Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back in the water

I sailed the boat with the new rig this past weekend. I fashioned two mast crutches that go into the mast steps and partners of the former two cat ketch masts to carry the longer and heavier mast and other spars. The standing rigging complicates the setup but once the mast is up things fall into place. One annoying mishap after we rowed away from the ramp involved the throat halyard accidentally rolling down its block until its tail end ended at the masttop. A figure-8 knot stopped it from coming through completely, and it took many, many attempts to snag it and pull it down with the boat hook. Well that's not going to happen again, and if it does I'm a worse fool than I think I am.

But once we got under way, oh man! The wind on Lake Erie was very fickle, picking up and dying down and constantly changing direction, but with a decent breeze the boat was flying. Having to work the jibsheets adds a little extra work when coming about but tacking is easy, gybes are pretty gentle and the boat much more responsive and fast. All in all a very good experience. There were no other boats around so I had no opportunities to get photos so you'll have to take my word for it!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dry Run

Since the last post I spent three very enjoyable weeks in Greece, my place of birth, on the ancestral island where I plan to retire at some point.  Since I came back I have tried to finish the new rig and try it out on dry land.  Here is a photo of it.  In the second photo (bottom right) you can see the jib attached to the forestay with jibhanks and its tack clipped to the bowsprit.  The stay connecting the bowsprit to the hull is not fastened because the winch is in the way: when launching it will need to be the last thing done before she floats off.

There are a couple of things missing in the first photo.  One is reef lines, which I will add before re-launch.  The other is the luff toggles (in lieu of mast hoops) of which there are four: they are there but are not fastened, since they bind on the mast and make pulling on the throat halyard to deploying the mainsail difficult.  I will have to use a piece of light line tied to the gaff jaws  to remedy the situation.

The other thing I found out while trying the rig is that I should not clip the topping lift to the boom before the sail is up: every time the peak halyard snaphook managed to clip itself to the topping lift and get fouled.  That's too bad, because the topping lift could have kept the gaff and boom in place while I deploy the sail.  Now I will have to clip it in place afterwards.

The third photo (bottom left) shows yours truly holding on the the mainsheet (notice the rudder is missing, I didn't think it necessary for this tryout).  You can see the 4x purchase tackle made of four separate single blocks: one with becket, two plain and one pivot.  All are secured with loops of line.  Behind the sail you can see the outline of the topping lift.

Remaining steps include repainting the decking and touching up parts of the hull, and building a couple of crutches for the mast that fit where the cat ketch masts used to.  Maybe next weekend I can re-launch.  We'll see.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gaff and boom

The next thing was the gaff.  An eyebolt was put through the throat for clipping the throat halyard on.  A metal strap bent into a U-shape and attached to the underside of the eyebolt was used to secure the mainsail’s throat.  The head was laced to the gaff just as the lugsails of the first rig were laced to their yards, using a series of marline hitches.  Photos of these will be on the next post.

I also put on a loop of line (secured with a steel eye strap on the underside of the gaff) where the peak halyard will be clipped.  This method of securing rigging with loops of line going around the spar, rather than using fittings simply screwed into it, was repeated throughout: the shrouds and forestay, the throat halyard block, the mainsheet blocks, the topping lift and the boom vang.

Next came the boom.  The foot of the sail is secured to the boom at the tack with a pin.  A gooseneck screwed to the mast enters the fore end of the boom.  The epoxy-reinforced glooseneck hole in the boom has a mouth with square cross-section to ensure a tight fit and no twisting.  Both are seen in the first photo.  
At the clew there is an outhaul line that runs through the aft end of the boom past a sheave and is secured with a clam cleat.  This plus the topping lift, which clips anto a loop of line, are shown in the second photo.
The third photo shows the boom vang.  It starts with a running bowline secured to a wooden cleat, runs through a block tied to the boom, and ties off on a horn cleat.  The boom vang will keep the boom on its goose neck, and stop the boom from lifting when sailing downwind, something that gaff sails are prone to.

Tomorrow if all goes well I will put in halyard and sheet cleats and try out the new running rigging. 


New sails and standing rigging

I’ve been quiet for many months.  Between travels, lots of work pressure and a winter that will enter the history books for its horribleness, progress on the new rig had been slow.  Given what the spring has been like for far too long (last I checked Lake Erie still had some ice!), there was no real hurry.  In a brief interval between blizzards and polar temperatures (in my unheated garage epoxy will not cure in very cold weather), I managed to put two coats of epoxy on the new mast and bowsprit, and shaped and glued/screwed oak pad eyes at the mast top to anchor the shrouds and forestay.  

Then I made the new sails.  The methods of construction are the same as he ones I used for the sails of the original rig, and include luff and head tape plus reinforcing multi-layer patches and/or tapes in a total of thirteen places (7 corners and 6 reefing cunninghams).  Of course the sails are different.  The mainsail is about 85 square feet (7.9 m2), and that’s much larger than anything I have ever made before.  It’s a trapezoid roughly 8 feet (head) by 8 feet (luff) by 11 feet (foot) by 15 feet (leech).  It has two rows of reefing points (made with grommets this time, since buttonhole sewing is really tiresome), and several grommets along the luff to attach it to the mast with line and dowel toggles.  Curvature was built in with a dart starting at the tack, and with broadseaming (variable overlaps in the seams).

The jib is roughly 12.5 feet (luff) by 6.5 feet (foot) by 10.5 feet (leech), which works out to about 35 square feet (3.25 m2).  It has one set of reef points and a small dart starting at the tack.  It will be attached to the forestay with plastic jib hanks.  I will show photos when the sails are up.

The next step was to finish the new spars with two coats of varnish.  Then came the standing rigging, something the original masts did not have—simple but weak, as I found out to my regret.   I first attached anchor plates to the gunwales, gluing squares of oak just below the rubrails and driving heavy duty steel screws through to the frames.  Turnbuckles for tightening the standing rigging were added to the anchor plates.  Two steel pad eyes were bolted through the tip of the bowsprit as well.  Then I ventured into the totally uncharted territory of making the shrouds and forestay out of Amsteel Blue rope.  To secure them to the mast, hull (shrouds) and bowsprit (forestay) I had to make eye splice loops; large ones to go around the mast top at the top end, small ones to go around thimbles at the lower end.  There was a line that anchors the bowsprit tip to the bow as well, and it needed two more eye splices around thimbles.  I thought it would be fun to learn a different way of splicing, the so-called “long bury” type: it involves tapering the working end of the rope (by unraveling and cutting of half the strands), then pulling it down the inside of the standing part.  The rule of thumb is that the buried tail needs to be 72 times the diameter of the rope, or 9 inches for 1/8 inch rope.  This makes an eye loop as strong as the rope itself.  

The eight eye splices took many hours, mostly of self-training with trial and error.  I finally settled on a method that uses a length of thin wire folded double to pull the tail end of the line through the middle.  Once I got that to work on the first splice, the rest were much easier.  The top loops that go around the mast have hollow rope sleeves around them to protect from chafing.  All eye splices are strengthened (serviced) with heavy-duty waxed thread.   Advice for would-be splicers: make sure you leave extra rope, since the buried tail thickens and shortens the rope where the splice is.  I didn’t leave quite enough and had to work hard to make sure the shrouds were not too short.  
The first photo shows the shrouds  and forestay loops through their pad eyes with the white rope sleeves.  It also shows the throat halyard block on its spliced line loop and the peak halyard block on a steel eye strap bolted through the mast top. The second shows the hardware at the tip of the bowsprit and the line that goes to the bow, with its two thimbles and eye splices.

The next post will be about the running rigging.