Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Storm Ties

Storm Ties – On Wednesday, June17, five boats sailed to Whiskey Rock to overnight there.  The weather reports were threatening and around 1600 (4 pm) the skies across the lake near the Three Sisters was darkening and there was an occasional lightning flash.  Over the next half hour or so we watched a storm with big winds, big waves, and heavy rain march across the lake toward us.  Precautions were taken.  Extra fenders were put along the hulls of several boats (me included); and additional dock lines were tied between our boats and the dock.  I added a second bow line and a second stern line.  When the storm hit, we all ducked inside our respective boats to ride out the storm.  Inside Snickerdoodle was like being inside a washing machine.  I wedged myself on the starboard settee and found myself seeing the most amazing sights.  First, the boat across the dock; then the sky; then the dock - - repeated over and over.  Stuff that never leaves it’s place on settee shelves or the shelves behind the stove was dislodged and flew toward the starboard side of the boat.  All of the miscellaneous food that started on the counter tops was thrown onto the floor.  And, the boat was continuously brought up short on the dock lines as rocked to and froe while the dock was also rocking violently. Suddenly, there was a loud bang – much like a gun discharging.  I knew at once that one of the dock lines had snapped - - and I went on deck to survey the situation.  I brought with me a 20 ft long dock line (1/2”) and a 50 foot dock line (7/16”).  It was one of the stern lines that had snapped (3/8” dacron line).  I replace it with the 20 foot line… and then put an additional line on the bow and took the tail of that line back to make up an additional spring line.
Things were still topsy-turvey and the waves were still knocking the dock and boats around.  By 1830 (6:30 pm) the storm was pretty much blow off to the east.  The wind shifted from the south and the waves stopped entering the bay.
What is the “number one” lesson learned?  Make sure to take extra fenders and docking lines along whenever cruising around the lake.  Yes, these do take up valuable room below… but, when you need that extra fender or have to re-tie a broken dock line, you will be glad that you had them.
Of course, the next morning everything was calm and minimal breezes all day long.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reefing Gear Change

Any time your boat is heeling more than 20 degrees (certainly more than 25 degrees) you are not sailing as efficiently as your could.  And, the chances are that the sails are too large for the wind that you are sailing in.
To balance things and gain better control there are a couple things you could do.  One is to reduce the size of your headsail.  If you have roller furling, this will be fairly easy.  If your headsails are hank-on, the job will require taking down the present headsail and then hanking on a new jib and hoisting it.   All the while, the boat is heeling way over and the person steering is having a dickens of a time.  
BTW -  I have changed down my genny to a jib while single-handing Snickerdoodle; and was pretty well exhausted by the time I made it back to the cockpit.
For me (and I suspect on most boats) it is easier to tuck a reef in the mainsail; especially if all the reefing gear is already installed are ready to go.

When I first got Snickerdoodle, she was rigged with "jiffy reefing" gear and all of the halyards, reefing lines, et al were led to the mast at about the height of the boom.   
 The first time I had to reef, I went forward on the cabin top to the mast.  Just as I was about to begin tucking in the reef, the person steering lost control of Snickerdoodle and we began to do snap spins uncontrollably.  That event (after dousing both main and jib, and then motoring back to the marina) was what convinced me to lead all of the halyards, sail control lines, reefing lines, etc. back to the cockpit.
The first setup that I rigged was for a single first reef using a single line system.  It worked OK and I subsequently added a single line for the second reef.
I have used this system for several years and like it fairly well.  The problem is that the single line tends to pull the luff edge of the sail down to the boom first... leaving the leach portion with quite a bit of friction to overcome.  
So, this spring I have re-rigged the reefing system to a double-line setup on both first and second reefs.  Yes, that did mean that there are two more reefing lines to keep track of.  But, I have color-coded the lines (red - first reef; blue - second reef).  Now the luff edge comes down smoothly as before - and the leach line does as well.

 The picture above shows only the first reef.  But, trust me, there are two reefs rigged aboard Snickerdoodle.  Now I can easily tuck in a reef in less than a minute - - and never have to leave the cockpit.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chart Thoughts

Here it is the middle of February.  Snickerdoodle has been in her winter slip and tarps since November.  I am in my upstairs office and daydreaming about sailing.  I started thinking about using nautical charts to find my way around unfamiliar waters..... and the dangers of over-confidence when using those charts.
There is so much information that it is easy to overlook something that might be important.  So, what are a couple of the really important things to look for when first putting the new chart down on the chart table to plot a course or pre-plan a weekend sail?
One of the first things is to check to see what system of measurement is being used on your chart to display the depth of the water (soundings).  There are lots of numbers all over the water portion of the chart that show the depth of the water essentially at low tide.  At high tide the water's depth is deeper than the number indicates.  In the United States we use a different measurement for soundings than just about anywhere else in the world.  In pretty much the rest of the world, the measurements for water depth is done in meters (Metric).  Not so in the U.S.  In the U.S. for fresh water the soundings are done in feet.  So the water depths for the chart for Pend Oreille Lake are stated in feet.
For salt water regions of the U.S. the water depth is done using Fathoms (6-foot units).  So the chart for Puget Sound shows water depths in Fathoms.  The sounding information is noted at the bottom of the chart and often at the top of the chart as well.  BTW - a Meter is roughly 39.5 inches.  I generally figure a Meter to be a long three feet.  Snickerdoodle draws 4 feet empty and about 4.5 feet loaded.
Another important indicator on the chart is the Compass Rose.  This is a double circle of numbers indicating the degrees counted around the compass from 0 (North) to 359 (one degree west of north).  East is 090; South is 180;  and West is 270. The reason there are two circles of numbers is that the outer circle represents the compass as it shows True or geographic North (the North Pole on a globe).  The 0 has a line through it and a star that indicate the True North direction to the geographic north pole.  The inner circle of numbers represents the magnetic compass that shows the direction to the magnetic north pole.  For most places on the earth, True North and magnetic north are not exactly the same.  The inner (magnetic) circle shows the 0 with a line and an arrow pointing to the magnetic north pole.  In the example above, the magnetic north pole is 19.45 degrees east of True North.
It is important to realize this and remember that your compass will correspond to the inner circle - - NOT the outer one.  You can imagine that if you plotted your course to your next waypoint using the outer circle to find the course and then followed your compass with that course.  You would be steering your boat in the wrong direction.  Let's say that you figured your new course to be 040 using the outer ring of numbers and then steered 040 using your compass as reference.  Your actual True course would be 059.45.  That could get you in real trouble.  So, be certain to remember to use the inner circle if you are going to actually sail by compass numbers.

Is it important to have a chart and know how to use it?  Well, yes.  Here is a photo that I shot one day on Lake Pend Oreille when there was truly limited visibility of a quarter mile or less.  My chart and compass were invaluable finding my way home to Bayview without hitting anything or anybody.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Torqeedo Electronics

Several years ago, I decided to decrease my carbon footprint and replaced my gasoline-powered Mercury outboard with an electric outboard - - a Torqeedo.  The Torqeedo is powered by a battery bank that has 24 DC volts.  To accomplish this, I wired two group-27 12-volt batteries together in a series to generate the needed 24 DC volts. 
There was plenty of room in the fuel locker located under the portside cockpit seat.
The installation went as planned... including the hard-wiring in of a smart charger to keep the battery bank ready and fully charged.
The only drawback to the system is that while there is enough amps in the battery bank to motor from Bayview to Sandpoint (~30 nm) at about 3 knots, to go any faster will draw down the batteries quite quickly.  And, the faster I want to go, the faster the batteries are drawn down.  So, a couple years ago, I decided to put a second battery bank in the boat...  but, where to put two more batteries was a tough decision.  I finally decided to put the new battery bank (again two group-27 batteries and smart charger) under the cockpit sole.  There was enough room for a custom-made battery box and for the smart charger.
The second battery bank has been just what I needed.  And, no more worries about running out of "juice" on a long motor.
Last summer I added a "Off-1-Both-2" battery switch and a battery monitor that shows both the amount of charge (volts) and the amp draw for the battery bank being used.  Both of these are mounted on the inside of the transom. 
I could not be happier.
This is the schematic view of the whole system... not to scale...  The next decision is whether to try to figure out a solar charging system for days when I won't be able to plug into shore power to recharge... or if I should invest in a small Honda gen-set.
All-in-all, I am quite pleased with the Torqeedo and the whole outboard system that I now have.  It is quiet, and has no gas fumes.  Plus the outboard itself only weighs about 40 lbs. So, it easy to take off the bracket and put inside the boat for winter storage... and back on next spring.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

On the Water Early

Over the years, some of the most special moments I've had aboard Snickerdoodle have been early in the morning.  Just before to just after dawn.  Here are a few photos that I've taken along the way.  Enjoy!!!

So, forget about sleeping in.  Get up early and out on the water.  You might be surprised what you see.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Barnacle Bill's Roller Furling Jib Lead Blocks

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my discussion in September 2012 in which I talked about boats with roller furling jibs and the need to move the jib sheet lead car forward or aft as the jib sail is rolled in or deployed out.
One of the primary reasons for having a roller furling jib is convenience.  The sail can easily and quickly be furled when coming into a mooring or dock.  Of course, another reason for opting for the expense of a roller furling jib is safety.  There is no need to "tap dance" around the foredeck anymore doing headsail changes.  However, in talking with friends who have roller furling jibs, many discussed the need to leave the cockpit to move the lead blocks when either rolling the jib up partially (roller reefing) and/or letting the jib back out for more power.  Side decks are often just as dangerous as the foredeck.  So, what to do???
I got to thinking about the "barber hauler" that Kathy and I had on our Prindle 18 catamaran that would easily adjust the jib sheet leads and drew an idea for a "barber hauler" that would adjust jib sheet leads fore and aft on our monohulls with roller furling jibs.

Remember, we want to keep this simple and easy to use.  The first step is to install a lead car with only a bail on the "T" track that you use for the jib sheet lead blocks.
If you use the holes in your toe rail, you can shackle a block there instead of using the "T" track.
Position the lead car just forward of the spot that you would use for the jib sheet lead block if you moved the lead block forward.
Next, lead the jib sheets (both individually) through the single blocks with becket.  (One on each side of the boat)
Now, secure (a bowline works here) a length of line from the becket through the bail on the lead car.  And then back to a cleat that you have positioned near the winch on the coaming.  Make sure that the sheets and the adjustment line are led fairly.  Do this for both port and starboard sheets.
When you want to furl the jib on it's roller, first pull the adjustment line to position the block near the lead car (loosening the sheets will make this easier).  Roll the jib up with it's furling line to the desired size; and sheet in appropriately.  The block near the lead car will pull the sheet down to the proper angle for good sheeting.  Easy, peezy...

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cabin Heater for Small Boats

I love fall sailing.  Nice weather, good breezes, most of the crowds have gone home for the year.  The only problem is that staying overnight on Snickerdoodle can be uncomfortably chilly.  Many years ago though I found out a secret for keeping the cabin warm on cool evenings...  even if you have a small boat and there's no room for a Dickenson cabin heater that is fueled either by propane or solid fuel.

A thick clay flower pot that you tip upside-down over a burner on your stove works quite well.  Keep the heat control at low to medium and as the pot heats up it will radiate warmth throughout the cabin.  My Origo stove is alcohol fueled and each burner puts out around 5,000 BTU's.  The flower pot spreads the warmth.  Make sure your pot is clay not plastic.
If you are concerned that the open flame might break your flower pot, move the pot holders on the stove closer together and put the flower pot on top of the holders.  They will raise the flower pot up an inch or two so that some of the direct heat escapes.  
Don't forget that the pot will get hot.  So, use pot holders to move it after you turn off the burner.  Of course, a flower pot over both burners will double the heat.
This is a nice toasty solution for those of us with small boats that do not have wall mounted cabin heaters.  Try it out.  I think you will like the warm cabin results.
Barnacle Bill Holcomb
509 993 3214