Saturday, March 25, 2023


 Eyes outside of the cockpit?



Tuesday, February 28, 2023

National Elelctrical Code Shore Power Plugs

 I've been hearing a lot of fanfare about Smart Plugs, much of it from smart people I respect. But strngely, they are still not listed  in the NEC, by NEMA, or recommended by ABYC. Since only greater than 30A is acceptable for shore power, these are the only plugs you can use:

ABYC allows a few more, through you will never see the 4-pin and the 20A cannot be used for shore power.

Less common are pin and sleeve connectors, only seen used for higher loads.



One reason, of course, is compatibility. A mix at marinas would be a further mess and require more (sometimes dodgy) adapters.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Velcro For Winch Handles

 I've never been a fan of the PVC pockets. Cloth ones only last so long. PVC pipe can be pretty good, but it works best in a corner.

What about Velcro? I've been seeing this on more and more sport boats, and I can see some advantages:

  • A fraction faster.
  • No holes to drill.
  • Might lose more handles ... or fewer if the pockets aren't being used.
  • Can store grip-down, making it less snag prone.
  • Velcro will only be good for about 2 years in the sun.
  • The hooks can grab some fabrics, but located low this is unlikely.
  • Fits all sizes.
  • Could be horizontal.
  • Grip won't mar the gel coat. 
  • Not in the way when not in use. Put a pad by every winch ... but then where is the handle?

On the other hand

  • Grabbing the handle might be more awkward. 
  • It will get dirty and green.
  • Can't be used for anything else.

You could do both. 1-2 conventional pockets, and then pads near every winch.  I may try that.

The hook part goes on the boat and the loops on the handle. I guess it could go either way, but hooks on the handle would feel strange and not give a good grip.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

 I imagine he took up residence when he was small, and then one day learned he was stuck. [sail drive]


I'm currently 22 months into a 24+ month evaluation of bottom paints in the Chesapeake Bay for Practical Sailor Magazine. More than 20 samples and 6 different paints on my boat. In spite of copper leach rate restrictions, and to the credit of the paint manufactures and the EPA, we seem to have a crop of paints that are quite effective and kinder to the environment.

I have conventional foul weather gear, but my winter sailing gear is based on waterproof socks in deck shoes, snow board pants, and a windbreaker over fleece. When it gets colder, add a balaclava and a warmer parka. I love the new Gill Helmsman gloves (the only insulated gloves I can really sail and work winches with), and ski goggles come out when it gets close to freezing.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

New Camera--Olympus TG6

I've been using a Samsung WB150 for the past 15 years or so. Other than not being water proof, which has resulted in a few deaths, I've been happy with the zoom and the sensor quality. Far better resolution and low light capabilites that other pocket cameras of its price range and generation. I like it enough to replace it several times with cheap recon units off Amazon or  eBay. This saved me the trouble of learning a new system. But it finally got too long out of production and Samsung exited the camera business to focus on smart phones. Probably a smart move. And I needed an upgrade.

After much hand-wringing, I settled on the Olympus TG6, a waterproof camera with good image quality, some nice features, and a best-in-class reputation. 

 Close-ups and image stacking. The greatest challenge with close up photography, for me, is shallow depth of field. When you close within a few inches of the subject, the sharp dept shrinks to a fraction of an inch.  The solution is for the camera to take a series of images and "stack" them with software. The manual suggests a tripod to hold the camera absolutely motionless, but If you can brace a knuckle on the object, or even control your breath well, it works pretty well free hand. The below images were taken seated but not braced. I'm sure a tripod and timer would have helped.


With image stacking

Zoom. The range is not as broad as the Samsung (8:1 before digital zoom vs. 5:1), but how often do you actually shoot at full zoom, particularly around boats? One of the weakness is of the Samsung was grit jamming the zoom. The Olympus zoom is inside the waterproof body.

Filters. The Olympus takes a 40.5 mm adapter, which allows the use of standard filters and lens caps. Being on the water, I use a polarizing filter on occasion.

Yup, I could use an advanced cell phone, and I do when that is all I have. They are all you really need, 90% of the time. But I find a phone hard to hold properly. I like a truly pocket sized phone. And One in a while, I like features my phone just does not have.

Hopefully this will last a good long life of light abuse. I've had a few SLRs, and I'm too rough on cameras and just don't need that tiny little extra image quality. I bet you'd be surprise just how high a percentage of the professional images are taken with cell phones these days.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Self-Tailing Winch and a Cam Cleat?


 A cam cleat is much faster to release in gusty conditions. A cam cleat is easier to use when pulling sheets in fast in light conditions. Both my PDQ and F-24 had ST winches with cam cleats factory installed.

 I use the cam cleat nearly as much as the self-tailer jaws, and at some point nearly every day.

[Note. The line routing on the F-24 is all wrong in the image to the right. I just got the boat. Please disregard. The point is the cam cleat under the winch is darn handy.]

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.