Monday, July 25, 2011

Water Pumps

No clever title. This isn't that sort of post. No pictures. They wouldn't be pretty.

Yesterday we were out on the Bay. After some relaxing spinnaker sailing in lights winds, we retired to a beach area, where we could anchor in 5 feet of water over a hard sand bottom and just float. Watching the world drift by from only a few inches above the water is my favorite summertime perspective. The water was a perfect 85 F, the jellyfish are late this year in the Bay, and nothing seemed threatening. Just people laughing and clouds drifting by. In a few days we will be heading out for a 7-day cruise. All was right with the world.

One of the engines over-heated on the way back. I suspected a water pump impeller, which I should have changed when it was hauled last week, but I thought there might be another season in it. My last engines (Johnson and Nissan) would go 10-20 years on an impeller, but not Yamaha; they self destruct every few years. I don't think much of Yamaha 9.9s. I don't think much of the lock down mechanism, the carbs, or the cooling system. Mostly, the cooling system.

I checked all of the usual easy suspects:
  • Intake clear.
  • Outlet hose clear.
  • Thermostat clear... and no water comes out when the engine is started....
... which leaves the impeller, since there are no restrictions between the thermostat and pump. Which is not fun to remove in the water. Water with an oily sheen here and there, a few jellyfish trying to move in, and a mud bottom that would reach my knees if I pushed down. No option, really, with a long-anticipated trip only a few days away: hauling is expensive and would take too long; simply going with one engine is possible, but with little wind predicted that could make for some long days. Going to a nice beach to do the work is always possible--I do that sometimes--but that would hamstring the inevitable trips for parts--and there were several--and there tends to be a bit more wave action. Oil and mud it would be.

I won't give a blow-by-blow--it's in the manual--just a few tips for anyone who must do this in the water. I assure this all took longer to do than to describe (2 hours?).
  • Experience it on dry land first. Water is a less cooperative environment.
  • Don't drop anything. Go slowly, it will be faster in the long run.
  • In the water in the shade is not much worse than in the sun at 100 F; at least you don't sweat. I think that's the only up-side.
  • Get a floating tool boat. I used a plastic concrete mixing pan and found it perfect; it holds plenty of tools and parts, floats high, and would be quite difficult to tip. Drill holes in the flange for 1/4-inch line so you can tie it where you need it. I'm going to remember this trick!
  • Shift the engine into reverse; this way you can reach the nut securing the lower half of the shift linkage.
  • Tie the engine lift line further up the leg.
  • Disconnect the shift linkage. Gently. Soaking with PB Blaster might be wise. If this breaks your going to spend hours pulling the engine and then spend hours pulling the engine from the casing; it connects in a terrible place.
  • Remove the 4 bolts holding the lower unit.
  • Install the lower unit puller. This is a sandwich of two 4x4s carved out to fit the leg just above the cavitation plate; they pinch tightly, secured by through bolts or lag bolts.
  • Beat the lower unit off with a hammer, working your way around. Not easy. Don't bother with prying tools; pounding works better and surprisingly, risks less damage. Don't go too big on the hammer or you risk the motor mount (18-23 ounce, no sledge hammers).
  • Replace the impeller up on deck. Easy. Since engine was in reverse, turn the prop in reverse so that the impeller vanes are bent the correct direction. Change the oil if you feel it is due.
  • Coat the mating surface, bolts, and guide pins with your favorite anti-seize. I like Teflon paste.
  • Install the lower unit. It will slide right on, no matter how miserable removal was. It can take a little fiddling to get the shaft back in the hole. Giggle the prop and it will only take a few seconds. Do not tighten the bolts yet; complete the next step first.
  • Reconnect the shift linkage. Teflon paste on that too; if it seizes and you twist it off you are so screwed. The upper half is very difficult to replace (I broke one on a motor I was stripping for parts).
  • Tighten everything. Put the pull-up rope back where it belongs.
  • Shower off the funk you've been swimming in. Shower the tools too.
Drink a cold one and think about next week, cruising the Bay, and not wondering about engine temperature.

Which is easier: pulling the engine or swimming? For me, swimming is faster and easier if you know the drill.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dirty Bottoms

After 2 years and a few days with Interlux Micron 66 she doesn't look too bad. I will add that no in-water scrubs were needed the first summer, one the second fall, and two this year. The grow rate was really starting to pick-up, so two years is the practical limit on the Chesapeake.

We scrub only with 6-inch squares of berber carpet, which are supper cheap, more effective than Scotch Brite pads, and very gentle on the paint. They are easy to hold with rubber faced gloves. Three stars for that suggestion from a professional hull cleaner. If you encounter barnacles, the best low-impact and easy-to-use scraper is made from either 1/8-inch HDPE sheet or the cheapo plastic drywall mud tools from Home Depot: split an 18-inch length of broom stick with a saw, slide the scraper blade in sans handle, and secure with a screw. They float, give good reach and leverage, and cause much less paint damage than the typical ice scraper (much harder plastic). The PO left a bunch of the scrapers on the boat, and I figured out the handles.

Interlux Micron 66 is strictly NOT recommended for the middle to upper Chesapeake Bay; only greater than 85% seawater. The factory stated that mass pealing was very likely, though we saw none of that. Perhaps this was the result of above average surface prep (Jessica is a great sander), but even so, we sanded heavily this time and went back to Micron Extra. We'll post again in 2 years, though we always got 2 years out of Micron Extra on our Stiletto 27, Cherokee Sun.

Last time we hauled Shoal Survivor they gave us tiny little stickers that we hid next to rub rail, indicating the best sling placements. A good idea that saves some time and fiddling, and might help prevent crushing something important.

Other tasks, during our 2-day haul-out:
  • Install FRP kick-up plates described in the last post.
  • Sand, wire brush, and paint the submerged portion of the outboards. Serious pitting on the starboard engine.
  • Install teak cockpit grate (separate post, coming soon).
A long day, but all smooth sailing. I'm on fair terms with the weather gods this year; they gave us 80F, low humidity and a breeze, rather than the 102F, 90% humidity and no breeze that had been with us only 2 days before.

Dedication: Jessica gets a gold star for prep sanding the entire bottom.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Dirty Truth Behind Boat Projects...

rev. 8-10-2011 that they take a lot more bits and pieces and tools that the typical DIY blogger lets on. A devious and intentional  trap for the unwary.

Kick-Up Plates for the PDQ 32

It's no secret to any PDQ 32 owner that when an engine isn't locked down--forgetfulness or mechanical glitches within the engine hold-down mechanism--the pull-up rope will get caught in the prop and wind the engine into the bridge deck. Do it far above idle--I did once in order to stop for a fool cutting across a confined channel--and the anti-cavitation plate can chop right through the glass. The boat had some big dents from this when I bought it and now, a small breach into the foam.

Reinforcement seems wise, and in a way it makes the repair simpler, since I don't need to fair the surface or match gelcoat. But I do need to make a pair of plates.

But that over simplifies the process. Even for this trivial project, I needed slew of tools and materials to make the plates and install them:
  • Tape measure
  • Sharpie
  • Circular saw
  • Preleminated 3/16-inch FRP (new free surplus from a wastewater plant)
  • Angle grinder w/75 grade disk
  • Orbital sander with 150 grade paper
  • Paint brush
  • Mineral spirits (for the brush)
  • Isopar C (to remove the wax)
  • Briteside paint
  • West Systems resin and 105 hardner
  • Cabosil M5 silica thickener (left over from a Contact Climbing Gear, a company I ran that sold, among other things, rock climbing chalk)
  • Masking tape
  • Cup and mixer for epoxy
  • Paper towels
These plates will be epoxied to the under side of the bridge deck in the impact zone. (note: on the very next trip we wound-up a line in the prop and knocked a dent into the 1/4-inch FRP plates! Clearly any cosmetic repair would have been destroyed.) (still good, 12-2015)

    Stove Knob for Seaward Princess

    I few days before I had to repair a knob on the stove; a large skillet wandered too far to the right and cooked the knobs, resulting in some superficial melting and shattering of the spline. Not good, as it could have resulted in leaving the gas on.
    • 3/8-inch PVC pipe
    • hacksaw (but I was lazy and used a porta-band, since it was plugged in on the bench).
    • Drill press
    • Press vise
    • Bench vise
    • Bench grinder
    • 3/8-inch bit
    • Calipers
    • drill gauge
    • Ruler
    • PVC glue
    The pipe forms a sleeve which is a tight press fit over the broken bits. Generally stronger than the original, this is a repair I have use in the house before.  I'll get some spare knobs, when I find a good phone number to the local rep! (note: neither local rep ever called back. The repair appears better than new. Fingers are crossed.) (still good, 12-2015)

      A few days before I made a new step for the boarding ladder, and the list was longer.

        Each of these jobs could be done with fewer tools, but my hat goes off to cruisers than can tackle even the simplest projects with a few hand tools, a rechargeable drill, and time.

        And there is more around the corner, more behind me, more in the car, and more on the boat, and the stack in the next room of supplies ready to go to Deale to repaint the bottom.

        I could have lied, of course, and explained that this is the work room we keep in a spare cabin.

        Sea Chanties ...

        ... or The Secret to Faster Cycling

        Oh, you can buy fantastic carbon and aluminum bikes these days and shoes that link you to the drive train as though it were an extension of your legs, but the important things are simpler and cheaper:
        • Good fit. The frame and the position of all the components must be just right.
        • Body position. You've got to get low. Aero bars are good, but so is a flat back.
        • Good pedaling form. Circles, not up and down.
        • Training. There's no substitute for miles.
        • Hydration. This time of year it's amazing how much water the body requires.
        • Cadence. You've GOT to keep the feet turning over at 90 to 100 rpm or in my case, 105-110 rpm, but it depends on the individual. Stomp a big gear, the force will be higher, and the less efficient fast twitch fiber are recruited, and your legs will burn out prematurely. Lactic acid instead of efficient metabolism to CO2 and water. And NOW for the sailing connection....

        Sea chanties, evolved over the years to synchronize efforts and to help boring work pass more quickly, help me maintain a nice 105-110 rpm cadence and help the miles melt away. Though hauling halyards and anchors on a cruising yacht doesn't require the team of bullies found on a clipper, there are dull tasks and they help there too: scrubbing the bottom or the deck, long boarding if you fancy such obsession, or just passing the time while you do something brainless. We learn some of these as nursery rhymes, though never all the verses and certainly not the randy parts (some chanties are so vulgar as to bore anyone beyond 7th grade). The words vary a lot; change them as you like. The tunes change a lot too. These are a few of my favorites:


        Cape Cod Girls

        Cape Cod girls ain't got no combs
        heave away, haul away
        They comb their hair with codfish bones
        for we're bound away for Australia

        Heave away my bully, bully boys
        heave away, haul away
        Heave her up and don't you make a noise
        for we're bound away for Australia

        Cape Cod boys ain't got no sleds
        heave away, haul away
        They slide down hills on codfish heads
        for we're bound away for Australia


        Cape Cod docs ain't got no pills
        heave away, haul away
        They feed their patients on codfish gills
        for we're bound away for Australia


        Cape Cod cats ain't got no tails
        heave away, haul away
        They all blew off in the northeast gales
        for we're bound away for Australia


        Cape Cod women don't bake no pies
        heave away, haul away
        They feed their babies on codfish eyes
        for we're bound away for Australia


        Cape Cod women don't got no thrills
        heave away, haul away
        They're plain and skinny as codfish gills
        for we're bound away for Australia



        Drunken Sailor

        What will we do with a drunken sailor,
        What' will we do with a drunken sailor,
        What will we do with a drunken sailor,
        Earl-aye in the morning?


        Weigh hey, and up she rises,
        Weigh hey, and up she rises,
        Weigh hey, and up she rises,
        Earl-aye in the morning

        Ending Chorus:

        That's what we do with a drunken Sailor,
        That's what we do with a drunken Sailor,
        That's what we do with a drunken Sailor,
        Earl-aye in the morning

        Traditional verses (3 repetitions)

        1. Shave his belly (balls, back) with a rusty razor
        2. Put him in the long boat till he's sober
        3. Put him in the scuppers with a hose-pipe on him
        4. Put him into bed with the captain's daughter
        5. Beat him with a cat 'til his back is bleedin'
        6. Put him in the bilge and make him drink it
        7. Truss him up with a runnin' bowline
        8. Give 'im a dose of salt and water
        9. Stick on 'is back a mustard plaster
        10. Send him up the crow's nest till he falls down
        11. Tie him to the taffrail when she's yardarm under
        12. Soak 'im in oil 'til he sprouts a flipper
        13. Put him in the guard room 'til he's sober
        1a. Keep him there and make 'im bale 'er
        2a. Pull out the plug and wet him all over
        4a. Give 'im a taste of the bosun's rope-end
        6a. Heave 'im by the leg with a runnin' bowline


        Spanish Ladies (only 90 rpm)

        Farewell and adieu to you fine Spanish ladies,
        Farwell and adieu all you ladies of Spain;
        For we've received orders to sail for old England;
        And perhaps we shall never more see you again.


        We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
        We'll range and we'll roam over all the salt seas,
        Until we strike soundings in the Channel of old England,
        From Ushant to Scilly 'tis thirty-five leagues.

        Then we hove our ship to, with the wind at sou'-west boys,
        Then we hove our ship to, for deep soundings to take;
        Twas 45 fathoms and or' a white sandy bottom;
        We squared up the main yard and up Channel did make.


        So the first land we saw was the Dodman,
        Next Ram Head off Plymouth, Start, Portland and Wight;
        We sailed by Beachy, by Fairly and Dungeness,
        And then bore away for the South Foreland light.


        Now the signal was made for the Grand Fleet to anchor,
        All on the Downs that night for to meet;
        Stand by your stoppers, see clear your shank-painters,
        Haul all your clew garnets, let tacks and sheets fly.


        Now let every man drink up his full bumper,
        Let every man drink up his full cup;
        For we drink to be jolly and drown melancholy,
        Let's drink to the health of each true hearted lass.


        Monday, July 4, 2011

        School's Out! Our First Summer's Cruise.

        With no aspirations to really go anywhere, we were determined to go somewhere.

        Day 1.
        50 miles, 15 knot broad reaching breeze.
        With a nice breeze from the northwest, south seemed a good course, and we roared down the bay with main and chute, ticking off miles without and feeling of effort. The odometer (reset the first spring after we  the boat) tick over 1700 miles; we've averaged 850 miles each summer, so our goal should be another 850 miles, I suppose, if only because it provides reason to take off work. But this cruise won't contribute much. We don't have high-mileage days in mind and only expect a good breeze this one day.

        Some days it takes forever to sail anywhere, drifting at a few knots and getting bored silly. Reaching at 10-12 knots causes a different problem; you soon find yourself past your turning point. We dropped the chute--harder work when it's blowing 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots--and started to beat back a fraction of a mile, to Warriors Rest, a delightful wildlife preserve owned by the American Chestnut Trust. It's not a harbor, just a place with a wonderful beach, a creek inviting exploration by kayak,  fossils scattered about for collecting, and a stunning view. Accesses is restricted in order to protect an endangered species (tiger beetle--read this if you're interested) and any use should be VERY low impact.

        Warriors Rest. This picture is older and the shoreline is very different now. The campground (and raspberry bushes) are at the far left edge, before the cliff starts. The creek has an ankle-deep delta that requires walking a kayak, but it's 3 feet plus inside.

        We stay below the high tide mark on beaches like this, and do most of our exploring from the water. While paddling along the cliff to the south of the beach I heard a sound like crashing surf and saw a 2,000 pound chunk of the cliff land in the shallow water at the cliff's base. This is not nearly the first small landslide I have seen peal off a Bay cliff, so be careful, folks. It's best not to walk right at the base of the cliff. It had not rained for some time, nor had there been high winds and seas, so there was no clear cause.

        The red raspberry bushes were loaded. We're fatter now.

        From there we sailed to James Island where we were to spend the night, but the wind was too much for the anchorage and the anchorage more shallow (4.5 feet) than I remembered. We pressed on to Slaughter Creek. There were more beaches and marshes to explore; the new kayak was becoming quite addictive, with Jessica and I always watching to see if the other would take it first. More fun than the tender and better able to explore small marsh creeks, but a tough on the arms if the pull into the wind and tide is too sustained.

        Day 2
        15 miles, 10 knot wind.
        Hardly any wind, but we were hardly going anywhere and it made for a nice close reach.

        Our goal was an anchorage behind Casson Point on Hudson Creek. Three stars, for a peaceful and beautiful Bay destination. Jessica caught a correct fish with her hands. We sat in the water, up to our necks, and watched the waves march by talking about nothing important. I scrubbed the bottom--ugh. Scrubbing the bottom in water over your head is a full swimming test, 20 minutes of treading water, pushing, scrubbing, and diving.

        Day 3
        45 miles, 15 knots on the nose.

        Saint Michaels by the back door (San Domingo Creek off Broad Creek) is a standard short cut for sailors in the Choptank that don't feel like circling up to the Miles river. Still, windward work is not my favorite thing on the PDQ. She's not close winded, tacking through about 105 degrees by GPS. Add wind-against -tide and a river entrance kicking it up some more, and progress is never what you like. We roared down the Little Choptank nice as you please, but when the mouth of  river was met the chop got steep and we were forced to sail due west for hours, making no ground towards our goal. Windward work is like that. And after earning ground to the west for hours and getting away from the river, the tide changed, we tacked, and things got better, with the rest of the trip on one tack, not overly pinched and moving well.

        Family time. I hate electronics, most of the time.

        The "back door" takes you up a small creek to a town dock (commercial use only, but there is a dingy bulkhead) only a few blocks from town. The anchorage is perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the dingy dock, depending on draft. The holding is not what I would like (thin silt over very hard clay) but it's protected. If you have shallow draft, you can wonder into one of the coves and gain space and privacy.

        We walked the town, got a few nic-nacks and tee-shirts and ice creams. Nothing earth shattering. Summery and touristy--nice actually, after a few days of solitude.

        The night was better. Some afternoon and evening paddling in our new kayak. I now understand the people I see quietly touring up and down creeks in sea kayaks; the steady rhythm is relaxing, something like jogging without the impact noise of feet slapping ground, only the whisper of the paddle slipping in and out of the water. A good workout, depending on pace. Right at sunset is perfect, shirt off, gliding past shore and cruising boats and egrets and fish.

        All the stars came out, one of those million star nights, with the Milky Way and shooting stars to lull you to sleep, somehow dulling all conscious thought. The girls slept on the trampoline.

        Day 4
        25 miles, no wind until noon, then 10 knots.

        I'm OK with a day of no wind, when we haven't far to go. After all, we had enjoyed better conditions that predicted the past few days. Boring, but OK.

        We went to Shark Tooth Beach (Jessic's name for Fairhaven) before heading into harbor; it would be cooler to repack the boat, the swimming is fine, and the beach combing productive. There's a swim platform where you can go join the kids and listen to laughter. But while open water swimming is a common thing here, on the Saturday before 4th of July it is actually a dicey thing. Idiots on jet skis dart here and there and ski boats are numerous. Worse, these aren't regular boaters, these are holiday people and sometimes renters. Just down the Bay, at Colonial Beach, there was a fatal boating accident, as a 2 fast moving boats and a jet ski crossed; the first boat slowed quickly to dodge a weaving jet ski and the second boat, following too closely, flew over them. Stupid.

        We practiced MOB hoisting. Fun, actually, when it's hot and you're already wet.

        I should mention that Fairhaven beach is also a favorite of ours for boat work; it has a nice hard sand bottom, sloping from 2 feet to 6 feet over a distance of 300 yards, so it is always possible to find a spot that is just right. A perfect place to fiddle with the outboards (I replaced a lift line) or touch-up the scrubbing, and then go for a swim.

        And that is the tale. Not much to tell. Not many pictures and those there are you can see in the 2 prior posts. The solar panels did well, stretching our over-nighting capability by a good bit. 4 people managed to stretch 35 gallons of fresh water through 3 nights of showers; the pump ran dry washing the last dish, the last afternoon of the 4th day. The beer ran out at lunch, but we had picked a watering hole for dinner with a guy singing Jimmy Buffet and the like under the palm trees (they replace some each year--they dislike snow), so the sacrifice was minimal. A few small projects have suggested themselves; I'll post them when complete.

        Enjoy your summer!

        Sunday, July 3, 2011

        MOB Drills, Lifesling, and Climbing Equipment

        rev. 9-22-2016

        What to do at the end of a hot summer's cruising day, when there is nothing that really needs doing? Not practice MOB procedures, that's certain.

        I cued a movie to watch while dinner was simmering, "Morning Light", about a Disney Transpac team, and it had a bit on MOB procedures. With a full crew, of course, you simply muscle the bloke back on deck. With a family boat, you need something that will work for the smallest person recovering the largest, and given the crap tasks Dear Dad often draws on rough days, he seems most likely to go for a swim. It also has to be simple enough to remember. And so we found ourselves beginning a long over-due MOB practice.

        We've practiced picking up objects from the water, so getting along side, or at least within Lifesling range is a known challenge. Actually testing the Lifesling is another matter.

        On the PDQ 32, using the spinnaker sheet seems obvious; it wouldn't be in service at the time of pick-up, there are two dedicated 2-speed winches on each side, and it's long. The boom can swing over much of the stern of the boat, is easily positioned with the traveler and if needed, a line forward to the midships cleat. All that is needed is a boom end carabiner and a climber's rescue pulley. A rescue pulley is a sort of simple high strength snatch block, optimized for quick deployment and simplicity, and rated for lifting man-size loads. We keep these clipped to a pocket by the helm seat at all times; you never know when a snatch block and biner will serve some work-around or as a genoa lead. The working end of the spinnaker sheet simply goes up to the block and down to the victim and can be set-up in seconds. DON'T use the spinnaker shackle to attach the victim; the damn things open too easily when dragged across a surface; tie a figure-8 on a bight at the end and use a carabiner to clip either harness or life sling.

        There are 2 gate locations on each side of this boat: the sugar scoops and the aft outside of the hull. We tested both with the kayak, just to see the run of the lines. Very smooth either way and only two fingers were required to turn the winch.

        So, what happens with real weight on the line? We tested it with a human, the lightest crew lifting the heaviest.

        • Dad moaned when Jessica paused to take pictures. Hanging by your armpits is less than comfortable, but not injurious or bruising. Aggravating, though, when your daughter talks of just leaving you there.
        • Jessica did not need to use the lower winch gear; she could easily have lifted a much heavier person.
        • It's difficult to get the person's body high above the deck, but simple to use the mainsheet and traveler to move the boom and drag them onto the deck once their fanny reaches deck height.
        • Maintain a good 1/2-inch topping lift or make sure you back it up with the spinnaker halyard. The load on the boom end can reach about 1,000 pounds (500 pounds dynamic load plus the doubling by the tackle plus other rigging loads); you want a good safety factor.
        • Raising the boom by shortening the topping lift would be a good idea. I think the optimum is to hoist the swimmer until their knees reach the rail, and then pull then onto the boat--higher would swing too much in rough conditions, while keeping contact with the side of the boat prevents this.
        • Is it better to haul a person up the sugar scoops or the side? The best choice depends on the swimmer's condition: if uninjured, the sugar scoops would be simpler and safer in most conditions; if injured or unconscious, hoisting over the side is very straight forward.
        • Hoisting by Lifesling is far more comfortable than hoisting by harness; I would use the Lifesling to hoist an injured person (not chest injury), though I might clip the harness for added security, particularly if I thought they might have difficulty holding on. The Lifesling would be attached with figure-8 and biner and the harness would be clipped, with slack, to the shackle in the spinnaker sheet.
        • People have fallen out of slings before, generally because they are panicking and trying to hold on to
          the sling, rather than simply keeping their upper arms down. In the first picture, my arms are down and my hands are merely resting on the sling. Later I grabbed the sling so that I could more easily lean my head back and see where I was going, and to swing my feet up on deck. However, always instruct a tired or injured person to keep their arms down.
        • Though clipping the webbing of the Lifesling directly might be more secure, it seemed impractical. We clipped the lowest point that could be reached from deck if the line was hauled by hand first.
        • Want to winch using the Lifesling line, rather than clipping a sheet? We tried that but weren't happy with the way the floating line worked on the drum and the Lifesling line would not function in the self-tailer. Additionally, you would need to use a second rescue pulley and biner clipped to the spinnaker block to create a fair winch lead; easily done. Certainly this could work if clipping the sheet is not practical on your boat. But I would test it and consider upgrading the Lifesling line to a more winch-friendly floating line. Yellow is good and it must float very well, as getting the line tangled in the prop or under the rudder would be life-threatening to the swimmer.
        • Want to winch using the harness instead? We wouldn't, though we would clip the harness to a tether as a back-up. The lifesling is more body-friendly than most harnesses, as it is well padded.
        • Locking vs. non-locking biners. Non-climbers and beginners always assume a locking biner is safer. Well, sort of. On the boom end a locking biner would certainly work, but there is virtually no chance of un-clipping and the fall is not serious. Perhaps a locking biner is better practice, butt he difference is trivial. On the swimmer end, a non-locking biner is probably safer because of speed. Even if the locking mechanism is not used, it can tend to catch on the rope, and speed an ease of hooking will be important while you are leaning over the rail. Speed is the reason climbers use non-locking biners for most purposes; faster is often safer when you're struggling, and non-locking climbing biners clip in a flash, much more easily that their marine counterparts.


        Better yet, wear harness and tether, stay on deck, and avoid the whole business.


        My daughter has been bugging me for a kayak for years, to use on sailing trips, to take on vacations, and to prowl the local canals and  streams. We've rented and borrowed sea kayaks. We took a whitewater class together, when given one as a Christmas gift by my wife. No, we have no interest in white water, but the class was great fun and we learned a good deal.

        I selected a Perception Impulse and I'm happy with the choice. We chose a sit-in kayak because they are generally faster and lighter, are drier in cold weather, and carry "stuff" better. Sit-on kayaks have the major advantage of not swamping if you flip one in the waves and being easier to re-board from the water and are probably better for summer sailboat accessory use. Make a choice.

        For the PDQ 32, the 10-foot length is perfect. It stretches from the shrouds to just short of the forward hatch, not blocking side access forward or the hatch. It is easily tied to the railing and a child can get it on or off the boat, sliding it on edge down the sugar scoops.

        Great fun. Great for exploring the marshes and shallows. Great for a sun-set exercise spin. Great for providing Mom and Dad and daughter dividable transport.

        Laying a Second Anchor

        For the most part, a single working anchor is a simple and dependable practice; nothing to tangle, a simple procedure, and since others do the same, boats will generally swing the same way in response to wind and current. However, on a holiday weekend you may find somebody has dropped way to close and you want to limit your swing in that direction. You may find that your boat swings differently from the others. The bottom may offer terrible holding; thin stilt over rock-hard clay is a common Chesapeake "bad" bottom; it feels like you have a set... until you pull, whereupon in tracks through the silt but refuses to go deeper and cannot be depended upon to reset in a shift. Severe storms may be coming and perhaps you are anchored too darn close to rocks to tolerate any dragging. Perhaps other boats moved in around you (herd mentality), restricting swing in one direction. All of these coincided  for us yesterday.

        The greatest hassle of setting 2 hooks is the resulting tangle if the boat spins. If both are lowered from rollers, with the rode passing through a hause pipe and  ending deep in the bilge, the twists are not easily removed. A simple solution:
        I have since dispensed with chain, using a Dyneema leader with a webbing chafe cover. Reducing weight on the shank helps the light weight anchor to set.
        • Get a light secondary anchor. I've been using Fortress anchors for this purpose for 15 years and love them. I've never had one drag.
        • Do Not keep the second anchor on rollers. We keep ours in a stern locker, from where it is most often deployed. The rode lives in a bucket
        • Keep the rode short; only enough for the day's situation. We keep 50 feet of rode on the anchor for most uses (in 6 feet of water with a 15 foot bridle this gives 7:1 scope). If we need more, we have 2 docklines with spliced loops in the both ends that we chain together with cow hitches. But only deploy enough for the exact scope you want.
        • Connect the second rode either to your bridle or to the main rode a few feet below the bridle. We typically connect the second rode to the bridle plate with a strong stainless carabiner, but a prusik is good too.
        Because the second rode is not connected to the boat, only to the rode, it is simple to disconnect and unwind if the boat has spun.

         A second anchor can actually increase the strain on the anchors, if the angle is too great. The optimum angle for holding is almost always 90-120 degrees; less, and the anchors will still need to reset when the wind shifts, more and the tight-rope effect really piles up the force in a cross wind.  The notion that 2 anchors set close to each other can increase holding is plainly false; even a small wind shift places all of the load on one, and the potential for the second rode to foul the primary anchor is too great. The case that tandem anchors provide increased holding is very weak, though it has proponents. The problem is re-setting; the second anchor will generally keep the primary on it's side, preventing a good bury, and 150% of  standard rode length is required (the second anchor "lifts" the rode by providing tension from the end of the rode).

        Generally we use this procedure:
        • Set the first hook at longish scope (14:1) and set.
        • Lower the second hook from the transom, bringing the rode forward outside all of the rigging. If I had a heavier anchor I would mount a roller on the stern. This would also make it easier to load into the tender, when that is needed.
        • If we are in shallow water, I can generally feel the hook in with that 35 feet of scope. If not, we shorten the primary as need to get in the right possition.
        • Take in the main rode to desired scope (7:1?).
        • Give the secondary hook a better pull, just feeling it in.
        • Connect secondary rode to the primary as above. Let at least 4 feet of chain out, so that if the boat spins, the chain absorbs the twist.
        • If you're really expecting a blow and want to power set these, wait about 20 minutes and back at a 90 degree angle to a line between the anchors.We've only done that a few times, when we could hear the storms and knew we were anchored in silt. Each time we got to watch a few less diligent--or perhaps just unlucky--souls drift to leeward.

        We can row an anchor out if the above procedure won't place the anchor in the right spot... actually, we've done this just once, to see if we could do it from the kayak (no problem). I've run big anchors out for other folks, helping them kedge off, using our tender. However, generally we can place the second anchor from the main boat, by using the engines to swing the boat against the primary anchor, though even that assistance is very seldom needed. 

        What if the boat is hanging to the second anchor in a strong wind in the morning? Attach a fender and cast it loose. Don't struggle with it. Retrieve the main anchor while you are drifting back; this should be easy, since you may drift right over it. Then motor back up to the secondary and retrieve. If you don't want to let go, attach a long (150 feet) line to the secondary, release, and follow the same steps. Easy if you have a plan.

        With practice, this typically adds about 5 minutes to the anchor drill and has never caused a bit of trouble.