say “The start of the year was a challenging time for the marina team including our valued operators and tenants, but the future is looking bright and the completion of the project on time and on budget is a credit to the hard work and commitment of the team, our contractors and our relationship with our insurers.”
The entire restoration project has been captured in a short video.
“Being on a boat that’s moving through the water, it’s so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not.” –James Taylor
Bliss, isn’t it? Of course we all think of ‘safety first’ when out on the open water - we’ve got our life vests and navigation systems - but it’s easy to forget that properly insuring the boat itself can save you a boatload of problems in case of a claim.
If you’re new to boat insurance, these pointers will help you navigate these complex waters. If you have existing boat insurance, it might be the perfect time to talk to your broker to make sure they’re up-to-date on any changes that need to be made - or to guide you in a better direction if options have opened up.
A common question from first-time boat owners is, “Doesn’t my homeowner’s policy take care of it?” Most homeowner’s policies have significant restrictions and exclusions for boats and personal watercraft. Your homeowner’s policy may cover inexpensive, slow, and small craft (canoes, kayaks, dinghies, etc.) but when it comes to personal watercraft like Wave Runners/Jet Skis, any watercraft that can exceed 40km/h, large sailboats or yachts... DO NOT assume that your boat, guests, or personal property are covered by your homeowner’s policy!
Good comprehensive boat insurance will protect your investment, as well as safeguard you from liability claims from injury or property damage. Rather than listing each individual element of boat insurance here, it’s best to consult with a knowledgeable broker who will help you understand exactly what you can expect to be covered for in case disaster strikes. Generally, anything that is permanently attached to the boat is covered; but don’t guess. Ask.
Make sure you understand the two types of cover available, and the risks associated with each:
Actual cash value pays the value of your boat at the time of the damage/destruction. The insurance company determines its market value.
Agreed amount value. If the boat is destroyed, the insurer pays a previously-agreed amount. If it can be repaired, old items are replaced with new without deducting for depreciation.
There is more to consider when choosing a policy, including the intended use of your boat (personal or commercial); its size and horsepower; where you will be using it; whether operation requires a license; and whether you’ll be participating in racing of any kind.
You will also want to consider the risk you are comfortable carrying as well as costs (lower deductibles/greater cover, or higher deductibles/lower premiums).
So… how do you choose the best policy for your boat? Our best tip is:
DO NOT base your cover on price alone. Consider the intended use and what you want to be covered for, the risk you are willing to assume, and talk to a knowledgeable broker who will help you navigate the intricacies of boat insurance and help you choose the best cover for you.
Now is the perfect time to get more information about your options or to review your current policy to see if it still meets your needs. Check out our free Boat Insurance Comparison Tool – just submit a quote request and our expert brokers will find the best policy for you at the best possible price!
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