Wednesday, May 6, 2009

the dollar store and other expedition outfitters

Days are flying by and the trip is not that far away. Time to start pulling out some of the gear to check it over. As I sort through the bin of equipment I'm pleasantly surprised by how much of it came - at a very reasonable price - from such places as the Dollar Store, WalMart, hardware store or grocery store. These tall, wide mouth storage jars are a good example. I carry six of them on Spartina. They stand vertically in the storage area underneath the thwart, three on each side of the centerboard trunk. A lot of the food goes in there, I marked the contents on top of the lids so I can open the watertight port and quickly locate what I need. You see fruit cups on the left, breakfast bars on the right. These jars cost $1.00 each at the Dollar Store. While building the boat I had sketched out a list of supplies and made note of Nalgene storage jars. But those jars - colorful and made of high impact materials - run $17.00 EACH. These $1.00 jars do the job I need.

I always have a Rite in the Rain all weather notebook nearby when I'm sailing. I use it to jot down quick notes throughout the day that will be the source for my log book in the evening. If you can make out my handwriting (the nuns would cringe at how the Palmer Method failed me) I was approaching the inelegantly named Clump Island and Great Fox Island on Tangier Sound, trying to locate the channel that separated the two. I find these books here and there, sometimes at hardware stores, sometimes in little shops. They do cost a couple of more bucks than a regular pocket note book, but the writing and pages hold up very well even when soaked by rain or salt spray.

My anchor light came from WalMart for less than $10. It is a simple LED lamp that uses three AA batteries. It is not designed to be waterproof, but this lamp had been out in heavy rains with 30 mph winds and keeps on glowing. I keep two on board, one to hang up in the rigging, typically on the forestay, at night. The other I use as a reading lamp. I've looked at other waterproof, multiple LED lights at camping stores but can't see a reason to spend $25 for them.

I made my tethers based on a description in a John Welsford sailing story. I think it is 1 inch diameter polypropolene line with a carabiner at one end and a quick release clip (that came from a boat shop) at the other end. The line is easy to find because of the bright color and it floats too. I did some eye splices on each end. My splicing skills are not as good as Bruce's so I wrapped read electrical tape around the splices to clean it up a little. Bruce and I each have a tether of the same design and clip them on to some very nice, safe self-inflating pfd's with built in harness that Bruce was kind enough to donate to the boat. We'll skimp on a lot of gear, but we won't skimp on safety gear.

I made my boarding ladder out of an old piece of nylon line using a design from Hervey Garrett Smith's The Marlinspike Sailor. I leave it hooked on the deck cleat on the starboard quarter with the ladder itself inside the boat tucked behind the forward end of the boomkin. It sits there out of the way ready for a swim or an emergency. From outside the boat, and I've tried this out, I can reach up and pull the ladder over the side for use in boarding. I've used it a couple of times while swimming. I have never used it in case of a knockdown or man over board, but I'm glad to know it is there.

Bruce just called from the west coast to go over some equipment details. He is gearing up too.



Albert A Rasch said...


Those are some great hints and advice. Thanks for sharing them!

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
The Range Reviews: Tactical.
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

Perry Burton said...

Too smart for your own good Steve!
Some great practical ideas here. Keep em coming.
Unrelated question Steve... When you built Spartina, did you put only one layer of glass cloth on the bottom?

Steve said...

I put fiberglass tape on the seams between the bottom panel and the lowest plank, then I glassed over the entire bottom and lowest plank. So on the seam there are two layers of glass, just one on the rest of the bottom.