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Anchoring Out

Log: 4274

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Location: Anchored in “Wailey’s Leg” just off the Mackay River, near Sea Island, Georgia

Distance Traveled Last Five Days: 286 nautical miles

Total Trip Distance: 1,634 nautical miles

One of the things you just don’t realize until you’ve been in boating awhile is just how expensive marinas are. For overnight stays on a trip, they charge by the foot with usually an extra charge for electricity or cable TV or wireless internet. The lower priced spots usually charge around $1.00 per foot while I’ve seen some resort marinas as high as $4.00 per foot. A typical rate is $2.00 per foot. So on a trip in my 52–foot boat, it’s not unusual to spend $104 for dockage plus another say $15 or so for power. Once you are docked, of course, you tend to be tired and elect to eat dinner off the boat, especially if there is a restaurant at the dock or nearby. With wine, even traveling alone, that can add another $50 or more to the evening. While you have to buy groceries to eat aboard, the simple fact is that staying at a marina adds a minimum of $150 per night to the cost of cruising. Take a 90–day trip as this one has been, stay at a marina every night, and there goes $13,500. Far more than the fuel or any other normal maintenance along the way.

So thrifty boaters have learned the value of anchoring out. It’s not only peaceful and quiet and usually beautiful, but you can save thousands of dollars a year by doing it. Tonight, I’m anchored in a lovely spot in perfect weather. My feet are propped up. I’m watching the evening news as I blog. And I’m looking forward to preparing a fine feast of canned sardines with crackers and a glass or two of chardonnay. I am reveling in the knowledge that I’m saving, or at least not spending, at least $150 by doing this. It’s like being paid to do this, and I’m thinking of taking it up as a full-time job.

If you are to anchor out, a few equipment items become absolutely essential. One is the anchor itself and the windlass that is used to lower and raise it. I planned to anchor out every night of this six-day trip but the first night, at sunset, I prepared to drop the anchor and the windlass simply did nothing. It turned out that while work was being done in the boatyard, a breaker had been tripped which is located under the forward bed. To figure that out and correct it, I limped into a marina in the dark and spent $136 for dockage just to have the leisure of taking the bed apart and getting to the breaker.

Another crucial thing is electrical power. The boat has a generator which must be run to cook or run the air conditioning. But you can’t run the generator all the time without having to change the oil every week so when running or enjoying a quiet evening, the boat needs an adequate inverter and enough battery power to run it for hours at a time. This was one of the great problems with this Bahamas trip in that I discovered the batteries were wearing out and I could not survive on the inverter for more than a few hours at a time. This situation not only cost me in dockage charges but I also had to buy seven new giant batteries when I got back to Florida.

Anyway, you get the picture. I can travel about 50 miles a day on this boat using 25 gallons of fuel at a cost of about $100. Anchoring out, I can avoid spending another $150 a day, making an enormous difference in the cost of cruising.

So, I’m almost finished with this journey. Tomorrow, I plan to reach the mouth of the Ogeechee River south of Savannah late in the afternoon, just in time to ride the high tide 17 miles up to the Ford Plantation where I will keep the boat this summer. I’ll log in tomorrow night to wrap up the trip. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures along the way. Not as interesting as the south Florida snapshots, but just a little typical scenery along the waterways:


One of my friends who swam along with me today


The girl in the background was walking on water


My next boat


Le Grand Bleue, a boat we first saw in Maine, in Drydock in Jacksonville


The Submarine Base near Cumberland Island


A few of the wild horses on the beach at Cumberland Island



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