Showing posts from April, 2015

Furler and Gybe Preventer IPort side)

One of the things that one learns while single handing is that furling the jib in strong winds is quite a task. This is true even if you have already reefed down. Like many things on production sailboats the furler drum is about the minimum size that the designer could get away with. It really needs to be about twice the size.

Anyone who has ever hung on a line knows that you can exert a lot more force by pulling a line attached at both ends sideways then pulling at one end. This is called a catenary and the formula in Cartesian coordinates is:

On Reboot this involves knelling in the cockpit, pulling sideways on the furler line, and then while trying to hold it reaching over and taking out the
slack through the jam cleat. This evolved to running the line from the jam cleat to the winch. The problem was that the angle was acute and there still was no real way of preventing the line from slipping back as one tried to manipulate it. The old system looked like this:
When the sail was at t…

Max Q

"In aerospace engineering, the maximum dynamic pressure, often referred to as maximum Q or max Q, is the point at which aerodynamic stress on a vehicle in atmospheric flight is maximized." In other words, if it doesn't fall apart at Max Q you have a chance of survival.

On Reboot Max Q is reached when every locker, compartment, and storage area has been emptied during some project so that there is no longer any possible place to walk around inside the boat. It is also a turning point. Usually this is the point at which projects are starting to be completed and things are being put back away. Today I felt like I reached Max Q.

Projects completed today:

Replaced cockpit speakers blown out by too much party (now they will hate me in the yard!)Restraining blocks installed to hold "kitty liter" boxes of parts from sliding around in the battery compartment,Reassembled all the various parts taken apart to install the keel cooler,Re-engineered port side jib furling line,…


Reboot is back in the water. I spent most of today debugging electronics problems. They all seem to be corroded cable connections. More tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Life Raft Renewal Costs

For those who have been asking here is my receipts from Vane Brothers to bring the Life Raft into compliance. It will also give you a good idea what is inside the box!

Total bill was $1,475. I used Vane Brothers in Norfolk. They were professional and great. They even let me pull the lanyard!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Merge Purge

Back in the early days of mainframe computing we used to run the big batch job of the night called "merge - purge."This was in the day when there were few or no random access devices (read disk drives) and everything was done on tape. Essentially we would run the day's transactions through the edit software. Then it would be "merged" with the database. Then all the deleted records would be "purged" It was possible to mark a record as deleted on a tape but the normal process was to copy the tape to another tape dropping all the deleted records. This batch job was the "big deal" for two reasons: it was the "eye of the needle" that every other job needed to pass through; and it usually ran for several hours. If it crashed the result was no computer reports the next morning.

I was reminded of this because I spent the better part of today on a merge purge. I have a number of storage boxes on Reboot and over time they have gotten filled …

Crewing on Sailboats

Like many boat owners I frequently offer my boat to people who would like to crew. I primary use "Find-a-crew". This is a web site specializing in crew exchange. As a result of several years using crew exchange services - sometimes successfully, sometimes not, I have a few observations to offer:

Understand roles:
Web sites ask what role - watch stander, competent crew, inexperienced passenger you intend to fill. I am amazed at the disconnect between desired roles and the people posting. When I see a woman in her 40's posting as a steward/stewardess I don't know what to think. First, stewardesses on megayachts are inevitably "hot" and between 18 and 25 years old. The Captain's of megayachts are not looking on Find-a-Crew for crew either. The Captain/Owner of a sailboat isn't looking for a cook, diver, steward/stewardess, photographer etc. The only roles are: watch stander, crew, and nanny/childcare. We are talking about boats with maybe 4 people on bo…

Keel Cooler

These are pictures of my new keel cooler installation. This is a device that circulates the refrigerant for the ice box and refrigerator into a heat transfer device that cools the refrigerant by using the water the boat is sitting in. In the past there have been two ways to cool the refrigerant: using an air cooled coil or pumping water through a heat exchanger. (This is, by the way, how marine engines are cooled. This keeps the salt water out of the engine cooling system. In recent years Frigoboat has pioneered the use of a "keel cooler" as the heat exchanger.

I have had a Waeco-Adler Barbour refrigeration system for my refrigerator since I purchased the boat. It has been nothing but trouble. (Maybe now that Waeco has taken over it might be better.) It is acting up again. I decided it was time for a new brand. The only way to install a Keel Cooler is with the boat out of the water so this was a good time to get it installed. Unfortunately the rest of the parts are a little…

Prop Treatment

On boats, and sailboats in particular, the bottom is coated with either an ablative (slowly shucks off with the marine grown attachment) or a hard (discourages marine growth attachment) paint. At the moment Reboot's bottom is painted with Trinidad PRO. This is a high copper load hard bottom paint. (They used to put tin in the paint, it worked much better but it has been banned in the US. It is the anti-fouling chemical of choice in every other country in the world because it works!

The problem with this is that the propeller shaft and propeller get gooked up with growth. I decided to try an anit-fouling paint specifically designed for propeller shafts. It is a three coat processes. Above you see the first coat going on the shaft. I will see how it works out.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Shackle Repair

I use these quick release shackles in a lot of places on Reboot. The problem is that the string that releases the shackle rots out. Of course you would expect that things made for a sailboat would take into account sun and salt. It never ceases to amaze me how many products don't.

After several months of frustration trying to find a replacement cord (the broken one is visible in the upper right corner of the shackle, it looks dirty brown. It is at the swivel) and not finding them in several marine stores I realized that I was trying to replace a hunk of cord (duh.) I went into my sail repair kit, got out some waxed heavy thread and fashioned replacement pull cords. Total cost - zip. Total time - 30 minutes.

BTW the replacement cords (the wrong ones) available in the stores cost about $6.00 for three.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Living Aboard - Household (Part 4)

Part 1 is here:
Part 2 is here:
Part 3 is here:

You made it through the sea trial. The bank loves you. You are still with your significant other (or not.) You are about to (or have) taken delivery. You are ready to move on. What do you take?

Viewpoint: My blog is written from the standpoint of a world cruiser. If you are going to buy a boat, keep it at a local marina near your home, and store your cleaning stuff in your dock box this post really isn't relevant.

Post Cruise Cleaning: After a cruise of any duration a deep cleaning is required. One normally also has to open every cabinet and drawer and air it out. Most clothing will have absorbed moisture and need to be dried. Having completed the major exterior projects on Reboot it was time to focus so…

The- top 10 things we hate about living-aboard a sailboat

Very funny post. And oh so true:

Fair winds and following seas :)

s/v Seqquel. The story from the participants!

Following is from Sally aboard Seaquel, anchored this morning off Boqueron PR. It explains the emergency and the head injury, as well as the trip to PR afterwards.

Dear Friends,
The short version is that we are fine,the boat is good and we are sitting in Boqueron PR at anchor waiting for the mechanic!
Thank you all for your concern yesterday! We know this is a small world when so many of you heard about our problem. So here is the long version...

On Wednesday at 0600 we left the anchorage at San Juan for the Turks and Caicos. The distance is 360 miles. For us averaging 5.5 knots it would be a 60 hour trip...a two nighter! We were making great time averaging over 6 knots when I noticed that the bilge pump was on. It was 3 AM (naturally) and we were 120 miles from the Dominican Republic and from Puerto Rico! We tried to find the source of water and deal with pumping it out with a shop vac since the bilge pump was not keeping up. Andy decided that the best thing to do was call the coast …

The Military isn't happy. Surprise, surprise

I spent 30 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve starting in 1969 (the Vietnam Error whoops Era) and retired in 2000. Since I moved onto Reboot in 2009 I have spent a great deal of time in military marinas in the United States and have visited military installations overseas. Every time I hear the political blather about how the US Military is the best equipped best trained best military in the world I cringe. Rules of engagement that let terrorists live while killing our own people  Drink one drink and get cashiered out of the service. Look too long at a woman and get cashiered out of the service. Every month we hear about pay cuts, benefit cuts, troop reductions to pay for the "important" programs in the minds of the President and many members of Congress.  How do the 'troops" feel? You might find this article both enlightening and frightening.

USA Today reports on Army morale

The headline: The majority of soldiers are pessimistic about their military career.

Fair win…

s/v Seaquel Rescue

Talked to Bill (KI4MMZ) this morning. He took a Mayday call from the s/v Seaquel (Andy and Sandy) last night. They were heading from Antigua to Florida. Ninety (90) miles off Puerto Rico the stuffing box failed and the boat started to flood. Communications were bad so Bill woke up Fred (W3ZU) who was better able to establish communications until apparently Andy passed out. They (Bill and Fred) contacted the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard (we presume) used AMVER and dispatched the Disney Fantasy to assist.The Fantasy reported 45 knot winds and was apparently able to locate the Seaquel. Bill reported that Andy was hurt with a head injury and had passed out. The USCG used the down "vertical elevator" to put a medic on board. The plan is to sail the boat to Puerto Rico unless Andy gets worse in which case they will medevac him off the boat.

A couple of notes:

Apparently Sandy did not know how to run the SSB radio. It never ceases to amaze me that couples go offshore cruising and…

Living aboard and buying a boat (part 3)

Part 1 is here:
Part 2 is here:
Part 4 is here:
The Boat of Your Dreams: You found the boat of your dreams. You are doing your homework. What does that future look like? OK, its not the boat of your dreams. Its the boat that you can afford. Me too! (See picture left) Lets talk about next steps - after all you made it to part "3." The Survey: I would not ever buy a boat without a professional survey. (OK, I would buy a Sunfish.) You will probably need a survey for insurance purposes. The first thing to understand is that a survey is like a life insurance physical. If you can fog a mirror you can get life insurance. If the boat floats it will pass a survey. Before hiring a surveyor have a long talk about what is covered and more importantly what is no…


I was chatting with a couple of guys here at Sailcraft Service and noted that in some way they are in the minor resurrection business. As the boats come out of the water on the marine travel lift they don't look like much. They get the bottom pressure washed but they still look rough.

Then the magic happens. A new coat or coats of bottom paint. A wash, compound and wax of the sides. Liberal application of deck cleaner. Replacement of fraying sheets and halyards. Patching or replacing the worn out canvas dodgers, bimini, upholstery and sails. Cleaning (or sanding) and re-varnishing or oiling the wood. Voila! Once again a beautiful sailing machine.

As I waxed poetic about the beauty of the transformation I was rudely interrupted by one of the staff. He said: "Yes Captain, when they leave they are beautiful, then you beat the sh&* out of them and bring them back!"


Fair winds and following seas :)

Re-bedding Windows

Reboot has two fixed windows in the main salon area. There is a third in the aft stateroom. All three are on the side of the hull below the deck. They let in light (great) but also take quite a bit of abuse when sailing upwind at speed. The aft window doesn't take as much abuse but the salon windows are under water a good percentage of the time. The result of all this water flowing past is that the mean time to leaking is the shortest of any window or hatch on the boat. Also, because of their position it is difficult to re-bed them unless the boat is out of the water. I have done it from the dinghy once, I would prefer not to repeat that repair.

I am trying to get all the below deck outside work done so Reboot can be relaunched. I anticipate staying at Sailcraft Service until the end of the month but it is far easier to be in the water - for example the sinks don't drain the dishwater onto the new bottom paint. So today was the re-bed project.

The windows came out quite easily…

Hull Thickness

You are out in the ocean. You are getting the stuff kicked out of you. The boat is launching off the waves only to crash down into the surf. You think about the forces involved. You wonder how your boat is constructed.

Is that what's troubling you brother?

If you have followed the recent adventures of Reboot you are aware we spent some time out in some rough seas, Today I re-bedded the two fixed windows in the main salon, That provided an opportunity to see just how thick the hull is. You are looking at it. It's quite a bit of thickness and layers.

Here is a close up of the layup. The inner core (the top of the picture) is the "pretty" interior wood. Then comes a big slug of fiberglass, what appears to be another layer of wood (not sure about that) and then the gelcoat finish on the outside. Pretty impressive. Total thickness is about 1 inch.

Fair winds and following seas :)

TaoTronics TT-BA01 Wireless Portable Bluetooth Stereo Music Transmitter

Problem number 1: My cockpit speakers are blown out from over partying by various guests on board.
Problem number 2: When working on the boat I am frequently out of range of the cockpit speakers. Either I turn them way up (when they were not blown out) and annoy my neighbors or I don't have music on the bow or under the boat when working on it.

Solution 1: Purchase a Mini Jambox Bluetooth speaker. This permits me to play music from my laptops - either saved music (from, for example iTunes) or web music from Spotify or Pandora. Setting aside for the moment that sometimes getting the right set of speakers attached to the right music source I can play music from my PC onto the JamBox and carry it around Reboot.

Related problem: All of this is well and good. However, there is one limitation. I can not play audio from Reboot's built in audio system on my Bluetooth speakers. Reboot's audio system is actually a hybrid. It is an XM music player and also the source of XM marine we…

Living Aboard and Buying a Boat (Part 2)

Part 1 is here:
Part 3 is here:
Part 4 is here:

[Minor Digression]
My good friend Ed (Hooligan), who solo circumnavigated on a 29 foot sailboat told me there are three things everyone needs on a boat: golf clubs, an umbrella, and a wheelbarrow. See the bottom of the post for the rest of the story.
[/Minor Digression]

The world has changed. Equipping a sailboat today has quite a range of options that were not available 10 years ago. This posts talks about my equipment experiences over the last 6 years of living aboard and open ocean cruising. My purpose is to give you a prioritized list of how I, like all cruisers with limited means, would equip a sailboat. My purpose here is to focus primarily on "big ticket" items. One needs a first aid kit, fender…

Gypsysails reunion

Yesterday Maury and Ginger (Gypsysails) headed down from New Bern for a great reunion. Maury was the first ocean cruiser I met after embarking on my live aboard life. The three of us buddy boated on and off for a couple of years. Then Maury and Ginger took a needed break from cruising.

This weekend is the Oriental Boat Show so we spent several hours just mucking around the show. Maury and I also talked about upgrading my refrigerator. The current unit has a mean time to failure of one nanosecond so this might be the "big upgrade" for this yard period.

We had a great time catching up and will most likely do some more stuff together before I head North to the Chesapeake for the summer.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Cleaning, Sorting and Drying

Quiet day. Scrubbed the hull to remove the ICW smile and prepare it for touch up bottom paint. With thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow it looks like a postponement. I have been filling and purging one fresh water tank. It apparently got some salt water in it during the last trip. And I went through all the paperwork that has been piling up. So, a good day, not a great day.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Bathroom Fix

In heavy seas things tend to pop open if not secured. Such was the case with the toilet paper dispenser door. When I went to close it the piano hinge had sprung. So my small project for today was to remove the door, fill the screw holes with toothpicks soaked in wood glue, let the entire thing dry and then reassemble it. Which I did.

I realized that the next time I went out in the ocean this would likely happen again. So once the repair was complete I added an external latch to prevent it from popping open again. Hopefully  this will do the trick.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The "T" Handle Saga

On Reboot one stops the engine by pulling on the handle (see picture left.) It is a very simple mechanical device. There are two drawbacks: the handle is exposed to the elements. This requires a large quantity of lithium grease to keep the salt water from making the pull wire stick; and the original handle was plastic. After a few good pulls the plastic threads stripped. I had to resort to using a pair of pliers when I wanted to stop the engine.

It would seem a simple thing to purchase a replacement "T" handle. Not so. After spending upwards of $50 to "special order" a replacement handle that did not fit I resigned myself to just using the pliers.

One of the employees of Sailcraft Service here in Oriental is Dan (see picture left.) I know from experience that Dan can fabricate just about anything. So while we were sharing a cup of coffee I ask him if he could make a simple "T" handle threaded for the existing cable. Of course he said yes. About a hour la…

A black eye for the press

At sea 66 days! Survived catching rain water in his hands and eating raw fish. The only thing fishy about this is the story. John Vigor says it well:

A black eye for the press

Fair winds and following seas :)

Poor Quality Control - AqualSignal Bow Light

You may remember that I replaced the bow light on Reboot at Masonboro Yacht Club. It didn't work, but subsequently I got it working. Of course it stopped working again. After a bit of playing with it I discovered that the tabs that are intended to make the electrical connection to the light bulb were not touching the light bulb. Since the socket and the light bulb came as a single purchase I was quite annoyed. I did manage to bend the tabs a little bit to get some tension on the light. Its working - for now.

Great quality control AquaSignal - NOT!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Rub Rail Liner

One of the annoying things on Reboot is that the liner tends to come out of the rub rail in heavy seas. I feel like I have snapped it back into the holder at least 10 times. For some reason it always seems to be the port rub rail although there is no sign of damage or deformation to the track.

One of today's project was snapping all 42' of rub rail liner back into the track. I have learned two tricks: to always push the re-bedded rub rail sideways - this avoids a big lump at the end of the snapping back in; and to use a pair of pliers to squeeze the rub rail back into the track. Even so I am now sporting a big blister on my palm.

Note XO (the wonder cat) supervising...

Fair winds and following seas :)

Red Rooster, Oriental, NC

The Silos Restaurant in Oriental, NC has added an outdoor stage and seating area behind the restaurant. Tonight was opening night marred a bit by cold weather. The set up is a modest stage and nice outdoor seating area that sells beer and wine. It turns out the the back of the restaurant sits on a county line so the stage is actually in the next county. Thus the need for a different liquor license.

Best wishes to Chris on his new venture.

Fair winds and following sea :)

Skid Marks

Last spring I had Reboot hauled and put on a new coat of bottom paint. You may remember that this was also when we discovered damage to the rudder.
After my two failed attempts to sail to Jamaica I thought it wise, in light of extensive high speed (for a sailboat) travel to have the boat hauled again. It also makes it much easier to work on - when you drop tools you climb down and retrieve them, rather than going to Sears for new! With the exception of the front bottom of the rudder and the edges of the wing on the wing keel everything down below is in great shape. It is, however, quite obvious where the water flow "self polished" the underside paint.

Fair winds and following seas :)

DeLorme inReach On Water Test

I have blogged before about the DeLorme inReach. On my last (aborted) trip to Panama I had to opportunity, thanks to my crew Mike C., to observe one in actual use. Ed (Hooligan) and I had previously played with his inReach. From my prospective its major shortcoming was that one needed Internet access in order to send a message to a boat. (It turns out in talking to DeLorme that this is not strictly true, one can talk from boat to boat without Internet as long as they both have an inReach on board.)

Now Mike lives in the real world and is actually a small business owner. He opted for the unlimited messages "Expedition" plan at $64.95 per month with no contract. I think he got his money worth as my guess is that he sent and received several hundred messages over the course of our 10 day trip. With the exception that the inReach seemed to do better when out in the cockpit communications was solid the entire time. Mike had hooked the inReach to his smartphone so the entire inte…

Getting to Normal

(Not to be confused with Getting to Normal by Sandra Campbell, a novel of the cri de coeur of Alice, a 7 year old girl. But rather the day to day business of getting Reboot, XO, and Roger back into a normal life.)

Reboot was hauled, pressure washed and blocked yesterday so I am now living "on the hard." The good news is that with the exception of some worn off bottom paint (the coat is only 6 months old) everything below the waterline looks OK.  I do have to replace the zincs. I don't think that was a consequence of the two attempts to Jamaica but rather that they had done their job and their time had come.

Everything on Reboot is wet, if not wet at least damp. Today I set up the electric heaters to accelerate the drying out process; not to mention keeping me warm at night. It is still going down into the 40's here in Oriental. That is a little cold for reading and sleeping for my taste.

I laid out all of the dock lines, sheets and halyards so they would dry. This eve…

OpenCPN - will proprietary chart plotters become extinct?

[Major Digression]
I started in the computer business in college at Stevens Institute of Technology. At the time there was no disciple called computer science. Rather, the electrical engineering department was the repository of computer knowledge. Stevens was an early adopter - it had relationships with both Unisys and IBM. In the first semester of my freshman year I was required to take a course in Fortran programming. I loved it so much that I spent the next 3 1/2 years working in the college data center. I learned on an IBM 1620 and a Univac 1105 programming in machine code, SPS (symbolic programming system) and later in COBOL. Stevens was one of the very first places to get an IBM System/360. For the super techies among you - we started with "Primary Control Program," a single thread single execution model, went to TOS (tape operating system), DOS (Disk Operating System) and finally OS/360 MFT (Multitasking with a fixed number of tasks.) I graduated prior to the introdu…

Crowd Sourced Cruising Guides: Active Captain, and Good Anchorage

When traveling by boat (or for that matter any mode of transportation) a constant question is: "What is at my potential destination?" For years the source of this information was "cruising guides", books with information about marinas, dining, fuel availability, etc. With the advent of the ubiquitous Internet that information is now available on "crowd sourced" web sites. Essentially cruisers volunteer to provide information on a web site that is shared by other cruisers.

I have, for several years, used Active Captain
(I confess that years ago I was kicking myself that I did not host such a web site and become a multi-billionaire. I don't think the owners have reached billionaire status yet either.)
Active Captain has a very large database of information on the East Coast of the United States, its world coverage is a bit less. It is a good service and I have used it a lot.

While recently updating my OpenCPN software I start…

Wet and Wild

The Plan: Jacksonville, FL to Port Morant, Jamaica, to and through the Panama Canal.

The reality: 10 days7 cold frontsMaximum winds 40 knotsMinimum winds 0 knotsAverage winds 25 to 35 knotsMaximum seas 15 - 18 feet.Minimum seas 2 feetAverage seas 10 to 12 feetLowest pressure 990 mbHighest pressure 1010 mbHighest instantaneous boat speed 16.9 knots1 waterspout at about 10 NM from Reboot3 thunderstorms1 1/4 crew injuries (laceration of head from hitting tang on winch, minor black and blue from refrigerator door dropping on finger)Fresh water supply polluted with sea water1 hatch cover crackedPercentage of time comfortably cruising - 3%Percent of time hanging on for dear life - 97%Destination reached - Oriental, North Carolina, USA.1099 NM traveledThe conclusion:
March is not a fun month to be in the Atlantic Ocean

Fair winds and following seas :)