Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Value of High Tech Lines

[ Paraphrased from a Corsair group posting]

Line Tension

The word "taught" often gets confused with "taut." Here are some hints regarding correct
usage of the two words.

"Taught" is the past tense of "teach." Consider the following sentence: "I done teached him all I know and he still don't know nothing." You can improve the sentence by replacing the word "teached" with the word "taught," so that it reads, "I have taught him all I could, and he's still remarkably ignorant."
You can see the improvement.

Now let's look briefly at the other word. "That line was so tight that it done pulled the winch right out of the cabin top." Here, you can replace the word "tight" with the word "taut." That won't help the cabin top or the winch, though, and perhaps this sailor should have reefed earlier.

But be careful, because in the next example you can't reef your sails with a simple replacement of one word for another. "I used that new gasoline-powered blender that I got from Cabela's to make a batch of margaritas, and I've been tight all day." Here, the word tight is used to mean slightly drunk, and it's a slightly out-of-date use of the expression. And yes, that store does sell that product. The engine has 2.5 HP - I'm not kidding!

One thing that you can't do is teach an old rope new tricks. Ropes are pretty stupid. Even if they're expensive ropes. So this is wrong, just plain wrong: "He cranked that winch until the line was so taught that it pulled the mast pivot fittings right out of the cabin-top when he was raising the mast."
It's wrong for several reasons. In this case the narrator alludes to the general fault, that some
teaching has been ineffective, but blames it on over-education of the rope rather than under-education
of the person.

One thing they teach in those Coast Guard classes, and if you've ever taken one then you've been taught this, is that you ought to read the directions. In this case, the Farrier or Corsair Sailing Manuals. Another thing they teach is that rope can't read, no matter how taut it is.

I hope that this discussion has made the whole issue clear now.

Thank you.
Dave Paule

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Importance of Sending the Right Message

Several weeks ago, several members of my home owners' association proposed changing the name of the main road from Stonewall Street to Stone Wall Street. The degree of divisiveness and the bitterness of Stonewall Jackson's defenders has been both enlightening and frankly, saddening. I though we had come farther, but the clannish nature of humans  runs deep.

When I moved into the community 25 years ago, I didn't even make the connection. I didn't look closely at the stone entry way, since we don't pass by it when driving to our house or walking through the neighborhood. We live in the farthest corner of the community, facing a street outside the community.  I assumed "Stonewall Manor" was simply a stately moniker dreamed up by the developer to sell houses. The marker was made of stone and until today, I never looked closely at the image. Most of the streets are named for Confederate generals (Stonewall Drive, Jackson Parkway, Drexel Street, McNeil Street, Holt street, Colby Street, Rockbridge Street). A few seem innocuous, (Shenandoah and Academy, though the references are clear), and some are sneaky (Little Sorrel--Stonewall Jackson's horse, Villanova--the almamater of several Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee). An obvious pattern.

In fact, the Yeonas brothers, the developers responsible, were deeply prejudiced and named the community and streets in intentionally, as a statement during the civil rights movement and as integration was coming to Virginia. The original purchase papers prohibited African Americans from buying houses. Thus, the community and street names were not chosen through a sense of nostalgia, an interest in history, or from an honest respect for the people. They were chosen specifically for their intimidating emotional impact and are nothing more than a reflection of deep-seated bigotry.

How can you hang a Christmas Wreath, a symbol of peace and forgiveness, around an image intended to intimidate and humiliate?

One objection to removing the street names is the cost. Your address is deeply rooted in the paperwork of life, and changing it would bring considerable pain and suffering. Several have suggested only changing on the name of the community, which is painless, so let's discuss it on this basis. There will long remain a few historically named places and roads. We don't change the name of a city from Saint Petersburg, to Leningrad, and back to Saint Petersburg around here. But we can economically and painlessly remove this face, the association, and change the name of the community with minimal effort. The intent to the greater community will be clear.I think that is enough.

Some insist this honors a great man.The following letter, written by the surviving  descendants of Stonewall Jackson to the City of Richmond, makes the view of the immediate family view clear: history should move onward, away from this dark time.


"Dear Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and members of the Monument Avenue Commission,
We are native Richmonders and also the great-great-grandsons of Stonewall Jackson. As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display. ...

Last weekend, Charlottesville showed us unequivocally that Confederate statues offer pre-existing iconography for racists. The people who descended on Charlottesville last weekend were there to make a naked show of force for white supremacy. To them, the Robert E. Lee statue is a clear symbol of their hateful ideology. The Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are, too—especially Jackson, who faces north, supposedly as if to continue the fight.

We are writing to say that we understand justice very differently from our grandfather’s grandfather, and we wish to make it clear his statue does not represent us.
Through our upbringing and education, we have learned much about Stonewall Jackson. We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time. We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.

While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

In fact, instead of lauding Jackson’s violence, we choose to celebrate Stonewall’s sister—our great-great-grandaunt—Laura Jackson Arnold. As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist. Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy....As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.....

Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care, and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.

One thing that bonds our extended family, besides our common ancestor, is that many have worked, often as clergy and as educators, for justice in their communities. While we do not purport to speak for all of Stonewall’s kin, our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought.

As cities all over the South are realizing now, we are not in need of added context. We are in need of a new context—one in which the statues have been taken down."

Some insist that he was a progressive man. I think it is very significant that his great-great grandsons point out that Stonewall Jackson's sister opposed slavery and was a staunch abolitionist. If her brother did not like slavery and was a man of strong principle, he too could have made that choice, freeing them and paying them a fair wage. Teaching children who were enslaved how to read can hardly begin to amend for the decision to become a leader in a war to defend slavery, an indefensible institution that reached beyond our present day comprehension in its cruelty.

Finally, he is elevated as patriot who did his duty and served his country. In fact, his duty was to fight for those who could not fight for themselves and his country was the United States of America.

I'm not an active champion of politically correct speech. I won't pretend that I am without prejudice and conservative political views, burned deep in my brain from my youth. But as a thinking person I have the ability to act based on what I know is right, and after living and observing the world for 56 years, I have become quite liberal in most things (other than personal spending habits).  Liberal views aren't always my first reflex, but after consideration, I feel generally right with them. They feel kind.

I regret that people see this as divisive. At most, it should stimulate thoughtful discussion. Really,  there isn't that much to argue over. Slavery, the Confederacy, and racisim are wrong. That's long settled. Should we bear the expense of changing road names, or just change the name of the community and revise the marker? That's a business conversation. Thus, the debate can only be divisive if we dig our heels in rather than talk, and if we stubbornly believe the world will get better by doing what is easy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Winter Sailing... When it is 60F!

(Well, in the marina it was 60F, on the water just a bit less than that.)

 Winter has some up-sides folks forget about:
  • No power boat wakes. This makes ghosting in light winds a joy.
  • Quiet. Really quiet.
  • No sweating.
  • It keeps the engine lubed and the fuel fresh.
  • You don't have to wash the boat. You can't because the water is off!
  • No cooler to carry.
  • It's cheap. Or rather I figure the cost of insurance, the slip, and most maintanance was paid for by the summer season.
  • Bottom paint stays clean.
  • No trips to "check on the boat."
Down sides?
  • It can be cold. Don't go those days.
  • It can be cold. As they say in Maine, "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing." And so, with the appropriate fleece under layers, fleece socks,  windproof gloves, a balacova, watch cap, and ski goggles, I remain quite snug down to near freezing. Take extra gloves for handling wet lines.
  • Many summer places are closed.
  • If you fall in you will die. Don't fall in, or wear a dry suit.
  • Days are short... but that's a good excuse to keep the trip short.
  • Nights are too long. That's a good reason not to over night.
 A soft shackle eliminates a shackle that could wack the mast and heads, and a low friction ring eliminates a block that would be flopping around.
But yesterday wasn't really winter. Eat your hearts out, all those who hauled out.

A different winter's day, a different year, on my Stiletto 27. Windblocker fleece over plain fleece. Zoom.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ul Listed Electrical Tape Should Not Suport Combustion...

... But that depends on who you buy it from.

I was rummaging in the tape box and came across a box of rolls I had never opened. I tried to use it to splice some lines, but it just didn't feel right.

First I tried lighting some 3M tape I had. It burned while exposed to the flame, but went out instantly.

Then I tried the no-name tape. Three inches vanished waiting for the 5 second timer!

Looks UL Listed to me. The HK74 registration is for a Chinese company, but I would bet it was ripped off by a different, less legitimate Chinese company. 

I'm a big supporter of free trade. I believe globalization is the final path to world civilization and peace. But this sort of thing just does not help.

The moral? For electrical components I try to stay with known brands. If the tape feels funny, put a match to it.

Monday, December 11, 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. I've tested these at 100% breaking strength. Although there is theoretical weakening a few places, because there are 3 layers in those areas, there is none. 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.

The other way to make a strong and short strop is to splice a loop and then sew or whip the two sides together. That is how most low friction rings are mounted.

Friday, December 8, 2017

This is Why the EPA is Sitting on Toxic Paint Stripper (NMP) Regulation

I'm not sayin' that the EWG does not lean a little to the left. They certainly do. However, if you use paint strippers, it is an issue to be aware of. PPE (gloves and respirators) have been shown to be ineffective against these substances.

EWG (Environmental Working Group)

Congressional Leaders Push EPA to Scrap or Delay Proposed Bans on Toxic Chemicals

Monday, July 17, 2017
The House Appropriations Committee is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap or delay proposed bans on three highly toxic chemicals – trichloroethylene, or TCE; methylene chloride, or MC; and n-methylpyrrolidone, or NMP. In December 2016 and January 2017, shortly before President Trump took office, the EPA proposed banning the chemicals for certain uses, which would have been the first such bans under the Toxic Substances Control Act in more than 25 years.
Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, called the recommendation, contained in the committee's report explaining its proposed EPA budget, "more head-spinning action from the anti-public health wing of Congress."
Here is Benesh's statement:
If the Trump EPA rubber-stamps this outrageous demand, it means children and other Americans will be exposed to these toxic, cancer-causing chemicals for at least another five years, if not indefinitely. This report reaffirms the hostility toward protecting children’s environmental health from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, in the name of protecting the profits of the chemical industry.
The EPA says TCE is "carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure" and is also associated with developmental and reproductive harms. TCE became infamous after many residents, especially children, developed cancer when the chemical contaminated the water supply of Woburn, Mass., as chronicled in the book and movie “A Civil Action.” The agency is proposing to ban TCE from use as a spot cleaner, aerosol degreaser and vapor degreaser.
The EPA says long-term exposure to MC can cause liver and lung cancer. Both MC and NMP are linked to  developmental, reproductive and neurotoxic disorders. MC has been linked to more than 50 worker deaths since the mid-1980s. NMP is particularly dangerous to women of childbearing age, as it can have serious fetal effects. The EPA proposed to ban the use of MC, and ban or restrict the use of NMP in paint strippers.
Key Issues: 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

100 Best--Chapter 13

Best Laminating and Fiberglass Materials

Just as important as the products is following the instructions and a few tips:

  • ALWAYS test the adhesive on something similar before diving into an important project. I have had experienced epoxies mis-labled, where resin was packaged as hardener and it never cured; I got  to scrape up 1/4-acre of honey-like glue, followed by wiping up the residue with gallons xylene. 
  • Confirm the cure time at the relevant temperature and humidity, remembering that fast-cure epoxies can exotherm (get hot) and cure very fast if mixed in batches over about 1/2 ounce.
  • Make sure you have what you need for clean-up. For epoxy, vinegar will neutralized the curing process and will take it off hard surfaces so long as it is still sticky (follow with soap and water). 
  • Surface prep is most of the battle. Clean first, then sand. Never try to sand off dirt or amine blush.
  • Jamestown Distributing. They will have everything you need at a reasonable overall cost. 
  • Read a few books. West Systems has some good short guides. It's not magic, but there are a lot of tricks of the trade.
  • Work neat and change gloves often. Disposable brushes are indescribable. If something is getting sticky, toss it. On big jobs, have a helper mix epoxy and cut glass; this makes for much neater work. If working alone, pre-cut most of the glass.
76. West Systems 105/205 Fast Cure. The work horse for most projects, the only shortcoming is that in warm weather it will exotherm fast. Large pots that cannot be spread in a few minutes will get warm, and even thick laminates will heat up. Too fast for epoxy sealing holes. Good in cool weather, though. If you have a fall or spring project, and it will be in the 50s at night, just the ticket.

77. West Systems 206 Slow Hardener. Works in warm weather. Also good for filling screw holes. I do NOT recommend the extra slow hardener. It is vulnerable to humidity and the mix must be exact.

78. Fumed Silica / Cabosil M-5. West sells this stuff for userous prices. Instead, buy a 10-pound bag and you will be set for a lifetime. Excellent for bonding and fillets, and usable to fairing if you can fet to it with a power sander. Hard to sand, so not good for large fairing projects.

 79. Laminating Roller. Never take on a significant job without a way of forcing the resin through the glass. Vacuum bagging is nice, but a good roller can get you most of the way there with a lot less fuss. Don't be afraid to roll pretty hard, pushing out air and excess resin. You will save real dollars on resin and get a stronger, lighter result with better bonding.

 80. 17-ounce Biaxial Fiberglass Cloth. Nearly 3 times as heavy as typical 6-ounce cloth and often easier to handle, it is MUCH stronger than mat (which does not work with epoxy) or glass cloth, because the fibers are oriented in the plain and not crimped or oddly directed. Use this in combination with 13-ounce uni-directional cloth in the direction real tensile strength is needed, and you can build some strong stuff.

17-ounce biaxial cloth is the best for tabbing braces. F-24 trimaran centerboard case on the right, hull on the left, depth sounder cable over the top.

I'm not really a fan of carbon fiber or Kevlar. The problem is that these materials are so much stiller than glass, they will carry the entire load. This means the bonding much be very good and that there must be enough carbon to carry the load, since it won't share. You can't reinforce rope with bungee cord, can you? The rope will break before the bungee does a thing.

80a. DuckWorks Studs. Through not technically fiberglass stuff, they go on with thicken epoxy and sometimes glass, so I'll add them here.

 Glue on Studs Instead of drilling a hole through the hull, grind a spot clean, de-grease the stud, and press it into a big blob of thickened epoxy so that it comes through the holes and interlocks. They will hold hundreds of pounds, but a 50-pound working load is quite safe. Then mount what ever you have with a knob or 1/4-inch USS nut. I've used these to hold down air conditioners, heavy inverters, and mount strips for rows of heavily loaded hooks. Marine contractors love them but few sailors know them.

Drilling all those holes in the hull would have been trouble! And I can remove the hooks and change them any time I like. Pretty slick.

There are lots more tips. Start with a small project, like a box or cover for something. Something removable that you can do over if it sucks. In fact, repairs are not the best place to start. And don't forget to scrub off the amine blush before painting and if you are not with in the green re-coat window.

Build something amazing!

PDQ 32/34 transoms before paint. Biax for the main structure, pre-laminated sheet for the step, 6-ounce finish cloth for the surface layer, and lots of sanding. Very strong; I ht some dock just to be sure ;).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

N-Methylpyrilidone (NMP) and Why the EPA is Sitting on This

Spring is coming, soon enough, and many boaters across the country will be faced with stripping years of accumulated paint. In the interest of safety, most have switch away from methylene chloride to safer (non-carcinogenic) soy-based removers. But the problem is these are  based on N-Methylpyrilidone, a potent reproductive toxin, and are not as harmless as implied.

First, the potential impact of this chemical was studied in cosmetics, where it was formerly a common ingredient. Obviously, it makes so sense to have a reproductive toxin in cosmetics, and after a series of evaluations has been removed from most products. This summary is from the EU consumer product safety committee.

"Based on a worst case assessment with a maximum use concentration of 5% NMP in cosmetic products and a dermal absorption of 100%, the Margin of Safety is considered to be too low. There is an absence of specific information on the actual possible maximum concentrations of NMP present in cosmetic products and specific measurement of dermal absorption of it through skin at relevant concentrations.

With the information available at the time of assessment, the SCCS is of the opinion that the presence of NMP with a maximum use concentration of 5% in cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer. A re-evaluation may be possible should relevant data that addresses the above be provided"

Full Study Text

This spring the EPA released a study that concluded that even "gloves and respirators do not adequately reduce risks to people who use NMP for more than four hours per day on a single day or repeatedly over a succession of days." Additionally, they determined that "gloves made of butyl rubber or laminated polyethylene/EVOH are resistant to NMP." It seems NMP has long been prized for it's ability to premiate everything (paint and skin)to deliver other chemicals, and thus it can permiate all common glove materials (latex, PVC, and nitrile) within minutes.

The EPA was poised to act on this...

EPA Fact Sheet on N-Methylpyrilidone

... but guess what happened. All new actions have been frozen in the interest of reducing regulation and protecting businesses.

I guess protecting people is not so important.

Are there safe alternatives. Yes. Sand with a vacuum sander. Use a stripper based on
benzyl alcohol, which is listed as “generally accepted as safe in food” (tiny amounts). Dibasic esters (dimethyl succinate, dimethyl glutarate and dimethyl adipate) are also consideref safe. If you stay with NMP, Do Not Allow Women to Help. Effects on sperm are still up in the air, so if children are in your future, Don't Use NMP, or at least exercise extreme caution; butyl gloves, cartridge-style organic vapor respirator, waterproof coveralls.

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.

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. The clutches lock it up as well as down. The wrap on the pulpit is for padding and stability. Coincidentally, the 4:1 down haul has the same amount of line travel as the 2:1 up haul, so the line can be continuous. A cover was spliced over the clutch section.
  • 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 (discontinued?) 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.

71a. Wet and Forget. Although 5x more dilute (only 9.9% BAC) , the formula is just as effective, you just don't dilute it as much. Instead of diluting 50:1 to make a 1% solution, dilute 10:1.  The result is a bit more expensive, but not excessive if you clean the surface first.


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

      For mechanical (based on corrosion and wear testing), including winches, Green Grease (Omni Lubricants) from Advance Auto is the top pick. For antisieze on bolts, Tef Gel is very good. Also Locktite Marine Grade LB 8023 (not just any anti-seize--some of the non-marine formulas contain dissimilar metals and can make it worse).

      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.