Monday, May 31, 2010


On the Chesapeake, even though fishermen trolling have no navigational right-of-way, I've noticed that most sailors are polite and don't demand rights on the open water where trolling is common. Everyone gives your transom wide berth, recognizing you have gear in the water as much as 300 feet back.

25 years ago, when I had a Prindle 16 catamaran (no engine) I was trolling for bluefish on the lower Potomac, when a waterski boat decided it would be funny to do a loop around my boat, quite close. Suddenly, one the reels started to scream, all the line ran out, and it broke off at the spool - unusual, because line generally breaks at the lure end, but I didn't think much about it.

I had already caught one good fish, the skier expereince had bummed me out, and so I stopped fishing and just sailed for a few more hours, wandering my way back to the launch ramp. I de-rigged my boat, secured it on the trailer, and then noticed that the ski boat was back on its trailer too, a swarm of guys hovering around stern drive. It had been towed in.

I wandered over, curious - morbidly - to hear what misfortune had befallen the JERKS when I saw a something familiar. My lure, a 12-inch hose eel, was hanging from his drive. It seems the wire leader had cut through the oil seal, the lube had run out, and in several hours of hard running, he had fried his stern drive.

I walked over, cut my lure free with a multi-tool I had in my pocket, and thanked him from returning my lure. I left for home, directly.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Like many sailors, I never seem to throw away old lines. State-of-the-art Kevlar cordage that once served as a low-stretch halyard may become a belt to hold your trousers up, but it's never simply discarded with out being re-purposed at least once.

Securing the Boom. Some folks like boom gallows. Some simply crank the mainsheet against the topping lift. I've always favored a short brace line from the end of the boom to a handy point on one side, creating a triangle. The boom holds still, becomes a firm resting point, wear is reduced, the the topping lift is less strained. It is also light and fast. This one was tied from one of the original jib sheets from my 1979 Stiletto during our delivery trip in; a gale was predicted the next day and I wanted everything tight.

I simply clip it up out of the way while sailing.

Securing Coils on Deck.
Some lead all halyards and reefing lines into the cockpit, but I like a clean cockpit without all those tails. I don't mind climbing on deck in a tempest and I like the simplicity and low friction allowed by working at the mast.A similar line secures the spinnaker bridle tail tot he tramp when not in use.

However, there is still the matter of tails and how to control the clutter. I've seen all matter of nifty gagits for securing coils in the West Marine catalog, but a simple padeye and 2 feet of 1/4-inch line is simpler, easier to deal with in the dark and rain, more durable, and more dependable. This was tied from retired 1/4-inch Kevlar halyard from the same Stiletto.

Davits. Another old halyard (1/4-inch Stayset-X if you must know - too stretchy for racing boat halyards) hoists the tender on her davits. The original owner had stuffed 3/8-inch 3-strand through tiny blocks and the friction was horrible.

I still have my first climbing rope, nearly 30 years old. It has been retired from climbing falls to a secondary anchor rode. Old dock lines have pulled a number of drivers out of snow banks this winter. Old sheets from my new boat, found in the bilge on the way home connect the outer dolphins of my slip to the dock, making single-handed docking simple.

An old Kevlar sheet was converted into a high life line (no stretch).


The trick is not to just horde, but to re-purpose.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Boat Cards

Trivia... but handy when traveling. We printed a batch off a year ago and they disappeared soon enough. I hate that the internet makes me strip the personal info.

Gulf of Mexico Spill

rev. May 4, 2010

Since broader media coverage inevitably focuses on the bloody shirt and what ever will sell advertising and skips boring factual information, I thought I my provide a little low-spin information. I'm not with the Sierra Club, I don't work for a major oil company, and I don't live in the area such that my boat or lively hood is at stake. I like clean water but I recognize that I consume oil.

It seems, between burning, spraying soap, evaporation and sinking, the spill is not growing so fast as you would think... which isn't to say there isn't impact, only that it is not so immediately visible as oil on a beach or bird. It's staying out of sight, the winds and currents corralling it off-shore.

The current amount collected seems pretty pitiful, but I would guess that the number is at least 24 hours old and the sea state has only allowed effective skimming for a day of so. On the other hand, it's typical in spill clean-up efforts that much of the oil volume credited as recovered is actually water mixed in with the oil.

Still, that is a lot of boom and a lot of skimming platforms. There is also a lot more time, until the well is capped. Let's hope.

From NOAA and the Coast Guard:
Current Operations
May 4, 2010 Operations:

Total Vessels (including tugs and skimmers): 196
Boom deployed: 486,940 feet
Boom available: 668,081 feet
Oil and Water Mix - Recovered: 23,968 gallons
Dispersant Used : 156,012 gallons
Dispersant available: 230,000 gallons
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV): 10
Overall Personnel Responding: 7,484

In addition to the overall personnel responding, more than 2,000 volunteers have been trained to assist in the response effort.

9 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include:

Biloxi, Miss.
Pensacola, Fla.
Venice, La.
Pascagoula, Miss.
Port Sulphur, La.
Port Fourchon, La.
Gulfport, Miss.
Dauphin Island, Ala.
Shell Beach, La.

Weather conditions for May 4: Winds from the south at 8-9 knots, 2-3 foot seas.

From the State of Louisiana:

Spill Trajectory Maps:
Maps - Past and Future

And you can even hire-out to join the clean-up effort.
Vessels of Opportunity

But you won't compete with the beast they are sending to drill relief wells:
Deepwater Discovery