Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the modest Alberg inventory.

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Hull Ceiling Process

Of course, photos lie less than people.  However, sometimes photos provide glimpses that need explanation.  

When working on Nautica, I've found a number of consistent themes:  

One is that the boat is built like a tank.  Everything seems to be overbuilt.  But then there are items, like the chainplate and stanchion through-the-deck placement that seem underbuilt in my opinion.  I'm not a technically bright person as it comes to engineering but my view of things from my humanities perspective is that the boat just needed more strength in those areas.  

A second thing I've noticed is that the pieces and parts of things holding everything together need inspection and replacement carefully done so that integrity of the liner and cabinetry is not jeopardized.  Most of the original screws are worthless but angrily hanging on to their last thread of strength to repel my refitting program.  The salon backrest is built in my vessel with 5 large rivets securing the bottom edge to the interior liner, a provisional support midway across the section, and 4 wood screws at the sides holding the piece to the teak supports attached to the cabinetry. I've also noticed this throughout the vessel.  Yes, it probably needs to be replaced rather than assuming it is secure.  We'd not want something to give-way when we might have prevented such.

Thirdly, the process is going to be hard.  I seem to charge into the next fix as if it is going to be easier than the last and I am continually reminded of my naivete in the matter.  If things can go wrong, they probably will.  

Fourthly, it will cost much more than you think!  This is a lesson I have had to learn again and again.  This tells you I haven't learned it at all.  Or, it tells you I can't tell myself the truth.  Whatever it is, there is no doubt about it, the refit is going to cost more than you planned.  On the hull ceiling project, the wood was the main cost.  In this project I think I estimated correctly.  The expense was about $450 dollars, but justly earned by having it done locally without any shipping costs.  Also, my source found fir that had virtually zero knots and leant itself to easy installation.  Plus, he offered free advice on attachment and process which was helpful guidance.

So these four items are recurring themes.  In the photos of this posting are views of the process with comments.  I solicit your remarks below to point out options, like perhaps using another kind of screw would have been also an option, or putting insulation between the ceiling and the hull would help, or whatever insights you might offer.  It helps everyone when people engage over project boats and it increases the value of our Albergs, I think, as we sustain them and give them new breath in these "outyears."

First series of photos illustrates my approach to stacking these strips in the vberth or foc'sle for you shipmates out there.  My next blog installment will feature the salon work.

I did not worry with the small irregularities of the liner's edge in this area.  I attempted to gain as much of a straight bottom edge using a marker and my oscillating saw.  I cut it across to find that straight edge.  Any deviation shows up at the leading bottom edge which will be beneath the cushions anyway.  I accepted that anomaly much to the chagrin of my own obsessive compulsive disorder and this provided me much sleep at night.

Don't laugh.  I did not have the best tools to work with so I made do.  Pieces of the trim at left and right are tacked on, not structural, and the piece at right has to adapt around the chainplate fitment, the reason it looks weird.  I removed the wasp nest before closing that space in with wood strips.  

I've come to terms with the inequities of the liner so that I'm happy to fit my first piece at this point.  Liner is attached with rivets below the edge seen in this view.  You are very savvy if you have already noticed the missing wood support strut at the left.  They can become easily dislodged by tapping so it is necessary to re-glue them before reattaching the strips.

Here is the bottom edge.  Obviously it needs a trim piece custom fitted.  I don't have a shop on the dock so I have to wrangle this cut with my handsaw so that it is nice enough to grace this bottom edge.  I settled with a 65 percent solution.  Others will rise to the top of the class.  I had to get 'er done without fine equipment and within my time window.

Neatly stacked against the supports, my starboard hull ceiling, the first battleground, is nearly complete.  These pieces look like bare wood but are all coated with a polyurethane satin finish.  The camera flash does trick the eye!  I also found that numbering these slots helps to keep the work from surprises in installing the pieces which are difficult to fit.  Due to the fiberglass on bulkheads, some pieces will be tighter fits than others.  Also, I found using a half inch and a three quarters inch woodscrew adapted to the thickness of the original supports glued to the hull.  Caution:  the strut supports can become loose in the process of tapping screw holes and affixing them.  I used a quick glue to reattach them.  Again, they are not structural so I did not attempt to create more work when all needed was a little assistance to adhere them.

I made a practice of drilling each board's counter-sunk screw holes while in position but not using excessive attachment as this bends the boards.  I sought to put even pressure on each, setting the screw head just at surface, one board at a time.  See the final piece of trim in this view.

Starboard ceiling finished and ready for vacuuming.  Original trim pieces on fore and aft of the strips are tacked back in place.  
The foc'sle involves most of the irregular curving in the Alberg 30 but it is not excessive.  I accepted some gapping at the top for the summertime wasps, but seriously, there wasn't a requirement to fit the top edge with a final piece of fir because there's not enough support to adhere it, and my time was short.  However, a piece of flexible rubber trim could be used to close this gap and might make it more finished looking.  That can be done later.

I realize this is a photo only a Skipper could love.  Cushions need work and the decorative electrical cord could be duly replaced by a fruit basket or toiletries or the like, but this is a work in progress sailor!  Looking at the hull-ceiling from here, it appears warmer and more cozy for those occasional weekends aboard.  Dust still covers things here, but nothing a bit of teak oil cannot brighten. Original trim pieces are not yet affixed in this photo.
Process of applying one coat of sealant to each side in my garage.

The product used.  If need be, the ceiling can be taken apart and redone.  This should accomplish what is necessary to this decorative part of the boat.  All my slats are numbered to provide any later disassembly the luxury of easy reassembly.

Having tackled the foc'sle v-berth gave me motivation to attack the salon and its more than adequate screws and rivets design.  Of importance is to always guard from drilling too deep in the wood supports.  We don't need more holes in our hulls.  Think in terms of a top piece of flexible rubber or plastic to seal the hull boards later.  And remember to coat boards before installation, on both sides.  Next post will address the salon, a bit different installment than this area.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter Refab Aboard - the Hull Ceiling

Due to the lake draw-down, Nautica is a slip queen for  few months.  Argggggghhhh!

This provides some time to get needed sanding and re-varnishing done aboard.  The stuff nobody wants to do.  But the effects are wonderful, and worth the time crawling around and sanding affected spots and coating them with some fiberglass gel or varnish. 

My seat concept has held up "ok," not great.  The inserts were coated numerous times with surfboard finish gelcoats and have successfully protected the main parts.  Some natural cracks have given way to a bit of gel separation.  But, for the time being that's not a great big problem that a sander, some clear weather and additional gel coating cannot fix in quick order.  We've discussed these lazarette seats on the Alberg FB page over and over again, and until there's an insert solution for them these will have to do.  In the meantime, I'm always thinking ahead to some sort of "next" solution in the form of a hard yet light product which could be glued in place and provide some additional life for these seats with a lower maintenance burden.

Inspection of Nautica went well, the UV rays, even in winter, require additional work to apply Epiphanes UV protectant varnish.  Once done that will extend their life again.  Between rain events and cold weather I managed to get more protection on the wood surfaces.

This old gal needs all the make-up she can get a hold of to keep herself  "dressed-right" for the party.  Once the lake goes down and then returns, she'll be out stretching her sails again in balmy late winter weather.  My return to the states for the month has enabled me to put some additional work into the teak and into the interior as I've finally achieved my goal of removing the "peg board" and giving Nautica a more sea-worthy appearance down below.

In a labor-intensive session over the past couple of weeks, I've removed the peg-board and begun the laborious process of procuring the fir, sealing it against moisture, then aligning, adjusting, drilling and affixing these to the supports.  I've found the supports are prone to jump off their glue if disturbed, so care must be taken to get the work done with the least amount of disturbance possible. 

The most challenging aspect of the refit has been to work without the proper tools.  Most of my tools were shipped overseas to care for my motorcycle, and what was left was my old Ryobi cordless, and a few screw drivers.  The Ryobi died in the fight and a corded hand saw from my father's estate was brought into service instead.  Problem is, when working without a proper table, makes for uncertain cuts.  Patience is not a virtue but a necessity.

Yes that is a wasp nest, behind the pegboard!  Out with it!

This is to show the lap-top method I was using to cut my strips to proper length.  No I did not cut on my leg.  Just for reference lol.

A careful cutting process with angling in the v-berth to accommodate the back-slope of the stringers on the forward anchor locker is required but otherwise rather simple to do.  Once the first piece is laid flat, it leaves a gap below for which special cuts is required to accomplish.  Drill the holes and insert the one inch or half inch number 8 stainless screws and you're off to the races.

A great environment to dry my slats during winter storms.

I worked hard to make myself look as if I knew what I was doing in this photo.  I don't.  I'm guessing. So far, I have not drilled through the exterior hull!

Not bad for guessing.  These have been coated with the polyurethane but appear quite light due to the flash.

I managed to mangle this cut and have had to put a re-do on my calendar.  I'm just not a craftsman, but I work hard to imitate one.  I decided to do the polyurethane satin finish and did not use any stain whatsoever.  My idea was to bring some light into the Berg in these areas and contrast with the teak.  I will rub the teak with oil upon finishing the project to further increase the warmth of the cabinetry.

Working hastily, in-between weather fronts and other obligations I will have completed both the v-berth and salon during this visit.  Yes, I really need to have these cushions redone, but that is for another day.  Once this project is complete and the boat is cleaned up I'll post the nicer photo-shoot.

Cost-wise is not too bad.  Milled lumber for the entire project was about $450 resourced by local entrepreneur.   The salon has brought additional challenges which I will put in the next salvo on this interior upgrade!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Simply Tacking a form of Gymnopedia

Most of my sailing is solo.  

That's probably because I'm retired and while others are working I am sailing or working on my Alberg 30.  The other reason is that having more people aboard means more opinions on which point of sail, what luff someone prefers, or not being able to trim the headsail as I, the skipper prefer, and having to bite my tongue if others are aboard!  Sailing my Alberg is not others sailing my Alberg, unless I invite them aboard.  So to sail with folks, I have to change my persona.  I try to be polite and let general consensus prevail, if it is safe.  All the while I wish I was sailing solo however!

Well, sailing with others is also social, but as an introvert, I quite enjoy my own company and in fact will answer questions I have myself, and out-loud, LOL.  Obsessive and strange, perhaps, but we introverts have our weird ways.  Perhaps I would make a happy solo passage-maker more than someone who needs more people around them to feel safe and happy.  

So in the interest of sailing solo, it is always important to me to be able to be in full control of the vessel under any condition.  Some time back a year ago I chronicled a sudden storm on our lake in which I should have put in a first reef but had to cope with my error and adjust the sail plan to handle the sudden blast.  That 45 minutes of blow came suddenly, blew fiercely, and gently ended with Nautica and me feeling quite happy that despite a "second choice" sail plan, we fared quite well spilling off the main and radically reducing the headsail.

It took me a couple of minutes to get my jacket on to guard against hypothermia, but lost that time I could have fast reefed my main.  Looking back I'd should have rushed forward, loosened the halyard and dropped the main to its first ring and latched that tight, left the excess sail to flog in place.  It needs to be a trained event we perform on days we cannot sail.

Another quite enjoyable experience, if not inherently fraught with challenges itself, is tacking in a limited area with gusty breezes.  Tacking any time can be exciting but the video in this post reveals how maintaining boat balance and a fixed sail plan, can afford a solo skipper immeasurable delight in such flat water.  The Alberg's deep keel requires one to maintain momentum in turns, and a quick and ready winch to trim the headsail.  I kept this video footage just for this posting so that folks who follow this blog and this model of sailboat can see a single-handed set of tackings over the space of a short 5 minute video.  I also did not cover the sounds with music this time but let the sound of the water, the wind, and an occasional utterance from the skipper (unrecognizable however) as we glide on flat cove waters, threading the lulls brought by shoreline trees, and the gusts which made the rigging hum.

It was one of those days I had sailed open waters for a few hours and as the sun began to descend, I thought it might make a great video.  Indeed it did, and it also affords "would be" sailors a bit of instructional tutoring in tacking.  To me it has the same look and feel of Erik Satie's Gymnopedie Number 1 where the music plays again and again with each turn on the keyboard.  So this tacking for me feels the same way:

First Mate is always impressed by the way I can handle the Alberg 30, but for me it is just like a Laser or dinghy of any sort, just bigger.  One just has to adjust for length and weight of the vessel as each design will have its own performance ratio.  With the Alberg, or the Cape Dory (also a keel hull), a mishandling of the tiller can put you in irons if you're not careful.  This often can happen if you get focused on wrapping a winch in a hurry and ignoring that your tiller is at the mercy of the rudder, itself being driven by the hull which is turning into the wind.  And, stop, crisis, flogging sails, drifting, spanking of the rigging on the mast, puts you into helpless crisis mode.  This little video shows the process of how the tacking takes place, and illustrates when a sheet gets hung-up on the foredeck, how to recover in a timely manner, and keep going with momentum.

I'm not pro-sailor at all.  But I try to be  Learning from mistakes by watching my own videos has been very illuminating.  

I watch the luff of the headsail and the position of the main with regard to the direction in which we're headed and this critical eye helps me better my technique for the next time.

Thinking back to the day I set out and had about 5 minutes before that violent storm hit my location, I now want to practice a fast reefing technique so that rather than wondering about a storm's approach, I jump into a "drill" to fast reef within 5 minutes to reduce the mainsail's vulnerability to high winds.  It can be done, we just need to practice it.

Enjoy the video and stay subscribed and read, there's always another posting to help you curb your insomnia!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Salty Dawg Rally and Pegboard Makeover

While many of us are planning for Thanksgiving, raking leaves, and putting yard furniture away.  Others have set sail and are on their way to the Caribbean, again this year, as they did last year!  

Friends Yves and Loulou, from Montreal, are sailing their Beneteau 42 from Lake Champlain to Norfolk, then joining the Salty Dawg Rally heading in the direction of the Lesser Antilles.  Their Facebook page is following them, see ( Que fait Loulou ), and their  vessel positioning is available at another tracking site at this address
If that website address fails to work the current time positioning, put in the acronym for the rally, SDR, in the Group name and all 80 vessels of the fleet will immediately become visible on their tacks.  The real time data is very impressively displayed on that site.

Peregrinos on the Camino!

I met Loulou while walking the Camino de Santiago with a friend some years back.  On their last trip I met up with them during a stop on their return passage via Charleston, South Carolina, to New York.  It's fascinating to follow her ocean adventures with Yves as she works for a television station in Montreal and has a great storyboard ahead of her!

Loulou's videography is terrific and following their passages during the next several months is sure to warm up the coldest of climates.  I definitely recommend watching their travels.

While they head for the islands, I will be taking care of some homework with Nautica in South Carolina.  I am already procuring some lathe  strips for the interior hull where pegboard was put at the manufacturer in Ontario, but has since lost her appeal and needs refinishing in a different manner.  

The following couple of photos were taken in 2016 when the vessel arrived at our yacht club in South Carolina.  Nautica is a liner model, meaning she has a fiberglass liner between the hull and the installations of cabinetry.  For aesthetic reasons, this makes her look a bit nicer when finished off in white paint and freshly oiled teak.  The peg board is the screen covering the wood ribbing which holds the inside structure of cabinetry and hoses etc.  

Portside salon showing the disheveled cushions and the peg board which is part of the storage area in this case.

And here is the beautiful white pegboard in the v-berth covering the ribs of wood and the unsavory hull behind.
As much as I had wanted to do something about this pegboard in 2016, I knew it was really way down the priority list for what lay ahead of me.  Now, jumping forward, the manager of West Marine put me onto someone who had done this at another time and had a source for fir.  I hope to be able to finish most of this in the coming weeks.  

I have put most of my focus on seaworthiness for this vessel rather than on aesthetics.  To me, that's the best money spent on my spreadsheet.  But now, we can shift to more of her appearance

LOL the "scream" I call it, stain on the bulkhead at port has now been most covered up by the insertion of an operational board where sticky notes can be placed, see below:

Now I will turn to enhancing some parts of the interior that will lend a bit more of a finished look as I have worked most of the teak interior and paint of the salon.  If my time permits I will try also to put a fresh coat of brightsides on the salon and v-berth floor areas which are still that dull yellow, or banana, color.

Sticking with simple but functional, this is the view of the galley and the fridge area (now a battery and water bottle area). The nook at the port quarter (at your right) is where water had leaked for years through the bolts in the genoa track.  With an 80% fix now, I'm more enthusiastic to get that rebuilt for minimal storage cabinets.

Looking very presentable now, the salon sole's liner, the banana colored fiberglass part, needs some white painting to bring out the contrast with the wood and to reflect the ceiling and other parts also now white.  
So, my agenda is specific for this trip and I think very achievable during this time.  The temps ought to be very forgiving and cool and the boat is not able to move from her slip due to the continued lake drawdown.  The slip has power, and with some specific tasks outlined, this will increase Nautica's look and feel to get a it of a interior makeover.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Doing the Maintenance

This time last year, our lake was drawing down.  It continues this year, taking some prime sailing months off the table for most deeper draft vessels.  This photo is from last year's drawdown when I had about one foot left under the keel.  It made for some dicey moments getting out and returning and making my 360 degree turn in order to put bow in the exit position just that much more exciting.

My agenda last year this time was to re-do my lazarette seat inserts.  For whatever reason when the Albergs were manufactured, they included teak slats fit into a shallow pan formed in the fiberglass hatch covers located in the cockpit.  Over time, anyone might have realized the problem this would bring.  On Nautica, this was an irritation beyond reason.  The teak would absorb rainwater and give it to whoever's bum was sitting on them. 

This is one of those jobs better done on the hard than on your vessel.  Laying the boards out in a good work environment enables you to get your stuff done at your timetable.  And, when your work area is climate controlled you can help the curation of the product by providing the right temperature and humidity control.

Now,  a year later, the lake is shallowing on schedule and the seats are working to defend against rainwater filling the seats.  It appears to be working thus far.  Like everything aboard, maintenance is not a one and done affair, it is a continual process for the skipper.  I am returning from Italy to South Carolina at this time and will be doing the search and repair work needed for this old gal.  If you follow this blog, you recall I used surfboard gloss hard resin to seal these seats.  I know they will need some work and I may take the lazarettes home to my garage and do some serious resurfacing in order to just further the surface strength I've already built into these two.  
I made a lot of surfboards when I was surfing in Hawaii and Florida over a period of some 6 years.  Wish that had never ended, but adulthood got in the way.  And responsibilities after that occurred.  So I know fiberglass quite well as a result.
This make-up has worked pretty well so far.  Before I departed the country, I had a tiny bit of glass separate but I was able to repair it.  I don't expect a maintenance-free setup but I hope it is less work than before and keeps bottoms dry when underway!

If you're reading this and thinking about owning an Alberg, remember this is not an off-the-shelf boat.  In fact, no sailboat is without its continual demands for fixing things.  Even new sailboats have issues.  I've owned a brand new Beneteau and it had its issues even after delivery and up to the day we sold her.  This gal is older and simpler, so most of the items needing attention are reasonably within your grasp of fixing.  If you're patient and persistent you will be very happy with your progress on these items.  I think that is validated by the FB page of Alberg and Cape Dory owners who are happy to putz along year after year, fixing one thing after another.  Well, it's a sailboat of fixed value but a very well designed boat too, so the investment is certain that you will at least maintain a good looking classic.

All boats will deteriorate on schedule, some just do that faster than others.  Those of us in this renovation of sailboats are aware that we're fighting the inevitable of something rusting out, a stainless steel strand breaking, a thru hull leaking, and on and on it goes.  But it also provides the satisfaction of keeping our boats on the water and looking as good as they can.

November will provide me time to see how Nautica has fared in the 5 months I've been away.  My Chef-Skipper has been a great help through two hurricanes, getting windage down and put away, only to reput it and have to take it all down a second time for the direct hit our club took on he second hurricane blast.  Nautica fared well.  

She is now in boat purgatory, able to float at her slip, but not able to exit her slip due to a shallowing of the channel where she must exit.  It will be another couple months of this forced exile before she will be released.  Time for some work.

It'll be a while before she does this again.  No problem.  Get things fixed that never get attention when actively sailing.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Travel Diversion to the Barcolana

Barcolana Regatta
Click on the "Barcolana Regatta" over this photo for more images of the size of this event!
It was a fabulous Autumn Saturday as we followed our friends to Trieste for the assembly of the Barcolana Regatta of some couple of thousand sailboats.  The skies were hazy and temps warmish as we made our way off the Autostrada onto the local seaside avenue providing breathtaking views of a silver Adriatic.  It was reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway in California.  Surprisingly, villas populated the rocky crags which cradled the road, hidden by tenacious vegetation accustomed to the strong Bora winds that often blow down from the West onto this cove of the Adriatic Sea on the eastern corner of Italy.

Of course, parking in Trieste was a nightmare when we arrived but we managed to find our way after creeping inch by inch around a number of lots in our hosts' Mercedes wagon which I was sure was going to get pinched sooner or later.  The crowds were thick alongside the quay where a variety of sailboats lined up.  Docking was no less intense here than it is anywhere.  Simple designs, and a few derelict vessels too, nested along the harbor's seawall.  A very fast looking 30 meter racing yacht adorned with tanned crew standing at the ready, tying-to in the harbor made for their slip with what looked like was certainly too fast.  Yet the strong winds were no match for these skippers well acquainted with the maneuver necessary to enter the slips.  Lines were tossed to a watching crowd as the boat would ease toward the sea wall and pause while crew nonchalantly smiled giving directions to loop the line on the large chain holding the boats' mooring lines.  And there was no drama as we were able to admire the carbon spars and shiny hull of many a very fast looking design.

Another crew aboard a gaff rig barque, folded their sail and made fast their gorgeous wooden boat.  Simple, probably quite slow, but absolutely classic looking also joined this Regatta.  Admired by all of us, my hosts liked the barque over the mega yachts.  There's something about the historicity of these older designs, very similar to our Alberg designs, albeit not so old, which attract the eye.  

Being separated from s/v Nautica during this overseas sojourn, this was a delightful segue into the Italian sailing fascination which proves to be quite strong indeed!  

Sunset at Trieste's Barcolana Regatta