Subject: Casting off - tip from Bob Doiron
(Posted on Apr 22, 2010 at 08:34AM )
Bob Doiron of Alberta sent in the following tip to share.  He refers to it as a "Jamie Johnson special."  Bob took a course with Jamie a few years back and has gone on to charter and then purchase a quarter share with One 4 Yacht Fractions.

We were taught to pass the lines through the dock cleat, rail or whatever mechanism is there and bring the line back to the boat cleat to tie it off. The trick is to pass it under the cleat or rail from the boat side so when it is released you flop the line on the dock and avoid having the end drop in the drink as you reel it in. If you pass it over the cleat or rail and fop the line on the dock
it wraps and binds. It works really slick and has the following advantages:

    * It is simply easier and quicker to tie off.
    * It can work well when getting assistance from well
      meaning dock hands as you can control the degree to which the bow or stern
      is pulled in because you get them to pass it back to you.
    * It is safer for the crew because lines can be released
      while on board; no jumping on.
    * When you are checking your lines it can all be done on
      board and easily adjusted. This is particularly true under windy
      conditions. (New Years Eve 2008 tied up at Ganges with 60 - 70 KM winds on
      our starboard beam the docks were rocking quite hard as was the boat.
      Having our lines self releasing enabled us to check and adjust as needed
      very safely.)
    * It works equally as well with spring lines as others,
      even with rails, as you are virtually always able to find stops all along
      the rail to hold a spring in proper position.
    * If you must do a bow 'spring off' it is virtually
      essential to have a self releasing line unless you have someone on the
      dock to assist.

In the five years we have boated there have been only a handful of times when we haven't been able to do this because of the dock or lack of cleats. Even if you don't have enough bow line you can release it while on the dock and then board and release the remaining lines in a safe and orderly manner. If there is a line that won't work It's usually the bow line because of the distance from the centre line of the boat to the dock.

THANKS BOB for your submission!
Subject: Flotillas are great fun and practice
(Posted on Feb 14, 2010 at 07:35PM )
Here's the SECRET to being more comfortable and competent on the water:  THERE IS NO SECRET.  Just do it more and work hard at it!  Just like learning to drive a car, there's lots to figure out when you're new but eventually, it all lumps into that boring task of 'driving'.   Being on the water doesn't necessarily have to be boring (okay - offshore passages are a combination of boring and terrifying, but let's stick to the flotilla talk for now!).   It does become easy as you do it more - just check out some of our folks docking boats singlehanded while talking on a mobile phone (that's still legal!) and occasionally having a coffee at the same time!  (One armed workers unite!)

Challenge is, you might not have been out for a while (or at much at all) and the thought of heading off all on your own is a bit intimidating.   We understand, which is why flotillas might be the answer.   The term flotilla originates with naval groupings of ships and has evolved to groups of pleasure boats invading great destinations together 'just for fun.'

There are flotillas all around the world for those so inclined, but let's focus on the ones here in BC waters.  Isn't it great to know that your flotilla leader will:

    * help figure out where to go
    * when to leave in order to make passes on time
    * brief everyone on recent weather and local hazards along the route
    * help off the dock
    * 'shepherding' whilst transiting passes
    * taking the lead into an unfamiliar harbour
    * help back on the dock
    * local knowledge and shore side fun at destinations
    * someone to double check lines and anchors and generally be quizzed on seamanship

Whether it be calling the 'easter bunny' over the vhf, doing a giant 'conga line' of boats through fog or just hanging out for some great chatter while testing the capacity of some poor cabin or cockpit - flotillas are where it's at. 

Subject: Understanding Prop Walk
(Posted on Feb 13, 2010 at 11:20AM )
We continue to survey folks about what they would like to know more about and a common thread takes us back to docking.  We're so happy to put more tools in your docking toolbox.  Today we dive into what that propeller is doing for you (or against you).  Knowing some propeller basics will help dramatically.

Prop walk goes by different names, but that's what we call it around here because the P-effect or P-Factor has us sounding less cool.  We say a boat "walks to port" in reverse.  Okay - what are we talking about?

Cut to its simplest element on the 'need to know' basis, does the boat pull to port or starboard when you are going backwards?   Prop walk is best tested in the middle of a wide open space from a standstill (with no wind or with the stern facing what wind you do have).  With the wheel 'a midships,' apply a big shot of reverse and see where she goes.  A right hand propellor will normally send the boat back to port and a left hand will send the boat generally to starboard.

Beyond which direction, prop walk varies by boat based on some set up factors that you can't do much about other than understand.  The angle of the propeller shaft and the size/type of the propeller are two factors that determine how much prop walk you should experience on a particular boat.

What you can control is the timing and location of your use of the throttle in reverse gear.  The higher you rev the engine in reverse, the more you get to experience prop walk.   From a standstill, it's all prop walk.  As you start moving backwards, you will start to gain some directional control as water starts flowing across the rudder.

Behind the scenes, it boils down to discharge current.  In forward, all the engineering is aimed at pushing the discharge current as straight backwards as possible.  In reverse, the discharge current ends up traveling off to one side or the other, based on the rotation direction of the prop and the magnitude depends on other setup variables.


How to you check and get a clue before you go?  Ask someone knowledgeable about the boat OR, with the boat securely tied to the dock, engage reverse power and look for the discharge current coming off the rudder.   If you see a lot of current coming out to starboard, you know the boat will 'walk to port' in reverse.  

With a pair of motors, the reason the motors rotate in opposite directions is to cancel the effects of propeller discharge.  Using more throttle on one engine or another can work in your favour as you understand these effects.

Our crew can help explain how to make prop walk your friend.  Docking clinics and courses can help you master these skills on the water.    

Subject: Eating up a storm - Desolation dining
(Posted on Jan 3, 2010 at 09:19PM )
Seems an odd topic to be our first tip / trick of the new year - 2010 - but food was clearly the highlight of  the first recon project this year - a whirlwind tour to Powell River, Lund, Comox, Victoria and Sidney before our return to Vancouver. 

Our first evening saw us visit the Beach Gardens where we were treated to a surprisingly wonderful meal at the Savoury Bight restaurant that overlooks the top of Malaspina Strait and out to the North end of Texada Island (and the summer home of the Powell River fleet).   Genny and I enjoyed a meal with the kids - a cross section of chicken, fish, pork and prime rib amongst the four of us - and have not had such great food and service in Powell River since our honeymoon in Powell River over a decade ago*.   Everything was delicious (I did my part to help test all the dishes that came - that's Dad's job of course) and the service was quick and friendly. 

(view not quite this nice in January!)

It is important to note that there is other delicious food in Powell River; our long term favourite La Casita is the best Mexican food north of Mexico as far as we can tell, but the authentic Mexican decor (complete with 70's furniture that is a little less than comfortable) made this the best overall experience north of Gibsons. 

We also had a brief meeting with our fabulous instructor Chris Coldham, who told us the interesting news that Tim Horton's is coming to Powell River.  Chris explained that the average home price in Powell River is down a bit from a year ago - perhaps the arrival of Roll up the Rim to Win will turn all of this around?  I did do my part to scan the town for the new site (and the Tim's website).  We'll have to file this bit of news as 'unconfirmed' at this point.

The next morning saw us wind our way up to the top of Highway 101 to visit Lund, where we met with the harbourmaster and got the lowdown on the moorage rates - after many years at $0.60/foot/night, we'll be seeing $0.66/foot/night for the next while (power extra) - still great value for overnight moorage a quick jump from Desolation Sound.  The store under the historic Lund Hotel is very well stocked and we were surprised to find a crowd at Nancy's Bakery on the second of January (and WiFi!).   I would have posted this from Nancy's but the family was anxious to move on.  That said, Nancy's is an absolute MUST DO - great coffee and snacks... especially the sticky buns!

Our trip back to the Island took us through some less than noteworthy culinary experiences (not the least of which on BC Ferries).  All the same, it was a great time up in Powell River / Lund and we hope that some of these tips

* honeymoon in Powell River was intended to get to Desolation Sound but weather prevented this plan from being played out
Subject: More words about battery charging - Part Two
(Posted on Dec 8, 2009 at 08:30AM )
Following up on the November 24 Post -

After a bit of research we find this formula:
    T   =    AH X K

T is the time required to recharge the batteries in hours

AH is the Amp/hours we have taken out of the batteries

is a constant that makes up for the fact that chargers are not 100% efficient, this factor can vary from 1.1 to 1.4. We will grab 1.2 for our exercise

is the charging rate, in our case our charger puts out 40 amps and we will assume that it will put out this rate until the batteries are completely charged.

Whipping out our handy pocket calculator we find the time to recharge the batteries is a whopping 4 hours and 30 minutes.

If we left the fridge and the furnace both on; which may draw up to 10 amps we now have an effective charging rate of 30 amps. The time to now recharge the batteries is approximately 6 hours. Throw in a few lights and you can see where this will lead.

Remember the old adage "There is no such thing as a free lunch"

Subject: Heavy Weather Sailing Tips
(Posted on Dec 6, 2009 at 10:06PM )
To one sailor heavy weather sailing is anything over 15 knots while another might think the fun does not start until the winds exceed 25 knots.

The best strategy is to sail the boat to the comfort level of the crew - that is unless you like looking for new crew each time you go sailing.

One of the most important skills to be developed is the ability to interpret and apply what you hear on the vhf Wx channels. Does it matter what the wind speeds are at Ballenas if you do not know the location of Ballenas?  Also remember to listen for any updates.  This time of year, frontal systems can change speeds and something expected tomorrow could arrive today or vice versa.

If you are not sure of the weather or your ability, it is best to stay put even if it means arriving a day late. Some of the best days sailing are done from a seat in the pub.

Subject: Docking in Style - Set up for Success
(Posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 08:18AM )
Docking in style depends heavily on setting up early for success.  Not unlike a pilot landing a plane, if the things aren't lining up well early on, best to call a 'missed approach' and head around again.  When teaching docking on a sailboat, we explain how to set up that good angle well in advance.  Based on a phenomenon we refer to as 'slide', a technique develops called 'last movement towards the dock'. 

In other words, because the boat when turned will continue to slide somewhat in the direction it was just traveling, best to use that to your advantage to move 'towards the dock' instead of 'away from the dock'.  Using the simple examples here, you will see that in the 'WRONG WAY' example, the boat 'slides' towards the boat next to it and away from the dock.  Not what the skipper necessarily wants!

In the 'RIGHT WAY' example, the skipper proceeds past the slip and then backs towards it.  As the boat turns into the slip, the slide takes the boat towards the dock and away from the neighboring vessel.  That's one ingredient for docking in style.

Like to learn more?  Take our Cooper Boating Docking Clinic
Subject: Collaboration with Humber Sailing
(Posted on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:42AM )
Most of the morning was spent comparing the needs of the sailors at the Humber Sailing group from Toronto and the sailors at Cooper Boating in BC.  Scott Hughes and Commodore Dave were out learning about social media applications such as the new knowledge bank "Boating Tips and Tricks" coming alive on the Cooper Boating website.

Subject: Building the knowledge bank for Cooper clients
(Posted on Oct 7, 2009 at 02:33PM )
Cooper Boating is building a knowledge bank.

Armed with years of knowledge we wanted to compile this useful information in a format that can help everyone along. As we build our knowledge bank we'll be covering useful topics like:

* How to stop your anchor chain from rattling. 
* Docking in style. 
* That new feature at your favorite marina.

We are excited about this new interactive feature and look forward to building this interactive feature together as part of the new Cooper Boating community.