Getting Started

Dropping Anchor

For the past few days, my sailing obsession has shifted from toilets to dropping anchor. This skill will be vital if we ever want to move the boat from its current location – which we have to do by October 30th anyway.

Luckily, the internet knows everything. However, reading about it is never the same as doing it. I could read about building a spacecraft, but that doesn’t mean I can then go out and make one.

Dropping Anchor

Then again, anchoring doesn’t seem overly complicated. From what I understand, the most important things to know are what kind of bottom you are anchoring in (e.g. soft mud, grass, rock) and how much swing radius you need. Swing radius refers to a circle around where your anchor is dropped, where your boat could shift to if the wind or current changes. As you let out more rode, your radius increases.

If you’re the only one in the anchorage, you don’t need to worry too much, but if there are other boats around, you have to keep an eye out for their swing radius and make sure they don’t overlap too much.

Not all boats move the same way, either. Powerboats, monohull sailboats, and multihulls like catamarans and trimarans behave differently in the wind and current. So it’s best to anchor among boats that are like yours. I guess that means we need to stick with smaller monohulls.

So you pick your anchoring spot, start lowering your anchor off the bow (not all at once or the rope will tangle), and slowly back up your boat. You should point into the wind or current, whichever is stronger, and let your craft drift backwards. If necessary, a little engine power can help set the anchor properly.

In softer bottoms, you also need to give it some time to settle properly.

Of course, there are a million variations on this and so much depends on the boat and the anchorage, as well as the anchor’s weight and other properties. In some cases, you might even tie the stern (back) of the boat to a tree on land, to keep it from swinging around too much.

Or, in some areas, you can forget the anchor and simply hook up to a mooring buoy, as shown in this Sailing Magazine video.

We’ll have to check out the nautical charts on the boat to start learning about local bottom features around here.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends.

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Categories: Anchoring, Getting Started | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Our Local Chandler

Jason had to work today, so I decided to pop into our local chandler. Then I realized that today we were supposed to get an anchoring permit (or move our boat – haha).

First, I took a leisurely bike ride to the dollar store, where I picked up some measuring tape and an airtight, waterproof storage bag. Then I went up to Wright Mariner Supply & Yacht Services near our apartment. I just wanted to inquire about a composting toilet, but Steve, the store manager, gave me a wealth of useful advice about a lot of other things as well. He lived on a 30-footer for fourteen years, so I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about!

I learned about a couple more marine head options, including one that uses UV rays to destroy all the bacteria before discharging the waste into the water. Amazing! We’ll probably stick with something a little less high-tech, but it’s good to know what’s out there. The UV one needs electricity, which we’re hoping to avoid, since power will be such a scarce resource on board.

Steve also mentioned that diesel is better than propane, as far as heaters are concerned. (I’m sure the same applies to stoves, which makes me question our propane stove.) The reason he gave is that propane puts a lot of moisture into the air. Added to the moisture coming from our breath (we exhale a liter of water a day, he said!), it can contribute to mold and other issues. Maybe we should just go for the wood-burning heater he showed me, if we want to go really DIY.

Of course, diesel has the added benefit of being easily converted to biodiesel.

Choosing the type of fuel for our heater is just a drop in the bucket list, so to speak.

At some point during our conversation, it struck me that Danny’s anchoring permit for Tomahawk expired today. We were supposed to get one in our name, so I said a speedy farewell to Steve and raced across the Burrard Bridge to Granville Island. For some reason, I was thinking the False Creek Yacht Club was there, but it turned out not to be. That’s where Danny said to get the permit. By this time it was almost five o’clock, so I was a little concerned the offices might be closed for the day. I called 411 to get their number and the woman I spoke to said I could get the permit online. Which is great, except I could’ve stayed longer at the ship chandler! Oh well. Lessons learned.

When I got home, I filled out the extremely simple online application and received the permit in my email within a few minutes. Nothing like technology to make things easy.

We will have to move Tomahawk by October 30th. That means we’ll need to figure out how to anchor as well as where to put it for a week. There might be a spot available in the “Pirate’s Bay” off Kitsilano Beach, which is just a bit farther west of where the boat is now.

 

Categories: Anchoring, Getting Started, Legalities | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Much Rain

We haven’t had much chance to do anything with the boat, because our schedules haven’t been lining up very well with each other. Last week was particularly busy, as we went to see Bon Jovi one night, and then Michael Franti & Spearhead another.

The other factor was the weather. It suddenly turned into fall here, which means rain, rain, and more rain. We had torrential downpours over one weekend, with more than 50 centimeters in two days!

Being the newbies that we are, we were afraid the Zodiac dinghy might have drowned. So we did go out to check on it at one point. There was a fair amount of water in it, which we bailed out using the cut-off top half of a plastic milk jug left by Danny, the previous owner, for that purpose (presumably). The other dinghy and kayak tied at the dock had water in them too, so we figured that was just what happens when it rains. We also discovered that the Zodiac has a drain in the back, so that’s good to know.

Checking out the Zodiac

This is sort of how we looked trying to figure out our Zodiac in the rain.

Finally, yesterday was a gorgeous day, so we paddled out to the boat. Our paddling was not very efficient, since the oarlocks are broken. Jason has way more experience with rowing, so I’ll have to take some lessons from him! Still, it was nice to be out on the water, although Jason’s sneakers got soaked. My feet stayed dry, but the shoes I had on could get ruined pretty quick by getting wet all the time. Another semi-urgent thing on our list of boating needs is proper waterproof footwear. (In this city, it’s more than just a boating thing, since it rains so much!)

Tomahawk was still there and doing fine, as we expected. We figured out how to open the hatch and did a small bit of exploring. Mostly we just sat in the cockpit, soaking up the sunset and talking about what we need to learn. It’s a long list. First up is anchoring and using the motor properly, so that we can actually take a trip out of False Creek.

Funny that learning to sail is not very high on the list of challenges right now!

A liveaboard couple who we’ve seen before rowed by in their dinghy with their baby and some supplies. They said hello and asked if we’d just bought the boat. During our brief, shouted exchange, they wanted to know if we were planning to live aboard. We told them, “Eventually!” and they implicitly welcomed us to the club by saying, “We’ll see you out there!” We’ve heard the liveaboard community is friendly, and if these people are a typical example, it certainly seems that way.

Categories: Dinghy, Getting Started, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Begins

We have officially taken over possession of the boat. Danny and his dad Gerald have vacated the premises, after doing a ton of work on it. They put in a new head (toilet) pump and replaced the wood around the entrance. They bought new locks and cleaned up the inside quarters.

After getting the grand tour, we walked back up the dock. The Zodiac is locked in place for our first trip out as independent owners. Gerald said, “Yesterday when we were working on it, I had a tear in my eye. You really get attached.” I’m sure we will!

Boat Keys

We have keys!

Our solar shower arrived today too. It’s a big black bag with a shower nozzle. You fill it with water and leave it in the sun. The temperature can reach 50 degrees Celsius, according to the instructions! Ouch! Now we just need some sun….

Solar Shower

Important: Place black side up! Should be easy enough, since that’s every side 😉

In spite of the great efforts put in by Danny and Gerald, Tomahawk still needs a bit of work. Here are some things to do, off the top of my head:

I’m sure there will be many, many more items added to this list over time.

 

 

Categories: Cleaning, Electricity, Getting Started, New Boat, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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