Wednesday, June 26, 2013

For The Birds

What a great weekend at the boat! The summer weather has finally arrived and all the birdies are happy :-)

 It's nice to be surrounded by so much of nature when we are at our marina. I've noticed that the older I get (have gotten), the more I enjoy and appreciate nature. It has been our habit for the past three years to go to the boat on Thursday evenings to make a long weekend out of them all through the summer. Even if I have to run back to my work on Friday mornings, it's such a break to get to the boat & the sight and sounds of the birds are truly heartwarming.

 Makes me feel good and I wanted to share a few photos of these pretty birds with you :-)

 There are a large number of Ospreys in the area, with a nesting pair very close to the boat. I'm always fascinated by these majestic animals and stop to watch them in flight. Here's one circling overhead in search of a meal;

I was able to capture some video of this guy capturing his meal - a big fish;

We also have a few Great Blue Herons fishing and flying around. Interesting to watch these guys move along so   s l o w l e y   in search of their prey;

This one looks like the male, as he/it is larger than the one in the previous photo. Either that, or just older? Note the big goose in the distance. I think these guys have some sort of territory thing going on, with the Herons keeping to themselves;

Yet another batch of young gooses. Sure, they look cute when they're little, but grow up to be continuous poop machines :-(

 And they tend to show up in numbers, so their poop droppings can really 'pile' up ;-) Hey! Thayt's not even funny. . .

Monday, June 24, 2013

eBay Guides - Choosing a Boat Anchor

Here is another of my eBay Guides. Have a read, check out some of the links and let me know what you think!

Unlike the hit song from the 70's, the last thing you want to do is 'Drift Away' after setting your anchor. A bit of planning and the right equipment will make setting the hook a secure experience.

Anchor Styles

A smaller boat needs a smaller anchor and a bigger boat needs a bigger anchor, right? This is not always the case, as size is an important consideration, but not the only one. Our experience has shown that the style of anchor has a greater bearing on its holding power than mere bulk.

When deciding on an appropriate anchor, take the following into consideration;
•    Size of boat
•    Bottom structure
•    Sea and weather conditions

Considering at the various styles, think about where most of your anchoring will take place. Will it be a lazy afternoon at a quiet, inland bay or for days on end alongside a more exposed Caribbean island? Either way, take into account the bottom conditions to determine the corresponding style.

 For small runabouts to larger cruisers, the most popular choices are;
•    Claw or Bruce. Designed for mud bottom.
•    Danforth. Best suited to a sand bottom, as the sharp flukes will dig in with tremendous holding power. Can also be used in a mud bottom, but may be more difficult to break free than a plow when retrieving.
•    Delta or Plow. As the name implies, this anchor is designed to work its way into the bottom, much like a farmers plow. Good all-around anchor in many conditions, including weeds.
•    Scoop Style (Spade, Rocna). These are relative newcomers to the scene and report fast setting with superior holding power. Down side is that they may be more difficult to retrieve and bring up lots of mud/weeds when set in those sea floor conditions.

 We generally boat where the bottom is mud or sand and use a delta style anchor as our main, with a smaller Danforth as a backup or stern anchor. Our inflatable dingy has limited storage, making a folding grapnel style or mushroom anchor feasible choices. Although small and easy to store, these compact units are best suited to short term use only.

Anchor Construction

Most anchors are forged from steel with a galvanized coating to prevent rust, as they are relatively strong and reasonably priced. This mass production material is the most common used and we have never had an issue with this type of construction. Although more expensive, stainless steel anchors are another choice as they offer considerably more strength and can be polished to a high gloss shine. Think of it as having both ‘bling’ and ‘brawn’ for your bow ;-)

 Rope or Chain?

Now that an anchor has been selected, we need to secure it to the boat. Use an anchor shackle to connect the anchor to the rode or chain. A piece of stainless steel locking wire should be run through the removable pin and tied around the shackle to avoid it turning out from vibration. No stainless wire on board? For a short term solution, a common zip tie can be used in a pinch, but is more susceptible to deterioration from use or UV damage.

The anchor rode (or line) is the next common element, produced from rope, chain or combination of both.

 The advantages of an all rope anchor rode is its light weight and ability to stretch. The three common rope configurations are; traditional ‘twisted’ line, ‘single braid’ or ‘double braided’ line. Nylon is the preferable material, having the desirable characteristics of good elasticity and resistance to UV light.  Another choice is Polyester, which is not quite as strong as nylon, but has better abrasion resistance and more UV resistant. The disadvantage of all rope is that it is considerably more susceptible to chafing and deterioration than chain.

Going with all chain will offer more weight, tending to improve the angle at which the anchor sets on the bottom. Chain is also preferable when anchoring in coral or rocky bottoms to reduce chafing that might otherwise occur on an all rope line. The disadvantage of going with all chain is that in very windy conditions the chain may go tight, with no slack or give. This could cause the anchor to break loose or damage deck fittings. Introducing a separate snubber line close to the deck would help relieve that strain.

Our choice matches that of many cruising boaters; a rope/chain combination, which gives us the benefits of both materials. Whichever way you go, be sure to have a ratio of at least ten times the length of rode to the depth of water you will be anchoring in - having even more on hand is advisable.


The ‘First Mate’ on our boat loves the convenience of our mechanical windlass, which hoists the anchor up and down at the flick of a switch. Windlasses come with specific chain or rope sizes that they can work with, so match the rode to the unit you will be using.

It’s important to keep in mind that when using a windlass and the anchor has been set, it is imperative to take the load off of it, as it is not designed to bear the force generated by the boat’s weight. We have seen a fellow boater’s windlass that was damaged beyond repair when it was not properly tied off on a windy day. To avoid this yourself, relieve the windlass by attaching the rode directly to a cleat, or use a chain lock for an all chain rode. A mooring snubber will further reduce the strain on both the rode & boat.

Whatever your choice in hardware, once anchored it is vital to keep an eye on everything, checking periodically to make sure you are maintaining your anchorage. Changes in wind direction or speed, current or wave action can all affect the anchor’s hold, so be sure to be aware of these changes and adjust accordingly.

 With a sound anchoring solution, you can relax to a ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sea Ray Crashes Into Break Wall

Well, it's another weekend and another crash story to report on :-(

 This past Friday evening, a boater from our marina went out for an evening cruise and, according to witnesses, around 11:00 PM, he hit the stone break wall at the approach from the lake.  Let me re-phrase that - it was more like LAUNCHED onto the break wall!

Here is a shot of the salvage crew trying to free the boat from the bottom, after it was towed off the big rocks;

 Just where he hit, the depth of water is less than 2 feet, so the boat must have been moving at a high rate of speed to get through that before actually crashing into the wall. Probably a good thing, as the sand bottom probably slowed the boat enough so that no fatalities resulted.

These guys had been working all night to patch the hull (they put plywood over a hole in the bow & filled it with expanding foam), finally freeing it around noon;

So, ask yourself how the heck someone could hit a BIG FRIGGEN WALL at high speed? Can you say 'Driving Under The Influence'?
In this shot, you can see how low it was riding in the water. It looked like they were running two big gas pumps + the bilge pumps to keep her afloat;

Here is the tow vessel tied up alongside of the stricken Sea Ray. It looked like she was only running on the starboard engine, plus the story is that the steering wheel broke off when the guy driving smashed into it upon impact. I hear it left a big impression on him :-)
 I'm not going to refer to the driver as a 'captain', as he was clearly not in control of the boat, as a true captain would be;

 The saddest part of this story is that when we were walking back to shore, we discovered that a fellow boater who was also checking out the damage with his wife, fell between the rocks of the break wall & broke his leg. He is an older fellow and was unable to be helped out, so ambulance was called and we (about five other boaters who were there) all carried him out on one of those flat stretcher boards.
 We are all hopeful for a speedy recovery there, Ron;

Here is a video clip from all the excitement;

 So, the lesson for today kids, is Be Careful!!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sailboat Versus Power Lines :-(

A bit of excitement at our marina this past weekend with hydro lines tore down and the marina left without electrical power for hours.

 All this was thanks to an overexcited sail boater who was taking his boat from the storage compound over to the launch ramp. I'm guessing he was more concerned with trying to remeber if the drain plug was in, or the batteries charged that he forgot to look up at the lines he was about to hit!

 With live wires draped across (what's left of) his boat, it's a good thing that he had the presence of mind to stay in his truck until the Hydro crews showed up. Ya, he had that and a bit of whiplash), too ;-)

The good news is that the boys from Hydro One were able to get a new pole installed and the power back in in just over two hours. Good thing too, as my beer was precariously close to start getting warm ;-)

 Here's an 'One Scene' video report ;