Forespar's Point of View

What Do You Do If the Battery Quits?

So, you’re half way to the Island.  It’s just after 10 pm, with no moon yet.  It’s bumpy, and the visibility is poor.  The 15 knot breeze is westerly, and the swell and wind waves are southwest.  You know you’re getting pushed off course, but that’s OK, since both diesels are thumping away, and the GPS is telling where you are (and what to steer to get to the mooring).

Then, the instruments go dark.  Yikes!  Now what?
Chart in use

You have a compass mounted by the wheel.  You whip out the Chart Book, grab your pencil and mark the last GPS position on the chart, then use your parallels to pencil a line to your destination.  Then down to the compass rose, and determine a fair approximation of the compass course to the destination.  Steer that course, and you’re good.

Oh, wait.

You don’t have charts, parallels, etc.  And if you did, you don’t know how to use the low tech.  You may just want to go real slow and listen for surf, and look for the red/green flashers at the harbor entrance.  Not at all what you’ve planned, and not at all fun, even if it works out.

The kids, and grand-kids have asked “What are you doing?” when they see me using the hand-bearing compass for a quick sight at a point of land, make a line on the chart, and repeat the process in another direction.  I’d explain that where those lines cross is where we are – on the chart, and then explain the cross bearing, and how I got it, and how simple it really is.   Or, that same question when I scribble the time, course direction and speed when we’ve just cleared the harbor entrance, and an hour later walk over to the chart and draw a line, scribble some more, use the dividers, and draw an x.  I give a quick explanation of dead reckoning, and how easy it is (and always a good idea on that dark night or foggy day).

The next question was always “Why do you do that if you have a GPS?”  And answer always is “This will tell me where we are”.  No, it’s not as accurate as the WAAS GPS and the Chart Plotter.  But close enough if you’re talking to the Coast Guard (hope that doesn’t happen).  It was good enough before the electronics, and basic navigation still works – inexpensive, quick and easy use and easy to learn.

What do YOU do if the battery quits?

 

 

Inventing the Outboard

Summer of 1905-ish, Ole and Mrs. Evinrude were picnicking on Lake Okauchee in Wisconsin.

Ole was sent for ice cream, and he rowed to shore, and bought the ice cream.  By the time he got back to the family, the dessert had melted.  Ole, the machinist and combustion-engine tinkerer, was a bit irritated.  In 1907, he came up with a 1.5 horse transom-mounted gasoline powered outboard motor.

OleIn 1911, he patented his invention, and in 1913 sold his interest to his partner in the Evinrude Motor Corporation.  After five years off, he introduced a 3 hp aluminum model that weighed 48 pounds.  He then joined forces in 1929 with his old company and Johnson Motor Company, and created the small boat revolution.

You can sill buy a two-stroke Evinrude – with up to 300 horesepower.

Six Timeless Seamanship Lessons

Beginning in the 50’s,  BOATING magazine featured seamanship advice articles, many of which are applicable and basic today.  Here is sampler

Have a Plan B

From January 1958:  Unless you know firsthand that all your passengers are skilled at boating, assume they know nothing of what goes on between the gunwales. Robberson suggests that you assign each crew member a different task, giving each a role to play on board.  Have one handle cushions and life jackets, for example, another to help with the dock lines, and another to help with engines and helm .  That way, everyone has a specific task when you need help.  From the time they board the boat, you can get them interested in doing things, and they’ll not only be better company and enjoy the ride more, but they’ll be good for something in an emergency.

Lights

From 1960:  In daylight objects around you are usually easy to identify.  They are big or small, short or tall, round or square, and they are plain to see as bridges, docks, land, beacons, buoys, or boats of various kinds and sizes heading one way or the other.  But, at night, all the familiar shapes disappear, and all that’s left are various and sundry points of light:  Some white, some green, some red, some orange, some blinking, some constant, some stacked, some horizontal, some moving, some still.  If you can’t read these, lights, you should be ashore, preferable at home, learning navigation lights.  The alternative can be  bad.

Anchors “Away”

From 1977: Ellen Matthew wants you to think about scope – the length of anchor rode you have out under various conditions.  With a short scope, the holding of even the best and heaviest anchor is reduced, because the high angle of the rode tends to pull the anchor up instead of along the bottom, breaking it loose.  Coast Guard and Navy tests show that a scope of 7 to 1 is right for average conditions (in 10  feet of water, you want 70 feet of rode), at least 5 to 1 for ideal conditions (a calm lake or currentless harbor), and at least 10 to 1 during a blow.

Do No Harm

From 1983:  Right of Way – Don’t hit any or anything, and don’t get hit.  People often forget that boats don’t have brakes.  So, simply put, the more maneuverable vessel stays out of the way of the less maneuverable.  Sailboats watch out for rowboats, powerboats watch out for sailboats, and we all watch out for work boats.  Like wise, our smaller craft are supposed to give way to ships, especially in tight quarters, because we can get out of their way easier than they can get out of ours. Know the rules and regulations, but be ready to dodge when boats meet.  Remember the Law of Tonnage – if they’re bigger than you, being right may not be worth it.

Spring line dcking

Spring Line Docking

From 1998: Sailboats go bow in.  Powerboats back in.  We have a tradition to uphold.  And remember sneaky trick #110.  When the wind and/or the current are stacked against you, use the spring line method.  Lay the boat along the pilings at the end of the dock, or along the end of the dock itself, with the stern (or bow) protruding into the slip.  Wrap the line around the midships cleat and then loop around the cleat on the dock, or the piling.  Turn the wheel toward the dock, and set the line tight until the bow (or stern) begins to work around, and then ease off as the end of the boat swings into the slip – and you’re home free.

There’s the old saying about docking.  “Go slow like a pro, or fast like an ass”.  Slow and steady gets you in with no damage – boat or brain.

 

 

 

Anchoring Etiquette

Boaters usualAnchoringly know that anchoring in the channel or the fairway is not only a bad idea, but illegal. and unsafe.

Most of the time, it’s not that simple.  How’s your anchoring etiquette?

The First Boat In Sets The Rule

You motor around the point into your favorite cove, and you see another boat already anchored, swinging off a single hook.  Etiquette dictates that you do the same, dropping your single hook on a spot that will keep you clear of the other boat when wind and tide change.  If it’s relatively shallow, some of us  even buoy the anchor, so others will know where it is (a spare fender and a few feet of paracord will usually do).

Then, how do you compute the swing radius – yours and the other boat’s?  You can always do the math of a right triangle using water depth and scope to get the unknown – the distance from the boat to the anchor,  But, assumptions of a 7:1 scope aside, that swing radius is going to change.  Tides rise and fall, wind and currents change, and different boats react differently to those changes.

Keel sailboats react faster to current shifts, and later to wind, while power cruisers, especially those with two or three deck levels, react to wind faster than current.  To make it even more fun, boats using all-chain rodes usually lay to scope of 3:1, as opposed to the 7:1 typical of boats with a rope rode.  And funner yet, the other skipper may have more rode out than you thought, and you’ve swung to lie right above his hook, of course just when he/she is trying to leave – no big deal, unless you’re not on your boat and didn’t leave an anchor watch.

You Set the Rule

You come around the point to the “hot spot” on a summer Saturday and you’re the first to arrive.  When that happens, the basic rule is to set two anchors – bow and stern – which allows more boats to enjoy the day.  After you’ve set the two hooks, you can call “first in”, and there’ll be the usual shouting when the fleet arrives, but you’ll be there, and in good shape.

Don’t Be In A Hurry to Get Off

As tempting as it may be, don’t jump into the dinghy with your picnic or clamming basket in hand.  Take the time to be sure you’re not dragging the hook.  Take a couple of “ranges”, by lining up two stationary object ashore – in two or more directions – a couple of trees, rocks, etc.  Wait a while, and if they stay in line, you are secure.  Then go where you must go.  Leaving crew on “anchor watch” to deal with emergencies is a good plan if you’re going to out of sight of the boat.

Now you’re a good anchor neighbor.  Etiquette means good manners, and good manners make friends.

 

 

 

 

Never Assume They Can See You…

I know it’s not sailing, but the lesson is clear.  These folks were salmon fishing on the Columbia River, and saw the boat coming at them.  After the usual waving and yelling, they took appropriate action and dove into the cold water.  The cruiser driver was sitting down driving, and couldn’t see the fishing craft over the dashboard and bow.  You can see why.

Anything With a Swim Step

It’s 2 a.m.  You’re on a mooring in your favorite getaway harbor. The party on the boat three cans down has finally died away.  And, you still can’t sleep.  Something’s missing.  You jump up and dash topside, flashlight in hand, looking over the side and around the anchorage.  The dinghy got away!  It’s not banging on the side at the end of the painter!  That’s what’s missing….

You glance over the transom, and there she is, firmly clipped to the swim step.  Not swinging, not banging on the side, not trying to escape.  Easy to board, easy to release, and easy to attach and exit. That’s a side benefit of the Forespar Quik Davit.  Quik Davit Installed 1

We added the Quik Davit to the swimstep of our Grand Banks so we’d have an easy way to hoist in the dinghy when moving to a new spot, rather than use the the topside power hoist, etc.  It works perfectly as the name implies, and as our private, mobile dinghy dock.

Friends use the Quik Davit on a variety of smaller and larger power boats as the primary davit because it’s easier to inflate the dinghy at the home dock, hoist/tilt it onto the step, and drive away – and reverse the process when back at the home dock.  Sailboat owners do the same, usually for shorter cruises, and for the above-mentioned reason.

Check Quik Davit out.  It installs easily on both the dinghy and the step of just about any boat, is easy to use, the price is right –  And you’ll sleep better.

A Really Bad Day

Boat and houseSo you think you had a bad day….A post hurricane mess from Cudjoe Key.  This among the many, many horror shows coming in the wake of Irma.  We can hope no one wa home, either ashore or afloat.

Charlene Norris Joins Us

We are pleased to announce that Charlene Norris has joined the Forespar Sales Team as our Customer Service and Sales Assistant for the Company, beginning October 2017.  Her role is to assist with OEM orders and issues, become the liaison between the department and Field Sales Representatives, and to help with the overall administrative operations with the Sales and Customer Service areas.

 

For Our Sales team members in the field, Charlene’s primary goal is to answer questions, meet the needs of and make life easier and better for you and for our customers.  Sales and purchase orders will continue to be processed in the normal way with Linda and Randy on the Sales Desk.  If you have any additional administrative needs for yourself or for your customers, let Charlene know.

 

Charlene has a broad background and comes to us with more than 30 years of administrative and customer service experience in a variety of industries.  She is technologically savvy and understands the importance of communication within the team and with Field Sales Representatives, the Sales Department, and our Customers.  Charlene’s modus operandi is “See it through to the end, no matter what obstacles may come my way.”

 

Many of you may already know Charlene, as she has been working closely with Bill Hanna, David Levesque, and Randy Risvold for several months.  Going forward, if you have questions about New Customer Setups, Service Issues, Information Requests, Literature & Sample Requests, Show Support, Account History, YTD/PYTD Sales Numbers, Sales Trends, Outstanding Invoices, Commissions and all follow-up, please contact Charlene at: 949.858.8820 ext: 107 or email: CharleneN@forespar.com.

Boat Tow or No?

towmanshipBOAT TOW …  OR NO

The obligation to render assistance is as old as the sea.  You see another vessel in danger, and you go to help.  Generally, there’s no excuse to not at least try, even if it’s a boat tow.

Reasons To Say NO

Even though boats seem to float and drift easily, they’re still heavy. That means some interesting loads on the towing boat.  A few thousand pounds of boat at the the end of a lightweight tow line can get “western” in a hurry, even in flat water and no wind.  Add some seas or a heavy chop and some real breeze  and the tow goes bad quickly.

Most boats have relatively lightweight cleats, and most boaters don’t carry heavy lines – snapping lines and ripped out cleats aren’t helping your boat, or the boat you’re trying to help.  It’s also likely that your power and props are just fine for fishing or skiing, and just aren’t suited for generating the torque necessary for towing a heavy load at lower speeds.  Think about pulling another car on a wet road, spinning your tires the whole way.  Probably not a good idea.

What About the Line?

A tow line should be eight or ten boat lengths (call it 250 to 300 feet) if you’re pulling a 30 foot boat.  Most pleasure boats don’t carry line long enough or strong enough for serious towing.  If you do have line, the worst to use is the standard three-strand nylon, since it has too much stretch, and tends to part explosively under load.  Double-braided nylon is a better choice, but like any line that sinks, you’ll run the risk of fouling your props, if you allow too much slack.  Your best bet is probably your anchor line, as it’s usually the longest and strongest line aboard.

Points and Cleats

Before you use that cleat or pad eye, first make sure it’s up to the task at hand.  A cheap cleat or poor installation can and will break, and can become a lethal missile if it snaps under load.  Then, when you’re setting up the tow rig, use a “bridle” set forward with the length of each leg at least twice the width of your boat, distributing the tow load to both side of the boat, allowing you to maintain control, since a single line attached to the transom will truly degrade your steering.  Then, adjust the tow line length so that your boat and the tow are in sync with the waves and troughs (remember that if you’re towing, the other boat probably doesn’t have brakes, so the tow tine may need to be slightly longer than you think).

A Knotty Issue

Knots used in towing are subject to heavy loads, so avoid knots that cinch tight.  Cleat hitches and bowlines are ideal, as they won’t come untied under load, but are easy to release when required.  And, no one stands in direct line with a loaded line (or should be dumb enough to straddle it), because if the line lets go, someone gets hurt.

Wait It Out

If there’s only one thing to take way here, it is to err on the side of caution.  If you aren’t very sure of your ability to tow the other boat safely and effectively, don’t do it.  The last thing the Coast Guard wants is two boats in trouble at the same place and time.  Get on the radio and stand by for help, preferable a vessel with the equipment, know-how and insurance.

And thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard for their guidance, and not least, being ready to help us when and where it’s needed.

 

 

Single-Handed Spinnaker Sailing

We all like spinnaker sailing, but seldom try it single-handed. Take this lesson, but remember that he’s using auto helm for his tiller. If you’re sailing in a smaller to medium boat in light or low-moderate air (under 12 knots), this will work. Any stronger breeze, especially at sea, and single handed kite flying will get “varsity” in a hurry.