FROM THE NAV STATION
I told you that I'd be back!! It's already two weeks since you heard from me last. And here I am again with two more steps in the countdown to the Mac Solo. As each of us think about preparing our individual boats for the Challenge, the GLSS Board of Directors has already started along the path of monthly meetings to prepare for the 2002 Season. The GLSS Safety Seminar & Open House is scheduled for March 26 at North Star Sail Club. You'll get an e-mail update as soon as our agenda is firm.
I enjoy the feedback that I receive from these Rode Shows! It's fun to plan sailing activities in the middle of winter. Right now, there are about 140 valid e-mail addresses on this mailing list. If you wish to be dropped from this dist-list, please let me know...
Step #16 - Visit Your Boat! - Make a List
This step is a good one - but you gotta be careful. If you do it right, it will accelerate your planning and comfort level as you prepare for the Mac-Solo. If you do it WRONG, you'll get brain damage and may not launch your boat until September!
First of all, look at the date. We're still in the middle of winter. It is the last week of February! Therefore, it is important that you don't go beyond the straightforward simplicity of this item. This step does NOT say: "Go to your boat and start working." The only tools that you need are a pencil and paper. And what the heck... Bring a lot of paper!
Take a walk around the hull, and start your list - anything is fair game to be added to the list. Re-paint the boot stripe. Paint the cradle. Fix the ding in the gelcoat. Sand the bottom. Scotch-pad the waterline. Paint the bottom. Install a swim ladder. Wax the hull. Pull seaweed out of the knotmeter impeller. (Remember! We're only listing! We're not doing! Don't get distracted from the list.)
Go topside and check out the deck. Continue adding to the list: Apply a fresh coat of Sickens. Repair the leak in the port window seal. Fix the starboard lifeline gate. Buy a new mast boot. Paint the cockpit. Re-attach the GPS antenna. Get rid of the rudder-post squeak! Buy cockpit cushions. Remember... Everything is fair game to be added to the list! We're not prioritizing here.
Go down below and go on with your list. Add a coat of oil to the teak. Repair the depth-sounder. Fix the leaky window. Add more storage space! Check the date on the flares; buy more flares! Buy new dock lines. Change the oil. Take out the trash - it stinks in here! Time to go home! Besides, the list is a mile long!
Now. Find a warm place. Sit in your favorite chair! And start going through your list. If you think that you have to do it all, then you will get brain damage! Take a yellow highlighter and mark the items that MUST be done in order to do the Mac-Solo. Don't confuse MUST be done with SHOULD be done. Example: Depth-sounder repair gets highlighted, but the Sickens project does not. (Sickens is not necessary for a safe solo passage!) Stick to the objective, and I am convinced that you will be amazed how short your "must do" list actually is. In addition, you have put the element of timing in your favor. For example, send in your depth-sounder now so that it is repaired for warm-weather installation later. Wow!! Your list got a lot shorter, didn't it? In fact, you're closer to the Mac-Solo than you thought, aren't you? Cool.
I know what you are thinking: "C'mon, Nuge! Who the hell would make Step #16 on the list to be: 'Make Another List'?? You're anal-retentive!" Saint Kathy sums this up best when she says, "What do you expect? My husband is an engineer."
Step #15 - Get a GLSS Sponsor
Whenever a few GLSS members get together, a common question asked is: "Who was your contact for your first solo?" It seems that all of us can name that one individual who took the time to answer our many questions as a first time challenger. At the awards luncheon after the 2001 Mackinac Solo, we formalized that role by recognizing the "sponsors" of first time finishers at Mackinac Island.
For years, the GLSS has worked on its mission "...to encourage the development of suitable techniques, equipment and gear for shorthanded passage under sail..." Fortunately, a lot of these solo techniques are documented - the GLSS Required Equipment list is a good example.
However, a lot of solo sailing techniques are not specifically documented. And that's good! Stating a general requirement tends to encourage discussion and creativity. A good example of a "general requirement" is the ditch bag. The GLSS Equipment List specifies that a watertight bag of self-selected survival gear is required.
So... Now you ask, "How do I know what to put in my ditch bag?" The answer is, "Talk to a GLSS member (a.k.a. your sponsor!)!!" But it is not just the contents of the ditch bag - it is solo sailing techniques in general. Every question is important: What do you eat? How do you sleep? Where do you dock the boat just prior to the start? Why do you have 3 big knots at the end of your spinnaker halyard? Do you fly a spinnaker while solo? How do you jibe? What does the finish line look like at night? What am I forgetting?
Of course, it is not mandatory that you have a sponsor. But it is a fast and effective way to get the information that YOU need. You say you don't know a member? Then go to the GLSS Spring Safety Seminar & Open House on March 26 and pick a one! (Some members are pretty scary in person, but trust me - your pick will be a good one!)
In 1991, Dick Lappin was my contact for all the questions that I had. I can still remember some of the things that I asked Dick. "What time should I plan to leave the dock for a 9:30 start?" "What do you pack in your ditch bag?" "How do you safely dock your boat when you arrive all alone at the Island?" "What does your overboard recovery system look like?"
My advice is to put your sponsor to work right now! You know that LONG to-do list that you just put together in Step #16? Show it to your sponsor. Start shooting the bull with your sponsor and get some advice and encouragement so you can decide how to separate the "must do" from the "should do". Besides, it's fun to talk about boat stuff while there's snow on the ground!
I'll be back with another RODE SHOW in two weeks. Stay tuned...