Sailing to Santa Cruz Island and going ashore to the Nature Conservancy’s private wilderness portion of the island is a privilege as well as a fabulous experience.
To take advantage of that privilege, Celtic Song must acquire a landing permit. All crew members must read it. You can do so now:
Each person must also have obtained, printed, signed, copied, and returned The Nature Conservancy Acknowledgment, Release, and Indemnification form to the address on the landing permit. In addition to sending it, you must also keep a copy as proof. This becomes your “ticket,” and you won’t be allowed ashore unless you have it.
Here is a summary for Celtic Song crew to help with — not replace — reading the form and its rules. This is not meant as advice, interpretation or a legal opinion.
You could be injured or take ill in a way that could cost you your life or cost lifetime expenses for medical care.
Some examples of specific dangers of this island in addition to the general dangers of going ashore from a sailboat to any island:
SUMMARY OF RULES for use of the SCI Preserve. (Please read the actual rules). Remove dirt, seeds and insects from shoes etc. before arriving at island.
Prohibited Items: cardboard (because it can harbor insects), pets, plants, unprocessed wood, fireworks, firearms, weapons, bicycles.
O, swear not by the moon, the fickle moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circle orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable –- Shakespeare's Juliet speaking to Romeo, Act 2, Scene 2.
And if she faintly glimmers here,
And paled is her light,
Yet alway in her proper sphere
She's mistress of the night. –- Henry David Thoreau, 1843 — 1916
Inconstant Moon or in Her Proper Sphere?
To understand the moon’s predictably peripatetic motion, let’s first focus on the eastward (west to east) rotation of the earth. Later we will look at how this affects apparent movement of sun and moon, and, in a future topic, the actual movement of tides and winds (Coriolis effect). We are setting a foundation for understanding time zones, International Dateline, moon, tides, and weather.
It all starts with the earth’s rotation.
The sun also ariseth,
And the sun goeth down,
And hasteth to his place where he ariseth. –- Ecclesiastes 1.5. JPS 1917 translation
After night, we see the sun rise in the east because we move with the earth eastward toward sunlight. After noon, our eastward journey takes us away from the sun until the western horizon rises up to obscure the sun at nightfall.
In contrast to this actual earth rotation, we experience an apparent transit of sun moving westward (east to west) rising from the east and setting in the west. While we know the earth is moving eastward, it is convenient and conventional to speak of the sun transiting westward.
The moon also rises and sets. The moon, like the sun, rises in the east and sets in the west. If you see the moon above the eastern horizon, it must be rising. If you see the moon above the western horizon, it must be setting. The apparent motion is always from east to west. If that seems too obvious to say, consider this tale of my confusion.
On night watch in 2006 on a voyage to the Marquesas, I saw predawn clouds glowing red, and immediately thought of welcoming dawn. The moon, having been hidden all night by storm clouds, was not on my mind.
Slowly, to my sleep deprived mind, the “dawn” I was expecting was occurring in the west.
Had I missed a gap of time, was this sunset instead of dawn?
All I could think of was the sun. It felt like the end of the world.“What is going on?” I asked myself.
Slowly the facts became clear. The storm clouds had parted at the western horizon, revealing a blood red full moon setting there. Soon after on the eastern horizon came rosy-fingered dawn (The Odyssey).
There had been no apocalypse when “the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth.” (Revelation 6, 12 & 13, King James translation).
Let us now compare sun with moon.
Petruchio. ... Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon!
Katherina. The moon? The sun! It is not moonlight now.
Petruchio. I say it is the moon that shines so bright.
Katherina. I know it is the sun that shines so bright.
— Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”
Note 2 on Libration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libration
Here is a sequence of moon phases.
New – Not visible. Up all day. Rises and sets with the sun.
Early WAXING CRESCENT. Rises soon after sunrise and sets soon after sunset. Here after sunset with earthshine (light reflected from earth).
WAXING CRESCENT. Rises before noon and sets before midnight.
FIRST QUARTER. While one half of the whole moon is receiving sunlight, half of that sunlit moon is on the far side of the moon not visible to earth. From earth, only a quarter of the moon is seen in sunlight. Think of a quarter section of an orange. Rises at noon, highest at sunset, sets around midnight.
WAXING GIBBOUS. Rises in late afternoon before sunset. Up through most of the night. Sets before sunrise. To see it in daylight, look to the east in the afternoon to see it rising.
FULL. Up all night from sunset to sunrise. The entire earth facing hemisphere is sunlit.
WANING GIBBOUS. Rises after sunset and is up for the rest of the night and into the morning. Sets after sunrise. To see it in daylight, look west after sunrise before it sets.
THIRD QUARTER. Rises at midnight, highest at sunrise, sets around noon.
WANING CRESCENT. Rises before dawn and is up for most of the day, setting before sunset.
Summary chart of the moon phases
We have compared the sun and moon and then looked at moon phases. To prepare for studying tides in a latter article, think now of moon and sun together. Here is a diagram from Bowditch Chapter 15, “Navigational Astronomy”, Section 12 “The Moon” pages 223 to 224 available from the Maritime Safety Office of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency at:
as copied below with permission for non-commercial use.
What matters for tides is to see that with a New Moon and Full Moon the moon and sun are on the same line which makes for greater tidal change (spring tide). The name for this with a New Moon is “conjunction” (moon between sun and earth) and the name with Full Moon is “opposition” (moon on opposite side of earth from sun). The quarter moons are at a right angle to line between earth and sun (quadrature) making for least tidal change (neap tide).
For a more detailed diagram with further explanation see: http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases.phtml
For a web moon phase calendar see:
For $29.95 you can purchase moon phase predicting software (for Windows or Mac) at
The software author makes the same functionality available for free for cell phones. http://www.lunasolaria.com/
For a bio of the software’s author see
If you want tables of moon and sun rise and set times, the Navy provides them (in Standard Time only): http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php
To see media’s earth rotation direction blunders: http://ew.com/article/1992/03/13/earths-rotation/
To learn more about moon phases and check my writing for errors:
A final thought:
If the illuminated portion of the moon as seen from Southern Hemisphere is on the left side of moon, then in the Northern Hemisphere it will be seen on the right, and vice versa.
Consider the following two related matters:
The confusion of perspective is why starboard is a name used for an actual side of a boat as compared with the concept of “right” which changes with the perspective of the observer. Avoiding confusion is critical in avoiding collisions at sea.
Cyclones spin in opposite directions on opposite sides of the equator. This is something to examine in future articles.
When I was 12, my father ordered a 30-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser to be christened Jaunty June in honor of my mother who, as it happened, never much enjoyed life on a boat.
For me the boat became a ticket to summer adventures from New York City to Maine by sea and to Canada by Hudson River, Lake Champlain, and upstate canals and locks.
While waiting for his boat, my father nearly memorized Chapman’s Piloting & Seamanship proudly telling me of his mental prowess and giving a lesson he was willing to share with his eager son: “East is least and west is best, un-correcting.”
I always remembered, but never understood, what that meant until after his death when I studied navigation during the year Celtic Song was being built in Orange County.
Finding North by the North Star (Polaris) is easy. Look up in the night sky. The North Pole is located directly below Polaris. There lies North.
This works in the Northern Hemisphere for the period from Shakespeare’s time through the 21st century. In 3,200 years, a new pole star will be needed because of the precession of the Earth’s axis (wobbling like a top).
See these links for reference:
On any clear night in the Northern Hemisphere, you can estimate latitude by observing the angle of Polaris above the horizon. At 90 degrees, you are at the North Pole. At zero degrees, you are somewhere on the 24,901-mile equator.
After you pass over the equator to the Southern Hemisphere, you find the South Pole by using the Southern Cross. You can research that and teach it to me.
When you know where north is, you can hold a circle of directions (known as rose of the winds or compass rose) parallel to the sea with the line marked north pointing to north so that by looking at the circle you can see which way lies every other direction (east, south, west).
In the accompanying compass rose that I created for Celtic Song, 112.5 degrees represents the angle in which the green starboard navigation light shines from dead ahead to “two points abaft the starboard beam.” With 32 points in 360 degrees, each point is 11.25 degrees. Starting from dead ahead, the starboard beam sits at 90 degrees. Two points more add 22.5 degrees giving an angle of 112.5 degrees. Today the COLREGS use the phrase “22.5 degrees” in nine places.
Why an angle in fractional degrees? Because the rule’s angle remains constant while the unit of measurement has changed from points to degrees. Also, after subtracting 112.5 degrees on starboard and 112.5 on port, 135 degrees remain across the stern. This is the angle of white stern light. It is the angle an approaching vessel is, under the COLREGS, an overtaking vessel.
I always keep the Celtic Song compass rose on the navigation desk to help translate a bearing from a number of degrees (as received from the AIS) to a graphic bearing line on the chart plotter or on a paper chart.
The AIS is True North Up; it gives bearings in True only -- not magnetic. So for consistency, the chart plotter at the Nav Station must stay set for True North Up. Paper charts are also True North Up.
Let’s focus on a portion of the world shown in the upper right.
The magnetic 12 east variation line (red thin above red bold) runs approximately through San Diego and the Aleutian Islands. The 20 east variation line (red bold) touches down to the Gulf of Alaska north of Glacier Bay. The zero variation line (green) cuts through the Midwest of the U.S. running into the Gulf of Mexico at about New Orleans. The 10 west variation line (-10 blue bold) cuts into the Eastern Seaboard in the Mid Atlantic states.
Now let’s go from the big picture to greater precision. What was the magnetic variation of the Harbor Island Fuel Dock on Jan. 1, 2017? Three methods for answering:
(1) Paper chart.
(2) Calculation from model using a web site
(3) Computer software
For the paper chart method, start with the correct chart:
Look at the portion of its compass rose (upper right) where it says: VAR 12°00’ E (2012) Annual Decrease 6’
In about 5 years, at 6 minutes of angle a year, the decrease is 30 minutes of angle — 30 divided by 60 or 0.5 degrees of angle. So the variation in San Diego on Jan. 1, 2017 is about 12 degrees East minus 0.5 degrees East or 11.5 degrees East.
For the calculation from model method, start with this web site:
Enter latitude and longitude of Harbor Island fuel dock and date of Jan. 1, 2017 and receive the answer of “2017-01-01, 11.61° E ± 0.33°” using the year 2015 World Magnetic Model.
Or get the world declination software and make the calculation without an internet connection.
The result is the same. Remember that positive declination is East Variation and negative declination is West Variation.
On the West Coast, Magnetic North lies to the East (right) of True North, and on the East Coast, Magnetic North lies to the West (left) of True North.
If this seems strange, look at the slice of world magnetic model (below left) and notice the green line running north and south through the Midwest of North America. In the diagram below right, imagine that T is the (true) North Pole and M is a place south of the North Pole on that green line.
Think of M as a place toward which compasses in the U.S. point. A compass on the West Coast points to M along a bearing which is to the east of a bearing to T. A compass on the East Coast points to M along a bearing which is to the west of a bearing to T
What might be confusing is that the compass rose on paper charts is actually two separate circles of directions. The outer circle has the zero degree line (5 pointed star) pointing to True North. The inner circle is the compass rose with the zero degree line (arrow) pointing to Magnetic North.
Consider those two separate circles. In San Diego (East Variation), if you start with True North at 0 degrees (same as 360) to “un-correct” to get the Magnetic equivalent of the same direction, you must subtract 12 from 360 to get 348 Magnetic shown by the green arrow below. At Cape Fear (West Variation on East Coast) you must add 9 to True North 0 to get the the magnetic equivalent of the same direction.
In San Diego, determine your desired course on a paper chart in True and then subtract 12 to get the same magnetic course to steer. If the helms person uses the compass to give you a bearing in magnetic, add 12 to get the same direction in True for paper chart plotting.
You also must make an adjustment for compass error which may be different for each direction. This is called deviation. For Celtic Song, I had a professional swing the compass and prepare the deviation table which is kept at the Nav Station. The amount of deviation is so small that adjustment for it is unnecessary.
The rule — T-v-M-d-C, add West — which is memorized as “TV makes dull children , add work” means that as you un-correct from True to Compass, you add for west variation and west deviation while you subtract for east variation and east deviation.
That’s what my father taught me at age 12: East is Least and West is Best, un-correcting. Obviously nothing is incorrect about a magnetic bearing, but the rhyme makes it easy to remember the mechanics of conversion from one point of reference to another.
No small boat should cross an ocean without one or more crew members trained as medical officer.
This is different from basic CPR or the first aid training of the 3 Cs: Check, Call 911, Care until ambulance arrives. At sea, you are the ambulance and the hospital. That extraordinary responsibility requires bravura mixed with humility.
Fortunately, excellent training is available. The cool result of training is getting to correct thinking. That means knowing you can do much more to help than you might have imagined.
Correct thinking also means knowing you can do much less to help than you might have wished. The resolution of this paradox is learning to distinguish one from the other. The process is a journey into medicine and into your own psyche to distinguish fear from arrogance.
The course to take is "Offshore Emergency Medicine" taught by Jeffrey Isaac, PA-C, of Medical Officer, Ltd. http://www.medofficer.net Look under Courses. Also look under Articles for thoughtful opinions. The course is designed for home study followed by three days of class practice. The course book, Wilderness And Rescue Medicine by Jeffrey Isaac, is available from Amazon. http://a.co/c3I2Zbn
I took the course years ago. To be relied upon, I would need to take it again. This is what impressed me about the experience:
Think of the human body as a machine. With plenty of clean water, warmth, food, sleep and good social vibes, the body will work well most of the time. But In extremis: No oxygen = no life -- only minutes.
Think methodically and keep notes about the whole system: Air goes in (not if under water) through nose and mouth to lungs (not if obstructed or muscles not working) into the blood (not if pressure too low –- causes?) bringing oxygen to (1) the brain (which tells heart and lungs to keep working) and (2) the muscles (which pump the blood and move the lungs). Understand the big picture so you can ask the right questions to methodically go through a check list to see what is wrong.
Observe the crew. A talking active person who drinks enough water, eats and defecates, is not shivering, is coherent, and is within their own personality range is probably OK -- at least for awhile.
Often in class a student would ask how long a human could live with some condition. Answer: “Five.” Next question: “Five what?” Answer: “I don’t know, minutes, days, years” meaning it depends on factors beyond your control and outside your knowledge. Other conditions were separated between deadly if not air lifted, and those not warranting the danger of an air lift.
Keep the obvious in mind, but do not let it blind you from considering unexpected causes or multiple causes. If you do not know how something should look, compare right side with left. While people come in different shapes, they are normally symmetrical.
Remember, you are not the patient: (1) The pain of cleaning a deep wound is not your pain, but do not flinch from doing it properly while still comforting your patient. Your stress will only magnify the patient’s fear and pain. (2) With a conscious coherent patient, you may not do anything without permission.
“I see you are in pain. I have some training, may I check your body for wounds?” If the patient says “no” explore why, but do not act without permission.
Perhaps the patient wants to be examined by someone else. Say what you are going to do. Try to get to a “yes” answer.
“I am going to put your dislocated shoulder back into its happy place, I will not start until you say go, and I will stop if you command me, but together we can do this. Do you need more assurance? Do you want a small glass of whisky? Are you ready to get this done now?”
When you have permission, give yourself permission to let go of your own inhibitions. Focus on your purpose. No one wants a death because you were too embarrassed to do a complete exam. While you lack most medical tools and are neither trained nor licensed as a doctor, you can certainly gently and quickly pat a person from head to toe to disclose hidden injuries.
You must also let go of your own revulsions. Learn to accept the sight of blood. Some wounds are messy, but if blood is not spurting out, blood is not by itself an immediate threat to life.
Think mechanically. Stop spurting blood with hand pressure. Use washed hands, gloves and sterile gauze pads, if available. Loss of a little blood isn’t the larger concern, it’s the loss of blood pressure.
Consider whether the patient is a danger to care givers because of Hepatitis C or other viruses transmitted by blood. Have this discussion before leaving the dock. Being at sea requires frank realism.
With a week of home study before the three-day course, you learn that you can do a lot to save lives, offer comfort and a stronger recovery.
You can handle many problems with limited resources. Others require years of medical experience and the machines and medications of a hospital. A goal of the Medicine at Sea course is to avoid unnecessary air evacuation at sea.
Learn the difference between life threatening and scary looking. If possible, make radio contact with a medical doctor but know they may not understand your conditions at sea.
Know that evacuation personnel thrive on the heroic thrill of doing their job. Your job is to provide dispassionate thought for your patient’s well being.
In addition to response to trauma, Emergency Medicine at Sea teaches sailors to assess illness, including: infections of eyes, ears, teeth; abdominal pain; chest pain; gastrointestinal problems; respiratory infections.
Air evacuation to hospital may not be possible or fast enough to save a patient’s life. Understand those life and death consequences.
Encourage the crew to stay well with healthy eating, hydration, sleep, and proper clothing as well as remaining alert to danger and physical trauma.
Those who will not or can not follow the prescription of the last sentence should not go offshore on a small boat. That would be unfair.
You can handle many problems with limited resources. Others require years of medical experience and the machines and medications of a hospital.
I see in Diane’s 3-4-2017 Blog entry: "Bowlines are great knots. But they do occasionally slip. Make sure you pull the knot tight and leave enough of a tail on the bitter end."
The word “occasionally” implies a random event. I disagree. Do it right every time, and it won’t be:
In my experience, after many days of high tension use, the jib sheet bowline becomes so tight that it’s impossible to untie it with bare fingers. That is set.
With a set jib sheet bowline, you are much more assured that it will not untie itself; however, it is still up to you to inspect and determine that it remains OK, and that the amount of tail has remained constant. When it comes time to untie the bowline, you may need to use a marlinspike to loosen the knot and “break its back.”
So be wary of two characteristics of a correctly tied bowline having extra tail:
Discussion of knots is a slippery topic.
1. Outside Magazine discussion about what happened to a climber when a bowline came undone.
2. The Great Outdoors site reviews how the bowline performs in different situations.
From the admiral's chair
John Berol is the husband of Captain Diane. He commissioned Celtic Song in 2005, has sailed extensively and maintains an active interest in both the boat and her captain. He believes the more you know, the better you will sail. The term “Admiral’s Chair” is a family joke. For just as every writer needs an editor, so every captain needs an admiral.