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2017-01-22

Wind, light, time and warmth

The view from the side deck, Jan. 22, 2017: This is the opposite of usual and even the waterfowl seem nervous.
I'm not sure I'm the only Great Lakes sailor to be baffled by the absence of ice in a protected basin on January 22nd of any given winter. This is usually thickly iced, often to 30 cm. or greater, if also often cracked from the surge of the lake coming through the gaps in the sea wall into large pans.

Last night I hoisted a pleasant beverage or two with fellow sailor and blogger Brian Jones (Dock Six Chronicles) in the context of his amusing yet helpful Facebook group, The Low-buck Yacht Club. It's a place to exchange tools, tips, techniques and gear choices with other sailors who concur that the second-worst thing after abandoning ship is parting with money. That doesn't imply the neglect of mandatory purchases, or even choosing the cheapest (so rarely the best) option; it does suggest that boat gear and hiring others to install it is expensive, often unreasonably so, and alternatives to just raising the cost of cruising per mile to thin-air levels involves both constant vigilance and crowd-sourced wisdom. Hence, Low-buck YC, your virtual talking shop for smarter-assed cruising.

It did occur to me, however, as I cycled down to the waterfront pub in which Brian had convened about a dozen Toronto International Boat Show attendees, that I was wearing a T-shirt, a pullover and my somewhat venerable boat club fleece jacket. No windbreaker, no toque. My concern while cycling was fog, not cold. This is uncustomary for the third week of January in Toronto.

Typical local winds. Image (c) Meteoblue.
Speaking of odd weather, anyone else notice the excessive number of days with east wind, sometimes strong, over Lake Ontario? The prevailing W to NW wind is there, all right, but I have (without verifying this through research of the historical wind roses, mind) noticed, as one does on a steel deck, a greater incidence of easterly winds year-round than I once noticed. I will research this further and report back, not just in the context of this lake which we will leave behind, but in the context of world oceanic weather, which is recorded in pilot charts going back centuries. They can't predict the weather, of course, but they do given historical probabilities of how much wind from what direction may be expected at any given time of the year. They aid the cruiser in making broad planning and routing decisions, but, being an average of decades and decades of recorded data, if the last 20 years or so were at strong variance with the pilot chart's cumulative data, it would take decades for the numbers to reflect, say, a seasonal wobble in the trade winds, or the failure of monsoon seasons to establish themselves, individual years being such a small part of a pilot chart's assumptions.
A light to guide me.
From pilot charts to pilothouse, the not-wintry, if not exactly shorts-wearing weather did prompt me to spend my Sunday afternoon wisely, i.e. boat jobs. I like to charge the battery bank as often as I can in the winter and I always have something I should be doing; today was no exception. While rooting around in the fall at Genco Marine's bargain shelves on one of my frequent bike trailer expeditions to Mississauga, I found some discounted lighting fixtures, including a warm white LED array on a gooseneck for $10. So, to the sound of classic rock, which I only play while splicing, heat-shrinking or bolting things together, I ran some 12 ga.from a spare circuit breaker up the wire loom that supplies the VHF and, some modding with a Dremel later, I had a not-overbright, amp-sipping helm light bright enough to also illuminate the battery box and the engine bay. If I change my mind about the LEDs, there's an identical 10W halogen-bulbed fixture I got at the same time, although I'm thinking that would suit in the galley.
I'm quite pleased with this, as its appearance in subsequent blog posts suggests. Note the temperature on the baro.
I next mounted the clock I bought last week. It looks very fine to my eye, ticks not loudly but pleasingly and we'll see if I can further zero in the rating as it was running slightly fast in my "home" test. The venerable Speedtech barometer, seen here but long discountinued, has been reliable as hell over the decade-plus I've owned it, and reported 9C/48F in the pilothouse this afternoon; I didn't bother to run heaters for the first time since haulout. Less reliable as previously reported have been the battery clocks this one is replacing. Fingers crossed, we'll have a good time together.

Next up: the boat show. I made quite a dent in the installation list this year, but there's more yet to do before casting off in earnest.