Skipper's Seat

Skipper's Seat: November 2009

October 20, 2009: It was while ensconced in my steamy office, behind the chipboard desk, under a whirring ceiling fan, while dressed in a Safari suit, that I stumbled upon a dispatch from our American stringer, Captain Ken Kreisler, who clearly lives in a different part of the world to us. 

In case you missed the wire, the USA is doing it tough. Even otherwise upbeat professional skippers and writers like our good Yankee crewmate are getting swept up by the negativity. What to do?

“Ken,” I wrote while loading another long-range missile in the launcher, “I just fitted an HRO 110lt/h desalinator to my 42-footer along with a special high-pressure pump with extended non-marking Italian-made hose and wand for spot-free boat cleans at anchor... you could say we are pumped down here, mate.”

“Look, just tell your pals there is a land Down Under that has escaped the GFC, where the women have tans and long blonde hair and can fillet fish, where the beer is cold, and the clear waters remain unchartered,” said moi, firing off salvo in a cacophony on the keyboard.

Moments later, poor old Ken pepped up: “You, my friend, are a cruel taskmaster! Absolutely, not fair!”

Well, yes it is.

Tomorrow’s edition of Trade-a-Boat will be on sale during a four-week period when the summer of 2010 is officially declared. That means Aussie salutes at barbies all over the nation and on deck. And, after the last few months, you owe it to yourself to get out amongst it. Think of those poor Americans facing a winter of discontent.

Not that we pleasureboaters haven’t been practicing the art, mind you. After all, practice makes perfect and it takes some time before you are expert at the fine art of idle contemplation. Switch off the phone, leave the email till later, engage the inverter rather than the generator, extend your legs and just look and listen.

Evidently, this is something we are doing more of Down Under. My local waterways have been thronging to the point that I’ve found myself far from relaxed. Rather than arrive late and fight my way for a spot, I tend to spend the night aboard. But then they come, like flies to a sausage sanger, boats of all sizes downing anchors around me with all the urgency of a plane losing altitude and jettisoning cargo.

Some skippers are good at anchoring, but many more haven’t grasped the skill. And as if the wife and kiddies in the cockpit aren’t going to fend off. That, on more than one occasion, has been left to me. I don’t want to have to worry about such things, so let’s sort out the mess. We’ll address this in coming issues.

Meantime, at a bare minimum, you need to dispatch at least three times the depth, plus the height of your bow from the water, in chain and/or rope to give your anchor the scope to take hold. Five times is preferable if you plan to overnight or go ashore.

By the time that has happened, you will be 10m or so from where you dropped anchor. So the key is to work out where you want to end up, to anticipate, and then motor upwind of your eventual resting position. A good rule of thumb is to drop anchor at the stern on another vessel and to idle back in reverse after you have dispatched the necessary rode. Practice in less-crowded anchorages first.

Speaking of kicking back, tomorrow’s Trade-a-Boat is jam-packed with great stores to read in your deck chair — now try doing that on a laptop with a website! There’s expert discussion about lifejacket laws and we reckon yachting administrators should make it mandatory that they be worn at night during offshore races.

Our crew, who have owned too many boats to remember, also share their secrets about how to buy smart, snap up a bargain, and get the best buck for your trade-in. It’s actually a great climate for trading up, with boats having depreciated inline with luxury cars. Every second page of our Book of Dreams has a great buy that makes me stop and ponder.

From trawlers beckoning a conversion to second-hand Rivs, yachts to sail around the world, to classic craft… you are spoilt for choice in the second-hand market today. At the same time, boatbuilders are reinvigorating the market with impressive new craft. Technology is making pleasureboating more agreeable than ever.

But in the world of boating adventure, you can go past our in-house itinerant Don McIntyre, who shares his story on his new five-star private expedition boat ICE. It’s a steal at just over $1 million. And a steel, being a Diesel Duck, made from metal in China. The way Don has set up his boat it’s going to be luxury boating all the way to Antarctica. Read his exclusive feature from your deckchair, lounge or double bed.

Now I’m hoping our Yankee correspondent flies Down Under to see what he’s missing out on. They say the grass is greener over the other side of the fence and in this case it’s true. The high Aussie dollar, perhaps even heading for parody, will see American boat manufacturers take far greater notice of our pleasure-boating paradise Down Under.See you out there, but not too close — David Lockwood, Editor at Large, Trade-a-Boat.