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Old 07-03-2013, 14:54   #1
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Ground Tackle Quandary

OK…been watching/reading all the threads related to this, and sometimes they get a little convoluted and disjointed. Obviously, it’s not a “one size fits all” thing, and I could use a little input/feedback on my specific configuration/situation:

Whitby 42 Ketch rig full keel cruiser. If the scale was accurate, was right at 14,000 kg (+/-31,000 lbs) when I had her hauled for a bottom job last month. Probably about right. Tanks were fairly full and a lot of “stuff” on her now that wasn’t when I had her hauled when we bought her. And she was about 27-28 kips then. So cruising weight is probably going to be around 32-33 kips by the time we have her fully provisioned.

In Grand Cayman right now, working on the last of the things to make her "home" for the next year or so. Just brought her back from Rio Dulce about 10 days ago. Was pretty much downwind there 18 months ago, and a nasty hard on the nose beat back end of last month…wind didn’t shift like it was supposed to for an extra day…

But we learned we need to change a few things. She just did not want to go to weather, and I think the following contributes to it, and this post is an attempt to validate (or invalidate) my thoughts. Been sailing a long time, but this hard core cruising is fairly new, and I still have a lot to learn…

When we bought the boat, there were two chunks of 3/8~chain (don’t know if it’s BBB or HT. Will have to get my micrometer out and check…just thought of that this morning…after I’d already been there and back for the day… it may make a difference in choices to be outlined in a bit). Primary section is +/-200 ft with +/-250 ft of ¾” 3-strand spliced behind it. Other is +/-150 ft. Both sitting in the locker right now about as far forward as you can get on the boat….

No anchor when we bought the boat, and at the time, budget was set (and tight), so I ended up with a Fortress FX-23 and a Delta 35. Sizing guides said it was appropriate, but it seems to be woefully undersized at this point. I’ve never been fully comfortable with a set…sleep with one and half eyes open if the wind blows at all. Can’t be doing that for the next year on a regular basis…

I’ve already made up my mind on a new anchor. Looking like either a 60# Supreme or a 65# Mantus. Leaning toward the Mantus because I like the fact it’s bolted together and will easier to stow on passage. I know there may be many who don’t like that, but I’ve been in construction all my adult life, and in the heavy steel industry for the last 15. With several hundred thousand bolts in hospitals and high rise steel structure all over the western US, I can sleep just fine with a bolted connection…they won’t be the weak point.

I bought a windlass that ended up having the wrong size gypsy (newbie lack of experience~ I come from a racing background and we just never anchored!), and I can’t get one (gypsy) for the 3/8 chain. So therein lies my quandary. As I see it I have two options:

Option #1: Get a bigger windlass and leave everything else alone. Main drawback in my mind is it doesn’t help with the bow weight to speak of. And the chain is several years old, and although it’s not really showing rust to speak of, it also hasn’t been out of the locker much at all. And then there’s the fact that I really don’t know what kind of use/abuse it got before I inherited it. Could probably sell the windlass I have now to recoup part to the replacement cost and get out at around $500-$700 US (Not counting my labour, which is, of course, as we all know…priceless!)

Option #2: 250-300 ft of 5/16” G40 HT with 200-250 ft 5/8” 3 strand spliced in behind it for the primary. Possible bonus in the weight location department, but I’ll have to get the chain that’s in the locker now out to know ~ there’s a hawse pipe from the locker in the forepeak to a locker in the bilge. I have the 3 strand run down there right now. The 3/8 wouldn’t fit, but I don’t remember how close it was to fitting. Would be a blessing if some of the chain can be fed down to the bilge at the front of the keel… Lots of dive and fishing boats here, so I shouldn’t have a problem selling the 3/8 chain and ¾” 3 strand I have. Especially if I throw in some custom splicing for the buyer. Figuring this way will be between $800-$1100 US. But a couple of hundred of that is for titanium fittings I’ve committed to with this configuration.


So economically, there's not a lot a weight either way.


In both cases, the Fortress with 40-50 ft of chain, and as much 5/8” or ¾”- 3 strand as I should reasonably need (keep several hundred feet stowed for drogue, sea anchor and general mooring and docking) would be back up/storm.

Looking to head out of here early May, to west end of Jamaica, then Bocas del Toro for and indeterminate amount of time. San Blas and Cartegena in the mix as well. Figure on that area through at least the end of this Hurricane season, and most of it on the hook. And depending on how that goes, maybe through to the Pacific, where I know that anchoring will present a whole new set of challenges. Am hoping to be moving in the right direction in preparation for that eventuality.

Thoughts, suggestions, and constructive criticism welcomed.
Thanks in advance

Raybo
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Old 07-03-2013, 15:03   #2
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

In my (entirely unqualified) opinion, 5/16" chain is definitely too small for a 14000kg boat. I would be strongly in favour of sticking with 3/8" chain (whether to stick with your existing chain or buy new is up to you, but if in doubt replace). If you need a bigger windlass, get a bigger windlass. I also agree that your current anchors are under-sized. Maybe the 35 would be ok for a lunch anchor, but for overnight your proposed 60 or 65 seems much more realistic (I'm not even going to offer an opinion on the correct anchor type... go with what you are happy with, heh).

For me, ground tackle is not something that you mess with. Every night you set an anchor you are entrusting your boat and your life (and the lives of your cew) to that anchor, chain and rode. Call it "sleep at night factor", but knowing you have the correct size pick, chain and rode is priceless.
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Old 07-03-2013, 15:18   #3
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

I suspect that your 3/8" chain is BBB which has about the same strength as 5/16" HT. I also agree that 5/16" HT is too small for that boat and if so the 3/8 needs to be replaced with 3/8" HT.

Put 200' of 3/8" HT and another 200' of 3/4" nylon and you will be ready for anything. You can usually change the gypsy to match the 3/8" HT (which has different link dimensions from 3/8" BBB) but if not go with a bigger windlass.

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Old 09-03-2013, 10:35   #4
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

I'm not certain what chain fits your current windlass, but I too would recommend going with the 3/8" HT--probably 200 feet would do it for the Caribbean, but you may want 300 feet for the Pacific with 200 feet of nylon on the end. I think it sounds just about right going with 60 lbs. for your boat, and probably a Mantus or Manson will do you well. There are a few places where you need to anchor in say 40 feet of water in the San Blas, but most of the time it will be shallower. Myself, I would just put maybe 10-15 feet of chain on the Fortress in order to make it really easy to handle from the dinghy, which is mainly how I use it most of the time. It comes in handy in the San Blas to limit your swing in tight anchorages (surrounded by shoals or coral), or to keep you facing into a swell, or in a Bahamiam moor. I would definitely have a third anchor onboard too--maybe a Fortress FX-37 for a second anchor in storms.
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Old 20-03-2013, 09:39   #5
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Come to find out, the 3/8" chain is Hi test...new appropriate windlass on the way...in fact it's in Miami at the freight forwarder, along with the new anchor, wind gen, and the other stuff that on this last crossing back form Rio Dulce (most of it hard on the wind) we've decided, that although we don't really "need", we want. And since it will be our full time home for the next year, we both think that's worth the comfort in the long run.

Damn, I was just hoping to get some weight out of the bow. Guess I'll just have to figure out something else to try to get her to point a bit better...

...or maybe once we cut the line and go for good, and not always on a "delivery" type of schedule to get between places (like the last three times), it won't matter anymore.

Thanks
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Old 20-03-2013, 10:21   #6
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

It's true that schedules ruin comfort. When you don't have to go right now and the weather is bad you wait until things improve, or go somewhere else. Makes a world of difference.

How is it "hard on the wind" getting from the Caymans to Miami? Unless you were fighting northers the whole way, which is bad luck!
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Old 20-03-2013, 10:41   #7
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Not Cayman to the Keys, getting from Rio Dulce to Grand Cayman a few weeks ago...see this link.

View A SPOT Adventure

When we left Roatan, wind was supposed to clock around about 24-36 hours out...didn't till after more like 48-56. By that time we were a long way north. What we'd hoped to have been a long slow turn to the right turned into a fairly hard 3 day beat. But we survived. Kind of like landing a plane, right? Any one you walk away from is a good one..

Debated about which of the options to take, and this was was we ended up with. Have email via HAM, and a friend in Albuquerque and I chatted back and forth on the guess. Oh, well...

Getting to the keys won't be bad to get around Cabo San Antonio, but I'm not really familiar with the wind patterns between there and Key West. But would think it's still far enough south that still predominately a trade wind pattern. And if memory serves me right, when I came across there from Ft Myers, with the current one way and the wind the other, it was a bit of a washboard.

But that's for another thread I'm thinking I need to start. I'm not at all familiar with the keys, and if i head there, could use some guidance on both getting there, staying there (just long enough to do the work on the boat), and then getting southeast to he windward passage to eventually head to Bocas.
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Old 20-03-2013, 13:47   #8
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Haven't done Cayman to the Keys, but I did Key West to Providencia a few years ago--so the opposite direction. The great thing is you will have the current with you, we were fighting both wind and current for six days going the other way. Quite a slog! Winds this time of year are pretty much easterly, with more of a southeasterly slant once you get up to the Keys. I wouldn't pinch up too high--let the current work you to windward and you should be fine. You can clear customs and what not in Key West, but I'm not a great fan of the harbor there, at least at anchor. Marathon is a good place to hang out if you don't mind paying for the moorings. Very little room left to anchor, and the dinghy dock costs the same as a mooring. Marathon has much better access to marine supplies and other shopping than Key West. Key West has better bars.
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Old 20-03-2013, 16:22   #9
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

G'Day Raybo, and welcome to CF.

As you have already discovered, there is a great deal of info available here, some of which is accurate. The hard thing is to figure out which part that is!

So, here is an observation that may apply to your situation: We have had two close friends with Whidby 42's. Both long term cruisers from Canada, we were all sailing in the Mexico -- South Pacific realm. By observation when sailing in company with these boats, they just don't go to windward very well, especially if there is much of a sea running. The skippers were not from a racing background and may not have had much of a clue about sail trim or selection, and that can obviously have a big effect on upwind performance, and both boats had big hard dodgers over the cockpits with lots of windage... all negative factors. And they too had lots of ground tackle forward... and one has now completed a circa 20 year circumnavigation while the other couple became mired in SE Asia and ended their cruising days there. Thus, the lack of windward ability isn't the end of ones cruising dreams!

So, you may be fighting an uphill battle with your yacht (ho ho). Careful attention to sail shape and inventory can help and certainly keeping as much weight out of the bow will reduce hobbyhorsing, but sailing at 60 degrees to the true wind may be about all that is practical.

Good luck with it all, and happy cruising.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 20-03-2013, 17:53   #10
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Jim ~ Thanks for the reply.

Your observation of 60 deg to windward is close. We can get up to a little under 55. But we both "grew up" in sailing racing on J24's, and had a Santana 20 that we raced for three seasons and were fairly competitive on. And after this last passage, we're probably pushing her windward performance at that.

We gave up our Ericson 35 a few months ago. What is it they say? The two happiest days of a boat owner is the day they buy it an the day they sell it?

She was a really good boat. Old ORC racer. So this is our first "Bathtub".

But the Whitby is actually very comfortable. And may be that I've just started to get to know her. If you take a look at that track in my previous post, came a point I quit pushing so hard, and we just resigned to take as long as it took.

Mom doesn't allow any Rhum on passage, so I had a bit of a conundrum...because I'm a dedicated Rhum aficionado. I was looking forward to getting into port!!!

Our best sailing was at night. I put on a Hydrovane just before I left the Rio. We made an effort to set ourselves up about sunset, and just let her go. For the most part, the South tracks are during the day. Wind here is funky during the day. The good easting is during the night when we just let her have her head when the wind is steady and consistent.

We actually have a fairly small sail inventory. Minimal. And I want to keep it that way. With just the two of us, really don't want to be tempted to be "racers", which we would both ten to do if we had them.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for your input.
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Old 20-03-2013, 18:17   #11
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Haven't done Cayman to the Keys, but I did Key West to Providencia a few years ago--so the opposite direction.

Marathon has much better access to marine supplies and other shopping than Key West. Key West has better bars.
Did you go around the West end of Cuba? If we do go back to the keys, we're looking at going to Great Inaugau and through the windward passage. Then back to Montego Bay/Negril. From there to Pedro Bank, Bajo Nuevo, Serrano Cay for stops.

Skip San Andres & Providencia because the cost of the crusing permit for a few days is just hard to justify, and head to Bocas.

Bars in Key West? I like the bar on the boat better...you can't tell the difference from the salon to the aft berth if it's me or the boat in the rollers...
Need to look into a place in Marathon to receive the stuff I have in Miami...
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Old 20-03-2013, 18:27   #12
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

We went around the west end of Cuba. Providencia was one of my favorite places in the southwest Caribbean. High hills--almost mountains, towering over the harbor, sleepy little town, horse races on the beach, sheltered harbor with tons of room and few boats, interesting hikes if you can arrange to have someone show you the routes. Friendly people. Not sure what the current clearance fees are there. Didn't go to San Andres.

It seems to me that from the Keys it would probably be an easier sail around the west end of Cuba and you would avoid the $300 check in fee for the Bahamas. Unless you plan on spending some time there.
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Old 20-03-2013, 18:47   #13
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Re: Ground Tackle Quandary

Mark J +1 ya need a bigger (heavier anchor) and Proper chain. Theres no way aroung that!! your boat will never be a fast boat to windward ! No way around that!! better to bear off a might and have a better motion and more comfort. Ya know ya have a great cruiseing boat, so forget speed and go for safety with better ground tackle!! Just my 2 cents from a few years at sea and at anchor
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