Hammock Camping For Beginners: 5 Essential Tips To Follow

Hammock camping is becoming more and more popular these days. Hammocks are a smaller, more lightweight option than tents, that’s why many hikers and backpackers are trying them out lately. They are also fun and comfortable to lounge in when you’re just out relaxing in nature. If you’re interested to try out camping in a hammock, follow these essential tips to make your experience comfortable and smooth-sailing.

Buy the right hammock for you

When buying a hammock, be sure to purchase one designed specifically for camping. The cheaper, more common ones are good only for backyard use and are not suitable for the outdoors. Even if you plan to use it only once, go for one that’s made of strong durable material instead of an inexpensive one for your safety.

The size is also an important matter – be sure to choose a hammock with a higher weight rating than your actual weight. Go for one that is at least 2 feet longer in length than your actual height. Some campers choose a double hammock for more room even if they’re camping alone.

Consider the weight

Like any camping gear, hammocks come in a variety of sizes and weights. The size and weight won’t matter if you’re not going hiking or backpacking. But if you are, there are light and ultra-portable options to choose from. Purchase one that don’t come with too many accessories and hardware and can easily be stuffed in a small case for easy traveling.

Opt for wide tree straps

Use only wide tree straps to help protect trees from damage. Some hammock models come with webbing straps that are about 1 inch wide or you can purchase the straps separately. Using this type of strap will help preserve trees as opposed to cords that can cut into the bark.

Include a bug net

A bug net is a hammock camping essential, especially if your trip falls during summer or spring season where bugs and insects are aplenty in the woods. If your hammock doesn’t come with a built-in bug net, you can buy one separately, making sure that it’s big enough to wrap around your entire hammock.

Don’t forget the rainfly

Yet another must-have for hammock camping is a rainfly, which will protect you from the elements. Some models come with a built-in rainfly, but you can also buy it separately or opt to use a tarp. To make sure you’re protected from rain, wind and snow, the rainfly/tarp should extend past your head and toes when tied on top of the hammock.

Follow these essential tips for hammock camping to have a fun and memorable experience!

Practical Navigation Tips for Bareboaters Pt. 3

Plan to Arrive Early

If you slow down and are not going to arrive early enough,

it’s time to start the engine. Don’t wait until it’s too late to

make up for lost progress. Your priority should be to

approach an anchorage safely in daylight rather than sailing

into the late afternoon or evening hours with the last breath

of wind. This is especially important when anchoring in an

unfamiliar area or having to secure a mooring buoy where

only a few moorings are available. At the chart briefing learn

about locations where arriving early is important.

Maintain Situational (and Positional) Awareness

This means not only knowing what is going on at the

moment, but being aware of what is about to happen.

Is leeway or adverse current taking your boat toward a

hazardous area?

Is the bearing to another boat in the distance holding steady

indicating the likelihood of a collision course?

Is reduced speed going to cause you to arrive at your

destination too late to enter the anchorage safely?

Is there a squall rapidly approaching your position?

Is that entire fleet of racing sailboats heading your way?

Are there fish trap buoys in your path?Be aware of what’s

going on around you right now and what the situation is

going to be in the next 5 to 10 minutes or even more. Keep

your mind ahead of the boat in both time and space so no

adverse circumstances can sneak up on you and take you

by surprise. Remember the old adage: “An excellent sailor

is one who uses his expert judgment to avoid situations that

require him to use his expert skill”.

Never Trust Just One Source of Navigational


This is doubly important when dealing with information from

electronic devices, even very good ones like GPS. These

devices can be very easy to use but it’s also very easy to

occasionally punch a wrong button. Cross check

navigational data by observing if the information makes

sense and by using other sources of information such as

depth soundings, hand bearings and dead reckoning

whenever possible.

Hold Off Entering Tricky Areas During Squall Activity

Fog can be a problem in non-tropical areas and squalls

often reduce visibility in the tropics. Both conditions require

more careful navigation than at other times. Even though

squalls can reduce visibility to almost nothing, at least they

don’t last long. Adjust sail appropriately and put off passage

in any narrow or tricky channels while the squall is still

blowing. If you’re in the harbor, let the squall blow over

before getting underway. If underway, stand off in open

water rather than trying to navigate any narrow channels

during the squall. You normally don’t have to wait long

before it becomes warm and clear again.

Consider Buddy-Boating or Flotilla Chartering

Being part of a group can add to your enjoyment and you

can learn from other sailors. If you’re not part of a yacht club

or other privately organized group, there are still ways to get

mutual support and enjoy the company of other charterers.

Some sailing club/schools offer group flotillas that you can

join as individuals, couples or even whole boat loads of

cruisers. Many cruises organized by sailing schools offer

sailing instruction and even certification during the trip.

Flotilla members can get to know each other before the trip,

and group organizers go along to make the cruise as

enjoyable as possible.

Major charter companies like The Moorings and Sunsail

offer flotilla group chartering opportunities where you join

the flotilla with your own charter boat. The flotilla is led by captains from the charter company who stay with the fleet and take care of any problems that might arise.

Chartering is a great way to experience the best cruising

locations around the world. It’s a lot easier getting to these

locations by chartering rather than sailing all the way from

home. It’s also cheaper and safer. It’s the only way if you

don’t have many months of free time. Just follow good

practices seamanship and navigation and you and your

shipmates will have a great time and will want to go back

again and again.

Discover a Sailing Vacation in the Pacific Northwest: Find Best Sailing Charters

Do you have any experience in sailing? Why not charter a sailing yacht and explore the magnificent San Juan Islands next summer? That could be a wonderful adventure for you and your family!

There are many different ways of doing a sailing vacation. You can charter a yacht and sail it all by yourself or you can hire a skipper. If you don’t feel comfortable enough with your sailing skills, the skipper will take care of the day-to-day running of your yacht, leaving you free to do anything you like. The skipper will help you become accustomed with a new yacht or area, and he will give you sailing tips and answer any questions as you sail. Another option is to join a flotilla. Many flotilla itineraries include special events like shore parties and fun regattas, and give you the chance to mix with other sailors.

The sheltered waterways, bays and fjords that extend from south of Seattle through British Columbia and into spectacular Southeast Alaska, are some of the world’s most spectacular cruising grounds. Puget Sound connecting the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Pacific Northwest offers nearly 300 islands and some 2000 miles of shoreline. The San Juan Islands are the most popular charter area in the Puget Sound and also in the Pacific Northwest. This cluster of inhabited islands and barren rocks is located some 60 nautical miles north of Seattle. With more than 200 rocky islands and a dozen state parks left undisturbed, this is a good chartering area for beginners; the waters are reasonably protected even in storms off the Pacific.

The historic seaport town of Anacortes is a pleasant one and a half hour drive north of Seattle. Surrounded by water and dotted with several marinas, Anacortes has rightly earned its title as “Gateway to the San Juan Islands.” All the beauty and intrigue of the San Juan’s and Gulf Islands are within cruising destination of the town.The weather is generally mild all year long. The summers are mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from the low 70’s to the low 80’s (19-25 C).

Much of the cruising area of the Pacific Northwest is in the “rain shadow” of high mountains that block many of the weather systems that come in off the Pacific Ocean. The result is that rainfall can be as little as 20 inches annually in some areas. From May to October the winds are mostly moderate (6 – 18 knots). This varies by locality and time of day with the fresher breezes occurring in the afternoons in the more open areas and the lighter and more variable winds occurring among the islands.

Tips For Going Aloft

Tips for Going Up the Mast

Over the years, I’ve watched a number of individuals and couples cope with going up the mast-or “going aloft” in sailing parlance. The reasons vary: Retrieve a lost halyard, fix a wind vane or spreader light, install a radar reflector, or any one of a number of jobs that require working essentially in midair. While most did it safely, it was surprising how many didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation-literally.

The climber has to depend on the ability and alertness of the belayer, so the belayer must know what he or she is doing. Both parties must also understand that the climber may be in place for some time and will need to have the right tools to do whatever job needs doing up. And both the climber and the belayer need to understand the physics of pendulums: any movement on deck, whether from the wake of a passing boat or from someone walking around, can turn the mast into a jumbo metronome, which presents serious difficulties to the climber as he or she tries to get the job done.

Here are some tips about going up. My “gender labels” in this list assume a male/female team of two going through the exercise, with the male climbing and the female belaying. However, the items I discuss apply regardless of the gender of the participants.

  • Plan out the work before any feet leave the ground. Talk through what will be done aloft so that both parties know what’s planned.
  • If possible, pick a time when all is quiet. Go aloft in calm waters with little or no boat traffic in order to minimize boat movement. Unless there is an emergency, avoid climbing the mast in rough waters or windy conditions.
  • Assemble all tools needed for the job and attach them to something. Put lanyards on the tools that are going to be taken up and secure them to something else that’s going up-the bosun’s chair, a bucket, the climber’s belt loops. This will avoid 1) losing a tool to gravity and 2) losing the belayer to unconsciousness after being bonked on the head from a falling hunk of metal.
  • Prepare two halyards to be attached to the climber. Do not use halyard shackles-tie the halyards directly to the bosun’s chair and/or climbing harness. The belayer will need to attend to both of these halyards at all times during the exercise. Check both halyards to make sure there’s no wear and tear that could give way; if polyester line looks OK on the outside, it is OK on the inside. The two key spots to check are the length within a few feet of the shackle and the wire-to-rope splice.
  • Use a full climber’s harness in addition to a bosun’s chair. By “full,” I mean a harness system that covers both chest and seat areas. If the system is comfortable to “sit” in while aloft, you could forgo the bosun’s chair-but you would still need to use two halyards (for safety back up) and you would need to come up with an alternative to the chair’s tool pockets.
  • Agree on a communication system to use while the climber is aloft, and then use it. The ability to speak in full sentences may be diminished because of wind or other factors, so one-word communications should be used for different actions. Make sure both of you know what the system is going to be and what the various words mean-this is not a situation that has a lot of leeway for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Further, because it is important for the person communicating (whether the climber or the belayer) to know that the other person has heard and understood, it is an excellent idea to discipline yourselves to repeat any command you hear to indicate that you have heard, understood, and are taking the requested action.
  • Rig a canvas bucket on another halyard or messenger line that can be pulleyed up and down. This can be used to send up any tools or materials that the climber finds he needs once aloft, or to send down items if needed. Also, the bucket can be used to hold heavy tools so the climber doesn’t get encumbered by them.
  • Go slow. Whether using mast steps (I’m a big fan of these) or being hauled up by winch, be patient. The belayer needs to keep the slack out of both halyards, and the climber needs to make sure he doesn’t get ahead of her. Take your time and make sure that the climber is safe all the way up.
  • Once the climber is in position, tie off both halyards securely. The belayer should not depend on self-tailing winches to tie him off. Use cleats for both lines.
  • The belayer should minimize movement on deck as much as possible to avoid pendulum action up top. Also, she should move away from the mast once the climber is cleated off, just in case something that isn’t tied to him happens to fall. However, she should remain close by and “on watch” for the whole time he is aloft.
  • When it’s time for the climber to come down, belay him down slowly and in control. Avoid allowing the lines to be pulled down just by his weight. If he is climbing down on his own (as is the case if there are mast steps), the belayer must pay attention and match the speed of line release with his descent. Do not take the lines off the winches until he is on or within easy jumping distance of the deck.

Dealing with gravity on a boat when someone has to leave the deck and go vertical is really an exercise in common sense. After all, gravity isn’t just a good idea-it’s a law!