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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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deck stains are a constant hassle on this dory.  My obsessive compulsive nature had driven me to find a suitable cleaner for the stains on the Typhoon's deck.  I had wandered through West Marine's products and a host of You Tube videos trying to determine what would work on the dirty little stains on her deck.

A friend had asked me why I didn't simply refinish her which I replied, "I don't want to do that right now ( saying to myself, do you really realize how much work it will be to properly do that? ) and mused to myself that friends are allowed to be ignorant and irritating while family never are allowed that luxury at all.  A brisk look at a family member is sufficient.  But the deck stains remained past this momentary irritation. 

And though I did not photograph it, and am sure I will have the opportunity again soon, a brown maple leaf lay decoratively on the white deck just near the genoa track.  Underneath was a watery shadow of brown-purple stain on my just cleaned starboard deck.  As I fumed within, I also admired this elegant impression, then thought of the fall leaf cleanup I will begin in November.  I've done this for the past two years at our current home and have calculated it takes me about 16 large yard bags of vacuumed leaves every season.  I don't like the Fall because of that job.  But I like the Fall.  And so, mind wandering, my eyes admired the leaf stain.

Few things are as brilliant as natures' accidental wonders.  Don and Belinda, writing on their Blog "The Third Quarter" ( listed at the right ) made the remark that sometimes sailboat blog entries focus often on mechanics, problems, solutions and chandlery items, yet we sail because of the pure delight that comes from being in this watery environment.  And the leaf was just that moment.  Another was the water dripping from the rub rail.

I had been furtively engaged, attacking several problems on the dory the other day.  The temps were exhaustingly hot.  Humidity was thick, air was heavy, mosquitos added a certain inner rage to the scene that could pass for comedy if viewed from afar.  I'd fixed my drains again, yes, the clamps were not quite set right.  Routine maintenance.  I'd washed the deck with a more aggressive mixture of bleach and water.  I know, report me to the cleaning agent officers, but sometimes you simply have to try the stuff that worked when we were little kids, now outlawed because someone... well you know what I'm driving at.  Better left unsaid.  And it worked!  While the dory was wet with the mix and flushed with water, the sunlight did what I could not.  The deck was finally 90 percent cleaned up. 

Now, thoroughly drenched with sweat, I'd installed a spare tire on the trailer, made a template of the cockpit sole for a woodworker in Florida who does teak decking, and was running my hand over the white hull of this magnificent little vessel, when I looked up and saw these happy drops of water hanging from the teak rub rail...

Like a kid looking at grains of sand on a seashore, once again I found myself rather attracted to this accidental beauty of light and water hanging around on the Cape Dory.  The droplets of water were perfectly rounded.  They appeared to be waiting for the next thing to happen.  Yet behind them on the hull played these white flames looking completely opposite to the shape of their parents.

Wet myself, from the tedium of humidity, working about on the dory, I grabbed my camera to steal this momentary display.  No, it wasn't sailing, it was simply taking a moment to appreciate something that I might otherwise not have seen had I bumped my head on the hull or slapped another mosquito on my balding forehead.

It is a good thing to be surprised by such subtlety and take time to admire such accidental beauty. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some sailors are virtual.  During the quadrennial "Vendee Globe" race, there were laptop based sailors all around the world racing the circumnavigation course, while the actual race played out in the deep blue oceans across the globe.  It was fascinating as thousands sailed "over the shoulder" of the seasoned skippers toiling non-stop from one ocean to another.  I was too preoccupied with the actual race to attempt to be one of those virtual sailors, but I certainly understand the arm-chair sailors around the world who, for one reason or another, continue to follow a race, or a story, or a blog!  I actually logged-in to the official site ( ) every morning for about two and a half months to follow the commentary from Paris and the finish from Les Sables d'Olonnes, in the region of the Vendee.  Being a francophone, I was delighted to hear the skippers speaking in real-time from their super fast racing hulls, something our digital world enabled.

In Baggy Wrinkles' blog, the little bitty world map provides a curious look at those individuals who are standing over-the-shoulder.  The map only tracks some viewers' city and country locations.  It is a thoughtful way to realize how many different people around this world are keen to explore a simple story of a sailboat.  It gives no personal information nor IP addresses, just so that you know!  It is only a fun thing, not a digital snooping device of any sort!

Sometimes I wonder how some of you readers actually come to have an interest in a Cape Dory sailboat of this type.  It is especially curious to see the red dots of the world map light up in places like the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Russia, the UK.  It is also interesting how there are no digital hits from Africa, South America and Australia?  It would be terrific to hear from some of you readers in those locations. 

Meanwhile, I have recently had the trailer for the dory refitted in order to properly launch and haul her on boat ramps.  It has been a long awaited fitment.  Here is a photo of Baggy Wrinkles' launch where my wagon's wheels are at the water's edge, the trailer is underwater, and the dory has yet to float off the trailer.  Since the dory is about 2.7 feet draft, and the water is about 3.5 feet, she still cannot float into the water.

This dory weights 2,000 pounds, so don't think you can just push it off.  You cannot.  And pull?  Doubt that too!

So I requested the manufacturer to refit the trailer with a 10 foot extension which would permit further extension down any boat ramp to allow a "float-off" launch and a "float-on" haul out.  The extension sits directly beneath the "road hitch" and extends out providing about 8 additional feet of longitude at the ramp.  Photos show both views:

The extension can be done in any number of ways, but I wanted something sure and reliable, which did not depend on my expertise. 

As I said to the manufacturer's representative, I'm a sailor, not an engineer.  Having this extension provides me peace of mind at any ramp, that I know for sure the dory can get on and off the trailer without damage to the hull or incident to it's owner and skipper!

I was certainly anxious to test the extension at the ramp and did so, pulling her out of the water.  The critical element was if she could "float on" the trailer.  Using two lines, one for bow and stern, I guided her into the pathway of the trailer.

She entered the trailer's grasp without bumping a bit.  With simply my two deck lines, I pulled her safely to the stem of the trailer, hooked her on, and patted her on the bow-plate ( the background to this blog-site is her bow-plate, by the way! ).

These photos were taken as I had her in the chandlery area for some additional fitment and small troubleshooting. 

The Cape Dory is a heavy little boat whose design requires proper fitments from trailer to deck.  This little extension was not very expensive at all, and certainly has made the transition from land to sea, a more confident process!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Everything does not have to be perfectly right.  I was underway on the Typhoon the other day and probably thinking about croissants in a French restaurant and the smell of cafĂ© when I should have been thinking mainsheet lines and degree of heal.  Oh well.  It is a forgiving vessel.  I hardly noticed that perhaps the tiller was not as certain as it had been.

Ok, so precision counts in things like re-entry to the earth's atmosphere, or a tool-and-die shop.  But even baseball permits margins of error.  The margins of error permit us opportunity for our being human. As long as we don't push the limits we're safe.

So, the tiller.  It felt kind of like it was lobbing back and forth or something.  A clunky sort of feeling.  Not as true as it had been.  Hard to know how much torque to apply to a 40 year old rudder assembly.  Before this blog, back in February when the wind was cold and the skies were sunny, I'd heated some automotive grease to "pour" down the rudder shaft--what was I thinking?  I even had a large needle to insert between the collar and shaft, where the rudder shaft descended into the hull.  The rudder clanked a bit and I thought it needed some easing of tension, a bit of lubrication in the shaft.  I felt like it made a difference but not certainly sure it did.  After all, it is underwater when it is functioning. 

Oh well, nothing on the Ty is perfectly right, but right enough that it brings great sailing at a terrific price!  I ventured over and corrected the bit of lobbing in the tiller, a small adjustment, bronze parts don't need to be over-tightened and stripped.  So the procedure was easy.  Now the next thing, my mainsheet line.  It was a troublesome line and stared me in the face every time I sailed Baggy Wrinkles.

So the other day, I finally grimaced and replaced my mainsheet line.  I rely on the smart people at West Marine for their recommendations.  After all, I'm a sailor, not a rope manufacturer.  And I do not claim to know everything about lines.  The existing line had become stiff and ornery.  It liked neither sailing nor me but held its own in a blow, yet lacked flexibility to flow through the cam cleats as it should, and it argued with me frequently when I required it to quickly race out for a broad reach.  A bothersome old snake it was, and meant for lassoing trees rather than sailing a classic little yacht.

After soliciting a friend's extra eyes and advice, I threaded the line through the blocks and installed the line, bringing a happier line to the Dory for future adventures.  Costly though.  About one hundred dollars for 65 feet of mainsheet line.  Well, it's all relative, price that is.  Some folks would spend that easily in a good restaurant, perhaps much more.  Ok, it was worth it.

So I took my friend out for some sailing in about 10kts of wind.  The Dory gleamed with the new line in her teeth.  Above, in the standing rigging, the baggy wrinkles, her namesake icons frizzled in the light breeze, and the sails filled out taking us across the lake.  She was happy to be playing in the water again.  Hopping across the small waves with glee I was once again so pleased to own such a simple vessel whose performance in variable conditions is so surprising, so sure, one wonders why the molds for her could not be sold to another builder, and why after some two thousand copies, the Typhoon was discontinued.  Yet, like all things classic, I was happy to be her skipper.  She bounced and hopped forward in the wind and waves like a young pony.  Larger and noisier craft raced by yet every eye glances over at her, like some connection to the past draws their attention.  Something they feel they're missing I suppose.

So here is my friend at the helm of this "perfect" little yacht that doesn't have to be perfect to be completely enjoyable!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Scuppers, sea-cocks, and strainers.  Probably the most complicated part of the Cape Dory Typhoon Weekender model is this combination of characters.  Although simple, a critical piece of hardware in this otherwise simple sailing design.

So, a couple of posts back, I told the tale of the water leaking into the bilge of the Baggy Wrinkles and my frantic race against plastic and pressure.  I succeeded in stemming a disastrous flooding of the Dory that day.  It was all about the sea-cocks and the plastic tubing attaching to the cockpit drain pipes which then lead through-hull to the scuppers to pass excess water back to the sea.

Behind this was my obsessive compulsive attempt to turn my dingy bilge area below decks into a clean and visible place of functional design.  Or so that was my thought.  But I did complete my mission after searching for just the right hoses and this is what it looks like now:

Clear braided 1 and 3/8ths inch flexible hoses with metal clamps.  Just enough length to allow bending without crimping.
Neat, isn't it?  I recall touring the Her Majesty's Yacht (HMY)  Britannia in 2008, which at the time, was docked in the port in Edinburgh, Scotland, and showed-off its gleaming white and impeccably clean engine room:

I think it was at that moment I thought to myself that this was the way to keep an engine room!  After more than one million miles at sea, now resting peacefully dockside, she is clean enough to eat off the floor.  To keep it clean from us tourists, they partitioned-off the area with Plexiglas, thus the reflections in this photo of mine.  Worth the tour if you're ever in Scotland.  Plus, they cook their own brands of chocolate aboard and sell these for a modest amount while you're on tour. ( It's worth looking at the link--HMY Britannia )

Well, the Cape Dory is a far cry from the Britannia however!  But just the same, she's my vessel, I'm her Captain, and I'll maintain her at a high standard!  Well, as I said, this is the only mechanical place on the Typhoon but it is one of the critical points of interest on the vessel.  If the hoses fail, the water comes aboard, and due to the fact that the waterline is above the base of the cockpit, it becomes a serious focus!

Above decks I'd been searching for just the right device to install some sort of screens on the cockpit drains.  On a very old sailboat, finding just the right size is futile.  Yet, I found it:

The simple sink strainers are just a bit over two inches in width and sit nicely in the passageway to the hoses due to the finger or bell-shaped screen formation which reaches into the hole.

Ok, so it's not a big deal, but yes, it is a big deal, because there are debris items that can easily find their way into these hoses and then clog the passageway to the through-hull and the relief the scuppers provide.  The passageway has to be kept clean and free of debris.
How many times do I have to remind myself that this is a limited production boat and an old boat?  So this then requires ingenuity in order to fix and repair.  Some of these products, like the above braided, clear hose, probably did not exist in 1974 when this Cape Dory was produced.  As you can see in this photo, I found the answer to my problems of screening debris, at Home Depot  (in the US, found everywhere humans are located) in the sink department.  These strainers cost me about two dollars 50 cents apiece--about 1 Euro 90 cents for European readers and maybe 1 Pound 60 cents in the UK?  These will sit in the drain hole in the cockpit and provide protection for the hoses and the through-hull so that the scuppers only have to deal with liquid.  Otherwise, there might be leaves, sticks, pieces of broken fiberglass, M&M candies, and certainly, that inevitable screw or bolt which jumps from my hands with such speed that I cannot catch it as it races for the drain hole.  And that, will happen.
Then there are the scuppers.  These are openings in the hull of the vessel that enable water to escape a ship while underway.  See if you can find the scuppers in this early photo of La Belle Vie before I cleaned her hull:
It is located just a bit above the grey metal post and a bit to 1 o'clock position.  This photo shows the hull in the process of being scraped of barnacles and power-washed of salt water scum.  On the right, a scupper.  A rather ugly little fellow, but effective!  The scuppers are probably a bit much for a Typhoon since most of the water spraying the deck while underway seems to come over the bow and find its way out the leech holes in the toe-rail.  Nonetheless, if it can find a way into the vessel, it will, and it will meet the scuppers.  That black boot-strip in the photo was washed away while cleaning.  However, the sea-cocks below decks are beneath that line.  So the water will seek a way in if not kept at bay, sort of a pun isn't it?
The sea-cocks are actually a life saver.  They provide the possibility of draining the cockpit if all the other equipment is fully functional.  If you have not been too clever as I was and your securing bands are solidly in place, the seacocks can remain open and enable the sea to escape your cockpit and keep your feet dry.  In the previous entry I was actually able to turn the sea-cocks off so that water could not enter the cockpit from below.  I did not say this in the entry but it enabled me to find a solution without threat of the vessel taking on an enormous amount of water.  And this is practically the most complicated device on the Typhoon! 
Scuppers, sea-cocks and strainers, a simple and vital connection!