2018-02-22–Beware Of The Weakest Link

We generally stay clear of religious questions on this blog and this post is the closest we will ever come. Anchors are one of the most hotly debated issues in boating.  Let me state first, I am only saying what WE do on Magnolia. I am not telling you what to do, only that this is what WE do…..First of all on Magnolia the sailboat we used a Rocna 33kg (55lbs) and loved it. It set quickly and ALWAYS stopped us from floating away. We did loose the anchor and all the chain once (http://a2baker.com/magnoliablog/?p=5679), but that’s another story. When we purchased Magnolia the trawler she came equipped with a 75lb CQR. We missed our Rocna though and at the last minute before leaving Stuart we dropped another “boat unit” for a Vulcan anchor. The Vulcan is made by Rocna specifically designed for the bow a of a power boat. When I purchased the Rocna I always regretted not getting the upsized 35kg (73lbs) model. Magnolia-M is equipped with a hydraulic windlass and as my friend Ron on Mandala says: “I want the bow of this boat to be underwater before that windlass quits.” Thankfully we have that windlass, and enough boat to handle the Vulcan 40 (88lbs). I confess, I considered a 50kg (121lbs) but even I thought that might be getting carried away! In the end we went for the biggest, best anchor we could carry.


I purchased the anchor at West Marine and wanted to pick up some fresh shackles to install with our fresh anchor. I picked up the only ones West Marine had and off I went. After returning aboard and doing a little research I realized I essentially purchased junk and here is why. Magnolia-M is equipped with 3/8 inch G40 chain. This chain has a safe working load of 5400 lbs. To attach the anchor I use a shackle one size larger than the chain, 7/16 in this case and then a 1/2 to connect to the anchor.


Sadly I discovered the West Marine 7/16 anchor chain shackle only had a safe working load of 3000lbs. Nearly 45% lower than the chain!!! That’s just nuts. It was not long before I got hooked into Crosby shackles which I learned is a highly regarded manufacturer. The Crosby 7/16 shackle has a safe working load of 5880 lbs which is more than the chain. That is what I consider success.


I almost missed this safer shackle which is why I wanted to share this brief update, hoping that you don’t either!!!

2018-02-19 Catch Up Mode…AGAIN!

Our ships photographer, Michele Watson took this photo during their most recent visit .

Departing Bradenton FL we crossed Tampa Bay and made a short passage to St Petersburg.


St Petersburg skyline framed by Magnolia bow pulpit.


We anchored in Vinoy Basin which is a wonderful mooring field as long as the wind is NOT from the east….from the east, well its like anchoring inside a Maytag during the agitation cycle!


Out friend Ty & Suzanne came down from The Villages. They are the ones responsible for taking us for out first boat ride. The full story is detailed here: http://a2baker.com/magnoliablog/?p=2295 They have always been there to offer help and they even provided refuge during hurricane Irma. Thank you again and always Ty & Suzanne!


A wonderful shot of Magnolia taken by a fellow boater.


Our friend John and his brother Marty use to keep their sailboat Escapade in the slip next to Magnolia-M in Galesville, MD. Since our departure both brothers have relocated to FL along with Escapade. It was a great night hanging with John and there family friend Pat on exile from her iced over home in Illinois!


You may not see them, but those were the best BLTs I have eaten anywhere anytime. Fabulous! (Tiki St Pete Beach)


We have been members of the Seven Sea Cruising Association for a number of years, but have not been able to attend a GAM in a couple. Lucky for us  there was one scheduled in St Pete.


We always appreciate a little weather lesson from our weather guru Chris Parker. He was recently promoted to Chief Forecaster!


We planned an easy several day passage to CayoCosta State Park to celebrate Valentines Day.


Departing St Pete and heading down Tampa Bay we approach the beautiful Sunset Skyway Bridge. We always take a moment though to consider the terrible tragedy that occurred here in 1980! (http://www.fox13news.com/wtvt-archive/1980-sunshine-skyway-bridge-tragedy)


And now to out nuisance hour…that is the Tom Adams bridge…that is down…as in broken down…as in for several days.  Lucky for us our mast now folds down with just a little bit of effort. We dropped the hook, lowered the mast and were able to safely past underneath the next morning.


The Admiral stated she wanted 2 NON-workdays at the beach which being a wise Captain I ensured she received!




Our friends on Amici arrived the night before we departed so were able to get in a brief visit and celebratory happy hour.


Our next stop was to Sanibel Island. We had never been there before and our friends from Acadia so that was more than enough reason for a stop by.


Our friends Tim & Diane rolled out the welcome mat and even shared Dianes Birthday celebration. A swell time had by all!



Next stop Cape Coral for some dress shopping….yup, dress shopping!


2018-02-01–Visiting on the West Coast

After our visit to the west coast of Florida last year we very much looked forward to returning. Our transit across the state Florida via the Okeechobee went as expected and then we headed north towards our first port visit to Punta Gorda.


Magnolia at Lashley Park Marina. This was out first visit to this marina and found it to be a real treat…the fact there is a homemade ice cream store at the end of the dock did little to influence our opinion!


Our primary reason for coming up Charlotte Harbor was to see our friends Will & Barbara. Will was one our original instructors when we were just learning to sail with the Pentagon Sailing Club. We had a wonderful time catching up and spending time together. We also want to thank Will & Barbara for being extraordinary port hosts. They made endless effort to ensure we got our errands run and to ensure we had all we needed. Thank you so very much!


Will & Barbara are members of the Punta Gorda Boat Club. We have perfect timing because just like last year our visit coincided with the clubs monthly happy hour. Once again Will & Barbara invited us to attend and once again we had a terrific time. It was fun evening!


Another missed picture opportunity was Beth & Ripp on Lab Partners! Silly me missed it in the first edit. They were in the middle of selling their boat as we arrived so visits were fleeting. We look forward to seeing their new vessel when we arrived in NC. We spent and entire week in Punta Gorda but our time flew by so fast! As soon as we made our way down the harbor towards the ocean we came upon a plenty of dolphins. We often see dolphins but seldom are we able to catch one with a camera!


It is neat to me how things are different in different parts of the country. For instance we have bridges in the mid-Atlantic. I can think of only one ferry in the entire mid-Atlantic region. Along the coast barrier island in many regions communities really depend on the ferry service often on a daily basis.


Our first days transit heading towards Bradenton.


Second day into Bradenton..Tim Watson, not the light traffic on the second day!


Speaking of light traffic…NOT…as soon as we walked into town we walked into the evening rush hour…this certainly is not D.C. level traffic but when I see this I immediately feel empathy towards those that still do this. Our lesson to all, get out, do something you enjoy, the rat race will survive just fine with out you…..I hate seeing this…


We we knew and were looking forward to a VERY busy time in Bradenton but before guests arrived, a little Taco date-night just the two of us!


Before the guests started arriving the Admiral went to town paying particular homage to the “Reverend Of Sole.”


Out first visitors were my cousin Ben and his lovely wife Jessie. They recently relocated to the west coast of Florida so it was a particularly special visit for us. It was their first visit to a “Magnolia” so it was extra fun showing them around and giving them a little glimpse into a life that is a little different.


Ok, I am cheating on this one but my friend and work colleague Ahne came to visit again this year. Her parents, she and the boys were all vacationing in FL again this year during our visit. Her parents are avid Lake Superior sailors and were excited to see the new Magnolia. We had a terrific visit and god bless those boys for their patience. We got so busy gabbing that I completely missed a picture…had to break one out from last year…we have to do better next year Ahne…those boys will be even bigger next!

Our friends Al & Michele came down for a visit. Al’s mother lives in the area so its great we can steal a little of their time to hang out. The last visit coincided with christening and he name changing of Magnolia in Stuart. This was the first time they had seen her since we finished in the yards and our first overnight guests!


The following day we had a visit from Lee & Char from NJ. The live next our friends Jack & Kathy so they have heard us boat babble for years so it was a real treat to show them our home. Lee is one of our biggest followers so it was a blast of an evening!


Having Al & Michele aboard added to the whole cruising experience!


As with MANY great Magnolia moments, they are toasted with Ice Cream, sometimes other stuff, but always ice cream. Thank you Char and Lee for sharing your vacation with us!


Cruising hotties on the beach!


Once again I dropped the ball and missed getting a picture with Pat & Becky. We last saw Pat & Becky aboard Taurus last year in the Florida Keys. They were passing nearby and made time to come by for a visit. It was wonderful to see them again and when we get near Louisville again we will be stopping by!!! You are missed out here….know that.

Now one other couple that we did not meet up with was fellow Pentagon Sailing Clubers Bob & Corey. I have it on good information we will all be at the SSCA GAM next week so counting on seeing them then. In the meantime as we approach St Petersburg, Magnolia flys her “A2” burgee proudly


We really do want to thank all of you who take time out of your busy days to come and visit. What we do is a little different and maybe a little weird but we do like to share what we do. Thank you all, be safe A**2