Monthly Archives: November 2013

New Anchor

On a cruising sailboat, a good anchor set can make the difference between a sleepless, stressful night and a good nights sleep. Lately we have been having some sleepless nights. If the anchor drags or the worse – fails – the boat could easily drift into another boat, or worse end up on the shore. Needless to say, anchors are one of the most important pieces of equipment on a cruising sailboat.

Up until the 1990′s the available anchors tended to work better on one surface or another. If a sailor planned to travel outside their home range, they usually needed to carry two or three anchors to suit the conditions they expected to encounter. Sea Change II came with a  Bruce and CQR on the dual bow rollers and the Delta hung off the stern.

We used the Delta the first time we used the boat when the engine quit and we found ourselves without power in a narrow channel heading straight towards a luxury motor yacht. We dropped it off the stern and it stopped the boat in it’s tracks. The Delta is a good, light weight easy to store anchor but it has the reputation of being more prone to mechanical failure than some of the other anchors.

The CQR was a good anchor on sandy, hard and weedy bottoms of Lake Superior and Lake Huron.  However, we have found the CQR hard to set (sometimes it takes two or three tries before it sets). We also have found it less than reliable in situations where the wind or tide reverses during the night. In these cases, the anchor needs to pivot up to  180 degrees and then reset itself. For this reason we have only used it occasionally on the US east coast where we are commonly anchored in tidal areas.

Our Bruce anchor excels on the muddy bottoms on which we found ourselves anchored most of the time along the US east coast. We love it. It has held us in 40 knot sustained winds, and through tidal changes in swift currents. It seldom dragged and was always there for us. However, since arriving in South Florida we have found it harder to set and hold. The reason for this is that has a tendency to skip along the harder surfaces on which we now find ourselves anchored.

Both the CQR and Bruce anchors were premium anchors when Sea Change II took her her voyages in the 1990′s. Since then some new all round anchors have been released. These anchors are especially good at setting and resetting themselves. Some include roll bars to prevent the anchor lying on it’s side.

Today we purchased a state-of-the-art Manson Supreme anchor. Our new Manson Supreme has a self righting roll bar and a reputation for fast setting/resetting. We are going to retire our CQR and… if we can get them both to fit snugly… keep both the Manson and the Bruce on the bow. The Bruce works better on soft bottoms than the Manson.

We are hoping for more restful nights!

Palm Beach, FL

N26 50.296 W80 3.323

Last day on the ICW. Left the anchorage around 9am and rode the tide to the St Lucie inlet. Our luck seemed to stay with us most of the day, catching all bridges on time for opening. Enjoyed the company of Canadian boat “Kind of Magic”.

Towards the end of the day the engine ran irregularly and we stalled right before the last bridge. Managed to nurse the boat into the anchorage where we replaced the primary fuel filter on arrival. Also took the opportunity to clean the raw water filter and tighten the packing nut.

Now anchored in North Lake Worth in Palm Beach, FL. We hope to meet our friend Jukka in Saturday then sail to Fort Lauterdale on Sunday.

Floating Retirement Villages

As we travel south the marinas and mooring fields carer more and more to cruising sailors. At the beginning of our trip in Lake Superior, cruising sailors were far and few between so marinas and towns, with few exceptions, were not setup to cater to them.

Three of our last destinations, Melbourne, Titusville and Vero Beach are destinations in their own right. Good protection, staff that caters to most of the needs of cruising sailors, great showers, club room, laundry, grocery stores in walking distance and/or free shuttle buses.   They are very comfortable.

Perhaps a little too comfortable for my taste. But they meet the needs of the typical cruiser – a 50+ couple wanting a comfortable, hassle free cruise down the east coast of the USA to Florida to the Bahamas. They are full of  lots of nice, happy, greying people living their dream.

Tonight we are at anchor again in a strong northerly. We put out an anchor on heavy chain, set it and hope it holds. The Garmin GPSmap 740s anchor alarm is turned on to warn us of dragging, but I am still up during the night visually checking our position. It is work and worry but our trip feels a bit more like an adventure again.

The floating retirement villages are nice, and maybe we will end up in one, but we are not ready for one just yet!

Jensen Beach, FL

N27 15.023 W80 13.321

Left Vero Beach at 11:30am in a blustery westerly and travelled down the ICW to Jensen Beach. Made a lot of leaway and needed to be careful to keep in the channel between markers. Pass by Fort Pierce inlet without incident. The shoal in the channel north of the inlet did not show on our depth sounder. Anchored on the southwest side on the Jensen Beach bridge in about 7′ of water. There are two liveaboards here and half a dozen cruising sailboats. Looks like it is east to take the dinghy ashore to a park,  but given the conditions are probably going to stay on the boat. The wind has started to move to the northwest as forceast, blowing about 20kts. The anchorage provides less wind protection than I expected but there is good protection from waves.

Vero Beach, FL

N29 53.73324 W81 18.69293

Left Melbourne, FL about 8am and sailed down the Indian River until the channel narrowed again. Made Vero Beach  around 2pm. Vero Beach is another sailing hotspot, hosting Thanksgiving potluck every year. Excellent facilities for sailors transiting south. It is so busy at this time of the year there are two to three boats per mooring. (Sailors lingo for this is “rafting”.)

Forecast is for another cold front to come through tonight so we will stay here for a few days. Good place for me to get caught up on work and for us to pick up our mail.

Melbourne, FL

N28 5.38926 W80 34.6833

Cold fronts are coming fast and furious down the east coast of Florida so we are stuck on the ICW again.

Left Titusville around 9am.

Luckily the ICW opens up at Titusville and there was plenty of room to sail on a close reach down to Melbourne, FL in 15kts. Sea Change loves any kind of reach.

North Carolina Memories

Franklin previews his Halloween costume @ Dismal Swamp Canal Lock.

Franklin previews his Halloween costume @ Dismal Swamp Canal Lock.

Our little sailor is 4!
Our little sailor is 4!

Peaceful anchorage along the Alligator River.

Peaceful anchorage along the Alligator River.

Elizabeth City.

Elizabeth City.

Franklin stops to smell the roses, Elizabeth City.

Franklin stops to smell the roses, Elizabeth City.

Sunrise over Beaufort.

Sunrise over Beaufort.

Coast Guard moving the channel marking buoy, to help prevent others from running aground. We watched, aground, from a few feet away.

Coast Guard moving the channel marking buoy, to help prevent others from running aground. We watched, aground, from a few feet away.

Halloween party, Bellhaven.

Halloween party, Bellhaven.

Sunset @ Sloop Point.

Sunset @ Sloop Point.

Crab hole, Carolina Beach.

Crab hole, Carolina Beach.

Stingray washed up on the beach.

Stingray washed up on the beach.

Carolina Beach comber.

Carolina Beach comber.

Mommy-Son footprints.

Mommy-Son footprints.

Alligator River.

Alligator River.