Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

We Anchored Beam-To After The Gale

By Rich

After the gale passed yesterday, we found the breeze shifting to the west and easing somewhat, blowing around 20 with gusts to the upper 20s. With the right shift we found a terrible problem with swells bending around the northern corner of the island and coming to violently roll us on the beam. Some months ago Brian send me a link to a YouTube video showing how to rig a “swell bridle” for this situation. The technique involves tying a long line to the anchor chain with a rolling hitch, running it aft to the transom, and then easing out the chain enough that effectively you wind up a gigantic bridle that will hold the boat in the direction you choose (based on how much chain you let out from the bow). We decided to try it out, and it worked great! We were able to point the bow straight into the waves and be far more comfortable even though the waves coming off the Sound were so big they actually caused the boat to pound lightly on occasion! Check out the results in these videos:


Continue reading We Anchored Beam-To After The Gale

An Object Lesson In Keeping Diesel Clean

By Rich

It’s a terrible joke but I’ll make it again: marine diesel engines always fail at the worst time. From an engineering standpoint, this is a bad joke because there is a perfectly good reason why engines choose rough weather to fail: big seas stir up the asphaltenes or blobs of microbial growth, which then get sucked up into lines and filters. Many boat owners like to blame old, dirty fuel tanks or having “gotten bad fuel” at their last fill up, but the reality is that keeping fuel clean requires constant vigilance even on new boats. The ship’s log our our Hylas 54, Rover, show that she was experiencing engine failures due to clogged fuel filters when she was only a year old. Below is a great a video from Distant Shores TV showing they had the exact same experience on their one year old boat – and, as always, the engine failure occurred in an choppy inlet, which is when they always do. If you watch the video all the way through you will see that a terrible design flaw in Southerly’s fuel plumbing directly contributed their failure too.

How To Prevent Incidents Like This Continue reading An Object Lesson In Keeping Diesel Clean

Ever Struggle To Get a Dockline On A Far Away Piling? Rig A Heaving Line

By Rich

Don’t you hate it when you want to add a dockline to one corner of your boat, but the nearest piling is 15 feet away and much too tall to throw a line over it? On our Hylas 54 we found the prior owners had rigged heaving lines to solve the problem. Heaving lines are relatively light and small, but long lines with a weight on one end. Here’s what ours look like:

Continue reading Ever Struggle To Get a Dockline On A Far Away Piling? Rig A Heaving Line

Keeping Water Tanks Clean: Part III

By Rich

For more backgound on this post, see this post and this post. In summary, the fresh water tanks on a boat can get pretty disgusting inside if they aren’t managed carefully. We cleaned the water tanks on our Hylas soon after we bought her and it was a big job that I’d prefer not to have to do regularly. As such, I needed a means of draining the very last bits of water out of each tank once they were “empty” (but not really empty, because the pump pickups are high enough from the bottom of the tank that small amounts of water remain in each tank, then go rancid and start growing small swamp monsters). Continue reading Keeping Water Tanks Clean: Part III

Our Sabre Sailboat Buyer’s Guide

Editor’s note: this guide applies to the first and second generation Sabre sailboats designed by Roger Hewson and sold from the company’s founding in the early 1970s through the early 1990s. The third generation of Sabres was designed by Jim Taylor and can be identified by their three number model name instead of a two number model name (for example the Sabre 362 is a third-generation Jim Taylor design, while the Sabre 36 is a second generation Roger Hewson design launched in the mid 1980s). Construction of the third generation boats differs slightly and so while many of these tips may apply, others may not. For example the Jim Taylor designed Sabres often had foam as opposed to balsa coring in their hulls.

By Rich

During our four years restoring Sabre 42 #57 we learned heaps about how the boats are built and what to look for when we shop for our next Sabre sailboat (which are very likely to do after our ‘long’ cruise on the bigger boat). As a result of our blog, we also met several other Sabre owners online and picked up additional tips and tricks as a result of their experiences. We thought it would be fun to write an article enumerating our Sabre-specific learnings. We will deliberately avoid covering very generalized brokerage boat buying tips beyond saying that the standard guidelines apply to Sabres as well as other brands. For example most of these Sabres have balsa cored hulls and decks, and so surveyors should be careful to check for wet or rotten core on Sabres just as they should for any other boats.

Continue reading Our Sabre Sailboat Buyer’s Guide

What We Learned While Escaping Hurricane Irma

By Rich

Let me start off this article by saying that those of us with property and / or lives we love in Fort Lauderdale got lucky that Irma’s track brought her eye well west of us. As such we really only got a punch in the nose as opposed to the comprehensive beating those in the Caribbean and western Florida and the Keys got. Our thoughts go out to all of those who were more gravely affected than we were. Continue reading What We Learned While Escaping Hurricane Irma

Games To Play While On Watch Overnight

By Rich

Ever had trouble staying alert while on those long overnight watches during a race or a delivery? Here are some games we made up to keep ourselves entertained during the Annapolis to Newport race:

  • Try to name every state and each state’s capital. We tried to remember them all by starting in alphabetical order
  • The same but for European countries
  • The same but for African countries. We didn’t make much progress on this one despite the fact that yours truly took a History of Modern Africa class in college that required memorization of precisely these items. Sigh.
  • Does anyone know a language the others don’t? Teach them common daily phrases. We chose Norwegian.

We also made up a new game we called “superlatives.” Although the idea isn’t all that novel and on further reflection a game called “superlatives” almost certainly is already a thing, the game seemed novel through the fog of sleep depravation. We’d ask questions like the following and then go in a circle so that each crew member could give his / her own answer:

  • What’s the most scared you’ve ever been in your life?
  • What’s the most drunk?
  • Name an alcoholic beverage with which you’ve “had a falling out” and tell the story
  • What’s the best movie ever made?
  • What’s the most beautiful boat ever made?

…and so on. We entertained ourselves for hours, day and night. Try it on your next passage!