Entries Tagged as 'Sailing and boating'

The first vacation of the year

ontheriver1 I like to take my vacations around the summertime holidays. It usually gives an extra day or so without having to burn my PTO time and there are always parties going on up at camp.

All in all, this vacation was a good one. I had great weather and I had some good conditions to try out my new old sailboat. I had some light winds, some strong winds and some gusty winds. There were a few days with no wind and I got to break in my new outboard. There were a few snags though. There were two days where my leg was hurting so bad I couldn’t even put on my prosthesis, but even a bad day on vacation is better than a good day at work. side

So there she is sitting in the water on a beautiful sunny day with my first mate enjoying one of his water toys. She’s tight and dry with no leaks to speak of. I made this mast too and I use the same gaff sail that I did on my Compac 16 except I run the forsail with roller furling from the CP on this boat as well. I’ll post more details and pics on the boat and the sail rig soon, but I just wanted to get this post and a before and after picture up right now.

I wish I could vacation all year and get 4 weeks of work rather than work all year for 4 weeks of vacation. Isn’t that what the French do?

Dreaming Dreams

sailboat-against-a-beautiful-sunsetWhen I was a youngster my grandfather bought my brothers and I each mini bikes. I loved riding that mini bike and for years I dreamed a dream of racing motocross like my older brother did. When I was sixteen years old I bought an old motocross bike and I raced it. I was no where near as good as my big brother was, but I lived that dream and I loved it.

Then while in my teens I dreamed of owning and riding a Harley and living the biker lifestyle, and then I bought my first Harley at age 22 and lived that dream. I rode hard and lived hard for many years on Harleys. I have many memories and many stories, most of which I’ll never tell, but I loved that life and I lived that dream.

I graduated that dream many years later one leg short and one education long, and I dreamed a dream of climbing the corporate ladder and making what I thought was a success of myself. Good lord, I did that too. While I had all the money from that success, I dreamed a dream of going to the Caribbean and seeing the white sand and crystal blue sea. I loved that dream so much that I lived it over a dozen times. That was a beautiful dream. It was an even better reality.

I’ve had other dreams. Dreams of sports cars, and whitewater adrenaline. Dreams of flying ultralight aircraft and dreams of a satisfying music career. I’ve been very fortunate to have realized most or all of my dreams. I am thankful for being so fortunate.

I’m in a lull now. I’m not realizing any of my dreams, but I still have a dream.

I’m in what is probably, or hopefully the October of my life. The puberty of January, February and March is long gone. The freshness and excitement of April May and June have long since passed, but with some ass kickin memories I might add. July August and September were cool and had their high points, but what about now. My leaves are changing. My blood is running a little colder and my time is running out, but I still have a dream.

I’ve realized all of my other dreams. I wonder if I’ll be able to realize my last one.

sea-captainI dream a dream of living aboard a single handed sailing yacht in the Caribbean. Her interior will be of dark mahogany and her fixtures will be bright shiny brass. Her lines will be sleek and nordic, and her beam will be wide and stable. Her captain (me) will be salty and satisfied,and will gaze out to the beautiful blue horizon soaking in every memory I’ve ever had. Every sip of rum will bring back a thought of an old friend and every night will be filled with the comfort of the memory of a lost love. Some day, I will die on that ship with the distinction and integrity that I deserve.

I only hope that if I realize that dream that when I die, the sea sees fit to toss me overboard and my ship makes it’s way through life’s winds to another sailor who is young at heart and has a dream to dream.

Alacrity 19 – The sail plan begins to take shape

imgp0246I finished whittling the mast and got a few coats of stain on it. You can see in the picture that I still have to trim about two feet off the top. I wish I could leave it there for leverage when raising the gaff but sadly, if I leave it there, the boat won’t fit under the bridges where I sail. So I’ll whack it off with a saw one of these days. In these pics you can see that I just hung eveything on there. It takes a few hours to tune one of these things when you start from scratch like I did.

Once I get it all strung up properly, I’ll take some better pics and post them, but this is okay for just seeing what it will look like. The main sail, boom and gaff are the same rig that I built for the Compac 16, but here you can see I mounted this mast on the original tabernacle, and I’m running a head sail. imgp0247The one that’s on it in the pic is the working jib from the Compac. The Genoa from the Compac fits nicer though so I’ll probably wind up using that combination most of the time. I can reef the main and put this sail on for high winds.

I went to the hardware store and had standing rigging made out of 3/16 galvanized cable. They did a very nice job putting inserts in the loops and didn’t leave any sharp pigtails out on the ends. There are four shrouds and one fore stay. I’m not going to install any back stays.

Summer Vacation

morning-riverI just got back from my last vacation of the summer. It was from August 28th until September 9th. I spent all of it except for a few days up at camp, boating and drinking heavily with a few friends that took their vacations at the same time.

The jury is still out on whether that was a good idea or not.

Don’t get me wrong. We all had a blast. For about six days straight we loaded up the coolers and headed out on the boats about noon. We’d drink beer, eat ring bologna and cheese, play fetch with my dog, tell our stories of years gone by and get a good jag on. Then about five in the afternoon we’d head back to camp and grill up some supper, which was accompanied by more beer, more banter and more revealing stories about our pasts.

After that, it was a tub of margaritas or two, more slurring about how great our lives were when we were young, and hearing the same stories that we told 8 hours earlier on the water, but of course by now the stories were better and funnier now that we were pie eyed.

It was great.

sky-boat1Sky the wonder dog was in heaven. Every day meant another day of swimming, begging for treats and chasing his water toys. It’s nice when there are only a handful of boats on the river. It’s even nicer when there’s only mine.

My liver needs a break. My stomach needs a break. I need a vacation from vacation. Believe it or not, I’m glad to be back to work.

The Alacrity 19 mission continues

paint1I bought a gallon of nice blue oil based paint after sanding the entire top side with an orbital sander. Taped off the lines and started to get some color on this baby. I was in a good mood when I started really. I’ve been working hard on this project when I get some time. That’s one of the reasons that I haven’t been writing much lately. Anyway, So I get everything ready and start painting and what happens next just horrifies me. The paint is going on terribly. There are air bubbles all through it and the fibers from the roller seem to be coming off and sticking in the paint. REAL BAD! Like a trooper I continue, hoping things will smooth out and I can go back over it later, but no such luck. The entire paint job turned out that way. Sure, from 20 feet away, we can all see the vision that I saw when I bought this boat. It’s going to look good at some point, but not anytime soon I can assure you.

paint2Now walk up on it. This is the worst paint job I’ve ever done, and what’s worse, it’s the worst paint job I’ve ever seen. It’s embarrassing. A six year old could have done better. All those bubbles and fibers are stuck in the paint and to add insult to injury, I think every deer fly in Juniata county came to land in my fresh paint, got stuck and died in it. Just imagine my chagrin. I guess I’ll just have to wait for this to dry for a few days and start the sanding process again. This paint was nice and thick. It’ll make a good primer I guess. I’ll sand it smooth again with fine paper and spray it next time and see if that works out any better.

So, from a distance, you all can start to see what I saw when I bought this tub. I have faith that it will turn out to be a decent boat in the end. You see, I hate to fail, but honestly, I need to back up a step or to and do a few things before I continue this effort. I don’t even know if this thing floats yet. It has hollow keels. From the factory, it came with lead ballasted keels. Someone cut those offf at some point and glassed these water ballast keels on it. I’m going to float this boat and fill the keels with concrete, balance everything out and sail her like that a few times. If she proves herself to be stable and seaworthy, I’ll continue the labor of love of the cosmetic makeover, but the next step absolutely has to be to get her in water and make sure that all this is worth it.

Alacrity 19 – The mission begins

478a_1Well this is what the cockpit looked like when I bought this boat. Forty two years of age and it showed. I’ve been climbing up in there and sanding and priming pretty much every chance I got for the past few weeks. An hour here, an hour there. A few more hours more. The weather was shitty yesterday so I didn’t bother going up to camp. I just stayed home and got some stuff done around the house that I’ve been neglecting. Today was a nice day so I thought I’d devote it to the land yacht.

cockpit-paintedI’d put a lot of grunt work into her over the past few weeks and wasn’t seeing any progress. Everything so far had been sanding, priming and filling cracks. Today I decided to slap some paint in there and get a glimpse of some glory. Well, there you have it. A nice clean, freshly painted satin white cockpit and two dark mahogany stained hatch covers. All that prep work didn’t show up as well as I’d hoped but it still looks ten times better than it did. Now that I can see what the finished paintwork is going to look like, I think I’ll spend a little less time prepping and a little more time painting.

deck-unpaintedAfter all, I’m not restoring this boat. I’m just trying to spruce her up a bit to be a functional sailer that I’m not embarrassed to be seen on the lake in. As I stood there and took this picture I was happy with what I saw. Then I turned around and this is what I saw, and my exuberance was short lived. Well, the cockpit is done except for maybe another coat of white, but look at that ugly deck. It’s as ugly as the cockpit was when I started. Oh well, that’s another chapter in this project. I’ll start on that tomorrow or the next day maybe.

mast-startI was about tired of sanding and painting for the day so I decided to bust out the leftover lumber from the Compac mast and start on that project. I intend to build a mast for this boat so I can use the same sail rig that I put together for the Compac. The difference is that this mast will step into the original tabernacle and I’ll also fly a jib or a genny.

So the fun begins again. Cut it to a workable size, knock the corners off with a circular saw, break out the draw knife and whittle while I work.

Compac 16 catboat questions

A man in Florida emailed me some questions. I thought I’d share them with you all in case anyone else finds the information helpful in their upcoming projects.

1. Question: Was there a reference book or web site that you used for the details on building the mast, spars and fittings?

There was no reference book. Just a lot of internet surfing and determination. I didn’t get over technical with it. I tried to keep it as simple as “it’s a few pieces of wood, a sail, some fittings and some rope.”

I got lucky on the sail. I added up the square footage of the original main and jib. Then I started looking for a gaff sail with about that same square footage and by luck, I found a brand new one on Ebay for a song. It cost me about $110 and was the exact size I was looking for. It was originally the gaff main for a Bolger 23 schooner. Dimensions can be found here.

2. Question: Do you remember the dimensions of the sail mast and spars?

Answer: As far as the mast. I think I cut it 16 feet x 3/14×3/14. (about 26 inches of it is below deck) Then I whittled the corners off with a draw knife and made it fairly round. The whole reason I did this is because the original mast was too tall to get under the bridges where I sail. I made it so that the mast hound (the thing that the original shrouds and fore stay hook onto near the top of the mast) was all the way at the top of the mast facing forward so I could use one of the original shrouds as the fore stay, and hang a single block on it to raise a spinnaker. I originally put it on upside down intentionally, but it didn’t hold under stress so I flipped it around and installed it correctly. It’s been working good ever since. I installed another one directly underneath it on the rear side of the mast to hang the dual sheave block to raise the sail and the gaff.

The gaff is a 2x2x8 with curved side pieces (cut from a walking crutch) bolted on to it to “wrap” around the sides of the mast. It’s total length is prolly about 8′ 6″. The boom is 13 feet long to match the foot of the sail with a few inches extra for hardware and such. It’s about 2″ x 3″. I whittled it down with a draw knife out of the leftover lumber from the mast. It is connected to the mast with a 1/2″ fence gate hinge and is easily removable. I’ve since installed a boom vang on it to help keep it down.

To put it simple, I bought the sail first and built everything around
it’s dimensions.

I removed the deck vent and slid the mast down into it to the floor of the anchor locker and positioned it until it was vertical and right where I wanted it and marked the spot. Then I took two pieces of 2×8 and cut them about 8″ long and stacked them on top of each other. I drilled a hole through them with a 3″ hole saw and screwed them into the
floor of the anchor locker where I had marked for the base of the mast. I made the bottom of the mast just under 3″ so it would slide into that hole and when I step the mast for sailing, I run 2, 4″ deck screws through that mount, into the mast to prevent it from turning. The forestay keeps it from lifting.

I did not have to hack or alter the boat or original equipment in any way. If I wanted to, I could remove this rig and put the original back on in about 45 minutes and no one would ever know anything about it.

3. Question: If you were doing it over again, what — if anything — would you do differently?

Lemme see. If I had it to do over again is a tuff question because of where I sail and what was available to me at the time. I don’t think I’d do anything differently for this application. It works well and looks pretty salty. I’d have bought better blocks for sure. I’ve already started replacing them with better ones. I’m still working out some things here and there as far as sail tensioning and such. The mast could stand to be a little taller so you could run another block up top to aid in raising the gaff, but that wouldn’t work where I sail because of the bridges, so I just pull harder when raising the gaff. 😀

I like this rig so much that I started dreaming of running a gaff rigged sloop. I do kind of miss a fore sail, so I bought an Alacrity 19 twin keeler. I’m going to make a short mast for that and mount it where it’s supposed to be, and run this main sail and spars and a jib or genny, but that’s a whole other project. If I’d have found a gaff sail that was the same square footage as the original CP16 main sail, that’s probably the rig I would have built instead of the cat rig.

My new old boat

front It’s a labor of love. No, it’s an addiction. Perhaps it’s a compulsion. I dunno. What I do know is that I used to do a lot worse things with my time and money.

This is a 1967 Alacrity 19 twin keeler sailboat that I just bought. I like strange things, rare things, odd things and things you don’t see everyday. I look at this old tub and I see a beautiful boat a year from now. I look at all the hacking and customizing that has been done to her over the past 42 years and I don’t feel bad about making my own modifications. If she were in all original condition it would be sidedifferent, but this one has already been modified to a certain degree. I’m not going to feel bad about glassing over old holes and cutting in new windows, or installing custom woodwork and the like. I look at this like a blank canvas where I can make my own painting.

I’ve already started the painstaking process of sanding and filling cracks. It will take many hours to complete for sure. This is what she looks like now but perhaps someday, she’ll look as good as the one that this fellow restored named At Last.

Gaff Rig Take II

reef1The winds at the Pennsylvania lake where I sail are always unpredictable just by the nature of the high mountains that surround it, but when you add storm fronts moving through, it becomes that much more uncertain. Saturday was no exception. We had storms coming in from the west but I had a job to do, and that was to get this sail rig tuned in. Saturday we had gusts probably from 25 to 30 mph so I reefed the sail. You can see in the first picture that I have about one third of the sail tied fast to the boom. If I’d have gone full sail that day, I’d have been knocked down several times for sure. Even with the sail reefed, there were times I reached 8 to 10 mph. I had re-laced the top of the sail to the upper boom and was able to get that dreaded wrinkle out from the week before. She sailed beautifully and I honestly couldn’t have been more pleased. She sailed fine on a reach, a broad reach and windward as well. I am very happy with my new homemade gaff rig.

full-frontSunday came and the wind died down a bit. I was able to raise full sail. The winds died down from the day before to about 8 to 10 knots I’d say, but they weren’t steady. A puff here, a blow there. It was nice though, because I’m still learning how to raise and adjust this thing. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about sailing this new rig while I had the wind, but it only lasted about 2 hours and then it died. It didn’t really break my heart though, because I had one more test to prove. I had to see if I could fit under the bridge. After all, that’s what started this whole project.

I lowered the sail and tied it off. One pull fires up the mighty Johnson 4. At 3/4 throttle she purrs about 4mph. Good enough. I made it down to the bridges and under the first one easily with about four feet of clearance. Fifty feet away is the railroad bridge. As I got closer, I started to worry. It was looking like it was going to be a tight fit. I got within a few feet and kicked the boat sideways and went parallel with the bridge and looking up, could see that I was probably going to clear it but it would be close. I swung the rudder and under I went. I have about a foot of clearance. Much closer than I thought I’d be but it’s in a no wake zone so there’s rarely any waves there. It’ll work just fine. I turned her around and back under the bridges I went, proudly back to the dock.

She passed all of the tests. Now, it’s all up to me to learn and tune this new rig. Sailing is going to be great this year.

The new sail rig’s maiden voyage

left-rearI was all excited last week. I thought the lake would be full and we could put our docks and boats in for the season. I left work an hour early only on Friday only to get up there and find out that it was still down about 2 feet. Bummer. We drank a bunch of beer Friday night, all of us, disappointed about the lack of water in the drink.

Saturday morning I woke up and got to work on rigging the boat. Lines here, ropes there. A little adjusting on this and tweak that. It was getting really windy so I just buttoned up the sail and put on the sail cover. I was done by about two o’clock. We all took the dogs down to the boat ramp and let them swim for a few hours. While we were there a guy backed down the ramp with an inboard/outboard runabout. He splashed it in and took off. Even though he kept his trim up, he took off! It was burning in my soul then. If he has enough water, I got enough water for the Compac. So I dunked it. I started off with the Johnson 4. It fired right up and purred out into the middle of the lake. Test number one, successful.

This was really not the optimal day to test drive the new sail rig. The wind was swirling and gusting to about 30 knots at times, changing direction about every 5 minutes. I got out into the deeper water and raised her up. It passed a few tests. The main one being, I know that the mast is sturdy enough the way I have it built and mounted now. I got hit with a few nasty gusts that nearly put the rub rail in the water and she held tight and sound. The sail both raised and doused quickly and smoothly. Those are the good things.

The sail grabbed wind and sailed nice, but I was only getting good wind in 2/3 of the sail. Even under those circumstances, it felt like more power than the original rig, but that could have just been the gusty conditions deceiving me. If you look in the picture you’ll see a crease where the sail is tight from the back of the lower boom to the second grommet from the mast of the top boom. From there down, she worked great but the top rear third of the sail was slack and spilling wind. Also, it was flapping badly. I sailed in all directions and even though I only had 2/3 sail working, it performed about as well as I had hoped, and I had high expectations. She sails as easy as a dinghy now, only having to worry about one sail. Very nice.

Not wanting to press my luck, since I was only one of two boats on the entire lake, I dropped the sail and headed back to my buddy’s dock under iron wind.

I got a lot of advice from a few drunken, onlooking arm chair engineers about repositioning pullies and leverage points and so forth but I think it’s going to be a lot easier than that. I think it’ll be as easy as re-tying the sail to the upper boom. I think if I tie each grommet individually, starting loose (about 2 or 3 inches loose) at the one closest to the mast, and gradually tie it tighter at the end of the boom, that it’ll take out that wrinkle and give me full sail.

Well, that’s plan A. If that fails, I’ll start considering other alternatives like re-engineering the gaff. I can’t wait for Saturday. I’d love to have about a 7 knot steady wind to dial this thing in.