- PFD ($450.00) (Note that one will be provided to me as part of my crew kit on the race as well)
Some people call this a "lifejacket" but it's technically not. This is an inflatable vest that is relatively small and sleek when being worn around the boat. Once it's immersed in water, though, it will automatically inflate to keep me afloat. It's important in case I'm unconscious. Other features of it is an integral harness that can be used with a safety tether to keep me attached to the boat.
Where I live, another brand is the one you'll see most often. However, after comparing them, I felt this one was better for me.
However, as I understand it, a PFD is provided by the Clipper organization as part of your training. From what I've seen, it's the same as the one I already have, though it might have some Clipper patches on it that my current one doesn't have. At least I'll be familiar with it, though, and I'll have 2. Something for me to keep in mind is that I probably should have a re-arming kit with me in case the auto-inflator is triggered.
- Safety Tether $129.99 ($US) (One of these probably will be provided as well, though I admit that I like mine quite a bit)
April 9, 2019.
The first piece of equipment has arrived... It's a safety tether that connects me to the boat in the event that I should attempt to take an unplanned excursion over the side of the ship. It just arrived from the states and I plan on bringing it along on the upcoming circumnavigation of Vancouver Island at the end of this month...
Up near the top of the picture you can see a piece of metal. That's the part that clips into my harness or PFD. Also near that is a little handle. At the two ends are big metal connectors that go around the jack lines, which are lines that run along the deck. You clip into them so that you can't be washed overboard.
So why are there TWO ends with hardware? It's so that you never have to be disconnected from the boat. You move along clipped in with one. If you have to change to a different jack line, you can clip in with the second clip before you unclip the first. Thus, you're never disconnected from the boat. And, before you ask, they are different lengths so that you can be clipped in more or less tightly to the boat depending on what you're doing.
- iPad ($700.00)
This is sort of the multitool for me. I use it for navigation (coupled with a GPS and various navigation software, it's the equal of most boat charter/plotter navigation systems), logging, keeping track of expenses, writing, emailing, music composing, as well as keeping a full library of sailing information, all in one compact device. I can even link it up to the satellite communiucations system (above) to send text messages through the satellites and to get weather breifings. Its sole drawback is that it does require recharging daily (the navigation software eats the battery down pretty quickly), but I have a number of different chargers for it so that I can recharge it overnight and it's ready to go the next morning.
I bought it specifically for sailing as the software I wanted to run was available only for iPads. I do have it in a waterproof case (I tested it by immersing the case in the bathtub before putting the iPad into it) and also a neckstrap on it so that when moving around the boat, it's unlikely to fall into the ocean. Oh, and I have my name and phone number engraved on the back of it, just in case.
- External Bluetooth GPS ($150.00) ($250.00 for the new one)
I made a small mistake when buying the iPad. I knew I didn't want to hook it up to the cellular system, so I bough the iPad without the cellular module in it. Unfortunately, the internal GPS of iPads is on that same module, so my iPad doesn't have a GPS system in it. I had to buy an external GPS receiver that would bluetooth link to my iPad.
This actually turned out to be a good thing. I can put that bluetooth receiver up on the deck where nothing interferes with its reception, and walk around in the boat, including below decks, with my iPad and it doesn't lose connection with the GPS satellites. Admittedly, most of the time an iPad will work just fine below deck too, but it's nice not to have to worry about it.
The con to having an external GPS is that I have to charge THAT item every night too. I'm not too thrilled with the battery life on my current unit, so I'm thinking of getting a different one with a longer battery life.
Ok, I've been provided by a donor with a Bad Elf GPS Pro unit and took it with me on the club cruise. I have to admit that I like it far better than the Dual unit. It's likely that the Dual unit works fine as long as the boat is moving at a decent clip, but I've been having problems with it. I THINK it goes to sleep when it decides that the vehicle isn't moving. Also, the Bad Elf will, itself, log the data points, so I don't even have to have the iPad running, which is nice for when I'm recharging it.
- External Bluetooth Keyboard ($125.00)
Typing long missives on the touchscreen keyboard of the iPad can be done, but it's a pain in the arse for me. I like to have a real keyboard. Fortunately I had a bluetooth keyboard that also acts as a cover for an older iPad. My current iPad is a slightly different form factor and is too small to be held securely in the case. With the iPad inside its waterproof case, it's too big to be held in the integral keyboard case. I haven't quite figured out exactly how to manage all of this, but I'm working on it.
Of course, that's yet ANOTHER thing that needs recharging on occasion.
Still to be acquired
- Satellite Communications ($350-$400 for the equipment, $80 per month when active)
Being out in the ocean, or at least along a sparsely-inhabited shore, makes communications somewhat difficult at times. There are various solutions such as Single Sideband Radio ("SSB") which can be used to communicate long distances. Another solution is a satellite communications system. These come in several different flavours ranging from something that looks like a phone and with which you can hold voice conversations, to smaller units that might be able to only send small text messages, through to units that can simply yell for help.
I'm looking at something in the middle - it doesn't allow voice communications, but it does allow two-way text messages via satellite. In addition, it reports my position (well, its position) at intervals so that I can be tracked (if the SOS button is pressed, then it sends the position a lot more frequently!)
While the unit itself is relatively inexpensive at around $350-$400 dollars, the real expense is in the subscription to the satellite service. Still, the peace of mind for both me and my wife is going to be worth it.
- Ocean Racing Dry Suit ($900 to as much as $2,000)
Think about living for a month constantly wet and cold... more than a month. When we say cold and wet, imagine being constantly sprayed with salt water at a temperature of 3-5 degrees (celsius). Frostbite would be a very real possibility. In order to deal with that, or prevent it, as well as for personal comfort, I am hoping to get an ocean racing dry suit. It's basically there to keep the water out. Under it I can layer up other, warm, gear, and then over it put a protective layer to protect the dry suit.
I've used dry suits before for scuba diving. However, an sailing dry suit is a bit of a different creature. It's unlikely that I'll have to hoist sails or carry around other heavy equipment when scuba diving. As such, the scuba dry suit doesn't have to be as flexible as a sailing one. However, a sailing dry suit doesn't have to deal with 5 atmospheres worth of pressurized water trying to find its way in, either. They are built for different jobs and I'll have to get used to wearing one.
After reading the documentary about the 2017 Clipper Race, they said something interesting. They left China for the Pacific crossing in China's winter. Brrrrrrrrrrrr! I know how cold the water is here in British Columbia and the thought of constantly being dunked or splashed with that for 30+ days is definitely not appealing. Add in winter air tempartures and...