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Across the Bar: Tom Wells

On February 21, Good Old Boat lost its undisputed biggest fan. Tom Wells died peacefully and unexpectedly aboard his boat in Florida; he laid down for a nap and never woke. His public obituary is here.

I stood alongside Tom (and his wife, Sandy) in front of the Good Old Boat booth at the 2017 and 2018 Annapolis sailboat show. His love of the magazine was contagious and I referred to him as The Closer, for his ability to convey to anyone who stopped and talked to him the merits of our magazine. Most of the time they asked to subscribe on the spot.

And that’s when he wasn’t playing. For years, and long before my time, Tom was Good Old Boat’s Official Troubadour, a fixture in our Annapolis booth, singing and playing original compositions on guitar, putting a smile on passersby.

As much as he was a cheerleader, Tom was a valued contributing editor. Over the years, in addition to other stories, he wrote reviews of 18 different boats. My guess is that on the day before he died, Tom could have told you the names of all 18 boat owners, because he and Sandy became friends and stayed in touch with each one. It’s just the way they were. Tom was big in stature, gentle in demeanor, with a disarming wit. He was a lover of words and puns. When his Tartan 37 needed a name, only Higher Porpoise would do (his previous boat was On Porpoise). Tom was the author of Superior Run, the story of a writer and sailor who uses his Tartan 37 to help a friend escape a ruthless adversary, a deadly game of cat and mouse on the Great Lakes… Many reviewers on Amazon expressed an interest in a sequel. Tom was working on one, but his time ended.

I’m grateful that I got to know Tom, but our window was short. Good Old Boat founders Karen Larson and Jerry Powlas share a deeper knowledge and connection with Tom and their remembrances follow.

Karen writes, “Tom Wells was a big man with a big voice and an enormous personality to go with it. He was a big crewmember with big muscles who could winch in the sheets and budge the traveler car no matter the wind conditions. He sailed like there was no tomorrow.

“He was a big teller of jokes and always the one with the fastest and wittiest repartee. His creativity was legendary. He could write music and lyrics, author books, play any tune on his 12-string, write a boat review or technical article, and judge the safety of buildings and other structures. He was a big friend to all he met. This was possible because he had a very big heart.

“He was one of our closest friends. He was a big presence in our lives and in those of others. And with his quiet and unexpected departure, so out of character, he has left behind a big empty space.

“We will miss him always.”

Jerry writes, “Tom Wells saved my life at least once and he saved my bacon many times. He was a dedicated member of the Good Old Boat crew, writing reviews and doing “booth duty” at boat shows.

“Tom made a daylight crossing to Fiddler’s Green on February 21, 2020. Just to show off, he made the whole crossing in his sleep. Tom didn’t play the fiddle. He played the 12-string guitar. Nonetheless the fiddlers will be glad to have him. I’ve seen him write a song, music, and lyrics in less than half an hour.

“When ashore away from boats, Tom was a structural engineer, father of a daughter and son, grandfather to one lucky little girl, and husband to his best friend Sandy. He had a preference for dark and stormys when the sun was below the yardarm. The rum had to be Gosling’s Black Seal, and the ginger beer had to be Vernor’s. I got the rum brand wrong once and he let me know. He was a sport though, he drank up even though the drink was a bit off. I still have a bit of the rum left. It was waiting for Tom’s next visit.

“If the fiddlers can’t play in tune or they don’t have the correct rum and ginger beer there, perhaps he will come back for a tuning fork, Gosling’s Black Seal, and some Vernor’s ginger beer.

“If you hear the faint sounds of a well-played 12-string, playing a song you can’t quite place, you are being haunted by an old sailor who is good to have on your side.”

A Step Aboard

My previous boat was a traditional cutter with an outboard rudder and boomkin, precluding the use of a common stern swim ladder. The wooden side ladder she came with was cumbersome and difficult to store. I replaced it with a simple step which hung over the topsides, and life was good. I eventually sold that boat and bought Nurdle, a 1979 Bristol 35.5 equipped with a conventional transom-mounted swim ladder. All was well until, in preparation for extended cruising, I decided to install a windvane self-steering device and the ladder had to go. Drawing inspiration from that simple step, I decided to make an improved version.

The original was a 2 x 12 plank, sturdy but very heavy. For the new one, I selected a piece of ¾” mahogany plywood, salvaged from a bulkhead replacement project on a friend’s Alberg 30 (“No Time for Perfection,” Good Old Boat, November 2014). The gate stanchions are 24 inches apart, which determined the step’s width. I had considered making it deep to fit a telescoping swim ladder, but that would require a depth of about 18 inches, which seemed excessive. I selected a generous 12-inch depth.

I started by drilling ¾” holes in the corners to fit the ½” suspension lines. The scrap ply I was using was already varnished and I left it this way on the bottom. But on the top, I wanted a nonskid surface. Having used KiwiGrip on my deck and been pleased with the results, I decided to try a homemade equivalent. I bought a pint of rejected latex paint at the big box store for $1.25. I removed the lid off it and let the contents dehydrate for a week or so, until it was goopy. I then laid this goopy paint on thick, using a texture roller to create a pattern. The result was acceptable, but I think the paint could have been even thicker at the start. Next time, I may try adding wood flour as a thickening agent.

After painting, I attached fender material to the front and back edges. I created this by splitting a pool noodle from the dollar store and removing a strip ¾” wide strip longitudinally. Pipe insulation may have been a good alternative and comes in different diameters. Satisfied with the size and shape, I cut strips of 10-ounce cotton duck I bought from Sailrite, hemmed the edges for easier handling, and applied them to the foam with contact cement. Next, I tacked them in place with small bronze ring shank nails, typically used to install brass weatherstripping. (Note: when purchasing these nails, bring a magnet with you, as some are only plated steel and will rust.

Next, I ran the suspension lines thru the holes with a stopper knot below. A loop at the appropriate level allowed hanging from the braces on the gate stanchion via a bow shackle. I use stopper knots to adjust the height so that it hangs where I want it, usually about 18 inches above the waterline, level with the top of the inflatable dinghy tube. When we have dogs aboard, I hang it higher so they can use it to help get themselves aboard. For swimming, I hang it much lower, closer to the water.

A friend expressed concern about the force the step is exerting on the stanchion bases, but given that the force is aimed nearly directly downwards, I think the force is less than might be created when leaning on the lifelines underway.

For another take on making a boarding step, check out “On-the-Fly Boarding Step,” an article by Connie McBride that appeared in the November 2017 issue of Good Old Boat.

John Churchill grew up a boat-crazy kid in Indiana. He built a raft at age 6, sailed Snipes as a teenager, and worked his way toward saltwater and bigger boats as an adult. He has singlehanded a Cape Dory 26 to Bermuda and back, and sailed a Bristol Channel Cutter transatlantic with his father. Now in Florida, John races and daysails Nurdle, a Bristol 35.5 (and former repo) that he’s rehabbing for extended post-retirement cruising.

Easy Charting

I sail a MacGregor 26D. It does not have a chart table. We don’t even carry much in the way of charts, because using charts in the cockpit takes a lot of room and just when we need to look at details closely…well, it’s hard to do that and steer at the same time.

But I came up with a charting hack. I found that if I use my smartphone to take high-resolution photos of a chart, or even the relevant pages of a chartbook or guide, I can later use these photos to great advantage while underway.

My phone is easy to hold with one hand, and close to where my eyes can best read it. I can zoom in on the photo for a very intimate look at each hazard or detail (such as reading buoy identifications) or zoom out and scroll along a coast line or get an overview of my course. I’ve used this hack for both large-scale and small-scale charts.

In addition, I’ll also use Google Maps on my phone to pin-point our location in satellite view and obtain an aerial perspective of a new harbor we are about to enter—this is great for spotting potential shallow areas. It always makes for safer, easier approaches when I have advance knowledge of what I’m about to encounter.

The phone does not blow around the cockpit. It does not need to be rolled up to put away or flipped through to find the right page. Most phones tolerate getting a little wet. My technique could be used to bring to the cockpit all sorts of resources needed while navigating underway, even if they’re simply redundancies to information stowed below.

Allen Penticoff, a Good Old Boat contributing editor, is a freelance writer, sailor, and longtime aviator. He has trailer-sailed on every Great Lake and on many inland waters and has had keelboat adventures on freshwater and saltwater. He owns an American 14.5, a MacGregor 26D, and a 1955 Beister 42-foot steel cutter that he stores as a “someday project.”

Non-destructive, Battery-powered Interior Lighting, 3.0

The galley is a poorly lit area of this sailboat

We’ve got some poorly lit areas aboard (as you can see above), and they’re where we most need bright light: our under-the-bridgedeck galley sink and our chart table. Early on, we’d use a flashlight to clean the dishes or navigate. Reticent to drill holes in the overhead surfaces, I cleverly hot-glued some large washers to these surfaces and stuck magnetic puck-style lights to them. The light was good, but the lights were easily knocked off, usually into the dish water. I tried a bunch of Velcro-based solutions, but these never lasted long. I think I’ve finally come up with a solution I’ll be happy with for a long time.

It seems all the hardware stores are selling cheap, wall switch-style LED light fixtures that emit an astonishing amount of light. They use 4 AAA batteries for power and can be affixed using magnets, Velcro, or two screws into captive slots. I was done with the first two approaches, and I knew that screws would be really stable, but how could I mount it that way without making holes overhead?

Supplies for my lighting project

From a piece of scrap Plexiglas, I cut several plates about the size of the base of wall-switch lights. Then I used a wall-switch light as a template for screw placement and marked the plates before drilling and tapping for the appropriate screws. (By appropriate, I mean screws that are just long enough to penetrate the thickness of the Plexiglas, but then leaving only enough of a gap beneath the screw head to later slide on the fixture so that it’s snug.) Before turning the screws into the plates, I applied some glue inside the holes to increase the holding strength. Next, I wiped down the overhead with acetone, exactly where I wanted to mount a light. In the same spots, I used hot glue to attach the plates to the overhead.

After installing the batteries and sliding the lights into place, all that was left to do was flick the switch.

Jim and Barbara Shell cruise the Texas coast in their 1981 Pearson 365 Ketch, Phantom.

 

 

 

 

The well-lit galley sink after our lighting project

 

 

 

Twice Hooked

For me, there are few experiences as satisfying as finding a quiet, secluded anchorage where I can enjoy the freedom of a peaceful sunset and lazy morning. You’ll recognize my boat because there’s an over-sized galvanized anchor on the bow, perpetually coated with dried mud from the last night I spent on the hook. This sailor is firmly planted in the cruiser garden, where I till the watery thoroughfares of the Great Lakes.

So it was that I was on a week-long cruising vacation, exploring the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario. Past Presqu’ile Point sits Prince Edward County and miles of beautiful sandy beaches. The area is dotted with quaint towns and wineries, promising a slower pace of life that draws cottagers from far and wide, including friends of ours, whom we decided to pay a visit. 

Because there are no keel-boat marinas near, we decided to anchor off the beach at Pleasant Bay Camp. All that separated us from our friends’ cabin property was a few hundred yards’ tromp over a sand dune.

The day was sunny, bright, and warm. A moderate south-west wind was kicking up 2-foot waves on the white-sanded shore. Because of a very gradual seabed slope, we anchored quite far out. We sunk the Lewmar-made Bruce-style anchor from the bow. As the family packed beach toys and towels in our kayak, I noticed a slight wind shift, causing Nomad, our Luger 26, to drift broadside to the waves. In that moment, my inexperience allowed a dangerous syllogism to form in my mind.

Major premise – Anchors secure boats.

Minor premise – You can’t have too much security.

Conclusion – Two anchors are better than one.

So, before we went ashore to meet our friends, I pulled our secondary anchor (a Fortress), from its cozy slumber in the lazarette, tossed it off the stern, and pulled on the rode to orient Nomad perpendicular to the waves, bow pointing to deeper water. After I cleated the stern anchor rode, we disembarked for some fun with friends.

An hour later, having returned to the boat alone, I stood staring with absolute terror at the foredeck, where the anchor roller was bent and twisted and nearly ripped off the boat. Two of the four bolts that were securing the roller were severed.

One or both anchors had shifted and now both worked to keep Nomad positioned so that she was broadside to the increasing wind and waves. She was being pounded mercilessly, each wave hitting with brutal strength. Then in a moment I realized that the anchor roller is the deck fitting to which the forestay is attached. Nomad was simultaneously at risk of being beached and dismasted!

With the rest of my family watching helplessly from the faraway shore, I spent the most terrifying 30 minutes of my life trying to save Nomad. This meant starting our reluctant Mercury outboard and retrieving both anchors, on a pitching, heeling boat without the benefit of a tiller pilot. At some point, I managed to cast off the kayak so it would wash ashore and could be used by the family to reach me.

With everyone back aboard, we threw a long nylon rope over the spreaders and tied it forward to support the mast. For the next two hours, the mood was somber as we limped back to the marina at Brighton, Ontario, from where our week-long sailing holiday had begun the day before.

The next morning, we tore apart the front of the v-berth and the anchor locker, removed the severely damaged anchor roller, pounded it back into functional shape, and re-attached it to the bow.

Having since completed a few Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons boating courses, I have come to learn my syllogism was entirely faulty. One anchor is nearly always the best solution. Securing a boat at the bow allows the hull to flow freely with the natural forces of wind and wave, minimizing the forces on the ground tackle. In my case, adding the stern hook served initially to orient the boat in a manner which pointed the bow into the seas, but doing so raised the danger that should either anchor drag and reset, the boat could wind up trapped as she was. There are limited cases when anchoring with a bow and stern hook makes sense, but it’s not accurate to surmise that two is always better than one, not even if both are set off the bow. In fact, I might never have reason to deploy more than one anchor for the rest of my sailing career.

Do I regret my own ignorance which led to this near-disaster? No. It was this experience—this mistake—that led me to learn what I’ve learned. I’m a wiser and safer captain today.

Lee Brubacher is the husband of one, father of three, and has been the Director of Worship at West Highland Church, Hamilton, Ontario, since 2001. He is an avid sailor who enjoys refurbishing older boats and then cruising on them.

Moonward: An Off-Season Daydream

by Craig Moodie

Close your eyes and climb aboard your little sailboat. Hoist the sail and drop off the mooring and slip across the deepening waters, mainsheet and tiller in hand. Feel the worn cedar planks and sand grains against your bare soles and hear the thrum of sail as it tautens in the breeze and lifts the boat across the water, wavelets clucking against the carving hull. Smell the cool salty broth of sea air and the fishy funk of the sea. Keep heading outward. Settle back against the cockpit coaming and nod to the terns chittering and peering at you as they flick past.

The sun settles toward the far shore. You squint at it, its rays warming your face. Tilt your head skyward and watch the angled shape of the sail and the gaff and the masthead arc and pivot against the heavens. Keep heading out and watch the sun alight on the horizon, then melt away, leaving the scattered puffs of cloud ablaze with electric pink that cools fast to purple and then charcoal. A planet blinks on, and red and green and white navigation lights of vessels appear. The water reflects the last of the sky’s inky blue. Shore lights mingle with the lights on the water. Soon you slip over a darkening sea, the white sail above you offering a pale glow against the growing star population. Reach for the chamois shirt you stow beneath the foredeck. Shrug into it and thank it for its warmth.

Skim onward into wider waters. You know you’ll never turn around now. A hush embraces you. The shore lights diminish, the lights of vessels disperse. Quiet now. You sense the outer shell of you dissolving to leave you open to the wind and the stars and the dark presence of the sea. You have passed through a zone in which you have given your entire being to the world. You open up your soul like a great pair of wings to let the quiet enter you and cleanse you. You become the boat and the sea and the night.

The moon raises its brow above the horizon, unfurling a glittering ribbon across the water. You adjust your course to point moonward, your bow scissoring the shimmer.

The moon whispers words you first think originate from wind or wave, sibilant syllables sweet but nonsensical. You know the words are meant for you. You strain to parse these lunar phrases, these moon murmurs, and soon you find that the nonsense sounds transform into a message as if you have tuned through the static of a shortwave radio to land on a clear signal.

“Steady on, steady on,” you hear the moon intone. Will you allow this beacon of beyond to guide you onward, outward, moonward?

You know you will. You know you’ll never turn around now.

Craig Moodie lives with his wife, Ellen, in Massachusetts. His work includes A Sailor’s Valentine and Other Stories and, under the name John Macfarlane, the middle-grade novel, Stormstruck!, a Kirkus Best Book.

Better to Stay Ahead of the Game

By D. Renée Kelso

The ice from the previous Canadian winter had pushed, moved, and piled up a lot of rocks, wood, sediment, and lord knows what else, in the waterway. Above water, there was no way one could tell. No way one would suspect it would be there. No way I could have known.

BANG! And my Grampian 2-34 came to a jarring halt. She hit hard.

“What the…?” I’d been sailing this same area for 16 years without a grounding. Now, my Grampian stood firm on her keel, rocking slightly.

After some helpful souls towed me off the ragged mound, I turned the boat around and headed back to my slip at the marina. The boat seemed to handle well, but all the way home I worried and wondered about the damage that may have happened underwater.

The next day, I contacted a nearby Marina that services boats. They told me to bring her over. The marina was about an hour away by motor. Wasting no time, I headed out. The skies were sunny and windless. Not so much as a zephyr; so I threw on the iron jib and set sail to have the keel inspected.

At the mouth of the harbor, the engine began heating up. The temperature gauge needle was a hair away from the very top temperature reading. My blood pressure rose with it. I crossed my fingers, lowered the speed, and limped the rest of the way to the service slip.

A group of employees waited at the slip, a Travelift at the ready.

When she first came out of the water, I was relieved. At first glance, the hull and keel looked okay, dripping with weeds and water. But after pulling the loose weeds away, we could see that the keel had indeed been damaged. It looked as though the bottom edge of it had been pried apart. The bottom plate had become detached. There was also a stress crack in the stern part of the keel where it meets the hull. There was the overheating engine.

I left the boat with the yard and stayed in touch. It was an expensive repair and it took a few weeks to finish, but the outcome was instructive.

Before deciding to haul the boat and inspect for damage, I waffled. After the grounding, after being towed off, the boat handled fine and the bilge was dry. Was I being too cautious in hauling to inspect for damage? Why waste precious days during the sailing season? With nothing seeming amiss, couldn’t I wait to haul at season’s end? Ultimately, I decided to play it safe; I’m glad I did.

The yard foreman explained to me that 60 percent of the plate at the base of the keel was detached, ripped off by the impact. If I had left it unattended, it could have snagged something and been torn off completely, or possibly have caused me to become stuck. And the gash at the trailing edge of the keel was allowing water to penetrate the interior of the keel. Had this not been repaired quickly, further damage would have resulted. The yard had epoxied the keel with a 105 resin, coupled with a 205 slow hardener and a 405 filleting blend additive for bonding and strength, and screwed the plate back into place. They then sanded to fair the repairs and leave a smooth sealed surface. Anti-fouling with VC17 was the final step and the job was done! (The engine problem wasn’t an engine problem at all, but a faulty gauge. Whew!)

At the first opportunity, I sailed my boat to her home slip to enjoy the rest of the season. It is widely understood that to keep an older boat in ship shape, an owner can’t ignore the little projects that pop up. I now know too that when in doubt about some aspect of a boat, whether damage- or maintenance-related, it is best to investigate and attend to anything aboard that needs tending, as soon as possible, whether the solution is a DIY fix or requires a professional. Waiting is never prudent. And staying on top of things keeps this sailor’s cursing tongue quiet.

D. Renée Kelso has been sailing on Lake Simcoe for the past 16 years. She’s not a racer, but enjoys her leisurely sails. She owned a Grampian 31 for 12 years and currently sails a Grampian 2-34.

Kiltie and I

by John Bailey

I get up and check the calendar. It’s late in the season and only a few days remain before the marina’s deadline for hauling out my boat. I check the weather; 7 to 9 out of the east, sunny with temps 57 to 62, a perfect fall sailing day.

We are going sailing—we meaning Kiltie and I. Kiltie’s my boat, named after the Scottish slang word for soldier. Just the thought of getting out on the water primes my spirit.

At the marina, the owner and I talk about where he might put Kiltie on the hard this winter. I tell him I need a spot where the boat won’t block other boats from going in early next spring, because Kiltie demands a bit more time to get ready in the spring. A 1966 Tartan 27 yawl, she’s got lots of wood trim and paint that needs attention.

Lots of bottom has passed under my boat’s keel these past 53 years. Her first owner sailed her out of the Hudson, up and down the northeast coast. He kept meticulous logs that make great wintertime reading these days. Her second owner refitted and re-powered her and sailed her around the Chesapeake. I’ve sailed her on the Chesapeake, up the coast to the Hudson, through the Erie Canal, and as far west as the Finger Lakes. She and I have been as far north as the Thousand Islands. One time, we secretly sailed over the US-Canadian border.

These days, her home port is Oneida Lake, Central New York, often referred to as the thumb of the Finger Lakes. Oneida Lake is a bit over 25 miles long, 5 miles wide, and, unlike the Fingers, it is relatively shallow and known for its choppy wind waves. It is also connected to the Erie Canal.

I fire up the old diesel, cast off the lines, and weave past many now-empty slips and through the breakwater. Outside the last channel buoys, I assess the wind. It seems to be blowing a bit more than forecast and it’s gusting. I decide not to set the mainsail, raising only the genoa and the mizzen. This sail arrangement is an old fishermen’s scheme and although a bit slower, it makes for a balanced helm that allows the boat to pretty much sail herself in rough seas. In my case, this sail plan will allow me to eat lunch with both hands.

We glide along between about 4 to 5 knots. Looking westward, the water and the sky meet; no land to see. Looking eastward, I see the sands of Verona and Sylvan Beach. In the summer one can hear, even this far out, the happy screams of children playing in the surf. I smile, reminded that this past summer we managed to introduce sailing to a couple of groups of kids. Today I hear only the wind, the lapping of the wavelets against Kiltie’s hull, and the occasional swoosh as she guides down a wave.

Lunch over, I look around to see only one other sail and a few fishing boats. Clouds are rolling in and the temperature is beginning to drop. The far shore is approaching. Soon I will tack the bow around and head back to the marina to begin the process of hauling her out. The winters here are long and the ice on this lake will soon be thick. I take solace only in the fact that I will have lots of time to sit by the stove and plan the next season’s adventure. Maybe we’ll drop the masts and head back through the canal to go further west, or maybe north again across Lake Ontario or maybe even east and north, locking through the 34 locks to Lake Champlain.

With Kiltie, it’s all possible.

John Bailey is a retired engineer. Before moving to Central New York, he sailed the waters of the Chesapeake and the coasts of New Jersey and New York in many good old boats.

The Floating Tool Tray

by Drew Frye

Need to replace a prop? Pull the lower unit on an outboard without pulling the engine? How about installing an external strainer without pulling the boat? Working on most anything below the trampoline or bridge deck of a multihull, or near the waterline of a monohull (replacing the screws on a transom-mounted swim step, or the bolts that attach a transom-mounted swim ladder?) you’re going to be in the water and going to need tools. After finding swim trunk pockets ineffective, after being unable to work because no topsides helpers were available to hand me things, and after giving too many wrenches to Neptune, a floating tool tray joined my list of favorite solutions.

I started with a good-sized dishpan and I drilled a ¼-inch hole in one corner before I attached a 4-foot length of parachute cord with a bowline. To the bitter end, I attached a small snap hook to use for clipping the tray to the toe rail, outboard, or dock line. Once afloat, the tray is stable supporting several pounds of tools and parts, saving me the frustration of wondering where to put something or where I put that screwdriver; it’s in the tray, it can’t be anywhere else. For larger jobs (the lower unit I was talking about) a mortar mixing tray creates a monster tool tray.

When I’m done, I rinse the tools in freshwater and spray with corrosion inhibitor after they’re dry. Piece of cake.

Safety Tips for Working in the Water

  • Before getting in, check that you’ve got a good ladder for egress.
  • When preparing to work in fresh or brackish waters, be aware of electrical hazards. Even minor stray current from faulty electrical installations can paralyze the muscles, making it impossible to swim. Electricity-related drownings occur every year.
  • Dress for the water temperature (wet suit or dry suit as needed).
  • Wear a PFD while working.
  • Stay near the boat to avoid traffic.

To solve boating problems, Drew Frye draws on his training as a chemical engineer and his pastimes of climbing and sailing. He sails Chesapeake Bay and the mid-Atlantic coast in his Corsair F-24 trimaran, Fast and Furry-ous. His book, Rigging Modern Anchors, was recently published by Seaworthy Publications.

Coming About

by John Laskowsky

My wife, Rhonda, and I didn’t grow up around boats. But after moving to Florida and raising a family, we grew fond of the idea of buying a boat and perhaps one day sailing away. New to the world of wind and water, we started attending the sailboat shows. “How many miles does she have on her?” I asked at one time or another. If any of the boats we saw was on wheels, I’d surely have kicked a tire like I knew what I was doing. After looking for a few years, we’d gained some knowledge (not much, just some) and set our sights firmly on a new 2015 Beneteau Oceanis 35. I was enamored with its twin wheels and light-colored wood interior. Surely this was the boat of all boats, one that could take us anywhere and everywhere.

We didn’t pull the trigger on the Beneteau, stopped short by a little voice inside that told me to start small and learn to sail. I listened. And we bought a 1980 Tanzer 7.5 shoal-draft sailboat that needed some attention. After spending a summer fixing her up, I knew every piece of that boat, inside and out. We sailed her almost every day for a year before our affections turned to a neglected 1980 AMF/Paceship PY26 in need of a new engine and lots of fiberglass work. The electrical and plumbing were in dire need of updating. As I worked, I was able to compare the construction quality of the Paceship to that of the Tanzer. They each had strengths and weaknesses, I learned more.

Rhonda at the helm of a Paceship PY26

In addition to the keelboats, we played with sailing dinghies, a total of seven we owned over a five-year span, starting with a 1965 Vanguard 70-series racing dinghy that we sailed as often as we could. I loved the salty life and wanted to be immersed in it wholly. I wanted to sail for a living and deliver boats for people. I earned my Captain’s license.

By now I’ve seen and sailed many boats, some that smelled of fresh fiberglass, others of wood and diesel, still others of old roach and rat excrement. I have seen good old boats that looked decrepit, clean up to look new. I have seen new boats turn haggard in just a few years, plagued by rusty stainless, spider cracks, and gelcoat chipping.

I’ve come to realize that older boats, given enough blood, sweat, or tears, will offer up the years of knowledge and experience they carry. This is how and why we become attached. Not a day passes where I do not feel connected with our current (and final) boat: a 1974 Gulfstar 41 Ketch. We gained a better understanding of what we needed in a boat and she fits the bill. She doesn’t have the latest greatest gadgetry, but I can draw the electric, plumbing, and navigation systems with my eyes closed, forward and backward. I am even becoming a Perkins diesel mechanic (if it isn’t leaking oil, stop, it needs more).

I have learned it’s not the miles on a boat that counts, it’s how that boat is made. Good bones are essential. Having the latest gizmo aboard doesn’t matter, what matters is knowing how to use what you do have aboard. I have an older, smaller chartplotter that is a back up to my paper charts. I bought a sextant and I’m certain it will never go obsolete.

interior of a Gulfstar 41 sailboat

I still think that Beneteau we turned our backs on is a gorgeous boat. It just is. But I have outgrown it. I was once turned on by that boat’s open, airy interior, but now I’m drawn to the coziness and warmth of our Gulfstar’s ship lap and teak interior and how it is comforting and seems to embrace us in a loving hug as to say, “Don’t worry, I got you.” Two wheels are cool and do allow for great visibility, but two steering systems means twice the risk that something breaks. The Beneteau’s thin, lightweight deck and hull are great for speed, but I will take my heavy, slow, and seakindly boat as she is time proven. And she has secrets still to share…for just a bit more blood, sweat, and tears; a cheap price to pay for the wonder she has shown us.

John Laskowsky is a USCG captain and owner of Sea’s The Day Yacht Services in Hudson, Florida. When not writing, he spends his time delivering sailboats, restoring sailboats, and diving and cleaning boat hulls. He and his wife, Rhonda, enjoy sailing the Gulf of Mexico with their two Jack Russel terriers Lulu and Pearl in their fully refitted 1974 Gulfstar Ketch, Impatient Winds.

An Exhausting Sail

by Bert Vermeer

We had been sailing the west coast of Vancouver Island over the past 30 days. Our final day dawned hot and sunny without a ripple on the water, and so we motored our 1978 Islander Bahama 30, Natasha, out of Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour. I briefed my wife, Carey, our granddaughter, Natasha, and Trixi, the dog, about what lay ahead. The forecast called for a light southeasterly wind later in the day. The tides would be the dominate factor for our 20-nautical mile trip home to Sidney, a huge flood tide would generate 4- to 6-knot currents in the narrow channels and 2+ knots would be the average push through the entire Haro Strait. A lack of wind had plagued us for days and we’d relied on our Volvo diesel for nearly the entire length of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As we entered turbulent Enterprise Channel just out of Victoria, Carey went below for a moment only to call up with frightened concern in her voice. “Smoke’s coming from behind the companionway steps!”

The engine compartment! I throttled back to idle and we switched places, Carey at the wheel in the swirling waters of the channel and me opening the engine compartment. No smoke and nothing appeared amiss. The green Volvo idled along as usual. I wrote it off to an overly cautious imagination and put the steps back into place, more concerned with getting back behind the wheel and keeping us off the rocks in the narrow channel.

After throttling back up and getting my bearings while swirling currents pushed the boat around, Carey (not happy to be dismissed so casually) went back below, this time calling out insistently that there was smoke coming out of the engine compartment! Again we switched places and all I could see was a Volvo idling like a purring cat.

I had Carey turn off the engine for a minute so that I could tighten the alternator belt, it seemed a bit loose. Perhaps it had been slipping, causing some smoke. Nothing else appeared out of order.

When I was back at the helm, just as we were reaching the end of the channel, into calmer open waters, Carey reported smoke again! Enough already! I went below again and this time removed the side panel in the quarter-berth to have a look at the back of the engine. There was no smoke, not even a whiff of smoke. I called up to Carey to throttle up to cruising RPM. Immediately the compartment filled with a dusty grey smoke that billowed out from the exhaust riser at the back of the engine! Yikes! I had Carey shut the engine down.

We were now in clear, though turbulent, water, being swept along in the current away from any hazards. Common on many auxiliaries, our Volvo’s metal exhaust riser is wrapped (ours in fiberglass tape) to contain the dry heat of the exhaust pipe before the water injection point. Everything looked good. With a glove on I grabbed the pipe to give it a push. The whole pipe came off in my hands! The only thing holding it in place had been the fiberglass tape!

Houston, we have a problem!

As a timely light breeze floated over the stern, we raised the mainsail and gained some directional control. Back in the engine compartment I peeled the fiberglass tape off the exhaust pipe to discover that it had completely rusted through at the top of the elbow just before the water injection port. I opened a tin can, dumped the contents, removed the top and bottom and tried to connect the two halves of the pipe with the tin and aluminum tape. That didn’t work out too well, the fracture was right at the 90 degree elbow and with limited access, I couldn’t get the tin to wrap tightly enough to get even close to a seal.

Without an operating engine, our options were limited; head to the closest marina (Oak Bay) which was only 2 miles to port; try sailing back to Victoria (not going to happen against the currents); or try to make it home. The Oak Bay Marina was close, but being there would leave us stranded without transportation and it wasn’t a convenient spot for repairs. We opted for going home, where repairs could be undertaken at our leisure. The breeze had filled in a bit and the currents would be with us all day. Up went the spinnaker and off we sailed, through Baynes Channel and on to Sidney. A very quiet and enjoyable sail it was, right to the town waterfront, where the wind died completely!

Although it was a Sunday afternoon and there were plenty of boats nearby, I’m all about independence. We tied the dinghy alongside and with the 2.5 Yamaha pushing us along, powered into the marina and our berth. The next day I removed the exhaust pipe and discharge hose and took the pipe to our local marine mechanic. He welded together a new exhaust riser and within a few days Natasha was back in good health.

The interesting part of the smoke/no-smoke dilemma is that when the engine was idled back, the pressure inside the exhaust pipe was low enough that the smoke didn’t escape and the air intake sucked up all traces of smoke in the engine compartment before I could get the steps or side panel off. Carey had seen smoke, enough to cause concern. I should have been more diligent with my initial investigation.

We were fortunate that this failure occurred close to home. It could very easily have happened while we were out in the wilds of the west coast of Vancouver Island, far from any repair resources. That would have caused all sorts of grief. As a preventive measure, I now remove the exhaust riser/assembly every second year (every 200 engine hours) for cleaning and examination. An ounce of prevention…

Bert Vermeer and his wife, Carey, live in a sailor’s paradise. They have been sailing the coast of British Columbia for more than 30 years. Natasha is their fourth boat (following a Balboa 20, an O’Day 25, and another Islander Bahama 30). Bert tends to rebuild his boats from the keel up. Now, as a retired police officer, he also maintains and repairs boats for several non-resident owners.

Deadly Magnificent

by Linnéa Martinez

I was still green, having only a month ago traded my Great Lakes home in Michigan for the salty sea air and hot sun of the Caribbean. Now, here I was, crewing with a bunch of strangers aboard Windy and everything about sailing was new to me. And I had no complaints. Sunlight glinted on the tops of deep-blue waves while flashes of silver and a flutter of wings raced by the hull, a school of flying fish joining us on our 6-hour voyage.

Then we heaved to and the captain’s voice rang out from astern, “Hop in!” It was time for a quick cool-off swim.

I stood at the bow. The beautiful Caribbean Sea called out to me, and all I had to do was jump. I took a breath and leapt.

That first splash was bliss, the sunburn on my face and shoulders cooling to the saltwater’s touch. I paused to take in the peacefulness of being underwater. Then, feeling invigorated, I swam hard for the surface.

The bridge of my nose slammed into Windy’s hull. Pain erupted from behind my eyes and deep within my skull. I was dazed, confused — How did that get there? What was I doing underwater? — but I knew I had to move, to maneuver away from the boat and to get air.

Popping up alongside the hull, I gasped for air. And I couldn’t swim, my brain wasn’t working right. I could see the boat — two other crew on the bow, endless ocean and a white, brilliant sun and blue sky, but I couldn’t process it all, I couldn’t comprehend anything. Thinking back, it was the same feeling as reading a book and then realizing I’d not paid attention to anything on the past several pages and having to go back.

The crew was laughing. I could hear them wondering where I’d gone and why I’d swam under the boat. Later, they told me I looked normal then, maybe a bit confused.

“I need help,” I managed. The boat was drifting away. I knew I had to swim, but my body didn’t respond. I was just floating, my hands and legs still. My breathing was shallow. Help me, I remember thinking, I’m gonna drown.

One of the crew, May, dove in and swam towards me, asking me questions. I couldn’t respond. She wrapped an arm around my waist and started pulling me towards Windy. I heard the boat’s engine start and it moved closer. At the boarding ladder, I somehow pulled myself aboard and then plopped down on a seat, exhausted and dazed.

It took a couple cans of very cold beer on my very swollen face and some friendly chatter to bring me back to my senses. Then we started going over what went wrong.

I didn’t know about the currents, about how the boat was still moving slowly forward while hove to. I didn’t jump far enough from the boat, and not in the right direction. I started to think “what if?” What if I had blacked out and not surfaced? What if May hadn’t seen me or jumped in on time? What if I didn’t float and just sank?

I’d heard the captain earlier go on about the dangers of the ocean. Just a few days prior, another sailor had shared words of wisdom in the context of recounting experiences aboard in life-threatening storms: “She can turn on you in just a minute, one mistake can cost you your life.” I remember wondering whether I’d ever see and experience that kind of fury, but I missed the important message: even a placid situation at sea can quickly and out of the blue become dangerous. My experience helped me to understand this truth.

I will always treat the water and the boat with respect. I will maintain an awareness. Because I know, first-hand, that the sea is just as deadly as she is magnificent.

Linnea Martinez is a recent college graduate who left her small Michigan town for a sailing adventure in the Caribbean. While on board she’s learned the basics of sailing, knots, the importance of being aware of your surroundings, and the joys of working with fiberglass. With her degree in Multimedia Journalism, Linnea hopes to continue sharing stories of the people she meets as she heads further south.

Click here to read more of September’s The Dogwatch.

Chainplates Re-Done

Gemini sailboat chainplate replacement

by Ray Wulff

When my wife and I bought our 1983 Endeavour 33, we renamed her Gemini. They say it’s bad luck to rename a boat. They might be right.

Bringing her to her new home in Oyster Bay, New York, we slammed into a wave on Long Island Sound and I fell into the pedestal and it tilted forward. After ensuring we still had steering, I wondered what had happened. Soft deck? Fortunately, the problem was much simpler, two broken pedestal bolts. The aluminum bolts they used in 1983 were not a good choice for a saltwater environment. I replaced them with stainless steel.

Now I could get to the repairs I knew about.

The bilge pump and pressure-water pump were belt-driven diaphragm pumps that didn’t work well. I’d planned to rebuild them, but I found that the cost of the rebuild kits was greater than the cost of new direct-drive diaphragm pumps. I installed two new pumps. That went well. Things were looking up.

Next up were the instruments. All of them were 1983-vintage Datamarine models. The depth sounder worked, the speed and wind instruments did not. All the displays were dim. I installed B&G depth, speed (one transducer for both), and wind instruments and two Trident multifunction displays. The new system used one small NEMA 2000 cable for everything, allowing me to remove a ton of old cables. That was the end of my first year with the boat.

I started year two focused on fixing a rainwater leak. The problem was simple, a rotted hose that connected the cockpit scuppers to through-hulls in the transom. The fix wasn’t simple. Because I didn’t have an 8-year-old kid to fit into the space I needed to access, I had to hang upside down to reach under the cockpit to make the connection. After a few choice words I got it together. Then I called the boatyard and had them fix a small leak in the exhaust hose. They made short work of the replacement. I replaced the ancient VHF radio.

It was finally time to use the boat as I wanted.

Both my son and daughter-in-law are competitive sailors. The first time I took them sailing they told me the main sail had to go. They were right, so I bought a new main sail, and the difference was amazing. The boat pointed more than 5 degrees higher.

Life was good. I finally had a seaworthy boat that sailed well. Between sails, I wiled away my time tending to minor repairs and teak refinishing. I told my wife that the boat was done and that this year would be just for sailing and sunset cocktails. Don’t ever say that with an old boat.

This summer, my son and daughter-in-law were up from Annapolis for a weekend and I invited them on a short sail, eager to pick their brains about what kind of replacement jib I should get. My daughter and granddaughter joined us for this short before-dinner sail. We set the jib and the boat was moving well. It was Friday the 13th.

The BANG was the loudest I’d ever heard on a boat. Alarmed, nothing obvious was amiss. Then it was clear: the port-side chainplate that holds the upper and intermediate shrouds had ripped through the deck. My crew raced up to the bow and dropped the jib while I started the engine so I could keep the boat into the wind. With the jib down, my son and daughter-in-law attached the jib and spinnaker halyards to the port-side toe rail to stabilize the keel-stepped mast. The mast’s new slight bend to starboard was unmistakable. Dinner that night was somewhat somber until my son broke the ice by saying that I should just jack up the Windex and slide a new boat under it.

I had no idea what to do. The boat was safely on its mooring with the broken chainplate tied to the toe rail. Sailing friends suggested I call my insurance company to see whether the damage was covered. The adjuster took photos of the bulkhead where the chainplate had been attached and of the deck where it pulled through and told me he would get back to me in a few days. True to his word, he called a few days later with the good news and the bad news. They would pay to un-step, inspect, repair, and re-step the mast. I was on the hook for the damaged bulkhead as rot was not covered. I felt much better. Repairing the bulkhead was well within my skill set.

My plan was to cut out any remaining rot and rabbit in a new piece of ¾-inch teak plywood, but to be safe I would sandwich the new plywood between two ½-inch teak plywood panels. As added insurance, I designed new chainplates twice the length of the originals, so they would catch the repaired and unrepaired portions of the bulkhead.

My first step was to cut out all the rotted and delaminated plywood. This left me with a one-foot-square hole. I then realized that cabinet in the head at other side of the bulkhead had to go because the new bulkhead would be ½-inch thicker. (Only God knows how they attached that cabinet to the boat. No screw heads were visible nor were there any plugged screw holes. I know it went in after the chainplates because there was no access to the nuts.) After hacking the cabinet out of the head, I could look through my one-foot-square hole from the main cabin into the head.

While I was doing this work, Garhauer Marine was building the new chainplates I’d specified. I briefly considered making them myself, having once made the chainplates and gooseneck fitting for a 21-foot sailboat, but the thought of drilling 14 ½-inch holes in 3/8-inch stainless steel changed my mind. I did make the ¼-inch aluminum backing plates.

It was time to rebuild.

First, I rabbited one side of the perimeter edges of my one-foot-square hole. I then cut and rabbited a piece ¾-inch teak plywood patch to fit in the hole. To make my life easy, I attached them using the West System epoxy that comes in a caulking-gun tube.

To make the plywood bulkhead sandwich, I started on the head side, as that would be one piece. Because the teak-faced plywood I intended to use is so expensive, I first made an oak tag template followed by a 1/8-inch plywood template. I wanted this to be a cut-once job. After I’d screwed and glued that piece to the bulkhead, I started on the cabin side. That piece of my sandwich would have to be two pieces so that the chainplate would be on the same plane as the existing bulkhead.

To get this right, I knew I needed to position the new chainplate on the bulkhead. But before I could do that, I had to fix the hole in the deck. I made a dummy wooden chainplate, wrapped it in packing tape, and stuck it through the deck so that I could glass right up to it and create the right-sized hole.

When the two beautiful new chainplates arrived (I ordered two because I planned to do the starboard side too, proactively) I used the existing starboard chainplate to gauge the correct height of the port-side chainplate. Now I could bolt the new chainplate to the bulkhead. With it in place I completed my sandwich using the same technique I used on the other side. Except for cosmetic details, the port side was done.

The starboard side was going to be an afternoon job: just remove the existing chainplate and install the new one. Of course, when I removed the old chainplate I found rot underneath. I dealt with it.

So how long did it all take? Sixty days passed between the BANG to the day the mast was up again. Was it worth all the work? Of course. As those who sail older boats know, if the boat’s hull is sound, everything else is worth fixing.

Sailing? Well, there is always next summer.

Ray Wulff is a retired engineer who’s built two wooden sailboats and makes furniture as a hobby. He and his wife live in Oyster Bay, New York, where they sail their 1983 Endeavour in and around Oyster Bay and Long Island Sound.

The Fourth of July Meltdown

By Kyle Dluge

Fourth of July weekend, all the family gathered at Grandpa’s cottage on Harsens Island in Little Muscamoot Bay. The cousins caught fish off the seawall while the uncles grilled burgers and the aunts sunbathed. There wasn’t a cloud that dared form and the water was a cool escape from the heat. It was the perfect day to celebrate American Independence and to spend some quality time with family from out of town.

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The Leap from Luddite

By Howard Nelson

I acquired my first boat as a child, a red MFG 14-foot runabout with a stinky 35-hp Evinrude. She was slow, noisy, and not at all seaworthy. Within in a year, the red fiberglass turned to rose and the blush was gone. Many years later, my first true love arrived in the form of a powder-blue AMF Sunbird 16. She carried a jib and mainsail and offered a small cuddy to get out of the rain. She floated in 8 inches with the centerboard up and was an angel when it was down. I loved pulling her up on our Nissequogue, Long Island, beach to watch the osprey fly overhead and then to sail back into the Sound and head home after a long day.

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The Empirical Battery Test

By Jim Shell

When they were new, the four Rayovac 6-volt golf-cart (GC2) batteries on Phantom, our Pearson 365 ketch, had plenty of electrical capacity to provide all the power we needed to go three or more days between recharging, perfect for the kind of local cruising we enjoy. As the batteries reached the 5-year-old mark, I wondered whether they still had what it takes, especially given that our need for power consumption is probably greater than it was a half decade ago. How could I determine their capacity from a fully charged state?

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Photos by the Singlehander

By Drew Frye

Singlehanded sailing and photography don’t always go together. Throw in some brisk wind, maybe a tender boat, perhaps no autopilot, and capturing the moments and scenes on camera can be a real challenge.

As a freelance writer for magazines, I’m often in need of good photos of specific subjects, and sometimes these photos can be captured only while under sail. Sometimes I’m sailing alone. Sometimes my hands or I need to be in the shot. I’m always thinking of solutions.

The conventional tripod is out of the question while under way. The ubiquitous “selfie stick” limits POV options. And many of the hundreds of clamp-on brackets are either a bit too fussy or won’t grab where I happen to need them to be.

Some years ago, it occurred to me that a winch socket could provide an additional camera mounting point, and so I began watching for a broken winch handle to use as a base, but none came my way. Then I got an idea.

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Easy Trip to Key West

By David Sharp

We tend to forget how much GPS, accurate weather forecasting, and modern hull, sail, and communications technologies have improved our ability to get around faster and more safely on the ocean. Oh, and the wisdom that comes to most of us as we leave our 20s behind . . .

In 1974, Judy and I took a sabbatical from work for as long as our savings would last. We left our jobs in Dallas, sold most of our possessions, and began exploring Mexico by train and bus. We were staying on the beach (in hammocks under the palms) on the tiny island of Isla Mujeres when we heard of a young fellow named Troy who was looking for crew to help him sail a boat from Cozumel to Key West, Florida. I’d been sailing most of my life and, as our savings were getting thin, this sounded like a fun and inexpensive way to return to the States after our adventure.

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Nautical Vows

Wedding VowsAsked to officiate at the wedding of sailing friends in the Caribbean, Captain Gilmore also wrote their vows. . . 

By Joan Gilmore

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Sun Shower Wind Break

By Mark Branse

Over the years, I’ve often used a sun shower to heat water for onboard showers. If conditions are right, they can get to be too hot to use. But more often, a cooling breeze saps the heat generated by the sunlight, leaving me a lukewarm shower. I experimented with placement of the solar shower, in a bin to protect it from the wind, but shade was then my foe.

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Fall and Rise of the Falls of Clyde

By James Barry

Falls of Clyde today. Photo by Jamie White.

If you’ve been to Hawaii, you’ve maybe seen the Falls of Clyde, an historic sailing ship lying in Honolulu Harbor. She is a rare one: a four-master made of riveted iron. She was built on the river Clyde in Scotland, nearly 140 years ago. She’d be a strong contender for the ultimate good old boat. During her past, she traded around the world, hauling a wide variety of cargo until 1907, when she was fitted with integral steel tanks for carrying kerosene.

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Open Hatches in the Rain

By Jim Shroeger

For another, more comprehensive look at a hatch tent solution, see Don Casey’s “A Rain-Defeating Hatch Hood,” in the July 2012 issue of Good Old Boat magazine. –Eds

 

You just docked after a nice sail. The weather is warm. The plan is to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. You leave the forehatch open wide to let the boat air out a bit. About halfway through your meal, the rain begins! You begin to race back to the boat, images of a soggy V-berth and bedding pushing your legs faster and then . . . you stop . . . and you smile, because you remember that you have a hatch tent.

The accompanying pics show our hatch tent in its deployed position. It is suspended from a jib or spinnaker halyard and attached at eight different points by bungee cords. Basic dimensions are: length to be 65 percent of the distance from the mast to the bow, width to be 75 percent of the beam measured aft of the fore hatch.

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Shorties

By Rudy and Jill Sechez

In warm weather, full-length foul-weather pants are rather uncomfortable to wear for too long. A more comfortable option we’ve found is to take a pair of full-length pants and cut them so that the legs fall about 2 inches below the bottom edge of the shorts we usually wear (plan to cut a little longer to allow length to fold and hem). These improved foulie bottoms are cooler to wear while still keeping our shorts, and everything in our pockets, dry. Most anyone should be able to make the necessary alterations with needle and thread, no machine sewing is necessary.

Jill and Rudy Sechez have cruised for 20 years and still enjoy using paper charts, lead line, compass, and oil lighting. They have built seven of the nine boats they’ve owned, including their current boat, a 34-foot sail-assisted trawler, Briney Bug, and its 8-foot rowing dinghy, one of five they’ve designed. They have written numerous articles for boating magazines and their book, Anchoring, a Ground Tackler’s Apprentice, was published by Waterway Guide Media. The couple are available for speaking engagements: rudyandjill@yahoo.com.

Sketch It First

By Gregg Bruff

Editor’s note: Has this happened to you? You’re out for a sail and realize the cockpit-led reefing line or mainsheet that has sailed many years with you is showing signs of wear or UV damage. Back at the dock you remove it, buy a replacement line from a chandler, and then, ready to run the new line, realize you don’t remember whether to run the new line inside or outside the lazy jacks, or how to thread it through the multi-sheave blocks to gain the necessary purchase… contributor Gregg Bruff has the answer:

In a plastic notebook binder, I keep a sketch I made of how the mainsheet runs through the blocks correctly. In the same notebook I keep also a cheat-sheet on the Mayday procedure, a layout of my switch control panel (upside down, as I access it from the cockpit), and any notes I make while sailing.

 

Restoring the Old Shore Power Cord

By Bert Vermeer

British Columbia winter months are cool and damp with short days, rain, and minimal sunshine. Having a heat source on board is essential to keep the mildew at bay and so we keep Natasha, our 1978 Islander Bahama 30, plugged in all winter. For the past 15 years, our yellow Marinco shore power cord has been subjected to everything the weather and dock can throw at it. Bright yellow and shiny when purchased, it had gotten dirty and sticky to the touch, not something I particularly wanted to handle.

I tried every marine-focused vinyl cleaner available, along with chemical and abrasive cleaners from the local hardware store. None were effective. And with 50 feet of cord to clean, I needed something effective.

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Six Lessons from a Simple Job

By Keith Davie

Before we sailed Sionna, our 1963 Triangle 32 ketch, south from Maine in August 2016, my wife, Nicki, and I spent many, many hours on repairs, preventive maintenance, and upgrades to ensure we had a reliable, comfortable home for our planned 8-month sojourn to the sunny south. But one of the tasks on our to-do list we didn’t complete was to re-bed her stanchion bases. Predictably, we discovered leaks shortly after we left. When I finally tackled the project, we were in Florida, at Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor. The job was straightforward, but it did require I draw on the following tips and tricks.

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Polishing Hack

By David Salter

Editor’s note: We have a hard time relating to David’s story. We’ve a 40-year-old boat and it’s difficult to imagine ever polishing her hull and losing track of where we finished off. Perhaps our incredulity is simply jealousy.

As our boat is 40 years old, she’s not free of blemishes but so far there is no indication of chalking on the gelcoat. Accordingly, every year when my wife, Eileen, and I polish the hull of our good old Mariner 28, Day by Day, we have the same problem: locating the area we just covered so that we don’t laboriously re-do parts of the hull twice over. We have made sporadic attempts to indicate the polished sections but nothing systematic. This year was going to be different!

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Shoreside Cooking Hack

A prepped can, ready to go.
A prepped can, ready to go.

By Jim Shell

We occasionally go to potluck events in our marina where four or five couples are trying to cook their food on a single gas/charcoal grill. There is usually too much food to cook on the grill at one time and we struggle to jockey the food so we all can eat at the same time. Side dishes in pots are usually cooked aboard and brought up the dock to shore to sit and get cold.

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A Taste of Sail, One Sailor at a Time

photo by Bruce Lombardo

By Allen Penticoff

Editor’s note: A Taste of Sail! I love this concept and I know it’s practiced at clubs all over. But if it doesn’t happen in your community, hopefully you’ll be inspired by A Taste of Sail to start something similar. It’s having fun doing good.

To spark sailing interest among our community (and to attract folks to join our little dry-land yacht club), we of the Rockford Yacht Club of Rockford, Illinois, have for many years now hosted an annual public event we call, A Taste of Sail.

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The Cost of Sailing

By Don Davies

2017 was a disastrous sailing season for the boaters of the lower Great Lakes. At launch time in late April, the water was several feet higher than normal. Owners donned rubber boots to wade through several inches of water covering the docks just to get to their boats. Because they were under water, the docks were soon slick with algae, making the stroll to a boat perilous. Shore power was cut off because the electrics were under water. After a few of us experienced tingling while wading on the submerged service dock to step our masts, the crane was shut down and we worked to re-route the wiring to higher ground. Soon, every club on the lake was closed to visitors for safety considerations. Even for those who were determined to sail, there was no place to go. What is normally a six-month sailing season turned into two and a half months.

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