Take My Advice (I’m Not Using It) – Crikey! It’s November again, time for the anchorages to begin filling up and the anchors to start a-draggin’.  In the spirit of trying to be useful, I’ve spent a few hours perusing old notebooks and clippings—looking for all those words of wisdom I’ve copied down over the years or clipped from a magazine here and there.  So, here follow some items I’ve thought valuable enough to take note of.  Very little of what follows is original, which probably makes it all the more useful.

First, setting the anchor.   The anchor watch feature on a GPS instrument can be very useful provided it’s been set properly. If not set at the point at which the anchor is dropped, then it’s going to give a very unbalanced picture. Here’s something a little more low-tech, and consequently more reliable.  If you’re concerned about dragging your anchor, grab your dinghy anchor out of the dinghy and drop it overboard from your yacht on a light line.  Tie the line to a pile of pots and pans from the galley.  If you drag anchor in the night, your pots and pans will be pulled from the cockpit table or wherever you piled them and make enough of a racket to wake the crew.

If you’re bare boating, always have your crew measure the length of your anchor chain and rode.  Don’t just accept the charter company’s claim that you have 150 feet or whatever.  Many times that 150’ turns out to be 85’ or 100’.  Best to know that before you drop anchor in a crowded cove minutes ahead of a squall.  In the same vein, no one ever lost their ship because they put out too much rode.  When in doubt, let it all out.

Bright sunlight can be confusing, making buoys disappear or, just as bad, making all colour turn to black.  When trying to see what’s between you and the sun, try clenching your fist and looking through the barrel formed by your fingers.  Often works and this will reduce glare substantially.

And, when looking for a buoy or a marker, you could try turning your gaze away and using your peripheral vision.  Slowly sweep your gaze to-and-fro across the area you expect the marker to be and you’ll be surprised how easily you’ll find it.

Finally, if you’re the only one aboard who knows how to sail or to operate the vessel, make sure you show someone else how to furl the Genoa, how to start the engine and, most important, proper procedure for using the VHF.

That way, the crew can call and get that extra bag of ice delivered without disturbing your afternoon siesta.