26 October 2009



We call this a C hook, and it saved our bacon again today. We were anchored in an out of the way side creek off the Waccamaw river in South Carolina, out of touch with the world, when we tried to raise our anchor on this rainy cold morning, only to bring up a massive tree stump hung on the anchor chain. Dave tried knocking it off with the boat hook, then driving with it and lowering the chain again, nothing worked. Ta-dah, trumpets blare, C-hook to the rescue. I wrote about this before, but didn't have the pictures to show you what it looks like. We bought this in Turkey, but you can make your own. Dave simply grabbed the chain with the C, hooked the heavier line around our windlass and cranked it up so the stump- larger than he could have bear hugged -was about four feet out of the water, then let the line slide quickly on the winch which, was enough to shake the stump loose. Most times, when he has another anchor he is trying to get off ours, he hooks it on the offending anchor line, ties the heavier line on a cleat, then trips the smaller line, and the other anchor drops loose from ours. It sounds simple and it is simple, but I can't think of any simple way it could be done without this little miracle gadget.

17 October 2009



Our very best tip about not dragging, is BE SURE YOU HAVE PUT OUT ADEQUATE SCOPE! This can't be repeated often enough or emphatically enough! What is adequate scope? You could use the formulas of three to one, seven to one, etc, but I say use this only as a guide line. It is not a religious imperative, and don't forget, when you apply the formula, add your bow height above water to the depth, AT HIGH TIDE to get the suggested amount. Deep water, you can reduce the proportion, shallower water, increase it. If wind is predicted, or a chance of wind, I can't believe that anything under 100 feet, even in the shallowest water, is not leaving yourself vulnerable. Bigger and heavier, put out more, anchorage too crowded, get out and find someplace else. Doesn't matter if you are the dragger or the draggee, the damage can be the same. You are safer in a more exposed anchorage, where you can put out the maximum, than to be in a tight place surrounded by other boats, all with limited scope.

Enter the anchorage, take a serious look around and choose the spot that keeps you clear of other boats if possible. Having the best protection is not as important as having a well set anchor with maximum scope. Drop the anchor, put out the amount you need to set it best, (every anchor has a different length at which it digs in best) and make sure it is set by slowly increasing the RPM to what you know is necessary to dig that anchor in. How do you know what this is? Get in and look at the anchor after it is set; if it isn't perfect, have the person left on the boat turn on the motor and again take up the RPMs slowly and keep pulling until you have achieved what you want. Note what the RPMs were and you have a base line. Did you ever watch a live sand dollar bury itself.? It slowly wiggles itself , almost just vibrates itself, and it literally wiggles itself into the sand. Your anchor will do the same thing, if it is a burying type. Some anchors simply pull up a mound to a size that they can pull up no more, and you are held, but you know that if there is a major wind shift, they will need to repeat this from the other direction. Which is why you want to allow yourself some dragging room. If you start your anchoring life in conditions where you can't get in and see the process, than pull on it with enough intensity that the person on the bow should see water coming by at a brisk rate. From there it is experience, if you never drag, especially when others around you do, you are probably doing it right. Every time you drag, you should KNOW you did something wrong. Once it is well set, then put out the scope you will need to keep you there, even in storm conditions.

Ask yourself, how many times you have dragged in the last year, the last five years, the last ten years. If you can't remember each and every time, (because there should be so few incidents) if it is more than a couple of times, even in ten years, you are doing something wrong. Dave says if you drag even once, you have failed anchoring. Even in squall conditions, unless 8 out of 10 drag, you better not blame the bottom. Compare your anchor to someone near who didn't move, compare the type and weight of chain, compare scope and technique. Figure out what you are doing wrong, so you will get it right, and go for years without incident, and so you don't have to run to a dock every time wind is predicted.

06 October 2009


This unique boat hatch is truly for all seasons and all winds. As you can see, it is a large round hatch made of Lexan, which is strong enough to stand on, easy to open and close and has never leaked. but what makes it so unique, is the ability to swivel it in any direction, to match the direction the wind is blowing over your boat, which may not be from the front of the boat when it is tied to a dock, or riding to the tide, and not the wind. You can even face it backwards, to extract air; what ever works best for the conditions. To raise it, just loosen the fitting as Dave is doing in the picture, raise it to the desired height, and tighten up the fitting. Yo change directions, put your fingers on the small fitting you see in the top of the picture, pull it loose from the wall of the hatch, swivel it where you wish the hatch to face and put it back in place. It is ridiculously simple and amazingly useful.

As you can see from the upper picture, we have five of these hatches, two in the galley, two in the forward cabin, and one in the forward head. We can snap on plastic covers to keep out sun when no one is staying up forward, and we have mosquito netting that quickly snaps on all the hatches. This is not manufactured by any maker, although I think they are missing a chance in a lifetime, but we would be glad to give any further information for those wanting to make their own.

03 October 2009


A marina not to be missed if you plan to spend any time in Ft. Lauderdale, is Marina Bay. It is located in the upper reaches of the New River, beyond the I-95 bridge, where 95 intersects with Highway 84, making getting anywhere a snap. It has new floating docks, a country club like atmosphere, with a gorgeous heated swimming pool, (essential in the winter time), hot tub, indoor lounge with coffee always available, handball court, small exercise room, internet room, and even a small theater where movies are shown. The restaurant on site has what I think is the greatest hamburger to be had, with indoor and outdoor dining. It is surrounded by new condos that are all rental units, which makes it handy when your boat is out of the water in a nearby boat yard, to rent an apartment, and walk to the boat. Rates are reasonable compared to any comparable marina, like the ones near the beach, and long term rates, particulary in the summer, and this is considered a safe marina by our insurance company, are really reasonable. To me, the only downsides, are the long trip up the New River, so I wouldn't choose it for a weekend, and the soot in the air, which is a problem all over that part of the coast. I can live with it, because it is such a pleasant place to be, and handy for shopping, medical, and boat work, all things we do while there. It presupposes you rent a car, and again, the helpful staff at the marina will point you in the direction of an affordable rental car. Do think of it, especially if you are going to be tied up for any length of time.