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s/v Tamara

As this is intended to be read by other cruisers, I suppose there are some readers, like me, who enjoy things technical when it come to boats. In view of that, a little bit about "Tamara" is in order. "Tamara" was built of steel in Sweden in 1989. Designed by Rolf Modigh, she is designated his type Langedrag 441. 44' overall, with a draft of 6.5', she displaces 15 tons. A center cockpit ketch, she very strongly resembles the Halberg Rassy 46', including her windshield and interior, but of steel. She is heavily insulated with foam, well heated with a diesel stove, and more comfort than the two of us really need. Her main engine is a 90 hp.Volvo TMD-30 diesel, and auxiliary generator a 6kw Deutz. She tanks 200 gallons of water and, in our Labrador configuration, 265 gallons of fuel, giving her a very extended range under power.

What began life as a single berth stateroom to the port side of the engine room has now been transformed to my work-shop, the bunk becoming a very fine work bench by the simple expedient of leaving the mattress in the rented storage unit, bolting on a vise, and stuffing all the lockers with tools and spares. She easily stows provisions for six months for the two of us. Her aluminum dodger affords a sheltered inside helm station with autopilot, radar and radio, and is heated from below if desired. And of course she has most the modern electronic gizmos that serve mostly to reconfirm for me how truly skilled, as well as occasionally lucky, people like Donald MacMillan really were.

Because of our interest in higher latitudes, and my experience as a fisherman in cold climates, she is provided with raft with SOLAS A pack, immersion suits, SSB radio and EPIRB, as well as a special abandon ship bag intended for use should we find ourselves driven ashore. This includes tent, sleeping bags, cold weather boots and clothing, stove and food, as well as a shotgun. During my career fishing I was twice forced to abandon ship, and I don't expect anything less of a yacht when it comes to safety equipment and crew training. She is as well found for the purpose as we can make her.

The Labrador coast is not for everyone, of course, but for the adventurous cruiser with a reasonable degree of experience, and a well-found boat, it should be given a high ranking on ones life list. For American boats, Maine is obviously the best jump off point, and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland offer bonus cruising along the way. However, the preparation and planning for a Labrador cruise do require some extra attention.

Obviously the boat must be well found to begin with, but other considerations must also be taken into account.

A single side band HF radio, weather-fax, or at least a short wave receiver capable of receiving the relevant weather forecasts is essential. VHF repeater systems, operated by the Canadian Coast Guard, provide excellent communication, telephone patch, and weather broadcasts, but coverage extends only a few miles beyond Hopedale (55°27'N).

Frequency, duration, and density of fog, along with ice, make radar essential--as well as experience in its proper use. A portable depth sounder, for use in scouting with the dingy, is very useful. All the customary electronic aids aboard modern cruising boats become even more valuable on this remote coast. Although we generally use a PC based electronic charting system, only large-scale "planning charts" have yet been digitalized for Labrador. However we use our system as a chart plotter, taking way points from the paper chart and plotting them on the screen in advance. This method reduces fatigue generated mistakes, and makes short-handing much more practical, as it is quite reassuring to follow a pre-prepared plot instead of taking constant fixes. However there is considerable error in the "horizontal datum" on many charts, particularly farther north. This is the reason NDI has not completed digitalizing these charts, as the discrepancy is not a constant and a simple conversion will not remedy the error. Be aware of the error when using modern GPS. Traditional range and bearing piloting skills are of high value, and radar will help with precise range measurements.

Finally, the boat should be provided with diesel heat, a good dodger (preferably one providing a sheltered helm station), and have plenty of stowage for stores. Stores stocked with the very basics, as well as fuel, are available in Cartwright, Makkovik, Hopedale, and Nain. We prefer Makkovik, due to its strategic location, exceptionally hospitable people, and two good stores. However, fresh produce and meats are not to be generally expected, although timing of supply ships and flights might put you in luck.

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