Radar Reflector - We have a Davis Instruments passive radar reflector that passes muster under the safety requirements. However, with this device mounted in the standing rigging, we've found that the edges of the reflector, which are quite sharp, chafe against the main when the sail is eased against the spreaders downwind. So we will opt to use two Plastimo tubular radar reflectors mounted on the shrouds, although the tubular reflectors have been reported to be far less effective than the octahedral devices. That said, our primary means of avoiding close calls with other ships is our Detecteur de Radar, which emits a loud, biting, unbearable sound whenever we get pinged with radar and also lets us know from which direction the ping originates.
Boom Support - We're considering installing Dyneema lazy jacks.
Charts - We have Maptech paper charts for Narragansett Bay, and surrounding bodies of water. We will add to our charts inventory a Bermuda plotting sheet, and British Admiralty charts for the Bermuda islands.
Satellite Phone - Our plan is to obtain an Iridium GO! module for use offshore. This satellite device allows for the same race tracking and two-way text messaging as our Delorme InReach device. However, the Iridium GO! module also will allow for phone communication, and will also allow us to download weather and routing data through PredictWind's offshore app. The device is attractive because of it's low monthly price for unlimited voice and data usage. Yes, we understand this goes against purist Mini sailing principles. In considering that point of view, we are looking at using an SSB receiver to obtain weather information. Our Mini-sailing friend, Nikki Curwen, who raced in the 2015 Mini Transat, recommends the Sangean ATS-909X.
Emergency hull repair - The NBRSR requires soft, tapered plugs for all through-hulls, which we have aboard Abilyn for her one through-hull. Surprisingly, the NBRSR does not mandate sailors to carry items to address punctures or other damage to the hull. Onboard Abilyn, we already carry emergency epoxy capable of hardening under water, but might pick up a couple of Rupture Seals.
Remaining Items - Procuring spare navigational lights (bow and stern), a heaving line, a replacement searchlight, and an emergency VHF antenna shouldn't be an issue.
In addition to the required list of safety items in Section 3.0, the NBRSR contemplates that crew members have certain training, including man overboard training, CPR and first aid training, and general onboard training. Sam and I certainly intend to tune up prior to the June 17 start. Part of that tune up will include man overboard training, and optimizing through sailing in the Larchmont YC Edlu regatta and the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. And at least I intend to take a Red Cross CPR and First Aid training course prior to the start.
But I consider myself a prudent sailor and somewhat of a perennial student when it comes to safety. So relying solely on the NBRSR to dictate our safety preparations isn't enough. Our safety prep will also include an onshore network of experienced sailors and at least one doctor who will be "on call" to field emergency communications. Joe Harris, who is racing around the world on his Class 40 Gryphon Solo 2, recently described on his blog an incident where he had to activate his onshore network when his EPIRB inadvertently began transmitting a distress signal. Through this network, which was established to handle "emergency communications," Joe's team was able to advise U.S. and Australian sea-air rescue teams to stand down. Rich Wilson, who finished the 2008-2009 Vendee Globe in ninth place, set up a similar kind of network, which included doctors and professional yachtsmen, as he describes in his book, Race France to France: Leave Antarctica to Starboard. Although our voyage amounts to a fraction of the mileage of a global circumnavigation, having an "on call" onshore network seems prudent, if only to ease the stress on my wife and ensure that rescue services aren't implemented unnecessarily.
June 17 is not far off, and we hope to lock down all safety essentials well before then. Stay tuned for more coverage of our prep, including posts on our Helly Hansen gear, food, Gulf Stream and weather analysis, and other musings.
See you out on the water.