Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter List

Here is the work list for 2009-2010, minor items omitted.

Remove bow and stern lights. Journeyman has masthead running lights and there just is no sufficient reason to duplicate these by retaining the original lights at the pulpit and stern pulpit.

Fix steaming light. There is a "steaming light" mounted on the mast about ten feet off the deck, used when motoring and also useful at lighting the foredeck when changing sails. It has not worked for several years, despite several efforts at repair. I will probably replace the light itself and the circuit.

Attend to propeller shaft packing. The shaft packing hasn't been changed out in a long time and I ought to do this if only to force myself to really inspect the fitting. I may try some of the newer teflon-goretex packing. It is claimed that the material is so self-lubricating that there is no need to allow the packing gland to drip occasionally.

Reframe forward windows. I reframed the main cabin windows last spring, because they had started leaking. The forward windows (two, very small) present the same problem.

Cole stove shielding. We overnight more and more each fall, and when the stove is hot I worry a bit about the deckhead ("ceiling") and the adjacent bulkhead. I want to put in some attractive shielding, which may be a challenge.

Cole stove deck leak. There is a leak around the smokehead (stovepipe), lets in some rain.

Redbed cleats, winches etc. Last spring I rebedded all the stanchions, pulpits, chainplates and cabintop rails, a major job. I need to finish up that job by rebedding the hardware I didn't get to.

Better reading lights in salon. The reading lights are attractive and original, but not really good for reading.

Replace dodger. With new hardware and a top-notch job, this could cost $1500 or more, which I can't easily afford. I asked Seabags, a Portland maker of handbags which also does some sail repair and similar work, to quote me a price for replicating the original dodger, reusing the existing hardware. I'm hoping it will cost $300 or so - we'll see.

The rest is odds and ends, some quite important but not major in terms of time or expense.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Journeyman's beautiful propeller has two zincs, and I am pretty careful about keeping them renewed. As anyone reading this likely knows, dissimilar metals near each other and submerged in an electrolyte (e.g., seawater) form an electric circuit. Ions (dissolved metals) from the "more noble" metal migrate to the "less noble" metal. This statement approximately exhausts my knowledge of electrolysis, but it is about all I need to know: if I have a zinc on my bronze prop, the zinc erodes instead of the prop. But if the zinc is all gone, or if I bolted the zinc onto a greasy shaft, the circuit forms between the steel propeller shaft and the prop, and the prop erodes . . .

Bronze that has been subject to electrolysis takes on a reddish hue. Pitting may appear, and metal may be gone from thin edges.

The first few years I owned Journeyman I had a problem with shaft zincs loosening through vibration. A trick prevents this. Tighten the zinc over a nice clean shaft. Then tap the zinc firmly all over with a hammer, re-tighten, and repeat. I usually back up the hammer with a sledge held against the zinc, so I won't punish the shaft.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Journeyman has two solar powered vents, one over the head and one on the "aft deck".

The aft vent, pictured above, replaced a passive (unpowered) vent. Because the vent is just aft of the cockpit coaming it is out of clear air and the unpowered vent was ineffective. This Nicro solar powered vent is effective at exhausting air from the engine compartment. The solar panel drives a motor with a fan attached. By switching fans, the vent can draw air in or be set to exhaust.

Would this vent be sufficient to ventilate the compartment of a gasoline engine, where a good sparkproof powerful exhaust fan is needed? I think I'd want to go with 12 volts in that critical installation.

The aft vent represents an improvement over the original solar vent, in that the solar panel not only powers the fan, it charges a Ni-Cad battery, allowing the fan to operate when the sun goes down. The theory is that evening air is cooler and hence drier, so pulling evening air into the boat produces a drier boat. I guess.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last summer I hit a ledge - see post for September 22, 2009 - and when we hauled I saw that the damage is about what I expected:

Journeyman's keel is made up of pieces of steel embedded in resin, and it is pretty tough. I'll sand and wire brush this damage clean, paint it out with epoxy, fair it with thickened epoxy, sand it fair, coat it again with unthickened resin, and call it good.

The barnacles are here because this is where a keel block was last winter, and I couldn't get to it. Ships have "blocking plans" for placement of keel blocks, and the several plans are rotated so a spot blocked up on one dry docking isn't blocked in the next docking. I try to do the same with Journeyman.

Friday, November 13, 2009


When I bought Journeyman she came with a MaxProp wheel, and it is a thing of beauty. It feathers for sailing, of course, but that's not all. A fixed prop is pitched to maximize efficiency when going ahead. As a consequence the pitch going astern is all wrong, which is why most sailboats back down sluggishly. On the MaxProp the pitch is set for maximum efficiency going ahead and going astern, when the shaft reverses and the blades flip. With a three bladed prop, Journeyman powers ahead with vigor, and backs down like a bastard.

The wheel is tough enough too, having survived numerous entanglements with lobster pot warps.

At the end of every season I polish this baby up, replace the two zincs (shaft and hub, not shown here) and pump fresh grease into the two grease fittings. Old grease squeezes out the various joints, and I just get a little shiver, thinking of the fine gearing of this exquisite machine, packed with fresh lithium grease and ready for the next season . . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Thousand Words

Monday, November 2, 2009


An essay I once read postulated that two technological improvements of the last 100 years have actually improved our lives: modern medicine and recorded music. Rapid transportation, automobiles, television, the internet - all overrated and even inimical to our content.

A similar argument might be made about sailing in the twenty-first century. Three improvements I will unhesitatingly grant you: electronic position finding, radar and the depth sounder. While there is a modest charm to navigating in zero visibility, without electronics fear soon becomes the overwhelming characteristic of such sailing. I own a sounding lead, and have used it when my depth sounder was out, but I like knowing where the bottom is at a glance!

And I like synthetic ropes and sails. I am too young to have sailed with manilla and cotton, but all that careful drying and tending sounds like a pain. Although I was told once that a flaked out soft cotton jib was wonderful for a nap . . .

But as for laptops, smart phones, even outboard dingies, I'm not so sure. Each adds a level of complexity, complication and frustration that I go to sea to leave. Look at the folks in the picture, circa late 50's or early 60's. The essence of why we go to sea is here: a fresh breeze and a fine reach, companionship, and relief from the pressures and complications that beset us the moment we step ashore. Isn't the idea to get away from complications, not to carry them with us?
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