RODE WARRIORS: Painting Your Anchor Chain

Marking a chain anchor rode

There all sorts of ways to mark an anchor chain so that you know how much rode you've let out when anchoring. Some people sew tufts of fabric webbing to the chain links at appropriate intervals. Some people attach colored wire ties to the links. Others trot down to West Marine and buy packs of those yellow plastic tags with numbers on them. There are even a few privileged souls who have machines installed on their boats that automatically measure chain for them as it goes overboard.

But most folks, I'm guessing, just paint their chain, dabbing on stripes of red pigment with a spray can every 25 feet or so.

So here's a tip for all you chain-dabbers: next time you want to freshen up the paint on your rode, the first thing you should do is dive into the nearest dumpster and extract a few empty cardboard beer cases.


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CRUNCHING NUMBERS: Sail-Area/Displacement Ratio

Hallberg Rassy under sail

We've discussed how to evaluate a boat’s speed potential, but this really only tells you half the story. A fast hull won’t actually go fast unless there is enough power available to drive it at or near its potential. Aboard sailboats, of course, the source of this power is the boat’s sail plan. The parameter designers normally use to evaluate a boat’s sail-power relative to its weight is called the sail-area/displacement ratio (SA/D ratio).  Like the D/L ratio, this is a “non-dimensional” value that facilitates comparisons between vessels of different types and sizes.


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FURLING HEADSAILS: Stowed Properly, Please

Shredded furling headsail after a storm

This is a common sight in marinas and mooring fields after some heavy weather blows through. Conscientious sailors either don't have time to strip their sails off their boats, or they figure the weather won't really be that bad. So they furl their headsails and take a few extra wraps around the clew to make sure the sail is secure. All is safe, they figure. But when they return they find their headsail somehow managed to shred itself anyway.


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BAD NEWS FRIDAY: Japanese Tsunami, Danish Hostages, Dad

March 11.11 Tsunami Screen Shot

Given the name of this blog I would be remiss if I failed to mention the massive tsunami that trashed northeastern Japan today. You can watch an absolutely horrifying video of the big waters sweeping through the city of Sendai here.

In other unrelated bad news, the Danish Cruising Family Johansen (including three children and a crew of two others), who are currently being held hostage by pirates in Somalia, were NOT rescued yesterday by a mysterious indigenous armed force that launched a raid on the pirate stronghold in the mountains of Puntland. The news today is that the Johansens have now been moved aboard a ship somewhere on the coast and the pirates are threatening to put caps in their heads if any more rescue attempts are made.


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TANTON 37: Lunacy's Alter Ego

Tanton 37

To give you a clearer idea of Lunacy's provenance I thought I'd share these pix of one of her sisterships, which is currently for sale up in Montreal. This design by Yves-Marie Tanton features Lunacy's hull form, but with a perfectly flush deck and a freestanding cat-ketch rig. You'll also note that this version of the boat does not carry the two-foot scoop on the transom that makes Lunacy a 39-footer instead of a 37-footer.

My understanding is there are four other cat-ketch sisterships like this one, all built, like Lunacy, by Kingston Aluminum Yachts in Ontario during the 1980s. Lunacy is the only example with a conventional cutter rig. To get an idea of how the ketch-rigged boats sail, you can take a peek at this YouTube video.


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NOSE JOB: The New Sprit in Wood

Lunacy's mock sprit

Lunacy's new bowsprit continues to evolve from concept to reality. I stopped by Maine Yacht Center this past Thursday to check out the latest wooden mock-up and was very pleased with what I saw. This latest iteration, as you can see, incorporates the vertical plate that will support the underside of the structure. (After pondering a bit, I've realized the best name for this piece is "bob-plate," as it does the same job as a bobstay.) We've also added the extra foot of unsupported sprit forward of the anchor rollers from which my A-sail will someday fly. I was worried all this would make Lunacy's prow look a bit odd, especially given her raked bow, but in fact I think it looks pretty cool.


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SOMALI PIRACY: Cruising Family Held Hostage

The Johansen family aboard ING

As if the murder of four American cruisers last week wasn't enough to shine a big spotlight on the Indian Ocean's Somali piracy problem, the big crisis this week is that the Somalis have grabbed a Danish family of five, including three kids (ages 12 to 16), who were en route to the Red Sea aboard their 43-foot boat ING. Jan Quist Johansen, his wife Birgit Marie, their two boys Rune and Hjalte, and their daughter Naja, together with two other adult crew members, were reportedly captured last Thursday. As of today it is believed that ING is anchored near the northern Somali village of Hafun and that the hostages are all ashore.

Funny how Somali piracy seemed only a back-burner issue when it was a simply a case of 30 commercial vessels and 660 merchant mariners being held prisoner. Now that some recreational sailors have been dramatically victimized, pundits are talking darkly of a "9/11 moment" and are insisting that something must be done to solve this horrible problem.


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HUNTER 18: Test Sail with Dr. Destructo

Hunter 18

I made it up to St. Augustine and met Steve Pettengill, Director of Destructive Testing for Hunter Marine, at his R&D shed at 7:30 sharp yesterday morning. He had a brand new Hunter 18 fresh off the production line and we at once set about commissioning it for a test sail. The forecast was for a strong breeze from the south.

Being on the water in St. Augustine brought back some dramatic memories, as it was almost 20 years ago that I arrived here one fateful morning aboard the schooner Constellation. Just as we were entering the inlet, a huge pillar of black smoke suddenly came pouring out the midship hatches. It turned out we were not on fire, but we did have to shut down the engine. So it was that we sailed Constellation, a 78-foot vintage wooden vessel with a long full keel, into the Matanzas River, through the Bridge of Lions (a drawbridge), and finally landed on a dock at a private fish camp (which has since become Fish Island Marina). Later that same day a pilot in a small private plane buzzed the camp, waggling his wings hello, clipped a tree, and crashed and died.

I was half expecting my sail with Steve might be nearly as interesting, and I was not disappointed.


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  • Boats & Gear

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