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As Friday’s are our day off and the sun was shining, we decided that it would be a great day to go for a cruise. At 0715 we started up the engines and left the marina at 0730, running at 2 knots. At 0751 we lined up on the range, and a GPS fix placed us at L49? 03.4’N, Lo 122? 53.5’W. We checked our GPS and found that as the sun rose at 0540 and wasn’t due to set until 2110, we would have plenty of time for our trip. Our plan was to motor to the eastern entrance of Active Pass to drift while fishing, have lunch in Campbell Bay and then to return to Crescent Beach Marina.

We started down the range seaward at 0751, at 6.0 knots, steering a compass course of 194?. We noticed that aid QR was incorrectly placed on our chart (it should be on the other side of the range). We made a note to advise NOTMAR (Notice to Mariners) about the discrepancy.

At 0825 we changed course to 168? compass and maintained the same speed. Although we have a GPS on board, we decided to practice some of the basic skills learned in our navigation class by doing a running fix on the South Cardinal Bell Buoy. At 0850 the buoy appeared 045? to starboard; at 0900 it was abeam. Based on this info we were able to plot our fix and calculate that the buoy was 1 NM away at a bearing of 284?T.

At 0900 we changed course for Georgina Point Lighthouse, at the northern tip of Mayne Island. We were steering a compass course of 228?C / 251?T. We stopped the engines to drift and fish at 1040. At 1135 we set up prawn traps at the 70 metre depth as recorded on our depth sounder.

While fishing, we noticed through our new binoculars, a vessel far to the NW, which appeared to be drifting. Sure enough, at 1245, Canadian Coast Guard broadcasted a “Pan Pan” over channel 16. The vessel Why Not was disabled and drifting SE of Porlier Pass. The Why Not’s GPS placed it at L49? 0.2’N, Lo 123? 25.5’W. We checked our GPS and it showed our position as L48? 52.5’N, Lo123? 13.0’W. We plotted both positions on our chart and informed Canadian Coast Guard and the Why Not that we would proceed to their assistance. We quickly turned onto 297? compass and brought our vessel up to 18 knots. Using our 60D St. formula we calculated our ETA at 1323.

Upon arriving at the disabled vessel we stood off a bit and radioed them, asking if they would like a tow. When they responded in the affirmative, we asked if they would waive all claims for any damage, etc. caused by our rescue efforts (we made sure to obtain a Waiver of Claims). After deciding on a Long Tow, we threw them a line and asked them to make it fast (secure it).

As we began our tow we checked our GPS and it placed us at L49? 0.1’N, Lo123? 24.4’W. The Why Not’s home port was Steveston on the south arm of the Fraser River. We plotted our course for the Sand’s Head Light at the entrance to the Steveston Jetty (at the south end of Sturgeon Bank). We planned to tow at a speed of 6 knots, steering a course of 024? compass.

At 1500, as we approached Sands Head, we stopped to bring Why Not beside our boat for an alongside tow. We figured this would give us more control and maneuverability should we need in the narrow channel. We arrived safely at their marina at 1550 and after ultimately guiding Why Not to her berth, we decided to stay the night and relax after such a busy day!

Of course, none of the above actually happened, but we did end up doing all the plotting, as it was a take-home exercise from our navigation course. And yes, it was a sunny day, and had it been about 15 degrees warmer, and our boat was back in the water, perhaps we would have actually been out cruising instead of just pretending.


  1. great:) i was a bit confuse when a red it

  2. It read like a navigatin exercise. Too bad it couldn’t be real! I don’t know about Lake Ontario, but Erie is supposed to be completely frozen, something that hasn’t happened for quite a few years. I am SO ready for spring!

    • Pretty sure the lake isn’t frozen here. It has been very mild. And yes, we too are SO ready!!!

    • And I agree Helen… that was some pretty dry writing! I copied it almost word for word from our homework book. I HOPE that most of my posts aren’t quite so dry. 🙂

      The exercise involved plotting the route on the chart which required dozens of bearing calculations taking into account deviation and variation.

  3. I was SO confused because, as I am reading, I am thinking… ‘I thought these guys were in Ontario but this sounds like B.C. waters. It IS B.C. waters. How did I make such a big mistake and think they live in Ontario?!’

    Chalk this blog post up as a huge ‘gotcha!’


    • hehe… sorry Sandra. Good job on recognizing the locations!

      Also, I am pretty sure our Yamaha 9.9s won’t get our cat up to 18 knots either!

  4. Patty and Ken Sebby

    Do you know if the Waiver of Claims includes the boat being rescued damaging the rescuer? Our boat damaged a boat that was rescuing us and although we were thrilled to be rescued, we were not so thrilled to pay for the other boat’s damage.


    • Hi Patty

      I am going solely on what is printed in our Power Squadron textbook but it doesn’t say anything like that. It basically says “do you, the vessel being towed, hold us, the rescuers, harmless for any damage (death, etc) to your vessel as a result of our rescue efforts.” Those are my words but that is the basics.

      What happened in that situation? Did you go aground?

  5. Patty and Ken Sebby

    No, we didn’t go aground (although we had done that the month before). We have a powerboat and we ran ourselves out of fuel in one tank without switching to the other tank and we couldn’t get it started. We are on the Columbia River and our marina harbormaster drove his boat downriver to where we were to give us a tow. But it was very windy and his boat is smaller than ours and well, things just didn’t work out. Our bow ended up scraping the side of his boat. We gave up until the next morning and we were able to get a mechanic on our boat to help us and we got everything going.
    Some days the whole thing is just a learning experience, but we love it!

    • Glad to hear it was only minor damage (so it sounds anyway). Did you end up doing the whole formal “waiver of claims” thing before he towed you?

      • Patty and Ken Sebby

        No, we didn’t do a waiver. Hopefully, we will never have to deal with this again. At the boat show in Seattle recently we purchased tow insurance.
        We still have 2 years to go before we head out into the wild blue yonder, so we have taken things slowly.

        • Tow insurance sounds like a good idea. We’ll definitely be acquiring some before we head south into the US.

          • Do check to see what the insurance covers.
            * There will be a distance limit. Although it says “unlimited, you need to be within a certain distance. For example, most of the Delmarva coast is too far.
            * Hard groundings don’t count, and by the time the boat gets there on a falling tide, it will be a hard grounding. So wait for the tide, since insurance won’t pay. They will show up, tell you it is a salvage job, and you will choke.
            * Outside the US is more complex, I understand. Check.

            You have 3 engines, sails, several anchors, and 2 rudders. What is the probability? I have never been even tempted, in 25 years. I’ve touched the bottom MANY times, but I’ve never stuggled to get off.

            But yes, running the ditch the first time… good call.

  6. Got me! I was thinking – all that sunshine! Where did it come from. Aint got it here (UK) that’s for sure.

    My other thought was speed. Yeah 18kts?! But more importantly towing at 6 knots is pretty fast. RG wouldn’t mind but our previous boat (a 23′ sloop) would have been very unhappy, both in terms of practically planing and the strain on the fittings.

    We rescued a yacht off the English S coast a few years ago, and towed her into harbour. In practice in a calm sea, about 4 knots. Of course a purpose built lifeboat will go a bit faster.

    • One thing is for sure… if we were really put in that situation (today) it probably wouldn’t go quite as smoothly as that exercise on paper!

  7. I must admit I was thinking of a time I had to be towed. Power boats go faster than my 23′ sloop ever THOUGHT about going! Come to think of it, I’ve had two boats towed. The 19′ that preceeded my current boat had a close encounter of the turtled kind with a microburst ahead of a thunderstorm. The next day, BOAT/US righted and refloated her, then towed her to their launch ramp. I had my son pull her trailer there to meet us. He had a truck. Only damage was a bent gooseneck, which I had repaired. My son resurrected the British Seagull motor. I sold her to buy my current boat, and a few years ago I found her again in the side yard of one of my clients! Turned out that the woman to whom I had sold her had sold her to the boyfriend of my client’s mother! Small world around Lake Erie!

  8. Check your boat insurance policy to see if you have any tow insurance as part of the package – some have it , some don’t. Also, try and keep things in perspective. Where are you headed to (do the tow companies operate in the islands you’re headed for)? What is the likelihood that you will require towing along the way (along the canals, etc) and could you be in a situation where you might be able to sail (even ghosting along) if your engines fail? If you run aground, could you wait for the tide and/or kedge off? Then weigh that against the premium.

    FWIW, we have been towed once in the last 20 years. Yes, it hurt to pay the bill – $600!, but the premium for unlimited towing was something in the range of $100/yr, so we are ahead. (Of course, I have now damned us by revealing these facts to Poseidon).

    Fair Winds,

    PS, our current insurance policy has towing as part of the deal.

    • Hi Mike

      I have read that having the towing insurance, at least for the ICW portion, is a good idea.

      Our current insurance policy does not include us going out of this area, so it will need to be reevaluated prior to our departure.

      If I am not mistaken your wife is a boat insurance broker, is she not? Perhaps I should speak with her, unless our ineptitude, which we have now broadcasted to the world, would scare her off?



      PS: I am not sure Poseidon is keeping abreast of our blog posts.

  9. Getting myself up to speed (Feb 27, 2010 so far) I realized the archives didn’t include all the posts however I’m reading about places I’m familiar with and wondering how you ended up on the West Coast!
    To funny!
    Were starting the process to sail out from Edmonton, Alberta. Getting rid of stuff, research and learning however we are going to wait 5 years till our youngest finishes high school, at least that’s the plan so far.
    Thanks for your blog!

    • Hi Bill

      Thanks for the message. I bet it’s a bit chilly in Edmonton these days.

      What do you mean by the archives not containing all of the posts. They should. When we first started the blog I wasn’t posting daily so perhaps that is throwing you off.

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