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Preview: Outfitting a Small Sailboat with Geoff Kerr

May 22, 2012

Geoff shows us stem to stern how he outfits NED LUDD for a season of beach cruising and island hopping.

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– Geoff, it seems as though your boat is incredibly outfitted. We’ve got stern anchors, lines coiled, ready at hand, you know, thick fishermen up forward, bow lines, a couple of fenders, I see a pull off up there which we’ll get into in a little bit. Can you talk us through, you know, kind of, what are the key ingredients to beach cruising and anchoring a small boat for you?

– Well, I’ve got kinda got all the toys aboard today. Three weeks ago, I did the Small Reach Regatta with this traditional small boat crowd, and that event’s kinda gear-intensive. They actually inspect and make sure you’ve got all your stuff. So, I’ve got all the toys today. Starting back in the stern, there’s about a 15 pound danforth with ten or so feet of chain, sort of a standard anchor in most of the world. And a handy thing. It’s not necessarily my favorite anchor, but it’s a good lunch hook. It’s a good sandy anchor. Pitiful on rocks, and has it’s drawbacks and its pluses like everything else. The rest of the lines hanging back on this mission partner are a toe line, a couple of dock lines, some spare small stuff for lashing and rigging, anything that comes loose. This is actually a spare halyard just in case because I happen to know that my main halyard’s gettin’ a little worn and could let go. It’s always handy to have the new one.

– You’ve got your bucket.

– I’ve got my universal soft-rubber bucket which serves many purposes. There’s even a sponge in there for wiping down. That’s kinda the tail end of the boat. Moving forward in the general seamanship world, I’ve got a couple of tubular fenders tied under these seats which are a little extra flotation the way they’re lashed in should something really exciting happen. And they are incredibly handy as rollers for moving the boat around on the beach.

– [Interviewer] Right?

– Just worth their weight in gold. Oars on the floor, reasonably accessible. This boat takes big oars. They’re 11 feet long. They’re a little unwieldy, and I have just found over the years that even though it takes a second to get ’em free if you need ’em, that’s the most out of the way place.

– Right along side your center board.

– Right along side the center board, and with the blades flat back here, I can walk around in bare feet and be happy. One piece of small boat gear that I don’t see on a lot of small boats that’s indispensable is actually a boat hook. Particularly single handed. Being able to extend my reach six feet for a dock line or a fouled mission sheet or pushing off a tiling or threatening another boat that’s getting too close. This thing is indispensable.

– It’s a beautiful boat hook.

– It’s from the German catalog again. Toplicht has medieval looking boat hooks.

– All right.

– You can buy all sorts of little things. And I just cobbled this together once upon a time when I realized that it could double as my paddle, and this boat being so light, I am either sailing or a few strokes with a canoe paddle, and I can be where I wanna go. I don’t often get the oars out.

– Right.

– And I combine these into one, and it’s been kind of fun. It’s a handy tool. So moving forward, just ahead of the centerboard case is my trophy on the boat. I’ve got an antique cast-iron 30 pound fisherman.

– [Interview] It’s a serious little anchor.

– It’s a serious anchor. It’s frankly, way bigger than this boat needs, but this is what my kids and I call the Popeye anchor and we love it, and it just never fails us. This boat rode out a hurricane in Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod one time in four feet of water, 70 mile an hour winds, sitting on that anchor. Never moved an inch.

– [Interviewer] That’s amazing.

– And every other boat in the harbor was on the beach. So, we take it along even if we don’t need it. It deserves to go for a boat ride.

– You got your anchor rope in a basket? What do you carry for anchor rope, Geoff.

– I’ve got there, about 250 feet of 3/8th inch nylon. I’ve got thimble spliced in both ends. The end you’re holding in your hands starting from that end, I’ve got it marked in 30 foot increments to kinda keep track of how much road I have out. That’s a critical point. Every anchor has a sweet amount of road it needs to be reliable.

– [Interviewer] Right.

– And boy, once the first 10 feet goes over, it’s hard to keep track of thin white rope. And–

– [Interviewer] It’s keeping your road well marked.

– Reasonably marked so you have a clue how much line you’ve got over. Judging the angle is fishy. Lots of things can influence the angle. And it’s important. Classically, a danforth needs a seven to one scope. That’s a lot of rope. Fisherman, you can get away with three to one, especially if it’s really heavy. It’s just important to know. In traditional seamanship books, there was a really classic little system of marking with pieces of leather, and each leather has a different shade, then you can feel it in the night, be all salty and so forth. I do have markers every 30 feet, and it helps me keep track.

– [Interviewer] Right.

– And I’ve got it flaked out in a basket. That is the easiest most reliable way to have the line feed out cleanly. A big line is a pain to foil and keep to appearance, no matter how good a foiler you are.

– So this basket lends itself, open basket style lends itself to being able to have a few shackles.

– Yeah, I keep my shackles there. You might find a couple of massed wedges down in the bottom. That’s obviously a very sophisticated piece of marine equipment there. Poke some holes in the bottom so that it drains. If I don’t need it in the boat ’cause I’m just going for a day sail, it can stay in the back of the truck or stay in the garage. It’s good portability.

– Right? Couple big fenders going forward.

– [Geoff] Yeah, the flare on this boat is so pronounced that it takes a really big diameter fender to give yourself any helper against another boat hull or something. And the volume on those are lashed in solidly. There’s an amazing amount of buoyancy.

– [Interviewer] Right?

– [Geoff] Should you get swamped, hanging on the mainless partner, the starboard there is a second anchor rode that’s 150 feet and 3/8ths nylon. That’s right off the shelf at the marine supply house. And although it’s in the opposite end of the boat, that’s what I would shackle onto the danforth. And then an out hole…

– [Interviewer] While there are many ways to outfit a small boat for beach cruising, Geoff has done an incredible job with Ned Ludd. Thanks for the tour Geoff, and happy beach cruising.



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