A little progress

Spending quality time on the boat working on a bunch of little projects…

Finally vented the Natures Head composting toilet outside into the deck anchor locker. I was temporarily just having it vent into the below decks chain locker, which was mostly OK; but once in awhile (after particularly heavy use) I’d get a whiff of something I generally prefer not to think about. I think finally finishing this project will take care of this occasional issue.

I removed the door to the head and replaced it with a curtain. Oh, sure, the door gave a more finished appearance and contributed to the illusion of privacy; but when open it intruded into the cabin way too much, and since it needs to remain open to get the benefit of ventilation through the fore-hatch, the curtain becomes more than a bit more practical. Besides, the door knob broke on the door. And it usually didn’t shut right anyway.

I installed a new 110VAC electrical outlet on the front of the starboard bunk. Since I prefer to keep all AC power cords safely tucked inside conduit, this was more work than I anticipated. The new outlet will allow running the miniature oil filled radiator style portable heater I purchased without having to plug it into an extension cord. It also is in a convenient place for plugging in an electric blanket, if I go that route.

Regarding the heater, I stayed on the boat last night and the temps dropped to the low 30s. While the heater managed to keep the boat in the mid sixties during the evening, as it got later the inside temperature dropped into the mid-fifties. Not really horrible; but cooler than I’d like. I think for real winter temperatures the boat just won’t qualify as the comfy warm cocoon that I desire. At least not with this little 700 watt heater. UNLESS, perhaps, I slide up the dividers between the galley/nav station and the main cabin area (they are really cool…I should take photos), and perhaps add a dividing curtain there as well. Then, with a smaller area to heat, I think the little heater might be able to keep up. If it doesn’t work I can always buy a bigger portable heater (or install a built in heater), or better yet, just stay in the nicely heated girlfriend’s house, with the very snugly and nicely heated girlfriend.

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

I installed the Nature’s Head after having an unfortunate experience last year with an over filled holding tank (a very messy version of Old Faithful was the odorous result). I had considered making a home-brew version (off the shelf parts would be sweet); but my time is not unlimited and I had other things to spend it on (rewiring the boat, for starters). The boat show price was high; but not unreasonably so.

With me and my gal, the two plus gallon liquids container generally needs emptying every other day. I do have a spare jug which I feel is mandatory and should come standard. I will soon be making a custom fit bracket to snugly hold the spare jug to the bulkhead to reduce the risk of it going flying and spilling the contents all over the interior (a horrifying thought).

The solids container does seem to last quite awhile; but I’m not convinced it makes the advertised 60-80 uses. Of course, if putting the toilet paper in the head (and it is somewhat distasteful to put it anywhere else), it will fill up much faster. The TP takes some time to break down. The poop does become inoffensive in a couple of days, although it surely takes much longer to fully compost than the practical time it can remain in the toilet. There is rarely a smell (the cat box is much more of an issue). The small fan barely registers on the amp meter and does an admirable job of venting to the anchor locker.


From a philosophical point of view, I think that discreetly pouring pee overboard is not much of a health risk anyplace that is not unusually sensitive and not morally shaky, unless it done in a really crowded harbor at which point it is bad manners. Legally is a different thing altogether, and I’m pretty certain it is universally frowned upon by those men with shiny badges. You makes your choices and you takes your chances. It should be easy enough to find a shore side facility every two or three days, although I can think of more pleasant things than carrying around a couple of gallons of smelly pee.

By the same token, I think that putting partially composted solid waste in a thick contractors trash bag (the Nature’s Head site suggests a regular kitchen garbage bag…given the subject matter I think I prefer the extra toughness of the thick bags) and putting it into the dumpster is no more offensive or generally harmful to mankind than disposing of dirty baby diapers in the trash; but it may still be illegal. The Nature’s Head folks suggest it is dirt at this point (assuming some time between last deposit); but I am not certain that it really, truly qualifies without having at least months of time to cook. Choices. Chances. I read somewhere (the c-head homepage, perhaps) that sealing it in a pickle bucket (aka Home Depot ‘Homer’ bucket) with some bleach qualifies it as “treated” and it suddenly becomes legal for about the same price as a pump out. I’m not sure; but it sounds like a reasonable compromise assuming an offshore dump is not practical. I emptied mine after using it occasionally all summer plus regularly for a ten day trip for two. It was not anymore distasteful than a pump out, and more pleasant than dealing with a porta-potti. I expect the next time I empty it will be when I recommission the boat next spring. Although I’m now living aboard part-time, so that estimate might not hold true in the end.

The bottom line:

Everything in life is a compromise. But as far as compromises go, this one ain’t that bad. And I no longer have nightmares of exploding holding tanks. Bonus: By pulling the holding tank, I now have room for a new water tank to augment the somewhat anemic twenty gallons of the primary tank. If only I can find an off the shelf tank that would properly fit…

Oxford, MD

I’ve been bad about blogging. Forgot I had the darn thing, really. Let’s try again. At the moment I’m in the middle of a short ten day cruise on the Chesapeake with my gal Lauren. We continue…

We spent the weather perfect day in the very lovely town of Oxford, MD yesterday, and are getting ready to head to Cambridge as soon as I finish writing. Sadly, we couldn’t get any of the famous home made ice cream (closed now on Tuesdays and Wednesdays along with Schooners). Happily, we met some neat people in some neat boats.

Gordon and Susan on home-built C&C designed 35 foot WHIM of Arne. Apparently Gordon borrowed the mold shortly before it was scheduled for destruction and built himself a new hull. Pretty cool. They are looking for a place to keep the boat for the winter before heading back south jumping on Susan’s Syrena.

Mary T also lives here in the Town Creek for the night. Didn’t get a chance to talk to them much; but they seem like friendly folks. Both Whim and Mary T are heading to Cambridge as well, so maybe we’ll see them there.

One of the cool things about small towns is when it turned out that we couldn’t grab a bite at the close place, help arrived.  An old gent named Eddie Frederick saw us looking dejected in front of the closed ice-cream window, took pity, and took us for a drive around town, showing us the different sights and all the different restaurants. He dropped us off at the Masthead restaurant on the other side of town. We had a decent meal there, and very decent (too many, and too expensive) drinks. Afterwards, out server/bartender/bus-gal Meredith actually took us to the little town market (we needed a few supplies) a short walk from the public dinghy dock.

Lauren and I ended the night laying on the foredeck admiring all the stars. We don’t often get to see near so many in Baltimore due to all the light pollution.

A perfect day.



A few weeks ago, at one of the local boat shows, I talked to the Porta-Bote representative.

Up until that time I had fully intended on building another dinghy. Probably something nestable; although I have downloaded a few folding dinghy plans that look interesting. Unfortunately, anything involving boats, and in particular boat-building, even of very simple design, takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. Time is something that is in decidedly short supply, so I decided to buy. I like rowing, and inflatables row like crap, so they were out. I was thinking of something along the lines of a Walker Bay dinghy, but my boat is pretty small, and stowing it on the fordeck would be troublesome. So I kind of figured the Porta-Bote would be a good compromise.

The boat I ordered and payed for was the eight foot model. The boat that arrived was the ten foot model. It’s kinda large, and a lot heavier than I’m used to. It is way, way bigger than the old Apple Pie dinghy I built. Frankly, it is an ugly thing. It took me an hour to assemble in my back yard for the first time. I have my concerns about being able to assemble it on the deck of Seeker; but I have high hopes it will all work out. Honestly, about the only time I have to store it on deck is if I’m doing some real offshore work; which, at least for the next couple years, is not likely to be a large part of my life. I think I will be able to assemble it, in any case, if a set it up athwartship, although I may have to drop the lifelines to do it. It will be interesting to find out.

Here’s day one:

Porta-Bote Packaging

The package, as it arrived. The hull itself is wrapped in a heavy plastic. The seats, oars, and miscellaneous arrived in a big box. The photo loses the sense of scale.

Porta-Bote first opening

The first unfolding required more effort than I expected. They do include a notched board which helps to force the boat open.

Portabote opened

After it is opened up a little, I was able to climb inside and force it all the way open. The included “tool” helps keep it spread.

Porta-Bote fully assembled.

Then it’s just a matter of locking the transom in place (the new version…I understand this is a recent upgrade) and installing all the seats. There is definitely a front and back to each of the seats. They aren’t marked so it is necessary to pay attention to their shape.

The oars look OK. I’m not a fan of the oar locks, though, and may change them out.


Item 1: My new Bayfield has a propane cooking system. It used to have a propane water heater, too; but I didn’t find it worth the trouble and removed it (eBay, soon). Propane works, it is convenient, it is already installed, it is staying (for anyone thinking about talking me into kerosene or alcohol). The tank lives outboard on the stern pulpit.

Item 2: I’ve been so frustrated with a phantom drain of amps in the boat, I decided to redo the entire electrical system. It is now much improved (and almost done). I’ve used modern, properly sized boat wire everyplace. I’ve broken circuits out into a couple different panels. I have a battery monitor. I’m happy. Or at least I was…

The problem: I finally got around to hooking up the xintrex S-2 (preëxisting) propane sniffer/solenoid control to house power this past weekend. As expected, the solenoid burns about one amp, which is totally acceptable. What is less acceptable is the propane sniffers (one in the bilge, one in the cabinet directly under the stove) burn around .5 or .6 amps. Now, given that you’d think that the sniffers should be turned on whenever the boat is occupied (and maybe always, depending on your philosophy), I find that the 12 amp-hrs or more a day, just for monitoring, to be an overly serious drain on my limited battery (and charging) capacity. THIS is clearly a big contributor to my phantom battery drain.

The solution: As far as I know, sniffers are not required equipment. However, they do seem rather prudent. I’m thinking of wiring the Xintrex control/sniffer system up to a spare switch on the circuit breaker panel. I figure a decent compromise might be to throw the switch whenever the valve on the tank is on. When I’m well done with whatever cooking I’m doing, I could close the manual valve, and kill the Xintrex at the panel. This has the advantage of saving some electrons and giving me a third place to kill the propane if necessary (at the xintrex control panel, at the tank, and now at the electrical panel). It has the disadvantage of losing full-time monitoring.

I think with the tank at the rail, the solenoid at the tank, and the new propane line entering the hull through a vapor tight-fitting, that I’m covering the important safety bases. Am I missing something?

Spring update

I can be the worst sort of blogger: a blogger who doesn’t blog. Dammit! Time got away from me. Again.

In any case, things have been happening over the winter, although far slower than I would like. In an effort to write something, anything, here is a quick somewhat long-winded run down of this winter’s boat refit projects:

I am in the process of redoing the entire electrical system. Entirely. AC and DC. Everything is coming out and being replaced. I am unhappy with the existing DC system, especially with a mystery current draw when everything is supposed to be powered off, so this seems like a good time to take care of the system. The small panel next to the galley is being replaced with a larger panel next to the nav station (where it really belongs). Wire is being properly sized (the wash down pump, all the way in the bow, was wired with 16 AWG, as was the pressure water system…now, with 12 AWG wire, the lights don’t dim), as are all the breakers. I’m trying very hard to do everything according to modern standards. I installed a battery monitor which is really cool. I’m installing lots of twelve volt outlets (I hate not having a convenient outlet when I need it). A new stereo and a new VHF with built-in AIS reception is also going into the panel. A CO detector is now installed. A bilge water alarm is being installed (insurance company insists) as is a second electric bilge pump in the little sump area behind the engine if I can find a way to shoehorn it in. New batteries will be going in, wired together with an Automatic Charge Relay so I don’t have to worry about juggling the battery on/off/both switch during charging. In fact, I am installing one new switch for house power and one for engine. I purchased four 20 watt solar panels that will be mounted on the dodger. A couple new LED dome lights have been installed. Incandescent interior bulbs have been replaced with LED and I hope to do the same with my NAV lights. There is a lot more, I’m sure. It’s coming along, slowly. Here is a general (although far from comprehensive and not quite up to date) diagram for how things are wired up…I think this will work pretty well.

DC System, version 1

I did pull out the not-really-functioning air-conditioner and was going to install a brand new one; but I decided to order a new dinghy (porta-bote) instead as my old home-built dinghy went with my Seafarer (sadly wrecked by the new owner ) when I sold her. I may regret that should I move aboard this summer. If so, I am keeping the thru-hulls in place, and I have strung new 120v AC wiring so that I can install a new unit reasonably painlessly without having to haul the boat. In theory anyhow.

The old holding tank is out-a-there, as is the old Grocco toilet and nearly all the associated plumbing. I am just about ready to install the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet. Unfortunately, the extra height of the new toilet is interfering with the doors of the cabinet behind it. More work <sigh>.

Mom came down for a few days a couple of weeks ago to help me with the hull prep. Lots of sanding and scraping but it is more or less ready for new bottom paint. The previous owners raised the waterline over the bootstripe. I guess I’ll leave it that way for this year. We’ll see how she sits. Mom also helped with the teak which is great, although there is an awful lot left to do. The old name is gone and the boat is ready to receive her new identity. I can’t wait as I was never really happy with the old name.

The new anchor system will hopefully be installed in the next week or two. A Rocna 10 (22 pounds), with 90 feet of ¼” high tensile chain and ½” 8-plait line on a big roller. I bought a second, matching, roller that should be here in a couple of days that will allow me to keep two anchors on the bow, although I haven’t decided on the second set yet.

There is a lot more to do (always); but hopefully I’ll be able to launch by the end of May. I had intended on trying to sail to Martha’s Vineyard for the Father’s Day party that many of my friends have there that weekend; but that no longer looks realistic as I will be lucky to get Seeker launched at that point, and I am not anxious to try everything out the first time on a big (relatively speaking…it’s not exactly crossing the Atlantic; but it would be my biggest passage as skipper) trip. Instead I think I may try for the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July. That plan would allow Lauren to accompany me as I attempt to get her to fall in love with the whole idea of travel by sea. Unfortunately, work may mess up my plans.

Hello World!

Yes, the traditional “Hello World!” first post.

At the moment this may be all that is here. But soon, I hope, I will include photos and stories of the updates, upgrades, modifications, maintenance, and sailing of adventures of me and my lovely little Bayfield 29 Cutter “Seeker.”  I’m a bit more than a one trick pony, though, so don’t be surprised if you find some other content here regarding other adventures I hope to have.

What you will probably not find here is a lot of noise regarding politics or religion unless it is directly related to boating or cruising. Firearms aboard while cruising? Valid topic. Anchoring rights? Valid topic. Right to carry (firearms) legislation? Probably not a valid topic. Abortion? Definitely not a valid topic. You get the idea…

Edit: I have ported over a bunch of related posts from my Blogger page. Just kind of filling in some of the blanks…

Bayfield 29 Refit Planning: The head

One of the issues I currently have with the boat is the toilet, and black water system in general. The current toilet (for those marine purists…I consider the “head” to be the equivalent of the bathroom, not specifically the toilet itself) is a Groco manual, a brand which seems to have a pretty good reputation. But it is pretty old and not quite working as well as it should, and really needs to be rebuilt. As well, the survey pointed out that the waste lines need to be replaced, and since the survey mentioned it, my insurance carrier (BoatUS) is insisting on it. On top of that I was shocked to find out how fast the holding tank (20 gallons?) fills up, although that may have partially been due to over exuberant pumping.

Keeping in mind that I will eventually be living aboard, and that getting pumped out in the winter months could be problematic I was left with a few decisions.

One: Fix the current system, plan on pumping weekly in season, and not using the waste system at all in the winter months. This would include a rebuild of the current head, and a replacement of all the waste lines and the overboard discharge seacock (only used well offshore).

Two: Make some changes to the current system, plan on pumping weekly in season, and not using the waste system at all in the winter months (a little Déjà vu there). I was thinking either an electric macerating toilet or a Lavac system in addition to the waste lines and seacock. There would still be the holding tank limitation, though.

Three: Doing something different. In this case a dry composting toilet. In fact, after a lengthy conversation with the designer of the Nature’s Head toilet at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, this is exactly what I decided to do and I bought one there on the spot. While pretty expensive, I believe it would in the end be cheaper than option two, and not all that much more than option one.

There are several advantages to the dry composting toilets (there are a few designs out there that work more or less the same way).

  1. Urine is separated from solids with a clever diverter design which dramatically slows how fast the main tank (built into the toilet) fills, allowing a claimed 60-80 uses between emptying (more if you don’t throw the toilet paper in the tank, although that would generate a whole new set of issues).
  2. There is no offensive odor, although depending on how ventilation is handled there might be a musty peat mossy scent.
  3. There is no need of a holding tank or associated waste plumbing or through-hulls simplifying the system and opening up more space.
  4. With the holding tank gone, I will have room to install a new 20 gallon (more or less) water tank, an important addition for when I can finally leave on some extended traveling.
  5. I don’t have to worry about pump-outs.

Of course, TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). There are drawbacks, too.

  1. It is unfamiliar to most people (women in particular) who might not feel comfortable using it.
  2. While the solids tank should last a long time, the liquids will have to be emptied every day or two. Of course, this can be done in any toilet, or for any anarchists out there, discreetly overboard (warning: while there is little to no environmental risk that I’m aware of to this, and while people pee directly overboard all the time without thinking twice, while within the three mile limit this is illegal).
  3. Eventually the solids tank will have to be emptied. Assuming there hasn’t been any extremely recent “deposits” this shouldn’t be too offensive or difficult a job (I doubt it is worse than a pump-out); but neither will it be pleasant.
  4. While the Nature’s Head guys suggest bagging the stuff (they call it dirt) and throwing it in the trash, it is unlikely that it would be fully composted, and this may very well be illegal (although no more illegal than throwing dirty diapers away). Buying a five gallon “Homer Bucket” from Home Depot, putting the waste in that along with a cup of bleach, and sealing it turns it into “treated” instead of “untreated” waste and may make it all legal. This is unclear; but so far it doesn’t seem to be a big issue. The other option is to store it (perhaps in a vented Homer Bucket) for a year or two, or dump it on a composting pile somewhere until it finishes doing its’ thing, at which point it is excellent fertilizer (it is recommended not to use it on food plants…just in case). If offshore, of course, it is completely legal to just dump it overboard when outside the three mile limit. I don’t think there is any harm no matter the method; but in the interests of not self incriminating I think I’ll keep my choices to myself.
  5. Occasionally there have been known to be issues with flies. This is not universal and there are ways of dealing with the problem; but it does happen.

I’ve actually been thinking of this system for a few years as I was trying to find a way to shoe horn it into my Seafarer 24 (it’s a pretty bulky, and in particular, tall system), so I think I have a pretty good feel for the pluses and minus. It’s new to me, though, so I might not tear out the old tank too fast, or seal up the through-hulls until I feel happy with the system, allowing me to revert to a wet system should I feel like it. Or not. I’m still thinking on it. The good news is that the majority of people I know (on web forums, mostly) who have tried a dry composting head have been extremely pleased with the results. I do have my concerns for the fairer sex, though, as I do like to keep them happy and impressed.

Feed from: http://continuousmoon.blogspot.com/

Bayfield 29 Refit Planning: Anchor gear (Part 2: The Rode)

The gears continue to turn as I further contemplate ground tackle…

While I’m still working through the options on an anchor selection (I’d like to get it done by October 15th in order to take advantage of the Boat Show Specials at Defender), I believe (read: hope) selecting the rode should be a bit less troublesome.

West Marine suggests that 1/8” of line diameter for every nine feet of boat length is appropriate. For a 29 foot boat this suggests a little more than a 3/8” line, or round up to 1/2”. Anchor chain would typically be half the size of the line, or 1/4”.

Rocna recommends 1/4” high test for their Rocna 10 (the recommended size), and 5/16” high test for their Rocna 15. Presumably the other anchors would benefit from similar sizing.

With agreement from two sources, if I go with a recommended size anchor, I’ll probably also go with 1/4” high test, upsizing slightly to 5/16” if I oversize the anchor. Although the larger chain isn’t that much heavier or more expensive and might be worth considering if I even think I might upsize sometime in the future.

How much chain and how much rope on the rode?

The general rule of thumb regards scope is 7:1 for the typical short length of chain followed by rope, and 5:1 for all chain rode. In heavy conditions as much as 10:1 might be called for, and in tight anchorages many people lie to as little as 3:1 ( hopefully all chain). It is important to remember to include the height above the waterline of the anchor roller and the expected tide in the scope computation (10 feet of water + 4 feet of freeboard + 2 feet of expected tide increase would equal 16 feet for the purpose of figuring scope).

I figure that 100′ of chain would allow me to lie to all chain at a 5:1 scope in fifteen feet of water (plus four feet of freeboard). Add 200′ of anchor line and I can anchor at 7:1 in thirty-five feet of water or 5:1 in fifty-five feet, which should cover me in most anchorages I’m likely to find myself in. Any more than that and I’ll have to add another length of line to the rode.

Freeboard: 4 Feet Chain Length 100 Feet
Draft: 3.5 Feet Rope Length 200 Feet
Water Depth Total Depth Scope
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5 9 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90
10 14 42 56 70 84 98 112 126 140
15 19 57 76 95 114 133 152 171 190
20 24 72 96 120 144 168 192 216 240
25 29 87 116 145 174 203 232 261 290
30 34 102 136 170 204 238 272 306 340
35 39 117 156 195 234 273 312 351 390
40 44 132 176 220 264 308 352 396 440
45 49 147 196 245 294 343 392 441 490
50 54 162 216 270 324 378 432 486 540
55 59 177 236 295 354 413 472 531 590
60 64 192 256 320 384 448 512 576 640
65 69 207 276 345 414 483 552 621 690
70 74 222 296 370 444 518 592 666 740
Anchor Chain Size WLL Weight/ft (pounds) Feet Total Weight (pounds) Price/Ft (Defender 10/8/12) Total Price
Acco G4 1/4” 2,600 0.64 100 64 $2.84 $284.00
Acco G4 5/16” 3,900 0.93 100 93 $3.76 $376.00
Anchor Line Size Average Tensile Strength Weight/ 100 ft (pounds) Feet Total Weight (pounds) Price/Ft (Defender 10/8/12) Total Price
Sampson Pro-set 3 strand 1/2” 6300 6.5 200 13 $0.57 $114.00
Sampson Pro-set 3 strand 5/8” 10000 10.5 200 21 $0.94 $188.00

Feed from: http://continuousmoon.blogspot.com/

Bayfield 29 Refit Planning: Anchor gear (Part 1: The hook)

I’m in serious research mode right now for this winter’s refit of my new (to me) 1982 Bayfield 29. What follows is a kind of crazy mind dump (meaning likely a bit incoherent and free flowing) detailing my thought processes for ground tackle.

There is a tremendous amount of noise out there regarding ground tackle (anchors, rode, and associated links), with lots of conflicting opinions, and web forum ugliness that I normally associate with political and religious discussions. Add in the complication of boats having different shapes, displacements, and windage profiles, the wide variety of bottoms that vary by geographic region, the expected weather one might encounter along one’s route, and the difference in how people actually use their boats, and you come up with a mess of confusion. Just for fun add in all the propaganda from the numerous anchor manufacturers and distributors (all of which seem to claim to be the “best”) and their varied methods of determining an appropriate size anchor (not to mention chain size and length), and it’s enough to cause a guy to bang his head against the wall.

Starting with my personal experience, I will say that I’m not entirely happy with the anchor system on my Bayfield at the moment. Currently she has a Danforth (genuine) 13S (13 lbs) on the bow, with an inadequate rode of maybe 10 feet of 3/8” chain and probably 80 feet of I think 5/8” 3-strand line. The anchor hangs from brackets on the pulpit, which I (and my back) find awkward to deal with. This system is probably adequate for occasional use in the Chesapeake; but I anchor out a lot (when away from my home marina I have yet to take a transient slip, and only rarely pick up a mooring) and plan on eventually going much further afield. I’ve only once had a difficult time setting this anchor in a crowded anchorage in the Rhode River near Annapolis. Although once it set it was fine, even with winds blowing into the 20s from different directions, I was unhappy with the five or six attempts to get it to set. Looking at this system…

Existing Ground Tackle System:

  • The Danforth 13S appears to have 920 lbs of holding power.
  • 3/8” Proof coil G3 chain has a Working Load Limit of 2,650 lbs.
  • 5/8” three strand line (I’m using Samson Pro-Set as a reference, as I’m not sure what the actual manufacturer is) has an Average Tensile Strength of 10,000 lbs.

Sailboat Specs:
According to http://sailboatdata.com, the specs for the Bayfield 29 are…

  • LOA: 29.00’/8.84m (this includes the bowsprit…the LOD is probably a little more than 27′)
  • LWL: 21.75’/3.10m Beam: 10.17’/3.10m Draft: 3.50’/1.07m Displacement: 7100 lbs/3221 kgs. (I’m told that virtually all B29s are heavier than this…I’m going to run with 10,000 lbs as a cruising displacement until I learn otherwise).
  • Ballast: 3000 lbs/1361 kgs
  • Hull Type: Long Keel
  • Rig Type: Cutter

I replicated some info, I believe originally sourced from the ABYC, in
the chart below…

Ground Tackle Design Loads
Length Over All (Feet) Boat Beam (Feet) Load on Tackle and Hardware (pounds)
Sail Power 15 Knots 30 Knots 42 Knots 60 Knots
10 4 5 40 160 320 640
15 5 6 60 250 500 1,000
20 7 8 90 360 720 1,440
25 8 9 125 490 980 1,960
30 9 11 175 700 1,400 2,800
35 10 13 225 900 1,800 3,600
40 11 14 300 1,200 2,400 4,800
50 13 16 400 1,600 3,200 6,400
60 15 18 500 2,000 4,000 8,000

The Bayfield’s beam is a little wider than 9′; but she is a little shorter than 30′, so I’m going to work on the assumption that this is close enough. According to this info the Danforth 13S should be  quite satisfactory as a working anchor in winds up to 30 knots. I have a second identical system  below deck if it looks like I’ll be anchoring in more than that (and I have). Frankly, I’d prefer to have the primary hook at least handle the 42 knot load. I’d also like it to nest on a bow roller, and not  hang from the pulpit (which is clumsy to handle). I’ll probably install a windlass at some point, too, which would also take advantage of a bow roller.

Digging through the manufacturer sites, I compared Danforth, Fortress, Rocna, and Manson Supreme anchors (these are the readily available anchors I’m personally most familiar with, having used all of them at one point or another). I wanted to compare the claw variants as well as I have one on my Seafarer 24 and like it a lot, but had trouble finding info I could use for a paper comparison. I took a guess and included one anyhow as the price is very competitive. The Fortress and Danforth listed Holding Power while the Rocna claims that their recommended anchor is good to 50 knots and I worked under the assumption that the very similar looking Manson Supreme  would have similar working limits (they claim they are better than the Rocna; but then Rocna claims they are better than the Supreme!). I was surprised to find that Rocna no longer carries the huge premium price they had in years past, and are now actually a little cheaper than the most equivalent Manson Supreme, possibly due to the substandard (or at least, sub-speced) steel quality that occurred after moving manufacturing to China (a problem that is supposed to have been corrected, I understand).

Anchor comparison
Brand Model Weight Holding Power Defender Price (10/8/12) Notes
Danforth 13S 13 920 Existing Anchor
Danforth 12H 12 1,800 $147.19
Danforth 20H 20 2,500 $206.99
Danforth 35H 35 3,800 $331.19
Fortress FX-16 10 1,250 $197.79
Fortress FX-23 15 2,000 $308.19
Fortress FX-37 21 3,000 $427.79
Rocna 10 22 $227.23 Good to 50kts
Rocna 15 33 $275.99 Storm Size
Manson Supreme 25 25 $239.00 Good to 50kts
Manson Supreme 35 35 $326.59 Storm Size
Lewmar Horizon Claw 22 $40.00 Manu. Recommended size.
Lewmar Horizon Claw 33 $142.00 Working size?

While it looks like we are comparing apples to apples, because of the lack of measuring standards we appear to actually be comparing apples to kiwi fruit or something. While Danforth and Fortress provided holding power numbers (I have no idea how they came up with them, and if the method they used is standardized), no one else felt the need, so I need to make some educated assumptions. It’s also worth noting that holding power alone does not an anchor make, and that each performs differently in different bottoms, and each may handle a change in the direction of pull differently, which is why many people recommend keeping multiple anchor types aboard.

Let’s use the 42 knots on the original chart as our target need for a primary anchor. This would be more than a weekender would need; but when I transition to full time cruising it seems like a reasonable number to work with. I will use the 60 knot range as the target storm anchor size, making the assumption that one size up would be appropriate where holding power is not listed. It is worth noting that the “H” versions (High Tensile) of the Danforth anchor have significant increases in holding power over the “S” (standard) version that currently exists on the boat.

So, our working anchor choices are now:

Working Anchor Comparison
Brand Model Weight Holding Power Defender Price (10/8/12) Notes
Danforth 12H 12 1,800 $147.19
Fortress FX-23 15 2,000 $308.19
Rocna 10 22 $227.23 Good to 50kts
Manson Supreme 25 25 $239.00 Good to 50kts
Lewmar Horizon Claw 33 $142.00 Working size?

And our storm anchor choices are:

Storm Anchor Comparison
Danforth 35H 35 3,800 $331.19
Fortress FX-37 21 3,000 $427.79
Rocna 15 33 $275.99 Storm Size
Manson Supreme 35 35 $326.59 Storm Size

Surprisingly, on the storm anchor chart the Danforth is more expensive than both Rocna and Manson, so given my so-so feelings towards that anchor, and the issue it sometimes has resetting when the boat swings, I’m going to cross it off the Storm list. Since I already have a couple 13S anchors, I’m going to cross it off the Working list as well.

I don’t think I have room to store a Rocna or Manson Supreme anyplace but on the bow of the boat (they are bulky), so they are not really suitable for keeping below in reserve for the rare storm, and a very expensive Fortress which can be disassembled for storage might fit that bill better. The affordable claw, using my best guesses as to equivalent weight, gets kind of heavy in comparison to the others for the Working Anchor size. It does suggest, however, that if 33 lbs is OK for a working anchor, then I might just as well hang a Rocna 15 (33 lbs, $275.99) off the bow to cover me through pretty much any situation I’m likely to find myself in. Peter Smith (the designer of the Rocna and former scourge of internet forums everywhere) is adamant in his claims that the sizing recommendations for the Rocna are conservative (the recommended size is the 22 pounder, theoretically good to 50 knots) and that it really shouldn’t be necessary to go larger, although I worry about having to ride out a hurricane at anchor someday.

I think I need to stop at West Marine and actually see how big this gear is. Perhaps combining a Rocna 10 on the starboard side of the bowsprit, with a Lewmar Horizon Claw 22 (the manufacturer recommended size) on the port side would be a good compromise allowing multiple anchor situations (tight swing room or storm use) and a spare setup in case of primary anchor failure (either through loss or simply not being able to set properly). A seven pound Fortress FX-11 ($142.59) as a stern/kedge anchor would round out the set nicely, especially since I think I already have one (although what I have might be an FX-7). And what the heck, if I can find the room I can always keep one of the Danforth 13Ss around for good measure.

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