Month: October 2012

White Squall – A Reprise?

Those of you who attended the Squadron’s movie series last winter will remember the movie – White Squall. It concerned the unexpected and tragic sinking of the brigantine style training ship The Albatross. A short summary of the movie and the real life story can be found at the earlier post.

This movie is brought to mind by the similarly tragic sinking of the HMS Bounty as it crossed the path of Hurricane Sandy. The cause of the sinking is easily understood, a hurricane, rather than a mystery, as it was with a presumed white squall that hit The Albatross. Fortunately the crew of the HMS Bounty saw what was coming and were better prepared. There is only one reported death, although it seems the captain who is missing, most likely has perished. Even survival suits and life jackets can only provide a limited amount of protection when we move into late October temperatures.

This type of accident is not supposed to happen, but it does much too often. That’s why we need to know how to operate our boats, why we need to carry at least the legally mandated safety equipment, and why we should always have a rehearsed plan for handling an on-water accident/disaster.

It’s time to think about getting the knowledge you need to operate your boat safely. That means much more than just having ‘The Card’. We’ll soon be posting information on the courses that will be offered by the Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron in 2013. Register, learn to boat more safely, and have fun out on the water.

Scott of Antarctica – Now November 18th

The film, “Scott of the Antarctic” has been advanced one week to avoid conflict with the Grey Cup game. It’s now November 18th. Details are provided below. Your host is Steven Duff.

The date and time for this is now Sunday, November 18th, from 1:00 to 4:00 in the Lions’ Room at the Museum on Tower Hill. Admission is $6.00 for adults and $4.00 for seniors and students. And, yes, we’ll have warm drinks and snacks – you’ll want them after you see this!

2012 has been a year of various anniversaries and centenaries, covering the good, the bad, and the ugly. One event from 1912 that has had little air-play is the tragedy of the Antarctic expedition led by Capt. Robert Falcon Scott. We’re making amends at the Museum with a tribute to Capt. Scott, his men, and their terrible encounter with Murphy’s Law. A display and a historical introduction are planned and the main part of the event will be a screening of the classic 1952 film Scott of the Antarctic, starring John Mills and featuring a sound-track by Ralph Vaughan Williams that ranks as one of the greatest ever.

Don’t Leave Harbour Into a Storm

There are so many things our boating courses do not teach, like placing a coin under the mast brings good luck.  A well flattened quarter under my mast attests to the truth of this. Thirty years I’ve sailed Canadian Mist – so far so good.

And, it’s also bad luck to leave port on a Friday. I have never found an explanation for that one. I think it was that if you leave Friday you show your intention to not make it back for church on Sunday. Or, perhaps with the setting of the sun on Friday defining the start of Sabbath you risked raising the hackles of the Master of the Universe. Probably both explanations were brought forward by clergy who saw diminished collection plates with those who ventured out on Fridays.

DON’T LEAVE HARBOUR INTO A STORM, is basic good sense. But, if I had obeyed that rule I would have missed a most interesting sail. I had planned Tuesday two weeks ago to head out for three days of sailing, probably the last of the year. I packed Canadian Mist and was off from Big Sound Marina. You remember that Tuesday; south-south-wester screaming down the harbour. It was gale force but not a storm, so I set off. I thought the wind had enough west in it that it would be close to my nose across the Sound, so I motored to three mile point. By then the wind had backed to south. I ducked behind the light house and put up some sail: double reefing the main and storm jib. What a great sail it was as Killbear, Carling and then Spruce Rocks passed by. I adjusted sail to go north of the Pancakes, through the narrow channel past Fitzgerald Bay, and on to Snug Harbour. Ah, Regatta Bay to myself!

After mooring in the centre of the bay and rowing Maggie to shore, it was time to light the barbecue. High winds and barbecues don’t fit well together. Eventually the chicken was done and the rice was ready. While cooking I heard the deep rumble of a large engine and looked out to the small craft route.  Two bright red lights in a vertical line passed slowly by. With all my sailing I have never seen a tow at night. I’m not sure about the two red lights either; but my rule for night sailing is, if you can’t recognize it stay away from it. Not that I have ever sailed at night through the unlit buoys at Regatta Bay.

The wind was still screaming over the trees so I let out a little more rode and got ready for the night. Within five minutes the propane tank ran dry; the cabin temperature was ten degrees and falling. The alcohol stove would have kept the cabin warm but alcohol and flame equals heat and all kinds of condensation. Rule that idea out. Have a look at Maggie. Hmmm, you have heard of a ‘three dog night’? In southern climes it works with one dog. So I cleared the sails to one side of the V berth, helped Maggie onto the sleeping bag and convinced her to lie on my feet for a while. A dog on your feet is like a dozen hot water bottles that never get cold. I was warm for the night; the last time for quite a while.

By morning the strong wind had clocked west. The forecast was for minus one. We decided that three days had just become one. Maggie always agrees with me.

After a quick coffee, I started the engine and hauled the anchor. After strong winds, first from the south and then west, it was stuck – I mean really stuck on the clay bottom. No problem, except that this hadn’t happened for years. I pulled the rode in tight and tied it to the cleat, went back to the engine and ran the boat forward. Just like magic; we were free. By this time even my raincoat wasn’t working that well. I was cold and wet so we motored to Kilcoursie Bay for breakfast. The wind had slackened a little but I decided to motor home. Canadian Mist has a dodger that is an effective spinnaker with a tail wind. With the engine I would be able to control speed and not swamp the dinghy.

On Wednesday, as you may remember, the wind shifted west and rose. Sailing under bare poles, a dodger, and an idling engine while still doing five, sometimes six, knots is memorable. It was quite lumpy coming back across the Sound and the auto helm was baffled by a following sea. The dancing I did to stand and steer came back to me that evening. As I ate supper the chair I was seated on seemed to move.

Just as I arrived home hail started bouncing off us. I have sailed in snow but hail was a first for me. Whether I should have sailed out into this storm I will leave to you. I am in no doubt. (JM)

Two Mile Point On a Fair Day

Do We Have A Tide or What?

I’m betting on what. It’s not always easy to see how low the water has dropped in the last month; floating docks can disguise the difference. This shot clearly shows the drop. While it is a common seasonal event the drop in water levels still is disturbing for those of us who depend on another foot of water to stay out of trouble.

Coming soon, a new adventure from our favourite sailor. It promises to be a tale of challenge and lessons remembered – The Old Man and the Sound. Check back this weekend.

Parry Sound Harbour, October 18, 2012Parry Sound - 2012-10-18

Put Us in the Parade

The Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron will be participating in the Parry Sound Optimist Club’s Santa Claus Parade. It is scheduled for November 24th, starting at 16:30. The theme will of course be boat safety.

Want to help? Have some ideas on helping the Squadron make a big ‘splash’? Drop a line to either or

Here’s a reminder of what the Squadron’s last entry in the Santa Claus parade looked like. It seems to be something from another century.

Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron - Christmas Parade