Mailport November 1, 2004 Issue

Mailport: 11/01/04

Load on Your Rode
Thanks to the author of "The Load on Your Rode" [September, 2004] for finding a typo in The Annapolis Book of Seamanship. What started out as "Nylon rode should be 1/8 inch in diameter for every 9 feet of boat length" was converted by inhospitable typesetting software into "…1/2 inch." Using the 1/8" rule of thumb, a 27-footer would have a 3/8" rode, a 36-footer 1/2", a 54-footer 3/4", and so on. That matches up pretty well with the ABYC table.

These numbers may seem high when compared with those of Robert Smith. But given the long history of dragging boats, the wide range of opinion on the subject, the exponential relationship between load and wind speed, and the absolute obligation to take into account less than perfect situations (such as a half-rolled jib flapping in the breeze or a dodger that refuses to remain tied down), I don't mind being on the right wing on this issue.

-John Rousmaniere
Via e-mail


The article on anchors and anchoring failed to provide any really useful information to me. I found the same ambiguity in those traditional sources last year when outfitting my (first) cruising sailboat for a seven-month sojourn.

Far and away the most useful source was Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook. As a technically-qualified experienced cruiser, Calder narrows the problem down and provides wind speeds and bottom conditions, with 46 pages in two chapters.

-Les Bunch
Dublin, NH


Your comment that if an anchor isn't set it isn't an anchor was dead on. Unfortunately, small-boat owners, especially those with outboard power, often can't generate enough thrust in reverse to be sure they've backed down hard enough to set the anchor. I developed an anchoring technique for my Albin Vega that solves this problem; it might be especially good for singlehanded or shorthanded cruisers.

I stow and deploy both bow and stern anchors from the cockpit. I drop the bow anchor over the transom while motoring or drifting slowly downwind. By paying out the rode through my fingers and occasionally tensioning it, I can get the anchor to bite. Then I set the hook the same way a fisherman does, by pulling back on the rode. When it's set, I know it because the boat's momentum nearly pulls the rode out of my hand. If the anchor pops free, I know that too.

After paying out as much scope as I want, I put my arm through a bight of the still-running rode, walk forward along the side deck, hook my other arm around the shrouds and grab the rode with both hands. The boat stops and pivots into the wind. Even my full-keel vessel pivots, and does so particularly if I throw the tiller over before walking forward. Then I continue to the bow with the bight of rode, pass it through the pulpit and snub it to a cleat. Obviously, you want the boat moving slowly when you do this.

I usually row the stern anchor out with a dinghy, but I can also pay out extra bow rode and drop the stern anchor after pivoting, then pull myself forward between the two anchors. Retrieval is done the same way, in reverse. Sheet winches work as windlasses and the cockpit well contains the large loops of rode that would otherwise fall off the narrow bow.

This method minimizes running back and forth between bow and cockpit and keeps you near the engine controls and tiller while paying out or retrieving rode.

-John Francis
Ventura, CA


As a long term and enthusiastic subscriber and an active East Coast sailor (New York to Halifax), I have followed your articles on anchoring for many years. While these articles describe holding force and anchor types with care, they always ignore, for understandable economic limitations, the nature of the bottom. It seems to me, therefore, that anchoring technique is fully as important as the nature of your hook and rode. In particular, and if you anticipate a blow, you can well secure your boat against dragging, regardless of your specific ground tackle, by backing down hard on the tackle.

My crew takes pride in leaving our anchorage under sail and dropping the hook under sail as well. But if we have any doubt about the holding ground, anticipate a blow, or are concerned about the weather fetch, we start the engine and back down hard on the hook. If the anchor drags, we go to the trouble of picking it up and setting it again. In 25 years, we have only dragged once, when we failed to set the hook under engine.

As a matter of record we currently sail a Sabre 34 with two 37 pound Danforth anchors. Our primary anchor rode consists of 15 feet of chain and 120 feet of nylon. We carry another 200 feet of nylon in the event we might need to anchor in deep water.

-William G. Reinecke
Gloucester, MA

Setting anchor under sail is the traditional method, but certainly it's less feasible for larger, heavier vessels, particularly if attempted in a busy or crowded anchorage. Aboard almost anything under 30 feet LOA, we actually prefer getting our hook set in this fashion. However, instead of using our arms to affect a pivot as Mr. Francis does, we'd advise using a cleat or another form of purchase.


Hurricane Wisdom
The highest recorded winds in Florida for the recent Hurricane Frances were in Cape Canaveral and exceeded 120 knots. Naturally, with the whole world to choose from, my Sabre 38 was hauled out at a yard in Cape Canaveral during this storm. My other boat, a Morgan 32, was in the water three miles away in a great hurricane hole. Both were thoroughly prepared for this weather.

The eye of the storm passed just to the south of us, meaning the predominant winds were easterly. It was a slow-moving storm, and the winds lasted for a long time, well over a day.

In the water, the Morgan came through without a scratch. At the yard in Cape Canaveral, several boats were knocked from their stands, and the marina's paint hangar was destroyed. The Sabre, securely tied down in the yard, seemed to be the safer of the two boats. However, the relentless, long-lasting, and brutally strong winds that blew continually from one direction were able to bend the mast on the Sabre. With that boat securely tied down, the lack of give or ability to roll with the gusts may have been a factor. By the way, the word 'gusts' is truly inadequate; 'overwhelmingly powerful shrieking' is better.

It just goes to show, there are no guarantees with boats and hurricanes. Gather the best advice you can and make your best preparations, but at some point it's going to be out of your hands and you just have to hope for the best.

-Bill Blalock
Via e-mail


[Re: "LEDs in Emergence," PS Advisor Sept. 2004] I read with great interest your articles about lighting the interior with LED bulbs. I have purchased and used some LED lights with good results. Here are a couple of websites for 12V LED bulbs that I used with good results:, and

I installed festoon bulbs for the bow navigation lights and a right angle 1157 LED for the stern. These are being used in the old fixtures and I have used them since the late spring. Because I have a sailboat that does night sailing, these bulbs have reduced my power consumption significantly without a loss in performance. Also, the prices are considerably lower than what you showed in your recent article.

-Frank Kern
Via e-mail


This is the first time I've ever written to a publication concerning problems with an article. There were numerous inaccuracies and downright mistakes concerning LEDs, mainly in the PS Advisor. Briefly, although you can get white light by combining the primary colors, it ends up making spots of colors. All the white LEDs I see being used are in fact blue LEDs with phosphor coating the inside of the lens.

Also, the OGM Tri-anchor is USCG approved, and has two mile visibility.

And, the directionality of LEDs isn't really a factor for nav lights, since the intensity falls off near the edge, and "blinds" must be used, similar to incandescents. Not all LEDs give off light at a narrow angle, and there are ways to make even those with a narrow angle disperse the light by etching the surface or machining a flat surface near the top.

-John Gambill
Via e-mail


A couple of comments on that PS Advisor regarding LEDs:

1. Most white LEDs are not a combination of red, green, and blue LEDs, but instead contain a high-intensity blue LED, which excites a layer of phosphor. The phosphor re-emits white light. This is the reason that the light from white LEDs is usually bluer in the center of the beam, as noticed with many single-bulb LED flashlights.

2. Tri-color LEDs commonly contain a combination of red, green, and blue LEDs. By varying the intensity of each color, these LEDs can be used to make any color (red, blue, and green being the primary colors of light). The three LED arrangement makes these more complicated to drive and more expensive to manufacture. They are usually used in signs and large video displays.

3. You mention LED traffic lights "saving over 10 megawatts of electricity each year..." A watt is a unit of power, not energy, so it makes sense to say "saving over 10 megawatts," and leave out the "each year" part.

-Tom Wetherbee
Via e-mail

Readers Gambill and Wetherbee are correct regarding the predominant way to generate white light from an LED. In the old days, before the availability of bright blue LEDs, white light from LEDs came from mixing red, green, and blue light. With bright blue LEDs, the white LEDs use a phosphor that gets excited by the blue light and emits a bright white light. If you take a white LED and look at it under a microscope, one can see the phosphor material on top of the chip.

Wetherbee is also correct that we confused power and energy. The error crept in by trying to combine two numbers into one sentence, without balancing the units. The original information came from the following website:

The OGM TriAnchor™ (Orca Green Marine Technology Corporation) light did receive USCG certification in May 2004, after our article was written. It is available from OGM and their distributors/dealers for $229.

As to the LED power output and suitability for use as navigation lights, we should have clarified that we were referring to the current technology by using a single LED emitter for replacing a navigation light. One can get the brightness and directionality with multiple LED lamps in the nav light fixture.

For more information about LEDs, and commentaries, see For technical information from LED manufacturers, consider these sources:

• Cree, Inc.,
• Lumileds Lighting,
• Nichia America Corporation,
• Roithner Lasertechnik,
• Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd.,


...Where Credit Is Due
To Catalina and Bomar: "When one of the risers on a deck hatch aboard my 1995 Morgan 45 broke (teaching opportunity: don’t tack with the hatch open), I attempted to contact Bomar via their e-mail address. After a couple of weeks and trying three different e-mail addresses, I still hadn’t received a reply.

"At the time, I happened to be communicating with Warren Pandy of Catalina Yachts on a separate matter, and mentioned to him that I wished Bomar was as responsive as Catalina—they are fast, knowledgeable, and always helpful. The very next day I was contacted by Paul Hazen of Bomar, who told me he'd learned of my problem through Catalina. He apologized for the delays, and asked how he could help. In fairness, I did eventually hear from a representative of Bomar who responded to one of my earlier communications. Mr. Hazen helped me identify exactly what I needed and then sent the parts free of charge, including shipping Mr. Hazen’s action quelled a temporary bad taste I had about Bomar and, of course, Mr. Pandy once again demonstrated that Catalina Yachts is the greatest."

-Chip Prather, San Clemente, CA


Running Fixes
This month we feature reader-recommended resources in Massachussetts and Rhode Island (Please submit items for Running Fixes via e-mail to:

Yankee Ingenuity
A competent diesel mechanic, electrician, and clever fixer of all things sailboat-related can be found in Provincetown, MA. Mark Barnsely ( works part time as the dock manager of the Provincetown Marina and is occasionally available to lend a hand.

I sailed in from Southwest Harbor, ME, with a broken transmission. Through my home marina (Brewers Yacht Yard) a new transmission was shipped to me from Mack Boring in NJ.

Mark singlehandedly raised my Yanmar 30 GMF from its bed after removing the old broken transmission, installed the new part, aligned the shaft, and did a sea trial in the space of a long, 7-hour day without fuss or muss. I highly recommend his competence and craftsmanship.

-Doug Rothkopf
Glen Cove, NY

Quality Quartet
I saw your request for competent professionals and I wanted your readers to know that I have done business with the following four firms and have found them extremely competent:

For canvas projects, The Canvas Lady out of Warwick, RI (401/352-0001). For boat surveys, Capt. Paul Shaw in East Greenwich, RI (401/885-2249). For rigging work, New England Yacht Rigging in East Greenwich, RI (401/884-1112), and for all manner of boat work, rigging or repair, the Jamestown Boat Yard in Jamestown, RI (401/423-0600).

-Gail Cauger
Via e-mail

Cushion Contentment
Recently we ordered new cockpit cushions for our Pearson 34 from Oakum Bay Co. in Marblehead, MA, (781/631-8983). Due to a miscommunication the cushions didn't conform to our cockpit. We notified the company, and immediately they offered to replace the new cushions at no extra charge.

The replacements were ready in less than a week's time. We would like to commend David Arthur and Oakum Bay for their prompt and generous attention to our situation.

-Sandy and Irwin Macey
Lexington, MA

24-Hour Turnaround
Overnight service isn't something typically associated with the marine industry, but something happened to me that bucks the trend.

A few months ago, I had the "good" fortune of having a competitor at a national regatta destroy the trailing edge of my rudder in the last race on Saturday. Easily two to three inches of the rudder's edge were broken off and missing. Hitting the beach I removed the rudder and walked it over to Karl Anderson (owner of Karl's Boat Shop in Harwich, MA, 508/432-4488). I asked him, "can you fix this tonight?" After the laughter died down, he took a closer look at it and said "Yeah, we can do that."

So, early Sunday morning, with time to spare, Karl arrived with my rudder—all sanded out and looking as close to new as possible. I admit timing and location were on my side (this event took place on Cape Cod, not too far from the shop), but I still regard that as an example of exceptional customer service.

-Rick Bishop
South Boston, MA

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