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John Graves Simcoe Day (for those in Toronto)

220px-ColonelSimcoeThis is the August Long Weekend- and so on Monday is (what is known in Toronto, only) as John Graves Simcoe Day. Interestingly, the rest of Ontario’s municipalities chose to not honour Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant-Governor in this way.

Simcoe is a fascinating character, with some tenuous but interesting maritime connections. He was born in 1752 in Northamptonshire, and died in 1806 in Exeter, in the West Country. His father was an officer in the Royal Navy, and was Captain of HMS Pembroke in 1758/59, during the campaign to capture New France/Quebec. During this time, the Pembroke‘s master was James Cook. The latter’s efforts during this period resulted in him spending several years charting the coasts of Newfoundland, and was then employed on three famous voyages of exploration.

Simcoe, despite his father’s example, did not go into the Royal Navy. After education at Exeter Grammar School and Eton, he spent a year at Oxford before being accepted to Lincoln’s Inn. From there, he joined the 35th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign. That regiment was deployed to the American colonies. He saw much combat in the American Revolutionary War. He was offered command of the Queen’s Rangers. After being invalided back to Great Britain following Yorktown, he recuperated at the house of his godfather, Admiral Samuel Graves, and in 1782 married Graves’ ward Elizabeth Gwillim. Following the end of the war, in 1787 he published A Journal of the Operations of the Queen’s Rangers from the end of the year 1777 to the conclusion of the late American War. This was followed by his election as an MP.

The Constitution Act of 1791 divided Canada into Upper and Lower Canada, and Simcoe served as the first Lieutenant-Governor from 1792 to 1798, although poor health forced him to return to England in 1796. During his brief time in Canada, he was largely responsible for the ending of slavery in Upper Canada in 1793 with the Act Against Slavery, for the creation of the Queen’s York Rangers regiment, and the building of Yonge St (from York to Lake Simcoe) and Dundas St (from York to London, Ontario). Following his return to England, he further served in military operations in Haiti, and then died before being able to take up duties as Governor of India.

While Simcoe did not have a personal involvement with the Navy or sailing, between his family connection, his time spent in the West Country, and his deployments away from England he would have certainly have spent quite a bit of time aboard ship.

We will be open from 10 to 6 on Monday.






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New Books: July 2015

This past month, we’ve received some fantastic new books that we’d like to share with you.

Salt, Sweat, Tears: The Men Who Rowed the OceansSalt, Sweat, Tears: The Men Who Rowed the Oceans

Talk about adventure, endurance, and self-discovery–for more than 70 days, Rackley and his rowing partner James Arnold ate, slept, and rowed in a 7-metre by 2-metre boat, the 268th crew to cross the Atlantic by rowing. The first, Norwegian fishermen George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen, rowed 2,500 miles in a wooden fishing dory in 1896 (their 55-day record stood for 114 years). Rackley’s account shares insights and details from his own and other amazing attempts.

One-Wild-SongOne Wild Song

After Nicholas Heiney committed suicide at 23, his father (BBC and ITV host) Paul Heiney decided to sail on a voyage to Cape Horn. NIcholas had been an experienced sailor, and had written on the subject as well. In addition to facing severe challenges over his voyage, Paul grappled with the emotional task of facing a future without his son. This story of that voyage begins with insurmountable grief, and ends with something approach peace of mind.

Stress-free Sailing: Short-handed Sailing TechniquesStress Free Sailing

Most sailing technique books assume a crew of 3 or 4, all willing to lend a hand. Wells, however, covers the most common sailing scenarios where anyone cruising has found themselves shorthanded—from couples with young children to be supervised by one partner, to deliveries alone. He provides clever, original techniques and solutions for dealing with the huge variety of essential operations on a boat—from sail setting and reefing, to picking up mooring buoys in a variety of wind and tide situations, anchoring, berthing and leaving a pontoon shorthanded, picking up a man overboard, sailing in fog and heavy weather—and even going up the mast. Organized into techniques for different cruising scenarios, the book features step by step sequential photos showing exactly how to approach each situation and carry out the task in hand.

Beyond-the-BreakBeyond the Break

On November 29. 2014, while participating in the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race, Team Vestas Wind ran aground on the Cargardos Carajos Shoal in the Indian Ocean. This was a widely seen event, and resulted in the near-loss of the boat. A week after the disaster, navigator Wouter Verbraak put a blog post online and admitted fault. This book details the disaster but is also a discussion on issues that cross boundaries, like navigating team dynamics and decision-making. This is a beautifully designed book, filled with photos of the Team Vestas Wind, the race, and the aftermath of the wreck.

Ocean-Visual-EncyclopediaOcean: A Visual Encyclopedia

From the Arctic to the Caribbean, tiny plankton to enormous whales, sandy beaches to the depths of the oceans, this visual reference brings our marine environment to life with stunning images and expertly researched text. Ages 8 and up.

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Sailing the World Part III: Reference Books for Cruisers

In the previous two entries, we have discussed the planning documents, and charts and cruising guides that are necessary for sailing the world. In this entry, we will examine some of the reference books and guides that we strongly recommend to cruisers. When sailing the world- or even when doing relatively shorter cruises for example on the Great Lakes, or in the Caribbean, it is important that cruisers have resources available to allow them to deal with immediate problems and ongoing concerns. Having reference books aboard as part of the boat’s library allows the crew to deal with most problems quickly, as well as an ability to troubleshoot problems to see if more help is required.

Electrical and Mechanical Reference Books

Boatowner's-Mechanical_Electrical-4thThere are quite a few authors who have published good books on electrical and mechanical systems for boats. In terms of consistency and breadth of topics, none can compare to Nigel Calder. In particular, we recommend the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Marine Diesel Engines, and Refrigeration for Pleasureboats. Calder’s work is the gold standard for these topics. He is also the author of the Captain’s Quickguide: Diesel Engine Care and Repair. The Captains’ Quickguide series are a handy set of waterproof pamphlets, perfect for those who don’t have space for a full library aboard. On this subject, we also recommend Charlie Wing’s Boatowner’s Illustrated Electrical Handbook.

Boat Repair Reference Books

BoatRepairBibleAll boats require continuous upkeep and repair- and it is important that cruisers not be reliant on external resources and knowledge to perform these repairs. It’s important to have a book, such as Nic Compton’s Boat Repair Bible aboard to ensure that proper procedures for repair can be followed.  We also highly suggest books by Don Casey. For sailors in particular, Canvaswork and Sail Repair is incredibly important. Other good books by Casey include Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Maintenance Manual, and Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair. We also highly recommend Ference Mate’s Shipshape: The Art of Sailboat Maintenance.

First Aid Reference Books

Firstaidatsea On any cruise, injuries are going to happen. It is always a good idea to have a first aid or emergency medical reference guide on hand. With a fair few choices, it’s a good idea to have a look at the various options, and decide which one you think is clearest. One option is Douglas Justin’s First Aid at Sea. Jurgen Hauert’s Doctor on Board is very detailed and clear, and written for non-medical professionals. There is also a Captain’s Quickguide and a First Aid Companion reference card available.

Weather Reference Books

Captain’s Quick Guides: On-Board Weather ForecastingOn every cruiser, sailors have to deal with weather. On trips of longer duration, being able to recognize, prepare for, and deal with weather becomes especially important. Often, it’s possible to receive the Marine Forecast, but other times it’s necessary for sailors to be able to interpret the signs. It is important to be able to do this quickly and there are a number of reference guides designed to help sailors, for example the Captain’s Quick Guide, a series from Alan Watts comprised of books on Weather, Wind and Storm forecasting, or a forecasting Quick Reference card. Another excellent title is Weather for Sailors from North U and Bill Biewenga. We also recommend the Captain’s Quick Guide for Heavy Weather Sailing.

Information, and more importantly, knowing where to find that information, is critically important to sailing around the world. We hope that this series of blogs helps you find the information you need to plan and execute your dream trip.

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Sailing the World, Part Two: Charts, Sailing Directions, Pilot and Cruising Guides

This is the second in a series of blogs, discussing the necessary planning required before sailing around the world. In the previous entry, we looked at guides for more general planning, such as which routes to choose. This entry will look at resources for local planning, specifically charts, chartbooks, sailing directions, pilot and cruising guides. There’s quite a bit of terminology there, and we’re going to do our best to clear things up.

Charts and Chartbooks

First of all, whats the difference between a map, and a chart? A map is a static, intended to be a reference document, and is focused on the land features. In comparison, a chart is a living, working document, and is intended for navigation. Further, maps provide details of surface routes, where as charts provide information about subsurface conditions and hydrography that are necessary for maritime navigation.

As we discussed in a previous post, in most parts of the world, there is a legal requirement to carry paper charts. Especially if you’re doing international cruising, this is really important. Of course, many modern boats do have electronic plotters and use electronic charts. While these are incredibly useful, they do not satisfy the legal requirement to carry charts. Of course, if you are interested in purchasing electronic charts (such as BSB Raster charts), We do offer electronic charts for Canada, the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

2085 Toronto Harbour – Toronto Islands
Chart 2085- Toronto Harbour & Toronto Island

Charts have traditionally been the product of surveys by government agencies, such as the Hydrography Office in the UK, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the American National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. These agencies were responsible for the creation of the charts, and also for printing them, and selling them through Chart Agents, such as our store. In some cases, like in Canada, this remains true. However, governments are increasingly out-sourcing responsibility for the printing of charts to private companies.

No matter who publishes them, each individual chart is part of a numbered series. To find out what charts you need, it is necessary to examine chart catalogues. For other agencies, such as UK Admiralty charts, it is necessary to look at the chart catalogue produced by Imray Norie. Once you know what charts you need, you can call the store and tell us (by number) which charts you need. Of course, we also have chart catalogues in the store so if you’re not quite sure what charts you need, we can help you find them.

One of the side-effects of the outsourcing of chart-printing is the proliferation of chart books. Chart books gather together a series of charts, often in a more functional form factor for cruisers. Where a chart is often 108 x 72 cm unfolded, chartbooks are a more manageable, usually about half the size. Technically, chart books do not contain charts, rather they contain very high resolution photographs of charts. As such, there is a warning at the beginning of chartbooks that they are not to be used for navigation. This is a legally required statement. Practically, chartbooks are functionally identical to charts, and (in the vast majority of cases) will satisfy the legal requirement to carry charts.

Chartbooks provide an excellent economical option, as they will cost far less than purchasing each chart individually. They are also great for allow flexibility in cruising plans. The Nautical Mind offers chart books for Europe (specifically the French Canal systems), the Great Lakes (Richardson Chartbooks), the Atlantic Coast, the Caribbean (specifically Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Windwards & Leewards).

As the maritime environment changes, information on charts does go out of date. It is really important to check the date of publication for the charts that you purchase, and to acquire the appropriate Notices to Mariners that provide update information for charts. These are notices published by government services, and are usually free. Examples include the Canadian, American and British Notices to Mariners.

Sailing Directions/Pilots & Cruising Guides

Sailing Directions: Great Slave Lake & Mackenzie RiverThese types of documents are very important to local-level planning, as well as cruising. Sailing Directions and Pilot Guides are actually the same type of document, and the difference is that they are the North American and British terms, respectively. These types of documents “include detailed coastal and port approach information, supplementing the largest scale chart of the area.

Both Sailing Directions/Pilots and Cruising Guides provide the same kind of basic information for specific areas, specifically ports and their approaches. The difference in content is a result of authorship, rather than intention per se. Sailing Directions/Pilots are published by governments organizations or corporations in order to provide the necessary information for safe passage. As such, they will include things like photos of the approach to a harbour, safe courses, documents required to cruise in an area, radio channel and light lists.

PORTS Cruising Guide: Lake OntarioCruising Guides are written (often by cruisers) for cruisers. As such, they contain much more information that could be classified as ‘touristy’. This includes things like local attractions and amenities near marinas, and activities suitable for children. Where Sailing Directions/Pilots tend to be updated infrequently (and mostly through Notices to Mariners, as above), many cruising guides are updated on an annual basis. In both cases, it is necessary to make sure that you have acquired the most up-to-date versions available.

When choosing what sailing directions and cruising guides to carry, it is important to examine the available options. For example, at the Nautical Mind we carry at least three different sets of cruising guides for the Great Lakes in addition to the Sailing Directions. Additionally, for some areas, the line between Sailing Directions and Cruising Guides is blurred by, for example, Rod and Lucinda Heikell’s books which are extremely detailed and can provide the adequate level of information. Further, some cruising guides are very detailed, and cover a smaller area while others discuss a larger region. With so many available options, taking the time to find the right level of detail and topics will certainly be a good investment of your time.

In the next blog post in this series, we will look at the type of reference books and guides that cruisers should have on-hand when cruising long-distance.

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Broad Reach Foundation for Youth Fundraiser with Eric Holden

ORCA - Broad Reach Foundation for Youth

Marguerite from Broad Reach writes:

The support of the sailing community is the bloodline of our operations. Please join us and Eric Holden on 9 July 2015!


Broad Reach Foundation for Youth supports kids with many life challenges: poverty, broken family, health problems. We connect these kids with successful and good adults and teach them that they can be in charge of their life and become the Captains of their destiny.

Broad Reach delivers on its mission to provide leadership skills development program for these youth through the sport, science and mastery of sailing. Since 1998 we have worked with 2,500 youth. The youth come from shelters, the street, Autism Ontario, Epilepsy Toronto, poor neighbourhoods First Nations and the court diversion system. The justification for our wide community outreach is two-fold: not every kid will benefit from our experiential programming but every kid benefits from the experience. And when we say the word “benefit” we mean achievement of competency, courage and comfort to break the constraints of their personal circumstance.

In the end, only those with the right aptitude will persevere and continue on to scholarships, club memberships, athletic pursuits, education or work in the sector. These are the kids we foster through our work.

Our fleet comprises four Screamers 12M designed by Mike Kaufman. They are good training boats with speed, ease of handling,  good stability and a large cockpit.

Last summer we sailed for the very first time with Native Canadian youth. It was remarkable how these kids handled the boats: with grace and natural ease of body and mind.

The support of the sailing community is the bloodline of our operations. Please join us and Eric Holden on 9 July 2015!





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Wood Storms, Beaufort Force 10 Cooking, & Thorny Paths — Neat New Books at the Nautical Mind

Here are some of the great new books we’ve got in stock this summer:

WildWood Storms | Wild Canvas – The Art of Godfrey Stephens

by Gurdeep Stephens

This book presents the works, sculptures and drawings of iconic West Coast sculptor, artist and boatbuilder Godfrey Stephens, as compiled by his niece. The photographs are beautiful, and the text is both comfortable and personal, highlighting the relationship between author and subject. Simply stunning and highly recommended.


CURRY FORCE 10: TOTAL DEVASTATIONThe Beaufort Scale Cookbook

by June Raper

Cooking aboard a boat is a challenge in good weather; in foul weather it becomes much more difficult but is no less necessary. Experienced cruiser and author June Raper, provides over 100 recipes, indexed by wind strength, so that boats’ cooks can provide easy, tasty, and nutritious meals to their crews in a variety of conditions.


You think you can just cruise through lifeThe Cruising Life

by Jim Trefethen

This is a great book for anybody who is contemplating an international cruise. It is a straightforward guide, that includes honest discussions like “Should you go cruising?”, two chapters on financial planning for cruisers, and “A few things that you thought you needed but you don’t”. This is a great reference for the beginning planning stages.


You can do it.Coach Yourself to Win

by Jon Emmett

Gold medal winning coach and sailor John Emmett presents his top twelve core concepts of successful sailing. Whether your aim is to do be a successful club, national or international racer, this book will help you achieve your goal. It will help you set future targets, create challenging exercises, improve your strategy, tactics and sailhandling as well as other important skills.
BE YOUR OWN BOAT!Helming to Win

by Nick Craig

Nick Craig provides this guide on racing tactics and helming. Topics include ‘where to look’, or how to watch the fleet to see opportunities, tricks for improving mental focus on the race, as well as many other tips. The author uses photo sequences to illustrate his lessons.

Soaked shirt dryingCanvas Flying, Seagulls Crying

by Justin Tyers

The authors of the popular Phoenix from the Ashes continue their account of their eventful voyage in their self-built traditional wooden cruising yacht. This volume sees them travel from the Scottish Islands across to Ireland and down the Irish Sea to Cornwall and Brittany. A beautifully written and often funny book.


Found it.Quest on the Thorny Path

by David Beaupre

This is the second book about the voyages of David and Wendy Beaupre in their Bayfield 36, Quest. Here they sail on the Thorny Path from the Bahamas to the Caribbean.


ClassicClassic Ships of the Great Lakes

by Robert Campbell

A beautiful coffee table book, with great images of the many types of vessels that operate on the Great Lakes, from the classic Whale Back designs, to the more modern bulk carriers, self unloaders and ‘super ships’. Many pictures of both American and Canadian ships.

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Sailing the World: Part I: Planning Basics

Many people dream of sailing the world, even of circumnavigation. This is entirely plausible, but does require quite a bit of planning and effort. This series of blogs will look at the some of the resources that are available to plan long-distance trips. These blogs assume a certain level of technical and maritime proficiency, but are designed to help those who are new to long-distance cruising. This first blog will discuss the basic planning of Routes, and the recommended books for that task.

The first, and most important step, is developing an understanding of the realities of cruising- either at a local level, or sailing the world.

Cruising-Life-2ndWe strongly recommend reading a book like Jim Trefethen’s The Cruising Life: A Commonsense Guide for the Would-be Voyager. This is a no-nonsense discussion of the realities of cruising, and includes chapters entitled “Should you go cruising?” and “Cruising without a boat: meet the Cruising Kitty”.

Trefethen addresses the important financial, social and practical questions of finding out whether cruising the world is a realistic possibility,  a dream for the future, or the product of restlessness. After the feasibility of cruising is determined, he guides the reader through financial planning, the acquisition of the boat, and actually setting off on the cruise.

Once you’ve decided that you do want to go cruising, then it’s time to start planning where, and when. While cruising and sailing does seem to present an incredible opportunity for freedom of movement, the truth is that this is practically somewhat more limited. Just as driving from destination to destination is limited by road networks, ocean passages are likewise influenced by prevailing winds, and tidal cycles.

World Cruising RoutesIt is strongly encouraged to do some reading on the traditional cruising routes. This will teach about traditional departure points and landfalls, the benefits and drawbacks of each route. Books like Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes are really important because they provide this kind of information in a really easy to process, and understand way. They also do so in a way that makes multiple-leg journeys easier to plan. Some books, like the Cornell, or Admiralty Ocean Passages, or Rod Heikell’s Ocean Passages and Landfalls cover the entire globe. Other books are more focused, such as the Pacific Crossing Guide, from the RCC Pilotage Foundation.

When planning on a global scale the ability to move from any beginning point, to any end point, is rationalized into a system of routes defined by the beginning and ending ports. While strict adherence to the routes is not necessary, they do represent the distilled experience of decades- and in some cases, centuries of sailors. These routes have been shaped the dangers of the oceans in that larger voyages are often subdivided into shorter routes between landfalls. While these can add miles, they also provide advantages for cruisers.

Once you have figured out where you want to leave from, and go to, the next step is to learn about the ocean that you’ll be crossing. Pilot Atlases provide tons of information about tides, currents and winds. Examples that we often have in-store include Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas and James Clarke’s Atlantic Pilot Atlas. These are Pilot Atlases, which have an important feature not included in basic charts.

CornellOceanAtlasDetail This is what a detail from a Pilot Atlas looks like, specifically Cornell’s Ocean Atlas.

What makes Pilot Atlases important is the wind and tide information that is included. The symbols seen in the photo to the left are known as ‘wind roses’. Each such wind rose represents the behaviour for a certain area. They show the distribution of the winds that prevail in that area from the eight cardinal points. The arrows fly with the wind, and their lengths show the percentage of the total number of observations in which the wind has blown from that cardinal point. The number of feathers shows the force of the wind, which has been recorded most frequently from that sector. The wind force is measured on the Beaufort scale, with each feather being equivalent to one unit of wind force. The green lines represent the currents for the observed period. This kind of information is critical for planning routes, expected durations, and logistical concerns.
CornellWorldVoyagePlannerThere are other books specifically on the subject of world or long-range cruising. For example, Jimmy Cornell’s World Voyage Planner is a great source for information on how to plan for a world voyage, and also provides information and concerns for different parts of the world. Luckily, there also a significant number of experienced cruisers who have written about preparing for world cruising. For example, Larry and Lynn Pardey‘s books cover a number of topics from financial concerns to how to feed and cook for a crew. Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Essentials: The Boats, Gear, and Practices that Work Best at Sea examines another important aspect- that of the boat itself.

Next time in this series of blogs, we’ll examine the resources needed for more detailed local planning: Cruising Guides, Pilot Guides and Charts.

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The Scuttlebutt about Charts [UPDATED!]

UPDATE: While not universally or rigidly enforced, regulations about what ships in Canadian waters carry are quite explicit and not at all ambiguous.  The Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations of 1995 clearly require all vessels to carry up to date, corrected paper charts for all the waters they travel as well as Notices to Mariners, Lists of Lights, Radio Aids to Marine Navigation these three are available as free PDF downloads on our site. Sailing Directions and, where applicable, tide tables are also required.

[More Great Lakes Chart Info Here]

We’ve heard scuttlebutt about some Lake Ontario boaters who have been charged for not carrying the proper charts. While the Canadian Shipping Act is very clear about what is required on large ships, it is less prescriptive for small boat operators. Although the law requires all marine vessels to carry charts, small boat operators are exempt as long as they have “local knowledge” of the area. It is the definition of “local knowledge” that is variable and can get the average mariner into trouble.

Whether it illegal or not to operate your boat without charts, mariners should always have at least a small-scale chart of the area they regularly boat in. And if in unfamiliar waters, charts are a helpful aid for keeping your boat out of trouble.  In addition to maritime law and basic self-preservation, some boat insurance policies may also require current charts of the area you’re operating in.

We know that buying a ton of individual charts can be expensive. There is often a more economical solution. For example if you are boating on the Great Lakes, there is a Richardsons Chartbook for each lake that includes both the small-scale, large area charts and the more detailed charts. New editions are issued every few years. However, they may not be considered “proper charts” by the very strictest/most litigious authorities.

We list thousands of charts on our site, and have free PDF copies of the Canadian Hydrographic Service chart catalogues down the right-hand side of our chart pages.  We keep our inventory fresh so are charts are always up-to-date, and we’ve had years of experience in chart selection and can help you choose the right compliment of charts for your needs, anywhere in the world. Have a look at the Chart section of our website, or call or email us for a tailored list.

Great Lakes Chart Catalogue

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IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting resolutions: Polar Code, PSSA, & More

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO met for from May 11th to 15th.

The MEPC adopted the environmental requirements of the Polar Code and associated MARPOL & SOLAS amendments to make the Code mandatory; adopted amendments to MARPOL related to tanks for oil residues; designated an extension to the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA); and furthered its work on implementation of air pollution and energy efficiency measures and the Ballast Water Management Convention.

The amendments will go into force January 1st, 2017. We’ll have them available as soon as they’re published.  The IMO has published this Polar Code infographic for the mean-time.

Polar Code Ship Safety Infographic

[Download as PDF]

The MEPC’s other conclusions include:

  • MARPOL Annex I amendments relating to oil residues adopted
  • Extension of Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait PSSA adopted
  • Ballast water management status and technologies reviewed
  • EEDI review work to continue
  • GHG reduction target for international shipping considered
  • Revised air pollution guidance and requirements agreed
  • Fuel oil availability review to be initiated this year
  • Fuel oil quality correspondence group re-established
  • Black carbon definition agreed
  • Ship recycling convention – revision of IHM Guidelines
  • Oil spill response guidance approved

Details on the IMO site