Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A year later

It's been a year since I launched Aerie for the first time.  She's only been in the water three times, two of which were proper sails (the third was a test for leaks in the city reservoir).  Between travel, a daughter's wedding and efforts to fix the leak there just wasn't much opportunity, and the sailing season is short here in the Great Lakes region.  This year in particular we had a long cold winter and a miserable spring, and in Mid-May we had lows pretty close to freezing.  But the boat is ready to be launched again.

Since my last efforts to fix the leak, and having learned from the first two shakedown cruises, I made a few small improvements.  First of all I made a final effort on the leak front.  While bantering in the gym locker room with someone who is an old hand at boating, I found out about Boatlife LifeCalk, a polysulfide caulk that is apparently the best for under-the-waterline sealing.  It's very messy to work with, but that is its strength: it sticks to anything with great tenacity, can cure underwater, and is strong but flexible.  So once again I removed the plank covering the ballast compartment, removed one package of lead shot (in two layers of ziplock bags), and removed the pivot bolt and CB.  Then I put a bead of LifeCalk along the centerboard (CB) slot, where the CB trunk meets the boat's bottom.  Two days later I packed the CB pivot bolt hole with the same at both ends while putting the pivot bolt and CB back.  Then I replaced the outer ziplock bag (which had been torn during the removal of the ballast), repacked the ballast and replaced the plank.  I didn't want to hex it, but I was hoping the leak was history.

I also modified the way halyards connect to the yards.  Having to rove the halyard through its mast-top block (before the mast is stepped and with the yard and sail attached) adds to the complications and can be awkward and error-prone.  So I undid the beautifully simple double constrictor hitches by which the halyards were attached and installed steel pad eyes to each yard, with plywood reinforcements and epoxy in the screw threads.  Now each halyard will stay permanently in place on its mast, and a snaphook (tied to its end with an achor bend) will be clipped to the yard when needed.  Hopefully the pad eye arrangement is strong enough. 

In addition I put reefing ties through the reef points in both sails, something I had neglected to do, and filled and varnished some dents and scratches on the seats, which were made by the bolts on the rudder while I was carrying it inside the boat.  The rudder now travels in the car.  Finally I replaced the rubber handle on the boathook, which somehow came off and was lost in the drink last year without anyone noticing. 

The first launch of the season was simply to test for leaks.  I dropped the boat in the city reservoir and rowed it around for an hour and a half.  I will have to wait until  I return from my trip to the UK and Ireland to do some sailing.  There was nowhere near as much leaking but there was a little, maybe a pint.  The location of the leak tells me that the pivot hole is sealed tight at least.  When I took the boat home I crawled under and found out that there are one or more tiny voids in a scarf joint on the garboard.  I said before that my scarfs were not great but "will have to do".  Guess again.  Yup, water will probe and find a way in (and out), in this case right through the paint.  Maybe once I seal this it will be the end.  I sure hope so.

Then I weighed the boat, something I had never done.  What I did in fact was weigh both the boat and trailer at the local quarry.  Assuming that the trailer is 180 lbs (82 kgs) per the manufacturer's statement, Aerie is 480 lbs (218 kgs) for the bare hull (with CB but without rudder, rigging or other equipment).  Have to say, I thought it was a fair bit less.  But I guess just the plywood was about 260 lbs (120 kg).  Add all the floor slats, dimension lumber, gallons of epoxy, paint, etc. and 50 lbs of ballast, and it makes sense.  Or the quarry scale is not accurate (that's what I say when I don't like my own weight reading).

Until the next time,