Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Which end of the dock line?

There are some never ending discussions when it comes to boats: tiller vs. wheel; locked prop or not, and more. Lately, I've been pondering this one: does the eye of a dock line go to the dock or stay on the boat?

Traditionally, the eye goes to the dock, goes over a cleat or bollard or piling or whatever, and lines are handled from the boat. "Hold," "ease," "take out the slack," are common commands to line handlers. There's also the notion of adjusting lines, something that's traditionally done from the boat and not from the shore.

The more I ponder, the more I find that tradition is largely based on where the experienced line handlers are to be found, which is, traditionally, on board. Not so with recreational boats and even less so when the boat is single handed. My line handlers come in the form of one, sometimes two, dock mate neighbors, and quite often, I'm my own line handler, taking the lines ashore with me as I step from boat to dock.

Experience with inexperienced crew and single handed sailing has convinced me that the fixed end of a dock line belongs on board. Who on your boat can hold, ease or take out the slack, of not just a single line, but of three or four? Can you do it, and dock the boat at the same time? Can you jump ashore, loop a dock line over a cleat, and adjust the line from the boat at the same time?

I'm happy with keeping the spliced eyes on the boat. Back to pondering tillers and wheels, locked props or not.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Menemsha Sunset

This Menemsha sunset was one of the best I've seen. Note the empty slips, as there was a pretty good nor'easter in the forecast!

My Summer Vacation - 2017

Just the highlights, as I remember them:

We had a two week sailing plan (we=me, L and Bear), carefully crafted and taking into consideration tides and currents in Boston, the Cape Cod Canal, Woods Hole, Quicks Hole, Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. As General Eisenhower said, "Planning is everything. Plans are nothing."

V-1 L took the Red Line from her last day at work. With the boat loaded and ready to go, we sailed (yes, actually with wind!) to Peddocks Island. That put us quickly in vacation mode and also put us an hour or so closer to our day 2 destination.

V Sailed off the anchor, which was pretty much all the sailing we did from Boston to Scituate. Oh well.

V+1 Off early to catch the current change at the canal, figuring the earlier we get there, the less time wind and current get to work against each other and heap up at the end of Buzzards Bay. Managed to sail the first hour before the wind went light, then came back right on the nose. We smartly struck the main before entering the canal... three footers on the other side and right into the wind! We took the old canal channel shortcut to Red Brook as soon as we could... good move, too... the big catamaran that passed us in the canal went the hard way; they were behind us entering Red Brook, after taking a pounding getting there. As is our practice, we anchored at Bassetts Island.

V+2 The forecast was for a pretty good nor-easter, on its way, so we pondered our choices: (i) ride it out at anchor at Bassetts, (ii) head to Vineyard Haven, or (iii) head to Menemsha. I didn't relish getting Bear ashore and worrying about the anchor dragging at the same time. I also didn't want to risk getting to Vineyard Haven only to find everything inside the breakwater filled up. Menemsha it was then, and a 7AM call to the Harbormaster there confirmed they'd hold an inside mooring for us. Fog through Buzzards Bay, Quicks Hole and crossing Vineyard Sound... the only fog we encountered. (We stayed south of the Buzzards Bay shipping channel, and made lots of noise on the radio through Quicks and crossing Vineyard Sound.)

V+3,4,5, 6 The nor-easter never really happened and winds peaked at about 20 knots. Having tossed the carefully crafted plan that would have taken us to Vineyard Haven for a few days, we hung out in Menemsha, walking to soft serve, getting fresh fish at the market (the thresher shark was outstanding; caught that morning by an 11 year old... took him an hour and a half to land the 400 lb. fish... the market paid him $1/lb. for it), explored Menemsha Creek/Pond a bit and not much more.

V+7,8,9 Stressed out from Menemsha we did the short hop to Cuttyhunk, where we did less than we did in Menemsha.

V+10 With a revised plan taking us to Hadley Harbor next, after looking at the weather I shredded that plan, too. BIG t-storms were in the forecast for V+11... would have been happy riding them out in Hadley but was more comfortable (i) with the better holding in Red Brook, and (ii) being closer to the canal for the trip back, as the two weeks were winding down. Cuttyhunk to Red Brook was a great, broad reach sail, "anchor to anchor" but for the channels at either end of the day.

V+11 We were hunkered down waiting for heavy rain and some big blows, which of course never amounted to more than a bit of light drizzle. Radar showed he front splitting, passing north and south of us.

V+12 Back through the canal, with a reef in the main... forecast was for wind from the west gusting to 20... half right, we got the gusts to 20 but the wind stayed pretty much northwest, i.e., on the nose. Between gusts, we couldn't make much progress against head seas... so it was a pounding day on the motor from the canal to Scituate.

V+13 It was a good ending, mostly reaching, from Scituate to Dorchester Bay, where once again the gusty wind was on the nose and we let the motor take us the last mile or so.

Despite our time on the motor, we stopped for fuel just once, in Menemsha... 4.9 gallons... and used about another 5 by the time we got home. We paid for moorings 9 nights and otherwise anchored. Hit bottom on the water tank once, dipping into the 5 gallons we keep in reserve.

What would we do differently? Not much. I'm trying to make a list but it's pretty short do far... besides taking on water a bit more often, I'm not thinking of anything.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Allerton Harbor Canvas

I don't know that I've done an endorsement here before, but this one is deserving.

Four or five years ago, Jay Hanks replaced LIQUIDITY's dodger. With the boat covered, he used the old one as a pattern, but changed the design and delivered a much improved product. Installed, it fit perfectly and it's aging well.

Tomorrow morning, I'm heading to Hull, taking my old main sail cover in for replacement. It's likely the original, as it was on the boat 20 years ago, when LIQUIDITY still had its original main. The cover is worn through in spots and my feeble attempt at patching worked for a few years. Now though, it's surely time, as the cover is becoming more and more patch, with less and less fabric on which to sew patches.

I'm looking forward to seeing Jay, talking sail covers and talking boats. It's what winter's for.

Allerton Harbor Canvas

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Delivered by Sail

It's December and it's snowing, so what to think about besides the 2017 sailing season?

I'm thinking in particular about the romantic notion of goods delivered by sail. Not that I can haul lumber or bricks or oil or cars or whatever, but LIQUIDITY, in 28 feet, is perfectly capable of hauling small, gift shop items, like crafts, jewelry, and the like. Anything small, relatively light, and not particularly fragile would do.

Sure, it's partly marketing, but it's also green, and as I said, it's a romantic notion.

Let me know if you're interested in moving goods along the coast. Boston to Gloucester, Scituate or Provincetown would be within range. "Delivered by Sail" tags will be provided.

Interested, curious or otherwise? Email: Delivery by Sail

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Stay cool and keep sailing

A friend asked if I could help out as delivery crew in returning his Crealock 34 from Halifax, NS to Portland, ME, expecting a 2-3 day passage. Sounded good to me, and I signed on. Here are my notes on the adventure:

Easy peasy packing, although contingency clothing accounted for most of the weight: foulies, sea boots, sweater, fleece, gloves, and the like.

Did the map search and printed directions from Halifax airport to the yacht club, naturally on the complete other side of Halifax from the airport. About an C$80 cab ride, so I figured changing some money might be a good idea. Flying in at night and hoping for (i) an open money exchange, (ii) a functioning ATM machine, or (iii) a cab that takes credit cards is pushing my luck.

Easy peasy money change at Copley, buying C$200, which is easily twice what I would need for the cab, but would leave me with cash for an anticipated stop down the coast.

Easy ride to Logan, easy check in with no line, easy pass through security with no line. This time I remembered to pack my rigging knife in checked luggage! Sadly I had to leave my favorite inflatable life jacked behind; can't fly with a CO2 cartridge.

Easy flight, more or less on time, easy baggage claim, easy pass through Canadian Customs, easy access to a cab right outside, and a no traffic ride to the yacht club.

Naturally, the gate at the YC was locked, but at least the cell phone worked and it was a short walk for the skipper to come get me. Still a bit of a challenge to get the gate open, even from the inside, but yes, there was a button.

Right to sleep, awake at 6AM, found the shore head, made preparations for departure and were underway by 7AM. Watching the weather window, we weren't sure if we were going to Yarmouth, NS to wait out a better weather window or what, but off we went. Wind was abaft the beam, with following seas, as we settled into a 4 on/4 off watch schedule.

Down the coast we went, deciding to round Cape Sable and head to Bar Harbor, staying within the weather window but making the most sea miles.

Naturally, whenever we were close enough to land to see it, the fog denied us. A 10th of a mile seemed the norm... AIS helped a lot.

What went wrong in the fog? Well, in no particular order, the chart plotter went dark. That shut down the radar display, as well. Then we discovered the radio was receiving but not sending. No wonder ships that were calling us in the fog weren't responding once we answered them. Handheld backup, emergency antenna and cell phone GPS would suffice for the balance of the trip,

We stayed well off of Cape Sable, avoiding the tidal rips.

Clear of the land, we had clear skies much of the way across the Gulf of Maine. The wind remained abaft the beam and seas continued to follow. Overnight, the stars disappeared, though, and visibility appeared to be decreasing. When we could see the flow of the running lights in the mist, we figured we were back to a 10th of a mile or less.

Nice to have the AIS working, which alerted us to an exceedingly large cruise ship outbound from Bar Harbor.

We arrived at Bar Harbor at about 7:30, fog bound until we were well inside the turn at Bald Porcupine island, picked up a mooring and waited for a Customs agent to make the hour and a half drive from Bangor. "Stay on the boat in the meantime," was the order.

Clearing Customs was straightforward. Met the agent at the harbor master's office, he asked a question or two, checked passports and we were done.

We had a great crew, with varying levels of sailing and off shore experience, but the best attribute was when things went wrong, we just solved the problem. No panic, no extraordinary concern, just solve the problem and keep on sailing.

I'm looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Torqeedo Travel 1003

We're just back from a two week cruise that covered Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Rather than another edition of "My Summer Vacation," I thought I'd post a review of the Torqeedo Travel 1003.

We're in our second season with the electric outboard, which I bought used from a sailor who moved up to a bigger boat. The Torqeedo powers our West Marine rollup.

The pros:

The all electric outboard lets us avoid carrying gasoline on board. There's nothing to spill, even with the motor lying in a locker or in the cabin. Enough said.

It's light weight, and especially because the components (motor, battery, tiller) can be loaded separately. One hand for the component, one hand for me has worked well.

Power has always been sufficient, even when fighting wind and current.

Battery life has been sufficient to power a tender while cruising. It recharges on board whenever the boat's engine is running and that's kept up with use.

Battery life, speed, remaining miles, are calculated by in internal GPS and displayed on the tiller assembly. You always know what's left.

The cons:

It's slow to charge, so if you're a heavy user, expecting long runs and high speeds, you'll be out of luck.

I get occasional failure which has required a reconnect of cables and/or a power reboot.

The tiller assembly, in particular, is delicate, so beware and don't force anything.

The motor is designed to lock in the "up" position, but the latch is flimsy. A block of wood is suggested, instead.

Tips:

Keep the oars in the dinghy (as you should with any motor).

I suggest rowing when the distances are short and conditions allow. Especially when cruising, it preserves battery life.

Test the motor in forward/reverse before casting off. That will insure that cables are properly connected, the electronics are working, and you don't need a reboot.

The magnet that functions as the kill switch is easily misplaced or lost. A backup is recommended.

Bottom line:

The motor is easy to mount/dismount, quiet and from what I've seen and experienced, as reliable as traditional alternatives. For the way we use it, battery life is perpetual.It's not perfect, but we're fans.