Category Archives: gear

Converting old winches to self tailing

My cabin top desperately needs a second winch on starboard where the mainsheet, jib sheet, outhaul and main halyard are located. I usually resort to cross winching the jib sheet to the port winch but this results in the occasional “clothes-lining” when coming up the companionway.

I was lucky to source some older Barient winches, and while they are in perfect condition it would be nice if they were self-tailing, although I do have clutches close by so it isn’t a deal breaker. Continue reading Converting old winches to self tailing

Charts schmarts.

IMG_0123Lets get this out of the way first. I have taken the Canadian Power Sail Squadron’s Seamanship course which has a heavy emphasis on traditional chart plotting,  so I know how to work with paper charts, but as a digital native I prefer the convenience and accuracy of electronic navigation. We can all agree that paper still works when the batteries run out.

On our trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa last summer, I used a chart book and my Android Samsung SII cellphone with Navionics for way finding.  There really wasn’t any plotting involved because you just need to follow the trail of red and green bouys, but occasionally you get into open water and need to know which end of the lake to head to. Despite the small screen size, that setup worked except the GPS function and the screen brightness on full, drained the cell phone battery. To keep it alive, I plugged the phone into an AC charger via an extension cord to the AC/DC inverter. It was a messy but functional set up. I resolved that I could do better for the next trip. Continue reading Charts schmarts.

FOR SALE: electrical bits

Below is a list of some of the marine electrics I have for sale. It’s all used but in excellent condition. My aim isn’t to get rich off this stuff, but to see it find a good home rather then end up in landfill.


Cole Hersee dual battery switch

Cole Hersee M-750 Dual Battery Selector Switch is a 500 Amp master disconnect with four  positions: both off, battery 1, both batteries, or battery 2. High capacity: 500 A intermittent, 310A continuous. 6-36V DC. Conforms to USGS safety standard, UL & CE listed.

Excellent quality, make before break!

Cole Hersee dual battery switch
Cole Hersee dual battery switch

Continue reading FOR SALE: electrical bits

Anchor & Rode

CQR_anchorI have the opportunity to acquire an all chain rode with a hinged-plough CQR-type anchor.  I was going to jump at the chance, but my initial hesitation was handling all that chain, I don’t have a windlass, installing one would require switches, wiring and batteries, money. hmmm, maybe it’s worth it?  After some quick research I can summarize the following pros and cons:

  • rope provides cushioning (stretching) when the rode is pulled straight, chain is hard on fittings and can unset an anchor when pulled taut.
  • catenary effect: the weight of chain provides a calming/dampening effect in calm waters, or so many claim.  Research suggests that the weight of rode is negligible.(see Peter Smith link below)
  • abrasion resistance: chain is the clear winner for abrasion resistance, this seems to be the deciding factor for most, allowing sailors to sleep at night.
  • weight:  chain is heavy and requires a windlass, weighs down bow, better to go with lighter chain and bigger anchor.
  • expense: chain in expensive and rusts in salt water – but lasts longer than rope

Rope is actually better as a medium given it’s ability to stretch and absorb shock when the rode is straightened out but high winds or wave action, however the reality of abrasion is what makes most sailors reach for chain.

Rode length, not material, is what is important, the pulling force on the anchor needs to be as horizontal as possible, it is vertical pulling that unsets anchors. Chain is used as it pretty much guarantees abrasion resistance. When mooring in waters with unknown/varied seabeds, chain is best for a primary anchor rode.

For my normal stomping grounds, Lake Ontario, rope is fine. I suppose if I venture down the ICW to the Bahamas it might be advantageous to have a chain rode. hmmm, I’m back where I started.

Here are some good links on anchors, rode and scope:

The science behind anchors and rode:

Cruisers Forum rode discussion, chain vs rope:|