ANCHORING TIP: Store Rope Rode On Deck

6 Jun

Sailboat foredeck

I didn’t come up with this idea myself. I learned it crewing for a guy down in Florida who always stored not one, but two rope anchor rodes on his foredeck while cruising. Even on offshore passages he kept them out there, with the coils of rode lashed to stanchion post bases, and never had any problems.

The big advantage of doing this, if you have a boat with a belowdecks rode locker rather than a modern anchor well, is that it saves you the bother of somehow getting all the rope down the hawsehole. Chain is heavy enough that ...

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How to Splice an Oversized Rode into an Undersized Chain

3 Jun

Our anchor chain has been looking iffy for a while now.  Not “terrible”, not “dangerous”, but not exactly the way you would want a piece of equipment that is holding your vessel in place to look.  So, much gnashing of teeth and a great deal of money later, Papillon has a new 12 mm short-link G4 chain.

We decided to add 75 m of eight-strand rode to our 65 m chain.  We wanted 24 mm, but they only had 28 mm.  Well, okay.  Bigger is better, right?  Now.  How to attach the chain?  No problem – the good people at ...

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SWAN 48 DELIVERY: Wrong Way To The W’Indies

19 May

Swan 48 Avocation under sail

Editor’s Note: Those studying my recent account of Lunacy‘s passage from Puerto Rico to Bermuda may have noticed that we did NOT find that abandoned Swan 48, Wolfhound, ex-Bella Luna , that I blogged about earlier. Ah, well… You can’t always find that needle in the haystack, but I can deliver on my promise to tell you about the time I delivered a Swan 48 down to the islands.

I HAD OFTEN delivered boats from the northeastern U.S. to the West Indies in early November. I had also done northbound trips from the Indies to ...

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7 May

Dinghy stowed on deck

ATTENTION EARTH PEOPLE! As I write this I am approaching Bermuda, blasting along but 70 miles out on what seems a perpetual close reach, due for a landing sometime in the wee hours tomorrow, of which more later. What I really want to spout off about right now are inflatable tenders. I was thinking about this as we were preparing to leave Puerto Rico, while regarding our neighbors on a 45-foot Bristol next door, who were about to depart for Annapolis. They had just stowed their RIB tender for the passage, and it took up all of their foredeck. ...

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Puerto Escondido

2 May

Our first couple of nights after leaving La Paz we had strong coromuel winds, but after getting just another twenty miles or so north the nights have been silent. No swell—the beauty of the east coast of Baja—and not a ripple on the water. You can’t sleep better than that.

Today we motored an hour north to Puerto Escondido—it is time to fill up the water tanks, do some laundry, and stock up some fresh fruit.

We pulled up to the fuel/water dock and while I filled the tanks and gave the boat a quick rinse Ali and the kids ...

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Friday (Not So) Funny: A Crash-Tack Would Have Been Wise

29 Mar

Here's the full readout on what happened and the consequences:

At a hearing 30/05/2011 at Southampton Magistrates the Officer of the Watch of a fishing vessel pleaded guilty to one safety charge brought under Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. He was fined £1,700 plus costs of £6,435.

On the 20th August 2010 the Andrea had finished fishing and was returning to port in the Netherlands. The skipper and rest of the crew were below leaving Jan Baarssen alone on the bridge in sole charge of the vessel. The Andrea is a 36.5 metre beam trawler registered in ...

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The Equinox, celestial mechanics & pesky “True Wind”

20 Mar

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 20, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I'm not a pagan but my first wedding was on the Summer Solstice in 1976 and the second was on the Vernal Equinox in 1993. So, yes indeed, today we're celebrating twenty years wonderfully together (though right now about a thousand miles physically apart). But I want to write about what largely drove those wedding date decisions: my fascination with celestial mechanics, largely acquired through marine navigation, particularly the celestial kind. I learned about the apparent and true motions of the heavenly bodies, the foundations of ...

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EYEBALL NAVIGATION: The Heart of the Art

24 Jan

Lighthouse in binoculars

QUIZ ANY CURMUDGEON these days on the subject of proper wayfinding and you'll soon find yourself reefed down in a gale of conventional wisdom about the importance of paper charts, compass bearings, dead reckoning, sextants, and the like. But what curmudgeons tend to forget, as they rail on about how modern nav tools are corrupting us, is that many of their sacred cows are also just tools. They are more primitive, simpler, hence more reliable in one sense (if not more accurate), but still they are not the organic root of navigation.

Reduced to its purest form, human navigation (as ...

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Ranting about safety at sea

7 Dec

I feel like I'm decidedly in the minority when it comes to the modern ocean sailing game. My boat is from 1966, my GPS a handheld unit from 1993, we've got paper charts onboard and no electrics whatsoever besides the LED lighting. Hank-on headsails (we carry five of them), tiller steering and a 35-gallon water tank. The engine only works to charge the batteries and get us in and out of the dock.

But I feel safe aboard Arcturus. ...

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HMS BOUNTY: Many Unanswered Questions

4 Dec

Rescuing Bounty survivors

SAY WHAT??? Has my esteemed SAILfeed colleague, the mysterious Mariner, been spending too much time sniffing go-juice fumes? I eagerly dove into his post yesterday, in which he hailed and linked to “the first detailed journalistic account” of the loss of HMS Bounty, but was sorely disappointed by what I found. The account in question, currently bouncing around the Internet in various (often unattributed) iterations, was originally published by Spiegel Online and is barely coherent in places and doesn’t even pretend to address some of the biggest questions raised by the tragedy.

Right at the top ...

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