Friday, November 11, 2022

No Wet Sanding

 Given the rules, my aversion to scraping, and the health risks associated with every stripper I've see (either methylene chloride, NMP, or high pH) I'm not a fan to start with.

 So the project before my next bottom job will be to pick out a new vacuum sander. I have a DeWalt 1/4-sheet sander that I use with a HEPA vacuum and a Dust Deputy. The vacuum part works find, and the sander was inexpensive and has been very durable. I don't feel cheated, not at all. But removal rates are slow and it is not random orbit (leaves swirls).

The other motivation is that I did some paint testing for Practical Sailor, including 6 types on my boat. All of the copper paints are doing well, but two of the non-copper paints really suck, so there will be some serious sanding involved. 

What are the criteria? 

  • Speed of removal.
  • Appearance and swirls. Within the random orbit class, this is more related to the grit and use than the sander.
  • Vibration. Includes ergonomic shape and padding.
  • Dust collection.
  • Weight. Overhead, it adds up.
  • Price. But the older I get that matters less, as I have learned the value or quality tools.
  • Durability (all of the candidate brands should outlive most DIYs
  • Usability. Includes nimbleness and one-hand operation.
  • Size. Still undecided. If the hull is curved, larger does not put that much more sanding surface on the hull.

 So who's in the running?

  • DeWalt. The RO 5-inch is faster than what I have and only $65.
  • Bosch. The dual mode GET75-6 is expensive but leading the wish list. Supposed to be very fast, but it's near $300. But time saved from sanding bottom paint counts triple on your life score.
  • Porter Cable. They have a 6-inch RO for $160 that is well regarded.
  • Fein. They also make an anti-fouling sanding "fleece" that may fit others.
  • Festool. Had to put it on the list. About double the Bosch for the same size.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Deale Anti-Fouling Paint Test Panels at the One-Year Mark

 A total of 26 paints on 30-some panels, including 5 paints on my boat (it's sort of multi-colored).

These panels have been hanging alongside the dock for a year in Deale, MD. The water is brackish, only about 30% sea water concentration, but it is a high fouling area none the less. The far right (upper) panel is a control, not coated. It will be a 2-year test, so these paints are only half way there. Needless to say, some are failing, but the cold will knock the soft growth off and we'll have to see how they look in the spring and next fall.

If I give away the results my publisher (Practical Sailor), who paid for all of the work, panels, and paints, will kill me.They should publish the full report soon.

Nearly all of the paints are compliant with the new California low-leach-rate requirements, which we believe will be adopted in Washington and perhaps nationally before long, since the EPA seems to be onboard with this approach. Since the paint companies have been involved and can make some darn good paints that comply (and are no more expensive, adjusted for inflation), it seems the whole copper paint kerfuffle has come to a win-win resolution. 

I'll be picking my next bottom paint from these panels!




Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Boom Brakes and Preventers

 I'm going to come back to this topic. Placeholder.

 Platino preventer rigging. Obviously, the leverage stinks and fatalities resulted.

Accident Report

 ©2018 Maritime New Zealand


Monday, August 22, 2022

Mastmate and Goblin--The Fastest Solo Way Up the Mast

 The Ladder. My 30-year old Mastmate is easy and fast to climb if:

  • Roll-up with the steps folded down. In this way they fall open nicely when hoisting and do not catch on the spreaders.
  • Wear deck shoes and rubber-coated gloves.
  • Haul your tools with a rope after you are up.
  • Pretension with the down haul so that it does not stretch when you step.

Fall Protection. I use a Camp Goblin on a spare halyard. It glides up and down the rope unattended, but catches in a fall. Rated for this use, not an adapted ascender or belay device. You can see it floating near my knee (it must be extended on a short sling to give freedom of movement.



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

If There is a Shortage of Both Gasoline and Food Brewing...

 ... Should corn go into fuel or food?

In the past, since I didn't favor ethanol in gasoline for environmental and operational reasons, it seemed obvious. Food was a better use. But if both are short, and the international situation matters both in terms of food supply and fuel supply, which is should win the calculus?

In the US, I assume the market will decide. The EPA's rules on gasoline blends have been relaxed, and the value in food and gasoline has gone up. Jump ball, I guess, since we have enough and export both.

In Europe, I'm guessing gasoline wins. 

 In the third world, I imagine food wins, except where sugar cane is used to make ethanol, there really isn't the same export demand for cane.

It's a shame people can't just play nice. I thought, or at least naively hoped, we had outgrown this, on this scale.


Assuming we're looking at E15...

  • Use Biobor EB or Stabil 360 Marine. They really help with corrosion, which is the main cause of carb jet plugging.
  • Keep your jets clean. Ethanol runs leaner than gas, meaning you need about 5% more E15 through the jet than with gasoline. Small outboards are designed a little rich, but this tolerance will be reduced.
  • The vapor pressure is even greater than E10, so the pressure in sealed tanks will increase. Keep them out of the sun, paint them white (a flexible paint, such as inflatable paint or buoy paint, is required), or make a white cover.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The High Cost of Gasoline

 Let's see...

  • 2 trips per month
  • 12 months
  • About 1 quarts per trip ...

Equals 6 gallons per year. At $5.00 per gallon, about 30 gallons per year or $1.25/trip.

Then there is the case of the guy with 3 x 250 HP on the back, burning $375.00/hour.

Then there are the fishmen, trolling for hours and hours at 3 knots. But really, they're only burning ~ 0.3 GPH at idle, so only a few gallons while trolling. Getting to and from the fishing grounds might be 5-10 gallons, if it's not far. So maybe $50-100 for the day.

Plus carfare. Plus slip. Plus, plus, plus.... Maybe I should just buy a fish sandwich, even at only 1 quart per trip.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Our New World

On vaccines and masks:

 A great flood happened.

A man was forced to climb to the second floor. He was looking out the window and a canoe passed. “Do you need help?” The people in the canoe called to the man. “Oh no, God will provide.” So the canoe went on it’s way.

The water kept on rising and the man was forced to go onto his roof. He was sitting there looking around when a helicopter flew close by and a man inside called, “Hey! Need a lift?”, and the man said, “Oh no, God will provide!”

The water rose even higher and the man drowned. He went up to heaven, met God and said, “I trusted you! You were supposed to provide!” And god said, “I sent you a canoe, and a helicopter!”


He gave us a brain, the brain gave us reason, science that explains the reasons for good hygiene, and vaccines. We should probably be gracious for the gift of reason and use it. (From me, a complete atheist.)

Times are changing and the bubble is opening. We are all thankful for the vaccine and natural immunities that have made this possible. But there is now a new virus in the world, it isn't going away, and we aren't going back to the good old days. In fact, the good old days were full of seasonal colds, the flu, polio, and lots of things that took children before they were adults, adults before they live a full life, and ruined our quality of life. They weren't really that good, and in fact, it seems we were just enjoying one of those idyllic interludes between periodic plagues, ice ages, and world wars. 

Better to work our way through change, which is never easy. The pre-911 world is not coming back, but we have gotten used to it and hardly notice the differences unless we dwell futilly on the past, and some ways it is probably better.

Adapt. Immune compromised people will need to remain vigilant and they will have to take more precautions; annual vaccines and mask wear in many settings. Healthy people will need to be courteous to others and take a few precautions that seem unnecessary to them. In the future there will be no "cover your mouth when you sneeze" or "cough into your elbow." If you have a cold or even allergies, politeness and good hygiene will demand you wear a mask, and not to wear a mask when you have the sneezes will be fundamentally rude. If you think about it, it has ALWAYS been rude and inconsiderate to spread your germs and make other people sick, but we all did it anyway. Now we have better tools not to.

It no longer feels "weird" to wear a mask in the grocery store or office, so I hope we will when we should. It won't be all the time, but will be when we are sick or when some new surge comes along. It may be smart in an airport terminal, and on the same day superfluous in a quiet restaurant. We need to be thoughtful, and determine the difference, not based on politics or local fashion or the fashion of the moment, but based on the situation.

It comes back to reason. I'm looking forward to wearing a mask only as needed, and at the same time, if I can be smart about it, avoiding seasonal colds and all the rest. That would be nice.


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Mano a Mano

I enjoy the simplicity of trolling for big rockfish with a cuban yo-yo. I can keep the sinkers and long leaders rigged, they take no space to store so I can easily keep many different rigs prepared, they rig to the rail quickly, and most of all, they work.

Rockfish (striped bass)--38 inches
Caught on a large swimming plug at ~ 4 knots

I've been told a large fish will snap the line. Apparently not, certainly not today. The only rigs I've lost have been to crab pots I didn't see. I've been told you need a bungee cord shock absorber. Since I troll 150 feet of 80-pound mono-filament and that can stretch 10 times as far as any reasonable bungee cord, the bungee cord makes little sense if you actually do the math; an additional 30 feet of line will do as much. I've been told you can't play a large fish. Well, I landed the above 38-incher in minutes without gloves and no strain. I did walk up and down the side decks a bit for this one; she started running toward the boat faster than I could wind, but not faster than I could easily walk and wind.

Mostly, I like the Old Man and the Sea, whether the book, or the performances by Spencer Tracy or Anthony Quinn. There is something basic about pulling in a fish in with minimal technology. Fishing should be a simple thing, man against prey--it's nothing when reduced to an arms race, graphite composites and fish finders and stainless steel and all of human technology, against a simple fish.


Note to sailors: you've got to slow down to catch rockfish; 3.5 to 4.5 knots seems to be the best range. Later in the summer, particularly in the southern Chesapeake, you may catch bluefish at 6-8 knots.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Tricolor vs. Red-Over-Green + Sidelights

 A sailboat needs to show red and green sidelights when sailing (no all-around white, as when motoring).

Boats under 20 meters can substitute a tricolor at the top of the mast. (Not a masthead light BTW--that is a steaming light located on the front of the mast, AKA a steaming light. A confusing matter of COLREGS definitions.) The primary advantage when the rule came out is that fewer bulbs and fewer amps were required. Additionally, it can be more visible in waves.

Another option is red-over-green, which can be used on any size boat. It may not be used in combination with a tri-color, probably because it could be confused with certain task light combinations (restricted ability to maneuver, underwater operations, dredging) from certain angles and in poor conditions. It is the only high location that can be used by larger sailing vessels, so many believe it is only for over 20 meters or that it is required over 20 meters, but neither is true.

Notice that in the COLREGS illustration the green light will be reflect of the sails and will be obscured in some sectors. Since it is supplemental, I guess the latter is considered non-critical. It would be a minor arc of the genoa. The reflection off the sail might be quite annoying. But the blocked sectors could be large, about 120 degrees, where as 6 degrees is the COLREGS limit for other lights, such as anchor lights.



Thursday, February 3, 2022

Testing Paint

 Late Summer I hung 7 test panels with 20 paints from a dock in the Mid-Chesapeake Bay (Deale, MD) as part of a Practical Sailor project. Prior projects have all been seawater. I also applied 50 of these paints to my Corsair F-24. Today I pulled them out for a quick look see. No cleaning, just a check-up.

We don't get much growth in the cold season.You can see it in the non-painted frames. Some are doing amazingly well (the white is actually still that white), and some not very different from untreated areas.

All of the paints are either copper-free or formulated to the new EPA/CA/WA copper leach rate, which most of the good multi-season paints already met (or the copper would not have lasted 3 years--kinda of obvious in retrospect.


They'll be hanging there for 3 years, with us checking on them about twice per year. We'll rotate positions. In the summer they will hang from floats to better control the depth (ice is a problem in the winter).