Friday, February 10, 2017

Odds and Ends Until We Are on the Water

This blog will chronicle our (Pat and Patty Anderson's) planning and preparation for cruising the Great Loop, and once on the water, our cruising adventures!

This is probably the final blog post until we are in Florida starting our Loop around April 1st! This will cover things that didn't fit in prior posts, I forgot, or for whatever.


For anchoring, we have two anchors. Our original anchor is a Bruce knockoff, which has served us well for the last 11 years, but its strength is holding in the muddy bottoms that predominate in our local cruising grounds, and it is not known for good holding in rocky areas. I purchased a Rocna for the Loop based on recommendations that this was an excellent anchor for all types of bottoms., We will carry both anchors, with the Rocna being primary and the Bruce being a spare or possibly a stern anchor. We have 30 feet of 3/8" chain and 200' of rode on a Lewmar 700 vertical windlass. We will also have a good supply of yellow poly line for stern ties to shore when needed.

Rocna anchore


We have the usual dock lines, one down each side from the bow cleat, and one on each side at the stern. They are good lines for the Pacific Northwest docks, where floating docks are the norm, but our dock lines may be too short for the fixed docks that we encountered on the Chesapeake in 2005.

We have long lock lines for the one Pacific Northwest lock that we have traversed maybe a couple of times, the Hiram M. Chittenden locks in Ballard that connect Lake Union and Elliott Bay in Seattle. We have never encountered locks where we must tie to pipes, cables or bollards, and we may have to get some additional lines for that style of lock, since we will be traversing something like 150 locks on the Loop.

Patty and I are not yet on the same page on fenders. We have six fenders that are on the smallish size, adequate for Pacific Northwest floating docks but probably not adequate for fending off concrete lock walls, especially ones with holes in them. Dr. Bob Austin suggested we should have a fender board, so I am probably going to make a 4' x 2" x 6" fender board to hang outside of the fenders. The problem, though, as Bob Burks pointed out, is you never know going in which side of the lock you will be tying.

We will very much be playing this by ear as we go!


This is maybe in the "didn't fit anywhere else" category. I bought a used DeLorme InReach SE a year or two ago from my friend Jody Kidd who was getting a new improved model, thinking it would be great when we were traveling out of the country or in areas in the country with no cell reception. As it turned out, we paid the monthly fee for little or no use for about a year, so I terminated service for it. I will reactivate as soon as we get home. 

DeLorme in-Reach SE

For those who do not know what an InReach is, it provides a custom website where people can see where we are at any time (what a Spot does), but also provides two-way texting via satellite and can provide updates to my Facebook page. It is controlled with a DeLorme app from my iPhone that connects the iPhone and the InReach via bluetooth, so texting is done on the iPhone and gets transmitted over satellites. When we activate it, I will post a link to the webpage that shows our location.


Both of these have been suggested as things we might want on board for entertainment, but will not have. I had originally planned to have a small flat screen TV as the monitor for the Coastal Explorer laptop, since we already owned one. I tried it first, but it is thicker and heavier and has more adapters and cables than the USB monitor I ended up buying, and also requires a separate power supply. Bottom line, we don't watch much TV at home other than streaming services on our Apple TV and Roku that we can watch on our computers, and probably would rather read than watch TV anyway. The final reason on the TV is that with the USB monitor mounted from the electronics shelf, there really is no place for it to go on a 25 foot C-Dory!

I am more ambivalent about the satellite radio. We have never had one, and think it might be nice for news and music and, in certain circumstances, it could be the best way to get current weather information. We have never had one and haven't missed it, Convince Patty that we cannot live without one and maybe we will re-think the satellite radio.


We are going to use a forwarding service that scans and emails us a PDF of the envelopes of all mail received, and then on our direction shreds junk mail, opens, scans and emails a PDF of potentially important mail, or actually forwards something we need in hand. We are going to try to minimize the latter situation, but since we have never been traveling for eight months before, and we are not really comfortable with using generat delivery to some post office or forwarding to a marina where we anticipate being in the future. We know everyone else faces the same dilemma, so we will probably get through it okay!


We have used electronic payment through our credit union for a long time, but because of the prospect of being without internet when we need to pay bills, we decided autopay would be a better option. We have put the bills everything we could think of on autopay for direct charging to our bank account. The first autopays have just been processed, and so far so good. Some other bills, such as vehicle and boat registrations, we are going to prepay before we leave. I am sure there will be something we did not foresee, but we have done as much as we think we can to make sure bills get paid timely!


We will certainly have an excess of computers on board, but for different purposes.

First is the Windows 7 Toshiba Satellite laptop running Coastal Explorer. This will not be used for anything other than running Coastal Explorer. I had believed, possibly erroneously I must now acknowledge, that Windows was the root of all evil. However, according to articles I trust, starting with Windows 7 SP1, Windows finally addressed the cause of the vulnerability that had plagued it since the beginning, relating to buffer overflow attacks. I don't know the technical details, and I still am not going to use this computer for anything except navigation!

Second is the 2011 Macbook Pro. This is getting long in the tooth, and the spinning balloons are driving me crazy. Still this is the computer I use for writing with Word for Mac, editing photos with GIMP, recording my music with Audacity, editing videos with Final Cut Pro, and syncing and backing up the iPad and iPhones with iTunes. This may well be the last Mac I buy, because with the new crop of MacBooks, it seems to me Apple has apparently lost its mind making users buy and use a dongle for connecting virtually anything you might want to connect to a computer in the name of making it thin and light at the cost of functionality. As long as I can I can stand the spinning balloons, I will keep on using the 2011 MacBook Pro to do what it does better than any other computer I have.

Third and fourth are two cheapie (sub-$200) Acer Chromebooks. I bought one for Patty a couple of years ago, because it does everything she needs and does it extremely well. She surfs the web, shops, does email, FB and some other things, for which all she needs is the Chrome browser. The battery on the Chromebook outlasts the batteries on any other computers I have or have had, and it boots almost instantly. I was so impressed I bought one for myself.

I could live with a Chromebook too, as long as I have my MacBook Pro for the things it does best. But I could not leave well enough alone, so I used a script called crouton to install Ubuntu Linux on my Chromebook. I now have Chrome, GIMP, LibreOffice, Audacity, and a host of other programs on the Linux side of my Chromebook. The only reason I cannot really use a Chromebook as my principal computer is that first, I need Final Cut Pro for video editing and none of the Linux video editors even comes close, and second, I need a large hard drive for all my "stuff." The cheapie Acer Chromebooks have a puny 16 MB (but have a slot for an SD card for data, which helps), and the Chromebooks with any kind of storage capacity get pretty expensive fast. So I will have a bit of a dilemma what to do when the MacBook becomes ultimately unusable.


This is a "got the bug" after I had written the prior posts thing. This is a costly item, definitely a "want" not a "need"! I have purchased a DJI Phantom 3 Standard, propeller guards and a carrying case from Amazon a while ago. I did a fair amount of online research and Facebook messaging with friends who have drones about their recommendations.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Real drones, as opposed to toys, have fairly sophisticated GPSes and compasses, high quality cameras, and can automatically take off and return to land at the same spot, are not prone to fly off, can fly longer, higher and farther away, and are very stable in flight. It has arrived here in Arizona and I had the first practice flight two days ago in the big RC airfield field here at Palm Creek. Below is the first video from the drone. My goal was to retrieve the drone to my hand, and I succeeded with that! 

Pat Anderson with drone at Palm Creek