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Old 04-22-2010, 10:26 AM   #1
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Getting Used to Fear

Id like to ask about a couple of things that I am trying to get used to. As my boating experience mounts (we are really now on our first "cruise" from New Bern to Carolina Beach), there are still a few things I am having some fear about.

First is the fear of single digits on my depth sounder (and I suppose that leads into the fear of being stuck aground). As I read tales of people cruising the Bahamas or tucking into coves for the night in 6' of water, I can never get over how hard it is for me to be comfortable when the depth sounder shows a number under 10'. And I practically pee on myself when the alarm goes off at 6'. While I only draft 4', it never ceases to send my blood pressure up when I know that there is no less than a foot or two... or even FIVE... under my keel. The fear, I suppose, is that the bottom will just shoot up inadvertently and I'll be sitting aground without any control over the situation.

Granted, I have a single-screw protective keel around my prop, but that still doesn't comfort me much. And I also realize that "If you haven't been aground, you haven't been around.", but I want to do EVERYTHING in my power to prevent that from ever happening. Is there any way to get used to this? Will the feeling lessen over time?

Next is anchoring and I suppose this runs along the same lines as above. It's not that I have a fear of the PROCESS. The fear lies with the fact that we could drag anchor in the middle of the night (certainly by a mistake of my own) and we would sleep through any warning signs.

Then there is also the idea that we could drain the batteries in one night. I don't have a gauge that shows amp-draw and, once again, we'd be stuck and out of control of the situation.

At some point I need to come to grips with these. I want (no... NEED) to find a way to relax when we are boating, but I'd guess that relaxing too much opens you up to mistakes. Any help you guys can be to get me through this would be great.

Signed,
"Four-Foot-Fraidy-Cat"
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:55 AM   #2
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

You'll get used to the shallow water. I regularly boat around here in the winter with 1' under the keel. Just no choice around the Clear Lake / Galveston Bay area. BTW, you'll notice that to keep straight you'll have to apply a LOT of rudder when you're really shallow. I never get used to having 25 degrees of rudder and going straight!

For anchoring just make sure you have the right tackle set up, plenty of scope, and use an anchor drag alarm. If you can't hear it from where you sleep, get a baby monitor and put the sender on the bridge and the listener by your head.

As far as batteries, what's their condition? New? Old? If you're not sure, go ahead and put new ones in. Calculate your amp-hour use when you get a chance to see how much overcapacity you have (you can't have too much). For even more piece of mind, get a battery monitor and hook it up, like a Link 10 or 20. Acts and reads just like a gas gage for your battery bank(s).

No problem mon!
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Relax the way the rest of us do...Booze. At happy hour time, that is.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:20 AM   #4
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

When you get in shallow water (no choice in many areas) go slow if, when you go aground you'll probably be able to back off. We are finishing a 4 month cruise along the Gulf Coast to the Keys, back up through Miami, and Stuart, across the Okeechobee back along the Gulf coat to Louisiana we're in Alabama now. I hate to say it but have been aground several times, not paying attention or misreading markers but have always been able to back off because I was going slow at the time. I also have a single engine with fairly deep keel and 4' draft.
Anchoring used to make me nervous and still does a bit but I have a good deal of faith in my system, a 45lb Delta and chain rode I use the proper scope and set the anchor, so far so good, I do set up the anchor alarm at night.
If you are nervous about your batteries a Link monitor works well I installed one a few months ago with some help fron Charles Culotta it is working fine and as Keith mentioned shows amps in , out, and time remaining you can set it to sound an alarm when a discharge level you set is reached.
Buy a membership with one or both of the towing companies if something goes wrong a tow won't break the bank.
I will say time and experience will be what takes most of your worries away, remember a little worry is not a bad thing.
Good Cruising to you,
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:26 AM   #5
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Those fears are legitimate and, to a certain degree, healthy, as they can help to keep you out of trouble. But you shouldn't let them ruin your fun of being on the water. Make sure you plan well and do the right thing, then enjoy yourself and don't worry about what might happen. Because bad things WILL happen from time to time. That's part of the boating adventure. But the nice thing about all this is the more they happen to you, the better you'll get at dealing with them. And the less you will worry about them.
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:23 PM   #6
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Getting Used to Fear

Anchoring:

The biggest problems you will have with anchoring is either to foul your anchor or to drag it.
Find an area you want to anchor in and set it good. Back down on her at about 1/3 throttle so you're sure it is set. For the fouling problem look at the top of your anchor right above the flukes, there is a hole drilled on the top. Run a line from that up to a bouy so you can trip the anchor if it is stuck. The line should be long enough to float right above your anchor. The line should be strong enough so as not to break if you have to haul on it a bit. If it sticks pick up the bouy and pull up it should free the anchor. If your really concerned pick up a Chapmans book (The boaters Bible) there is a complete chapter on anchoring.

The battery: Go look at all the things that run on the battery and add up the amp draw i.e. a light can dray 4 or 5 amps in an hour. Check your battery to see how many amp hours you have from a full charge. That should be about 12.5 to 12 .85 volts.
Make sure your start battery is isolated from your house bank. If you have the 1, 2 or both be sure it is set to the house bank. That way you will always be sure of being able to start your motor. Your alternator will then be able to charge everything up again. The both allowes you to use both batteries to start your motor. Just don't leave it on both when the motor is shut off.

As far as the water depth is concerned. There are only two kinds of boaters. Those who haven't yet gone aground and those who will. Just watch your charts and be mindfull of tides and currents.

Look at it this way what's the worst that could happen. All your fears are in shallow water.
If something does happen get in the dink and go ashore.

It's when I'm out in the big stuff that I get woried. I have survival suits as I boat in Alaska and The Coast Guard. Has one heck of a radio set up. There are always other boaters anyone close will lend a hand. It's the law (Not really ) But a Mayday sure gets everyones attention.*

*SD



-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 12:42:21 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:38 PM   #7
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Getting Used to Fear

Ditto on Keith's answer.

In addition, I would check the accuracy of your depth finder. Once positioned in that scary, less than ten foot depth, use a leadline to verify the accuracy. If there is variation, make note, and keep it in mind. In addition, as stated by someone else here, keep it very slow in shallow water. Even if you know the depth for sure, an anomaly may be present anywhere. Log, rock, dead whale, etc.


As to battery juice, I re-iterate, that you should think about what electronics you will use during your downtime. Lights, radio, stereo, TV, refrigerator, electric toilet, bilge pump, etc., and then using information from these sources, do the math. How many hours will each item be used, and how much do they draw. Add it all up to determine consumption over a twenty four hour period, and compare that with the amp hour capacity of your system. In addition, I would make sure that your starting battery is separate from your house system. If you can start the engine, you can re-charge house batteries. In addition, if you have a handheld VHF, you can at least call for help.


Sleep tight.


-- Edited by Carey on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 12:46:27 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:41 PM   #8
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Forgot one thing.

Anchoring
Use at least five to one scope, and more if you can. Just make sure you have the depth in your swing area to accommodate your draft. Also make sure the anchor is well set. Don't expect it to set on it's own when the storm comes up.
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:45 PM   #9
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

I don't think I'd recommend the 1/3 throttle rule for setting an anchor. That would put my boat at about eight knots, with the anchor skipping across the bottom. Set it at very light way on, then add throttle when you think you have it set, just to test your bite.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:00 PM   #10
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Getting Used to Fear

OK.
* *I have a 7 knt boat.
How long does it take your boat to get to 8 knts? When you feel it set ,(with your hand on the throttle) add power to about 1/3 . when you feel a surge forward back off. The way I look at it she will either plow,* foul or set.**If she sets you're good. If your fouled you won't know till you need to pull. If none of the above*
*you proceed to the next step.*** Reset.

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 01:04:16 PM

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 01:25:15 PM

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 01:32:30 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:04 PM   #11
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Getting Used to Fear

We were taught to set an anchor by a very experienced cruiser. His advice--- which we have always followed--- is to deploy the anchor with the boat drifting slowly backwards. This keeps the chain from piling up in a heap on top of the anchor. Let out the planned amount of scope (we usually start with 5:1) and let the anchor bring the drifting boat to a stop. Then give the boat a quick in-and-out shot of reverse at idle rpm to help set the anchor. This isn't enough power to pull it out or skip it across the bottom, just to help it dig in. Assuming the anchor again brings the boat to a stop, then put it in reverse in idle and leave it in gear while watching teh relative motion of the trees on the shoreline to determine if the boat is staying put. We have a twin so both engines in reverse even at idle put quite a pull on the rode.

If the boat stays put, we're done other than deploying and adjusting our snubber bridle. Depending on the current and forecast wind situation we might then let out some more scope before putting the snubbers on. But 5:1 is our absolute minimum. An anchor will continue to dig itself in under most circumstances as the load pulls on it a bit now and then.

We've not anchored in hurricanes or strong storms--- the strongest winds we've encountered at anchor have been gusts to about 30 mpg. The Bruce we used to have tended to drag in these situations in the bottoms we anchored in so we got rid of it. Our current anchor so far has not given us any problems.

-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 03:06:17 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:09 PM   #12
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

I calibrate my depth sounder every three months or so in my slip.* I also set "zero" at my keel depth, not water surface.* That way I know when my keel will touch bottom without having to subtract draft from depth to surface....* I have enough to think about when creeping up a shallow waterway.*

If I plan to explore a shallow water area I try to do so at low tide or when the tide is on the way up.* Should you get stuck you can wait for just a short time and float off, theoretically *(take the dink and set an anchor aft so you won't drift further into trouble with the tide).* We cruise in the California Delta where shallow water is common.

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Old 04-22-2010, 03:41 PM   #13
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Marin,

Where I boat 30 to 60 knt winds are common Thats why I back her down good. Your method sounds superior to your boating situations. I too idle back until she sets then I throttle up to dig it in. There is no perfect method It's all about where and when. Heck I have dropped no scope for a lunch hook. Course thats setting at the helm eating a sandwich.

For those interested if you run aground. That anchor off the stern is called a Kedge for you nautical terminalogists.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:42 PM   #14
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Getting Used to Fear

Fear is a healthy thing. It makes life worth living if you look at fear as a "control" on taking on a new challenge. The alternatives are being foolhardy or not doing anything risky at all. The former is stupid, the latter is boring.

With regards to shallow water, the solution is dead simple. Be careful. Use charts. Go real slow. Obtain local knowledge if you can. If you don't trust the electronics (which I don't) use a lead line as Carey points out. Both of us*have have them and we're not shy about using them. And get a good one. A big bolt on a string is better than nothing but spend the relatively small amount of money to get a*purpose-built lead line.

Around here the shallow water is generally a rock or a ledge. So the consequences of going aground are often much more serious than simply backing off. Add to this an eight to fifteen foot tide range (more up north) and you can see that if you park on a rock in a falling tide your boat may become a permanent part of the scenery. So we pay real close attention to the charts, paper and elecronic, we review the couple of excellent guidebooks for this region even if we're going to a place we've been before, we take note of the state of the tide, the wind, and the current.

And don't overlook local knowledge. About a year after we started boating with the GB we met Carey and his wife. They'd been boating these waters for years and both of them were active with the USCG Auxilliary. So if we were going someplace and Carey said, "Watch out for the ledge that runs halfway across the entrance from the west side," we damn well watched out for it. In my opinion there's no such thing as too much information when boating in these waters.

My wife and I have a rule that we stole from Bob Hale, the publisher of one of the best cruising guides for this area. I read about it in his guidebook and later Bob himself filled me in on the details of how the rule came about. Basically, it says that if my wife and I do not agree on where we are and what we are about to do with the boat, we stop the boat until we do agree. In our case this can be very advantageous because my wife was taught about charts and basic navigation skills by the US Navy. So while neither one of us is right every time, she is right as often or more than I am.

Anchoring is like everything else. The way you learn to do it is to do it. There are no guarantees-- if the wind and waves crank up you might drag. So set up a plan to deal with it. You don't want to be figuring things out from scratch at 0300 when everything goes to hell. Have a plan, and then modify that plan if necessary.

Managing elecricity on a boat is, in my opinion, simply common sense. Understand your boat's electrical system. Make sure it's set up so that you have one battery that will always be in a condition to start the engine(s) no matter how you mess up the handling of your house power. Have your batteries load tested to make sure they're up to snuff.

Until last week our boat had it's stock elecrical system. Two 8Ds and a 4D for the generator. That was it. So we had 200 amp hours (one 8D) at best for house power. So we were frugal with the power. At night we used only one or two reading lights. We didn't run the inverter unless the engines or the generator was on. After I ran the 8D we were using for house power flat one night by forgetting to turn off the engine room lights we had a telltale light put in the DC panel that comes on when the engine room lights are turned on. Never made that mistake again.

If you don't have much house power that doesn't mean you cant go boating, it just means that you have to be conscientious with the power. We have a big voltmeter on the side of the control console with a selector switch that connects it to the battery selector switch in one position and the generator battery in the other (with off in the middle). So it's a simple matter to see how each of the batteries is doing.

We now have a new battery setup that increases the available house power to 400 amp hours although the boat's electrical system, wiring, and battery box arrangement is unchanged. So we have more power to play with but we'll still monitor it and be frugal with it.

The best way to regard fear is it is what will keep you safe. But it should not be something that prevents you adding to your experience. I believe that all you need to operate a boat safely is common sense. Everything else just makes it easier.




-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 04:12:39 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 05:42 PM   #15
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Getting Used to Fear

Wow... Good stuff, y'all!

There are a few issues I still need to tackle. So admittedly, some of my problems are due to the need of some basic upgrades.

The depth sounder is just that, a sounder. All I see is a number and the thing "flakes-out" now and then. I don't know what's wrong, but a fish finder-type sounder and a proper transducer is near the TOP of the list. So is a dedicate leadline. I have a makeshift one now (a 7/8th wrench on a string) that I have only used once. But the bottoms here in NC are usually muck and sand and not very dangerous to get stuck on. And the tides in the Neuse are just driven by wind. The previous owner said the stern thruster is great for wiggling her off a bar, Still, I suppose that until I get used to it, the fear will always be there. TBH, I really DON'T want to ever be aground if I can at all help it. And in MY brain, a double-digit number on the Hummingbird will prevent that.

Anchoring, I HOPE, will just come with experience. We've owned the boat since July and haven't anchored out yet. That being said, we want to learn how to do it NEAR our home marina. There are some pretty good places very nearby and should we need help, there are many friendly faces to give us help and pointers.

We already have most of what we need in the tackle department. What I mean by that is that with a 35# plow anchor (no-name CQR brand IIRC) and 180' of 5/8th chain and another 150' of line beyond that (and a backup Danforth), we should be ok. However, we ARE in the market for a 45# anchor. We are at 19,000 displacement and think we should step up a size.

The batteries are Sam's Club Energizer Golf Cart batteries that are only a year old. There is no amp hours listed, but IIRC, they say 220 reserve something-or-other. I can't remember for sure. The previous owner anchored out quite a bit, so perhaps I shouldn't be so paranoid. I just want to make SURE I do everything I can do to prevent problems before I take the next step. I know I need to do the math. I just am not sure what the numbers totally are yet. Even if I can calculate the load, if I don't know what the supply is... it's useless. However now I seem to know what the mystery 1-2-BOTH switch does... maybe.

I am still in the process of coming up with an anchor alarm. Our Garmin 128 has one, but it isn't hooked up... Yes, it's on the list. Not-to-mention fix the running lights, test the high-water alarm and hell... just get use to sleeping in a boat at anchor!



-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 05:44:52 PM
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Old 04-22-2010, 06:02 PM   #16
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Quote:
GonzoF1 wrote:
The depth sounder is just that, a sounder. All I see is a number and the thing "flakes-out" now and then. I don't know what's wrong, but a fish finder-type sounder and a proper transducer is near the TOP of the list.
While our 17' fishing boat is equipped with a "fish finder" type charting depth recorder with all sorts of user adjustments, the sounder on the GB displays just a number.* I've not found to need anything more in that boat.* I just want to know the depth. I don't care if it's rock or mud or there's seaweed and fish near the bottom (which the one on the small boat tells me).* You do want the depth display to be reliable and not flake out from time to time*but in my opinion knowing the depth is all you really need in a cruising boat.

*
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:15 PM   #17
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

I am quite surprised that the only thing y'all have come up with reference battery usage is "count the amps"!!! Counting the amps is definitely a start. BUT you have to have some sort of backup should you screw up in your counting or you mess up with regard to tried and true procedures. **** happens. And you must be ready for it. What are you "amp counters" gonna do when you go to start the engines and they don't turn in spite of your best power management efforts? That is ultimately the question and the answer is what will alleviate the fear. What I am getting at here is... for example....Gonzo, do you have a generator on board??? If you do you likely have a battery charger. Even if you do screw up, healthy batteries will be quite responsive to a little bit of charging and...Voila, we are out of trouble. My next layer of redundancy would be the generator battery(ies) and a set of jumper cables. If for some reason the generator is not usable, then the generator battery could still be used. Obviously this could be done more "cleanly" than jumper cables but you get my drift. There are batteries for the Windlass....there are batteries for the inverter. There are batteries for the bow/stern thrusters. You can carry an extra fully charged 8D. You can carry a whole case of 8Ds. My point here is to give yourself the layers of redundancy that you are comfortable with.....risk management if you will... although there isn't that much at risk other than the embarrassment of potentially having to lean on another boater(or boating service) for help.

The fear is good. But it will subside as you gain more experience.

PS...you never quite totally relax while at anchor. Every time I turn over I get up and take a look....especially if I feel that maybe the conditions(wind,tide,etc) have changed. I sleep better as the night goes on and things remain constant. If things changed markedly, you can sleep when things settle back down but you aren't sleeping anytime soon.
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:20 PM   #18
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

TomOne more thing, that we all forgot to mention. It's so obvious, but... Buy yourself every book you can find on the waters you cruise, and keep a copy of Chapman's on board and at home. Got a question, ask Chapman's. There are many other good books as well. And finally, take a Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Safety and Seamanship course. The full course is about five weeks of two nights a week, but well worth the effort and time. Many of your fears will be addressed, and new ones brought to the surface.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:55 AM   #19
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Well, GonzoF1, you got a lot of excellent answers there. Most of all tho, relax. We here in Moreton bay over here on the East Coast of Australia do a lot of our cruising in very tidal, shoally, channelled areas where often the water is less then a metre deep at low tide and having 2 mtres or more under you is sheer luxury. My marina berth is deeper at 7 metres than most of the places I go. Like the others said, when you know it's a bit shallow, go slow, and preferably not on a falling tide. Then even if you do bottom-out it is gentle - no damage likely, and if you can't reverse off, a little bit of patience is allit takes. Boil up the billy and havacuppatea, and you'll soon be on your way. I know my depth drawn is 1 metre, and where the transducer is, when it reads 0.6 metres, I'm touchin' bottom.....any more than that and I'm good to go. Oh, one last thing, re anchoring....you did not say what type of ground tackle you have, but I'd recommend all chain, and (not wanting to start a debate here, but), if you have a plough type, I'd ditch it when you can, and get Rocna. If the Dashews on Windhorse who cruise the world recommend them....well...'nuff said. You will sleep easy then.
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Old 04-23-2010, 04:27 AM   #20
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RE: Getting Used to Fear

Then there is also the idea that we could drain the batteries in one night

The bigger fear is the battset wont be fully recharged often enough and will loose capacity over time.

Then what "used to" be OK will lead to further dead natts.

A State of Charge is the ONLY way to constantly monitor the battset, and is smart enough to learn your set and adjust to the decline.

At $200 or so it will help you sleep better.
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