Sunday, August 2, 2020

It Doesn't End, Does It?

So, we're (Gardens, Jan and I) sailing again after a long (winter-into-spring-into-summer) offseason of repairs, modifications, improvements, etc. Just about everything added to, or improved upon, Gardens works as well or better than expected: Lazy-jacks, the mast 'lifter,' the mizzen slot, the hinged tiller, and the boarding assist handle all work very well. The only real disappointment is the bronze mast traveler. I believe it is a great idea but it does not seem to suit the Pathfinder's configuration; I believe in a completely open boat the mast traveler would work just fine. 

But already, after just a single sail, the to-do list is growing! 

Paddles: During last week's outing, several short-comings made themselves apparent. When the trolling motor failed (I did a poor job of wiring a plug to the motor's power cable), the absence of paddles became painfully apparent. Yes, I know, I should have had paddles on board... but I didn't. To remedy the situation I am building two SUP paddles (it occurred to me that standing up to paddle Gardens will be more comfortable than sitting). The wiring for the trolling motor has also been corrected. We may never need the paddles, but we'll have them just in case.

Cockpit Comforts: 

Side Deck Seats: Gardens' coamings are only 3/8" thick so they are not at all comfortable to sit on. Jan caught a rare moment on last week's (light air) sail:

Jan commented that she, too, would sometimes like to sit up on the coamings - but they are too uncomfortable (not a direct quote but good enough). So, remembering a FaceBook post from May,  I'll adapt Michael Olson's side deck seat to fit Gardens' coamings. NOTE: For some reason I cannot create a link to the FB post re coaming seats. Please search the John Welsford Small Craft Designs FB page for "coaming seats," scroll to Michael Olson's May19, 2020 post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Cup Holders: Jan also wants cup-holders. I haven't figured that one out yet, but I am working on it.

Anchor Set Up: Gardens has an anchor, chain and rode suitable for the waters we sail. However, I don't have a decent way to secure the anchor to the boat... I opted against utilizing the anchor well (part of the design and built as per plans) by not opening up the foredeck.  I am rethinking that decision. If I decide to use the anchor well, the modification probably won't happen until later this year. But, I am pondering the possibilities.

Camping Set-Up: While we aren't there yet, I am thinking about, and planning for, boat camping. Sleeping pads and bags, shelter (cockpit tent [boom or otherwise], dodger, or?), galley box and gear, porta-potty, and more will be needed. 

When you build and sail a wooden boat, the ideas keep coming and the work list doesn't end, does it? 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Variation on a Theme

Late last week, during what should have been the last yard sail before the real thing, I was disappointed that the newly installed lazy-jacks did not hold the sail bundle (boom, sail & yard) in a horizontal orientation. The foreward end of the bundle rested on the foredeck, while the aft end of the bundle rose higher. Neither lazy-jack tension or main sheet tension helped.  

So, having been rained out of sailing over the weekend, I decided to try again today to figure everything out. Following an epiphany of sorts, I swapped out the square lashing on the boom (holding the boom close to the mast) for a "Bleater" (GIS nomenclature for a line to keep the sail bundle from moving foreward as the sail is raised). Using the square lashing this spring resulted from "faulty" muscle (brain) memory from rigging my GIS and short-term memory loss (I've used a Bleater on Gardens the last two summers).

The Bleater loops around the boom, then around the mast, and forward to attach near the end of the boom. A little trial and error to get the Bleater length correct (to position the tack of the sail 400mm ahead of the mast), and the Bleater keeps the sail bundle from moving forward as the sail is raised.

How does this help the lazy-jacks hold the sail bundle horizontal? As best as I can figure, when using the square lashing allows the bundle to move foreward when the sail is raised or lowered. That movement changes the geometry (and pivot point) of the lazy-jacks, and the foreward end of the boom drops while the aft end raises. 

Whether that is really what is happening or not, the result is that with the Bleater the bundle does not more foreward and I can set the lazy-jacks to hold the sail bundle horizontal at whatever height I choose (well, with reason). 

One solution I considered was parrel beads. I didn't have any beads to try, but it seems to me, the Bleater is a variation on the theme of parrel beads. 

Now, to sort out reefing...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

"If It Works, Don't Fret"

Final yard sail and rigging set-up of the pre-season (much like everything else, the summer sailing season has been shortened - not so much by the pandemic, but by procrastination). 

Rigging the mizzen raised a couple of questions. Answers were forthcoming but the best one was John Welsford's words of wisdom and needed reminder:

If it works, don't fret.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Almost There...

Gardens has spent more than a week yard sailing, getting outfitted for the summer (which is too far gone already), and teaching me a few things.

Things done: 
  • New rigging for the main (mast traveler, halyard, sheet, out-haul)
  • mizzen (halyard, sheet, snotter).
  • New lazy-jacks.  
  • New rigging for the centerboard
  • New "Mast Lifter" - a lever/fulcrum system to lift the main mast out of the step (see other posts for the why's and wherefores).
  • New paint (transom: inside and outside;center-line; coamings; and touch-ups on the deck)
  • New varnish on coamings, battery-box surround, and tiller.
What have I learned? Installing the lazy-jacks was a lesson in futility until it dawned on me that everything is interconnected. You can't make an adjustment without taking everything into consideration. It took me far too long to make that obvious observation but once I did, the process went well.

Changing the main halyard system involves more than just adding a bit of hardware. The mast traveller changes the geometry of where the yard sits in the boat before hoisting, and how it fits the lazy-jacks . Other systems allow a bit more flexibility - but if the down-haul is not loosened the sail bundle isn't going anywhere. And, see the next paragraph and photo for another issue I had with the mast traveler. 

From the category of Unintended Consequences: Two years ago, I installed the halyard block on the mast with a "spin strap" (from Duckworks). I installed the strap upside down (my bad). The recent experiments with the mast traveler resulted in the strap (and the top screw) bending. The strap has been replaced with a heavy-duty padeye. Gardens may sail this summer without the mast traveler.

The last two items on the list should be done this week:

Mizzen Mast Slot to facilitate stepping the mizzen (the slot concept works for the main, ought to work for the mizzen for similar reasons). Start of the project...

Registration Numbers. The resident artist is finishing up a painting and will add the registration numbers to Gardens' sheer planks this weekend.

This Sunday we'll do a snoop trip to check out boat ramps on Muskegon Lake (which feeds into Lake Michigan) so there will be options for an outing the following weekend. A shake-down sail is in the works for next week.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Snoop Trips

Rigging and outfitting Gardens for the season is nearly complete. The mast traveler and lazy-jacks are sorted out; the revised up-haul for the centerboard is in place but can't be tested until Gardens is on the water; the "Mast Lifter" has been installed (and works well!). The coamings have received fresh varnish - although additional work on the coamings is already on the fall/winter work list. About the only thing left to do before hitting the water is painting the registration numbers on the sheer plank. I'd rather not tempt fate by launching at a local lake without those numbers on display...

As for the snoop trips... We've been scouting some of those local lakes:

Wabasis Lake is about 20 minutes from the house, is large enough (400+ acres) for some sailing, isn't completely built up with cottages or McMansions, and isn't terribly busy on weekdays. The 4-lane launch ramp is one of the better ones around:

Gardens was first splashed at Wabasis Lake in 2018 and her 2019 shake-down sail took place there, too. We'll revisit Wabasis Lake soon.

Townline Lake is about 30 minutes from the house, is small (just under 250 acres) and was probably fine for sailing until the entire shoreline was built out with cottages (along with pontoon boats, ski boats, fishing boats, and jet skis; but not a sailboat in sight - not even a sunfish on a lawn).  On a Sunday the lake was busy! The launch ramp is pretty typical of small lake ramps: paved single lane, no dock, and a drop-off at the end of the pavement.

Curiously, there is a warning to "Sailboat Operators" about overhead power lines (presumably to the cottages on the island in the lake):

"Maximum Mast Height 30'" Two thoughts on that warning: No one is going to launch a sailboat with a 30' mast at that launch ramp. And, Why would anyone put that size boat on a lake this small?

Based on the boat traffic we saw last Sunday, we don't plan to take Gardens to Townline Lake.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Gardens' Annual Yard Sail

Day 1, Thursday:
Some new rigging, a tidy-up of small bits of mis-matched line, a piece of new hardware, and an experiment with lazy jacks.
I was pleased with the overall set of the mail (left the mizzen in the barn for another day) but I was not thrilled with how the mast traveler worked. Oh, it hoisted the yard & sail just fine. But on lowering the sail, the yard was a bit unruly and when the yard was almost (but not quite) all the way down the mast traveler kept lowering, losing halyard tension on the yard and the loop on the yard popped off the hook of the mast traveler. (That is one messy sentence!) Lazy-jacks helped somewhat but the yard still popped off the hook. Perhaps a stopper of some sort on the mast to prevent the traveler from dropping lower than the yard?
The lazy-jacks presented a couple issues of their own. They really are quite a rat's nest of line and unless there is a convenient way to keep them rigged on the mast and boom for trailering, I am not convinced they would be worth the trouble of rigging for day-sailing. However, truth be told, this was my first effort at setting up and using lazy-jacks so, maybe, operator error is to blame.

Day 2, Friday:

Definitely a better day wrestling with the lazy jacks. Shortened the aft legs, lengthened the LJ halyard/downhaul, moved the legs toward the ends of the boom. Worked on stowing/securing for trailering (needs more work). The lazy-jacks helped control the sail and, I suspect, that will improve as I tweak the system. All in all pleased to make progress.

Pro-tip: Don't Yard-Sail until after the front passes through... things got dicey...

Next issue: minimizing catching LJ on boom mounted hardware and work on tidier bundling of the yard/sail/boom package for trailering.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Concept... and Proof of Concept

One issue I've had with unstepping Gardens' mast alone is in lifting the mast two, or so, inches for the stub tenon to clear the mortise in the mast step so the mast can be walked back to horizontal using the Slot in the deck.  Reaching across the three feet between BH-2 and the mast is not too difficult, but having enough leverage to lift the mast straight up is the problem. Someone standing on the foredeck can easily lift the mast vertically, but that same person cannot then lower the mast. So, I needed a solution for unstepping the mast by myself.

Concept: A Mast Lift consisting of a Lever, a Fulcrum, and a block of wood attached to the mast. Lifting the mast is helped by stepping on the lever... That's the Concept.

The lever is White Oak: 1.25"x1.25"x 36" 
The fulcrum is a T-section: White Oak: 1"x3"x6" base with a 1"x3"x6" upright (with a 1.25" notch)
The block is  White Oak: 1"x1.25"x4" screwed to the mast

Proof of Concept:

Not the best photo. The Proof of Concept utilized the mast support (used when trailering), not the full mast. The prototype fulcrum was modified from what is in the photo to the dimensions listed above.  The block on the mast support is pine - not white oak. (Ignore the yellow lifting strap in the foreground and the dust collection on the stringers in the background.)

I'll pull Gardens into the yard for rigging and testing the changes (mast traveller, lazy-jacks, etc.) made over the winter, including the "mast lift."