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The Beacon

Volume 31 Number 04 May, 2001

The Official Newsletter of the Saanich Peninsula Squadron

A Unit of Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons

Commander Cdr Greg Nutt 656-4212

Executive Officer Lt/Cdr Diana McBratney 656-4590

Training Officer Lt/Cdr John Hudson 655-3653

Asst. Training Officer 1st Lt Sita Pillay 656-5675

ATO ó Chief Instructor 1st Lt Doug Mitchell 656-2959

Treasurer 1st Lt Jim Dawson 658-8204 --

Secretary 1st Lt Paulette Nutt 656-4212

Membership Officer 1st Lt Cathy Campbell 656-5717

Supply Officer 1st Lt Ron Townshend 655-3365

Editor, Beacon 1st Lt Heather Pepper 656-8101

Student Cruise Captain 1st Lt Martin Russell 652-5543

Archivist P/Cdr Stephen Denroche 656-6177

Communications Officer 1st Lt Jackie Levi 656-3420

Webmaster 1st Lt Peter Payer 652-1682

Environment Officer 1st Lt George Winn 472-2219

MAREP Officer 1st Lt Kit Raetsen 544-2026

Port Captain 1st Lt Gay Miller 656-5190

Past Commander P/Cdr Ken Reeves 655-3602 --

Meetings of the Bridge will be held on the third THURSDAY of each month at 1930 in the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club, except July and December. All members are welcome to attend. Information for The Beacon should be in the hands of the Editor by the 15th of the month.

The Beacon will also be published on the Squadron web page:


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Welcome to Greg Nutt on behalf of the 2001ó2002 Bridge members .Good luck in your new role as commander of the Saanich Peninsula Squadron.


Welcome to our new bridge members and please feel free to contribute to our monthly Beacon publication. Remember that this is your tool to voice your opinions and announcements regarding any power squadron issues. I had the pleasure of meeting Ann Tighe of Compass Rose Nautical Books at the Sidney Floating Boat Show. It was nice to shake her hand and meet face to face with the author of all the book reviews e-mailed to me over the past 10 months. I also met members, Peter and Gurly Wolfe who were reunited with an old friend overseas through our very own Beacon and promised to write an article for the Beacon about this event.

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How Many GPSís Do You Need?

Evan (at the helm): "Grandad?"

Grandad: "Yes, Evan"

Evan: "Donít you think weíre getting close those rocks Ė should we go about now?"

Grandad: "Looks OK to me, for now, why donít you ask Jason"

Evan: "Jason do we need to go about yet?"

Jason (The boatís Argonaut navigational computer): "If this wind holds, in about 10 minutes Ė Iíll tell you when its time."

Jason: "Evan"

Evan: "Yes, Jason".

Jason: "Is your Grandad still there?"

Evan: "Yes, heís here Ė what is it Jason?"

Jason: "John (Grandad), do you mind if I run my fuel cell for a little while to top up my batteries?"

John: "Whatís the problem Jason?"

Jason: "Well, weíve been three days now without an over-night stop at a marina with power hook-ups, and with all the good sailing winds, youíve not run the engine much. Itís been cloudy so my solar cells are not generating and the wind generator is too small to replace the power youíve been using. I know fuel is expensive but I am approaching my safety limit on reserves. If they get any lower I shall have to shut down and hand you over to that non-interactive back up navigator on the standby batteries."

John: "Alright, alright! Youíre right about fuel it was $5 per litre the last time I filled up!"

Jason: "Yes, I know, I donít know how my powerboat computer buddies will manage. I heard that last month another 20 were erased and reprogrammed when their hulls were recycled into sailboats and that was just in Sidney"

John: "Jason youíve been listening to the news again Ė I told you not to do that as it makes you depressed."

Jason: "Evan, its time to go about and steer course 316 and if this wind picks up any more you may want to think about putting in a reef."

Evan: "Thanks, Jason; Ready, about Grandad?"

John: "Ready"

Evan: "Lee-ho! Steering 316" CONTINUED ON PAGE 4

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John: "Jason, you changed the subject but you can run the fuel cell."

Jason: "John, I suggest that you call Ballardís when we get back from this trip as the fuel cell is due for its annual service but why donít you get me one of those new nuclear power packs?"

John: "I donít know about that! Itís only few years ago that I replace your old diesel engine for a fuel cell and electric motor. Those nuclear power packs cost an arm and a leg.

Jason: "Yes, but you only have to refuel once every two years based on your current running hours."

John: "Dream away Jason! Remind me when we get back home about Ballards. Evan, why donít we put that reef in now?"

It may be a few years before we get a "Startrek:" type computer to do our navigating but you get the picture! Itís only about 20 years since I played with my first home computer. Most notebook computers are more powerful than the university computer that I did research on 40 years ago and that filled a 2000

sq. ft. air-conditioned room. GPS computers donít talk and hold conversations yet but it wonít be long. Voice commands and talking cars are already here. The question I am raising is how much can we safely rely on electronic instrumentation and what back-up or redundancy do we need if something goes wrong.

When did your TV last need repair or your computer hard drive fail? Today you would be hard pressed to find a TV repairman making a living and backing up your hard drive is not the necessity it used to be (but may still help you sleep at nights). The probability of electronic failure is becoming diminishingly small. However, letís consider a few failure scenarios.

Your Cartographic GPS goes blank. Other instruments are OK so itís not the DC power. You switch on your back-up handheld GPS and it works which confirms that the problem is in the Cartographic GPS and not the satellites. So you get out your charts, take a fix with your handheld GPS and pilot your way home.


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Your Cartographic GPS goes blank but the DC power is OK. You have no back-up GPS. You get out your charts and look around for a navigational aid. You are in unfamiliar waters, you cannot recognise any landmarks and there are no buoys or lights visible. You have not maintained a DR plot on your charts as you had confidence in your Cartographic GPS. You donít keep a dog and bark yourself! Right? You slow down and maintain your course, keeping a look out for something that will give you a fix. You worry a lot!

Your Cartographic GPS goes blank but the DC power is OK. You fire up your handheld GPS but find youíre off the charts that you have on board. You are in unfamiliar waters so you look around for a friendly boater to guide you to the nearest port. You have a very red face!

You only have a basic GPS i.e. one without charts, which means you need paper charts to navigate. If this GPS fails and you have not been maintaining a DR plot you could be in the same situation as b) above. Your chart blows overboard. Fortunately you have another copy in the cabin and can remember your rough location and can look around for a suitable fix.

Without a GPS you depend upon your chart, knot/trip log or rev counter and hand bearing compass to plot your course. If you DC power fails you could be without both your knot/trip log and your rev counter. But even this is not total disaster. Speed and distance can be estimated and approximate bearings can be taken across the boatís compass if your hand-bearing compass is lost overboard. The critical item is the chart.

I am now leading to the conclusion that, in unfamiliar waters, the absolute minimum needed for a safe landfall is probably a chart and a compass and a least an approximate starting fix or DR position. Without a compass you also need a lot of luck and a good sense of direction! I recall with horror how I have tossed my only chart of an area around in the cockpit where a sudden squall could send it flying overboard. If you do not maintain a DR plot on paper then the need for electronic redundancy would dictate two basic GPSís but the weak link in the chain is in fact the chart. By the same logic two charts and two compasses (one boat and one hand bearing) are needed, just in case. You may think, perhaps rightly, that this is getting ridiculous but as any financial advisor will affirm it all depends on your tolerance for risk!


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In summary, I have talked myself into the following, for a minimum set of navigational tools that provides one level redundancy:

Two Cartographic GPSís with two independent power supplies (e.g. batteries), or

One Cartographic GPS and maintaining a DR plot with charts, compass, knot log or rev counter and two batteries, or

As ii) but substitute a basic GPS instead of maintaining a DR plot, or

Two GPSís with charts, compass, knot log or rev counter and independent power supplies, or

One basic GPS and maintaining a DR plot with two sets of charts, two compasses, knot log, rev counter and two batteries, or

As v) but without the basic GPS.

I find this conclusion interesting, not at all what I would have anticipated. I cannot for some reason justify two sets of charts but from the above it is clear that a basic GPS does not decrease your risk of becoming totally lost. The risk in fact increases if you fail to maintain your DR plot on a paper chart. A basic GPS is a navigational convenience that relieves you of the necessity of taking manual fixes and provides steering guidance but it does not replace the need for a manual DR plot. Without a chart, depending on a basic GPS waypoint route may be very unsafe if you drift off course for any reason since the bearing to the next waypoint may then be littered with hazards.

I estimate that at $20 per chart it would cost about $500 to duplicate my set of charts which is about half the cost of a cartographic GPS. I normally protect my charts when on deck by enclosing them in a large Ziploc-type plastic envelope that takes a large Canadian chart folded into quarters. These envelopes are sold by chart shops and have two convenient cringles along one edge. I have now attached a tether to one of the cringles so the envelope can be tied to the boat and thus prevent it from being lost overboard. Finding a dry secure place for a chart or a GPS so that the helmsman can read it is often a problem in a small sailboat without a major redesign of the cockpit, wheel or tiller and mainsheet traveller. My boat is already equipped with a boat compass, rev counter, impeller knot/trip log and two isolated batteries. My additional navigational equipment includes a hand-bearing compass, one set of charts (some worn duplicates) and an ageing (1995) basic GPS. These currently provide me with an adequate level of redundancy provided I maintain a DR plot, except for a complete duplicate set of charts.


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It is worth noting that it is not necessary to actually plot your DR course in real time provided you have logged each course change and the distance traveled since the last DR log entry. Alternatively or in addition log your Lat and Long from your GPS at the DR positions. This also assumes that you are sufficiently aware of your position not to be sailing into danger. Plotting in real time is often difficult if you are single-handed or the weather demands your presence on deck. If your GPS fails you can, at that time, heave-to and plot your last GPS position and extend your DR plot to find your current position.

John Blomfield AP.


The floral emblem

Of Mother - love

Because of itís Sweetness,

Purity and endurance.

The first Mothers Day observance was a church service, in Grafton West Virginia, held there and the request of Anna Jarvis (the founder of Motherís Day) on May 10 1908. It was not so much in honour of mother hood but rather paid homage to her mother. Carnations were Mrs. Jarvisí favourite flower, and were supplied by her daughter Anna at the first Motherís Day Service.

Through time, red carnations became the symbol of a living mother, white carnations were a sign that oneís mother had died.

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Membership News


This month we would like to welcome Inez Weberg and Pat Tripp (from Saltspring Island); also Bruce McLarty who was in the January 2001 grad class but unable to attend graduation - and we missed putting his name on the list. And then there are the following new members from the spring boating class:

Richard Akers, Richard Akers Jr, and Glen Akers
Carol Bird

Ian Brethour
Pete Favelle
Carolyn Hole
David and Cindy Hultsch
Erwin Kelbert, David Kelbert and Michael McLean
Dave and Carol Kerr
John MacConnachie
Bruce Masson
Ross Rainsford

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The Squadron is facing a problem of lack of storage space for our collection
of materials. We have several boxes of training aids and several boxes of
archival material. We would like to find a place to store all of this. It
needs to be a dry, heated area about the size of a small room. If anyone
knows of such a place that can be rented for a nominal fee, or if anyone has
a spare room in their house, please get in touch with Ken Reeves at 655-3602
as soon as possible.

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The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit 36 operates rescue vessels based in
Sidney, Brentwood Bay, and Patricia Bay. Currently they are experiencing a
shortage of crew members for the Sidney Titan which is based at Port Sidney
Marina, and send us the following message:

We are seeking applications from interested boaters who might be looking for
an additional outlet for their boating interests. Our past experience with
Power Sqn members has been positive as they come with some of the
we need.

We maintain a web site at  which contains a fair amount
of information about what we require of our members and what we do.

I can be contacted for more information at

or at

Ron Gieck
Membership Officer, CCGA(P) Unit 36

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We need a new Publisher

What is a Publisher?
Someone who will take the Beacon pages as prepared by the

Editor and get them photocopied, then arrange to have them

stapled, folded, labeled and mailed, each month for ten months

of the year. The total time requirement is about the equivalent

of one day a month. The Publisher needs to have a car, or to be

able to arrange for a ride, to take the approximately 250
monthly copies to the Glanford Rd. Postal Station.

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Coming Events

MAY 11-12 - Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons - Vancouver Island South District 5th Conference and Annual General Meeting 2001.

MAY 14 - Spring Course Graduation.

MAY 17 - Bridge Meeting at SNSYC 19:30 hrs. Everyone wel- come.

MAY 13 - Motherís Day

MAY 26Ė JUNE 1- Sidneyís Community Spirit Week.

JUNE 1-3 - First Annual Festival of the Sidney/Anacortes Inter national boat race. (SAIBR)