Sunday, April 29, 2018

Those Damn Flies

After years of swatting flies and failing to find any home remedy that did much, I decided to comb the internet for an effective fly repentant... and found catnip oil!

Recommended by the Department of Agriculture and EPA as an effective replant for stable flies, I don't understand why it hasn't made it to the mainstream for boaters. Plastic-safe (no risk of melting vinyl windows with a hand-print), people-safe, cheap, easy, effective, and pleasant, it is everything that DEET is not. It only lasts about 30 minutes, but we can live with that. Often the flies just leave, when we take the food source away.

To our great relief, our cat was not interested in our legs after returning home.

Try it out, and report back if you find a more potent version!

$5.99 for 8 ounces from Petco.




Monday, April 16, 2018

UV is the Enemy

A neighboring sailor told me he had been told webbing was OK until it bleached white.... I turned white and gasped. I've torn 10-year old sun-bleached climbing slings, still not nearly white, from the mountain with a single bare hand. These are 20 KN slings (4500 pounds).

The reality is that webbing is vulnerable in the sun because it is thin and the UV can penetrate quite deeply.  In fact, these charts understate the problem because the webbing is exposed only on one side (jacklines are turned in use) and because the background on test racks is not as reflective as a white deck. This at least offsets the fact that the racks are in Arizona.

Climbing Ropes, Climbing Slings, Harnesses, Safety Tethers, and Spinnakers. If the item is turned in use so that the sun sees both sides, the deterioration will be slower but will progress farther. A 50% loss in strnegth within 3 years, with only sporadic use, has been documented in the field.

Deck hardware and bearings. Although it can be used for webbing gear, this is unusual. When used for hardware it is heavily doped with carbon black, which prevents UV  penetration. Still, when your jammer levers start to fall apart after 10 years, now you know why.

Polyester Jackline Webbing and Webbing on Sails. Better than nylon, but still serious after a few years. Worse if the sun gets to bot sides, which it will.

The bottom line is that you need to watch both time and condition. I like oversized rope for jacklines, because it holds up far longer, but this is only a solution if you can keep it off the deck.

Monday, April 9, 2018

100 Best Buys--Chapter 16

Rigging Tips

Boats come rigged so-so from the factory. Racers add tweaks, but even cruisers find themselves up-grading the line for easier operation..

91. Low Friction Rings. These barely existed when I had my Stiletto 27. The PDQ was well rigged; never bought a block for her, always finding what I needed in the spares bin. But my F-24 required a few things. Harken, Ronstan, Schaefer, Tylaska, Antal, Nautos, and Wichard all make them. I like Antal best. The biggest mistake is to think of these as a racer thing. Instead, think in terms of simplicity, reliability, low cost per load, and strength.

Tackles. Ball bearing blocks are better if it must be adjusted, but for shear strength and simplicity, low friction rings rule. This is found in my bobstay tackle. mostly it is spliced Amsteel, but the tan loop is a Dyneema climbing sling, seized tight.

Please checkout the Practical Sailor article on the topic.

This looks skinny and light, but it is massively strong, about 3 tons working load. Ball bearing blocks would slowly deform under this sort of sustained load. I spliced most of them, but I seized the Antal ring into a Dyneema climbing sling (quick draw), and easy way to make short strops.

Outhauls and guides. They can be used as line guides, but lighter and easy to lash in place.

Barberhaulers. One of the very best applications. They don't bang around like blocks. They can be installed in old lines using sewn eyes.

In most cases you will need to cover the tail with a cover so that jammers will grab it. The frugal sailor will find a bit of used polyester double braid, sew the core to the Amsteel, and pull the cover over the Amsteel as needed. To bury the end, unlay about 4 inches of the cover, bring it to one side of the rope, and tape it to a knitting needle. Pass the knitting needle in the core of the Amsteel and lock stitch. A neater job can be done by passing the Amsteel through the cover about 4 inches from the end and then tucking the in-tact cover into the Amsteel core.

 Like two snakes swallowing each other.

92. NixWax Soft Shell Proof. Good for freeze proofing lines, I use it on my ice climbing ropes every season. But year-round it...
- Reduces wear
- Keeps ropes light
- Reduces squeaking
- Helps them run faster
... by restoring the internal lubrication to the line.  For get the wash-in instructions. Clean the line and let dry completely. Then add 4 ounces to a 5-gallon bucket and soak for one hour, agitating occupationally. Remove and let dry. Recycle the dregs by adding a little fresh treatment and repeating with more line.

93. Extreme Angle Fairleads. Have a line that is held by a cam cleat, but some times requires breaking when released? My traveler was like that. I ate through 2 standard fairleads before I switched to these. Several brands, just make sure the wire goes all the way around.

94. Mainsail Leach Tells. Just bits of yarn (wool or acrylic) or ribbon, they show if the main is over trimmed and stalled, which is probably the most common sail trim fault I see.  Just attach them with a 2-inch square of nylon sail repair tape, and don't expect them to last too long.

 95. Mast Groove Cleaner.  A two-foot length of bolt rope from Sail Rite with a grommet in each end will do the job. Make two; one for cleaning and one for applying the lube. Use toluene on the first to remove old residue, and soak the other with Sailkote and haul it fast. Great for speeding up the hoist.

Also a Practical Sailor article. A lot of my best tips are published there.

Don't forget McLube Sailkote. But I've listed this one before as a lubricant, so no double counting. Vital for smooth hoists. Also McLube One-Drop for travelers (do NOT us Sailcote or any dry lube on a traveler or other ball bearing slider--it will make the balls skid and wear)... though as near as I can tell a single drop of 3-In-One oil or winch pawl oil will work as well.

We're nearing the end of the "100 Best" series. Perhaps next season there will be a "Next 100 Best," but for the moment it needs a rest. Gotta test some more stuff first.