Karen Siegel

Great Technique for Dinghy Anchoring at the Beach

By Jeffrey Siegel (ActiveCaptain); Videography by Karen Siegel

Here’s a great technique for anchoring the dinghy off the beach. Our dinghy weighs about 800 pounds. She’s a rigid inflatable with a 40 HP engine. It’s our family car when we’re cruising and we put a lot of demands on her.

So I was telling Larry how much of a hassle it is when bringing the dogs to the beach. Beaching the boat ends up pushing the whole boat sideways on the beach with oncoming waves and can become very difficult to re-float it when it’s time to leave. Instead, we keep going back every 5 minutes to push the boat back into the water.

Larry had a solution. He always does. And this one is a doozy.

Editor’s Note — The Siegels are currently cruising the warm waters of the southeastern U.S. and Bahamas in aCappella, their DeFever 53RPH trawler, along with canine kids Dylan and Dyna. Jeff wrote this piece on a new dinghy anchoring technique for their travel blog, Taking Paws, and I asked if we could reprint it here.  You’ll want to practice this in relatively calm waters the first time you do it and you should have a pretty good idea of the bottom slope off the beach. With that info in hand, this looks like a terrific solution. Tell us what you think in the comments.

“You don’t know how to use the trip line on the anchor to remotely anchor the dinghy?” Larry asks. Well, no, I don’t. I’ve never seen anyone ever do it. With that Larry gives me the specs for what I need an explains exactly how to do LRA – Larry’s Remote Anchoring.

First, the equipment and deployment.

I use a grappling hook type of dinghy anchor. LRA is real anchoring so I created a special rode of 5 feet of chain with 8 feet of 3/8″ line. I attached a clip to the end of it so it could be attached to the bow eye of the dinghy close to the water.

The critical piece of equipment is 100 feet of 1/4 inch nylon line on a spool. That gets attached to the trip line eye at the bottom of the anchor.

With that all ready, this video shows the equipment and deployment at Sombrero Key.  We land in about 2 feet of water and push the boat out to anchor in 4 feet of water. Turn your sound up – it’s hard to hear – lots of dogs hanging around the “studio”.

The magic is in putting all of the equipment on the bow easily popped into the water by a slight tug of the trip line. The trip line is the retrieval device and an emergency line in case the anchor fails. It isn’t good enough to hold the dinghy in a gale, but for going to the beach, it’s plenty good enough.

Retrieving the anchor is just as easy.

It’s all pretty easy to do. I strongly suggest using chain on the anchor if you’re going to use this technique. Total cost for this was about $25 plus the anchor which we already had.

Now Larry, how about a trick for rinsing and drying off wet dogs before they get back onto the boat?

Story text and video Copyright © 2010 by Jeffrey Siegel and Karen Siegel

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, Gear & Apparel, Passagemaking News, People, Powerboats, Sailboats, Sailing Gear & Apparel, seamanship

iPhone for the Boat? Jeffrey Siegel of ActiveCaptain Says “Yes”

Editor’s Note — I recently talked with Jeff Siegel about some of the issues related to mobile phone service for coastal cruisers.  Jeff and his wife and business partner Karen are the founders of ActiveCaptain, a website we think very highly of and have written about.  They are also the authors of an extensive series of articles on the use of mobile phones (cell phones) aboard boats.  Recently, during some downtime on their annual pilgrimmage southward aboard their DeFever 53RPH named aCappella, they updated this award-winning series with the latest information on equipment and service.  You should take a look at that series, which I consider the definitive “go-to” for cell phone info.  One of the major updates is a new endorsement of the Apple iPhone, which until now the Siegels had serious reservations about.  I asked Jeff whether the data rates for the iPhone and others were really good enough to rely on for a typical coastal cruise such as theirs.  I think you’ll find his reply, as usual, not only informative, but definitive.

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DeFever 53 RPH aCappella Runs Offshore

DeFever 53 RPH aCappella Runs Offshore

“You raise a very interesting question – do the different networks provide good connectivity?  Or more importantly, do they provide good enough connectivity for boaters?

This is our third trip between Maine and Florida where we’ve had both AT&T and Verizon.  We’ve created a qualitative impression previously that both networks allow connectivity throughout the entire coastline.  There are some places where AT&T is better and some places where Verizon is better.  The nice thing is that each year, the speeds increase and both networks seem to be getting better for coastal use.

This year we’ve gotten more technical and quantitative because so many people tell us that they can’t use one network or another.  We thought it would be a good idea to start making speed measurements and putting it, of course, into ActiveCaptain.  There are a few web sites that can give you actual numeric bandwidth results from your connection:
http://www.dslreports.com/mspeed?jisok=1&more=1
http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/

That’s how we obtain our numbers.  We hope that our start with this will prompt others to do the same thing because there is nothing like real numbers to show the full story.  And we’re sure the numbers will change for the better over time.

The results?  There are some places where AT&T is better and some places where Verizon is better.  Just as we sensed before.  For example, here’s an anchorage we stayed at near Northport, NY on the Long Island Sound:
http://www.activecaptain.com/OTW.php?lat=40.92259&lon=-73.35657&type=1&zoom=4

If you look at the details for the Asharoken anchorage, we wrote that AT&T had a 500 kb connection and Verizon had a 100 kb connection.

Another example – an anchorage in Atlantic City:
http://www.activecaptain.com/OTW.php?lat=39.3816483879913&lon=-74.4215154647827&zoom=3

Verizon and AT&T were pretty equivalent there – 400 kb vs 500 kb.  That’s not a big enough difference to be meaningful.

Finally, here’s where we were last weekend – off the Chesapeake on the Great Wicomico River at Rogue Pt:
http://www.activecaptain.com/OTW.php?lat=37.85215&lon=-76.33026&zoom=4

Verizon was much better than AT&T there – 800 kb vs 100 kb.

Here’s the best news though.  We haven’t been to a place yet where we lost all connectivity from either provider.  We’ve been able to get email from both systems every place we’ve been between Maine and Virginia.  We’ll keep tracking this on our way to Florida as well.  Downloading the 30 emails that are waiting with a 100 kb connection can take a minute but it’s still possible.  Getting current weather information and radar has all been possible at all of these connectivity speeds.

So I really don’t buy the idea that the iPhone should be ruled out because AT&T isn’t good enough.  That is probably true in some selected places just as I could find some selected places where Verizon connectivity isn’t good enough.  But for the east coast, I don’t think there’s much of an issue.  For all boats, we suggest having an amplifier (portable or built-in) to boost signal strength for either network at times.

It’s a good time to be using these digital services on a boat.  And it looks like it’ll only get better over time.”

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Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in People, Technology