Enjoying Deep Water Anchorages

Enjoying Deep Water Anchorages

On board Beetle, with her 8-foot draft, I like to anchor in 30 feet of water when possible. This often puts me way out on the fringe of the fleet, and that's fine—there's a reason Beetle carries a dinghy with an outboard motor. Sometimes I can't find 30 feet of water, and the bottom is much further away—150-foot depth is my maximum so far. The general anchoring scope recommendations I've read call for 3:1 or 4:1 on all chain and 5:1 to 7:1 (better) on a short length of chain plus nylon rode. The goal is to present a horizontal…
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Handheld VHF for the Life Raft

Handheld VHF for the Life Raft

Probably the worst fear you can face as an offshore sailor is losing your vessel at sea. And while we definitely want to make sure we have a vessel-mounted and personal EPIRB ready to send out a distress signal immediately, we also need some means of communicating with rescue operations should this unthinkable horror ever come to pass. Packing a survival VHF radio in your ditch bag is the best guarantee you will have voice communication with nearby ships. However, the ideal choice for this radio should include the ability to summon help beyond the typical eight-mile range of a…
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Marina visit checklist

Marina visit checklist

By Rob MacFarlane When I’m cruising my usual practice is to anchor out each evening. As needed, however, my Morgan 45 Tiger Beetle will spend a night in a marina, which is great for a large shore-side food shopping, meeting an arriving friend, and doing work at the yard. I’ve found that visiting random marinas requires a variety of relatively simple accouterments to make life at the dock proceed smoothly. Electricity AC power is unpredictable. The connections I've run into so far are 125v/20amp (Canada), 125v/30amp (USA), 125v/50amp (big slips in USA/Mexico), 125/250v/50amp (other bigger slips USA), as well as…
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No drama anchor recovery

By Daniel Carrigan It was a relatively benign morning. Glassy water. Light wind tickling the burgee at sunrise. A boat here and a boat there in the anchorage. Yet it was the setting for another lesson in anchoring. The nice sloop that had anchored almost too close to my ketch, Teloa II, a Wells 34 design, the afternoon before, upwind, was now behind me and closer. Then it had been blowing fresh from the west. But the fitful breeze now was from the east. When the wind veered overnight they were stern to, and closer by a boat length. I’d…
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Dinghy parts are important

Dinghy parts are important

The ship's dinghy is such a simple thing: a rubber tube, some floor boards, and a motor. What could possibly go wrong? During my six months in Pacific Mexico I got to find out. As an early indication of unexpected required maintenance — my girlfriend flew in to Mexico, I picked her up in the dinghy, we motored out to the open roadstead anchorage a mile and a half out and just feet from my 45-foot Morgan sloop Tiger Beetle the outboard died. In 18 knot winds and choppy water we started to drift offshore towards the Pacific Ocean. I…
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What is a MMSI number and why do I need it?

by Ann Hoffner A wellfound sailboat making its way across the South Pacific strikes a whale; within minutes water enters the bilge. It’s impossible to find the source and those on board decide to seek assistance. The crewmember assigned to communications hurries to the nav station, pushes the red distress button on the VHF radio. Why did they do that? It’s only a short range radio, how can it help from the middle of the ocean? Because the red button means its equipped with digital selective calling (DSC), and pushing that button automatically sent out a message and will keep…
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Obtaining local knowledge on the fly

Obtaining local knowledge on the fly

My 45-foot Morgan sloop Tiger Beetle is currently cruising the “gold coast” of Pacific Mexico, Zihuatanejo to Puerto Vallarta, with many interesting and fun small coves and bays along the way to visit. A key item upon arrival is learning what the routines might be and what is going on here — something the cruising guides can’t necessarily provide as the information goes out of date or is not sufficiently detailed. Prior to anchoring I’ll ask around to learn what I can about what’s happening. The best method I’ve found is to arrive at an anchorage, look for the boat…
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Fire extinguishers on the boat

Fire extinguishers on the boat

My boat Tiger Beetle is a 45-foot sailboat, basically a long fiberglass tube with three exits onto deck from the interior: a large foredeck hatch anybody can get through, the companionway with a ladder and steps, and a smaller hatch aft set into the cockpit floor. You need relatively narrow shoulders to fit through the cockpit hatch. These are the ways out if there's a fire inside the boat. I keep two types of fire extinguishers onboard: three small dry chemical ABC units for attacking a generic fire, and one Halotron 1 unit specifically for an engine box fire. The…
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Fishing for dinner while underway

Voyaging Tips, December 2021 Catching dinner from a sailboat on passage is completely unlike sport fishing from a stationary boat. The goal is to get a fish on board for the grill and dinner. On passage the sails are up and you're making the best possible speed, so stopping the boat to fight a fish is not much of an option. A rod and reel is one solution, though you're working with lightweight line, a rod that can break, and if the fish is large enough you'll have difficulty boating it without a net or gaff. Alternatively, a simple, strong,…
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Voyaging Tips, August 2021

Voyaging Tips, August 2021

Good skippers don’t experiment with long-standing shipboard routines. They know how to delegate important duties to qualified people and then let them do their jobs without micromanaging them. Choose one cook to be in charge and one assistant cook to occasionally help out. Don’t make the cook stand watches and swab the decks too. Meals take time to prepare, cook, serve, and clean up. Multiply that by three meals per day, and that’s enough work right there for anyone. Don’t forget to give your cook some days off by using that assistant cook as an occasional relief. No one wants…
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