Tips for Comfortable Cruising

Fiberglass rods for Awnings

Most sailors know that an inexpensive nylon tent fly makes an ideal awning for sailboats. Such a tent fly can be made into an even better awning by inserting quarter inch fibreglass rods through pockets running the width of the awning. Usually this involve nothing more than turning over the edge of the awning to sew a full length pocket just large enough to accommodate the fibreglass rod. Insert the rod and be sure to sew up the two ends of the pocket to keep the rod from slipping out. When set up on the boat, tie down the corners of the awning. The fibreglass rods will curve down a little, but they will do a good job at keeping the awning suspended well above the deck. (Note: fibreglass rods in various diameters are sold by the foot at plastic suppliers - see the Yellow Pages.)

Increasing Your Scope

Trailerable boats and other vessel with a bow eye have an advantage in a crowded anchorages where there isn't much room to swing on a long anchor rode. By tying their anchor rode to the bow eye, they can enjoy the extra holding power that comes with a 30% increase in scope. This is because the bow eye is often 3 to 4 feet lower than the top of the bow. A boat anchored in 10 feet of water with a 50 foot rode tied to top of its bow will have a scope of a little more than 3.5 to 1. By simply tying to the rode to the bow eye, scope increases to nearly 5 to 1. (Note: ensure that the rode can be released quickly from the bow eye in case it becomes necessary to leave the anchorage in a hurry.)

Sorting out Your Junk

The 35mm film plastic canisters that come with Black's or Fuji film are ideal for storing all your spare clevis pins, screws, nuts & bolts, locking rings, small shackles, etc. They are transparent so there is no need to dump the contents to find what you are looking for. These canisters are also great for protecting 12 volts light blubs. You can use transparent plastic peanut butter jars for storing larger objects such as bolts and nuts, large shackles, cam cleats, small blocks, etc..

Make Your Own Ice

Here's one of those good ideas that everyone thinks of, but that few people do. Its nothing more complicated than making blocks of ice at home in your freezer. You save a bit of money by doing this, but the real pay off comes when you discover that your home-made blocks of ice last two to three times longer than the commercial variety. The thousands of small air bubbles found in commercial ice means it does not last as long as the solid crystal-clear blocks of ice made at home in the freezer. You can fill up large zip-lock freezer bags with water to make your ice. However, by using a plastic jug, you will be assured of a supply of ice cold drinking water as your ice slowly melts.


Mosquitos plague most anchorages along the Ottawa River. Some boats combat this problem by setting up custom made netting enclosures over their cockpits during the evening hours (expensive). Larger boats have been known to make do with mosquito tent enclosures designed for use with picnic tables (awkward). Smaller boats have the option of using mosquito netting designed to drape over double beds. Well equipped camping stores sells such netting for $25 and $50. The netting's fine mesh is made of polyester, so it is stronger than it looks. The circumference of the netting's bottom edge is over 35 feet long on the circular style model - meaning there should be enough to cover the cockpit of most smaller boats. It will be necessary to devise a way of suspending the netting over the cockpit and adding weights to its bottom edge. Note: This netting appears to be highly flammable - be careful with any open flame.

by Michael McGoldrick.
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