Joshua, my new crew member is onboard. Together we have done a fair amount of work.
Working on my swing keel.
The bow is almost finish, the ice-shield in place and on deck all winches were inspected.
My swing keel was reinforced. Last year brutal encounters with rocks left dents and scratches.
Can you believe that I melted hundred of small leads discarded during the balancing of tires to increase its weight and efficiency ?
This swinging devise is another gift from my private boat designer. Going deep down in the water, it offers good performance on long windward ocean passages.
Lifted, it’s a life saving tool. During gales onshore, we take refuge in shallow bays or rivers. In the Arctic, iceberg deep draft restricts their access into our shallow anchorages.
Messing around, I was lucky enough to encounter a neighbor who offered his help to weld my spur on the front bow of Breskell. Like Jerry, a gracious help. As an appreciative gift, I returned with a CD of our “Breskell” movie. Cherished memories of our last year cruise.
CANADA and USA National Day.
July 1 is National Day in Canada. An important date for locals. Still it was remarkably quiet around. Every store closed and not so much to eat. Luckily, our friends made a party in the boatyard with some appreciated and appropriate gifts. Souvenirs, souvenirs.
Four days later, it’s now American Independence Day. In my new country, again, lot of flags waving and quite a few drinkings.
As an American in Canada, my duty was to participate in both celebrations, and to drink to the health of those two great countries. Even if I suspect that, behind the flag waving and the big smile, they had exchanged, from time to time, a few gun shots despite their long and generally peaceful history. Flags and guns often don’t make a good mix.
As an American, born in France and for now in Canada, I had to find an original way to show my difference.
Man overboard in the boatyard.
I was just polishing my beautiful ice-shield when the yard manager brings me a yellow paper with a phone number and a request:
“Please call the Coast Guard immediately”.
– What’s happening ?
“I don’t understand, something about your boat sinking or a crew member missing..”
An anxious look over my shoulder. With boats or with crews you never know.
“Beskell” is high and dry behind me, showing for all to admire her horse-dragoon painted bow. The boat for now looks safe.
What about my missing crew member?
I got to the phone and immediately was transferred to the search and rescue operational center.
“Happy to speak to you captain. We have an ongoing man overboard operation rescue to recuperate your crew. We need more details about your name, your boat position and the reason for your emergency ”
-Wait a minute: My overboard crew member sir ? My boat position? Well sir, my boat stands behind me. No crew member could be seen crawling around. At least for now…
“Sorry captain, but your EPIRB is activated now”
This search and rescue life saving device sends an emergency signal to earth orbiting satellites . From this signal, all rescue operations are coordinated worldwide then delivered to local concerned authorities. Soon, planes, boats or other emergencies services are required to assist.
My EPIRB activated ! For now, I cancelled immediately this false emergency.
My new epirb was right there in my boat, not broadcasting the smallest signal. Then it struck me.
We bought a new device. And I should have properly disposed of the old one. It was National Day of one country or the other; I celebrated too much. I didn’t remember. I forgot to disable the old one by removing its battery. My first mistake. We just trashed it. My second big mistake. Going to the dump, the thrash compactor launched inadvertently the signal. I hope that the final localization so close to the land, was not of too much concern for the Coast Guard. Just another one of these 800 stupid false alarms triggered each year in the US alone.
And, as always, the Canadian Coast Guard acted professionally. They contacted a referee, a designated family member, just to confirm the validity of the help signal. In my case, a job well done. The same evening, my father-in-law e- emailed from France to my wife on the West Coast inquiring about a man overboard situation. He was nice enough not to mention any possible link between those national days festivities and some beer drinking possibilities.
If launching this distress signal during national festivities was an original way to show “Breskell” differences, it was nothing to be proud of.
Avoiding another real emergency.
To avoid another real emergency, I returned to “Breskell”. I need to plug the holes done voluntarily to evacuate water infiltration during the winter. One rescue signal a year is more than enough.
A bad day with an happy end.
And I have another real emergency at hand.
I ordered a special fitting in France to complete the rigging of my mast. 10 days later, I got it. The Yacht Club manager, Katy, came expressly one morning to deliver it. She knows it was a badly needed part. I jumped in my car to deliver it to one local company. They had assured me that clamping it to the wire was an easy task. Two hours later I phoned to pick it up to sadly learn that these fools and incompetents had broken my precious fitting. The reason involved, I didn’t care. Furious, I was left with only my eyes to cry. My day was ruined and also the timing of my departure.
With my crew, I worked out an emergency plan. I will have the full halyard with its terminal fitting made in France. It was the weekend. I started working the phone with my ancient compatriots. And no, these French were not striking. And yes, they worked during the weekend ! My nephew was ready to take a plane to sail with us to Greenland. He will bring the parts ready to install: good news at the end of a bad day.
Still, after the classic antifouling, so many little details to work out before going in the water: take the transducer of the depth sounder for example. You forget to secure it below the waterline and the accuracy of a good depth reading approaching your anchorage is gone, and with it, the security of a safe landing.
Tomorrow, was launching day.
An unexpected surveyor.
An unexpected surveyor showed up : a gorgeous white bird. The northern gods send it expressly for one ultimate inspection.
Before sailing away for her long journey back home, they wanted to be sure that “Breskell” was in top shape.
Satisfied after its careful investigation, our white northern “dove” flew away with the next morning wind.
Sailors are a superstitious lot: not this kind of food aboard , not this kind of word in my boat. I took this bird visit as a good omen. The local divinities had cleared us for our North West Passage, and they were pleased with the message we wanted to carry across.
Wondering about extraordinary achievements.
Returning this night to my bunk, I wondered about the extraordinary achievements some folks carry out to alert the earth population about the climate changes occurring up north. Take this fellow: he belongs to the few, smart enough to walk ALONE to the North Pole. Don’t even think about trying that. But this guy decided to do better. In the Himalaya, with the increasing global warming, at the base of the fast melting glaciers , new lakes form every day. To alert the planet of this impending disaster and to assure our kids a more sustainable word, he simply decided to swim this one. It was at 5000 feet (1524 meter) and damn cold. And swim, he did.
At his first try, he almost drowned. Not enough mental concentration, not the right “set of mind” said his team. His second attempt was the good one.
His simple message: you can achieve the impossible. You just need the right shift of mind. Finally, this guy looks ordinary, like you and me . With a few extra features may be? Generally, these fellows are just not followers. They follow their own path without caring much about others viewpoints about it. As an aside, my wife would add softly “and these folks have a bone-head”. What she means by that is for each of you to guess.
If, for a greener planet, this chap can swim a Himalayan lake after walking alone to the pole, we can tackle with confidence the North West Passage.
Like him, my first try was also a failure. But my mindset was right at that time. To swim in his mountain lake, he had water in it; there were just not enough for us to sail through.
This year, after our clearance by our white “dove”, for my crew and for “Breskell”, it’s time to sail away.
And to carry across the North West Passage the same simple message than our high altitude swimmer:
Let’s make the planet great again and avoid the melting of the Arctic ice-field.