1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bit o' this, bit o' that and some FREE stuff...

Boy, that 'FREE stuff' always brings 'em in the door...no crowding now, there's lots for everyone...
First, a bit o' this....I just finished reading Herb McCormick's book about Lin and Larry Pardey, which Lin gave to me at the Toronto Boat Show.
It's extremely odd to read a book about people you know, written by someone you know, that talks about other people you know, including some you have even worked with. For this reason alone, 'As Long As It's Fun' would have been an exceptional read for me. As it was, a truly engaging and entertaining story about two amazing people.
But it's even better than that. It's the true story, warts and all, of Lin and Larry's adventures together, and including their youth prior to their meeting. I can tell you, having met and spent time with them, that they are incredibly down to earth, unassuming people - and Herb portrays them in just this way. There was no glossing over, no ignoring of unfortunate little bits - this is Lin and Larry, raw and real.
Especially gripping was their story of their rounding of Cape Horn - which I read again just this morning, it was so compelling. Then there's the story of Lin table dancing where....well, pick up a copy if you want to read that story!
As Long as It's Fun is an excellent read, I strongly suggest you pick it up if you'd like to know the story behind the 'First Couple' of sailing.
Herb, congratulations on a superb read! I hope to see more of your work in the future.

And now, for the free stuff! I was just notified that two phenomenal books have just been released as e-books, for FREE! For you, from LiveBloggin', I have pdf versions of Surviving the Storm, Coastal and Offshore Tactics, and also Mariner's Weather Handbook.
Both of these books are by Steve and Linda Dashew, world renowned experts on sailing. The last time I checked the price of Surviving the Storm, it was over $70. Being a cheap sailor, I decided that it wasn't quite time to add it to the 200 plus other books I have on sailing, the boat was simply too overcrowded...but I've always missed having them in my library. Now I have them. And you can as well...
But wait - here comes the small print, we gotta have the small print...
See over to the right hand side of the page? Right there, the part about the Scurvy Crew like in this picture. Well, to get these free e-books, you gotta sign up using either the google signup or the email updates, and then let me know you have, in a message using the contact form in the lower right hand corner. Once you've signed up, I'll email you your free pdf files of both books.
Hey, it isn't so bad. You're reading this blog anyway, you might as well sign up and make sure you never miss an exciting edition of LiveBlogging the ICW! Also, and I assure you of this, your email will never be sold, or misused in any way. Well, not unless it's a really GOOD offer anyhow, something along the lines of free lifetime rum, or some other such sailorly thing.
Seriously, all kidding aside, your email is safe with me. I hope you enjoy these two books, they're classics and deserve to be in every serious sailor's library.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Epiphany at 0'dark:30...

A cold front breezed through last night, and I do mean 'breezed'...to about 25 - 30 knots worth, and you could feel it, even tucked safely away here inside No Name Harbour. I wasn't sleepy, so I was up reading while waiting for the eventual wind shift so that I could do one last anchor check and go to bed. It was about 2 am.
The anchor alarm went off, indicating I had shifted 50 feet from where I had set it. A quick look confirmed that this was the expected wind shift from the west into the north, so I reset the alarm and went back below to finish the chapter, sip a little more wine, and then to bed.
About fifteen minutes later, the alarm went off again. I wasn't too concerned, and then I looked out the companionway....damn, the seawall was perhaps 20 yards away. I was dragging.
I grabbed my jeans - although in the past, I've had to run on deck in less when things got excessively 'interesting' shall we say - went to the windlass and started bringing up the rode. The problem here can be that the boat continues slipping backwards as you bring in line, and drags even faster as you reduce scope. Fortunately, there was enough bite left in the anchor to pull me forward, lessening the urgency of this maneuver from panic to merely 'oh s$%t, here we go again...' We all know that feeling, don't we?
I had two options - re-anchor and sit for at least an hour to make sure it was holding - or tie to the seawall, and risk the wrath of the park ranger in the morning. Well, some choices are real easy, aren't they?
I'd brought back the bowline with me after raising the anchor, so all I had to do was slide over to the seawall and tie up. With the winds running parallel to it and on my nose, this was going to be easy. Also, it gave me a good excuse to take the pup ashore and walk off a bit of the stress.
Back in the boat, I pondered the situation. I had sat out a 55 knot squall in this same harbour with this same gear, two years ago. Didn't budge an inch. Why, in much less wind, had I dragged this time? And what was I going to do to stop it from happening again? I suspected that the bottom here was fairly chewed up from other anchors, but that knowledge didn't solve my problem. Plus, other boats were holding well. Perhaps I needed to get a 45 pound CQR? Or would another anchor be a better idea.
Two friends, Bill and Paul, had been talking up their new anchors recently, so I decided to research the new generation of anchors online for some answers. In the midst of my reading, I got a pm from another night owl, Dave Skolnick of the SSCA. Talk about the perfect expert at the perfect time, Dave is a delivery captain and hugely knowledgeable. We discussed the situation and I started looking into his recommendations, along with those of Bill and Paul.
This morning, I awoke after a carefree (read, tied to the seawall) sleep, and made a phone call. I spoke with the owner of the company about my problem and my needs. My new Mantus anchor, 35 pounds, will be delivered in just a few days.
The interesting thing about this anchor is that it is shipped disassembled. You bolt it together. Test specs for it indicates that it is a very high performing anchor, and resets easily and quickly, both important factors in getting a good night's sleep, or leaving the boat for the day.
The other interesting thing is that we just discussed anchoring here on LiveBloggin' the other day...so to find myself having to make this decision after ten years with the same anchor and system gave me some new insight to what others are experiencing as they prepare for their own cruises.
I'll come back to this issue when the new anchor arrives, and do a video on assembling and installing it. In the meantime, I'm hoping the wind drops for this evening....
The last post, the Rant, was surprisingly popular, with over 1400 views in just two days from as far away as New Zealand, and some fun responses. Glad you folks enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to your own thoughts on my new anchor. Make sure you comment below.
For those of you up north, stay calm - spring is coming.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Time for a Rant....

Three of the idiots running off the biggest boat's generator,
sound reflecting off the rock face. They got a 2 am visit...
Ok, you're warned - this is a rant, and I'm LONG overdue for a good rant. So clip in and hang on, it's gonna be a rough one.
As you know, I'm south of Miami, in Biscayne Bay. It's lovely here, sunny, warm and great sailing on the bay. I'd have moved on by now but I'm awaiting word on a delivery job out of Cuba - once the timing on that is confirmed, I'm out of here.
In the meantime, I'm horrified by the boaters I find here. Can anyone (PLEASE!) explain to me the logic of buying a boat, usually a power boat, worth well over a half million dollars, and the owner doesn't spend $500 to hire a captain or instructor for a day to teach him how to dock and anchor it? Do you know how tiring it gets to spend an entire afternoon telling people - "no, you're anchored too close, you'll have to move" - and they don't get it, argue that they're just fine...and then, fifteen minutes later, swing to within two feet of your boat. They then give you this smarmy smile, and move. Except for the brainless jerks who ask you to 'let out' or 'take in' some anchor rode. I'm sure you can guess what I tell them...
Just what is wrong with these people? Is it that they can afford the deductible when they scrape it down the side of a concrete seawall, which I've seen happen, or drag in the middle of the night into someone else?
Actually, that last never happens. These people NEVER anchor out overnight. Then they couldn't use their aircon and pretty lights that illuminate the water, and their stereos...
LIKE THAT IDIOT who came in with a stereo whose volume rivalled KISS's stage setup, at 10 pm. And yes, he had the pretty lights thing going too.
Talking about pretty lights, who is the brain dead fool who decided to design headlights into some of the new boats, ones usually in the 25 foot range? Every now and then, coming down the ICW, you'll run into one of these jerks with his headlights blinding everyone ahead of him - and if you've ever spent any time out at night, you know that this kind of lighting is essentially useless. It only serves to ruin your night vision. There's no point in trying to contact this fool on the VHF - I guarantee you, if he even has one, it isn't on. Or can't be heard above his stereo.
AUUUGGGGHHHHHH! I just cross my fingers and hope that they go aground - at high tide.
There is a variety of power boater that does anchor out....if it's not the guy with the new Sea Ray and the pretty lights, it's usually guys with old, beat up boats in the mid 20 foot range - who have installed the damn pretty lights, I am not kidding. Pretty blue/red/white/green LEDs are now mandatory on all power boats. I bet these guys take out second mortgages on their homes just to have them.
They also always have a swim platform. It's purpose? So that they can run their cheapie generator on it ALL NIGHT LONG, and keep the entire anchorage awake. And keep themselves comfortable with their aircon.
This is a talisman of EVIL - do not buy or use on pain of a halyard wrap!
They don't typically buy an expensive Honda generator which is reasonably quiet, even at 2 am - oh no, they buy the Harbour Freight cheapie, on sale for $89, that rivals a DC7 for noise levels. In fact, they may even use this generator ON a DC7.
This lack of consideration however is not limited to Biscayne Bay. I've met these inconsiderate twits as far north as Covered Portage Cove in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. The difference there is that the noise reflects off the 300 foot cliffs all around that anchorage. Isn't that special? They, of course, are in their v-berths and insulated from the racket coming off their swim platforms...by the gentle white noise of the friggin' aircon that is running in their boats. And yes, that's their photo at the top of this post.
The generator also helps keep the pretty lights of these knuckle draggers running all night long, since they don't have enough of a battery bank to support even a string of LEDs. And no, they can't turn them off, that's not cool! I've tried asking. You'd have more luck getting them to sell their children.
The other night, one of these (insert your own pejorative!) was anchored upwind of me after the wind shifted, about 50 feet away. On top of the noise, his exhaust fumes were coming in my v-berth hatch. How very special.
So, at 2 in the morning, there I am rowing over to ask him to turn the (insert your own pejorative here) thing off. He didn't...he upped anchor and moved about 100 yards further upwind, thus annoying some other sailors. I honestly felt guilty about this, here I am inflicting this twit on someone else. I got over it though. Maybe if enough people chase him away, he'll GO away.
People sometimes wonder why sailors sail way out to the farthest island in a group, such as Hope Island in Georgian Bay, when there are so many closer in and easier to get to.
It's because no one else goes there. It's because the mindless twerps are only interested in getting to someplace with 8 bazillion other mindless twerps where they can anchor their boats, play their music as loud as they can, shout and scream and laugh at their buddies who are dragging (again), and generally annoy reasonable people with their antics.
So why do I remain here, at least, on the weekends? Honestly? It's because most of the other anchorages in the area are FAR worse. This being a state park, there is at least some regulation constraining these people. There is water - not easy to come by in Biscayne Bay, there's even one marina that will NOT provide water even when you fuel up - a shower, easy shore access for the dog...
You want to try getting ashore at Coconut Grove - you have to climb a seawall without ladders that at low tide is at least seven feet...try that carrying a 35 pound pooch.
On the other hand, I could be home, in Canada, shovelling the latest heavy snowfall - ah, gee, I'm feeling better already. Imagine that. I haven't seen a snow shovel in ten years, don't own winter boots or gloves....ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Life really is good. Time to crack a cold one, perhaps put the hammock up on the foredeck...
Ok, end of rant. Thank you for your patience, that should do nicely for the next few months. We now return you to your normally scheduled surfing...

(p.s. I know that most powerboaters are not like this, and readers of this blog most certainly aren't - but geez, why are there so many of them in this one area? And I didn't even get to the ones like the guy who just roared into the anchorage, waking all the tied off boats, or the jet skiers...)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

What Would Redford Do?

We've been having some fun over on a few of the Facebook sailing forums, yukking it up about Redford's sailing movie, All is Lost. Most sailors find the movie rather cringeworthy....I haven't seen it yet, so I can't give my opinion.
But - one guy from Toronto, asked What Would Redford Do, regarding his leaking holding tank - and keep in mind, this IS a crisis, Adam lives aboard in Toronto and it's freezing up there. So we've been providing him with some solutions - and an idea I had....
The question here is - how many people would be interested in a WWRD t-shirt? I can have these printed up for about $20, plus a couple bucks for packing and shipping them.
If you're interested - shout out! Let me know and I'll start taking orders...just use the contact form on the front page here, let me know quantity and size....if we get enough ordered, I'll get a final price for them. If I get over 50 ordered, I can drop the shipping cost.
Also - let us know - what WOULD Redford do?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fun Just NEVER Stops....

to the far right, you can see the shaft, which goes into the coupling.
To the right, you can also see a set screw, which is tightened down
to secure the shaft to the coupling. This one was being
taken apart, which is why the setscrew is not moused closed.
Woke up to some confusion and consternation this morning...(I was alone, just so we don't have any misunderstandings here!).
Seems the guys on the older, mid 80s IP dragged, right into the mangroves. Worse yet, before they had even had coffee...gotta hate that. We'd had a small front come through about 7:30, the wind shifted, and his anchor tripped. I'll come back to that in a minute.
So I rowed over to see if I could help. Turns out that not only had the anchor tripped, but when he fired up his engine to motor clear, the shaft key on the transmission coupling came loose. So he had no way to drive the boat out of the situation.
This is what is known as the Domino Theory of Boating Crises. First one thing goes wrong. Then something else goes wrong to complicate it. They you drag into your friend's boat, break a $200 solar panel, and then drag into the mangroves.
In the pouring rain...with no bimini. Hungover from St. Patrick's the night before. I'd have laughed, but the karma gods would have been all over me. I don't take those kinds of chances...
But what can we learn from this?
After their friend towed them with his dinghy to the seawall and they tied up, we took a look at the situation. First question - why did they drag? I'd watched them anchor when they arrived, they did a proper job of it, adequate scope, backed down, etc.
Checking the top of the mast - sheaves,
any wear on the halyard and so on.
Turns out they were anchored on a Danforth. A good anchor in the right conditions, (I carry two of them), but not when the boat shifts 180°, as it did when the front came through. Danforths are notorious for not resetting themselves, and that's what happened here. Most likely, the rode tripped the anchor and AWAYYYY they went. You should only use a Danforth when you know the boat will remain in the same basic position, i.e. no tidal shift or wind shift.
Then, the shaft key....turns out that the transmission coupling was not adequately tightened down on the propellor shaft. It was so loose, the shaft could move both forward and back, and spin, inside the coupling. (I can just hear the mechanical types reading this cringing now....)...and so, the shaft key fell out.
For those not mechanically inclined, this situation is a very bad thing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the shaft could fall out of the boat, leaving a hole in the water....
It's simple maintenance - you check these things, and many others, as a matter of habit. It's the only way to avoid getting hit with the Domino Theory and keeping Murphy out of your boat - uh, other than Murph, the cat. He's ok.

There were a lot of interesting responses to our last post on anchors, most of them on the Facebook pages that share this blog - I'll include some of the better ones in the next blog post.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A New Milestone...

I just noticed that this blog now has 99 members - so 100 is easily within reach! If you've been reading here from your Facebook or Google + page and haven't yet signed on, how about it? The link is on the right hand side of the page. Be # 100!
The actual number of regular readers here is substantially higher than 99 however, as thousands of people are reading this blog via Facebook and Google+, as well as Networked Blogs and other incoming sources. In fact, we're clicking off over 8000 views monthly now, which makes this one of the net's better read sailing blogs, something I'm quite proud of. Thank you everyone for, in the words of Captain Kirk, 'making it so'... The next big goal is 10k hits per month....so if you haven't yet shared LiveBloggin' with your boating and sailing friends - WHY NOT?
Some interesting facts about the site - the videos on LiveBloggin' - ICW Tips and Tricks, Cruisers' Hangout, Sailing South - continue to get a significant number of hits. I plant to do more of these sorts of webinars, and hope to commit to another one very soon. Why do I say commit? They are a substantial amount of work, as you can imagine, but certainly worth it from what I hear back from you folks.
There are an increasing number of hits here from linked sources such as SAIL Magazine, whom I write for, and The Sailing Channel, who carries my downloadable videos on the ICW and Cuba. Frequently searched keywords include 'ICW' and 'sailing', 'Wally Moran' and 'free boats', which references the articles I did a while back on that topic. Interestingly enough, I continue to get regular hits on the search term 'naked news', having referenced them one time on a boat show article two years ago. Go figure...and I just bet those people searching 'naked news' are somewhat disappointed in what they find! So just for them: naked news naked news naked news naked news naked news....now watch the hit counter climb!
Ok - enough dry statistics - let's talk about sailing! Here's an anchoring question from a regular reader. Seems that anchoring and choosing an anchor always gets attention - for those unsure of the process, which sometimes appears to be magical and mysterious....here's some answers. I've edited my response to this questioner to make it more applicable to all readers here. Experienced cruisers, let's hear from you on this topic also, please.

Hi Wally,
I reading your response on the blog about anchor rode in the Caribbean. I was just wondering what I should consider for the trip on the ICW this fall, for both chain and anchor line.
Hi there - been ages since I addressed this question. Here's a primer to start you off - http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/anchors-and-rodes.asp
This is also good - http://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvisor/Selecting-The-Right-Anchor

The one comment I would have - two actually - have 100 - 150% of your boat length in feet of properly sized chain, that way when your boat swings in the tide change, it won't get hung up on the rode - because the chain drops down. I have 75 feet since my boat is 34 feet loa. 
Line does not fall straight down, and you can get 'pinned' sideways against a non chain rode in a tide change. For a 25 foot boat, you should probably have 7/16 three strand and 1/4" PC chain - 50 feet of chain as mentioned, then 150 - 200 feet of rope. I presume you don't have a windlass on a boat that size.
Also - don't use a danforth or fortress as a main anchor along the ICW - they foul too easily when the current changes. For weight, check the websites dedicated to the anchor you choose.
For fans of the Danforth type anchor, it's the only anchor to use in places such as St. Michael, MD, on the Chesapeake, because its flukes grab and hold in the soft slush that makes up that bottom.
LiveBloggers, I'm sure you have questions and comments - let's hear them, and your ideas on anchors and anchoring.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Exciting Times - the Snowbird Rally south from SAIL!

Wow - great news! As I've mentioned previously, SAIL Magazine is sponsoring a rally for new ICW
cruisers this fall which I'll be leading. The purpose of this rally is to provide a sense of safety and security for the new cruisers, introduce them to the ICW and the cruising life in a fun and friendly fashion. We've got a couple of great gigs planned - an all day seminar in Annapolis, plus parties and potlucks along the way and a wrap up party here in Miami where I am currently, at No Name Harbour in Baggs State Park.
Just today, I participated in a video conference call with one of the cities along the route. They are EXCITED that we're coming and they're rolling out the red carpet in a HUGE way.
We're talking parties, transportation, tours of the city, VIP dockage....all this and more in an historic town I consider to have the nicest waterfront on the ICW. We're talking Low Country hospitality here folks....more details as plans are firmed up, but if you, or friends, are thinking of going south this coming fall, check out the details at the above page, or join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SailMagICWRally This is going to be a fun, and historic, trip south.
The recent post answering some ICW questions was VERY well received - thank you everyone. With that in mind, I'm going to answer a couple of more questions on the ICW that I've received - and again, feel free to use the contact form at the lower right corner to send me your questions. I'll get to them as quickly as I possibly can.

Question from Debbie...
We are currently docked in cape may at canyon marina under engine repair it should be fixed by this weekend . We want to continue on to Chesapeake bay through the CD canal then on to the ICW to warmer climates is this doable this time of year or are we kidding ourselves ? We are on a 35 ft C&C. We left Halifax N.S. to Maine and did the US coast until engine problems plagued us in NewJersey :(

Hi Debbie - I thought I'd left the Chesapeake late a few times but you win that one! People do this trip at any time of the year and you'll see people sailing on the Chesapeake all year long. I've done the bottom third of the Chesapeake as late as February myself. Just watch the weather for any northers, more for the cold than anything else. This year has been really brutal weatherwise - as I'm sure you know, it's worse than anything we've seen in years - so duck into cover when you have to, travel when you can. With any luck, you'll catch a break and be able to get down the Chesapeake without any weather issues. There are lots of good anchorages on the Chesapeake, you can manage it in three long days, four reasonable, or one long overnighter if you feel up to it. The good news is, once you're at Norfolk and on the ICW, the ocean mitigates the temperatures and it's likely to be 5 - 10 degrees F warmer.
Heading up the Delaware, catch the flood tide leaving Cape May about a half hour after slack low and ride it up to the C&D - try not to do this with a north wind - it'll be cold and likely rough. Been there, done it in mid December, don't recommend it.
Don't know what you have for heat onboard, I suggest you purchase a Mr. Buddy - see http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mr.-Heater-Portable-Buddy-Heater/5712813 - use it until you go to bed, it'll warm the cabin up nicely. Don't use it overnight however, since you don't want to risk CO poisoning.
Please email me with any other questions you have, or if you need any advice re anchorages, etc. as you go. Let's make this trip a bit easier on you than it has been so far!
oh - Chesapeake City, at the end of the C&D has a free dock with power, so if you can leave Cape May early enough with the tide, you'll have a nice dock to tie up to. Annapolis is an easy day after that.
Good luck, please keep in touch with your progress, you can friend me at wally moran on Facebook if you wish.
Question from Murray
We are currently outfitting our hunter 45ds for a cruise to the bahamas, caribean... My question is on the ground tackle that we would need. The dealer gave ua a delta anchor with 20 ft of chain. I am thinking on adding a cqr with 200 ft. Do i need j2 anchors both with 200 ft of chain? Wont that be heavy? What are your recomendations

Hi Murray - nice boat! What size CQR? I'd suggest a 45, and the 200 feet of chain sized to the boat is a good choice. You might want to consider another 100 - 150 feet of three strand in addition to that. While this is a lot of line for the Bahamas, there will be anchorages in the Caribbean where you'll need more rode. The chain of course means that coral can't cut through. Be sure you have a snubber also. 
Check with your West Marine catalogue for the appropriate chain and rope size for your boat's weight, or Calder's cruising guide.
I have 75 feet of chain plus 150 feet of rope on a 34 foot boat with a 35 pound CQR and I'm going to add another 75 feet of chain. You might consider keeping the Delta if it's appropriately sized and put it on 100 feet of chain with another 100 feet of three strand. 
If you decide to bring a third anchor, give a Danforth style some thought - there are some anchorages where it will be the only thing that will hold. Just don't trust them anyplace where the currents swing you around, they can foul too easily in those conditions.
Yes, this will all be fairly heavy, but when the winds kick up, you won't mind, believe me. I dragged the other night in a blow, and the only reason I did was because I had too little rode out. I reanchored with 135 feet in 10 feet of water and had no problems.
You'll rarely need the extra anchor - but should you lose your primary, having that chain on the secondary will be very useful. 
Lastly, I'm hearing very good things about the new anchors available - Rocna and so on. You might want to take a look at them before making any final decision. Keep in mind, when it comes to anchors, everyone has a favourite - you'll get lots of advice. Just remember - weight is the key.