Saturday, March 18, 2017

Internal Reefing and Friction

Single line reefing can be a delight, until the friction become so great nothing will move. I was pretty fed up with mine, when I first go the the boat, until I realized the PO had left me a tangle. A simple problem, and easy to fix, but often overlooked because it is out of sight.

The problems is that there are blocks inside, and when these get twisted, they lock up. The twist is introduced by a group of turning blocks near the mast (different from this illustration), that guide the line back to the cockpit or to a winch. Every time the reef is used, their corkscrew arrangement walks a small amount of twist into the boom.

The cure? Look in the boom-end to confirm that this is the problem. If yes, go the mast-end and untwist the line by hand in the required direction, until the lines are straight and the blocks are vertical. This may take 5 or 6 turns. Chase these twists through all the way back to the cockpit, so that they are not simply stuck between blocks near the boom. Do NOT release the line from the end of the boom and try to fix the twist from there. Although that end is also twisted, that is only a symptom of the twist at the other end. There is no way for twist to sneak in from the boom end, and if you try to fix it from there, you will simply create opposing twists. The problem originates at the boom end and must be fixed there.

On my boat this must be done about every 50 times I reef. Not very often at all. But if you've waited years, or if the boat is new to you, look inside the boom.

[This image is from the PDQ 32 Owner's Manual, free in MS word if you request it via the contact form near the bottom of the right column.]

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cleat Strength

 Boat US did a study, bolting cleats to steel plate and breaking them. Obviously, on a boat, this depends on a strong backing plate.

Different size cleats? In the case of fastener failures, simply adjust in proportion to the fasteners you have (data found here). In the case of feet failures, expect the strength to go up size^2. The strength of the foot, for example, probably goes up with size^3, but leverage goes up with size^1.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Marking Anchor Chain

Someone once told me that marking anchor chain with paint was amateurish.

Sailors on the US Blue Rige (LCC19) touch up the chain markings.

Okay, sure. 
  • They suggest that you can feel bits of cloth and such in the dark. Assuming the gypsy don't sheer them off or jam, please don't tell me you would run your hand along a running chain in the dark. That is a good way to lose fingers.
  • Plastic ties. My windlass sheers them off no matter how they are attached. Some manual say there is a right way, but not with a Lewmar vertical.
  • Inserts. If I can't see the paint, I'm going to be able to make out a few mud-coated lumps in the dark? Silly on the face of it. 
The first article in Good Old Boat Magazine described a better way to paint the chain. Also in "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts" and "Rigging Modern Anchors."

 They even have a standard color code. Not sayin' you need to use it, although I do use a long red band to warn me of the rope-to-chain splice at 100 feet (98% of the time I stop short of the splice so that I can anchor on all-chain.

After all, you always need to know how much rode you have out.  It's all part of good anchor craft, along with proper snubber sizing (Practical Sailor) and one hundred other factors.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

PDQ 32 Owner's Manual

I've scanned the manual that came with my boat, converted into MS Word, and adapted it a little my specific boat, modifications and all. I figure it's a nice courtesy to the next owner, and something that will help maintain PDQ value for all of us.

PDQ Yachts Inc
Whitby, Ontario

Revised for Shoal Survivor, HIN XXXXXXX
Rev. August 20, 2015
February 2017

If you would like a copy, just send me an e-mail via the contact form at the bottom of the right column. No sweat.

I recommend converting it to PDF (MS Word will do this) once you have customized it. It will scroll MUCH faster.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mexican Navy Tows Disabled Sailboat for 1 1/2 Days.

Described in the link below, a sail boat became disabled when their rudder sheared off, 3/4 of the way from Texas to Mexico. The US Coast Guard contacted the Mexican Navy, and the Mexican Navy sent a 180-foot cutter to provide a tow.

Without getting political, it's something to think about. Things do go both ways. I like to get along with my neighbors. It seems to work out better.

Of course, a proper steering drogue would also have solved the problem, just as quickly and with less drama. After my own experience with bending a rudder on a submerged log (repair described in "Keeping a Cruising Boat for Peanuts"), I did considerable research on drogues for emergency steering and storm management, learning that a good drogue is a solution even a singlehanded sailor can make work in minutes, with just a little preparation and practice. In the above situation, I would have had a steering drogue in the water within 5 minutes, and we would have been on our way, a knot or two slower, but with certainty.

A failed rudder is simply not a valid cause for rescue or loss of your boat; I've sailed hundreds of miles with no rudder or worse, a rudder jammed to the side. It's quite manageable.

See "Faster Cruising for the Coastal Sailor" for the details. Also, and up-coming article in Practical Sailor will describe the details of rigging and using a drogue. In "How Much Drag is a Drogue" (Practical Sailor, September 2016) I tested, reviewed, and list the relative drag and performance characteristics of most popular drogues.

(Up-coming article in Practical Sailor on Emergency Steering with Drogues)