Thursday, January 2, 2020

Lightweight Tools

Performance boat sailors will do crazy things to save an ounce. I was just packing a small tool bag to leave on my F-24 and was a little appalled by the weight. In fact, over the years I've noticed my tool bags keep getting smaller because I hate lifting heavy bags (and because it's easier to find stuff and to take only what I'll need). I carry more bags, but they are lighter.

The dingy and round-the-harbor race guys probably just leave the tools at home. But what of the ocean racing guys that build with carbon-everything but have to actually fix stuff?

In no particular order....

Carbon Wrenches. Carbonlite tools makes a set of 5 wrenches (10-15mm) that weight just 6.7 ounces. Your wallet will also be $140 lighter. I'm also guessing I can't add a cheater or hit it with a hammer.

Aluminum Wrenches. There are a number of manufacturers making Aluminum 6061 T6 wrenches. Of course, the yield strength is only about 1/2 of that of a good tool steel (35ksi vs 80ksi). Specifically, they are used to not scratch pretty anodized hydraulic fittings on custom cars. On the other hand, Rigid started using aluminum handles on pipe wrenches for industry decades ago, and they were a godsend.

You can replace a bunch of wrenches with an adjustable wrench. Of course, they don't fit as many places and they are really good at ruining nuts. Same with vice grips, although they have other merits.

Multi-Tools. I have one, but it's not a tool kit.
I think I would rather save weight by taking fewer high quality tools.

A lightweight tool box helps. I use a travel toiletries bag for my lightweight kit. Organized, contained, and very light.

Of course, there is the matter of cleaning out lockers and discarding old might-need parts that no longer fit anything you own. But that's a spring topic.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Very Shallow Bilges

Keel boat sailors think in terms of feet when measuring the depth of the bilge.  Multihull sailors think in terms of inches. In the case of my F-24 MK I, more like 1.4 inches in the center groove, 0.7 inches outside the groove, and zero less than a foot to either side.

Typical bilge pump float switch turn on at 2 inches and off at 3/4-inch. That will leave water on the cabin sole, where I would like to have a carpet. In fact, I got a wet carpet. The common bilge pumps are intended to operate in that range.

I'm still loking for a solution I like, but for the moment, I've settled on a tiny pump and a timer, with a float for back-up if the timed pumping is not enough.

The tiny 1-amp pump runs on a timer, for just 1-minute each day. That is more than enough for the minor leaks we have not been able to resolve. Discharge is through the sink drain. The float switch in the background turns it on if the timed runs are not enough. I'm not really worried about sinking, because the trimaran can easily hang from her floats and there isn't really anything other than fiberglass below the probable flooding line.

An Aird Bilge System would be sweet, but $900 seem like overkill.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Check Your Furlers

Winter seems to be the season for shredded head sails.

  • Taking the sail down and storing either in the cabin, or better, at home is the best answer if you won't be sailing until spring.
  • You can barber pole the sail with a spare halyard... but this guy did that and it wasn't enough.
 The root cause was a failed UV cover, but poor furling contributed.

  • Furl tightly and wrap the sheet a few times.
  • Check the condition of the UV cover. If it starts to fail it will balloon and pull the sail open.
The difference between a winter gale and a summer squall is that the gale will blow for many hours or even days, while the strong part of the squall is over in 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Wide Pulpits

Working at the pointing end of monos and tris can be a real challenge.The deck pinches down to nothing, making reaching the anchor, attaching snubbers, or dealing with the furler really unpleasant. A simple solution is to bump the stanchions out a little.

But the World Sailing Off-Shore Rule says we can't do that:

Of course, Ian Farrier, designer of the F-22 didn't really care about that, since his boats are raced inshore and lack many of the railings the rule requires. Many trimarans do, since side rails are in the way and reasonably useless on trimarans (there is no reason to be far out on the tramp).

I can see that they would be easy to step through. If this were a larger boat and I were taking it off shore I'd run a strong Dyneema line across the bottom and fill in the space with 1-inch netting.

Compare that to the more conventional F-24 pulpit. Notice that I added short lifelines coming back at the aft corners because sometimes it felt a little exposed. They also reduce sail and sheet hang-ups. Fill the space with netting? I don't think so. There are times when tying up or anchoring when reaching through the pulpit is necessary.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Slow Leak

What do you do when the boat develops a 1-2 gallon per day leak, where you can't get to it, and it isn't time to haul for a year? The F-24 is a trimaran and cannot sink due to main hull flooding. Add that there is nothing other than fiberglass below the probably flooding limit (no wood and no wiring to speak of). Most people would just let the sump pump handle it. Except there is not sump pump.

As an added complication, the sump is only 3/4-inch deep before it reaches the level of the floor. On the other hand, the floor is a bath tub-like hull liner that unless holed, can easily manage 6 inches of flooding.

First, you plug any holes you can reach with underwater cure epoxy. No kidding, the stuff really does work, and I'll be doing a review for practical sailor soon.

Then you add a sump pump. I went with something smaller than the standard Rule pumps, because I wanted to such lower and because rate was not that important to me. This one will remove about 2 gpm through a 1/2-inch ID hose, which is what I had in mind. I mounted it to an aluminum bridge, which I bonded to the hull with ... underwater epoxy.

I played with micro switches that would activate the pump at lower water levels than the standard 2-inch on, 3/4-inch off settings, but found them unreliable. So I went with a rule switch which I mounted with ... underwater epoxy.

I then added a sub-panel. I had some other lighting circuits that needed straightened out too.  A piece of Coosa Board, a terminal block, and a bunch of crimps did the job. The water hose was relocated later. The hose ties into the sink drain with a through-tee, so no added through hulls. This also gave me a chance to clean up the hose runs so that there are no low spots that can freeze; all of the water drains either to the sump or overboard.

The timer is the neat twist. I wanted the pump to have a chance to keep up with small leaks, before the water reached 2 inches, so I set the timer to trigger the pump for 1 minute every 24 hours, but I can adjust that if the level rises.

 And so far (4 weeks) this seems to be working nicely. I did jump last time I was sailing and the sump pump came on. Surely, I have a leak! But it was simply the scheduled 1-minute run time.


The epoxy is JB Waterweld. I have not tested other products yet, but this sets quick, actually stops flowing leaks, and seems reasonably strong. I'm keeping some in my boat kit. The trick is to wet your fingers so that it does not stick to you. Yet, kinna weird.

Coosa Board Bluewater 26 is a fiber reinforced (several layers of woven cloth, just below the top and bottom surfaces) polyurethane foam that is lighter than plywood and will not rot, but not quite as strong. It sort of holds screws, but not like wood. It is MUCH stronger than non-reinforced foam, nearly as strong as plywood. It is normally laminated with fiberglass for structural use, but not always. It's really neat for fabricating small parts that need some strength and which you will glass over. Little flanges. Shelves. Braces.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Painted UV Strip

Crazy? Probably, but I had an old dog of a sail that wouldn't withstand stitching and needed something.  I tested some paints on test panels, chose one of the best, and ...

... after 1/2 a season it's still looking good.

This is an inflatable paint I have used before, so I'm not expecting any trouble. It seems to stretch with the cloth and I know it can handle the sun. Would I spec a new sail that way? Undecided.

A full report will be in Practical Sailor next year.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Large Scale Littering

This appeared this spring in Herring Bay (north side--the Deale breakwater is just visible behind the boat's bow). I guess this guy was salvaging a few parts.

It isn't in a channel and is in a portion of the bay that few sail, so I imagine it will be there forever. Probably uninsured and certainly without a responsible owner (or rather, with an irresponsible owner). At least for now we can see it, but someday the mast will fall off or someone will salvage it, making it a hazard to navigation.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hydrilla Mower

This is what you get with the weeds in the marina are worse than the weeds in your yard.

But they can't keep up. They started in 1987 and have sort of given up the fight. The stuff grows FAST. The hydrilla does have benefits; the fish like it and it is good for water quality, but it also has the downside of any invasive species.

Washington Sailing Marina, 2017

Monday, September 16, 2019

Batteries and Water Quality

What do the battery makers think about water quality?  They are pretty particular:

What difference does it make? This is what Trogan thinks:

How does yours stack up?

 And so now you know. I use either kitchen RO or dehumidifier water.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

UV Protection for Sails

Yup another Practical Sailor Teaser.

A year ago I began researching the use of paint for UV protection on roller furling jibs.

I started with test panels on the roof. House paint samples failed right away, either chipping or pealing in strips. But special purpose paints, compounds either for sails or cloth, generally held up pretty well.

Last week my primary jib basically died, with multiple (4) tears through the Kevlar leach. The only thing that kept it from spliting right across was the Sunbrella cover and strong repairs just forward. The foot also developed multiple smaller tears the same day. It was breezy.

Thus, it was time to install my back-up jib, which has only a failed UV Dacron cover.

  • Will the paint stay on? I painted it months ago, I've rolled it in and out a dozen times, and tacked dozens of times, though in moderate wind. So far, it looks and feels good.

Amazon MDR inflatable paint. Left over from the dinghy. It lasted ~ 5 years on an inflatable, with very little pealing, so why not? I'll report aback in a year or so. Sooner, if it fails... but I don't think it will.

Time will tell. I also have samples of painted cloth burning away on the roof. I'm thinking I'm going to leave them until next Fall, and then make them into flags and drive around for a few days, giving them a severe flutter test.

I'm also going to get some quotes on a new jib. Even if the paint does fine, this one is long in the tooth and I don't trust it. I'm about done with laminates for furlers. It's a bad marriage. I'm going with polyester next time. 

I still like a Mylar main. It lives under a cover and does not flog (full battens). Yet both of them (I have two sails of indeterminate age) developed tears along the bolt rope, because the cloth does flex there. Compared to the leach, of course, this is a non-structural area, and is far easier to repair. And unlike polyester, they don't stretch, at all. When it comes to square top sails, that's a big deal.