Category Archives: Safety

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Navigating Mexian Food Regulations for Sailors

There’s often confusion among sailors about Mexican regulations on food when entering or leaving the country. The guidelines for what’s permissible are not clear and there isn’t a official Mexican government website but look at https://embamex.sre.gob.mx/finlandia/index.php/traveling/customs-information

Generally, fresh or frozen meat, fish, seeds, and fresh produce are prohibited. Processed or canned items are acceptable. Homemade goods are not accepted. Pork meat is always confiscated.

Check-in Regulations

Checking in from the North, such as in Ensenada on the Pacific side, is straightforward with no physical inspection and minimal paperwork. However, entering from the South, like in Chiapas, involves stricter procedures. Expect a thorough inspection, including a drug-sniffing dog, due to concerns about plant diseases and pests from Central America. Items like eggs, nuts, meat, and fresh produce will be confiscated. It’s advisable not to provision in El Salvador for Frans Polynesia with future stops in Mexico. Fortunately, supermarkets like Soriana, Walmart, and Sam’s Club are readily available in Chiapas.

Check-out Regulations

When departing Mexico for destinations like Galapagos or French Polynesia, provisioning in Chiapas with packaged goods, fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, dairy, and liquor poses no issues. While there’s a physical inspection, it mainly focuses on contraband like drugs or human trafficking.

If heading to El Salvador, Costa Rica, or Panama, their is not much regulations, particularly regulations and Mexico is cheap.

Tips for Chiapas Departure

When checking out in Chiapas, attention to detail is crucial. Officials are stringent and scrutinize forms closely, even asking for a captain’s license. Ensure all documents are in order, and be prepared to clarify any discrepancies. Regarding the dinghy and Temporary Import Permit (T.I.P.), customs officials had a discussion with themselves. The outcome is: Dinghies shorter than 4.5 meters are considered part of the sailboat and do not require a separate T.I.P. Provide proof of ownership, such as purchase receipts or insurance papers or formal registration documents, to expedite the process.

Lastly, exercise caution when sharing information on social media platforms and messaging apps to avoid misinformation. I shaw some pretty wild statements, just partly true.

Kiskaduct

It isn’t easy to sail the North Pacific. Going from Japan to Vancouver is a challenge, even to a well build Seawind1260 like our Kiskadee. We know that before doing it and experiencing it while doing it.

It’s roughly a month of sailing and you will experience both storms and very calm weather. The conditions are hard, the water temperature is 6-8⁰ Celcius, 15⁰ on daytime, 10⁰ at night. The Webasto could get the temperature up to 17⁰ but you need to run it long and hard. Consumes 0.6 liter per hour. Port tank only. About 50% of the days where foggy, flying water or raining, a few days really sunny.

No wind

Calm weather is annoying because you can’t motor-sail all of the time, doing 1400 – 1600 rpm on one engine you burn 1.4-1.6 liters an hour for 3.5 knots of boat speed. So a day of motor-sailing burns 35-40 liter, 16-17.5% of a tank. We were not able to do a stable drift on autopilot. Not enough speed for the AP to maintain a course and constantly rudder alarms. You can’t look the steering wheel by a friction nut, so a construction with elistics and rope is needed.

To munch wind

Bad weather is also annoying but for a different reason. You worry about the boat. Big winds, up to 30 knots, big waves 3 meters plus. Going on a broad reach, its very doable, long waves from behind, sometimes surfing. 90 to 120 is very oncomfortabel, a screwdriver wobble. And more into the wind, a course of 40 to 50⁰ is frightening if the wave length in between is to short. Big bangs of water to the hulls, underneath the bridge deck and to the watertank. So the main thing to do is depower, slow down your speed. Almost no Jib and put the boom outside and lose a lot of wind. Any speed over 7 knots is uncomfortable.

Experience

So up to 20 knots of wind we sail with all sails up, except when we are doing 30-45⁰ AWA and waves are short to each order. First reef then give a more stable boat going over the waves in stead of through them. We discovered that all weather models under estimate the wind strenght in the night by 3 to 4 knots. And more gusts. So the well known first reef by night and reduced job. The jib add a knot of boat speed between fully and 50% deployed, but is the first action to stop Kisadee slamming through the waves.

Breaking things

We had 2 times the furling badly shaved and replaced, shorted and the third reef line, already shaved, snapped during a storm with ~27 to 30 knots of wind. We anticipated the snapping of the third reef and had a second construction setup at the front and back at the boom. The outer hauler shaved and snapped. The parasailor tacklines and barberhaulers lines get broken mantles which we repaired.

Shaving is a major problem, all reef lines to the back off the main, especially at the batten pockets, all halyards at the lewmar clutches, all barberhaulers where they touch the sheets, furling line on the furling drum window. Three solutions, daily inspections, duct tape on lines at shaving points and no tension on lines like reefs, topline, furling line etc when not in use.

User errors like breaking a lewmar clutch when running a line directly to a winch in stead of first to a running block. Losing a stopper at the Jib rail by losing control of the furling line and no tension on the jib sheet in high winds. The block wasn’t secured, pin down, so the stopper took multiple hits and broke off. A broken and glued back stopper for the self trailing disk on the small winch on port side. A ring of the dighy snapped off, too much tension in the wrong direction with a hard polyester line. But all repairable.

Condensation

Our biggest challenge is condensation. 10⁰ difference in temperature between out and inside and a lot of most is a real challenge. Not only windows and hatches, but complet hulls, inside cupboard’s, walls everything condensates. We generate to much most, by wet clothes, cooking, breathing. Airing is not a solution, we would like to stay a bit warm inside. So microfil clothes and wringing on an 2-hourly base. And everything is damp.

We long for a sunny and calm day to open hatches and and let warm and dry air into the boat.

Other stuff

We had our starboard engine running hot twice. The problem was an air leak at the gross filter between the housing and the top, hold together by a wing nut. A little petrol jelly and a hand tightening did the job. We learn the first time to look at the filter before looking at the impeller Wich was fine.

We had multiple errors on Vesper Cortex, Iridium Go and B&G MFD, NAC3 aka the autopilot. Running them constantly longer then 1 to 1,5 weeks generates software problems. The solution is simple, ones a week reboot all appliances. Do some hand steering.

(first published 21 June, limited internet)

Crossing the North Pacific

After a delivery from the Seawind factory in Ho Chi Minh city and via stops at Philippines, Taiwan and Japan, we are now prepared to do a crossing, big circle navigation from mid Japan to Vancouver in Canada.

Straight line it’s an ~ 5000 NM trip, big circle 4200. We think it will be a max of 5000 NM including tacking, avoiding a depression etc. With an average of 132 NM a day it will be a maximum of 37 days crossing without any landfall.

Crossing Choshi  - Vancouver
Crossing from Mid Japan to Vancouver

Preparation

The preparation is not much different then any, except you need to think harder about food supply, fresh, frozen etc. The freezer and fridge are full with fresh produce, yogurt, cheese etc. We were very pleased with frozen vegetables in addition to fresh. Fresh water is never an issue thanks to the water maker and the big tank on Kiskadee. Our Solar panels keep filling up our batteries to 100% even on a rainy day.

The usual stocking of diesel (light oil in Japan), we added 4 jerrycans of 20 liters. We calculate the amount of hours you can run your engine. With a 1600 rpm on one engine we use 1,6 liters an hour, and do about 3,5 knots of boat speed. Our Webasto heater uses 0.6 liter an hour. So there isn’t enough diesel to do long mothering, 2 * 125 hours or 875 NM. That is 17,5% of the distance. It is called a sailing vessel. 🙂

Weather Forecast

The first step is to look at the historical data when to cross. Luckily all that hard work is done by Jimmy Cornell with Pilot Charts and his well know book World Cruising Routes.

So crossing toward Japan is preferably done in March and April, latest in May, because the Typhoon season starts. And this year, perhaps of the really hot weather, they are early and powerful. The crossing of the North Pacific, Japan – Canada / US, is always a sailing trip between lows and highs with either a lot or no wind. Depressions are getting in from the Russian mainland, coming from (North) West going North East. The other path are the remainders of Typhoons, storms coming from the middle Pacific, going to Philippines or Taiwan and then up North East to Japan, Mid Japan. They tent to go East (or North East). The water around the Kuril and Aleutian Islands is still to cold to feed these systems.

The passage from Mid / North Japan – Middle Aleutian Islands is a nice one because their is a strong global current pushing you in the right direction. It is an alley between the most depressions and it avoids the big summer high pressure area between Midway / Hawaii and the east coast of the US. Its a great circle navigation and shorter than a direct straight line.

Doing it

We had an option to leave Choshi, Mid Japan to have a favorable wind direction for almost a week. Combined with the strong Kushiro current. The down side, within 7 days the leftover of the Typhoon Mawar, a deep storm depression was going to pass us at 400 NM.

6 knots of current
6 knots of current

So on day five the storm took a path more North than the previous forecast. We adjusted our course to straight north, getting closer to Hokkaido and put an extra 100 NM between us and the outside of this depression. Winds at one time up to 30 knots, but current, waves and wind in the same direction. Big waves 3-4 meter but with more than a boat length between them, not uncomfortable. Its was a night with tension, the passing of the center and the turning and lowering of the wind took a long time.

Current we are motor-sailing with 6 knots of wind and the forecast is that will be the case for the next 2 days. Progress is good, we past the first 1200 NM.

What is a Galvanic Isolator?

It’s all about shore power and underwater metal corrosion, for example your sail drive on our Seawind. I struggled with the concept. Why buy a galvanic isolator? A post from Charles Fort was helpful.

When SV Kiskadee is plugged into shore power, it is electrically connected to everyone in the marina via the green wire, the grounding conductor. All boats are part of one galvanic cell.

Galvanic Corrosion

The weakest metals, like your aluminium sail drive and anodes will corrode because there is always current in a galvanic cell. The weakest metals with the most surface will function as a ground connection to earth, for the whole dock.

It’s one electric circuit. So your anodes are also contributing to the corrosion protection for all the other yachts plugged in. Your fresh, unpainted anodes will be sacrificed for all your neighbors.

Galvanic Isolator

To solve this problem there is the galvanic isolator. Its successor is an isolation transformer, more expensive, more weight, electronically monitored, but functional the same. When connected to shore power on a regular basis, you need a galvanic isolator installed in your shore power system.

Look for a marine rating when buying a galvanic isolator. The isolators must be rated for system amperage. If you have a yacht with an older isolator installed, or if you experience at any time a high power surge from shore or lighting or … test your galvanic isolator. Here is a simple instruction with a multi meter.

Corrosion types

Worn anodes are still the primary cause of corrosion on engine, hull, sail drive, propeller and rudder. If anodes seem to be suddenly wasting away, you may be a victim of galvanic corrosion. Shore power and no protected of a galvanic isolator is probably the second common cause of corrosion. Local rusty spots special on stainless steel components are either surface contamination or a leaky, shafted 12v AC wire to a sidelight etc. Also easy tested with a multi meter. Metal corrosion is sometimes hidden or out of sight. Can be prevented with painted coatings, PVC busses, isolating kit or using the same metal.

Metal Corrosion

Chain & Anchors

Actually this story is more about the chain than anchors. And all obervations are infuenced by the weight of your yacht, deep or swallow anchoring, multi hull and a few other parameters.

Take our SW1260, supplied for a circumnavigation, she weighs, all in, about 26.500 lbs or 12.000 kg and is in most tables a 42´ heavy. Calculations and reference tables are done with 30 knots, 7 bft, wind.

LightMediumHeavyChainWeight /m
46’–50′41’–45′37’–40′5/16″ or 8mm
PC/BBB/HT
1,4 kg
51’–60′46’–54′41’–48′3/8″ PC/BBB ~
10 mm grade30
or 5/16″ G4
~ 8mm grade43
2,1 kg
1,4 kg
Diameter of chain based on the 1/16¨ per 10´ or 9´ or 8´ length rule
( Light, Medium, Heavy)

Maxwell HRC8 Windlasses

The standard windlass is a Maxwell HRC8 which is able to handle 5/16″ BB, 5/16″ ISO G4, 8mm DIN 766, 8mm ISO 4565. For 10mm, 3/8¨ chain a H10-model is necessary.

Chain Length and Grade

Oké let’s start with the basics, old fashion is a 7 to 1 ratio on chain length to depth. With modern anchors, it’s 3 to 1 for calm and or swallow anchoring up to 5 to 1 for a rougher, deeper anchoring, is oké. So the upgrade from Seawind to 80 mtr is on a lower limit. I prefer 100 meters of chain.

RVS chain
Example of a chain, 8 mm RVS (318) grade 60, beautiful, strong and expensive

I think that the standard chain Seawind offers is Grade L aka PC/BBB/grade30 and again on the lower limit. In my opinion grade43 should be the standard and I prefer grade70. See the table for strength and weight and prices. (In Holland, prices in Q1 2022)

grade (8 mm)WLL in kgBLL in kggewicht kg/m€/m (ex VAT)
308203250 1,48,47
4312004400 1,47,77 – 9,83
70320070001,49,87 – 20,50
50-60
(RVS 316)
300062001,437 – 40
30 (10 mm)127551002,311,61
WLL = Working Load Limit, BLL = Breaking Load Limit

So my strategy is upgrading to the Seawind option of 80 mtr standard chain. It will last a year. Afterwards I would order 100 mtr (DIN 766, Ø 8 x 24 mm) chain grade 70 or 43. Far stronger and enough length for my sailing area, the Pacific. Buying a 8 mm higher grade chain is always less expensive than upgrading to a HCR10 Maxwell and 10 mm chain, grade 43.

Anchor

Modern plow or scoop anchors (Excel, Delta, Spade, Mantus, Manson perform well compared to an older plow like CQR or a claw anchor like a Bruce or a Danforth anchor like a Fortress.

I would strongly advise to upgrade from the standard 45 lb CQR anchor to a 48 lb Sarca Excel No 5 galvanised anchor. The Excel anchor is well known for its good initial setting on a relatively short chain and its holding power. The big question is what is the right size anchor, I find this article on the UK site of Jim Green helpful.

LOA (mtr)10-1212-1515-17
Weight (ton)3,5-77-1515-21
Sarca weight (kg/lb)16/3522/4830/66
Sarca type456
Sarca Excel Supplier Recommendations

I am comfortable with the Sarca Excel #5 and find it a balanced solution with a Maxwell HCR8 windlass and a 8 mm chain, grade 43.

We opted for the secondary anchor, a nice 35 lb Delta to be used as stern, tandem or temporary anchor.

Other important stuff

Buy an anchor swivel, always a pleasure to position the anchor on the bow roller. Most swivels attach directly to the anchor, using a bit of blue lock-tide. On 8 mm chain you use a 10 mm swivel. Almost all modern swivels like Mantus, Ultra, Lewmar are stainless steel and corrode your anchor and chain. Swivels are expensive. Rex Francis, designer of the Sarca Excel is not a fan of swivels because of lesser resetting of the anchor and lateral forces breaks swivels. Something to think about.

Buy the Anchor Bridle, it´s not an option. To release the tension of the chain from the windlass, you need an anchor bridle. I prefer nylon double braided because of its quality to stretch and flex.

Length indicators, 1 white tie wrap = 10 mtr of chain, 2 tie wraps etc. Or buy any fancy indicator.

Have a 8 and a 10 mm high quality Bow shackle with you. Always handy when something brakes. I also like a Kong Stainless Steel Universal Chain Lock

And I always carry a spare chain hook. A RVS hook will get bent and forged one breaks.

Taking on water

I read an advertorial on BoatUS.com on pump capacity and because Google is smart it serves my an article on a sailing crew fighting to keep up with the incoming amount of water after a collision with a whale or container or refrigerator. Which made me added 2 essential parts on my safety list on preparing our Seawind 1260 for an circumnavigation.

Bilge pump real capacity

Interesting article with one picture saying it all. In a normal situation you will lose ~50-70% of the advertised capacity of a bilge pump. 70% of 2.000 litre per hour ( ~510 gph) is a 10 ltr bucket per minute. Alternatives are water intake of your engine, 70-100 litres per minute and the manual bilge pump at a max of 50 litres per minute.

It will handle a leak on your water system, rain, sea or bow water in heavy conditions. But it is a false feeling of safety to think it will keep you afloat.

Real capacity versus advertised

Industrial Sewage Pump

Part of the problem is the use of 12 volt DC. You need a lot of ampere to obtain a higher wattage. So switching to 230 volt AC is a first step. Second step is you need a more industrial design to pump a higher volume. So after looking around I opted for a sewage pump of Vevor, heavy duty, big hose etc. You need electricity, at least one engine running and your converter higher up, not in the engine room.

Vevor 200 litre per minute 230 volt, 500 watt pump
Vevor 200 litre per minute 230 volt, 500 watt pump

Anti-leak agent

Everybody odd to have conic wooden plugs for an broken valve or hull transit. But for a real crash or a rip that is useless. A lot of stories and experiments on other solutions. Remarkable good is stuffing a pillow into the crash hole securing it with wooden beams etc. In a closed bow compartment stuffing in fenders, classic cork life jackets etc to suppress the water and obtain bouncy, also works. For larger cracks a sail outside the hull, but it is difficult to deploy and to keep it in the right place. And of course there is fiberglass and epoxy.

Composite Patch from aplTec
Composite Patch

A Spanish company, aplTec, took that idea to the next level and developed a product called Composite Patch, a easy to deploy fiberglass sticker to repair survives, even underwater. It´s around now for a decade and seems to work quit well. The shelf life is 18 months.