Thursday, November 23, 2017

What to do When Your Slip is a Crazy Fit

My PDQ fit the slip like a glove. There wasn't a lot of room to play with, so she required good line adjustment and full springs on both sides. But that done, she barely wiggled, even with reasonable slack in the lines.

These are Mini-Shockles. I switched to Regular Shockles, since these were undersized in 40-knot gusts. It is also vital that they are long enough to handle to full tidal range.

My F-24 is a different story. Because of the beam (18 feet) we are in an end slip and hang out beyond the confines of the pilings. At the same time, the boat is too short for the slip, providing poor leverage to the stern lines on the dolphins. To make mater just a little worse, the cleat positioning does not allow the stern lines to cris-cross. As a results, she really dances in certain wind directions. Like most marinas, certain directions are well protected, others, less so.

My options:
  • Spring lines, starboard. On starboard they wouldn't help much, but maybe.The forward line would be a severe tripping hazard when boarding, probably so much so as to make it unacceptable. There are no cleats, but there is a mid-ships ring I can tie to.
  • Springlines, port. The bow spring would be across the deck, resulting in chafe to the line and rigging. The stern spring could potentially be rigged from  a ring near the stern.
  • Anchor line. The outlying piling on the port side is tragically rotted and leaning, suitable only as a guide line anchor. However, we could lay a large Danforth anchor some distance out ad bring that line over. The direction of the pull would be quite favorable. I'll probably never get the anchor back, but I can probably find a big one at the second hand store. I have some chain and 1-inch nylon that would make a stout rode. At long scope and with months or years to settle in, it should get strong.
I have also been testing Shockles, from Davis Industries. I had always seen them as over priced bungee cords, suitable only for pontoon boats on lakes. I was wrong.

I added one to the starboard bow line, just to take the slack out. Because we do not have floating dock we must leave 1-1.5  feet of slack for tide, even when the lines are quite long.The boat was bouncing, because of the rebound of stretchy nylon dock lines between gusts. When I used the Shockle to apply a little back tension, removing the slack, the rebounding stopped!

I think using Shockles to absorb impact is just treating the symptom, and they won't last that long. But used to control rebound and manage slack they are treating the cause and seem to do very well.

But I'm still going to add some springs and the anchor line. Although we can get strong winds from the East, I am protected by shore and trees, and there is nothing to hit to port!

So maybe I'll try this. Only 4 tie points and a lot more stability.

  • Double starboard stern line. this is easier, and the angles are nearly the same.  
  • Starboard forward spring ready for hurricane season, but not used regularly.
  • Port aft spring to rear of float. No forward spring. Will have to figure out chafe.
  • Anchor line.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ever Wonder What Happens with Laminate Sails When They Get Old?

Like us, they just fall apart.

In its defense, this sail is 1996, and until it's last day maintained perfect shape and would go to windward like a banshee. It was, however, showing signs of delamination. When going to windward, if you pinched up the inside lay we would often bubble to windward in spots, demonstrating the pressure differential between one side and the other. About 80% of the sail overall was disconnected, one side from the other. Only the sewn seams ever 2 feet were holding the the taffeta and Kevlar in alignment. The UV cover (polyester--not Sunbrella) could be torn between the fingers more easily than office paper.

Then one fateful fall day, with gusts topping 40 knots, the upper portion of the leach was blown open just a littl. The delaminated sail ballooned, air driven between the layers, followed by more delamination, and tearing. Within an hour there wasn't anything left worth repairing. Actually, there really wasn't anything worth repairing before the damaged.

Interestingly, the furler line did not slip, the sheets were around the sail several times. In fact, the sail had actually furled itself an additional turn, leaving some slack in the furler line. Weird.

 Only the top portion unrolled at all, and only a little bit. The delamination and the tear ran during the lowering process, which took less than two minutes and did not include flogging (I maintained sheet tension).

The fabric is polyester tafeta on both sides with Mylar and Kevlar strings bonded inside. Once the glue starts to go, the Mylar and Kevlar just float around inside. Once something starts  tear, it's over in a hurry. In yet the leach did not tear and none of the Kevlar actually failed.
But everything disconnected from everything and there is nothing left to glue, sew, or patch.

I'm sure modern laminates are better. I know this one was ancient. And yet, I have a certain fondness for polyester.

We'll see. However, what remains of this isn't even suitable for making into totes.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Strong Way to Make a Short Pendant

Need a short pendant, would like to splice it from Amsteel, but don't have enough length for both buries? Never fear, there is a simple way.

Make the first eye the normal way, with a bury splice.

Make the second eye with a simple pass-through. Then keep passing through, right through the bury portion of the splice, until you are back at the other eye. So long as there are 10 tucks, it will test full strength.

Dead simple, fast to make, but I've never see it explained. This one is for grabbing he anchor rode using a prusik. A climbing sling would work just as well, but these can be made in larger sizes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Work Day

rev. 11-20-2017

Normally I just inform my partners of what was done on a given trip, but since this one has a lot of pictures, I decided to post it here. Just a day in the life of a sailor....

  • Installed LED cabin lights (4), 25W equivalent. They really light up the place, using no electricity in the process. It is always more efficient  to save power than to generate and to store. There are two extra bulbs and the two I removed in the clear tool box, although they should last practically forever.

The diffuser is removed in this photo. With it in place they are just bright.

  •  Climbed mast and installed wind instruments. A few weeks ago I repaired the broken deck plug (Aqua Signal 5 pin) from parts I had, and a week ago I reconnected the wires. But although everything powers up, and the masthead parts are moving right, there is no communication with the display. The problem could be any of a dozen things--some annoying to run down, some expensive--so I'm done with it. You're next. At least the mast is easy to climb with the Mast Mate. This time I was alone, so I used a Petzel Cinch for self-belay off a spinnaker halyard.
  • Wired-up the anchor light, but it does not light. I also noticed that there are zero ohms on every leg, suggesting the wire may be broken somewhere up the mast. I have another light, but I don't know when I will get to that. A two-man job for a nice day. That means spring. We have a lantern.

  • New mount for the Blacksmith bow wind indicator.  The factory mount is level and the rail is sloped, so I modified one I had from other testing. Works nice. Properly leveled, this is the most sensitive indicator made, maybe even better than the ubiquitous Windex.

  • Measured for new Amsteel 4:1 cascade bobstay tackle. I took some low friction rings and some nylon clothes line and played with a mock-up to get the lengths right. I will now order some Amsteel (3/16-inch, 5000-pound test). This will allow us to set and recover the reacher while underway without resorting to gymnastics. The only thing that is still up in the air is how to anchor the tail. Since Amsteel does not cleat, I'm leaning towards installing a hard point (rock climbing bolt hanger, perhaps) and attaching the tail with a snap shackle. The last splice will be  a whoopee sling until the stretch is out and the length is certain. The up-haul is also still up in the air. We do need one, if just to keep the sheets up where they belong. and out of the jib furler.

Completed, in Dyneema. Now to install the line control clutches.Coincidentally, the 4:1 down haul has the same amouot of line travel as the 2:1 up haul, so the line can be continuous.
  • Shimmed the rudder pin. It helped a lot. I also noticed that there are two thin shims missing from the sides of the rudder cassette. The OP removed them when they got loose and filled the screw holes, either because he thought they were not needed, or because he was too lazy to repair it properly (probably). This will have to wait until spring because the temperature will be too low for a good job of sealing. It should be a reasonable easy job and will help stiffen the steering a little more.
  • Finished centerboard case repairs. 

 Dave and I added three braces between the case and the starboard hull side. 1/2-inch ply sheathed in 17-ounce biax, bonded, and tabbed with 17-ounce biax. He cut glass and mixed epoxy while I got sticky. I'm glad this wasn't my first dance and that I knew most of the tricks.

 I pre-lamanated a 2" x 3" x 3/16" angle and bonded and bolted it into the corner. The bulkhead was reinforced on the reverse side with five 5 layers of 17-ounce biax and tabbed to both hulls (a band near the top about 4 inches wide (this was tricky). The lip of the case was reinforced with about 6 layers of 13-ounce uni plus some biax, a rim section with 1/2-inch balsa was laminated with uni, and a 4-inch wide x 1/2-inch balsa rib was added at the height of the pin. After taking the pics I trimmed it with a hand grinder and covered it with the original carpet. Look like new, but stronger and stiffer.

After trimming and replacing the carpet.

 The lip flange was thickened from ~ 3/32-inch to 5/16-inch using mostly unidirectional glass.

  • The water in the amas is fresh. The main hull is yet undetermined. BTW, the right place to pump the bilge is the access hole in the photo above. That is the low point.
  • I left a small space heater and power strip on the boat.
  • Battery is still up.
  • The motor reminds me of the Merc on my old dinghy. It's really easy to flood in cold weather, and you have to be careful to close the choke slowly. I don't think there is actually anything wrong with it, it's just fussy.
  • The fitting on the top of the portable fuel tank is leaking. There was gas on top of it. I also wonder if we might want to install a silica vent filter, so that we can leave the vent open. It does not seem to like the pressure. The vent fitting seems to be pipe thread, so I could attach a hose to that and mount the filter on the bulkhead behind the tank. However, then we could not take the tank to the station... but I guess we never do.
  • I took the boat out for a spin, in part to test anchoring with the bridle and the sprit. I used the Northill; worked fine. If you have never used a Northill, I suggest you take a look at it ahead of time and figure out how it is assembled. Secure the bridle to the rode with a prusik hitch and sling. I left some mud gloves in the locker.
  • The bridle also rigs as jacklines. In fact, that is how I left it. I reasoned that going out of the bows to connect the bridle would be a pain in cold weather, so the bridle must stay rigged. Thus, you have to secure it back somewhere. By threading them back inside the forward aka and aft to the waterstay near the aft aka it makes a nice jackline. I need to rig a few things on the tethers, and then I will be leaving them (with two harnesses) on the boat for all to use. You don't need them in the cockpit, but solo or in cold weather going forward, they can be handy.
The dashed orange lines represent possible tether angles. The blue on the right is the jackline. ONLY the section between the akas is used. We will need to play with the tether lengths, balancing access with the need to stay on-board.

  • I hope you like the new drink holders. Rugged, cheap, and they look good on the stern rail.

  •  Yes, the fire extinguisher seems to be on the Kiddie recall list. I'll call in the AM.
  • The new dockline set-up was a breeze, even single handed.A long boat hook helps (love Davis Instruments).
 And that is about it. The next trip will just be play.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

100 Best--Chapter 12


I just got a new boat, and guess what--the carpet on the cabin liner was heavily blotched with black spots. But They did not relate to any pattern of water leakage, just poor ventilation, so I feared not. I knew they could easily be removed and their return prevented. A good thing to know.

In Chapter 8, Boat Prep I mentioned diluted bleach. This is obvious enough, but remember that bleach can't be used near most fabrics. Additionally, it is not the most effective product at preventing return. And it's nasty to work with.

First, my work-horse anti-mildew formulations. It is cheap, more effective in most cases than anything else,  and safe for both you and all materials. Mix up a gallon and dispense it through spray bottles.

No number (this is a repeat). Formula B from Practical Sailor. When asked to review some formulations for the magazine, the chemical engineer in me couldn't resists improving on the available commercial products. The result of reviewing old patents and considering the requirements for cleaning mildewed carpeting was a DIY mixture of borax, washing soda, and TSP (trisodium phosphate--NOT TPS substutute), all available at either the grocery store or the hardware store. This pennies/gallon blend is perfect for cleaning carpet and bilge spaces, and KEEPING mildew from returning. Spray enough to soak, wait 2-10 minutes, scrub for a few seconds, and in the case of fabrics, remove excess with carpet cleaner extractor or shop vacuum. Do Not Rinse, since the residue will prevent the return. Do NOT Increase the concentration; it will not clean better and you will have to rinse. Also very effective for use in a carpet cleaning machine for both wet basements and pet mess (the best thing I have found for cat pee).

No number (this is a repeat). Oxiclean and all sail cleaners containing percarbonate as an oxygen bleach. These are not aggressive, fast stain or mildew removers. They take 4- to 8-hour soak times and seem to need sunshine to help them finish their work (the percarbonate weakens certain chemical bonds and UV finished the job). But they are safe on most fabrics (not wool or silk), nearly always color safe, and are just the thing to remove what Formula B left behind when cleaning white fabrics (not generally needed for anything other than whites).

And now for some new listings:

71. Clorox Pool and Spa Green Algae Eliminator. This is the cheapest way to buy the ingredient we are looking for, benzalonium chloride. A bargain for a 50% solution, this was suggested to me by a Seattle sailor (See Windborne on the sidebar) who was cursed by lichens growing on his deck. This kills them. However, it is also a very effective preventative for both mildew and algae on a variety of surfaces, so long as they are not exposed to frequent rain. Dilute 2 ounces/gallon, spray, and let dry. Also very effective for cleaning lichens from sail covers and canvas. In this case, spray, wait 1-2 weeks, and then scrub; it takes time for the BAC to kill the lichens and moss, and then for the sun to break their grip.

Also good for taking moss off the roof at home. Spray in dry weather, and then just leave the sun and rain to remove the dead bodies.


72. Eva-dry-2000 dehumidifier. Discussed in this post, I've been using this dehumidifier for 9 years, and though it lacks the capacity for a home, it is enough for a boat and does not draw so much power as to present a hazard if run unattended (though I do place it on the stove top--seems like the safest place). As described in the post, I added a drain, which is led to the sink. Low humidity in the cabin means no musty mattress or pillow.

73. Keep Things Clean. While hardly a product recommendation, the bottom line is that good sanitation begins with cleanliness, and mildew require food. Wipe all hard surfaces down at least 2x per year. Bilges too. It's not that bad, and when something needs fixed, you'll be thankful.

74. Keep the Bilge Dry. Without a dry bilge, the boat cannot be dry. Likewise all cabin leaks. The most common cause of hatch leaks is dirt on the gasket; wipe them all clean several times each season, and treat with a wax to make them water repellent if the problem persists.

75. Keep a Fan on the Boat. Sometimes things get wet, and it's great to get them dry.

75a. Take Wet Things Home. Yup, lugging is a pain. But they won't dry in the boat and this will teach you not to get them wet. If you have a dodger, leave wet rain gear and towels on deck rather than below. I often do this even if I won't be back for weeks. I've never had anything stolen from the boat. Beaches and dinghies, yes.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The F-24 To-Do List Goes On

She's getting better, no question about it. The sail controls are getting slick and the cabin is getting better, but there are miles to go. It's a boat.

  • Shorten the chain to 6 feet of switch to 1/4-inch, and add a webbing/Dyneema chafe leader. Shes a fast boat, and the 30 feet of 5/16-inch chain on the primary anchor makes no sense for a boat who's storm rode tension is perhaps 800 pounds. The chafe leader (see Practical Sailor magazine for the details) will prevent cutting, and catenary doesn't mean much to me since it is mostly a day sailor and we always anchor in shallow water (lots of scope).
  • Fitted sheet for V-berth.
  • Testing dehumidifier, but we might switch this for solar ventilation. Although the Formual B removed the mildew, there is constant condensation due to poor air movement and a wet bilge. 
  • Fix centerboard leak. When sailing hard water comes out the top and into the bilge and cushions.
  • Mini-dodger Mark II. This has worked out very well. I'm talking to Outland Hatch Covers about a production version, just for fun. The Mark II needs a little better sealing (Mark III in the works), and you will see it in Good Old Boat Magazine in the future. 
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs.
  • Add two alloy bicycle water bottle cages. While not perfect cup holders, they are unbreakable, easily mount to railings, and hold beer and water bottles very well. 
  • Tarp for rainy weather and sun. It will fit over the boom and attach to the mast, topping lift, shrouds (these are far out on a tri) and a pair of posts aft. I had something like this on my Stiletto, and it was handy.
  • Guides to support tiller extension when tacking/jibing short handed. On a beach cat you could always just toss it in the water, but on the F-24 it tends to snag on stuff. Laying it on the stern rail seems to work, but it needs a pair of guides to keep it out of mischief.
    • Possible barber hauler/traveler for reacher. Still to work that out.
    • Longer bobstay for using reacher on bowsprit. The PO has it attached to the wrong bow eye. Gotta love POs and the stuff they break because they don't read the manual!!
    • Add starboard fairlead for reacher. Probably lash-on a low friction ring.
    • Swap jibs and repair. I fixed rips in on the the mains and one of the jibs, and the one that is currently in place is showing signs of delaminating in a few spots. It has a nice shape, points high, and I think it can be repaired. We have two spare mains and a spare jib, all with good shape. I'm trying to make this inventory last 5 years, with Dr. Sails and tape. We'll see.
     Other things can work, but Dr. Sails rules for both polyester and laminate sails.
    Electronics and Lighting
    • Tiller pilot  wind vane interface. Honestly, this is low on my list. The magnetic functions work fine and I think this boat is too quick for the pilot to work well to windward. I think it is just mast base wiring, since the instruments and the remote work.
    • Anchor and stern light. The boat does not have a separate steaming light, but it does have a masthead LED light with 6 segments and 6 wires. I think they light according to the switch settings. For now, I have an LED lantern and I don't intend to over-night until spring (the nights are too long in the winter).
    • Storage in amas. I'm going to add a couple of studs (Duck Works Boat Builder's Supply--I love the web site, even if much or it does not apply) and use those to add a row of hooks and fishing pole holders. In a small boat, smart storage is paramount.
    • Shim rudder. The kick-up mechanism has some play. More aesthetic than important.
    Head. There is a only a portable toilet. I will be investigating what chemical are best (for a portable--this may be different from holding tanks) and whether a vent (carbon filter inside cabin?) can help. There is only so much you can do. The head is in the cabin, with no separate compartment; if cruising with more than one person, it will need to go in the cockpit at night.

    The list is getting shorter and cheaper. Of course, it will never disappear, not unless my imagination fails. The goal with this boat is to make her into a fast, fun day sailor with cruising potential. She will need to be kept light (lose the chain, use low friction rings where I can, move towards Dyneema, and limit the junk growth) and the running rigging should favor a racer's point of view. Even if you are not a racer, a light boat is safer if adjustments are fast and easy. As for comfort, it will be more "camping in comfort" than cruising, I think. Cleanliness and smart storage will help.

      Friday, October 27, 2017

      Dr. Sails

      They really do have a name that says it all. Practical Sailor just ran an article of mine on adhesive  repair of polyester sail. There are a number of products that work, but Dr. Sails is in a catagory of it's own in terms of strength, durability, flexibility, and speed.

      More recently, I've been repairing the torn laminate sail inventory on my F-24. With laminates, adhesives are generally the first choice, potentially better than sewn repairs, because they avoid the stitch line in the laminate. I've been testing tapes and glues, and it's not even close.

      Dr. Sails Rules!

      Detailed repair procedure. I've used it for repairs up to 5 feet!

      And here's some field work.  This is the only adhesive repair I really believe could work underway.

      It is also an excellent flexible epoxy for many other repairs. A little pricey, but certainly something every cruising sailboat should have on board. I really like the Dr. Sails syringe kits with the motionless mixers.

      There are also some good reinforce tapes I have in long-term testing. But for all that, subscribe to Practical Sailor.

      Wednesday, October 25, 2017

      Repairing Large Bomar Hatch Screens

      The aft cabin access hatches on the PDQs seem to hold up just fine, but the screens have a reputation for breaking at the center port where they are handled. Sometimes you can find a replacement if you hunt far enough, but more often they are out of stock. In any case, they are always over priced.

      I fixed on a few years ago, but I wait until now to share the result, to be certain it held up. I think it's a permanent fix for pennies and little labor.

      Loosen the screen (the glue is old) and reinforce from both sides. Sand well, and mask to keep the polyurethane off the screen. I'm sure a black Sharpie would hide the minor smears on the screen.

      Because the screens are flexed into place, a rigid repair, such as conventional epoxy and fiberglass, won't do. An adhesive with decent bonding properties on plastics was required. To provide flexibility, I reinforced the center break with Sunbrella fabric on both sides. For adhesive, I used Locktite PL S40, which has double the bond strength on most plastics as 3M 5200 or 4200 (they are very good on gelcoat, but not much else). I bet Dr. Sails would be first rate.

       Good as new.

      The result is a flexible, strong repair that has held up for over a year, so far.

      Sunday, October 22, 2017

      Best 100--Chapter 11

      Saltwater and electricity don't get along, or rather they get along too well, causing all manner of corrosion and non-conduction problems for the sailor. Keeping the electricity flowing between the lines is the problem.

      One of my first published articles, in 2010, involved making up over 200 crimp connections and keeping them in a salt spray chamber for a year. I've also had boats in the water for 30 years and observed the result of factory, PO, and personal errors. What I have learned:

       Hopkins 47965 2-Pole Flat Extension66. Trailer Connectors and Grease. I've tried many brands of waterproof deck connectors. All of them seem to fail in 2-5 years, they are expensive, and pricey to replace. Recently the power conector on my Raymarine Autohelm 2000 failed, and a replacement set was $168.00!  Unbelievable. Flat trailer connectors (available in 2, 4, and 5 pin) are cheap, reliable if packed in grease, and a new one can be crimped on in minutes if you leave a loop of wire. They have been the standard for 75 years, so I'm not expecting change. It also proves they work. My choice for rotating masts, tiller pilots, and solar panels.

      67. THHN Machine Wire Copper Wire vs. Tinned Wire. Heresy you say. In fact, both are approved by the US Coast Guard, and both survived my 1-year spray test for Practical Sailor Magazine with zero failures. There are differences in corrosion. Do no use finely stranded (like lamp cord) copper wire without tin plating; i will not hold up. Additionally, when it comes time to repair copper wire, the corrosion may well have traveled far up the wire. However, in dry areas of the boat, does the extra protection mean anything? If the breaker panel, for example, goes underwater your going to rip it all out anyway. Many quality boats use lots of non-tinned wire without complaint.

      Do use tinned wire to all exterior lighting, around the engine, and in the bilge. You won't regret it.

      Pitch the cheap crimpers in the trash. And I'm cheap!

      An inexpensive pair like this works for me. Just make sure they are adjustable (star wheel near "Titan" label). I have a fancier one at home, but I'm not convinced it is better for occasional use.

      68. Ratchet Crimpers. Remember how I said I did over 200 crimps for a PS test program with no failures? The key is to throw away any non-ratchet crimper. That's right, pick it up and pitch it before you do any damage with it. They just are not repeatable enough. Instead, get a ratchet crimper, adjust it to the brand of fitting you will be using (no Harbor Freigth stuff, but the Home Depot stuff is fine), and make a couple test fittings. Clamp the eye in a vice and try to pull it off the wire. The wire should not pull out. In fact, either the wire should break or the fitting should tear.

      69.   Grease. Forget the sprays. They don't hold up in marine conditions. Forget conductive grease. Many can cause dissimilar metal corrosion and "conductive" in the sense you understand is pure myth. They are insulators except at extreme voltages, where they can bleed off minor charges (never use conductive grease on antenna connections or spark plug wires). Vaseline can work, but it melts easily and has inferior anti-corrosion properties. Dielectric grease is good for sensative electronics and antenna connectors, but in general, good old waterproof grease or Lanicote is the correct choice. Use this on all studs, terminal strips, batteries, and all mechanical contentions (not required inside the crimp).

      My favorite is No-Ox-Id Special A. It has been top performer in all of the extreme exposure testing.

      70. Separate Heat Shrink. Not technically about equipment, but sort of. Instead of buying pre-insulated crimps with adhesive lined sleeves, buy the heat shrink separately. Not only is it much cheaper, the odds of the insulation sleeve being damaged by the extreme pressure of crimping are very high, perhaps over 50%.  So instead of buying the over prices all-in-one crimps, buy economical insulated crimps, use them as-is for most cabin applications, and then cover them with separate lined tubing only when used on deck or in the bilge. This also reduces the required inventory of crimps.