Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cold Beer

Although never one to turn down a beverage, politely offered, I do marvel at the folks that chill beer to the very edge of freezing, killing any taste it might have. Perhaps in our PBR college days that was a necessity, but now that we enjoy a universe of craft brews, we owe it to the brew master to serve them correctly.

From the micro-brewers association:

          Proper Serving Temperatures (allow 2F for warming caused by the glass)

  1. Cold, no lower than 41° F (5° C) Lighter styles of beer — Sparkling wines/Champagne

  2. Chilled, no lower than 46° F (8° C) Most craft beers — White wines

  3. Cellar, around 53° F (12° C) Higher alcohol, richly flavored beers — Red wines

Since I like IPAs and stouts, and a bit warmer than this, I find the bilge is generally enough, although the inside of my lunch cooler (about 50F) is preferred in hot weather.

If you are going to broaden your tastes, then own it. No more ice-cold beer. Ice water is still good for cooling down, but drinking ice cold beer to cool down and rehydrate is just a recipe for sloppy sailing!

Image result for beer mug

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Outland Hatch Covers

September 2016

After nearly a year in service, 2-thumbs up and nothing I would suggest they do differently. A great product that is both durable and sharp looking.

Measure carefully (they are all custom cut), clean the hatch, and install on a warmish day.

Press the buttons on firmly.

 This one is located near the base of the mast, and thus, I've stepped on it many times.

Kind of pricey, but they do a nice job of keeping the sun out (the cabin is significantly cooler and the AC works less) and they can be left in place sailing. Although I would try not to step on hatches on principle, this hatch is at the mast, I stand near there every time I hoist or reef. As a result, they've been stepped on roughly a good many times in rough weather. Not at all slippery and evidently durable. One owner (Boat reported dropping a wrench from the masthead, saving the lens from a certain crack. The only evidence was a tiny dent.

March, 2018

After 5 years on the PDQ, I liked them so much (they are still like new), I added one to my F-24. The forward hatch gets stepped on a good bit and the cover offer some insulation, keeping the cabin warmer in the winter and much cooler in the summer. The the hatch lens will last longer (no UV), making it worthwhile for that reason alone.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fixing a Lame Bowsprit

It's not that I work slowly, but often I make changes in small increments, careful to make certain each change and the entire project is optimized. This one took nearly 6 months to completion.

I didn't photograph the original mess of cracked welds and failed screw repairs. I just ground it all away.  The original fitting did not cradle the butt end of the bowsprit and did not extend completely to the end.

The Failure. The original hinge mechanism included an undersized butt cradle that ended up cracked on most F-24s. It was simply under-designed.Often the sprit was also dented. There was no line to hold it up, and sheets often snagged down low, around the jib furler.

The new aluminum cradle is both wider and built from heavier material. The plastic insert is curved to match the pole. These dimensions are approximate--you will need to measure your own.
This should be as strong as the pole. However, I always tension the up-haul snugly to carry the opposing load, should the bobstay be inadvertently over-tensioned.

Larger bolts (#10) were tapped into the side pieces. Additionally, the cradle is wider and reaches to the end of the pole.

Then there was the matter of articulation. The original design incorporated a fix bobstay and could only be folded or extended at dock, or by hooking your legs around the pulpit and reaching for a pelican hook at the waterline. Not fun under way in any weather. Some owners fitted a tackle using blocks, but they're certain to collect junk and accumulate lime. Ball bearing blocks large enough to handle the sustained high load would be awfully bulky. I also wanted more purchase, to reduce the load on the line clutch. Enter low friction rings (LFR). Although higher in friction than ballbearing blocks, this tackle is not adjusted under load.

Fortunately Amsteel is super easy to splice. The yellow is a Dyneema Climbing sling. The safe working load of this tackle is about 3000 pounds, stronger than original.

I used rings from Antal, Ronstan, Harken, Nautos, Wichard, and Scheafer, all part of a Practical Sailor research project. Though I reported my favorites, they all work just fine. An up-haul was also added, not apart of the original design. This relieves the load from the butt cradle and keeps the reacher sheets from going under the pulpit where they can hang-up. It also secures the sprit against the pulpit when not in use (I wrapped a sort section of the pulpit with 3/16-inch line so that it would not bang when stowed). A lucky coincidence of geometry, the travel of the 4:1 down haul and the 2:1 up-haul are the same, making a continuous line a neat solution. Because Amsteel is slick, I covered (bury splices) the center section of the line with polyester cover so the clutches would hold properly.

A surplus Easy-Lock clutch is mounted to an aluminum plate (tapped), which is in turn mounted by bolts through the hull flange, neatly out from under foot. Another LWR keeps the line tail neat.

The final result is easy to use, and lighter and stronger than factory. The side stays are looking a little rusty, so they will be replaced with Amsteel soon as well.

How fast? Over windspeed on a reach. Mid-teens are common, though a little scary if it's gusty.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Getting my Small Boat Anchoring Mojo Back

I've done a lot of testing related to anchoring, almost always related to anchoring with all-chain. After all, that is what cruisers do. It is cut proof, reduces swing in tight anchorages, and is easy to handle with a windlass.

But my cruising started on a Stiletto 27 catamaran, weighing only 1300 pounds and anchoring with rope and hooks of no more than 12 pounds. Soft mud, sand, rocks and packed shell. I did a lot of things differently, by instinct, and now I'm determining by load cell and scientific method just how many of my judgments were right.

The new break-down 13-pound Mantus anchor is a godsend for shallow lockers, fitting where only pivoting fluke anchors once would. Disassembly takes only 20 seconds and requires no tools. This is the only new generation anchor that will work in this locker. The only other non-Danforth style anchor that fit was a 12-pound Northill Utility, which although a nice anchor, has an exposed fluke that is a little scary if you swing overnight.

Note the red webbing chafe guard. I use only 5 feet of chain, so this protects the first 20 feet of rode. It is slid over the first few links of chain and sewn in place, through a seizing might wear better.

I still like Fortress/Guardian Anchors for soft mud. They have no equal.  

Bridles and Snubbers. Multihulls always used bridles to reduce yawing. However, where I have long pitched nylon for use with chain, to reduce snatching, with a nylon rode the rule is reversed. A non-stretch bridle is more stable (does not bend from side to side), and by reducing the amount of nylon, horsing (fore-aft surging) is reduced. I used polyester double braid on the Stiletto and I am using Dyneema on the F-24.

Scope. I don't care what they say about new generation anchors holding at short scope. Based on every bit of theory and testing of many anchor models, it just ain't so. Because smaller boats can anchor is shallow water, long scope is no big problem. I very, very rarely use less than 8:1 scope.

Scope Holding
Greater than 20:1 100%
10:1  95%
7:1 80%
5:1 60%
3:1 30%
Less than 2:1 variable to nil

[This relationship is based on testing of anchors of all styles, including new generation, and holds true for mud and sand, and for sizes from 2 pounds to 5 tons. The exceptions are pivoting fluke anchors by Danforth and Fortress, which are much better at short scope, but only if well set first, which is basically impossible for most small sailboats (the engine is too small).]
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Rode Size. Go bigger than recommended, not because you are paranoid, but because if you check the numbers, most rope recommendations seem to be based on fishing and lunch stop anchoring. I guess they figure you would use chain if you were a a "real" cruiser. Remember that the WLL is only 12% of the breaking strength (ABYC H-40, Table AP-1), and that is before UV and chafe are included. Finally, larger ropes are easier to pull by hand and wear MUCH slower (lower load/area and the rope fibers are under less stress).

Chafe Guards. We use tubular webbing on dock lines and mooring pendants to prevent chafe. Why not on the anchor rode? Because it floats loose, it is practically wear proof. 2-inch Blue Water ClimbSpec webbing slides over  a 1/2-inch chain splice and 1/4-inch chain. $0.45/foot.

Coating with Yale MaxiJacket or Flexdel RopeDip is also effective against chafe, but not cutting. It also stiffens the rope slightly.

Short Chain. I hate handling chain. If you have to use momentum to break out the hook and have no roller, chain will tear up the top sides.  I don't need chafe protection if I use a guard, and the rode + webbing cleats easily.  The weight of 10-20 feet of chain makes no difference once the wind is above 15 knots. It's off the bottom, I've checked. It doesn't change the way the boat swings. Skip the long chain.

Use Two Anchors. Not all the time. But learn how to lay two and you will see that it takes only a few minutes on a smaller boat. [One simple way is to set the first anchor at 20:1 scope, walk the second anchor to the stern and lower, and then bring the boat to about 10:1 scope and tighten them against each other. You can even use a cockpit winch. Then moor the second rode to the bow--I don't believe in fore-aft anchoring. Add 20-50 feet slack, since you  don't actually want the anchors in a straight line, you want a triangle.] .A particularly good idea if you have only pivoting fluke anchors, which don't like direction changes. The trick is to have a relatively short (100 feet?) rode on the second anchor so that if the boat spins, untangling is easy. Put eyes in the ends and it is easy to extend with needed, which will probably be... never.

Minimize Yawing. Taking the dingy off the bow helps (like a riding sail at the wrong end). Lift the rudder (moves the lateral plain forward). Take down the furling reacher. Use a hamerlock mooring.

Puny Engine? No Engine? Bump Set! After getting your initial set and deploying full scope, power set with reverse. Then gather up some slack and back up at speed; 2 knots for heavier boats, 3 knots for multihulls. So long as you have at least 50 feet of line out, the effect will be no more than a severe storm (I've measure the forces). No engine? Haul up slack and the let the wind push you back (you may need to wait until there is some wind).


I like to anchor with absolute certainty.