Saturday, May 28, 2016

For Sale -- Cruiseair Portable Air Conditioner

Beat the Heat

This Cruisair Portable Air Conditioner came with Shoal Survivor when we bought her, taming the heat in marinas all around the DELMARVA. This spring we took the plunge and invested about $5500 in hardware and labor installing Dometic built-in air conditioning, rendering our portable redundant. Yup, we stayed with Dometic because we think they build good stuff.

In good running condition (you can plug in and test). We live in Northern Virginia and keep our boat in Deale, MD, so delivery within this area is practical.

$275 Cash

  •  Dometic Cruisair Model CO-7000
  • 6,720 BTUs.
  • 115 volts AC, 6.9 amps. Runs on a standard extension cord.
  • Fits most deck hatches. 
  • Can remain in place underway in moderate weather if lashed down as shown.
  • Even operates when on land in the boat yard (sadly, our installed AC won't do that)! 

Cambridge, Oxford, Fishing, and the Joys of Working Part-Time

I visited Oxford once years ago for a log canoe race. It hasn't changed much, which is good. The guide book says the holding in Town Creek is poor, which I do not understand (I anchored in the wide spot across from Squeazers. I also suppose it could get crowded in season, but the cove to the east is huge for the shoal draft (lots of 4.5-6 feet).

Just a short walk over to the Strand.

I toddled over to Cambridge the next day. Some load testing, but nothing photogenic.

One the way back home the next day, a little fishing.

35 inches, 20 pounds, on a hand line with a plug. Like pulling in a tire.

A good break from, well, my break. Actually, a lot of time was spent trolling for ideas, measuring stuff, and taking detailed photos that are needed for articles but, frankly, are dull.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Last House on Hpland Island

If you've ever sailed down to Tangier or Smith Island, you've probably seen THIS HOUSE on the horizon.

It wasn't always that way:

However, it is gone now, below the waves.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Three Days of Pure Relaxation

For those or you that either didn't notice or have forgotten, I also have a page about kayaking on the Chesapeake; The Other Chesapeake, with a link on the right. Lots of special out of the way places, mostly not in the usual guides.

Day One. Deale to Warehouse Creek. Light winds, one 28-inch rockfish, good kayaking.

 Making 5 knots in 4.5 apparent.

Day Two. Paddling in the morning, a brisk sail to the Wye River, followed by hiking and paddleing in the afternoon.

Over 275 years old and going strong.

Day Three. Sailing home in light winds.

Hauling this in while still making 5-6 knots was a bear. But it's hard to kill speed with the chute up.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

So What Do You Do When Your Boat Drags It's Butt?

Glue on and extension, of course. You can claim shes now a 37-foot boat with a swim platform!

The amazing thing is that this is the Gemini Freestyle. They took the Legacy, removed the cabin, and it is STILL overweight. But they have lots of interest, suggesting there is a market full of sailors that that don't know boats and who will believe what they are told, if it looks good and it's cheap enough.

I used to actually like Geminis. Now I'm sad.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Better Secondary Anchor Rode?

For the primary rode the conventional answer is chain. Strong, cut-proof, fits a windlass, well proven. It requires a snubber to keep the load reasonable if you are in shallow water (not enough centenary), but other wise, pretty fool proof, and we can all use that.

But the requirements of a secondary rode are different:
  • Chafe protection counts, but since the boat will not swing if set in a V, the problems are far less. It is also not our sole source of security, should it fail.
  • I primarily use a secondary in very soft mud; low cutting hazard, but it must set deeply.
  • Light. Must often be set from dingy or kayak and I have carry it around the boat.
After 20 years of sailing cruising boats I had an "ah-ha" moment, something that should have been obvious a decade ago. But I guess it takes time for the bits and pieces to come together. I was brainstorming through and anchoring puzzle with another sailor when the right way to use Dyneema in an anchor rode came to me.

Anchor + 20' Dyneema + 10' chain + nylon to boat

The trick is to use a 20-foot Dyneema leader right on the anchor, followed by chain, followed by nylon to the boat. The advantages are:
  • Anchor sets deeper. The Dyneema is much thinner than chain, presents less setting resistance, and results in a stronger set with the same force. Limited Practical Sailor testing (February 2014) suggests going to wire or Dyneema increases holding about 25%.  Thus...
  • A smaller anchor may be feasible. I'm not suggesting tiny, just eliminating ridiculous up-sizing of storm anchors.
  • Better strength in wind shifts. A deeper anchor is more reliable.
  • Less weight on shank. Fortress states that excessive chain weight on the shank can press the shank down into the mud, impairing setting (I've experienced this and discussed it with the factory). A pivoting fluke-specific problem, but Fortress is probably the most common secondary on the Chesapeake, since it is great in soft mud.
  • Better catenary efficiency. The chain can't serve as catenary once it is underground, can it? Thus, from a catenary viewpoint, the first 10-20 feet are completely wasted in soft mud. Instead, the chain weight is place 20-30 feet from the anchor, where it can do some good. I save the weight of 20 feet of chain, which is a bunch when you are carrying the anchor in one hand and sloppy loops of chain in the other. Which brings us to...
  • No need to carry the chain at the same time as the anchor. This will save a lot of scratched decks and some backs. Carry the anchor, and then make a second trip for the chain.
  • Less weight to lift out of the locker. And instead of lifting with 2 hands and nothing for balance, you can lift with one and hold on with the other.
  • Better safety on-deck. Instead of having both hands full, one hand is free for balance.
  • Less weight when lowering. Just the anchor.
  • Less weight when raising. Just the anchor.
  • Less mud to clean up. Dyneema does not bring up mud.
  • No additional fittings. Splice eyes in both ends (Brummel for chafe), luggage tag it to the last link of chain and use the existing shackle on the anchor (seems like a chafe point other wise). The rode can be spliced to the rode as well, if desired.
The Caveates? I don’t think this is for everyone or for every situation. It makes sense if:

  • Secondary anchors deployed as a V, because there is no yawing. 
  • Anchor deployed by hand, because the chain is easier to handle. 
  • Soft bottoms with no large rocks (shells and small mobile rocks are OK).

It does not make sense if:

  • Single anchor 
  •  Deployed by windlass. Chain is better and the gypsy will not handle Dyneema. 
  • Anchor is too heavy to deploy by hand. 
  • Rocks or coral. All chain is best.
  • Strong tide. A Fortress needs the weight of chain to get it down if there is a strong tide. May be applicable by lengthening chain section.

What about cutting? When moored in a V the rode does not move side-to-side much, even less so when underground. It will drag forward, into oyster and rocks, as the anchor sets, but it will be  low-speed action and there will be no sawing action; I will keep an eye on this.Dyneema is also some tough stuff to cut; I've had to sharpen a lot of knives when splicing. Finally, a secondary rode is not all-or-nothing like the primary; if it cuts I am still anchored. If I were paranoid, I could go up a few sizes to something 2x as strong as the chain and still have a very light, flexible, thin rode. Overkill.

Threading webbing over the splice (the Dynema is inside) or even whole leader) would make it as cut resistant as steel cable. Because the webbing is thick, floats, and is not under load, even a sharp knife can't hurt it. If it rubs on a rock, it moves with the rock. I have tested this combination side-by-side with steel cable and found the cut resistance to be better in most scenarios. Even more important, when the webbing gets scruffy, it is $25/foot to replace, keeping underlying the Dyneema good as new.

How long does the leader need to be?
  • Setting improvement. Probably 5' would be enough. That would take the weight off the shank and give the anchor a good start. after that I can either go to chain or at least cover the Dyneema against cutting and to improve grip. For now I will leave it bare so that I can see where chafe and cutting occurs.
  • Long enough to reach from locker to dinghy.  For me that is about 15'.
  • Long enough to reach from the set anchor to a cleat to break it out. I really don't like chain grinding against the hull during recovery. That means 3(underground) + 4(freeboard) + 7 (water depth) + 2(cleating) + 4(allowance) =  20 feet. In fact, this is the thing that always limited my leader chain to 6-8 feet before; the chain need to end before the cleat, or start after the cleat, and 8-20 feet is the scrape-the=hull range.
Thus, I'm thinking it may be very practical to run a cover over the Dyneema, either full length starting from the anchor, or just the last 15 feet. The challenging part is covering the splice, since bury splices are traditionally left naked. A conventional double braid splice is all wrong for Dyneema (much weaker), and the Brummel only makes it more bulky. I could cover it with 9/16" tubular nylon webbing, which will make it is cut resistant as steel cable. Cast plastic covers are also use over industrial eyes.

Why not just a kellet in the same position as the chain? It might be easier to handle. I'm not sure of these reasons, but they are mine.
  •  I want catenary effect.  If the weight buries I loose that.
  • Chafe resistance at the mud/water interface where the motion is possible. the chain provides this.
  • I had the chain.
  • A weight would resist burying unless streamlined; I would need a big, strong, torpedo with eyes at both ends. I don't where you get that.
  • Dropping a kellet on deck is much worse than dropping chain.

I can carry the anchor to the locker and stow it without dragging the chain!

 In fact, setting a secondary anchor becomes an easy job for a kayak. Try that with a pile of chain.

I put this together from materials I had on the boat. Perhaps the Dyneem could be a little shorter and the chain a little longer. I may fit the Dyneema with chafe gear or god to a tougher products (New England Ropes WR2 has been very impressive in some tough chafe tests, nearly equivalent to wire rope). But for the moment I will test this flawed system and watch where chafe occurs. Before I declare victory I need a full season under my belt, but the initial trials were pure pleasure. This is now my standard set-up.

Much easier to work with and a better set. Nice.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Irony Splice

Joining chain to rope in a manner that allows it to feed smoothly has always been something of a challenge. Back in the day of weak chain and hemp rope, a 2-strand splice was developed to allow bulky rope to fit through a link. One strand was unlaid way back and the remaining strands go through the link in opposite directions, laying flat and sharing the load evenly. Even with the los in strength around the link, 4 strands were as strong as the 3 strands of the rope. One of the strands would be laid back in the empty groove and terminated in the manner of a long splice, and the other back tucked like a 3-strand eye splice.

Feeds through a windlass like silk

Then ropes got smaller and stronger, and a simple 3-strand back splice or crown splice became the standard. The smaller line was as strong as BBB chain. Then we introduced G43 and G70 high tensile chain. By the time we use a rope as strong as the chain, the splice was too big for the windlass gypsy, and so the irony is we wind ourselves returning to 19th century splicing technology.

It is a little more difficult to get the strains even, and the spice takes a few minutes longer, but you gonna love the way you windlass feeds. No more jams!


The name "irony splice was coined by Brian Toss, and this method is well described in his book, The Rigger's Apprentice.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Remember this Vega?

Sailed around the America's, via the Northwest Passage and Cape Horn, this Vega 27 lived an adventurous life. Now she can be found in the "broken dreams" are of the Herrington Harbor North boat yard, worn out and done.

Kinna sad. Simple boats, but a number of Vegas had traveled far.

Solo the Americas

PDQ 36 Rudder Frame

In case you wondered what is inside.

Not my boat.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Lot of Hidden Work

Installing air air conditioning is like a lot of projects; all the hard work is hidden, and if you do it right, it doesn't look like you did anything. I put in a good 20 hours worth on this, not counting head-scratching time. And I work fast.

This is gone, or rather will be once I sell it...

Replaced by this.

The short version is that the work is considerable, but it MUCH quieter, easier to use, 50% more BTUs, and 23% fewer amps. Best of all, it does not leak rain, freeze the person sitting under it, snag sheets, or block the helm view. It actually takes a little more space, just hidden in lockers.