Friday, September 29, 2017

Composite Fittings

In the process of re-fitting a new-to-me boat, I find myself going deep into the archives in search of ways to make her light, strong, and interesting.

Pad eyes are simple enough. Leave it to Ropeye to come up with an elegant Dyneema solution that is strong as hell, light, and cost $290.

But  if we did through the old magazines, we can find this one in a 1991 Multihulls Magazine:

 Instead of through bolts and a backing plate, he simply wound Kevlar thread round and round until there was enough to carry the load. The stainless steel thimble, that was used as the form, provides chafe protection on the inside. I've also seen these made, where the Kevlar, Glass unidirectional, or carbon unidirectional was used in the same way, but instead fanned out on the inside surface and glassed, making a backing plate of sorts. More labor, but just as strong and no need to rebed, ever.

Take that, marine chandleries.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mast Time

In the quest to get my new boat whipped into shape, it was time to go where the air is thin for a little recon work. It is known that the PO whacked the masthead on a travel lift, removing the wind vane and wind instruments. Or maybe it hapened when he dropped the mast, tearing the mast hinge from the deck. Who can say. Either way, it was time for a closer look. Yes, this could be inspected when the mast is down, but we may be moving the boat with it only out of the water for one day, so it would be nice to have the any required parts on hand.

For me, the MastMate is the way to climb. With Dave tailing a safety line (halyard) I doubt it took more than 2 minutes to reach the top, perhaps a bit less. Always roll the ladder with the steps flat and they will pop right open. 

Notice the blue EVA foam padding taped inside the leg loops of a standard climbing harness. This cheap expedient greatly improves comfort when you are up there for a while. Coated gloves improve grip on the mast and stays.

 The box for the wind instruments stripped out of the mast, but Rivnuts should take care of that.  I like the new LED anchor light. The VHF will remain unused for now, I presume, in favor of handhelds.

Note that I tie myself off at the top with a few slings and carabiners. This improves stability.

 A Davis Windex fit nicely in the VHF antenna mount. The boat previously had a crane mounted off the back for the Windex, but all evidence of it is gone. Both Practical Sailor testing (me) and market share suggest this is the best vane available.

 And of course, the obligatory pictures of the view. The slip is only wide enough for one ama to extend at a time. We will be moving to a wider slip, although folding takes only 5 minutes.

 Washington Sailing Marina, with Regan National Airport and the Potomac River in the background.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My new Outboard

No, not really.

This is the drive for an F-25 enter in the Race to Alaska.

A pair of Hobie Mirage drives would only amount to a fraction of a horsepower. It better be flat calm and no tide.

I think is is simpler to follow e-10 best practices:
  • Use a good anti-corrosion additive.
  • Portable Tanks: Close the vent when not in active use.
  • Installed Tanks: Use a silica gel vent filter.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

State of Charge vs. Voltage

I get questions all the time regarding "is this voltage right?" Well, it depends.

Temperature. In the summer they run higher, in the winter, lower. Also, if the battery is heated from the charging process, it can be warmer than the air temperature. As you can see, there is a 0.6 volt range between summer and winter, depending on where the batteries are located. In the winter many electronics will cut of around 50% state of charge due to minimum voltage requirements. Thus, the usable power in the winter is much less. Fortunately, solar charges more efficiently, though for fewer hours and at a lower sun angle. No fans, but more light and heating appliance load.

Surface Charge. Just after charging the voltage can be a few tenths higher, sort of like how a lieden jar stores static, although the mechanism is different. Put a few amps on them for an hour before reading at no-load.

Under Load or While Charging. Both of these affect the voltage due to internal resistance effects. Although in theory these can be corrected for, in practice you will miss by a mile. Always test while resting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

100 Best Buys--Chapter 9

Keeping Warm on Deck

I am, by nature, a 4-season sailor.  I try (unsuccessfully) to avoid sub-freezing temperatures and strong winds, and when the water turns hard sailing stops, but other than that, it's press-on regardless. There is nothing better for combating early spring cabin fever than a quiet mid-winter day of light air sailing, and even cool spring and fall weather require some preparation to be enjoyable. it is always best to be prepared.

51. Dry Suit. I was tempted by these 35 years ago, when I sailed a beach catamaran, but all the finances would justify was a cheap wet suit. I was tougher then. When I took up kayaking a few years ago, I spent the bucks and never looked back. They are great as deck wear on cool, nasty days, where they prevent water from going down the neck or up the sleeve, and they are more agile than full foul weather gear. If you fall in you are basically wearing an immersion suit and will be  safe--even comfortable--for many hours. If you wind a rope in the prop, need to assess underwater damage, or need to enter the water to assist and MOB, there is no other solution. I now consider a dry suit to be a winter sailing safety essential. I like the Ocean Rodeo line, because of the convertible neck and attached feet. Yup, that is ice around me. I was in the water for six hours, running the suit through the US Coastguard immersion suit standard. It was actually fun, since I have no other opportunity to swim in the winter.

52. Shoe Drier. My personal workhorse is homemade, designed for kid's snow gear. However, there are many neat commercial designs available.

53. Hand Warmers. Thick gloves are warm, but you can't actually do anything while wearing them. As an ice climber I concluded that Hot Hands hand warmers were are far better solution, allowing the use of thinner gloves with resulting improvements in dexterity. The gloves must be reasonable air tight; thin fleece or knit gloves do not adequately retain heat or limit oxygen supply, causing the packs to burn out quickly and do little good. Windblocker fleece gloves with leather palms are a good compromise. With heat packs, these are good down to freezing. Lightweight ice climbing gloves can be good. It comes down to fit and wind/water resistance.

54. Ski Goggles. Not just for southern ocean spray. Any time the temperature drops below about 55F, goggles can replace sunglasses, keeping the whole face warmer. Pair these with a light Polar Fleece balaclava (seals the neck) and a fleece watch cap (the balacava helps hold the cap on) and you will be good down to freezing.

55. Fleece Socks. I can stand cold fingers and the wind on my face, but I can't abide cold feet, more specifically cold wet feet.  In really wet conditions, the best solution is a dry suit with attached feet. No more wet toes, ever. In more moderate conditions, I like neoprene socks over fleece, and finally, just fleece when it is cold but dry.

And always take extras for the ride home and for sleeping at night.

So ditch all notions of blue lagoons, substitute visions of the ice fiords and polar exploration, and extend your sailing season by double. Pretty cool (pun intended.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Notice anything different this morning? It's the new sports car (Corsair F-24) in the header image.

But I don't expect too much on this blog to change. It will still be about projects, sailing, cruising, gear testing, and writing. I already have a project list over a page long, little of it vital, and much of it fun, stuff intended to make sailing easier or faster. In fact, my main reason for changing boats was to reinvigorate my writing.

In keeping with my prior boats I've stayed with basic principles:
  • Pick a well-known brand that is in demand.
  • Don't buy a project boat. You won't get to sail and you won't save money, not really.
  • Pick one that calls to you. Be practical, because the next person will be, but remember that sailing is about being in love with being there. If she calls to you, she will call to someone else in the future.
  • Maker her better over time. Fight depreciation. It is also easier to stay in love with a boat which is kept in prime condition.
So what does the future hold?
  • Some maintenance. It's a boat. Much of what I learned from the PDQ and Stiletto will apply, but there will be new stuff.
  • Some upgrades. But I have to sail a boat for a while before I understand the design well enough to actually make it better.  I like subtle upgrades, not bolted-on gadgets. I don't know just what she needs yet. But I have page of ideas.
  • Some cruising tales. The cruises will be shorter, I'm sure, and back to my gunk holing roots. My kayak will be coming along.
  • Some analysis of sailing technique and equipment designs. Always. A new boat brings new perspective.
  • Gear testing. Though only 24 feet, she is a sturdy boat and should make a fine test bed. She is well-built, not tender, and not afraid of a good breeze. The basic needs remain the same.