Inspection: the verdict

Our inspector Rowena came early from San Diego. It was nice to finally get her on Med Viking since we met almost a year ago. Everything went well: what was not available (such as the spare rudder) could not be inspected. I had forgotten the chart of Kaneohe Bay at home so I obviously did not get a pass on that one.

What was really surprising to me was the fact that I had misinterpreted  some of the basic requirements. We had to check the ISAF rules a few times to verify the actual wording.

The verdict is that we will need to be checked again on a few items when we arrive in San Francisco.

Inspection day is coming

The good news is that the inspection is happening this Friday the 16th. The bad news is that we will fail the inspection! We are actually very close to having all the required information and equipment but the delay caused by the leak that almost sunk the boat together with the time it took to get the mast back up has eaten up all the buffer we had.

The main issue is the emergency rudder. The cassette system is installed but the blade is not ready and we were obviously not able to test the emergency rudder without a blade.

Bob and I used last weekend to make progress on the following:

  1. Rewire the mast connections and change most of the through-deck bypass
  2. Bring the emergency VHF antenna to the chart table and solder a nice (silver/Teflon) connector
  3. Bring the main VHF antenna to the chart table. As mentioned earlier, there is no additional connector between the mast and the VHF radio (this is a good thing, very low loss)
  4. Getting ready to put the fridge back into action. We found out that one of the spare pump got damaged by the leak and it needs to be replaced
  5. Tested the short wave radio to receive weather faxes. Here below is a fax that was received in the noisy marina environment.
  6. Tested the short wave radio with the pactor modem to insure that we can send and receive emails using short waves
  7. Build a bunk slighter better than the lowered table in the salon
  8. Started cleaning a very messy boat and collect the items that will be needed for the inspection
A weather fax

A weather fax

Emergency rudder: phase 2

Last Friday evening, I went to pick up the new struts from Mark Shutts and on Saturday morning, Bob and I started to drill some holes. Things went very well but we decided that the hull could benefit from additional strengthening where the mounts are bolted.

Beautiful setup

Beautiful setup (Photo Dianna Kennedy)

What the fish will see!

What the fish will see! (Photo Dianna Kennedy)

Through this process, I heard of a product called Tef-Gel. This products prevent corrosion especially when metals like stainless steel and aluminum are bolted together.

Emergency rudder: phase 1

After many back and forth on the subject, I decided to buy an emergency rudder cassette system that had been removed from a boat. It is a nice system except for the following problems:

  1. It does not fit on my boat
  2. It does not include the most important part (the rudder itself)

Problem #1 is to be expected from any system that is not custom designed for a particular boat. After installing the bottom part, I once again used the service of Mark Shutts to make changes to the existing set-up. The temporarily installation can be seen below:

The cassette holding system

The cassette holding system

What needs to be “tuned” are the arms that will attach the top of the frame to the hull.

Better view

Better view

Mark already designed the stainless mounts that will be bolted to the hull.

Problem #2 is more interesting! I am currently trying to make a 3D model of the rudder with FreeCAD in order for a surf board shop with to mill it out of foam. Stay tuned for more details!

Better safe than… lost at sea!

One of the requirements for the race is to have a full set of SOLAS flares. SOLAS stands for “Safety Of Life At Sea”. These flares are much more powerful than regular Coast Guard approved flares. They also cost more!

I have a few sets of USCG-approved flares but they are just good for fireworks displays… Yesterday I went and bought the full SOLAS set – all at once!

The full SOLAS set

The full SOLAS set

The set includes:

  • 6 red parachute flares
  • 4 red hand-held flares
  • 2 orange smoke canisters

The flares will be part of the abandon ship bag. Olivia also wanted to make sure that her daddy will be safe so she came with her bicycle to check it out.

Olivia checks out the flares

Olivia checks out the flares


EPIRB is installed

Bob and I designed a mounting plate for the EPIRB. The EPIRB is mounted on a piece of King StarBoard. This a plastic that is marine-resistant and is easy to work with. They basically recommend to use standard wood tools – which I did.The board is bolted on the rail on the back of the lifesling. Another piece of equipment that we do not want to ever have to use…

EPIRB is installed

EPIRB is installed

Pacific Offshore Academy II

Last Saturday, I attended the second Pacific Offshore Academy.Obviously the BART (Bay Area Transit Authority) was on strike so I had to rent a car to go from the airport to the Richmond Yacht Club were the seminar was held. This ended up to be a less stressful and economical (rent was $13 / day + a lot of taxes) way to go. Because the only flight I could take landed at 8AM, I had plenty of free time before the start of the seminar at 1PM. I had time to visit the Golden State Model Railroad Museum which is close to the Yacht Club.

Subjects were varied and interesting:

  • Emergency gear
  • Electric/Power Consumption
  • Rig Inspection and integrity
  • Sail Selection
  • Inspection Considerations

I also got to meet the chief inspector (Sylvia Seaberg) and our “private” inspector Rowena. Apparently the inspectors cannot be bribed so I have to keep working on my safety list!

One of the highlight was to check Tiki Blue owned by Gary Troxel. Gary is the Commodore of RYC. Tiki Blue is a Beneteau 423 that has been in multiple Pacific Cups. The 423 is almost identical to the 411 so it was a good example to follow.

Back at home at 9:45 PM!

Liferaft is approved

After many back and forth emails on the subject, the organizers have finally ruled that Med Viking’s current liferaft (a MD-2 by Switlik) is approved for the race. Here is the email I received:

Hello Bernard;

 I think I finally have an answer for you about your life raft. It took several calls to different certification and service providers, but I think we are at a place that helps you and the Pacific Cup Technical and Inspection groups.

 Life rafts are certified to meet manufacturer’s specifications, not offshore racing rules. When a raft is sent in for certification, it is the responsibility of the skipper/owner to ask that the raft be certified against USS/ISAF rules in addition to manufacturer’s specifications.

 Your raft, the Switlik MD-2, Mk-II does not meet ISAF regulations because it does not have an insulated floor. However, two of the certifying companies I talked with stated, without being asked, that IF your ditch bag contains inflatable backpacking-style mattresses (Thermorest-type or closed cell foam pads – sufficient to cover about 80 – 90% of the floor surface), your raft can be considered to comply with the rule. USS and ISAF do not have any guidance in this area at this time, so this is what I would use during an inspection.

 So, you will need these in your ditch pack at inspection time, and be prepared to show them upon request in Kaneohe. If you have any questions about how to comply with the rule, using this method. Please feel free to give me a call and I can provide some guidance, and share the final resolution with Sylvia and Rowena.

 Hope this helps resolve our problem, but if not, please let me know.

Tony English


This is good news because a new liferaft is about $6,000…

The crew will also be happy to know that if we ever need to use the liferaft, we will have the comfort of an inflatable mattress!

Med Viking's raft

Med Viking’s raft

New fire extinguishers

The race requires each boat to have at least 2 fire extinguishers with at least 2 kg (4.40 lbs) of dry powder. Med Viking currently has 3 fire extinguishers but they are the smaller marine type:

Current one (2.5 lbs of agent)

Current one (2.5 lbs of agent)

Fire extinguishers are hard to buy online because they are pressurized items and heavy. The good news is that Home Depot has the required models in the 5 lbs class:

Kidde 340

Kidde 340  (5 lbs of agent)

These fire extinguishers are even Coast Guard approved if they are installed with the right mounting brackets. So after a tour on Amazon, I ordered two brackets:

Coast Guard approved bracket

Coast Guard approved bracket

I also started to draw a location map of different equipment and I started with the fire extinguishers:

Location map

Location map

Safety At Sea seminar

Yesterday, Bob, Dianna and I attended a Safety at Sea seminar organized at the Shoreline Yacht Club in Long Beach. At least 30% of the crew in the race must have a Safety at Sea certificate for the race (it is valid for 5 years).

We add an interesting demonstration of a liferaft in action – obviously something we do not want to have to practice during the race:

Liferaft deployed on the lawn in front of the Yacht Club

Liferaft deployed on the lawn in front of the Yacht Club