Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Safety First

The crew and I participated in a safety flare demonstration and practice session last evening organized by Capt. Bob Pratt of Ketch Morning in Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard. The event was planned to give boaters the opportunity to fire flares in a non-emergency situation, so they will be prepared in the event of a genuine emergency. Firing flares in a non-emergency situation is illegal, so the event provided a rare opportunity for a hands-on experience.

Captains and crew from three local passenger carrying vessels participated and we were the only Maine Windjammer Association vessel in attendance. We all donned safety glasses and thick gloves before using hand held orange smoke flares and red flares, as well as deploying parachute flares, rocket flares, a floating SOLAS orange smoke flare, and shooting a flare gun.

It was fun but we all learned a lot as well. I took a big bundle of expired flares that I've accumulated over the years. We are required to carry flares on the schooner but I had never seen one in use. I believe there is nothing better than hands on experience and I am confident that my crew and I are now even better prepared to handle an emergency on board should one arise. Big thanks to Capt. Bob and the Coast Guard for providing this valuable training opportunity!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More Spring Projects

We now have less than four weeks before we go sailing and lots and lots still to do! Two nights ago I dreamt that we boarded guests and got we were passing in front of the Rockland Coast Guard station I realized that we didn't have the big pot on board that we use to cook all the lobsters at the lobster bake. We turned and headed back to the dock and then I realized that we had a boat load of guests but we still had the winter cover on! There was no radio, no radar, nothing in the cabins, and no anchors!

That didn't help me wake up feeling rested but I was motivated to get to the boat and get things done. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day and I spent all of it on the boat painting. With the help of my friend Bob, we almost completed the list I had created. In any case, we are a lot closer to avoiding that embarrassing dream situation of guests showing up and the winter cover still being on!

If you know anything about wooden boats, you know that they require a lot of maintenance. There's always something that needs to be sanded and painted or varnished or fixed or just plain old replaced. Last year we experienced a serious problem while hauling up the yawl boat when a cheek of one of the blocks cracked and made it impossible to move the line. We take the blocks apart each year to ensure they work properly but this one just failed in service. That lead to an assessment last fall with a far more critical eye and I determined that there were several that could stand to be rebuilt...better to be safe than sorry! Carpenter Dave has been hard at it and here is a photo of some of his handiwork:
You can see the beautiful new blocks (great job Dave!) to the left of the old worn out blocks they are replacing. All the metalwork from the old blocks was reused in the making of the new ones. Most of the metal parts are galvanized and last way longer than the wood that surrounds them (some of the sheaves are bronze). Keep in mind that the old blocks didn't look that bad when in use but that they broke apart under serious prying during the assessment last fall. The sign on the work bench says "Maine Windjammers" and is currently being painted by crew member Willow.
Here are a bunch of new blocks. The triple sheave blocks are all used in raising the yawl boat. It's a heavy boat and we need a lot of mechanical advantage (and several helping hands!) to get it up out of the water. Our yawl boat is a very important piece of equipment so all of those blocks were rebuilt to avoid a similar problem with one failing in the middle of hauling her up.