Note: I copy the daily log entries to their repective project pages almost daily. If you want to read all the entries for any project sequentially, go to the "Projects" tab and you will be able to navigate to the appropriate page. Most of the interior contruction projects will be found via links in the "Rebuilding the Interior" page. The rest of the projects have separate tabs on the "Projects" tab.
Note: I added another page under the "Projects" page that should allow smart phone and iPad users to access the separate projects via hyperlinks. I don't know why but it seems that smart phones can't access the drop down menus.
22 Oct 15: Keep on Keeping On.
The past week has been all about the solar system. Truth be told, right now, I somewhat regret installing it. I loved how simple the Far Reach was. The very thing I was trying to avoid, working on complex systems, I am now doing. And this system has absolutly nothing to do with sailing the boat. Its true, this is a very simple system--a singe 100ah AGM battery with a 30 watt flex panel that is on a 10' cord and can be moved around to keep it in the sun. But, I should be sailing and not wasting my time working on a system that I think, in the big scheme of things, is not really necessary. However, it is the only way I could come up with to charge a laptop, which we need for the kid's school work. So be it. This project is 90 percent of the way complete. I suspect I'll be happy with it once its up and running. I ran a drop to the area of the compass with a quick connect fitting so I can plug the compass lighting in when needed. I ran a drop to the forward end of the port settee for charging the lap top and cell phone. I ran a drop to the chart table area for plugging in whatever additional equipment I might want to power--a small fan, or a vacuum. At this point, I have no immediate plan for lights, GPS, or radios. Just a bare bones system. I went to a lot of trouble to hide everything to include the distribution panel and all the wiring, so nothing is visible.
I still need to install the wire from the deck fitting, down the inside of the brass stanchion that supports the saloon table, under the cabin sole, and to the solar controller. And, I need to crimp the battery cable lugs in place. That should complete the install. I sent the original Solar Flexx panel back to the company I bought it from. It was not set up for a single duplex power cord and required two cords, one for the positive and one for the negative. It was not what I thought I was getting--way to complicated. I just ordered a Gantz 30 watt semi flex panel from eMarine Inc that I think will be a better fit for this project. I'll post more on this project when it's complete.
A Rub Strip for Sweat Pea.
In the midst of working on other projects, namely the solar system, I added a brass rub strip to the bottom of the keel of our 9' Fatty Knees dinghy, Sweet Pea. I had been wanting to add the rub strip for a long time. We have had Sweat Pea for 11 years. The fiberglass keel takes a lot of punishment and it was time to add the strip. For then aft strip I used a 3/4" half oval that was originally across the stern of the Far Reach. I purchased an additional 6 foot long 5/8" brass half oval for the forward strip.
I counter sunk the rub strip for #8 1/2" long bronze screws. I had to keep them short to keep from punching through the strip into the boat from underneath. The strews would not be long enough to permanently secure the rub rail. But they would be just enough to secure the strip while the 3M 5200 cured, which is what I relied on to hold the rail in place. I don't normally use 5200 but this was a good project for it. If I ever need to remove the rub strip it will be easy to do with heat and a hack saw blade under the strip. Before I installed the strip I sanded it with 40 on a power sander, wiped it down with acetone and installed it. I left it in my garage for about 10 days to cure.
I used bronze wood screws and 3m 5200 to secure the rub strip in place.
10 Oct 15
With Hurricane Joaquin nothing but a memory, I spent the last few days working on the solar system. I installed the panel box and the Blue Seas breaker panel. I completed the construction of the battery box, painted, and installed it. It is through-bolted with SS quarter inch bolts and nyloc nuts and I believe it to be very secure. Happily, the battery fuse clears the underside of the bunk board. I also spent some time developing a plan for the routing of the few wires needed operate the 12 volt system. I am very reluctant to drill holes to run the wires without a very good idea of the overall wiring plan. I also need to install a hold down strap to contain the battery in the box in the event we ever suffer a knock down. Installing the wiring will be the focus of my efforts for the next several days.
The battery box is installed. It is through bolted and is very secure.
The 300amp battery fuse just clears the bunk board installed above it.
6 Oct 15 -- Sometimes You Just Get Lucky
We had a crazy week.For a couple of days it looked like the odds were pretty good that we would get hit by Hurricane Joaquin. It was an anxious time for almost all North Carolina boat owners that had a boat in the water on the coast. A CAT 4 hurricane bearing down with winds at 130 knots . . .not good. I was told Hurricane Irene brought an 11' surge into the Marina. But, a few days before expected landfall Joaquin slowed dramatically and hammered the Bahamas then slowly moved SW then finally north and by then the weather over the US had changed and he just moved off NE into the N. Atlantic. We were all very happy. We got a lot of rain. But, we also got about a week of strong NE winds that drove the water in Pamlico Sound up the Neuse River and it rose about four or five feet in the marina. We have only wind driven tides this far up the Neuse River. It was a dramatic rise though. We doubled up the dock lines and checked them everyday adjusting as necessary. Winds on the river were about 25 knts with gusts to 30-35 knts. Last night, the water was about a foot over the top of "A" dock. By this afternoon it was down about 2 feet. Tomorrow, the sun is supposed to be out and the air dry. Fall is here I think. Back to work on the solar system.
About a foot of water over "A" Dock.
Down about two feet from yesterday. Still about 3'-4' over what we have had most of the summer.
Installing the battery platform. I needed to chose a spot for the battery to be located and then build a platform for the battery to sit on. The AGM can be installed upright, on it's side or, I have read, even upside down. The best use of space was to install the battery under the foot of the quarter-berth. It was out of the way and yet assessable if I needed to access it. I also wanted to add some weight aft and a little to starboard to offset the outboard engine and the 20 gallon water tank in the starboard cockpit locker.
Regardless, the platform had to be strong enough and secure enough to hold the 65lb battery in place even under severe rolling or heeling. The photo gallery below depicts how I fabricated the platform and then installed it. Click on the photos for a pop up text that provides additional detail. I'll add some additional photos as I complete this project.
21 Sept 15 -- The 12 Volt Distribution Panel
For the past couple of days I have been working on the 12 volt distribution panel. This is a new skill for me. My mentor says I am over thinking it . . . and he is probably right. So, with some guidance from him I plunged ahead and ordered all the parts last week. A key part of this project has been to build a nice panel box but install it where it is not visible yet still assessable. The best location (truly a major compromise) was to install it on the inboard side of the quarter berth. You can't see it unless you stick your head part way down in the quarterberth cubby hole. I took the measurements of the small available space and came home and sketched out a design. Then I rooting through the scrap wood bin in the shop. I found some mahogany ply left over from the cabin sides and walnut scraps from the cabin sole and work bench top that seem to just meet the requirements. I also found a set of solid brass hinges left over from when I built the cabinets. I made the latch from a piece of teak scrap.
A plywood and mahogany electrical box built from scraps in the shop.
I'll install the negative buss bar on the plywood the box is attached to but inside the box. The battery switch will be located outside the box but next to it.
I have been very reluctant to add a 12 volt system because I don't want the complexity and I don't think it really does anything for us that we can't accomplish in other ways. I think the 12volt system can potentially distract me from the enjoyment I get from sailing in a simple basic manner. And I am no different than anyone else when it comes to technology, let it get a hold of you and you can find yourself spending way to much time looking at an LCD screen rather than at all the beauty and wonder around us. The driving requirement for a 12volt system has been the need to charge a laptop for the kids math program we use for homeschool--Teaching Textbooks. Were it not for that, I would not be spending my time on money on a 12 volt system--at least not now. On the other hand, I do enjoy learning and I have already learned a lot. The system will be built around a 30 amp semi flexible solar panel that will be on a 20' cord. The cord has a detachable deck connector so we can stow the panel when desired and yet move it around to keep it in the sun. The panel will run through a Genasun GV-5 MPPT controller and then to the battery. The distribution panel is made by Blue Seas as is the mini 300 AMP battery switch. The battery monitor is a Victron BMV 700. The battery is a Group 31 100 Ah Lifeline AGM. The wire is Anchor 12 gauge Duplex black and yellow marine safety wire.
I'll test fit the panel box in the next day or so then bring it home and start applying varnish. At the same time, I'll install the platform for the battery under the foot of the quarter berth and start running wire. For now the only requirement is to for a lap top/cell phone charging station at the forward end of the port settee and a separate run for the compass with a detachable duplex polarized connector. I'm sure we will come up with some other "requirements" in due time.
Sailing. I needed to sail the Far Reach down to Oriental NC (about 10 miles from our Marina) so the sailmaker could measure for our trysail, jib deployment bag, and new mainsail cover. My sister Tricia said she would go with me so we made it an overnight trip.
We departed about 1500 on Thursday 17 Sept. The winds were out of the NE at a steady 10-12 knots. The water was flat. We put up the dark blue drifter and beat the whole way there tacking about a dozen times. It was a wonderful sail. We engaged the Cape Horn windvane right from the start and it performed extremely well. We averaged about 5.5 knots though we hit the middle sixes a few times and at one point recorded 7.8 knots. The boat averaged about 15-20 degrees of heel. The 2oz drifter performed superbly well.
We anchored in the town harbor in about 7' of water. We had a fine time cooking supper and chatting away. Tricia read to me from her journal that she kept when she helped deliver a Catalina 36 from Hawaii to Long Beach about 20 years ago. The temps were perfect for sleeping--about 65 degrees. The cool breeze wafted down through the foredeck hatch. As I lay in the forward double berth I could look up through the hatch and see the stars. I thought about all the work to get to here--the years of planing, drawing pictures of what I wanted to change in the boat, grinding fiberglass, filling holes, sanding, milling wood, varnishing, installing fasteners and wood plugs, and splicing wire. There was no question in my mind that it was all worth it. All was right with my world.
The next day, we launched the dinghy and picked up Mark Weinheimer from Doyle Innerbanks Sails and Canvas. He came out to the boat and took all the measurements. It didn't take long. Then, it was time to head home. The wind picked up and we slowly powered out into about 15-18 knots of wind with the little 9.9 Honda pushing our 16,000 lb boat at WOT. We made about 2 -2 1/2 knots directly into the building wind and increasing chop in a narrow little channel until we cleared the last maker, raised the main, shut off the engine, rotated it up, and had a great run back to Hancock Marina. On the way back we had a couple of rain showers roll over us and the wind picked up briefly to about 20 knots. We beat up-wind so I could tune the rig some more. At one point our zippered jib came unzipped but we handled it without drama. I think the zipper had snuck out from behind the leather protecting patch over the past couple of sails and I never noticed it but we need to get it back up and check to be certain. We hove-to for about an hour outside the marina channel drinking hot coffee and eating cookies and oranges (what a combination). When the weather cleared we were able to get in to our slip without fanfare.
All in all it was a great sail and my confidence in the few systems we have continues to grow. The little Honda power-thrust 9.9hp is a real work-horse. This is the first time we used it in more than about 5 knots of wind and it performed well. A three foot chop and about 18 knots of wind is about the limit of its capability. On flat water we make 5.8 knots at WOT and about 5 knots at 3/4 throttle. The custom rotating engine mount works like a champ. I'll write more on it later.
Tricia demonstrates her Far Reach Yoga Pose--for maximum relaxation and inner contentment.
The beauty of sky, water, wind, and sail. Few things are as healing and soothing as a deck heeling under your feet.
We were the only sailboat anchored in Oriental harbor.
14 Sept 15
The last couple weeks have seen us sailing the boat, installing the lazy jacks, and researching and ordering the components for a small solar system. I have very little experience with DC so it's been a lot of reading, drawing, thinking. I think we have a good plan. More on the solar system in the future. I ordered the components for boom gallows. I installed the lazy jacks yesterday and today I decided to go sailing (photo gallery below). I invited my sister Tricia, a retired San Diego Fire Captain. We have been sailing our whole lives together. We don't even have to talk. We know what the other is thinking. She is a highly skilled and very competent sailor so it was nice to finally get her out on the Far Reach. It was our first day of what I would call early fall weather--about 75 degrees, dry, clear blue sky. Lovely.
We took the boat out about 1230. The wind was NW at about 10-12 kts. We sailed for about six hours. We beat, reached, and ran. We flew the staysail for the first time. It worked well. We reefed the main--very simple. It probably took 90 seconds. We dropped the main and raised it in the lazy jacks several times. Super simple. We dropped the main and ran downwind with a classic trade wind rig--two winged out headsail. I rigged the big jib to a snatch block on the end of the boom and the staysail to the whisker pole. Very nice and simple. Tomorrow I'll start on the solar system.
The lazy jack system is a little busier than I would like, but it's very simple and really captures the main sail beautifully. I pretty much followed the set up as described by John Harris at Morgan's Cloud AAC. The one change I made was to make the upper legs from 3/16" Amsteel because it is very slick and I thought it would cause less chafe. I used 1/4" stay set for the lower part to provide a little stretch attaching the outboard end to the boom with a eye splice girth hitched around the pad eye. We will have a new mainsail cover made with flaps for the lazy jacks so we can leave them up all the time.
29 Aug 15--Check the Saloon Table Off the List.
For the past two weeks I have been working on several projects at the same time. I completed the construction of the table a while back but we needed to varnish it and that took about two weeks. Once the varnish was completed, I reinstalled the bronze inserts in the edge of the table. I stopped by Atlantic Veneer Mill Shop Outlet and picked up a teak off cut. I brought it home and milled it to 3/4" thick on the thickness planer. I cut a taper on each side of the fiddle using the table saw fence on the left side of the blade. Then, I made a pattern template for the ends of the fiddle and cut them out with a hole saw and my Bosch jig saw. I shaped and smoothed the edges with files and sand paper.
I needed to determine where to drill the holes in the fiddle so they would line up exactly with the tapped holes in the bronze plates installed in the edge of the table. I did that by cutting off the heads of three 10-24 SS machine screws and sharping the ends on the bench grinder. I positioned the fiddle and used scrap blocks of the wood clamped to the fiddle to insure I could reposition it precisely on the table edge. Then, I inserted the sharpened screws (point up) into the tapped plates and placed the fiddle on the edge of the table and gently tapped it with the dead blow hammer. I removed the fiddle and had perfectly positioned dimples to serve as guide marks for drilling. I drilled the holes on the drill press, installed the 10-24 round head bronze machine screws with washer and installed the fiddle. The fiddle can easily be removed and stored when not needed.
Finally, I reinstalled the parts that support the bottom leaf of the table. I took the table to the boat and it took about 10 minutes to install it. It looks very nice and I am quite pleased with it. To build the table, I followed the information Lin and Larry Pardey provided in The Care and Feeding of the Offshore Sailing Crew.
I think the table turned out well.
Spartite Mast Wedge and Waterproof Boot.
Though I had never used it, we always intended to install Spartite as our mast wedge and waterproof plug at the partners. When we installed the new mast in early May 2015 I made some wood wedges as a temporary solution. I wanted to sail the boat and tune it before we installed Spartite. Even though I had plastic wrapped around the mast and a ton of rigging tape the mast leaked horrible (all that work to make the boat watertight thus this one leak was driving me crazy). The reinforcing plates on the side of the mast where it passes through the partner did not help. We also needed to wait till the afternoon temperatures were a little lower as Spartite is a two part mixture that relies on an exothermic reaction to initiate the curing process. Thus stuff can kick too fast on a hot day.
I read through the directions and scanned the internet for additional info. There are some real horror stories out there. Either the liquid ran down the mast or the plug got stuck in the partner when owners tried to unstep their mast and had to resort to cutting the Spartite out to remove it. But there also seemed to be a lot of people very happy with it. Ideally, the plug bonds only to the mast as a release agent is smeared on the deck collar. That way, the plug comes out attached to the mast and then when the mast is restepped it goes back into the previous position easily. It is also suppose to be a very good plug to keep water out.
We carefully followed the directions. It was pretty simple. I wonder if I will be cursing it when we unstep the mast. It will be interesting to see how well it works at keeping water from entering the boat from the outside of the the mast.
Gayle and I installed the Spartite mast wedge and waterproof seal yesterday. In a few days, I'll smooth the edges with a file and then we will paint it to protect it from UV.
Stays'l Fixed Leads.
During our last sail I raised the new stays'l and was able to determine the fore and aft location for the stays'l sheet leads. Unlike most boats that have adjustable leads on the deck these are fixed. The foot and leach of the stays'l is adjusted by raising and lowering the relative position of the tack of the sail with an adjustable pendant. Same principle as moving leads fore and aft just a different technique. But, there are a couple of advantages to the fixed lead. It eliminates all the holes in the deck associated with a two foot long section of track. It dramatically reduces the cost as well. There is no track to buy or expensive cars. Finally, there is less clutter on the side deck since there is no track or big sliding car.
I looked at the Schafer (and the Harken) low profile sheet lead cars and if I remember correctly they were about $240 each. It took a long time to find these bronze leads but I finally found them at Toplitch in Germany--I think I paid about $75 each. They are bell shaped and are secured with (2) 6mm fasteners. I drilled the holes out and made the countersink a little larger to accommodate 1/4" bronze FH machine screws. Though I had to sail the boat with the stays'l hanked on to determine the fore and aft location for the leads, I determined the lateral position on paper several years ago. I did that by making plan view diagram of the boat. I drew the longer bowsprit on the diagram insuring everything was to scale. I measure the angle of attack for the jib then determined where to place the stays'l leads to have an angle of attack about 3 degrees less than the one for the jib. This was the recommended angle for a stays'l in several books I have on sail trim. A lot of people put the leads on the cabin top. There is a couple of problems with that on the Far Reach. First, I would have had to install winches on the cabin top which I did not want to do. I would not have been able to run the sheets down the cabin top due to the location of the dinghy chocks. Second, I think that would have been too tight an angle on my full keel boat. When the wind and waves are up you are just not going to be sailing 35-40 degrees to the wind . . . more like 45 or 50, depending on the conditions, if you are lucky. I would need to install barber haulers to open the slot up. Last, my jib sheets are outside the cap shroud. That angle, about 14 degrees, becomes the driving factor for the stays'l. I am very interested to see if this proves correct.
Earlier in the week I removed the panels from under the side deck near the foot of the pilot berths. It is nice to be able to get to any part of the underside of the deck or cabin top if required. I marked and drilled oversize holes in the deck and poured epoxy in to make solid plugs. Then, when the epoxy cured I drilled 1/4" holes through the plugs chamfered the holes. I installed 1/4" thick G10 backing plates. I installed the hardware with butyl rubber and spend several days slowly tightening them allowing the butyl to be squeezed out. Then, I reinstalled the panels and trim. It nice to have the boat back together.
10 Aug 15 Extracting a Broken Bronze Screw
The mission today was to mortise three small bronze plates into the edge of the folding table top. The inserts are secured into the wood with 7/8" #8 bronze FH screws. Between the two FH's is a tapped hole for a 10-24 round head machine screw that secures the removable fiddle to the edge of the table top. I cut the 1/8" thick x 1/2" wide x 1" long plates from my bronze sheet stock and shaped them by filing, grinding, etc. It was nerve racking mortising out the small square for the bronze insert. But I got it done and it looked good. But, (oh how I hate those buts . . . .) when I went to install them, one of the screws broke off in the edge grain for the ash--very hard wood. Not good. John not happy. I have tools to remove stripped heads but not screws broken off below the surface of the wood. I went into the house, made some coffee, and searched the woodenboat forum (WoodenBoat is one of only two magazine I subscribe to with Practical Sailor being the other) and hidden in one of the threads was a great discussion about the very problem I was facing. I found a post by Peter Sibley of NSW Australia that described, with pictures, a technique for removing a broken screw. Other folks contributed to the discussion and I ended up kludging several techniques together. I used a split pin I had in a collection of loose bolts. I used a hacksaw to cut a notch in the end of the pin, chucked it into my drill and drilled down around the screw. I only had to go down about 7/8". Then, I used a tiny screwdriver to break off the wood column and fished it out with the screw embedded inside. I filled the hole with G Flex epoxy into which you can install a screw after it cures. Later today, I applied the second coat of varnish to one side of the table top.
I used a hacksaw to cut a notch into the end of a split pin and chucked it into my cordless drill. It's a good technique to remove a screw when the shaft breaks off below the surface.
8 Aug 15
This morning we took the table down to the boat for a test fit (photo gallery below). We applied tape to the stanchions to protect them, then clamped some wood across the stanchions and laid the table across the frame. We moved it up and down till we were satisfied we had the right height. Next, we marked where to drill the 1/4" holes for the sliding bolts. I drilled the holes and we slid the pins into position. Gayle held the table level while I marked the stanchions for the transom slides. I drilled the holes with a 13/64" bit then tapped them for 1/4-20 bolts. We installed the bolts and the table was installed. I was pleased that it felt so solid and secure. It seems like a great design. It replaces the standard double drop leaf table that came with the Far Reach and is so common to sailboats. The advantages to this design are the table is open underneath so you can stretch your legs out. It also makes the saloon seem bigger and more open. The table can also be tilted to match the angle of heel. Lastly, it is super easy to remove it or fold it up out of the way. After returning home with the table, I took it apart and radiused the edges of the table as well as the cleats. I elongated the holes in the cleat stock so the table can expand and contract with the changing temps and humidity. I still need to install brass plates on the edge of the flip top that will be tapped to receive bolts that support the removable fiddle. More on that later. Hopefully, we will get the first coat of varnish on the table tomorrow.
6 Aug 2015 -- More Table Work
I spent about half a day completing the installation of the hinges and radiusing the edges of the table. It was very detailed work. If I built another table I think I could be a little more precise with the hinges though I think it is pretty darn good. I have to say that for someone that was better at blowing things up than building them I have come a long way in six years. I am much more confident in what I am doing and it takes me about a tenth as much time to plan and then build something as it did when I started the rebuild so many years ago. That is not to say I am satisfied with my skill sets (I wish I had more time to really refine by woodworking skills) but that I have sure enjoyed gaining the skills I have.
I also did a little preparation work for the pull out slats that support the table leaf when it is opened up. Unfortunately, all the bronze fasteners are in a box on the Far Reach. I'll have to make the trip tomorrow to pick them up in order to complete the table.
The next steps are to install the slats, prepare the transom slides for mounting, mill and shape the removable teak fiddle, and fabricate small bronze plates (as part of the fiddle system) to install into the leaf edge. Once the table is completed, I'll temporarily install it to check for fit. Then, we will varnish it with eight or nine coats of varnish and complete the final install. As soon as we start varnishing we will start sailing again.
The table top folded over and upside down. The sliding bolts secure the table between the two saloon stanchion poles. The transom slides (not installed yet) lock the table in place.
5 Aug 15--The Saloon Table
With the jib being reworked by the sailmaker it was as good a time as any to start building the saloon table. We knew all along we were going to build a table modeled after the one on the Pardey's Taleisin. With the rest of the interior already installed and designed to accommodate the table, all I had to do was build it. (click here for more on the table build). I purchased some rough cut 5/4 ash about a year ago. It was kiln dried but I stacked it in the garage and left it there to continue to acclimatize while we worked on other projects. I had planned for a long time to wait till the boat was in the water to make and install the saloon table. To get started, I sorted the wood and picked the pieces I wanted. I knew the dimensions required for the table to work in our boat--37 3/4" long (it fits between the stanchions) and 35" wide -- with both leafs open--so I needed to build two leafs each 37 3/4" long x 17 1/2" wide. I first cut the planks a little long--about 45" long -- on the chop saw. My jointer is only six inches wide so I jointed the edges and then ripped the rough cut planks on my table saw to 6" wide. I ran one side of the rough planks over the jointer making sure they were flat. Next, I ran the planks through the thickness planner taking them down to about 1/32" over 3/4" thick. I left them for two days to settle.
Next, laid the planks out matching the grain so the surface would look more "harmonious", picked the side to face up and which sides to face down. I also alternated the grain of each plank to reduce the likelihood any stress in the wood might cause them to warp. I made sure the edges were dead flat and ready to be joined by using a technique I have used many times called an "edgeless joint". I read about this technique years ago in WoodenBoat magazine. After surfacing the edges with my router and a guide bar I glued them up with Tightbond III glue. To ensure they would remain flat I incorporated cauls (braces clamped across the plank to hold them flat) while the planks were clamped together horizontally. Next day, I removed the clamps and to my disappointment they were warped. I was not happy. I looked at them for a long while trying to figure out what happened. I had no idea except perhaps I clamped them to tight (or perhaps I should have let them acclimatize longer after I planed them) before I had the cauls clamped in place. I have not had this happen before and I must say it was rather disconcerting. Frustrated, I took the planks to the table saw and ripped them along the glue joints, arggghhh! I left them over night. The next day, I rejointed the edges with the router and guide bar. This time, however, I glued them up with System Three T88 epoxy. I decided to use epoxy because only the lightest clamping is required so there would be less of a chance of over clamping them. I used the T88 because I had it on hand from when I installed the mahogany staving during the winter time several years ago. It is also invisible under varnish. Next day, I unclamped the planks. Thankfully, they were flat. I cleaned up the planks with a cabinet scraper and 120 and 220 abrasive on a random orbital sander. I laid them out to check the grain. They looked pretty good.
I collected the hardware I needed for this project several years ago. Finding the transom slides took a long time--I found them at White Chapel Hardware where I have purchased a number of solid brass pieces for the boat rebuild, to include all of the cabinet door hinges. Because the starboard side leaf folds over on top of the fixed port side leaf I needed special hinge called a sewing machine hinge, folding leaf hinge, and incorrectly called, a butler tray hinges. Unlike butler tray hinges, these hinge fold all the way over flat and when open or closed and are perfectly flush with the wood top or edge. However, they are a little tricky to mortise as you can see from the picture below. My normal technique for mortising hinges, like butt hinges, is to carefully lay them out then trace around them with a knife or sharp pencil then use a small router to remove the waste. Since there is no "do over" when mortising hinges, I decided to practice on a piece of ash off-cut. A little trial and error and I felt confident enough to proceed with the real top.
Now that I was ready to start the first thing to do was to position the hinges. I measured out where I wanted them and used a small square to make sure the hinges were perfectly aligned with the edge of the table. Then, I traced around them with a very sharp pencil. Because the hinges are not flat underneath, I had to cut them in two phases. The first phase was to cut the first layer that corresponds with the thickness of the flat part of the hinge. In order for the top table leaf to lay flat on the bottom leaf the hinges have to be slightly countersunk--about 1/32". Thus, I set the router depth about 1/32" deeper than the thickness of the plate (see the photo gallery below). With the 3/8" diameter x 1/4" shaft straight cut router bit installed in the laminate router, and the depth set correctly, I cut out the area inside the outline of the hinge. I went very slow and cut a little shy of the line. I used a chisel to sneak up on the fit but had to rely on the router for the curved part of the cut out since I only have flat chisels. I cut all thee mortises on one side then laid the opposing leaf out next to the part I just cut and with the hinges upside down in the freshly cut mortises I then traced for the other side. Finally, I cut that side out and checked the fit of the three hinges. I was satisfied. Phase one was complete. At that point, I called it a day.
2 Aug 15 -- The Work Bench
One of the easier projects was building and installing the work bench. After thinking about it off and on for the last couple of years I had determined the best option for the work bench was to install it under the bridge-deck and behind the companionway ladder. I wanted to use walnut because it is hard and stable. It is also dark and if left unvarnished won't easily show the marks and abuse of using for it's intended purpose. However, I was all out of walnut. I dropped by Precision Trim and Molding in New Bern. They had walnut. But, they also had some tongue and groove walnut flooring that was brand new but did not meat the specification for a new build custom home. I picked up what I needed for $10! It was already milled and ready to glue up. I installed walnut cleats and then used some doorskin ply and a hot glue gun to make the pattern. I used West Epoxy slightly thickened with 406 colloidal silica and lightly clamped the wood leaving it over night. Next day, I cut the walnut per the pattern and went by the boat to install it. Quick and easy. Later on, when I have some time, I'll install a pull out drawer under it to hold tools that I expect I will use frequently.
28 July 15
Just a quick update. After my solo sail, I took a week off and my son and I went camping for a week in the Smoky Mt National Park. We have a favorite campsite we like to use that's at an altitude of 5500'. We love to go up there and enjoy the cool temperatures . . . a high of 75 F while the coast and the lowlands are baking at 98F. We hiked and swam in the creeks and roasted marshmallows over the camp fire. It was a wonderful break from the heat and recent single-minded focus on the boat.
Our sail maker thinks he can have the jib modified by the end of the first week of August. In the meantime, I am working on small projects--we applied two more coats of varnish to the bowsprit, cockpit coamings, and dorade boxes. I'm building the work bench table (black walnut) and will start the saloon table (ash) in the next few days. I tuned the rig some more yesterday with a little more pre-bend. I raised the new stays'l to get an idea of where the fixed sheet leads will need to be located. I'll also pour the spartite soon if the weather holds. Small steps forward.
I raised the new staysail for the first time. We will sail with it in the next week to see where to place the fixed leads.
Eric and I went camping in the Smoky Mounts for a week. We had a great time together.
14 July 2015--First Sailing Trip
Updated 15 July
I decided the best way to start sea-trialing the boat was just to take off for a couple of days by myself without any distractions and test the boat's systems and better familiarized myself with her. So, I loaded up the boat with some supplies and spent the night of 8 July stowing them and sleeping on the boat at Hancock Marina. I got underway the next morning and spent 9-12 July single-handing on local waters. Basically, I sailed about 85 nautical miles, straight line distance. I estimate it was more like a 100 miles including all the tacking. Anyway, I overnighted on the South River (a tributary of the Neuse), the Bay River off of Vandemere, and off of Wiggins Point about two miles west of Oriental on the Neuse River. To say it was a wonderful trip would be an understatement. It was, simply put, terrific, and could hardly have been more enjoyable. We experienced a little of everything, light zephyrs, a fair amount of 12-15 knots, a little bit of 18 knots or so, and finally we got blasted by three fast moving summer thunderstorm squalls with winds running from 35 to a reported 60 knots. The Far Reach performed beautifully in all conditions. Any doubts I had about the strength of my hand-spliced standing rigging are gone.
Short Version--Conclusion: I still have a lot to learn about the Far Reach and we have some work to do to finish up some projects and make a few adjustments here and there but overall I am delighted with her. Soon, we will start sailing her as a family.
Close hauled into the mouth of the Neuse River.
For my third sail on the Far Reach, and my first overnight trip; there were a number of take aways for me.
First, I have not forgotten how to sail a big boat--big by my standards. I managed the Far Reach pretty well for the first time I single-handed her. To be sure, I was a little rusty sailing a big keel boat but overall I did not embarrass myself (ok there was that little docking episode at the end but I don't think anyone saw it--and if there were no pictures then it didn't happen).
Second, the boat sailed beautifully. I tuned the rig a little more before I departed and again while sailing on day three. The mast still needs more pre-bend and the uppers need to be tightened some more too. But, I think we are getting close to where the rig needs to be. At twenty degrees of heel there was about 3-4 degrees of weather helm, which is perfect. Though there was pressure on the rudder, I could easily hold her on course with just a few fingers. In the video clip below note the tiller position . . . almost centered, maybe a couple degrees to weather. The traveler is dropped down about 8-12" so that can be a little misleading. The boat is heeling a little more than 15 degrees but I noted no difference in tiller position even at 20 degrees of heel which is really where she likes to be. She tacked every time regardless the wind speed. The tacking angle appeared to be about 80 degrees or 40 degrees to true wind. I think that is very good for a full keel boat with basically outboard mounted shrouds. We also beat up about 8 miles of the Bay River, working through two dog legs, and dodging an ocean going tug pulling barges, without issue. During four days of active sailing I saw only a few boats actually sailing. Most were, sadly, motoring despite near perfect sailing conditions.
On the afternoon of the third day we got schwacked by a series of fast moving summer squalls. They were very impressive. In fact, I said a little thank you prayer to Carl Alberg when at the height of the third squall the wind shifted 180 degrees and blew at least 35 knots sustained for probably 45 min to an hour putting us very close to what quickly became a lee shore in a tight spaced steep chop (I estimated 4' to 6' rolling in off the Pamlico Sound). This occurred because I had sailed close to the mouth of the South River, on the south side of the Neuse, thinking I might be able to duck in there before the first squall hit but I waved off because the squall was on us before we could safely sail through the narrow channel. Thus, we tacked away and moved back out into deeper and more open water. The first two squalls had south winds associated with them thus I chose to remain closer to the south bank to gain some protection. But, the third squall had a powerful north wind associated with it and suddenly the protection the south shore had provided was very dangerous to us. I was a little anxious about gaining some separation as we beat north with just a single reefed main. But, the Far Reach performed very well chugging slowly up wind. The better sail combination would have been a double reefed main and reefed stays'l. I had foolishly sailed with only a single reef line installed for the main as my new reefing lines had not arrived in time before I decided to go sailing. Never again.
Third, all the systems (except one) worked fine. The stove, oven, and propane system worked flawlessly. The gravity feed system for the sitz tub and the pump-up spray bottle worked like a champ. The water was plenty hot. The icebox was super. After 4 1/2 days I still had half of the 16lb block of ice I started with and the temps were blazing the whole time. I was pleased the icebox did so well even though I was cycling liter sized bottle after bottle of lukewarm water into the icebox to chill them so I could remain hydrated and gain some relief from the heat. I was very impressed with the Antal 6:1 mainsheet and bridgedeck mounted 4:1 traveler system. At no time did I ever need to think about running the mainsheet to a winch. The ABI windlass and ground tackle system worked perfectly. I set the hook and weighed anchor under sail and had no issues. The Cape Horn windvane was magnificent. It is steering the boat in the video clip posted above. I still need to tweak it a little to improve its downwind performance in very light air but overall I was very impressed with it. I hand steered very little. I even tacked the boat with it--simply pull the course correction line so the wind blade rotates 90 degrees and the boat will tack . . . all I had to do was release the jib sheet, sheet in on the new one, adjust the traveler if required and "Bob's yer uncle." The Cape Horn steered most of the time in the three squalls as well, no problem. Though I only used it three times, the rotating outboard engine mount that Yves Gelanis made for us worked very well. The Honda Powerthrust 9.9 hp extra long shaft had plenty of power for the conditions in which I used it. The only time it failed me was when I forgot to lock the tilt lever down and went into reverse . . . not a pretty sight. But that was operator error. I think I have the sculling oar sorted out both the way it is set up and the technique. I sculled about 200 yards into position to anchor off of Vandemere and sculled about 1/2 mile off Wiggins point to anchor on the third night after the thunderstorms had finally moved on. My sculling technique is improving and I am gaining confidence in it.
Updated: Fourth, I did not miss the electronics. The boat is wonderfully simple. We might need to add a small flexible solar panel at some point to charge the phone or some other device such as a 12v vacuum or laptop for school work but other than that, at this point, I have no desire to add more. I also did not miss having a dodger or bimini. It was very hot, sure, but there was always a breeze across the cockpit which would have been impacted with a dodger plus I like being able to see the sails from anywhere on deck and stand up on the cockpit seats and steer with the tiller. And speaking of the tiller, it worked great. In fact it may be a little long at about 5'3". I think we could easily go to about 4'6"-4'9" long. We are thinking about some deck awning for when we are anchored but I really enjoy having an uncluttered and simple deck layout. We do need to add a boom gallows though. I am sill considering options for this important piece of equipment.
Fifth, I still remembered how to navigate accurately by dead reckoning. I don't have a GPS. I relied on a Weems and Plath "hockey puck" hand bearing compass that I came to love. I kept it around my neck under my sun-shirt most of the time. It is very similar to the lensatic compass I used most of my career with the Marines. I was always good at land nav and the skills translate very well. With the Cape Horn vane steering I stood in the cockpit or up on the seats or sat on the cabin top in the shade. I used my binos to identify reference points and used the compass to shoot azimuths to terrain features, marks, or other known features and plotted them on the chart to keep a running fix. I kept the chart below on the chart table most of the time. I established transit lines and shot resections and intersections to determine when I need to tack in the narrow channels or simply to maintain a good sense of where I was. I enjoyed it immensely. One thing I like about navigating with your eye is that you remain aware of what is going on outside the boat. You know where other boats are, you know where the shoals are, you see what the wind is doing before it gets to you, etc. I think it allows a more personal connection with the environment . . . which is what I want to experience when I am sailing. Plus, I think it keeps you mentally sharp. I don't have a depth sounder. I enjoyed using my sounding line the few times I felt I needed to check the water depth.
Not everything, however, worked perfectly. The sailing performance of the bonneted jib as either a genoa or working jib was excellent, however, it's ability to be reefed was an abject failure. There is a toggle on the luff and leech that take the major strain on the sail when the two parts are connected. The sail then zips together from leech to luff with a YKK delrin toothed zipper. There are double sided flaps on both sides of the zipper that run full length connected by a mass of Velcro. It was a nightmare to reef the sail. I am still pretty strong, agile, and very determined but I finally called it quits trying to reef it on deck. I simply could not unzip it. In a rising wind, I had to remove the entire sail, drag it off the bowsprit and across the deck, push it through the companionway and sort it out below. As you can imagine I was not happy. The good news is I learned a lot about how a bonneted jib needs to work to be viable. I took the sail to our sail maker (Mark Weinheimer) yesterday at Inner Banks Doyle Sails. Mark did not actually design or make the sail--he took the measurements and sent them off to the Newport Doyle loft that made it. We pulled the sail out of the bag and sat on the loft floor together discussing the design and construction. Mark has a ton of sail-making and sailing experience. Plus, he built and sailed his own enginelss 34' cutter so he is very aware of our needs. He saw exactly what the problems were and developed a plan to address each of them. He is replacing the YKK toothed zipper with a "tear apart" coil zipper, which can literally be pulled apart by without damaging it by grasping each side of the sail and pulling. He is removing almost all of the Velcro flaps only leaving enough to provide chafe projection where the sail drags across the forward lower shroud when tacking. He is adding flaps over the aft toggle to prevent it from hanging up on the forward lower shroud. We also discussed the sequence for reefing. I have a lot of confidence in Mark and in the concept of the bonnet jib. To be fair, you can't really expect a loft to know exactly how to make a bonneted jib unless they have experience with one. What sounds good to a designer/engineer does not always translate well to reality. A bonneted jib is not commonly used these days, at least not in the US. I am sure we will get it sorted out and end up with a great sail system. I also did not have my stays'l which would have been a huge help. But, it was not ready for me when I departed and I still have to determine the lead locations and do some basic prep work before it can be installed and tested.
I also nearly tore my jib halyard in half. I am not exactly sure what happened. I caught it as I removed the sail before the series of squalls on day three of our trip. Robert Quates, who designed and fabricated our beautiful mast, and I have discussed it at length. We have a ton of pictures of the spar and all its parts and have gone over them in detail. Neither of us thinks the chafing is due to a design or fabrication issue. In fact, I now think I must have stupidly wrapped the halyard around the head stay somehow and it chafed almost through about 14" aft of the shackle. It is the only thing that makes sense at this point. But, I will go aloft and see if there is any chance the lead is not fair when the halyard is properly run.
Overall, it could not have gone better. With the high winds during Saturdays thunderstorms I got enough wind to gain confidence in the boat and my work. I made a few learning mistakes which will be helpful to me in the future. I will turn my attention to installing the stays'l leads, building the saloon table, checking a few more items off "the list" and continue to prepare the Far Reach for more adventures.
The part that chafed is on the left. I cut the eyesplice apart to save my splice jib downhaul. The shackle was temporary while I learn to make dyneema toggles.
6 July 2015
I've been busy working on small projects but we did get in a short sail with the kids last week. They enjoyed it though it is blazing hot here now. I don't even enjoy going down to the boat when it's this hot. The big news is we installed a removable custom outboard motor mount on the port quarter of the Far Reach. I spent the better part of a week fussing with it and cutting and fabricating a special silicon bronze bracket (welded by my friend Steve). I'll post some pictures in the near future. The basic mount was built for us by Yves Gelinas, the designer and builder of the Cape Horn Windvane. It is very similar to the one he uses on his Alberg 30 Jean du Sud. We built the bronze brackets that connect his SS rotating arm system to the FR. We test fired it when we took the kids out last week. We are using a Honda, Power Thrust 9.9 with the 25" shaft and large 4 blade prop. I estimate max speed will be about 5 knots. I have very mixed feelings about it though it is completely detachable. Nonetheless, I'll write more on it later and also provide some pictures.
In the mean time, I continue to refine the sculling oar, turning blocks, whisker pole system, etc. My current thinking is the best way to rapidly move forward is to take the boat out for a few days alone and just find a place to anchor and day-sail from while I work on small things to include testing all the components--stove/oven, sitz tub, lighting, running lights, anchor lights, windlass and ground tackle and also test the self steering vane and further tune the rig. This idea is of course subject to change.
Whisker Pole System. I refurbished the original adjustable whisker pole that came with the Far Reach. It's not a great pole but I think it will do the job for now. When we painted the spars with Awlgrip we also painted the whisker pole. The anodized end fittings were beat up but to replace them was ridiculously expensive. There are tiny pins that hold the assembly together and it looks like the SS is fused to the aluminum. Instead of fussing with them, I decided to leave it be and use it as it is for now. I washed the fittings with solvent wash then with soap and water, Next, I sanded the fittings, sprayed them with etching primer, and then applied a couple of coats of semi gloss black paint. Flat black would have been better but I had the semi-gloss on hand.
The plan is to install the typical often used cruiser set up as detailed by Lin and Larry Pardey in The Capable Cruiser. We have a cheek block fastened to the mast above the whisker pole track. One end of the pole will be attached to the sliding bail which will be raised and lowered on a continuous line system run through the cheek block. The other end of the pole will be attached to a fitting near the bottom of either the port or starboard forward lower shroud. To that end, I purchased a couple of unthreaded shouldered 1/2" eye bolts to replace the clevis pins on the upper end of the turnbuckle. I drilled 9/64" holes in the end of the clevis pins today to accommodate 1/8" cotter pins. Once installed, the lower end of the pole will be attached to the eyebolt. We have a few more steps to complete the assembly but we are not too far from checking it off the list.
This pin will replace the clevis pin on the top end of the forward lower shroud turnbuckles.
I rebuilt the old whisker pole system. We will keep it for now until we determine if it will do the job or need to be replaced.