02/03/2013, Nazi Florida
I am at a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. That is actually big news. I have not been at a mooring ball in several years. Maybe more than several. I almost always anchor, but this time I decided to see some of Nazi Florida instead of the Bahamas, Mexico, or the Caribbean. So far that decision has cost me an extra $800.00. I have been forced by the always polite local constabulary to register both my sailboat and dinghy. My sailboat got through with little cost, but they really got me on my little dinghy. They made me pay sales tax on it from when I bought it several years ago. I tried to explain that is was several years old, but NOOO I had to pay hundreds of dollars in sales tax on something I didn't buy here, or in the current year, at an exorbitant rate, and I am now registered in a State that I don't live in. Go figure! Nazi Florida has a law that says "If you are here for more than 90 days-everything you own that is here has to be registered with the state tax collector. Nazi Florida-then they made me buy $150.00 worth of gear for my dinghy as I have a 4 HP engine on it and they do not honor Documented vessel tenders. Horn, flares, fire extinguisher, throwable (I'm alone, who am I going to throw it to?), etc. etc. etc.
Now I am in a huge mooring field paying $120.00 a week (1 week only thanks). Otherwise I have to pay $22.00 a day to go to shore for the tiny anchorage here. The mooring field is the lesser of two evils. Lots of boaters here, so it is a real festive atmosphere. Actually a lot of fun so far. All the rules in Florida have my skin constantly crawling. I won't be back. I did it once and that will be enough. The rules really take a lot of the fun out of something that is supposed to be based on freedom. I tried to go to the Everglades, just to see it, but I only lasted less than 12 hours. 38 pages of rules. I wanted to go to the Dry Tortugas but finally gave up on that idea (48 pages of rules) and the weather wouldn't cooperate.
Next season I will go somewhere where freedom still exists and I get to spend my $800.00 on fun things.
The weather has been great and the sailing has been good too. If it wasn't for officialdom, I would be having a great time. Florida was probably a great place twenty years ago.
Back to the Mooring Ball.
12/28/2012, Bimini Basin
Currently anchored in Bimini Basin on the West Coast of Florida. Very nice anchorage to get things done and hang out for a week or two. Lots of services close by, and a free dinghy dock, and a park for walking the dog. I had a great Christmas with some cruising friends and I hope you did too.
I wrote about bottom paints a while ago. Here is the rest of the story, how to get your boat ready for the paint.
The properly finished bottom paint job will be about 3 inches above the water when the boat is sitting at anchor or the pier. To properly do this, you will need to probably get wet. Before that though, fill all fuel and water tanks, bring aboard all stores, supplies, spares, parts, bikes, dinghy, generator, sails, computers, charts, books, etc. etc. etc. for an extended trip, and then have four of your friends come aboard and station themselves around the boat. It is said that the average cruiser brings aboard 2,000 lbs of gear, food, water, etc. Each person. This will definitely affect the waterline. The designer and manufacturer really don't know how much stuff you will have aboard, and they can only make a best guess at the waterline you will need. It's your job to actually mark your waterline yourself when "cruise ready".
Now get a small ruler (1' is plenty) and a marker that won't easily wash off. A dull pencil actually works pretty well for this. On a very calm day get in the water next to your boat (may be able to do this from the dinghy with help). Maybe. Be sure there are no ripples to mess up your measuring. Make a mark, every few inches, 3" up from the actual water all the way around the boat. Connect the dots (marks). This is the line you have to paint up to when you paint the bottom. If you find you are down by the bow or stern from the manufacturers line, you may have to shift stores or supplies to get everything level and square. Don't leave the boat stern low or bow low or heeled one way or the other. In my boat, I had to place all my extra water, fuel, and all canned goods on the port side to compensate for the 5 batteries (4-27s, 1-24) on the starboard side or it would have been permanently heeled to starboard a few degrees. Also, with the dinghy on the davits (on the ICW, not at sea), I was stern low, so I moved all the spare chain, rodes, and anchors to the anchor locker forward. Now the boat is balanced and my waterline looks symetric all the way around.
You don't want your bottom paint to stop just at the water level as the constant ripples around your boat will leave you with a green furry circle just at the waterline, above your bottom paint, all the way around the boat which is very ugly and will have to constantly be cleaned off. Your bottom paint needs to be 3" or so above the actual waterline to prevent this. Your boot stripe can be then painted above this new and correct waterline and it will stay clean.
You may be amazed to see that you have lost a lot or all of your manufacturers boot stripe. This is typical and it will have to be repainted at its correct position later. Try to keep your new waterline parallel to the manufacturers waterline (as mentioned ablove).
Most of us also use that last bit of paint in the can to paint an extra layer just at the waterline all the way around the boat and also the rudder. The paint gets washed off there rather guickly too.
Last but not least are the metal parts. Interlux made an excellent spray for these parts. Everything but the face of the depth sounder and the paddle for the knotmeter needs to be sprayed. I even spray up into all my thru-hulls as well (after removing all the wads of anti-insect screen I shoved up there when I stored it).
With two coats of ablative bottom paint, an extra layer at the waterline and on the rudder, you are ready for probably three years of cruising before it has all worn off and you have to do it all over again.
Make sure your thru hulls are all working properly and have lanolin on the moving parts and you are ready to splash her.
Oh, and don't forget to put your knotmeter paddlewheel back in. Been there, done that.
Work work work.
12/14/2012, La Belle, FLorida
People often ask me what I do all day on the boat and "Don't you get bored?" Actually, right now, I'm beat.
My boat sat on the hard in Southern Florida during the Hurricane season.
It took me two days of constant hard work to first get it basically cleaned and all the mold and dirt removed.
Then, I had to rebuild my rudder skeg and mount the new skeg shoe and fair it in (two days). I polished all the topsides, scrubbed and painted the entire bottom and centerboard (another day) . Disassembled all thru hulls and cleaned and lubricated them (one day).
Pulled the prop shaft out and cleaned and painted my coupler, replaced the cutlass bearing, shaft log hose and repacked all stuffing boxes and put everything back together (two days).
I wire brushed and painted my engine, cleaned my air intake, rebuilt the water pump, replaced the ignition system, and lubricated everything I could think of (3 days). Emptied and cleaned all lockers, cabinets, drawers, and cupboards and washed all the dishes and silverware and packed everything back and ready for travel on the ocean (one day).
This is a partial list. I spent 11 days total getting everything ready.
I would literally start at sunriise and finish well after sunset. One day I had breakfast finally at 9PM. I usually stopped for one meal each day (late afternoon). I would drop into bed aching and tired and wake up aching and tired.
Once the boat was in the water, I had to hoist all the sails (main, jib, staysail), run all the running rigging through the various blocks and pulleys, check all the nav lights and electronics, and clean and prepare the dinghy (mount my new 4hp long shaft).
There is still a ton of work to do, but I took yesterday off.
I'm currently tied to a free dock in the wonderful town of La Belle, Florida where I have free water and electricity as well as the free dock for three days. Pretty cool.
The rest of the work (finishing teak, waxing the boat, installing new portlights, etc., will be done a little at a time as I travel.
Ahhh the simple life of a cruiser. Nothing but sun, beaches, and girls in bikinis.
12/13/2012, Southern Florida
Well, its done! The rudder is fixed along with several other items that needed care and attention after spending 9 months on the hard in Southern Florida. I am finally floating and almost everything is back in good working order. Heading West at the moment to get off the Okeechobee Waterway and back on the Ocean (Actually, the Gulf of Mexico). Heading for the Keys next. Haven't been there in a while.
Hurricane Sandy has come ashore and moved on (basically)
Once when sailing in the Pacific, my buddy was at the helm and I was in the cabin cooking soup for lunch. It was so calm, that we were motoring with no sails set. I happened to look out the nearby portlight to see a huge wall of water coming at us. It was so tall that it blocked out everything else and completely filled the window even though it was still quite far away.
My first thought was "Oh no, rogue wave."
I didn't hear anything from my helmsman, and that shook me a little. Didn't he see it?
I held on for dear life and then...nothing happened. We didn't even heel a little. The soup was fine, I was fine.
Now however, when I looked out the portlight, we were sitting high up in the air on this mountain of water. I rushed upstairs and realized that we were in the midst of some really large, old, waves. They were passing under us from our starboard beam and they had no real effect on us. The period between the waves was quite long and these huge rounded humps in the water just passed quietly under us.. We were rising and falling 30-40 feet very slowly and gracefully. It was spooky. Obviously, there was a large storm quite far away producing these waves.
My buddy and I had this kind of conversation.
"Wow, big waves."
"Are they taller than the mast."
"Maybe just a little."
After watching them for a while, I went back downstairs and finished the soup.
There comes a time during the buildup to a significant weather event where a switch is flipped and things go from difficult to dangerous (later they become survival). Rescuing a crew overboard becomes problematic and possibly unlikely, and waves become dangerous to the vessel. It has a little to do with the size of the yacht, but for most of us in the 30-70 foot range it is basically when the wind exceeds 35-40 knots.
Breaking waves are the danger. Non-braking waves actually pose little threat, regardless of the height (see above). When you get wave heights from some source, be sure to always check the period to tell if they are dangerous. The period is almost everything. Short periods create unfriendly seas.
A couple salient facts:
Fact 1. A wave 1/5 of the hull length breaking at just the right moment, can roll a boat upside down. This has been proven time and again in tank tests and real world events. Granted, the wave has to hit the vessel squarely on the beam and has to just start breaking when it gets there for maximum effect, but it is possible.
Fact 2. It is always the waves that knock you flat. Rarely the wind. As the boat heels, the effect of the wind is lessened considerably as there is less and less to push against (the sails basically move out of the force of the wind by heeling). The wind may help get the roll started, but it will be a wave that finishes you off......got the T-shirt!
Fact 3. The odds of getting even knocked down are so slight that you probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning.
On a clear day.
Fact 4. A wave period of 15 seconds or more usually means rounded, non-breaking waves. Less than that, and you're probably in for a rough ride even with 3 footers. Picture a 3 foot wave hitting your bow every 4 seconds. They will probably stop you cold and leave you hobby-horsing.
Fact 5. Reef early and often and have a harness, tether, jackline system that KEEPS YOU ABOARD. Not some silly system that drags along under your feet and allows you over the side off the boat. Use short tethers and run your jacklines along the cabintop.
Use this system every time the waves start knocking you about. It works great as a third hand (you know, the one you always need when it gets rough).
Unless you are crossing oceans, and even then you have to make no effort to avoid the worst of oncoming storms, there is no reason that you should be out in storm/hurricane winds. If a storm or hurricane is within 500 miles of you...wait a few days (or until Hurricane season has definitely passed) before sticking your nose out of the harbor. Hurricanes have been known to reverse course.
Wait for good weather reports and after all storms have passed.
Back to my original point.
Above 35-40 knots, you are probably going to see breaking seas and will have to be actively doing something to avoid them or deal with them. Remember, they aren't everywhere. If you look out over a stormy sea, even during a Hurricane, you will see breaking waves scattered over the sea surface. It isn't one big breaking wave. Steer around them, and by all means, don't let one hit you broadside!
Remember, It's better to be on land wishing you were on the water, than.......
You know the rest.
10/20/2012, Reply to previous
OK, before too many people get their underwear twisted in a knot, I need to clarify some things in my previous post.
The first section was about anchoring, a "How To" for those cruisers that have some odd ideas or confusion about it.
The second part was for anchoring in an area of strong reversing currents, strong winds, or when the winds are expected to clock around with force (cold front, storm, etc.).
In an uncrowded anchorage, one with little or no reversing current, or during times of settled weather, using one anchor is obviously fine. I do it frequently. If the boat will pull in one direction only, and not very hard. obviously, there should be no problem with one properly set anchor.
That said however, when I see a crowded anchorage that has up to 4 knots of reversing tidal current, and know that a cold front will show up that night and blow up to 40 knots from every direction, and I see boat after boat enter the anchorage and drop one hook and then leave the boat for dinner out (especially when most of the boats already there are either on a mooring or using two anchors)....it's kind of frustrating. I end up with another sleepless night guarding my boat from the "draggers".
Then, when those boats trip their anchors out, and start banging into the other boats, it is beyond frustrating. It is criminal.
One thing that really strikes me as poor seamanship is when the boats lying to one anchor let out a lot of rode when a storm approaches. Way past 10/1 and then take up the entire anchorage. Once they have all that rode out they can easily swing into each other and they have made it so that no one else can anchor there. Two anchors, set properly with a 10/1 scope, are almost always proper to do the job. With two properly set anchors, several more boats could be safe there, and no one would swing into any one else.
Seems like logical seamanship to me.
To answer another question. I have three anchors aboard my boat as primary anchors.
A small Dinghy anchor, and a 25 lb Danforth as a brake anchor in case the engine stalls in a bad place. It hangs off the stern and I can drop it in seconds. A lot better than running into something.
A 44 lb Rocna is my primary bow anchor, a 45 lb Delta is my backup and second anchor usually, and a 40 lb Danforth is my reserve anchor. I usually drop the Rocna off the Bow and the Delta off the Stern (then move the rode to the bow). I have an all chain bow rode of 200' with an oversized swivel on my Rocna set up on my Lofrans Manual Windlass and my stern anchor has 45' of chain with 150' of 3/4" 3 strand spliced onto it. I have a stern roller and a Sampson's post and the stern rode runs down into my lazarette where I built a box to hold it. The anchor is in the cockpit locker next to it.
Both my rodes are attached (bitter end) to three strand that is attached to thru-bolts in the nearby bulkhead. If I need to get away fast I attach a fender to the rodes and untie or cut the lines at this junction (chain is hard to cut quickly). I have dropped bothanchors a few times as boats dragged down onto me.
One interesting note Dave; When cruising in the Pacific, I rarely saw a problem with boats anchoring and dragging. I can't think of one instance in 20 years there where it was serious issue. Probably the type of anchorages and the lack of tidal current coupled with the sailors skill level there.
On the East Coast of the US there are lots of newer cruisers, small anchorages with a lot of tidal current, and they are routinely crowded. We also have a lot of cold fronts that cause the wind to blow hard from every direction of the compass as they pass. You would think that two anchors would naturally be the norm in this area. Typically you face one way for 6 hours, then reverse and face the opposite way for 6 hours and this process repeats all day every day (sometimes at four knots). Two anchors seems logical. Then, when you add a clocking wind of 30 knots from a passing cold front, you would think that two anchors would be imperative.
During cold fronts in busy anchorages, boats are dragging all over the place causing havoc and damage. There are always horns blowing and people shouting. You would think that they would have learned by now.
Since I have been sailing on the East Coast, several boats have dragged down onto me, and I had to risk my safety (and my boat) to save them (or keep them from hitting me too hard). Twice someone swung into me when I was at a mooring field and they anchored next to us with only one anchor (lots of damage and no one was on their boat). And I can't tell you how many times the entire anchorage turned into a screaming mess in the middle of the night during a blow. Basically, every time, in a crowded anchorage.
Dave, I think there is hope for you, but if you come to the East Coast, you may be shocked. I hope you haven't used only one anchor and anchoring system every night for 4900 nights even during storms, currents, and crowded anchorages. One anchor has its place, but two anchors definitely add a lot of safety when things get hairy. Too use the same anchor and anchoring system in all the varying bottom conditions, current conditions, and types of anchorages, may or may not work, but shows poor seamanship skills. Different conditions require different techniques and equipment. By the way, I can teach you how to easily set a Bahamian Mooring if you don't know how. Drop me an e-mail. You don't have to even use the dinghy to set it or retrieve it.
I started sailing in 1982. I have cruised and anchored the Eastern Pacific from San Francisco to Acapulco and the Western Atlantic from Maine to Florida, the Bahamas, Caribbean, and the Great Lakes. I live on a boat and work on boats full time. It's all I do. I rarely ever take a mooring (hate them) and very rarely stay at a marina (except my own during Hurricane Season). I anchor almost exclusively. I haven't dragged aground or into anyone yet (knock on wood), but I am on "anchor watch" a lot.