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 Here, the word tight is used to mean slightly drunk, and it's a slightly out-of-date use of the expression.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.