Travel Tips

Tips From The School Of Hard Knocks You might think that after 3 year of southern cruising and doing things the hard way I would have learned a thing or two. Well I have and that surprised me too . Here are a few of my lessons from the school of hard knocks. When cruising on a small boat, there isn't always room to store the tender on deck . So you tow it , and in a following sea that dinghy, can surf ,and in many cases, impact with your transom with considerable force . We had such a situation and the dinghy almost ended in the cockpit with me . The backstay and barbecue slowed it down but not before most of the barbecue went over the side . Attempts to tame the dinghy met with only marginal success but after a few more close encounters the solution finally came to me . Trying to stop it wasn't the solution, but turning it was. How ? The way I discovered was to put a 8 inch funnel on the painter so the dinghy was being towed the funnel pointed at the transom . When it started to surf ,The line went slack and the funnel would drop into the water, act like a scoop, and turn the dinghy . It worked every time . I found that the best place for the funnel was one dinghy length ahead of the dinghy there I tied a stopper knot fore and aft of the funnel to hold the funnel in its place. I don't have to repaint "STONECUTTER" quite as often.

The outboard motor was always a difficult thing to deal with, sometimes requiring two people to get it in to or out of the dinghy . You could buy a lighter motor, but that would probably under-power the dinghy for most duties, other than a slow trip too and from shore. You could buy a motor crane to lift it . But why ? When you probably have most of one already ? I'm referring to the swim ladder, that is firmly attached to the transom. On the last rung of the ladder attach a line and pad to mount the motor on .This pad should be loose enough too rotate about the rung . The line should be long enough too reach a block attached above your head on the backstay and down to a cleat or rail . The motor can be set on the pad and lifted on and off the boat easily . Heavier motors can be lifted with a double block. A ladder built to support you should support the motor. I found it best to be in the dinghy guiding the motor while some one lowered the motor too me .But if I had to, I could be in the dinghy and lower the motor to myself.

I once found myself on the wet side of the dinghy and had a particularly difficult time getting back in. I won't go into how I got there, I have now firmly lashed a medium size fender just above the water line to the port side of my dinghy. It supplies the dinghy with enough extra flotation on that side to allow me to climb in or out of the water. The fender is always ready and in place when I come along side my own or anyone else's boat .

Securing the dinghy and its accessories has been a problem for me and many of my fellow cruisers . One of the saddest scenes that come to mind is that of a inflatable with its bow securely chained to a fence , its transom cut off and the motor gone. Since then, I use a stainless steel wire which is secured to the bow then threaded through the handle of the gas tank, a 1 inch hole drilled in the blade of the oars, the sleeve of the PFDs and then locked at the motor . The dinghy is also locked to the dock or shore with a separate line and another lock using the same key . This system seems to work or at least most thieves look for easier picking.

In the Georgia swamps in the summer the flies are murder but what really will get you are the no-see-ums .After locking ourselves below, stuffing rags in the vents and spending the night gasping for some fresh air we were ready too try anything , so I sprayed the screens with PAM a nonstick cooking spray . After an easy night's sleep we found the inside of the boat bug-free and the bugs stuck too the screen . A quick rinse of the screen and we were off too the next anchorage .

The reach pole never seems to have a home where it's easy too get when you need it and it's not in the way when you're busy on deck. Most of the time it just lays around on deck ready to catch a foot . After losing a couple of them over the side or finding them bent , I decided it was time to give one a home. I lashed a couple pieces of ABS pipe to starboard shroud to make a convenient and fail-safe holder. One piece of the ABS pipe is 4 inches long with a slot cut in about two and a half inches along the side. The hook rests in this end. The other is 10 inches long and just big enough to allow the handle to slide through .They are both lashed to the shroud with just enough clearance (about 2 inches), to slip the handle in and not rake the deck . The other end is lashed above the hook rest with enough clearance to have the grip completely pass through with an inch or two to spare. If the hook is bumped out of the rest, the ridge of the grip will catch on the ABS and hang there long enough for you too reset it . .

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