Saturday, May 1, 2021

New RTCM SOS Beacons

The USCG has approved a new SOS beacon standard that flashes red/orange, cyan, red/orange in the familiar SOS pattern. Learn to recognize it.


There is also an older standard where the flash is white-only.

 Although not as bright as a flare, IMO they are more recognizable than a hand-held flare. The USCG wanted to replace flares with something safer. They also last 6-8 hours, which is a huge improvemtn over 4 x 3 minutes.


After trying to buy flares last years, and being greeted with old stock (only 24 months left), I switched to an electronic beacon. Overtime it will be cheaper, and I believe it is better.

You still need a day signal. VHS and cell phones are still important. Offshore parachute flares are still conspicuous at long range.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Pending Beam Failure

About 4 years ago a section of deck was pealed to replace core damamge. The PO had lost control of the mast when lowering, ripping the hinge out of the deck and allowing water to get in the core. The problem is, the knucklehead that removed the deck made a transverse cut RIGHT in front of the mast, weakening the deck support for the mast. Stupid. He replace the skin, but he didn't scarf the joint well and it just sheared like scissors. Poor seam placement. I run into this on steel tank repair all the time.

The inside beam held the mast for 4 years, but today the web buckled. It is not cored. The flange (bottom is solid glass and is undammaged, but the web is only ~ about 12 ounces of glass cloth, which seems totally insufficient for the load. A porta-john is built stronger. 

Fortunatly, it is not cored, so I believe if I get the weight off it, reinforce the damaged area, and they reinforce the entire beam with a double wrap of 17 oz. biax and add some uni on the bottom it should be far stronger than new. 

I suspect the factory skimped. I've seen this in Corsairs before. It's why Ian left.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Spring is Coming

 It's supposed to pass 60F next week. I won't know how to dress. Time for some fast sailing.

It doesn't like like double digit speed, but it is. 

I don't have many pictures in the high teens--I guess I'm busy!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Drogue Chainplate Design

 Don Jordan, the father of the series drogues, suggested a chainplate of conservative dimensions, but did not detail the design. He wanted to keep it simple so that people would use them. Most commonly, these plates are installed horizontally, because that looks right. But what if the pull is not horizontal?

In my limited experience, and based on what I think is common sense, the strongest pulls are from a downwards angle. From basic engineering statics, the largest bending forces are near the transom end, and the largest shear loads on the bolts will be when the load is off-axis. That suggests either more or larger bolts near the transom, but more will better distribute the shear stress load to the laminate.

Hardly a detailed analysis, just thinking. In practice, it would be simpler just to build it oversize, though internal reinforcement of the laminate might be avoided by this sort of design.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Jawbone and Other Mysteries

 There we were, sailing across the Chesapeake in moderate winds when, something small and hard clattered into the cockpit from the masthead. For a moment were were terrified that i must be some critical pin, and that any moment the mast would go over the side. But upon closer inspection, it was a jawbone.

A brief Google search confirmed it was most probably from a raccoon.
But how did that get up there? I can only assume an owl was responsible, since I clean owl pellets off the deck now and them. Seems more likely than an osprey. 
But then what explains this chunk of asphalt, neatly lodged on my aft starboard aka? I doubt a bird carried it. Why would a racoon, and besides, there were no sings of attempted forced entry, which I would  expect if raccoons were about.

It's a puzzlement.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cold Weather Clothing

 I snicker when I see people with a a foul weather jacket and jeans. I snicker quietly when I see foul weather gear on a cold, dry day. Really, it's more like going skiing and a walk in the rain.


Whats wrong with this?

  • Waterproof socks. Gill makes thick ones that keep even wet deck shoes warm.
  • Fleece base layer pants. Or soccer training pants. Pockets and I can wear them to the boat.
  • Goretex snowboard pants. Lots of  pockets, good waist, ventilation zips.
  • Base layer fleece top
  • Thin mid-layer fleece  top. 
  • Goretex/Primaloft climbing parka (Climb High). Super warm. Too warm above freezing.
  • Powerstretch balaclava
  • Fleece hat
  • Ski goggles. I need sunglasses anyway, and these keep you face warm.
  • Gloves. Many winter choices. I like either Musto winter cloves with heat packs or the 2021 Gill Helmsman (the fit is improved).

Doesn't look "sailory?" It's warm, highly water repellent, breathable, warm, and MUCH easier to move in than standard foul weather gear with underlayers.

I went paddling later. For that, I wore a drysuit. That's really a safety thing. I've never tipped a kayak, other than whitewater, but 32F water will kill. And suck majorly. And the dry suit is very comfortable paddling, like sitting at home on a warm couch. (You can search this blog for drysuit stuff.)

I've got a lot of winter combinations, but they only include rain gear if it's, well, raining.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Sewn Splices

 Traditional splicing of rope eyes is the gold standard, but there are times when it is not practical:

  • The line is old and stiff.
  • It is a line, like climbing rope, that cannot be spliced by conventional methods because the cover is too tight.
  • The position of the splice must be precise.

 Enter the sewn splice. This is often seen on sails, and can be made strong for larger eyes by using more stitching. The strength is about the thread strength x number of passes, and add a 50% safety factor. Also protect from chafe with a webbing or other covering.

I've been using sewn splices for 30 years and I have not experienced a failure yet, though I do cover those that are exposed to chafe.

I made this video for Good Old Boat Magazine as a companion for an article on the topic some years ago.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunset Picture

 I'm not normally into sunset photos, but this one by a fellow F-boater (Farrier forum) caught my eye. The reflections look like fog floating on water. Very cool. Makes me miss summer. I avoid being on the water at sunset in the winter, because it is time to head home.

It's not the cold that prevents me from cruising in the winter, it's the short days. I'd rather go home. And in truth, you get a lot of solitude during the day, on the water, so few people sail in the winter. Just me and the scotters.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Wolf's Dictionary

Democracy. Fair election processes. "Our freedom is under siege." I don't think these words mean the same thing to all people, so how can we have a conversation?

Abraham Lincoln was confronted by this problem on a colossal scale. The rank and file on both sides believed to their very marrow that they were right and that their cause was just, even using the same words. Liberty and Freedom.

Abraham Lincoln - Wikipedia

"The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing something to define liberty; and thanks to them that, in what they have done, the wolf’s dictionary, has been repudiated."

This lack of a common dictionary tore the country apart. It seems we again diverging over what democracy and the Bill of Rights mean. I can accept nearly any political difference of opinion as a basic right. I've voted Republican and I have voted Democrat. But what I cannot abide is any disrespect for the Constitution and the IDEA of fair processes that it inspired. THAT is what makes us American. Respect for the process, whether we like the result or not. Only in a failed nation do people disrespect the process, and we are NOT a failed nation. I hope not.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Blue Book

 The Blue Book is where you find used car values, right? Well, not in 1906, when there weren't enough used cars to create a market or the demand for the Blue as we know it today.

In fact, since roadmaps didn't really exist, it was a travel guide.

It also provided some information regarding regulations. Remember, driver education and driving licenses did not exist yet.

And then finally, there is the general non-existence of good roads and uniform signage.  For example, this description of the northern Virginia suburbs is interesting:
  • The road described as leading to Manassas is almost certainly route 7, but it had not been given a number. 
  • Manassas is west of Alexandria. Both are good size cities now.
  • It seems not even one car made the trip from Washington DC to Richmond each year. Now, it would be one car every few tenths of a second.

I wish I could read through this with my grandfather (born 1898). He was learning to drive during this period, driving logging trucks without a license. The sections on Pennsylvania, where he lived often said things like "turn left at the large oak tree 2 miles past the church," in areas where we now drive the Pennsylvania Turnpike at over 70 MPH.