Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When in Rome

We lived aboard Sea Gem for two years in Miami Beach before moving this past August to a new marina in the City of Miami (on the other side of Biscayne Bay).  After two years of experimenting with chafe guards, docking techniques, etc., we had it all figured out.

When we moved to our new marina, we soon came to realize that more had changed that just the neighborhood.  We immediately noticed two clear differences in how people keep their boats at our new marina.  

First, at Miami Beach, everyone used oversized dock lines attached to chains and other anti-chafe gear.  This was a necessity--due to the strong current and motion at that marina, dock lines would quickly wear away if not adequately protected.  At our new marina, everyone uses tiny little dock lines and no chafe gear at all.  That difference was easy to figure out: no current.  There is simply no need for chafe guards and oversized dock lines here.  (Of course, it can't hurt, so we are still using our extra-strength dock lines and chafe gear.)

The second difference was more puzzling.  On sailboats with furling headsails (the front sail twists for storage, which makes setting and dousing the sail much easier), the sheets (the ropes that control the sail) normally remain led back to the cockpit.  That way, when it is time to go sailing, you just pull the right sheet and the sail unfurls.  Very easy.  At our new marina, however, all of the sailboats had their headsail sheets tied up at the bow.  

That didn't make any sense to us.  Coiling and attaching the sheets at the bow adds a time-consuming step both after and before sailing.  Instead of just pulling a rope, you need to uncoil the sheets and lead them back through multiple pullies ("blocks") to the cockpit.  Then after sailing, you need to pull them forward, untangle, coil, and secure them to the bow pulpit.  Why go through all the trouble?  

And so we did not do what every other sailboat at our new marina was doing.  We kept our sheets led to the cockpit, as we always had.  

Fast forward a few months, though, and it became clear why everyone was going through the trouble of securing their sheets to the bow.  Our sheets turned green.  And black.  And shades of brown.  There is apparently something about the air/environment here that is very different than the environment a few miles away in Miami Beach.  Something that makes ropes on the deck turn moldy quickly.  Just as everyone at Miami Beach learned to use extra heavy duty dock lines and chafe gear to adapt to the environment, everyone in Miami learned to tie their sheets to the bow pulpit.


We learned our lesson.  We no longer think twice about going through the hassle of hauling our sheets to and from the bow, and they fortunately returned to their previous color within a few weeks of making the change.

Our New Look
The bigger lesson?  Do what everybody else does--there is probably a good reason for it.

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