You had a question?

I was curious about what y’all might be interested in reading on this blog, so I recently asked the question on Facebook.  In this edition, I’m going to answer a few of those questions, and continue to answer more in future posts.  Hope you enjoy and maybe learn something new.

But first, here’s Henry, because he is the most requested subject for the blog!

One of the questions was whether we anchor every night. Well, it depends.  In order to anchor, you have to have the right water depth and be in an area that is fairly protected in terms of wind and waves.  So, if we’re sailing across an ocean or even just a large bay, the water is too deep and it is not possible to anchor. If we’re doing more coastal traveling, there’s a better chance we will be able to anchor. You still really need a good cove or island to hide behind, though, so that you’re not out in an unprotected area of the water. We prefer to anchor in about 15 to 20 feet of water, although we can anchor in a bit deeper. We often even anchor in 25 to 30 feet of water, which is usually just fine. When you are anchoring, the first thing you do is, well obviously, drop the anchor. Then you let out enough chain to avoid dragging the anchor.  We have about 300 feet of anchor chain.  The recommendation for how much chain to put out is anywhere from 3:1 (3 feet of chain for every foot of water depth) to 7:1, and depends on other conditions – mostly wind, but also whether other boats are at anchor and how near you might be to other hazards. The anchor chain allows the anchor to set faster and more reliably by creating a downward pull on the anchor handle.  This, coupled with the chain’s heavy weight, helps to avoid dragging the anchor and floating out to sea – or worse into a hazard! (Sorry, Sandra – this was probably a little more information than you really wanted – hahaha)

Air Bender’s Anchor (and my toes)
300 Feet of Anchor Chain

 Mike is normally up forward with the anchor, which he operates with a remote control, while I am at the helm steering the boat and operating the engines. Once Mike drops the anchor and is happy with where it is, I back down on the engines, which sets the anchor in place. Then we let out the appropriate amount of chain based on the conditions, such as depth and wind. Once we’re happy that the anchor is set, we mark our location on the chart plotter so that we can monitor our location.  We also have an anchor alarm that will let us know if we have drifted away from the original anchor spot. When you’re at anchor, the boat naturally faces into the wind, so as the wind shifts, the boat will spin accordingly.  When you’re in an area with multiple boats at anchor, its fun to watch as they all are facing the same direction and turn in the same direction as the wind shifts – like a well-choreographed dance.

Boats at Anchor in La Paz, Mexico

So what about the nights when there’s no place to anchor?  Well, if we’re on the move, we stay on the move.  One person will always be up and on watch.  More on that in a later post.

Watch Schedule for Overnighters

Any other options?  I’m glad you asked!  Occasionally, when its available, we will get a slip in a marina for a night or two.  Marinas are fairly few and far between where we are traveling this season.  There also has to be a slip available, which is sometimes hard for a catamaran, as we are wider than a monohull, and there are not nearly as many wide slips available.  It is always a treat to be in a marina for a few days though.  Mainly because we have shore power, and that means AIR CONDITIONING!!!       We do have a diesel generator on board that will run the AC, but it would be cost-prohibitive to run it on a regular basis (diesel is not cheap), plus its fairly loud.  And the more you run it, the more maintenance it requires – it needs oil changes and such just like anything else that has an engine.  So that’s my favorite part about being at a marina – the AC.  Mike’s favorite part is having access to unlimited water dockside so that he can wash the boat.  It gets so salty when we’re out at sea, and with a limited amount of water onboard, you can’t really give the boat a good wash down unless you’re dockside or you’re lucky enough to get a good rain.

Ahhh Marina Life – Club de Yates, Acapulco

So now you might ask – what’s the deal with fresh water?  Well, we have two freshwater tanks onboard.   They each hold 46 gallons, so we have a total of 92 gallons when they’re both topped off.  The freshwater is used for drinking, washing dishes, washing clothes and showering.  So where does the freshwater come from?  Mike installed an onboard water maker after our Alaska trip.  We had a small portable water maker for that trip, but it was soooo slow and even louder than it was slow.  The one we have now is built into the boat, and is powered by the onboard generator.  It makes about a half gallon a minute, so it takes about three hours to fill both tanks if we’re running low.  The water maker turns salt water into drinking water using reverse osmosis. It pumps seawater through a rolled-up semi-permeable membrane at high pressure to filter out the salt molecules and produce fresh water. The membrane blocks the large salt molecules, creating a small amount of fresh water and discharging the rest as brine.  I would say we generally run the water maker about once a week.  We have a washing machine onboard, but try to only run it on the days we’re making water.  Since we’re already running the big generator while we’re making water, I normally run the vacuum and other things that require more energy at the same time.  While we do have the ability to make water when we need it, we are very careful about our usage, as it does take time, effort and diesel to make more.

Water Maker Control Panel
Water Maker Installed on Another Boat – Our Installation is More Spread Out

And now maybe you’re asking where the power comes from when we’re not running the generator or plugged into shore power – good question!  We have 12 house batteries (6 on either side stowed underneath the bunks).  They look like a car battery, but are marine grade.  Those are charged by the solar panels we installed before we left Hawaii and by the engines when they are running.  They can also be charged by the generator when necessary.  The batteries are plenty to run the basic stuff – the 2 fridges and 1 freezer, lights, phone chargers, stereo, tv, etc…  But if you’re going to use the toaster, microwave or vacuum for more than just a minute or two, you really need to use the generator or you will draw the batteries way down, which as I understand it, is no bueno. 

House Battery – There Are 12 Total

Okay, one more thing before I close.  My favorite new addition to the boat this year.  Drum roll, please…………our Starlink, which we’ve lovingly named “Dogstar.”  God bless you, Elon.  This allows us to have internet capability, including streaming (most of the time) while we’re out in the middle of nowhere.  This has been a game-changer, and makes Col a much happier cruiser! Before Dogstar, we were limited to what we could get on our cell phones, which was pretty much nothing unless we were in a large port.  We did also have a Garmin InReach, which allowed us to text.   But now, not only can we easily stay in touch with friends and family, but we can use the internet for weather, repair/maintenance research and whatever else happens to tickle our fancy.   I even did our taxes this week.  Starlink – don’t leave home without it!


 We’ll be back soon with more stories of fun and boat life, so until next time…live the adventure!