Entries Tagged as 'Sailing and boating'

Compac 16 cabin door customization

cabindoor-origNow I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Ty Pennington. I’m a systems administrator Jim, not a carpenter, so for all you true craftsmen out there, please hold your laughter to a minimum. Anyway, I got to looking at the cabin door on my sailboat a few weeks ago and had a bright idea to build and install a drink holder on it. There are no drink holders installed in the CP-16 from the factory, in fact, back in 1981 when this was made, there weren’t a whole lot of options period for this model sailboat, so one can pretty much pimp them out however they want. I’ve just started really, and this post is about the cabin door. The picture to the left is the cabin door as it was originally from the factory. That is still the way it looks when I have my customized side of the door facing in.

cabindoor-orig-backThe picture on the right shows the inside of the cabin door in it’s original configuration(at least, this is the way it was when I got it). That frame is a 1/2″ aluminum angle and I guess was designed by the factory to hold the slabs of Teak togetfher to form and brace the door. I thought the frame was ugly. All last year I thought about mounting a sailboat picture or a mirror in there or anything to dress it up a bit. While I was out working on the boat a few weeks ago it hit me. I can install a backing plate inside that frame and mount a drink holder and maybe some other stuff on there, so that’s what I did.

cabindoor-inside-finishedI had a 1×8 piece of pine out in the garage so that’s what I used. I cut two pieces to fit horizontally inside the frame and that left about 3 /12 inches left at the bottom. Perfect height for a drink holder. So I measured and cut out the top bottom and braces for it. Then I busted out the trusty 3″ hole saw to cut holes out of the top. Ooooops, no brass screws in the inventory, so I hustled up to the hardware store to grab some before they closed. You have to use brass or stainless on anything related to the boat or they’ll rust out on you. Anyway, I screwed it together and dropped it into place for a perfect fit. It looked good to me so I brought everything in, gave it a quick sand and a few coats of finish. Here’s what the cabin door looks like from inside the cabin now.

cabindoor-cockpitSince the cabin door is completely reversable, you can slide it into place front side out or front side in. So now I can put it with the functional side facing the cockpit when I’m sailing to keep my drinks and my GPS/Marine Radio from rolling and sliding all over the cockpit, and I can reverse it for some nifty organization for when I’m camping out inside the cabin. Since there’s still plenty of real estate near the top of the door, I may install a compass and a pouch for my cell phone. The possibilities are endless 😀

I have seen the motor …….and the motor runs good.

Johnson 4hp Sea-Horse

What kind of guy goes out on the back patio and fills a bucket of water, mixes some 2 cycle 50:1 gas and runs his outboard boat motor in January….in the snow? Well look no further. You found him.

If you read my previous post on the boat motor I just bought on Ebay, you’ll prolly know that I had some doubts as to whether or not I was going to have problems with the throttle linkage on this motor since it looked like it was packed by the drunken cousin of a backwoods Kentucky family affair, and it suffered some damage in shipping.

I was pleasantly surprised. I set the bucket up and filled it with water. I mixed up some 2 cycle gas and poured it into the bone dry tank. I thought about saying a few Hail Marys but decided to just go for it. I cranked the lever up to the start position and gave a good tug on the rope to prime it. Pulled the choke out all the way and gave a second tug and she sputtered and ran for about a half a second. I pushed the choke back in and gave a third and final tug on the starter rope and it sprang right to life. A quick check down on the lower shaft showed just the right amout of water being sprayed out of the cooling exit holes. Looks good so far…..

I left it run for about 5 minutes to get to an even running temperature, backed it down to an idle and turned the slow speed enrichment adjustment all the way to “lean”, and left it sit out there and just idle for about 15 glorious minutes. It was a little louder than I’d like it to be but that’s prolly because it was running in a bucket instead of a lake. I think once it’s fastened securely to the boat and in the water like it’s supposed to be, that it’ll be just dandy. A “one pull speed machine” if you will.

Iron wind has arrived


My outboard motor was delivered yesterday. I was excited to get it but somewhat disappointed upon it’s arrival. It was very poorly packed for shipping. I paid $250 for it on Ebay and another $70 for shipping. I thought that since that seller’s fee for shipping was $70 that they would at least do it right. I was wrong.

She took what appeared to be a used box and cut it down the side to make a flat piece of cardboard. She then wrapped it once around the motor and applied some duct tape to hold it fast. Then she took another tall, thin “used box”, and laid two pieces of styrofoam in the bottom to protect the skeg and propeller, and slid the motor down into the box in an upright position. And that was all the packing that was done. Nothing was put around the top of the motor or it’s controls at all. No bubble wrap, no foam, no padding, no wrinkled up newspaper, no old rags, no intelligence, no experience and certainly no goddamn common sense.

Luckily, the styrofoam did it’s job and protected the bottom end, but since the top only had two layers of worn down cardboard to protect it, that’s where the damage ocurred. The lever on the hood that controls the stop / start / slow / fast settings was bent and jammed into the hood frame and the knob that is mounted on the end of that lever was broken in two and made a tinkling sound as it fell out of the box and onto my floor during the unpacking process.

Oh sure. It’s insured. I could jump through all the post office hoops and see where that gets me but then it’d just be more time devoted to negative energy in my life. Since this is a mild aggrevation by comparison in all things zen, I’ll just deal with it. I’ll take it over to the marina and have the guy pop the top off of it, straighten out the linkage and buy a new handle. Prolly another $25 which is cheap compared to what other inconsiderations usually cost me.

Sailing preparations continue

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that the sailing addiction stops. I’m all over the net and ebay buying up stuff for this coming season. So far I bought a Garelick two step transom ladder. That’ll free up space in the cabin because now I won’t have to drag along the portable ladder that I have. Plus, I can attach my dog ladder to this one so Sky can get in and out of the boat on his own.

I bought a Uniden Mystic. It’s a very nice VHF/GPS mapping handheld marine radio. It also gets the weather channels. It uses Magellan maps which are supposed to be pretty good. I’m still reading the manual.

I bought an older 4hp Johnson outboard with an internal fuel tank to motor me around when there’s no wind. It’s supposed to be delivered Tuesday. Nice little unit. It only weighs 30 pounds.

Things to buy yet are (2) inflatable PFDs and a solar powered anchor light. I don’t want to run a wire all the way up the mast so I’m going to try and find a good bright solar powered patio light to mount up there.

Camping season starts April 15th. Boating season starts a month later.

Compac 16 with a gaff rig

I’m the proud owner of a Com-pac 16. She’s not the prettiest girl at the dance but she’s a fine, stable vessel and she gets prettier the longer I own her. I just bought her last spring. She was owned by the city of Atlantic City New Jersey. They had an auction and believe it or not, only one person showed up for it. He bought the Compac for $10 and a few other hand made wooden boats for $1 a piece. He was a lucky man that day.

Anyway, he put her on Ebay and that’s where I got her for a little over $600. I had to buy new standing rigging for $300 and that’s all she really needed as far as parts go, but she was neglected and abandoned and it showed. I sailed her all last summer and the more I sail her, the more I love her.

She needed a makeover in the cabin. All the paint was peeling and flaking from the sides and the ceiling and the floor was desperately in need of some paint. I have a lot of friends at the river and I made a deal with Johnny to scrape and paint the interior of the cabin. Johnny is a 13 year old kid who is genuinely a good kid. He’s the kind of kid that makes fathers proud. Anyway, with Johnny’s parent’s approval, I made him a deal. I’d buy all the supplies and Johnny would scrape and paint the inside of the cabin, stem to stern, top to bottom. In return, I’d give him my Snark Sunflower. Johnny watched me learn to sail in the Snark the year before and he took an interest in sailing himself. This was his chance to earn his own first boat.

He did a great job. The cabin was now at least presentable. Even though it was a just a bare shell inside, at least it was clean and tidy and it looked and smelled like a fresh start. I sailed her all summer like that and now that the sailing season is over, I’ve begun some other upgrades.

My main problem last year was mast height. The lake where I sail has several railroad bridges. From the waterline to the bottom of the bridge is 20′ 8″. The Compac 16’s mast height from waterline to masthead is 21′ so I was too tall to go under the bridges. Bummer. I need to get under these bridges, because one has to go under the bridges to get to the spot where all my friends party. I am determined to sail to the spot where all my friends party, so this fall, this is what I did.

I went to the local saw mill and had them cut me a nice straight 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 16 piece of douglas fir. They cut it out of an 8x8x20 beam and they gave me the left overs too. I’m an Ebay ninja and I found a brand new gaff main sail for a sharpie and bought it for $100, which just by luck was the same square footage as the main and jib of the stock Compac 16 rig combined. So now, I had the sail and the lumber. I took a week off work and spent it in the driveway with a drawknife. I whittled myself a mast and 2 spars. The Compac 16 has a cabin vent cut out in the deck and that’s where I stepped the mast. I removed the vent and lowered it down into the cabin and built a mast step down on the floor of the cabin. So the mast basically goes through that existing factory vent opening and attaches to the cabin floor 26 inches below. All in all it was about 4 days of wood working, and a day of installing and tweaking the hardware and rigging.

The mast and spars are in my living room now. I’ve stained it with a beautiful mahogany stain and urethane and during the rest of the winter I’ll sand and apply a few more coats. I’m fairly certain that she’s going to handle just dandy with this new rig. Last year, in heavy wind, I sailed her with a full main and dropped the jib rather than reefing. With the center of energy directly over the keel, she was firm and responsive. I know this is going to work. Here’s a pic of the roughing out process. There are more pics of her linked on the right side of this page and I’ll post some pics of the finished product this spring.

I think the gaff rig gives her a great look. If she sails as good as I think she will, she’ll get a fresh coat of forest green paint below the rub rails next year and I’ll start tricking her out with all sorts of goodies.


The Promise Land

I rent a seasonal campsite every year from April 15th to October 15th. It’s at the Sunbury Airport on Packer’s Island. Packer’s Island lies between the city of Sunbury and the borough of Northumberland at the confluence of the two branches of the Susquehanna river. The Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam is located just below this confluence and that dam creates 3000 acre lake called Lake Augusta, and that’s where I do the lion’s share of my boating.

There are better lakes for sailing but this is where I hang my hat. The campground allows us to put our own docks in and there really aren’t any campground rules or regulations other than…

  • Use Common Sense
  • Be respectful of your neighbors

I have a lot of friends there. While we are all from different walks of life, we all have a common love of boating, and the river in general. Every weekend is a party and we can be found out on our boats during the day and campfire hopping during the night. Beer consumption is a favorite pastime there, and can be done pretty much 24×7 if your game.

We call it camping. Real campers would not call us campers. We all have RV’s with all the comforts of home including refrigerators, ovens, mocrowaves, satellite tv, air conditioning and such. Our idea of roughing it is when we run out of beer, which doesn’t happen very often.


Snark Sunflower

I’ve been boating pretty much all of my life in one way or another. In my 20’s and 30’s I was an avid kayaker and would hit all the white water I could. When I turned 40 I bought a pontoon boat and started a hot dog and sno cone concession on the Susquehanna river, and that’s how I got into power boating. I started thinking about sailing in the summer of 2007 and was intrigued by how one could sail with the power of the wind. Even against the wind.

I bought a few books and read them and then finally made the decision to buy a starter sailboat. I bought a Snark Sunflower on Ebay. What great fun! (as long as there’s wind)


That’s what started my addiction to sailing. I sailed it all summer and had a blast. I made another sailing decision at the end of that season and that was that sailing was for me. That winter I bought a Com-Pac 16.

The Snark is gone now and I’ll tell you about that in another post, but the Snark is what got me started and that’s when I learned…..Never under estimate the power of a Snark!