Advice -2010

This is my response for Charlotte’s request for advice for a trip from Scotland to Canada via Iceland, Greenland and Labador.


These suggestion are not organised, but listed as I thought of them.

Was a great trip met lots of interesting people. Ran out of time and did not get a far as I planned. Food and fuel available in all towns in Labrador. Avoid the teenages in Nain, do not overnight at the dock unless there’s several pleasure boats.

Advice (a few thoughts and ideas based upon my trips):
– Have sailing guides (for example  ), Canadian Sailing Directions
– Have an persons responsible for bloging,photography and videography with good equipment so as to get great pictures. Hard to snap pictures of whales if you are also trying to steer. I found blogging and uploading pictures time consuming, about a day a week.
– A crew that gets along is more important than skills.
– That being sail, the more experienced the crew, the less stress on the skipper.
– Double check the equipment and rigging. If you have a question about the reliability of something, replace, do not hope it will do.
– Verify your spares fit. I had 4 spare fan belts, all the correct size as per the engine specs, but the alternator had been changed and now would fit when needed.
– Take a quantity of plywood, 2x4s, 2x2s, aluminum and steel bar, channel, tube stock and fiberglass resins and mat for quick repairs.
– Verify the electronic charts in your chartplotter cover your whole route and all ports. My Navionics chart chip was missing coastal charts from Goose Bay to Nain or so. Met a couple in St. Lewis, NL who had crossed from Greenland and found out halfway between Greenland and NL, their Garmin chart set did not have North America!
– Survival suites strongly recommended.*lq*-132749/4,367.html I am not recommending this mode, just grabbed an image as an example. I bought mine off E-Bay, but as the ones at Hamilton are in the $200 to $300 range, I;d recommend new.
– Get good gloves and mits. Hoodies with zippers are great. You’ll need good boots. Found these to be inexpensive and warm. Get a spare set of liners and swap daily or 2x daily as feet get cold due to sweat condensing in the boot.
– Take shorts and heavy winter gear. Probably do not need a park and long as you can layer.
– Recommend buying or renting a satellite phone. I had a GlobalStar phone, was $35/month but spoty service and may not have coverage you need. We used it to call home each night (it’s again, but means a lot for your loved ones’ piece of mind)
– We also had a SPOT and sent position reports nightly. But SPOT may not have coverage in higher lattitudes. Again it’s for our safety and their piece of mind. Plus if an emergency develops and you do not send an EPIRB signal, this info can be given to the search and rescue.  Electronics is constantly changing; so do your research just before you buy and only buy gear with the features you will use, not what you may use in the future. For example I paid $599 for an ACR personal EPIRB in 2006 and the newest is $249 today.
– a source of heat to keep warm and dry clothes. Met a person who sailed up to Nain on an unheated boat, he said it can be done, but it’s no fun. Especially if you are early or late in the season. The water temperature in northern Labrador was 5 deg. C in some places in August. Nothing like bread in the oven in the middle of a cold gale in a safe anchorage.
– Speking of ovens, they are not necessary but a good addition.
-Liferaft with insulated floor is essential.
– EPIRB  Devices like SPOT and satellite phone are not as reliable as an EPIRB.
 – Have a ditch bag.
– Electronic chartplotter with paper charts as backup. Borrow the paper charts if necessary, I was luck to be able to do so. I found them much better for route planning and to get a feel for the route. Have a laptop and software for charting as a backup to chartplotter.
– Always be rested, as it hard to handle emergencies and make good decisions when tired. When an emergency arises STOP
         – Stop
         – Think, what is the real problem
         – what are my Options
         – develop a Plan.
– There must be a Captain. All decisions are best decided by consensus, but the captain is responsible for the boat and crew. 
– Crew always have suggestions. If the suggestion does not endanger the boat, life or limb, and even if you think it’s wrong give it a try. A good way to avoid the Captain Bligh syndrome.
– Have crew with skills that compliment yours. If this is your first big trip have someone who has done it before.
– Have back-up crew. I’ve had crew drop out, not arrive or decide to leave after arrival. One person came accross the continent, stayed for a week while we were getting ready to leave and decided it was not for him. A good decision all around as the trip is not your job, everyone must have fun.
– Always listen to that little voice. It’ll say “there’s a noise or smell” And we tend to say “oh that’s just….” Go check.
– If you do not feel the anchors set, it’s not.
– Put your feet up and rest, let the crew do the work; keeps them busy and contributing and gives you time to think and guage their skills. But do your share!
– Before you leave decide, as a group (remember that word consenous), how the chores (cooking, cleaning, cleaning heads) and other tasks are to be done.  for example does the cook wash the dishes? A specific cook or turns or who feels like it.
– Encourage people to voice their concerns and complaints rather than let them fester and blow-up at the worst times.
– Ask leading questions to uncover concerns, complaints and suggestions.
– Allow time for storm days, sightseeing and breakdowns.
– The simplier the gear the more lilely success and less time on repairs.
– The bigger the boat: the softer the ride, the bigger bank account and fewer anchorages. For every 10 feet of boat the cost of gear is 2x and the amount of work to maintain is 3x to 4x. Remember people have crossed the Atlanic in 14 footers!
– The best boat is one you are sailing in.
– If you cannot fix it, do not rely on it. For example if you cannot fix your engine, it will die when you most need it.

Lots of good buys on, and E-bay. But if your it’s electronic and your survival is dependent upon it. I’d suggest buy new.
My blog is on

These people have made trips like yours a few times and I strongly recommend their site:
My favourite site for crusing Labrador (like the layout) “ Map”    Map is part of the address. 
There’s lots of other  web sites.
For reference I use the forums on
Just looked at as recommended in a diesel maintenance course I am taking.


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