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Sailors preparing for the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race— the first warning for the first start is Friday at 12 noon— have a busy week ahead of them, with many out doing safety drills and making last minute adjustments, stowing provisions and loading offshore gear.

One important task is to test all satellite phones to make sure contact with the Offshore communications team are linked and locked.

Each yacht must demonstrate their satellite communication systems operate properly by having someone from the yacht’s crew place a satellite phone call to and receive a satellite phone call from the Offshore Communications Team.

They will call a designated number posted in the Race News Updates on the web site. The Offshore Communications Team will be available for the Communications Registration daily from 0900 to 1600 now until the end of registration.

Of the 42 boats entered in the two divisions of this year’s race, 14 of them will be sailing as Celestial Navigation entries racing for the Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy and the Navigator’s Trophy. The Marion Bermuda Race is the only offshore race originating in a US port that has a celestial division and awards excellence in steering by the stars.

Ron Wisner, the guru of Marion Bermuda celestial navigators, has posted an excellent article — ‘Prepping the Celestial Boat for the Marion to Bermuda Race — Including the New AIS Rules’.

He writes… “Every boat owner has a winter “boat list” of projects and maintenance as the boat is being readied for the next season. However, if the owner is doing the Marion Bermuda race [by celestial navigation], the usual winter’s “boat list” has doubled.”

“The celestial boat has some additional preparations that the other boats do not. Some of this additional preparation stems from the fact that we cannot use our electronic instruments. Other preparations come from the nature and practice of the actual navigation.”

He continues with a discussion of on board networks and AIS which is required in the 2019 race for all entries.

“On today’s modern boat,” Wisner says, “the instruments are part of a network and they talk to each other. The chart-plotter sends GPS data to other instruments on board such as repeaters and radar, including the boat’s position to the VHF, making that information difficult to avoid.

In order to prepare for the race, decisions must be made regarding what instruments will remain on and how to avoid seeing information which is not allowed. Ways must be found to cover up the fields with tape or placards on any instruments aboard which display positions or other GPS data.

“This year will be the first year in which AIS is required. The rules state that every effort is to be made that AIS is continuously broadcasting the boat’s name and MMSI number, however, there is no requirement that the boat receives or monitors AIS.

"The rules additionally require the best efforts to monitor AIS for AIS-SART or similar distress signals at all times. However, this requirement is fulfilled by monitoring of VHF which will receive both mayday distress calls and DSC signals. DSC broadcasts the same information as AIS, that of the vessel name and position, and in the same line-of-sight range of up to 20 nautical miles.”

Other topics in the article focus on Boat Speed: What’s Old is New, the ship’s log the compass, paper charts and the clock… knowing GMT.

Wisner concludes, “We will have a full moon for the start of the race which will be nice for night sailing. For navigators, the full moon will offer an opportunity to take moon sights at night, especially useful if you happen to hit the Gulf Stream at night.”

Talbot Wilson

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