Sunday, March 2, 2014


On Friday afternoon we arrived in Bremerton to use our free moorage pass from the Seattle Boat Show.  Evidently someone in town realizes that tourists are important – that’s why they staffed a booth at the Boat Show and handed out coupons to induce us to come for a visit.  And it worked to get us here but I don’t think we’ll come back.  As so often happens in business, the promotion got us in the door but the follow through will keep us from coming back.

Now don’t get me wrong, Bremerton Marina is a lovely place.  Its one of the nicest marinas we’ve ever tied up in.  It is very reasonably priced – in addition to our free two day pass we paid for a day so we know what their rates are.  And they even had a “Bader – Reserved” sign stapled to our slip when we arrived – we’ve never had that kind of treatment.  The woman in the marina office was friendly enough but when we started asking about local facilities the train started to come off the rails.  She had no clue about where to buy groceries.  She was unaware of some other local businesses too but come on – groceries???  In a marina that is trying to attract transient boaters??? 

Since we’ve been here we’ve noticed that the marina is largely empty.  I’m sure the fact that their internet is constantly down isn’t the reason nobody is here but its annoying nonetheless.  We’ve been having a real run of boogy internet access this trip.  Yesterday Marilyn had a big file to upload so she went to the library where they advertise internet access.  “Oh no, its not working today and we don’t know when IT will get it fixed.”  So she went to a little coffee shop where random untalented singers entertained her while she uploaded. 

The most important reason we won’t likely come back though is that its a pretty boring downtown – what’s left of it.  In places like Anacortes, Roche Harbor, La Conner, Vancouver or Victoria there’s a vibrant downtown community with stores and/or entertainment in close proximity to the marina.  Here not so much.  A couple of coffee shops and several hotels is about it, as far as we can see anyway.

Right next door to Bremerton marina is the Puget Sound Shipyard and Maritime Maintenance …………….. I dunno the rest of it – the name is like a paragraph long.  Whatever the name, it appears to be the sole local employer.  Judging by the dolts we’ve seen wandering in and out its a heavily unionized environment.  And judging by the boarded up retail space in the downtown the shipbuilding activity has been severely curtailed in the last few years. 

The new Garmin system worked flawlessly on the way over.  I’m moderately puzzled by that – perhaps someone who reads this knows something about Cat 5 networking.  If so please help me understand what is happening.  We waited at Elliott Bay until the mailman arrived because he was delivering a couple of super dooper genuine Garmin Cat 5 modular network connectors.  I didn’t install them but I did read the directions.  I had actually given up on them arriving before we left so I used RTV to goober up the connections sufficiently to keep out rainwater.  Garmin has these really neat cable boots that include a locking ring complete with an o-ring to keep them watertight. In addition to the fancy weatherproof boot, they came with instructions for field installation which clearly indicated that the cables are to be wired as crossover cables.  That matches some of the anecdotes I read online – Garmin’s website is silent on the matter, at least as far as I can tell. 

The problem I have is that, when I bought the cable, it was a straight through cable which I intended to cut the end off of in order to pull it through some tight spaces.  I didn’t bother looking for a crossover cable because I reasoned that I could simply attach the new end that I was going to put on anyway as a crossover.  However, once I got the cable back to the boat, I figured I might as well hook everything up to try it out and when I did that, with the intact straight through cable, the system worked just fine.  My reaction at that point was “Oh well, the internet anecdotes are therefore wrong – no surprises there.” and I went ahead and hooked the radar up with a straight through cable.

So now I’m thoroughly puzzled.  Based on internet anecdotes and Garmin’s own assembly instructions, my installation is wrong.  But it appears to be working.  In the short term I’m going to leave it the hell alone but it will no doubt bother me until I get to the bottom of it.  Some of what I’ve read suggests that I need a crossover cable if the MFD connects directly to the radar and a straight cable if I have a router in between the two devices.  But we don’t have a router in that network so that theory doesn’t help me.

Our voyage to Bremerton started out along the same path that we took on our very first trip in Gray Hawk.  We recognized the marker buoy that held the basking sea lions three years ago and sure enough, there was a sea lion on it again.  It was the same route but it felt very different.  This time we docked in a seriously stiff breeze that had been bossing me around as we worked our way through the marina.  I was worried about holding the boat against the dock while Marilyn got off but everything went well with no incidents.  Three years ago my approach was point and pray – this time I actually had some clue what I was doing.  As I recall we had a dead calm day three years ago – the wind we had on Friday would have seen us bouncing off boats all the way down the fairway.  Having a clue doesn’t guarantee success but I think it helps.

We use a long midships spring line for virtually all our docking situations.  Its such a simple system and we rarely see anyone use it.  Occasionally we will run into someone who claims to use a spring line but often they are clueless about how to best use one so I’m going to post instructions here.  Not that we’ve such great boating experts but this system simply works so its worth putting it out there.

docking Three things to note:

  • The rudders are hard over AWAY from the dock
  • The spring line leads from a midships cleat and attaches to the dock well aft.  I’ve shown it attaching behind the boat but that’s not necessary.  What I often see though is people leading a “spring line” directly from the boat to the closest cleat on the dock.  That doesn’t work.
  • the drawing doesn’t show it but at least one engine is engaged.  Depending on wind I will try to use the engine away from the dock to avoid the chance of a dropped line getting picked up in the prop closest to the dock.  If the wind is strong though that won’t be possible because the outside engine will tend to counteract the rudder action. 

When we approach the dock Marilyn has the spring line attached to the midships cleat and coiled beside her.  She is sitting at the exit on whichever side we are docking, ready to step off immediately when the boat is stopped next to the dock.  Even with a stiff breeze blowing us off the dock, if I approach at about a 30 degree angle to the dock, the turning momentum of the boat will easily put us solidly against the dock at least momentarily.  The trick then is for me to stop the boat completely once it touches the dock and for Marilyn to promptly step off the stationary boat, before it drifts away from the dock.  If the wind is strong, we will almost immediately start to drift away from the dock.  I can counter that somewhat with power against the rudders hard away from the dock (that holds the stern to the dock) and countering the turn away from the dock with bow thrust toward the dock.  As I found out in Nanaimo a month ago though, under the wrong conditions I simply can’t hold us for long.  In that situation we had backed into the slip so I didn’t have any forward momentum to initially pin us to the dock.

If all goes well Marilyn steps off and promptly ties off the spring line well aft.  At that point it simply doesn’t matter how long or hard the wind blows.  Once that spring line is attached I can simply tighten up against it and we aren’t going anywhere, at least until we run out of fuel.  The rudders and props hold the stern pinned to the dock and the spring line keeps the bow from swinging out.  I generally stay at the helm but if need be I can leave a prop turning and go forward to handle lines.

It is important to note that all of the above can be accomplished at a dead idle.  I view it as a failure if I use throttle anywhere in the above manoeuvring except for a brief burst of power to quickly stop us against the dock.   

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