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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler cruising on $14 per day is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!


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Date: 13 August 2018. Routine Maintenance and the Thimble.


It all started out innocently enough. One of my birds, specifically Bruce the night heron, roosted on the dinghy davit. He left me a mess to clean up as described in the Birds and my friend Dale the Welder article. That wasn't the bad part though. It was realizing I had failed to perform routine maintenance in the cockpit. I am thankful as this could have been a Very Big Problem. I missed a critical component related to safety aboard Seaweed.

I am fortunate to have discovered the
 problem before it endangered my home.


My friend Ken owns Sparrow, a 40'
Rhodes Bounty. Skipper loves him.


You see, like all good boaters having a way to halt the vessel in an emergency is important to me. Some boats chose to have twin anchors on the bow. That is one way to stop a boat. A friend had a better plan. Ken on Sparrow kept his stop anchor aft. That seemed like an idea worth copying.

This is Ken's boat Sparrow

A Stop Anchor serves an important role aboard a vessel. Should I have an engine failure being able to immediately hold the boat in place is vital. All I need do is drop the anchor overboard. The chain and rope will feed out automatically. The end of the rope is always secured to a cleat on the boat when I am underway. When the anchor catches and the rode is fully extended my boat will stop.

Years ago I had a situation where bad fuel caused Seaweed to quit. I was heading down current and toward the bank of a river. Because I had an anchor in the cockpit I was able to halt the boat before she slammed into the shore. That would have been particularly ugly as the tide was dropping.

I had a locker built into the port corner of Seaweed's cockpit for my Stop Anchor. It matches the locker on the starboard side. Now I have seating for two back there.

Skipper stands on the starboard cockpit locker.

Because I had the hose out to clean off the night heron deposits (see the Birds and my friend Dale the Welder article) I decided to hose out the entire cockpit. That meant emptying out the lockers back there.

That is when I discovered a Very Big Deal.
I had failed to perform routine maintenance.

The THIMBLE for my Stop Anchor was rusted plus
the chain is a mess. Both thimble and chain are now in
the garbage. I cut off the thimble using an X-acto knife
Ken had given me years and years ago. Thanks again Ken.

You see, I stashed the anchor into the locker and ignored it. Worse yet, I had the line in a basket and the chain separate in a container that captured water. The water rusted an already not-so-great piece of old chain.

Now this was Totally my fault. When I bought Seaweed she had 16' of plastic coated chain on the bow along with an 11 pound Danforth knock-off. To be fair the boat was not anchoring out for months on end so good ground tackle was not crucial.

That chain was iffy at best ten years ago. I was going to save a buck though. I wanted to get my money's worth out of it. Honestly, sometimes I wonder what on earth I was thinking. This anchor could be Critical for stopping my boat.

Instead of treating the chain and
rode between the anchor and the
boat properly I cheap'ed out.

I am relieved to have discovered the problem before my home was in danger. That is the good part. Routine maintenance would have caught this issue, had I only checked earlier.

Next I need to buy a new thimble then splice it into the line. I want to add some G4 chain too. This anchors' function is to stop the boat.  I will use a chain and rope rode. Rope allows for an elasticity.

*Elasticity: When you use all chain the motion is much sharper. The boat tends to jerk when it reaches the end of the chain. Rope stretches, therefore it is better at absorbing shocks. Three-strand rope has elasticity because it is stretchy. With a Stop Anchor the goal is to stop the boat. I do not want to put undue stress on my cleats, thus the rope will better serve me.

When I anchor with my all chain rode, I use a rope snubber to cushion the jerks.

Sometimes a gal just needs her coffee. Thimble
discovery day was soothed by a fresh cup of coffee.


So that is my tale of woe. At present I do not have a dedicated Stop Anchor. That will be resolved shortly. This time I will pick a thimble that will not rust. It would be great to come across a bit of stainless chain too. That stuff is priced like gold but a gal can always look.

You never know what you'll find at a flea market or thrift store.

A night heron waits for me to return
from one of my shopping expeditions:

That's it from Seaweed for now. Thanks for reading, and happy boating.


Addendum: Although some boaters have said my thimble and chain would have been prime for repair, let me explain why I did not chip off the rust, spray and attempt to re-use what I had.

Chain: The chain is plastic coated. I have a basic distrust of what I cannot see. When inspected at least four links were damaged beyond what I considered safe. To remove those links from a 16' chain I felt to be an exercise in foolish frugality.

Thimble: Even chipping away at the rust would not have helped. When the line was off I could bend that metal. The photo does not clearly show the level of damage.

My mistake was not
 inspecting regularly
the Stop Anchor system
aboard Seaweed.

Because of damage seen on the links and the thimble I chose to err on the side of safety. The thimble will be replaced ASAP with a stainless one. The chain may take a bit longer as I would prefer to replace with a short length of stainless chain. Three feet or so would be sufficient though zero is required. I can go from anchor to shackle to thimble/rope.

What will take longest is getting the splice right. I am out of practice.

Regarding Visible Damage: When I bought Seaweed one of the first items I did was replace very hose and belt on the engine. I knew one hose was bad. What was not seen was worse. Two more hoses were damaged to the point of imminent failure. The ones that were okay and became a part of my spare parts inventory.


Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Routine Maintenance and the Thimble page.

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, Gear, Pets, Wild Things,


Announcement: Folks who want to be notified when I post are welcome to become subscribers. I email readers every time a new article goes up. That's usually once or twice per week. If you'd like to be included via BCC* simply drop me a line to janice@janice142.com and I'll add you. It's free.

*BCC - Blind Carbon Copy. Basically no one but me will have your email address and the list of subscribers is not available.

Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

Something a new visitor might not realize: Every picture on this website can be clicked. The photo will get larger when clicked. Do that a second time and the picture should be full size. Enjoy...

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Thanks for your support, and heck, just for being here. I appreciate that more than you can imagine.


Pets of the Week: Erin and Lessa
on S/V Sparrow

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at five pounds.

Coming soon ...


Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

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The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

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