In addition to bulletproof ground tackle and a way to deploy it, you must have the means to be self-reliant when voyaging in the high latitudes. Tools and spares are a must—take as much as space, money, and skills permit. Yacht facilities are nonexistent, many hundreds of miles separate fishing-boat facilities, and it's possible to go for weeks without seeing another sailboat.
Sailors we met carried far more in the way of engine spares than they did while in the tropics, including a spare starter motor, water pump, and set of injectors. Those in fiberglass boats brought enough repair materials to fix a major hole in the hull. Several steel boats had small welders aboard capable of running off a generator. A small hydraulic jack (capable of lifting 6 to 10 tons) proved handy for such tasks as straightening a bent steering gear and repositioning a rudder after a serious grounding.
For personal comfort, we found it wasn't hard to keep our bodies warm, but it took time to find solutions to keep hands, feet, and faces warm and dry. Waterproof gloves—we used neoprene diving gloves with reinforced palms—are essential for handling half-frozen shore lines at the beginning and end of the day. "Wind protection" fleece gloves worked well when steering, if covered by a waterproof overmitt. Sole thickness is critical to ensure warm seaboots—Evans purchased internationalorange seaboots, used by fishermen in Iceland, with 1 1/2-inch-thick soles. They're much warmer and more rugged than heavy-duty offshore racing boots. When steering in hail, a balaclava and ski goggles protect the helmsman's face and eyes.
A heavy-duty dive suit is essential in case you need to clear a fouled prop. A wetsuit should be at least 6 millimeters thick. Also use 6-millimeter booties, gloves, and hoods.
A handheld depth sounder proved more
The high latitudes demand boats, anchor rodes, and fenders (top) that are all business. Evans, wearing a wetsuit (above), gets set for reconnaissance below the waterline.
than a toy in areas where the charts left a lot to the imagination. Evans often took the dinghy and sounded a cove in which we intended to anchor, greatly reducing the chance that we might suddenly discover an uncharted rock as we pulled ourselves toward shore with a line. While a leadline would have worked fine, the depth sounder required no fussing and worked at slow outboard speed.
In anchorages, kelp can foul the anchor and cover the chain, and it must often be cleared as gear is being retrieved. Every boat cruising Chile carried a tool for that purpose, usually a machete attached to a pole of some sort so a crewmember could reach to the waterline to clear the chain as it came up. We used an oversized, stainless-steel, serrated bread knife attached to a fiberglass batten to minimize rust on the decks, but the ideal implement would be a serrated, stainless-steel, sickle-shaped blade with a 5-foot long carbon-fiber handle.
Kelp does offer one great advantage: When seen just below the surface, it usually indicates depths of 30 feet or less. By staying just outside the kelp line, we could be sure of having sufficient depths to enter an uncharted anchorage. B.A.L.
Was this article helpful?
Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.