Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
Join Date: May 2006
Thanked 122 Times in 110 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Been a few years since I was up that way
My compass does have a red light, there are no beacons or lights on the entrance to the channel just a green and red cans, in the dark of night,
i was watching my position on fugawi on my laptop with Gps locater attached to a ubs port and taking my compass heading off that, on tiller steered Catalina 27 "no autopilot" i found the cans and got in the channel ok, but with out the laptop i never would have found it and ended up on one of the many shoals surrounding the entrance.
Seems to me that there is another channel further north that is lighted? Often times the best way to handle a problem is not to put myself in the situation in the first place. I have gone through Cape Hurd channel a few times and it does get pretty narrow in places and the rocks on either side are quite close and quite hard. I would not (as in never) try to enter such a channel at night only relying on an electronic chart on a laptop. As you say the laptop was bright and killed your night vision and what would happen if you took a wave on top right on top of the laptop when you were checking it?
If I was approaching the top of the Bruce Peninsula in the dark (possibly not avoidable because of the distance from Port Elgin (nice place btw), I would go further north and enter the lighted channel (big ships go that way and have for centuries). If I was in such a situation and there was no alternative channel available I would lay offshore for the night. Waves won't be as bad because the water is deeper. Good reason to learn how to heave-to with your boat. Even better alternative might be to leave Port Elgin nicely before dark and arrive at the top of the peninsula in the morning. Anyway, my thoughts as someone who gets increasingly cautious and careful the older I get - which is why I will be approaching the Cape of Good Hope in the, "there are old sailors and bold sailors, but ..." mode.
Reading your post made me think of an English sailor we met last year in Suva, Fiji. He tried to enter the channel through the reefs there at night when we was tired (singlehanded). The channel is not too wide but is lit pretty well and very large ships use the harbor. Anyway, he ended up on the reef and tore the keels out of both hulls of his pretty new catamaran. They recovered the boat and he is trying to get the money to repair the damage - been over a year so far.
After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.