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Date: 29 November 2014. The Helm.


Folks have asked what my helm looks like. It is like Seaweed: not fancy, but it works. Mine is an older trawler. She was built in 1983. The cost of a modern electronics suite could easily eclipse the price of the boat. Thus my controls are simple. They are also easy to understand, even for a neophyte.

Under the faded green octopus cover is my compass. That was made by my friend Ann on the schooner Steelaway. I love the homey touches, and Ann knit this using a variegated yard. It's quite beautiful and reminds me of friendship afloat.


Tea-Time aboard Schooner Steelaway

Ann was the innovator of a favorite activity in an anchorage over on the east coast. She initiated Tea-Times. Ann was hostess of gatherings on Tuesday afternoon. The ladies in the anchorage would arrive at her boat for tea. We'd bring our own cups and perhaps a treat. Ann supplied endless hot water.

We all enjoyed chatting and many boat cards were exchanged. [For more information on boat cards see the Intriguing Possibilities (boat cards) article.] No men were allowed. It was really quite wonderful.

Here is my one of my boat cards:

I tried a variety of specialty teas and passed along some of mine too. If I am ever in a place with gals (this boating is a predominantly male endeavor) I'll try the Tea-Time ritual too.

It was fun and I would like to replicate something similar one day.


That is what boating is about: sharing our experiences. The men tend to talk engines, wiring and the newest electronic gizmo needed. Women do too, along with balancing family relationships, and great spots to visit next along the waterways.

Women don not seem to discuss boat brands as often as men. I am not certain why that is... not that it matters anyway!

But I digress...

Same picture, placed again so you wont have to scroll.

Usually to the left of the compass would be my net-book (Toshiba NB305, uses just 15 watts) with OpenCPN. There is plenty of room for the full size chart as you can see. And, finally, the picture above is called Throttle Cues because:

  1. See the red on the throttle knob? That means that I'm to keep the red markers to port. It's a visual clue and helps me. I especially find it useful when traversing inlets where those markers swap sides (Red-Right-Returning) 

    I'm sure there are mariners who don't need these cues. I do, and when helping neophytes get the hang of boating...

  2. The blue Turk's head is on the wheel meaning to open the thru-hull for water before starting the engine. I keep thru-hulls closed as a matter of course. Because mine is easy to access when getting ready to start then engine this is not a big deal.

    Eventually I'll paint that one green so I have a green and red pair. That will be more ship-like, but for now this serves the purpose. It's not perfect, but is good enough.

  3. Also on the wheel is a wire tie that shows me when the rudder is dead center. When in the boatyard that was added. There are specialty gizmos that will show you the angle of your rudder. Spend the money for one if you like -- or, make do with something simple.

    I did see a boat with a Turk's Head knot tied to one of the spokes of the wheel. It looks much nicer than mine and is spiffy. That is a "one of these days" projects.

In the lower right is an old cleat with a bungee cord. The theory was that I could tie off the wheel and Seaweed would steer a straight course. Basically, an autopilot for the low-cost cruiser. The unfortunate thing is my bottom is curvaceous and Seaweed will not track.

The bungee allows for turning the wheel when a crab pot appears. I am still working at that tracking thing. Towing the dink at the far corner (versus dead aft) helps, but not enough.

For details on what I did wrong pre-purchase regarding this issue the
Tyranny of the Tiller (pre-purchase advice) article is enlightening.


Actually, an autopilot would be ideal. Nope - not one of the starship Enterprise (er, Star Trek Voyager) variety, but a simple one that will steer a compass course. That is how I do most of my navigating anyway... I would like one someday. That is probably the next major post-engine swap investment in my home.

Or two more solar panels and four batteries. She's a boat. There are always projects and wishes to be considered. Someday... well, Seaweed is improving each year and that is all one can ask.

There is nothing fancy about Seaweed, but she works.

Is your boat set up with the latest electronics?
And, what's on your "Wish List" for the helm?

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2014, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Characters, DVDs and CDs, Gear, Pets (in comments), Simplify

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