Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Post Brought to You by the Letter A

A is for Anchor and for AIS and we have completed updates on both these fronts.

Anchor: We have had a couple of scary drags on the Delta anchor provided with Mowzer and while everyone has their own opinion about anchors and there is no single anchor that is good in all situations, after much research, seeing the anchor in action at Annapolis last year and knowing a few boats where this anchor is currently in (happy) active service we decided to purchase a 40 lb. Rocna. We'll definitely provide an update later once we've put it through the "living with it" test for a while, but the first step was to get the anchors swapped and the Rocna sitting in its new home on the roller.

At the same time we decided to pull all 300 feet of chain out of the locker, inspect it and remark it every 20' so when deploying we know exactly how much chain is down. We attached a couple of lines to the anchor, dropped it off the windlass and pulled it up on the dock, followed by all the chain which we then laid. It was then a relatively easy job to switch over to the new anchor, measure the chain and add the markings. We chose to use tie wraps; one at 20', two at 40', etc, and then a brightly coloured single at 100', and then repeat the series another two times for the length of the chain. We'll see how the tie wraps stand up to being rolled over the windlass, but they are cheap and easy to replace as needed.

Old and new, although similar in initial view, the Rocna has quite a number of technical features that should help us sleep better at night.
Getting the chain off the old anchor and switched over to the new.
The Rocna in its new home on Mowzer's anchor roller.
AIS: Along with Radar, Jay had installed AIS at our request on Mowzer this past summer. This little device is a very cool development in the boating world that couples digital VHF (radio) with vessel identification and our chart plotter puts all the information together with our GPS display. The end result is that vessels with AIS who are transmitting are displayed with tags on the chart plotter and by selecting the tag we can see all sorts of information about the vessel: it's size, it's speed and the system will warn us if there is a risk of collision on the existing course of the two vessels. We decided to install a Class B AIS which both receives and transmits information which allows us to 'see and be seen'. While the benefits of this information are appreciated in daytime, it is in the dark of night that the true value will be proven.

Because AIS is transmitted via radio, this means that even way off shore we will be able to 'see' vessels within the range of our VHF radio, which is anywhere from 5 - 15 miles depending on conditions. We are not dependent on a satelite or a shore-side transmitter to get the signal from other vessels in our area. There is however, a worldwide network of shore-side receivers that will track vessels in the coastal areas and since we do most of our sailing at the moment in these ranges we will be visible to these receivers.

If you are interested in checking up on us you can visit the Marine Traffic website and do a vessel search for Mowzer. There are two registered Mowzers with AIS, one with GB registry and us, so make sure you choose the right one. If we are on the move you will see our current location and track and if we are stopped (as we currently are) you will see the tag for the last time a receiver picked up our signal. Currently Marine Traffic shows us traveling along the south side of St. Thomas which was on Tuesday last week so there must be a dead zone in the harbour here since we have not been picked up at the CYOA dock, but rest assured that we are still sitting here. Once we move again, our signal should refresh.

We're underway just north of St. John - traveling at 6.2 knots.
This display shows all the other vessels around us; a diamond indicates they are stopped.


  1. Just to let you know, the hyperlink for marinetraffic has an e at the end which directs you to a bad site... might want to change that!!

    1. All fixed - thanks for the highlight.