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 large Alberg inventory.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Who cares about a Whale Gusher 10?

Details is where the problem lay.  The corrosion around the rim of the pump prohibited a seal, the rubber product had dry rotted and many of the interior parts were clogged with corrosion and its natural debris.
I hope I never have to.  But I could not stand the fact that mine did not work and that the rubber gaskets were dry-rotted.  If, in that one moment of extreme danger and possibility of sinking I looked at my crew and said, 

"Um, ...the electric bilge can't save us but if the Whale Gusher worked, perhaps we could pump out the water but I never fixed it, so,...everyone in the water with life jackets now!" 

Nope, can't do that.  Had to fix it.  It's a very reliable hand pump and quite expensive to refit with all the rubber and plastic components about 80 bucks.  Plus, the company reminds us that the gaskets ought to be replaced about every 5 years. Hmmmm, so my boat is 40 years old this year, and this Whale Gusher looks like the first one ever made, hmmmmm?  So, just because you have one does not mean all is well does it?

This valve was so corroded it hardly moved and the seal, as you can see, sealed nothing.
 I did it anyway just because of that one possibility.  And, I tested it by sticking the intake in the lake, over the gunwhale.  It sucked and sucked the water into the tube which was held vertically over the side.  Once water invaded the pump the suction was very strong.  I felt rather good about this small but pernicious little bugger being refitted. 
After a long soak in vinegar and rinsed with water, still in need of debriding and some bondo work too.
Well I should take more "after" photos but I was so enthralled the bondo worked to smooth out the rim of the canister, that I painted it trade-mark yellow and slapped it all back together, anxious to install it aboard Nautica.  

Once aboard, I ripped out the old tubing, measured and cut my new stuff, and set forth to re-clamp everything.  This involved more Yacht Yoga, getting into the lazarette, avoiding pressure on the front of my one knee (much painful) and then twisting around for best installation position (photo shows the contortions and lack of space)

This bugger is almost easy to get to...if you're the size of a first grader!
Oh yeah, this is conveniently the other side of the photo where you can work on the electrical components after you finish.

Well, it had to be done, at least in my mind.  Not wanted to be in an awkward position on the day it might be important to have it.  Gave me the opportunity to test, to make sure I understand exactly what is down below decks in the bilge area and how it may serve my needs in an important time.  Knocks off one more item on my "to - do" list as well.

The Whale Gusher 10 is a unique device and probably not ever examined.  From their website this description:

"Whale's long life diecast alloy range - robust designs for extreme conditions.  Install Gusher 10 for the long haul."
  • Durable Diecast Alloy Bilge Pump
  • Robust design stands up to the  toughest marine  conditions
  • Top performance- High flow non-choke valves, 65 ltrs (17 US gals) per minute
  • 3 mounting options available Bulkhead, floor or thru deck mounting
  • Designed for  simple installation and  maintenance
  • Efficiency - Large non-choke valves
  • Ideal for workboats, cruisers, offshore racing
  • Easy pump action - Self priming
  • Suitable for diesel transfer with Nitrile diaphragm (service kit AK3714 available separately)
I think that says it all, especially that 17 gallons per minute!  

Oh well, that's done!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The First Mate is at the helm.

Seems the Alberg almost requires you to stand up and sail regardless of your size in order to peer over the cockpit and gain an advantage of port and starboard ways ahead.  Here, the First Mate does just that in some brisk winds and balmy temps.

I sail every week, sometimes several times, and am so often used to single-handing that I don't spend much time as a passenger aboard Nautica.  The weather has been quite forgiving this Winter in the Southern USA and temps have bounced from freezing to balmy in the space of a week this season.  We'll take it!  First Mate took a few photos before grabbing the helm.

First Mate took this photo on the leeward side which reveals the reefed genoa which, along with a reefed main, provided some balance to the vessel in gusty conditions.

The human eye grasps the colors and action but needs to relook the photos to recapture what was seen.  This photo is one of those where you see the wind flattening the genoa and the hull slicing the waters to windward, dark clouds are not ominous but drift overhead as if so, the main is also reefed and you see the crinkles bunched on the side of the photo.

So the wind projection for this past Sunday was 12 to 22 kts, temps were projected to be 73 F, and partly cloudy.  Reality was that it was very balmy, in the low 70s, but winds were a friendly 8 to 15 from the SW and fetch on the lake was quite manageable for the day, making for a delightful time at the tiller.

I always ask the First Mate what she would do if I happened to fall overboard for some reason just to probe what goes through her mind.  "Undo the blue line and release the red lines..." just having that color-coded idea in her memory might help stop the Berg under such conditions.  I told her to forget trying to pick me up this day, as that is a "practiced skill" and would require quite a bit of seamanship that we don't have time to achieve under these delightful circumstances.  Perhaps when the water temp gets into the high 60s we can try a man overboard (MOB) but not this day...

The view from the cockpit
 And so she took the helm while I took some photos, at least for a good while until the warm temps coaxed her to lie on the cockpit bench and soak up the sounds of sailing, something that ought to be bottled for busy lives.  My cell phone was buried in my backpack down below.  We don't care about answering the phone when sailing by the way, so if anyone is calling, you'll have to stand in line and take a number.  Sailing is supposed to provide a diversion to our lives, restore the soul a bit, and take you from your "rat race" into another space, where these natural elements will rejuvenate you even if they tend to wear you out at the same time.  It can be a taxing experience, but this day was not, it was simply what sailing on a Sunday afternoon should be, it was pure enjoyable fun.

The view to stern

The view past the reefed genoa looking over the bow rail

That is something rarely found in our lives.  

We were out for the wind and the sun and the sound of the water.  Crossing the lake this way and that, and drifting in the lee of several islands to scout out summer anchorages where grand children might find a mysterious Pirate hideout one day, and then catching a broad reach back toward our nearby cove where flat water gave way to brisk winds, the Alberg confidently carried us till the sun began to dip closer to later afternoon.  

Any time spent sailing is worth hundreds of dollars and sometimes thousands, depending on what you need to see and experience.  But we must keep this a secret lest the lake fill up with people searching for this infusion of goodness.  The next few days are projected to be cooler and winds less impressive.  So I will turn again to my current bewilderment, installing a tachometer on my diesel engine.  But for now, the pure enjoyment of sailing has left a balmy imprint on our minds and souls once again. 
Tell-tails, battens, bend in the sail, shrouds, stays, windex, and a beautiful palette of baby blue sky as a back drop.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Birthday Sail

Not everyone gets to do this.  But it just happens that the weather window looked quite good for the 31st of January and Nautica took to the lake for some more of that brilliant winter sunshine and brisk winds that have been streaming from the west now for about a week.  The pattern has been simliar, cold in the mornings, coolish but sunny skies and a strong westerly wind over the water pushing consistent breezes of over 10 kts every day, with a good degree of fetch toward the mid-afternoon.
Who gets tired of this?  I'm afraid the Dept of Natural Resources may begin charging me for over-use of the lake as often, there are no sails to be seen for many miles in conditions like this. 
Across platforms, the prediction was for a warmer than average day and increased winds from 15 to 25, even gusts to 30 miles an hour!  And this was on the radio as well.  Dark colors like orange and red were used on charts across the internet.  Makes one wonder what comes with this wind?

Well, you just can't always choose to sail when it is 70 degrees and 5 to 10 kts of wind...  Sometimes it helps to go out in a mess and handle your vessel.  We used to say the same thing about surfing in bad waves.  How can you ever hope to be competent if you only surf, or in this case, sail, in ideal conditions?  There is something beneficial to knowing how a slip on a wet deck can lead to an injury, or how a wet line can be ripped from your fingers if you don't have gloves on, or how the boom can knock you out if...., and so on.  So I was committed to this predictably aggressive day of wind knowing quite well that Nautica has plenty of depth in her resume to handle such things.

You could tell that the southwestly wind was hitting the lake.  Looking to the east, the turbulent water washed away from our slips.  The blow was occurring on the other side of the ridge so we were sheltered from it.  

A fast wind swept over the flat and protected waters of our cove yet upon entering the vastness of the larger lake, the brisky winds had not done much to fetch onto the lake.  Not surprised, I figured this happens, forecasts are too aggressive sometimes even with all the digital stuff we have these days.

After about an hour's sail across the lake under ideal winds of hardly 10 kts, I pulled into the lee of the Jim Spence islands, wrapped the genny and dropped the reefed main, hooking into the mud and rocks below with success.  Nearly 70 degrees, and hardly a whisp of wind for several hundred feet to port and starboard.  An ideal day for taking a quiet break from the routine.  I dug into my onboard humidor and took out a cigar labeled, "Libre Cuba" and assisted it with a bit of Irish Dubliner whiskey which made for a most pleasant couple of hours in this gorgeously quiet leeward anchorage.  You could hear the waves hitting nearby shores sounding like a bit of a brook washing through the channel across the way.  Above, the airliners streaked in and out of airspace and the new moon was peaking through the atmosphere from its position deeper in space looking greyish and mysterious.  "What a beautiful planet!"  I thought and wondered at the same time why the world was in such a mess all the time!  It is a brilliantly beautiful piece of terrain and water floating in space.
Hiding on the leeward side of the island, the sun warmed the deck and I would have jumped in for a swim but the water is about 52 degrees.
Looking aft, the shoes are off, the hatches are open, and very little breeze enables everything to warm up to t-shirt weather.
January, and the shoes are off on deck. 
Without companions to guide the conversation, I checked on the anchor periodically and even spilled my first finger of Dubliner by putting my foot on it haphazardly stepping precariously from the companionway.  The day was warm and I lay against the cabin bulkhead with my shoes and socks off, texting some working friends who were close to retirement, just to irritate them.  What a great day of sailing!

The sail out had been a very close reach as the Alberg pointed extremely close to the wind.  This return was a broad reach and the genny pulled us into the Club Cove, across the flat water and home to her slip next to the pines and the occasional barking of the bird dog who lives in the large house you may often see in my photos of Nautica.  In 30 minutes I'd put her to bed and jumped in the First Mate's rag top and headed home.

It was delightful to spend a birthday aboard under such sublime conditions.  I am glad I ventured into the forecast prepared but happily able to sail in a relaxed manner just the same.  I was ready for something more challenging but glad I got my way on my birthday and enjoyed every bit of the way to the island, time at the island and the return to the slip.

Check out my YouTube Channel for videos you might have missed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Time to Sail

With a few projects now complete, the end of 6 months of aggressive re-fitment comes to an end.

The last few weeks has been a mid-winter project time.  Putting on the swim ladder, installing the anchor roller and anchor, affixing the vang, splicing several sheets, and fiddling with the mainsail track.  
A West Marine product, this is probably the longest folding step ladder in their line-up.  This heavy unit pivots off the starboard and does not make contact with the hull at all since the hinges are deliberately designed to create a slanting ascent for the swimmer.  The white plastic-wood creates the mounting through which the four 5/16th shoulder bolts grab both 6 by 6 backing plates below, located inside the salon cockpit cabinets.  For safety of foot traffic, I insert a flat fender underneath the steps to prevent any pedestrian pressure being put on the hinge mount.

The white plastic wood material here creates a leveling support for the anchor which lies primarily on the bow plate. 

The fitment is secure and during sailing, there is no movement of the anchor because it lies perfectly in its position with its chain and as it is also tied-to for additional security.

The vang installation was simple.  It's role is debatable but I want every bit of sail adjust possible.  Got this vang used on Ebay, picked up the mast base bail from Grhauer.  Will run this to the cockpit for control.

Now I turn my attention more to sailing than fixing.  The beauty of the southern USA is that the climate is very moderate.  So I'm now focused on sails, sail trim, handling, and routine maintenance.

It took six months to get to this point, that point being catching up to where I can address routine maintenance issues rather than critical issues.  The big list is finished.  It feels similar to graduating from a masters program in sailboat restoration 101.  There is much more to do for sure, but I think I am ready for restoration 102 now.

Meanwhile, I need "tiller time."  

So seizing a perfect day, temps in the high 60s, winds about 5 to 8 knots, I secured my GoPro on the stern rail and took off.   After several hours on the water my GoPro finally ran out of juice.  I stripped endless footage down to 9 minutes, a long video itself, but ran the footage at 4x speed.  You might like the Chopin Piano sonata I choose to marry up with this perfect day!

Everything aboard worked quite well on this day.  It will take a little more practice setting the anchor in these clay bottom conditions.  But this is true for any anchorage.  The Delta plow worked much better than the Danforth for my conditions.  I found using the diesel to pull it deeper into the mud was important.  I also think the 4 feet of chain needs some work, a swivel and about 2 more feet to extend its pressure on the anchor.  The main anchor line is not chain but line.  Haul-out is a messy affair due to the mud.

But at least I'm sailing more than working on the Berg!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Good Tempo of maintenance despite dropping another tool in the drink!

Our weather has been delightful for the most part for over a week.  And that means stuff gets done!
Winter will toss us some difficult days, very humid, rain, cool temps and brisk winds, not all days when you'd want to be on the water.  This makes for a great tempo as there are some small things that always need to be chased while, for the most part, if the conditions are favorable, there is also great sailing to be had.

I've sorted my urgencies down to a few items I've wanted to fix aboard Nautica.  The anchor roller has been a pre-occupation of mine for a couple of months, but in this mild winter I managed to find a few dry days with sun during which I made the fix up at the bow. I used this white "azek" plastic type material which looks like wood but is actually recycled plastics.  Thus, it does not present another  piece of natural material to protect.  Azek is a brand but the material is recycled plastics, perfect I think for this type of application.
Placement was as good as I could fit given the original deck arrangements of the Alberg.  I don't think the Alberg was designed to stop anywhere and throw down an anchor!
It is worth looking carefully at the "line up" of all items in this photo:  Skene chock moved aft to permit roller placement to starboard, outward edge of roller has downward edge so that it butts against the starboard edge of bow plate with roller's left side, 3 large shoulder bolts secure the roller on the deck supported with the white azek block so that bolts do not drill through bow plate, dock line has options to attach either to port or starboard but chafe could occur with the position it takes in this photo, and the rolling furler "can" misses the anchor when in place plus there is room for removing the fore-stay pin located on bow plate.

My Berg does not lend itself to a polite fitment for the anchor roller, thus, I had to rearrange things up front as best as I could.  I moved the starboard "skene chock" aft about a foot to accommodate a dock line while providing the roller ample room to lay over the sturdy bow plate.  The rolling furlering drum just misses the anchor as the roller is set in at an angle to starboard to accommodate the particular anomalies of the bow plate's configuration.  I also drilled a few more holes of course, and did more yacht yoga to crawl into the anchor roller to apply my Vise Grips for solo tightening on deck.
There's a more noticeable gap between anchor and hull than this photo reveals.  Plus the anchor is pulled tight and secured at this point as if ready to sail.  Otherwise it would move out a bit more.  The A in the Delta sits atop the 2nd roller.
As the photos reveal, the clearance from tip of anchor to hull is about 2 inches, which the photo does not reveal, and I am thinking to adhere a cushion to protect the hull from any tapping which might occur.  I will have to reserve judgement on that clearance until it is sea-tested, yet dropping it in the slip and hauling it in, it performed without a fault.  Guess it is a great design on the part of both roller and anchor.
This shows the distance to  hull.  When hauling aboard, it came up cleanly and went to bed without complaint!

Another item to affix will be my boarding ladder.  I had marked the point on starboard deck where this will affix with plenty of space in the cabinet below to put-in the hefty backing plates.  West Marine's heavy 4 step ladder will extend off the starboard beam just ahead of the genoa track.  

I've included these photos because other Albergers might be interested in this location.  The 1 and 3/4 inch height from deck to cap rail level required building up the attachment.

I used Marine Sealant from West Marine to seal this sandwich with clamps overnight then used BoatLife to seal the Azek to the deck and used varnish on the exterior of the plywood insert where it is exposed.  The bolts are doing the heavy lifting, not the adhesive! 
This photo shows the ladder in closed position. However, it needs a cushion of some sort underneath the folded steps to prevent undo leverage on the base as the folded steps are about 2 inches off the deck.  I think this is easily resolved by a Boat US cushion?  Something such as that is bright blue and is required by the USCG to be aboard and available in the event of an MOB.  So, the solution!  Of course working single-handed, I managed to contribute a small pair of Vise-Grips to underneath my slip.  Hopefully on some scorching hot summer day I will get motivated to dive down and find that little bugger!
I chose to place rubber underneath the supporting steel over the cap rail.  The brute weight of this ladder is not to be confused with flimsy aluminum ladders.  It has a rating for about 250 pounds and itself weighs about 15 pounds.  Due to its weight, the ladder is easily deployed and the hinges are designed so that it has a built-in stop, as the ladder forms a gentle angle away from the hull.  Well designed and well worth the money!

I will employ a small line to the ladder steps since I cannot reach up and deploy the ladder by hand from the water.  The ladder itself is stainless steel and quite heavy, rating it's capability at about 250 pounds, so this gives you an idea of the durability of this product.  Azek will rise from the deck to provide a 90 degree angle or the supports and automotive rubber on the cap rail will protect it from damage when the ladder is deployed.

And too, I've taken to re-varnishing the primary tiller which has some control points on it for holding it in place while underway.  These are not quite "cruise control" ready but help to keep a heading for a few moments when otherwise needing to go forward.  The previous owner had purchased a new tiller, passing that along with the sale to me and which I mounted first. Yet, seeing another available tiller with these additional items already bored and attached, I thought I had might as well expand my inventory.

As always, removing the heavily applied varnish is best done with the heat gun:

This truly is the best and easiest way to do this task!

The previous varnishing had not been properly applied so that there were heavy runs and bumps on the surface and sanding simply took off one coat revealing another.  The tiller had previously had some cool nautical weaving yet someone got the idea to protect it all and varnished the weaving as well.  Probably why the previous owner purchased another tiller because hardened weaving would tear at the hands!  I will employ this tiller for a while to see if I care for the additional extension stick it holds, and to see if the semi-auto tiller provides me any satisfaction.  If not, then it's up for sale!

And finally the bolts for my vang bail arrived.  I affixed the bail to the mast, leaving the mast plate holes available for blocks with which I will employ later to guide lines to the cockpit.  Running the lines aft is a project for a bit later
Now that these items are aboard, I've reached the 6th month plus 1 week of refitment since 11 July when she was delivered. I don't even hesitate to get her underway now, as she is largely ready for the tasks of sailing, sometimes under strong winds and light ones.

There will be more changes ahead, but this is sort of a bench-mark for getting the "must-do" fixes done.  I'm pricing a new dodger, and I've still got my eye on the lazyjack system currently in place but not working to my desired level of performance.  

Today is a sailing day, forecast is for 10 - 20kts.  Single-handing again, with a first reef in main and genny.  Should be a great day as temps are set to be near 70 degrees in the month of January!  We've done that before with ease:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I had to laugh.  

The weather was warmish and sun was bright, a great day to get the anchor roller secured to the deck and complete this one item I'd been hoping to do for some time.

Fortunately, I had not left anything at home as in previous visits to the vessel, when after driving an hour one discovers the very drill and assorted gear were left on the work bench, missed loading in the haste of getting aboard to fix something!  This time, all was aboard, the weather was great, and I relished the Southern Winter's sun as I pulled up on my motorcycle to do this small fix aboard Nautica. 

20 years old this year. 1997 Honda Valkyrie, the legend grows...

It was a great ride through the back country between my home and the club.  Never a direct route, but an uncrowded one, that doesn't stress you out with hazardous non-driving "cagers," a term reserved by cyclists for those who are inside cars, talking, texting, eating, and oblivious to the motorcyclists around them.  So this back route was a pleasure.  The skies were brilliant and I appreciated the relaxed and warm ride this Winter had delivered us.

So aboard, I gathered my assortment of tools in a bag, the anchor roller I'd scuttled away for several months now, having gotten it on sale from Defender Industries.  This was the day my work would come together, the particular support block I'd fashioned from the Azek wood-type material made of plastic, the boat life caulk, the stainless shoulder bolts from West Marine, and the great weather which I had not done anything to create...and then forward on deck I went.

I set my tool bag next to the windless and the starboard rail with the battery powered drill piled on top.  I had wanted to replace this Ryobi with something more durable, but the Ryobi just kept working, so I saved more money by using it, go figure.  Turning my attention to the placement of the Azek and the pre-drilled holes I had so carefully put into the deck I began to apply the boat caulk and was just about to drop the bolts through the Azek into the deck when something moved near me.  At first I thought it was something rattling on the deck like usual.  But then splash!  Surprised, my eyes followed the Ryobi's tumble from the bag into the pea-green lake, bubbles following it's descent into the dubious bottom of mud, rocks, cans and turtles.  I just had to laugh.  At first I thought perhaps I'd jump in and rescue it but then recalled the radio had said the water was a cool 52 degrees just yesterday, and I did not like the idea of diving down several times to find my drill in the murk and mud of the lake.  After all, it wouldn't work after I retrieved it anyway!

So there I sat, a perfect day of work, sidelined by my aging Ryobi drill which haplessly tumbled into the lake thus ending its 5 year contract with me by sidelining me when I needed it most.  How can you feel frustrated with that?  Time to get a new DieWalt cordless!

We tolerate these Winter days in the Southern USA with easy patience. 
Like most of the projects on Nautica now, they are not critical, they are needed but can wait another day, or week, before they have to be done, if that.  I just want to get my Delta anchor on the bow so that I can begin to enjoy some of the delightful anchorages on the lake and to test it for when grandchildren may come aboard to learn to be pirates with me.  We have to be able to anchor for swimming after all!