Saturday, May 1, 2021

New RTCM SOS Beacons

The USCG has approved a new SOS beacon standard that flashes red/orange, cyan, red/orange in the familiar SOS pattern. Learn to recognize it.


There is also an older standard where the flash is white-only.

 Although not as bright as a flare, IMO they are more recognizable than a hand-held flare. The USCG wanted to replace flares with something safer. They also last 6-8 hours, which is a huge improvemtn over 4 x 3 minutes.


After trying to buy flares last years, and being greeted with old stock (only 24 months left), I switched to an electronic beacon. Overtime it will be cheaper, and I believe it is better.

You still need a day signal. VHS and cell phones are still important. Offshore parachute flares are still conspicuous at long range.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Pending Beam Failure

About 4 years ago a section of deck was pealed to replace core damamge. The PO had lost control of the mast when lowering, ripping the hinge out of the deck and allowing water to get in the core. The problem is, the knucklehead that removed the deck made a transverse cut RIGHT in front of the mast, weakening the deck support for the mast. Stupid. He replace the skin, but he didn't scarf the joint well and it just sheared like scissors. Poor seam placement. I run into this on steel tank repair all the time.

The inside beam held the mast for 4 years, but today the web buckled. It is not cored. The flange (bottom is solid glass and is undammaged, but the web is only ~ about 12 ounces of glass cloth, which seems totally insufficient for the load. A porta-john is built stronger. 

Fortunatly, it is not cored, so I believe if I get the weight off it, reinforce the damaged area, and they reinforce the entire beam with a double wrap of 17 oz. biax and add some uni on the bottom it should be far stronger than new. 

I suspect the factory skimped. I've seen this in Corsairs before. It's why Ian left.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Spring is Coming

 It's supposed to pass 60F next week. I won't know how to dress. Time for some fast sailing.

It doesn't like like double digit speed, but it is. 

I don't have many pictures in the high teens--I guess I'm busy!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Drogue Chainplate Design

 Don Jordan, the father of the series drogues, suggested a chainplate of conservative dimensions, but did not detail the design. He wanted to keep it simple so that people would use them. Most commonly, these plates are installed horizontally, because that looks right. But what if the pull is not horizontal?

In my limited experience, and based on what I think is common sense, the strongest pulls are from a downwards angle. From basic engineering statics, the largest bending forces are near the transom end, and the largest shear loads on the bolts will be when the load is off-axis. That suggests either more or larger bolts near the transom, but more will better distribute the shear stress load to the laminate.

Hardly a detailed analysis, just thinking. In practice, it would be simpler just to build it oversize, though internal reinforcement of the laminate might be avoided by this sort of design.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Jawbone and Other Mysteries

 There we were, sailing across the Chesapeake in moderate winds when, something small and hard clattered into the cockpit from the masthead. For a moment were were terrified that i must be some critical pin, and that any moment the mast would go over the side. But upon closer inspection, it was a jawbone.

A brief Google search confirmed it was most probably from a raccoon.
But how did that get up there? I can only assume an owl was responsible, since I clean owl pellets off the deck now and them. Seems more likely than an osprey. 
But then what explains this chunk of asphalt, neatly lodged on my aft starboard aka? I doubt a bird carried it. Why would a racoon, and besides, there were no sings of attempted forced entry, which I would  expect if raccoons were about.

It's a puzzlement.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cold Weather Clothing

 I snicker when I see people with a a foul weather jacket and jeans. I snicker quietly when I see foul weather gear on a cold, dry day. Really, it's more like going skiing and a walk in the rain.


Whats wrong with this?

  • Waterproof socks. Gill makes thick ones that keep even wet deck shoes warm.
  • Fleece base layer pants. Or soccer training pants. Pockets and I can wear them to the boat.
  • Goretex snowboard pants. Lots of  pockets, good waist, ventilation zips.
  • Base layer fleece top
  • Thin mid-layer fleece  top. 
  • Goretex/Primaloft climbing parka (Climb High). Super warm. Too warm above freezing.
  • Powerstretch balaclava
  • Fleece hat
  • Ski goggles. I need sunglasses anyway, and these keep you face warm.
  • Gloves. Many winter choices. I like either Musto winter cloves with heat packs or the 2021 Gill Helmsman (the fit is improved).

Doesn't look "sailory?" It's warm, highly water repellent, breathable, warm, and MUCH easier to move in than standard foul weather gear with underlayers.

I went paddling later. For that, I wore a drysuit. That's really a safety thing. I've never tipped a kayak, other than whitewater, but 32F water will kill. And suck majorly. And the dry suit is very comfortable paddling, like sitting at home on a warm couch. (You can search this blog for drysuit stuff.)

I've got a lot of winter combinations, but they only include rain gear if it's, well, raining.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Sewn Splices

 Traditional splicing of rope eyes is the gold standard, but there are times when it is not practical:

  • The line is old and stiff.
  • It is a line, like climbing rope, that cannot be spliced by conventional methods because the cover is too tight.
  • The position of the splice must be precise.

 Enter the sewn splice. This is often seen on sails, and can be made strong for larger eyes by using more stitching. The strength is about the thread strength x number of passes, and add a 50% safety factor. Also protect from chafe with a webbing or other covering.

I've been using sewn splices for 30 years and I have not experienced a failure yet, though I do cover those that are exposed to chafe.

I made this video for Good Old Boat Magazine as a companion for an article on the topic some years ago.