Don’t you hate it when you’re parked safely in the wind shadow of some tiny islet, but the whole ocean is trying to rush by, making waves curl around the cay, bashing at you from the side? Boy, I do. The boat pitches left and right in a most unpleasant fashion, causing difficulty with daily chores and making sleep impossible. In times like these you need a BRINDLE.
(Now, fully aware of the frequency in which I used the word ‘ANCHOR’ so much in last season’s blog, I have resolved not to use the ‘A’ word this season. I apologize in advance for having to do so in this next explanation.)
Your boat’s ANCHOR comes off the bow, and your boat usually points into the wind. But, if you have big waves coming in from the side, you would rather point into those waves. So, attach a boat-length line to your ANCHOR chain about a boat-length out, then run the free end of the line back to the stern. Tie it off on the side away from the waves. This will face your bow into the tidal surge. Fine tune as needed. Sleep in your shorts, as you will probably have to jump up and make adjustments after high tide. Gosh, I wish we had known about BRINDLES last season. (I got this out of Bruce Van Sant’s “Gentleman’s Guideâ€¦”, which every cruiser owns but few have read because of Gus’ superior tone.
Now, you’re in some really remote location where people don’t dare go without a 20-day water supply and spare parts for everything on their boat. No cell phone, no internet service, no morning cruisers’ net on the VHF radio. How will you get your weather forecasts? You need a ham or single side band radio. Then you can listen to Chris Parker, the weather god of the Bahamas, at 06:30 each morning.
OK, you can spend a few grand on an SSB set that will transmit and receive voice (and faxes). Or you can do as we did and buy a small receiver, and sit with the antenna pressed against the backstay cable (for better reception). Out here you might meet a cruiser who doesn’t know (or care) who the president is, but he’ll know what Chris Parker said this morning.
Your solar panel is fixed onto the frame of the Bimini shade. It often points away from the sun instead of toward it. Bummer. You need ALL the solar power you can get. Well, this is a little embarrassing, but Duwan finally put forth the idea of adjusting the Bimini frame so that the panel presents a better angle to the sun. This is just one of those simple ideas we should have thought of long ago. (In my defense, I don’t like unscrewing 30-year-old connections unless I have a complete set of replacement parts.)
We carry our Nexus tablet with us when exploring islands. Many times we’ll find hiking trails that aren’t in a chart or cruise guide. They are usually marked by conch shells or buoys. We use the tablet to get GPS coordinates for the ends of the trails, then mark them in our chartbook so we can easily locate them later.
Rowboat tips. It’s easier to row up to shore and closely follow the contour of the coastline, than to row against wind and current in a direct line toward the end of an island. Distribute weight evenly in the boat. Tip the top of the oar blades forward so that water pressure will force the blades down, holding the oars in their oarlocks. Use short, fast strokes in higher seas.
Outboard motor tip. Don’t pull the starter cord so hard that it breaks in two, especially if you don’t have a spare.
Most importantly, provision with enough beer that you can have at least one 16-ounce PBR at the end of each day (before that first rum drink). This will make your cruising life much more pleasant.