Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anchoring On the ICW

Ok, its 12:37 am, I'm awake again, so I decided to take a bit of time and ramble on a bit more about my travels.

Here on the ICW if you follow some of the charts that are published, or a few of the guide books, you will find that there are preferred anchorages that are marked on the chart or mentioned in some of the guides. You will even find some of these anchorages mentioned on waterway guide websites, such as Cruisers Net. But what do you do if you find yourself at the end of the day in an area that does not have a preferred anchorage, such as where I am now. One solution is to find a spot of your own, and do what I have done this stop, and get creative about how you anchor.

All along the ICW there are small creeks, streams, and other small waterways that empty into the main channel, and provide small inlets that indent the side of the the waterway. Right now I am in such an area, and when I came in, I carefully checked the bottom contour with the depth finder. I found an area that was off the main channel, that held about 10 feet of water. There is about a 3 foot tide here, so that means at low tide I had over 3 feet under the keel. When I came in I nosed in right to that 10 foot line, and dropped my main anchor. On Arden, like many cruising boats, I carry more than one anchor. I have 2 on the bow, a 35lb CQR primary and a 33 lb Bruce as a secondary. I also carry a 15 lb Danforth as a kedging anchor - an anchor used in the event that one runs aground, that is dinghied out, dropped over board, and then used to pull ones boat backwards off the shoal. If you ever see an anchor carried on the stern of a boat, that is what it is for. So last night, in order to keep Arden from swinging into the channel, I dinghied out the kedge anchor about 50 feet from the boat, dropped it, and then hauled in on the rode to get Arden anchored parallel to the main channel. The great thing about being in a narrow channel is that even if you are in moderate winds, you are shielded from them by the land on either side of the waterway to a great extent, so anchoring in this manner does not create a huge problem with presenting the side of your vessel to the wind. Additionally, there can be strong tidal currents here in the waterway, and anchoring in this manner will usually keep your keel parallel to the current, so that does not create a problem either. So here I sit, just off the main channel, in a spot that has great access to where I want to be, tucked in away from the traffic that goes up and down the waterway. Another way to anchor that will limit the movement of your boat, and that can be used in bad weather to give extra holding should the wind shift 180 degrees, is the Bahama Rig. Anchoring in this manner requires that one anchor is set into the wind, as is usually done, and then you drift back a fair amount and drop the second anchor, and then winch yourself back to the center of the space between both anchors. Or, as I do, you dinghy out the second anchor and drop it, making sure to pay out equal amounts of anchor rode to each anchor. This can be done with 2 separate anchor rodes, or, as is preferred, it is best done with 2 equal lengths of anchor chain linking the 2 anchors together, and then a chain or rope rode going from the center of that set to the bow of the boat.

I was thinking about what to make for dinner last night, and I came across a great recipe that not only used a portion of the 27lbs, ok now it is about 23lbs, of rice I have aboard, but also put to use the last tomato I had from the Fernandina Beach farmers market. It was pretty simple to make, and other than Basil, I had all of the ingredients on board. I had heard about a very similar dish from a friend of mine, so I decided to try it myself last night, and it turned out great. So, at the bottom of the post, check out the recipe for stuffed tomatoes.

Yesterday, I guess now it was yesterday, I was walking back from the beach road, and I saw my first live native Florida Alligator. I had to get a picture of it, so I dragged out the camera, and proceeded to try and get a good shot of it. No dice, from where I was I could only get a shot of its head. So I tromped on through the grass and tried to get a bit better angle for the picture. When I was about 30 feet from him, he turned on his tail and launched into the pond behind him. Man those things are fast. I mean lightning quick. You would never expect such an ungainly looking lizard to be able to move so fast. I learned a bit about gators yesterday, and I will give them just a bit more room than I probably would have if I had not seen it move like I did.

When I made it back to the dock where I came ashore, I made an alarming discovery - the dinghy was gone! Immediately I went into panic mode, and began to wonder not only what the heck happened to my dinghy, but also how in the world I was going to get over to my boat. When I landed, I tied the dinghy to a cleat on the dock, but the dinghy, and the cleat, were gone. Teaches me not to trust dock hardware for awhile. I had quite a few bad scenarios going through my head, not only how was I going to get to the boat today, but if the dinghy was gone, like gone for good, how was I going to continue this journey? There goes the ability to take Spook ashore and it also eliminates the ability to anchor out. I don't have the funds to buy a new dinghy, so what in the world was I going to do if I didn't find it. Luckily, the guy whos dock I was tied to had a few kayaks, so he lent me one to get over to the boat, and I planned on getting over to Arden, pulling up anchor, and going to look for my dinghy. He and a few neighbors began to canvas the neighborhood and the seawall for my lost dinghy. Just as I was ready to haul anchor and go looking, he called over and said one of the neighbors had found it under their dock not long ago, and had secured it, correctly assuming it had come from the sailboat anchored out across the channel. You cannot imagine the relief I felt at that moment.

So today will be another beach day, and then I think I will head south to Daytona tomorrow, and then when I get a good weather window, probably out offshore again to round Cape Canaveral. Heck, if the wind dies down a bit tomorrow, I just might start working on my tan.

Stuffed Tomatoes:
6 lg. tomatoes
1 c. uncooked rice
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
1 garlic (crushed) or garlic salt to taste
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut top off tomatoes; scoop out pulp. Place pulp in large bowl; add seasonings, oil, rice and cheese; mix well. Place tomato shells in Pyrex baking dish which has been greased with olive oil. Fill each tomato with mixture and garnish with stuffed green olives if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until rice is cooked.

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