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Preview: Outfitting for Cold Weather Camp Cruising with Tom Jackson

July 24, 2012

Tips and techniques by Tom Jackson for the shoulder-season camp cruiser will make the rest of the family want to go out with you again.

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– [Narrator] Outfitting a small boat for camp cruising in cold water late in the year takes some forethought. Today, we join Tom Jackson, editor of WoodenBoat, for a look at the outfit of his No Man’s Land cruiser.

– So, the idea is to come out of Center Harbor. And then, just head straight down between the Torrey Islands, down in the Great Cove. Almost due south to Potato Island. A little jog in there to avoid the rocks, then down in here to Lazygut, across into the Thoroughfare, and then down to pretty close to Miller Island, then around, and come into the lee of Buckle Island, and I’ll camp there, it’s a Maine Island Trail Camp. The main’s all ready to go and tucked away. The oars are down here, underneath the thwarts They’re latched in also, but they come out rather quickly. I have my primary anchor, my first set anchor here. It’s made off, the bitter end is made off. The coil itself is tied up, so it doesn’t get fouled. The anchor itself is tied off. It’s an okay setup, but this is meant to be quick-release. The gaskets on the coil set the anchor in case of need. This is my food bag here, it’s tied in also, just loosely, but it’s under there good enough. This is my sleeping stuff over here, also tied in. It counts as flotation in case of a capsize. I always mark my dry bags, so S is for sleeping. This is my bailing bucket here, and this is fairly loosely tied in so I can get it out in a hurry, dump everything out of it, begin to bail. It’s important to have everything tied in because as you’re heeling, stuff starts to slip and get around in here. It’s just a mess, you’ve gotta keep everything under control. Anchors, too, to tie them in, because you don’t want them going down to leeward, taking all their weight down to leeward as you heel. Here is my clothing bag. When I put a dry bag in like this, I try to keep the opening end of it to the center line rather than outward. If you’re heeling and if you’re taking water, it can rise up on the leeward side. If the opening part of the bag is dipped in the water, it can wick the water right into the bag. I try to keep the opening side in board, or preferably up if possible. This is my hypothermia bag, H for hypothermia bag, always keep it right here. This is merino wool, mostly. A nice balaclava, very good gear, also a pair of heavy wool trousers. Over here is my foul weather gear, two sets of foul weather gear, light and heavy, including souwester. I keep it right there, I keep it tied in, so that as I’m on the helm if I see something coming up, I take the bag out, pull out the gear, and get it on before the rain comes. Easier to stay dry than to get dry, so that’s the theory of it. This is my bag of essentials. I keep everything in here that I absolutely want to have onboard the boat, and I carry this with me at all times. This is my GPS unit, just slips in there. I have a compass, which I have a hand clip in another bag which I use to just hold that there, and I also clamp the chart there, so I have all my navigation stuff right here. Binoculars, I have my camera with me, my Leatherman, which I’ll put on my belt. Flashlight, which I’ll put on my belt. Extra glasses, handheld depth sounder. Some sunblock, tape, a whistle, I usually wear a whistle on me. My life jacket has one also, but it comes out when it’s been deployed, it’s nice to have a whistle if you need one. This is a bag with a rudimentary first aid kit, a flare, extra whistles, an air horn, which more power than the whistle, very good to have that also. If it’s foggy, I’ll get this stuff out before going out, or if I get caught in fog, as soon as I see the fog coming, I’ll make sure I’ve got my compass set, I’ll make sure I’ve got a position on the chart, and I’ll get my horn out and put a whistle on. Also a headlamp, some of this is camping gear. But generally that’s what I consider what I need to have when I go out on the boat. This is it, I have all of my intended course headings here, and distances marked off on my pad on one side. On the other side I have the currently active chart. Usually what I do is I have this here, and this gets knocked around a lot, so I keep a hand-spring clamp, clamp it to the seat right there, so that if I’m on this tack I have my GPS here, I have my chart here. If I need to see my course headings, I flip that over. This is Center Harbor tides for the weekend. I picked this up off the internet, but I made this just for quick reference, that I have right on top on my pad. What else do I have in here? Here’s the rest of the months’ tides. I also take with me sometimes, if I know I’m going to a certain area and I wanna know about places where I can land without having to offend someone, I take printouts from my main cruising guide, just scanned copies or photocopies so that when I’m doing in a specific direction I know where I can stop without getting into some kind of problem. Maine Island Trail is excellent, and also the Maine Cruising Guide, which is more for yachtsmen, it’s more about anchorages and whatnot, but it’s great to have both, I really like to have both. The more information I have, the better. While you’re out there, you’ll need to have options on bailing out, where you can go to anchor, where you can go to get on shore if you need to, if you can camp somewhere, so much the better. Generally it’s less work to camp on shore than it is on the boat. For tenting I usually use the sail. I sway the yard up on the main halyard or the mizzen halyard. I use hand-spring clamps to clamp it to the coaming on both sides. I have mosquito netting that I can put over the back end or the aft end of the tent and clip it into the coaming. I put the tiller hard over and tie it down. When I sleep onboard I set my sleeping gear up alongside the centerboard trunk on one side and put all of my gear on the other side. The sail generally works pretty well as a rain cover. It’s easier to set up the tent, kinda nice to sit in a different location, get off the boat a little bit, so that’s nice. This is a watertight box that I usually keep my GPS, my radio, and my cellphone in. And I keep that up under the back here. Cellphone is important. Communications generally are important. My VHF radio is a submersible one. I keep it on my life jacket on a clip on my life jacket. I keep my life jacket on sailing solo. If you do go overboard, the boat capsizes, and the radio is in a bag down there somewhere, be very difficult to get at. It’s very important to keep the radio on your person so that if you’re overboard, you’re in the water, and the boat is in a hell of a mess and there’s nobody out there, the first thing you wanna do is notify somebody that you’ve got a situation. So, you’ve gotta be able to call on the radio, and that’s important. The cellphone I keep in the box because when I get to an anchorage I call my wife and let her know that I’ve made it, where I am, that sort of thing. Assuming that you have cellphone coverage, you can communicate and let people know where you are. Maybe on the wishlist is one of these personal EPIRB devices that can send a satellite message. It’d be good to have one of those, especially for solo sailing this time of year. That way my wife could get on her computer and have a track of where I’ve been and where I am. There are lots of things out there like that, and I think maybe some day I’ll get one of those, but I haven’t done it yet. What else do we have? My tent is here. This is one of my two flotation bags here. The first line of defense bailing is my bucket. The deepest part of my boat is right here. I have a bailer that lives down there, but this is pretty weak. So, the first line of defense would be to get the bucket out, start bailing with the water. So, dump this, forget about that stuff. This bucket has a lanyard on it. It fits in this hole, so I can just start bailing straight out of this hole. If it’s really deep, up to your knees, you’re really awash, you can just take it straight off of here. Get to a point where this stops being efficient, and at that point I would go to the pump which is right down here. This lives on the boat It’s a kayaker’s pump, it’s small, but I like it, it pumps very well. And it’s compact, so it fits under the floorboards. I have this loop on here that I just put right over the tholpin. And I get down here and start pumping like this. From the floorboards being awash to having the boat pumped is about maybe 10 or 15 minutes of work. And the only other thing I think is the heavy anchor, which is right down here. Gain access to it by taking off the line. The reason to have the other anchor is that it’s a lot easier to set, so if you’re in a hurry, that’s the thing to do. This one’s pretty big for this boat, but big is good. Got a decent amount of chain on it. What I would do is just grab this whole thing, it’s all tied together, go forward, make off the bitter end, and set the anchor for the night. And this is a case of, if you’re in a windy area you really want security. You really sleep well if you’ve got a big hook down and over 150 feet of pretty heavy line. So, I consider that a very satisfactory setup for this boat.

– [Narrator] As you’ve seen, Tom has left nothing to chance, and his boat is an example of one you can feel pretty good about cruising in cold water.



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