Red Ranger is not quiet. Don't be fooled. While some aspects of sailing are "peaceful", it only appears quiet from a distance. A sailboat, gliding along under a press of canvas, even from very close, makes almost no discernible sound.
But when you're on board, it's quite different.
A boat an anchor seems the definition of peace and quiet. Let me clear that up, also. A boat an anchor has as many noises as a boat under sail. They're just lower volume.
To add to the cacophony, the Caribbean islands are not quiet. The rural islands are peaceful in many respects, but they're not quiet.
Nassau, as an extreme case, was as noisy as living in Norfolk, Virginia. Sirens, boats, cars, jets, small plans and signal horns from the cruise ships are all part of the background noise, here.
Places like Staniel Cay or Little Farmers Cay are rather noisy. Folks keep chickens and roosters and roosters crow. A lot. Someone here has a goat who bleats a bit. A nearby boat has a dog that barks. Birds make a fair amount of noise, also. There aren't any of the North American sea gulls here, but there are songbirds on the island.
Red Ranger at anchor has a large number of noises, all of which are familiar to us, and something we count on as part of assessing her health.
At the very front, the anchor rode makes a number of noises, depending on the state of the bottom. On a sandy or mud bottom, there's a gentle groaning from the chain easing over the roller and flexing the bowsprit. On a foul bottom, the chain can clank and bang as it shifts around and snags on things.
The standing rigging makes a variety of noises from low moans to high-pitched shrieks, depending on wind speed. We've learned to identify the 15 knot singing and the 20 knot whistling. Above thirty knots is something we've only heard once or twice.
The running rigging is generally pretty quiet. Sometimes, there's a horrifying halyard slap from the spinnaker pole topping lift. This is difficult to tame, and depends on wind speed. Also, some of the furling line blocks "chatter" when the wind is just right and the furling line isn't as tight as it could be. One on the port side, amidships is particularly chatty at times.
Some of the cabinetry rattles. Doors and shelf-fiddles can make their own little rattles when the sea is lumpy in an anchorage.
Of course, the water slaps on the bow and gurgles past the stern. This can be gently lapping or a pretty heavy splashing when the weather kicks up.
Once we heard the rudder pounding. That was an alarmingly large noise. The Commodore spent a good deal of time strolling around on deck trying to discern the source of that noise. Eventually, she deduced it wasn't on deck in the first place. All that's left below deck is the keel hitting the bottom (not possible in 15 feet of water) and the rudder. She centered up the wheel and the noise stopped.
The dinghy may make noise depending on the wind and current. If there's a breeze, then Scout usually stays at the end of her painter. But when the breeze dies, she can wander anywhere and may bump the hull. If the swim ladder is down, and she bumps that, it makes a disconcerting clatter. So we try to bring the ladder up so that we can sleep at night.
At the dock, the noises are slightly different. The anchor noises are replaced with dock line creaking and fender squeaking. If there's a current and a breeze, there's a rhythmic squeak-bump of dock line and fender that's almost sounds like the upstairs neighbors having noise sex. For hours. Or days.
At anchor, we don't expect to hear too many of Red Ranger's systems running. We don't want to hear the bilge pump run. But the water pump is something that we expect to run every time a tap is opened. And, when the filter is getting clogged, we sometimes hear it run of it's own accord long after the tap was opened.
In heavy weather, the hull can flex, leading to some creaking and groaning from the interior cabinetry. This only seems to happen in towering seas and high winds.
When sleeping, these are sounds we who live on Red Ranger take for granted. Visitors and guests may not expect the level of noise that's part of a sailboat. We try to keep the noises to a minimum because it leads to poor quality sleep. But folks do ask "what's that noise?" and we often stare at them blankly; the noise isn't unusual to us.
We have an anchor watch alarm iPhone app. When we have cellular coverage, this application can sound an alarm when we've dragged away from our original set position. This, of course, leads to a full-block panic, starting the engine and resetting the anchor. Fortunately, we've never heard it in the normal course of events. The one time our anchor did drag (during Hurricane Sandy) it was daylight and we were watching our marks on shore. Something didn't look right. I checked the anchor alarm application, and the little diagram it draws showed that we were making steady but slow progress away from the wind. We hadn't gotten to the alarm range, yet, but we were clearly dragging.
Sailing can be rather noisy, and motor sailing is the noisiest of all. The sluice of water past Red Ranger when sailing is the most delightful of her many sounds. In bigger seas (over four feet) she does tend to leap off the wave tops and crash down with a big splash. This doesn't involve too much extra noise unless the bowsprit slaps into the water.
Some of the working sheets can creak as the blocks are stressed. The big yankee in fifteen knots of wind, for example, puts a big strain on the aft turning block, leading to the occasional creak or groan.
When we steer improperly, and the headsails start to luff, that's a giant racket of flogging sheets and sails. When we tack, of course, there's the racket of luffing sails, the clack of ratchets as the sails are sheeted in on the new tack. Plus calls like "Ready About", "Helm's a-lee" and "not yet, let her finish the turn."
For longer passages, in settled conditions, or motor sailing, we might have the autopilot ("Mr. Benmar") steering. The hydraulic pump makes a groaning sound that tells us that all is well and Mr. Benmar has the helm.
When motor-sailing, the thundering Mr. Lehman makes a din that you can't really talk over when you're below decks. It's a loud sound, and it's fatiguing in it's own way. Once you get used to it, however, you begin to discern slight changes as the workload on the propellor changes.
Sailing is is a peaceful and pleasant way to travel. It's quiet in one sense: a sail boat can be fit nicely into the watery environment. But that environment includes a number of noises. When we know the source of the noise, we find comfort. When we don't know the origin, we know that we need to find the cause and possibly take action to repair it.
For guests and visitors, we try to demonstrate most of the common noises so they can share the comfort that comes from knowing that things are working as they're designed to work.