Thursday, November 19, 2015

Window Garden...

... or What Happens if You Ignore the Pantry for Long Enough

Actually, my daughter made me promise to leave this just as it was, after a summer trip, to see what would happen. In a few more weeks I'll have a nice winter crop of spring onions.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Black Diamond Torque Mixed Climbing Gloves--Disposable World Cup Stuff?

According to the Black Diamond web site:

Torque Gloves
A durable, slim-fitting glove with a super-sticky palm ideal for drytooling and mixed cragging, the Torque’s lightweight construction provides incredible sensitivity without palm rolling.

Built for high-end mixed climbing and drytooling, the Black Diamond Torque Glove features a super-sticky palm and low-profile construction for unmatched grip and dexterity. The softshell fabric protects your hands from the elements while remaining highly breathable, and the soft tricot lining adds just enough warmth for the WI5 hanger above the business.

  • Abrasion-resistant woven softshell
  • Slip-Stop palm for unparalleled grip
  • Laminated, brushed tricot lining
  • Articulated neoprene cuff with hook-and-loop closure and carabiner clip loop
  • Compression-molded EVA padding for impact protection

 I can agree with the sensitivity, fit, and sticky palm comments. They are a pleasure to slip in and out of leashes. But the durable adjective is provably misplaced.

After two 30-foot M6 climbs and one 30 lower, the rubber was gone from the right pinky and holidays were evident on the ring finger. Just one short lower.

I called Mountain Tools and they sand "but you've used them." Black Diamond said "they aren't for rappelling, just climbing." However, the company literature does not SAY they are too delicate for any of the realities of climbing.

The next day I went to the same places, climbed 3 times as much and lowered 3 times as much, wearing a pair of 10-for-$3.99 disposable work gloves ($0.39 each, or about 140 times cheaper) and had less wear. Pretty comfortable, too. Perhaps the Torques climbed a little better, but only a little. I may have to start keeping a stack of the discount gloves in my pack. I can loose a lot of them for 39 cents.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Jack Lines

To sailors, jack lines are safety lines running down either side of the deck. We clip to these with tether lines to prevent falling overboard. However, to the lubber--fact the broader meaning of the term--"jack" describes something of utility value, odd jobs, or regular. In old English it could refer to one of the peasantry, a common seaman, or anything common; jack stays, jack of all trades, regular jack, lazy jacks, jack s__t.... From Websters Dictionary:

jack line, noun.

1:  a small rope or line
2:  a rod or steel cable connecting a central pumping engine with each of two or more oil wells which it powers 
 I keep 2 of these utility (Websters definition 1) jack lines in the cockpit pockets at all times. They are about 30' x 3/8" with a wire gate climbing carabiner on the end, and serve many purposes, both routine and contingency.
    to reduce twist. Rig it just like a preventer, except that the the jack line attaches to the sheet with a rescue pulley or snatch block. Less deck clutter than leaving a twing rigged.
  • Preventer. Clipped to the sheet bail, led forward under the midships cleat, and back to a winch, it creates an adjustable preventer that is instantly released. Sometimes I do this simply to reduce bouncing of the boom in lumpy conditions.
  • Twing line. When broad reaching it is often advantageous to haul the spinnaker or genoa sheet down
  • Clearing overrides. Clip the sail clew, take to a spare winch, and releave the load from the sheet. I have also used spinnaker sheets for this. If you can't reach the clew, attach it to the sheet with either a prusik hitch (cheap) or ascender (faster).
  • Recovering fouled anchor. If the anchor is fouled on drift wood or trash, often getting it clear is as simple as hanging the anchor upside down. Raise the anchor as far as possible with the windlass, clip the roll bar and secure to a bow cleat, and slack the chain. the junk should slide off. 
  • Jury rigs. Not to long ago one of the sling hold the dingy parted while under spinnaker (had been lazy and had not triced up the dingy, a mistake I will not make again). To get the dingy out of the water fast I simply clipped the lifting eye on the dingy, pass the jackline through the eyes on the davits, and took the jackline to a winch. The dingy was up in less than a minute. I immediately triced it up!

Spinnaker sheets can also be used this way in many cases, having the advantage of being pre-rigged through a turning block to a winch. Of course, if the chute is up that's not much of an option. But there are applications:
  • MOB (man overboard) recovery. Throw the Lifesling to the swimmer and pull him near the boat. Clip the spinnaker sheet to the Lifesling, up to a snatch block on the boom bail (we keep rescue blocks in the cockpit pockets), and winch away.
  • Anchor recovery. Unlike the jack lines, these are long enough to reach the bottom and back to a winch. Lead the line over the roller, clip either the roll bar or the tripping eye and winch.
  • Overrides. Same as above.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hiding Cleats

In the process of renovating the docks at a local marina (Herrington Harbor North, Deale, MD), someone had the briliant idea of moving the cleats to the underside of the dock. Not all of the residents (none of those I spoke with) think this was a good idea.

While I'm sure this de-clutters the dock, it also makes them hard to reach and more difficult to use properly. I don't get it. Style over function.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rudder Strightening 101

When I asked Page 83 for some pointers on straightening a bend rudder shaft, he told me that "there are two kinds of PDQ owners; those that have bent a rudder, and those that will." If you are in the latter group, perhaps you will find these notes helpful.

As per the prior post, I smacked a submerged object (tree?) at 8 knots and jammed the rudder into the hull. No structural damage occurred, and I had read that pulling it straight in place was practical, so I gave it a go.

A few back-of-the envelope engineering calculations suggested that the 1 1/2" 316 sch 40 stainless pipe
shafts would bend at 1350 pounds applied low on the rudder. Since I've used a chain fall for basement break testing of ropes and splices for Practical Sailor, I felt comfortable with the forces involved. A load cell would tell me how much pressure I was applying.

Page 83 confirmed that pinching the trailing edge between boards would prevent crushing the edge, so I took his advise one step further and built a cradle of sorts; two 22" 2x6s, with one beveled to the foil angle, and bound together with some carriage bolts. This created a wedge-shaped slot that perfectly matched the ruder profile.

The pressure was still being released in this image. Do NOT pull on the rudder bottom with transferring the force to the center with a sturdy pinch board set-up. However, by using this system the forward pressure on the rudder bearing is reduced 50% below what would be required if the tackle were attached at the mid-point. The demands on the tackle and attachment points are also reduced.

Because the shaft does not go to the bottom (about 2/3 of the way down, I was told), I wanted to use the pinch boards as a sort of "cheater, lowering the leverage point while maintaining the peak pressure point on the rudder only about 1/2 way down. I cinched the top of the boards in tight with a cargo strap, and because of slight rounding and taper of the rudders, the lower 1/3 did not contact the rudder at all. The notches in the wood were artifacts of an earlier project (pulling engines) and may not be needed, though perhaps they helped. The slings used to attach the chain fall may look spindly (my wife though t they looked like shoe lace) are 5000-pounds rated sewn Spectra climbing slings, and they are looped over the lowest carriage bolt threaded end, preventing them from sliding off.

The front of the tackle was attached to 1/2" polyester double braid (you need something low-stretch) threaded through the gap between the aft edge of the tramp and the hull, looped around twice. This made for a nice low anchor point. Use bowlines so that you can untie the knots when finished.

The chain fall was a heavy 1930's beast rated at 1-ton working load. Because of the poor traction on gravel I could only pull it to 1000 pounds (foreseen), so I connected a spinnaker sheet to the chain with a sling and used a winch to save my back (the turning block is also anchored to a wrap-around sling of rope). This arrangement also makes it easy to slowly increase the pressure, while monitoring unbending progress and the applied force.

 Tackle with 1320 pounds pressure. Sheet winch doing the pulling.

At about 700 pounds the rudder came clear of the hull, and by 1320 pounds the trailing edge was about 1" clear. We released the pressure, and it sprung back to 1/2-inch, our target clearance.


One of those projects that goes exactly as planned. 1320 pounds vs 1350 calculated, about 1/2" spring-back (if you are bending it further, the spring back will be that same--once you start bending, you are past the elastic limit). Overkill in preparation, perhaps, but once the pulling started, everything went smoothly and quietly. I was once told by a rigger (the 100-ton crane and millwright type, not sailboats) that moves should always look easy; if there is straining or tugging involved, something is going to break or someone is going to get hurt. It's all about control.

Total cost of the project: Zero. The amount of stuff I have in the basement might-need pile is a little frightening.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DIY Hatch Covers

Let's see if you can guess how these were made. The only clue is that all materials come from Home Depot. About $2 each in materials.

Some days I like the sun waking me up, but some days not.  They should reduce the heat, and the chance of cracking a lens by dropping something is much less. Not a bad match for the non-skid, either.

If you have external handles, i is sometimes possible to simply slip the covers under the handles, with or without the buttons. The maker of these (PDQ 36 Grizabella) commented that if he had it to do over he would skip the slots and simply flex and slide them on when the handles are in the open position. Some hatches (those on my PDQ 32) are too low to slide the cover underneath and would require cutouts (perhaps big enough to allow turning the handles) and 4 buttons. I think I would add 2 buttons on the aft edge, just for some extra security, though he has had these for several years and a lot of miles.

I went really low-tech for UV protection on the 2 bow hatches, allowing access to the chain locker, sail locker, and mechanical areas. I simply painted them black. There is utterly no reason to have light in those compartments (unless your crew locks you in) and UV can only do harm. If I ever re-glaze those I'll just use FRP.

A caution about 3M Dual Lock. Although it is no more difficult to peal than ordinary Velcro, when used as a straight push/pull, it snaps into place and requires about 15 pounds per square inch to separate.  It's more like miniature strip of industrial snaps.

a. If you use the Dual Lock to stick the cover straight to the window, when you pull the cover off the glazing may come with the cover. I know because I tried that on a spare cover!

b. When you remove the buttons, do not just pull up, but rather use your finger tips to pry and lever the buttons off the cover. See "a" for the reason.


Two month check-up,11-19-2015: I was sailing in 20-30 knots today, and they hung tough. I stepped on them a few times, a little to one side as though I stumbled. Seemed OK. So I'm going to make 4 more of them, to finish the set, and a bunch of extra buttons. I can see those getting lost.

What You Do To Sail Home, After Striking a Submerged Log At 8 Knots

The darn thing was invisible, even as I looked in the water a fraction of a second after impact. Nothing.

The port rudder jammed up into the hull (no damage, but no steering), so I got to crawl and do this while drifting. Surprisingly easy, just a few minutes to clean out the locker and a few moments with an adjustable wrench.

How does she steer with one rudder? So long as the sails are balanced, even the autopilot does fine. Main alone, she rounds up.

Saturday we'll try straightening by brute force. I'll take notes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Euro Fender

As I began researching fender usage in difficult conditions for an up-coming article, I came across this unusual fender selection.

Hard to store, but it is keeping them off the bulkhead.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mooring Knots: Update

Remember this?

Two weeks of light winds and a few direction changes transformed it to this...


 And this. I couldn't help but notice that the 3-strand line has been slightly re-tied, though not much better. There appears to be a unilateral lack of knowledge and cooperation.


I've noticed a spurt of budget-focused posts lately. Having been a victim of corporate consolidation few months ago I get it. While I could make a list of ways to spread money thin and a list of ways it disappears in big chunks, I find one thing helps more than all the others.

Know what you want to do. Going to the movies, shopping, or out to dinner is what happens when conversation slides to Jungle Book:

 "What do you want to do?"
"I dun know. What do you want to do?"
"'What do you want to do', 'I dun know, what do you want to do.' Well let's do something!"

When I actually know what I want to to do, costs go way down. I'm too busy doing it to notice the advertisements or all that is for sale in the world around me.

  1. Write a book or an article.
  2. Paddle wetlands or whitewater.
  3. Climb ice or rock. Travel can make this expensive, but local is free.
  4. Bicycle.
  5. Read a good book. I love libraries.
  6. Sail somewhere.
  7. Fix something. Though the part may cost something, more often it is still cheaper than entertainment, and something is accomplished, which will allow for guilt-free reading of that good book a little later.
  8. Research something. This probably circles back to one of the above. Very engrossing.
  9. Learn a new skill.
  10. Get a group together and do the thing that one of those people is interested... but not the movies.
But as a general rule, when I'm doing something or working on something, I'm not spending. When finished, I either kick back or get on with the next thing. But the moment you find yourself saying "I'm bored," you might as well pull out the checkbook, because the lazy answers come with a price tag.