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Noses and Opinions, Part Deux
Show me your chain plates
December 2020

n an earlier colum, I pontificated about differences and advantages (of boats). Specifically, I preached about the capabilities provided by differing brands. To continue, here are a few more likes I didn’t mention.

I like monocoque hull sloops; monohulls.
john rahm
Captain John Rahm
Yes, catamarans are faster, sail flatter, draw less water and are roomier. But, cats are more expensive and sail poorly. However, an additional difference is the haul out.

Both travel lifts in Oriental – Deaton and Sailcraft (35 ton/18 feet) – do not accommodate most catamarans. For beamier catamarans, the alternative in Oriental is to bring in/rent a commercial crane.

Years ago, I witnessed a commercial-crane-catamaran-hauling from the Whittaker Creek canal between Deaton and Sailcraft. The owner of the catamaran was easily identified because while sweating blood, he was also pale with angst. That particular afternoon I realized, as an Oriental resident, monohulls were a better choice.

Since then, Bridgeton Boat Works (in Bridgeton) has come along with a wide travel lift. Mike, from Bridgeton Boat Works, reports his 77-ton lift is 24.5 feet wide. The widest boat hauled there was a Lagoon, 23.75 feet wide. In short, smallish cats can be hauled in Bridgeton.

The only other nearby choice is Jarrett Bay in Beaufort. Jarrett Bay has a monster 300-ton lift and 175 acres of storage space (impressive). Aside from monohulls and cats, ketches, yawls and cutters, while offering better balance and more sail configurations, incur an increased workload.

Speaking of reducing workload, an autopilot is a must have. Autopilots can drive to a waypoint, hold a heading or wind angle. New autopilots will drive a route. They can keep you off the shoals and prevent you from running into a low bridge. Autopilots are valuable crew members and a quality of life multiplier.

I like roller furling. However for main sails, I find the “in mast” versus “in boom” discussion tiresome. Interestingly, the idea for a furling jib is attributed to Captain Ernest du Boulay in England. He invented a device, similar to a roller window blind, for reefing a jib. Boulay’s rollers were used to improve the system by incorporating roller bearings and finally patented in 1907.

Modern day roller furling.

The original castings were made by London-based toilet maker Bouldings. Yes, furling systems were originally manufactured by toilet makers and patented in 1907. (Thank you Wikipedia.) Furling is 114 years old and stale conversation. Let’s talk about something else, like chain plates.

Chain plates – can you inspect them? The chain plates on our beige hulled boat (name withheld but manufactured in Largo Florida) were buried deep in the fiberglass, never seeing the light of day. Replacement of these chain plates makes heart transplant look simple. “They won’t corrode or even need replacement.” See also: “The Titanic will never sink.” Undeniably, the best chain plates are easily inspected and replaced.

Also, a bed/berth aft that you can walk around is a real luxury. This “centerized” configuration most often requires the boat to be a center cockpit. I like aft berths. The ride is better and you are away from the grinding chain while at anchor. Space equals luxury. Sleep is precious.

The most important space qualifier is room in the galley. Can you walk/pass around one another? While in the galley, making way for passing is inconvenient and annoying. On the flip side, while in a seaway without proper handholds, too much space can make crossing your roomy luxurious salon dangerous.

I am a backstay advocate. Yes, engineers are smart. Sweeping the spreaders aft and crossing the shrouds might be okay. But maybe not best. Mounting the traveler on top of a cockpit arch is also not best (boat name withheld). Issues there will require someone good at playground monkey bars.

I like Yanmar engines. In the Marine Corps it was once said, “Amateurs talk tactics. But, professionals talk logistics.” Yanmar has worldwide logistics. Deaton Yacht Service is a Yanmar Dealer and their parts department is open on Saturday mornings. (Tonya and Ashley know where everything is.)

I also like Beta Marine Engines. They are local with a 249 number. They should be a top choice if re-powering. Sailcraft is a Beta and Mercury dealership. Sailcraft owners Mike and Jennifer are super helpful. Deaton sells Beta, too.

Repairs and upgrades are best accomplished when the customer has access to the owner of the business. Folks in business for themselves have a vested interest in your success. I like everyone in business for themselves: Darrel at Foster Marine Service, Mark at Mariner One Rigging, Keith at Voyager Electronics. And, nobody does varnish better than Peter at Escape Yacht Services. Fortunately, for boat owners in Oriental, dealing with the business owner is the most common situation.

Remember, owners like what they have. I had Raymarine aboard so I am oriented that way. Even though Pete at Seacoast Marine Electronics is a certified dealer for everything, I believe he is best at Raymarine. And don’t mix and match electronics; install one flavor.

Even though NMEA 2000 standards apply, manufacturers are unwilling to share their proprietary technology. Buying the best one of everything may create unwanted “features” with your electronics. And if you need something extra/ordinary, West Marine (Ben) and The Provision Company (Pat) will have it or get it. Even the Village Hardware store is well stocked with boating supplies (ask Paul).


And finally, I really like Oriental. We live in one of the best boating areas in the world. The town is filled with expertise. The culture is unmatched anywhere else. All the dock masters are superb. Boating destinations are numerous and easily reached. Each of the service providers here are a spoke in the cultural wheel.

Fair Winds,
Captain John Rahm

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Captain's Blog on TownDock.net is all about making your time on the water enjoyable. Captain John Rahm teaches sailing and boat handling at Third Wave Sailing.