Search Results for: kettlewell

A harbor to ride it out

Editor's note: Some thoughts on belonging during trying times from voyager, author, executive director of Sail Martha's Vineyard and frequent ON contributor, John Kettlewell.    With the COVID-19 virus emergency getting worse each day, we are beginning to read of communities, islands, regions and states attempting to shut their borders to outsiders, and those of us who travel by boat know that we are almost always "from away." So, what does a long-term cruiser or live-aboard do during an emergency? Obviously, if you live aboard and are in your home port, you should expect to be treated like a local and receive the same rights along with the same responsibilities. Sadly, this is not often the case in my experience. Live-aboards are considered close to homeless people by some — and if your…
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Surveying boat security

Alarm systems come in three basic varieties: stand-alone systems that utilize sound alarms to alert those nearby, cellular network-based systems that can also alert you, and satellite-based systems that can provide worldwide coverage. Most companies offer a combination of local alarms and some type of connectivity, with some products that can utilize both satellite and cellular networks. You might assume the advantage of satellite systems would only be needed by those voyaging boats that head well offshore, but in reality there are many coastal areas with poor or no cellular data service — as many of us who have cruised the Maine coast or the Bahamas can attest. If your primary needs are in a marina with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, however, the advantages of satellite communications may be overkill.…
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Internet bliss

While enjoying my usual evening libation in the cockpit, I often grab a cellphone or laptop to find out what is happening in the world, what messages may have come in that I can ignore, and whether or not thunderstorms are likely to wake us at the usual 2 a.m. With the wonders of Wi-Fi and cellular phone service, these joys/chores of modern life have become necessities for most cruisers, and there are many ways to achieve the state of “connected” bliss on board. For many boaters, regular cellphones and Wi-Fi-enabled laptops (and other devices) provide plenty of connectivity when close to shore and in marinas. While coastal cruising from Maine to Florida, I am frequently within good cellphone coverage — even over to the Bahamas. Yes, there are big…
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All backed up?

Most voyagers depend on an array of digital assets, from the basics like email, the Internet and assorted important documents, to more nautical essentials like charts, weather information and cruising guides. Many also carry digital books, movies, photographs and other items to make onboard life easier, safer and more pleasant. It is easy to store a lot of digital stuff on board on portable hard drives, USB sticks and DVDs. You will likely also have data stored in the cloud using some service such as Google Drive or Dropbox that requires a communications link to the Internet. The question is how to manage this storage so that the essentials are not only safe but backed up and available when your hardware fails — and it will fail! Check your assets…
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New-gen anchors are now-gen

Frankly, I am a bit of an experimenter when it comes to anchors. Before setting off on a two-year voyage to Panama and back, I purchased a little-known option to grace my boat’s bow: a Bulwagga. Based on mostly a few vague test reports and the strong testimonial of a friend who was using one, I took a leap of faith, which indicated I had some lingering doubts in the back of my mind about the traditional equipment used in many anchoring dramas. Drama is not something you want when anchoring! Old faithfuls First, it has to be recognized that there is a lot more to anchoring than simply tossing over the latest touted design to compensate for your inadequate technique. People like the Hiscocks, the Roths and the Pardeys…
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Broken anchor snubber

To the editor: I’ve anchored in Cuttyhunk Harbor, Mass., hundreds of times over many different seasons. I like to joke that I just drop my hook in one of my old holes and I know all will be well no matter what. I’ve ridden out one full hurricane, Bob, and numerous close brushes by other hurricanes, tropical storms, nor’easters, etc. Knowing a lot about this harbor, its bottom characteristics and what it has meant for various generations of my own anchoring gear, this is a nearly ideal testing ground for new (to me) anchoring equipment. A few years ago, I acquired a Mantus 45-pound anchor for my 38-foot motorsailer, and I have been gradually testing it during my cruises in southeast New England. I have been impressed with its nearly…
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MOB recovery tools

The old adage holds true: “One hand for oneself, and one for the ship.” Boaters spend a lot of time, money, effort and thought on preventing what is an exceedingly rare occurrence on larger cruising-sized vessels. One reason we all dread going overboard offshore is that experienced boaters recognize the extreme difficulty of first finding the victim — assuming anyone is on board to notice — and then getting that person back on board the boat. Just think of all the times you have had a hat blow off and then tried to retrieve it. How successful were you? I know I have lost a lot of hats, fenders and other items that blew off the boat, never to be seen again. Try jumping off your boat in a peaceful…
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Smartphone photography

To the editor: Like most cruisers today, I carry and rely on a smartphone for many things: email, maps, weather radar — even phone calls! However, as someone who enjoys photography and who frequently sells illustrated articles accompanied by photographs, I have learned both the plusses and minuses of smartphone photography on board. The biggest advantage is, of course, that “the best camera you own is the one you have with you.” When a great photo presents itself, you don’t want to be regretting that you left your DSLR and its heavy bag back on the boat. Since many of us feel naked without a smartphone, we tend to carry one wherever, whenever. This means you won’t miss that shot of the amazing sunset, or the funny-looking dinghy at the…
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Digital world cruising

Gone are the days when I used to measure the length of the bookshelves on boats I was checking out for cruising. I really did that! The book inventory required for a long-distance cruise was staggering: charts, cruising guides, almanacs, tide tables, radio frequency guides, language translation books, cookbooks, phone books, Ocean Passages for the World, World Cruising Routes, travel books, novels, road atlases, dictionaries, etc. It was very easy to find yourself struggling down the dock to a new boat carrying 300 pounds of books in multiple trips. Obviously, digital book and chart storage can eliminate much of this problem, and there are many additional functionalities that can be added by using smartphone, laptop and tablet apps. The wealth of knowledge that can be carried on board is fantastic,…
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The email two-step

You’re anchored securely in a tropical lagoon you used to dream about … then the “real world” drags you back. No matter how magical the anchorage, there comes the time when you have to dinghy ashore to seek out Wi-Fi and an Internet cafe so you can pay the bills, find parts, check in with family and friends and, if you are really courageous, read the news. Today, voyagers enjoy a multitude of Internet benefits that make managing your real-world life much easier, but you best be aware of some new concerns. While voyaging, your online life will center around email. Almost every bill can be received via email. Many things that formerly were very difficult for voyagers to receive come via email. In addition, an email address is the…
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