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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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I had been looking forward to this day!

I did not expect that I would run out of fuel with a headwind for my reach back to the club.  Ha, what a challenge!
 
A view of the club from the cove on another day.  It was not this close on the day the Yanmar ran out of fuel however.


So there I was, my diesel slowing and choking, the main is already wrapped and genoa furled, the shore to leeward is about 200 meters away and the wind is blowing 10 kts with next to no fetch at all, thus a quick straight-line wind.  What next then?   No panic, just get the plan sorted quickly and get underway as the winds were good.  "This is your shot, get it right," I told myself.  Images of me pushing my Alberg away from the lee shore began to produce mental film footage that scared the bejesus out of me tho.  I quickly pulled the genoa out and wrapped the winch, off we went.

A photo of the engine after the bleeding running quite well again.


Firstly, know that I'm hardheaded.  Let's get that out of the way.  So, in my mind, I knew I could head north in our cove for about 600 meters under full genoa, then come about with a strategic turn and head to the south southwest, hug the shoreline as best I could and fit right into our slip cove.  From that point I could toss a line to the rigging dock if necessary.  I figured I could get that close.  That was the general plan.  At least I had a plan!  I did not really have the time and window of opportunity to unwrap the boom cover and then haul the main up in order to achieve this tack.  So, I did it without the main.  I took that chance since I knew the boat pretty well.

I figured there wouldn't be anyone at the club to assist me so this was a solo performance.  At worse, if it did not work, I would toss my anchor and leave the vessel near the club docks.  I'd anchored there before and thought it was safe enough to try that method in such an event.  Plus, I could get a Boston Whaler from the club, tie to the Alberg and somehow get the vessel to the rigging dock after a swim in to shore.  It's funny how running out of fuel brings to mind various rescue scenarios.  I kept musing to myself while creeping closer to shore of how wildly excited I'd have been doing this if in my early twenties and how somewhat nervous I was doing it now in my sixties.  I tried to adapt the difference and enjoy the mission underway.  Kids with no care zoomed around on jet skis burning their afternoon energy oblivious to my point of sail.

Now closing on the club, I tack back and forth, coming to within twenty feet of the rigging dock then back across the small entrance which is only 100 feet with shallow water on each side.  My draft is about 4 feet, winds are coming straight at my bow, and after a few slow close tacks I can see that hugging that rigging dock will be my next tactic when out of the corner of my eye, I see a fellow sailor walking down the launch dock rather calmly while asking in a loud voice, "do you need me to tow you in?"  What a wonderful thought, a tow!  I had no idea anyone was even at the club!

A great still shot of the belt and the high pressure injector pump in the upper left corner of the photo.  The white reflective tape on the fan of the alternator are for use in calculating RPM with my cheap digital meter.  It kind of worked lol.
I returned with a enthusiastic "Yes I do!"  "As you can see, I am in a rather perilous position."  I had no further capability to move into the narrower cove waters where I usually turn Nautica on a dime and come to the dock on my starboard beam.  While he quickly dispatched the Whaler, I wrapped my genoa and prepared for a line to the bow.  She drifted ever so slightly in the headwind my friend came alongside with a line.  In a few moments the drama concluded, the wind easily pushing Nautica's port beam alongside the dock.  I wrapped a couple of quick dock lines and breathed a sigh of relief.  My rescuer knew I was in trouble as he also knew my practice upon entering the port.  He had paid attention to the way I usually arrive in the cove with main and genoa already wrapped for bed.  He knew I had to be experiencing some sort of problem attempting to negotiate a cove where only MC Scows and Flying Scots whisk into the rigging dock on not much more than a whisper of wind after racing in the flat waters of the larger cover area.  A 30 foot Alberg is like the Queen Mary in contrast to the dinghy fleets as the larger vessel requires power in close-quarters.

Once tied-to, I looked at my defunct diesel, now quiet and staring back at me.  I sat and thought about the possibilities.  They were few.  But firstly there was the statement my mechanic told me, "diesels are simple engines that can pretty much run forever if they have a few things right...," he had said.  A spark and diesel make friends quickly.  Air is not welcome, nor is any water in the lines. Get the spark and diesel together and you will have most of your problem solved.  I thought back and realized that even though there was diesel in the tank and the gauge had been reading empty now for weeks, the listing of the vessel "at sea" is at a habitual level that now was below the fuel line intake.  I was effectively out of diesel even though there was another gallon or two in the tank!

Air had entered the fuel line at such time that the intake breathed-in air instead of fuel while I was unwitting, entering the cove with my main covered after a delightful afternoon of quick winds and beautiful skies.  My diesel sat unresponsive awaiting my bleeding it.  It was one of the two classic problems for diesels which require bleeding; one of a filter change, and the other of running out of diesel which permits air to enter the system.  Both require bleeding.


In the process of unsealing the bleed screw.  The last photo in this post shows the diesel exiting this point. 

Showing both the 2nd filter (after the Racor) atop the Yanmar and then the injector pump at the lower right.  Just for awareness of what is what.  My blue glove to keep my hands clean.

I zoomed through my manual and realized it was rather cursory and in fact rather scant vis-a-vis what was actually required.  Perhaps that was a job security manual for mechanics!

 Assisted by YouTube I whisked past several "almost correct" videos and found a perfectly instructional one posted by SailAwayGirl on how to bleed a Yanmar 2 cylinder, yay perfect!  ( see the video here on her channel:  https://youtu.be/7xR7N188m-U )  The instructor is precise and quite simple in his approach.  Several students ask some harmless questions while he directs them to the several points on the diesel which are "show-stoppers."  After several views, I took notes and headed over to the Alberg assisted with his video and tools.

One of two injectors feeding the cylinders.  They were a bit cranky to get out and this one is a bit harder as it is against the air filter housing.  Nonetheless both yielded to patience and extracted to permit fuel to exit.  I had anticipated a big spray event which never happened. 
As shown in the photos, it did not take long to trace the fuel.  Beginning with the Racor filter and its internal pump with its own bleed valve, to the pump alongside the engine block to the second filter on top of the engine, to the injection pump and injectors, each time bleeding and tightening.  Utilizing the method in the video was simple.  My 2QM15 did not spray diesel all over the salon however as I used a couple of Bounty towels to capture diesel exiting the injector tubes. 

Once I secured the injectors, closing the system, I then started the engine and put her in gear for about 10 minutes with about 1000 rpm to further purge any residual air within.  She pulsed a bit and then relaxed and began to purr while I put away my tools and of course dropped another wrench or something in the water, go figure. 

Not the best clarity, but this is a snap of the filter atop the Yanmar with the diesel flowing out of the bleed screw.
After going through this eventful experience, I have decided to fill my diesel tank a couple of times with my newly acquired 5 gallon diesel plastic can.  I also drew a line on the same position where the diesel lay at the empty point.  Now it is quite easy to read the meter or simply look underneath the lazarette to see how close I am to another mini-crisis!  

Although I looked forward to finding out where empty really was for this diesel, I also learned the techniques for bleeding the diesel and took some mystery out of this little 2 cylinder bugger. 


Thursday, May 25, 2017

One little piece

It's crazy.  Sometimes big things rely upon one little thing for success.  

After the alteration on the lazy-jack system, it became important next to insure the sail descended into the lazy-jack cradle on the boom.  The goose-neck is now in place doing its job of keeping the boom at one particular height from the mast to clew at end of the boom.  But there was that little gap between the goose-neck track and the sail track.  Each time I flaked the sail it fell miserably into my hands creating a mess aboard.  There seemed no "book solution" but to purchase a $65 dollar sail stop!

There is something wrong with pricing a simple device such as a sail stop with such a steep price.  Therefore, I resisted and decided that in lieu of such an item, I would jury-rig one of my own and win by principle instead!  

I scoured around in my work area at home looking for some sort of aluminum or like metal which I could drill through and attach to the mast with a short rivet.  It would not be overly strong but it would interfere with the downward cascade of the sail slugs and prohibit the chaos of flaking the sail while attempting to corral the luff in my arms at the same time.  

Installed.  A little floppy device which cost me nothing but time. 

It's not very strong but it does get in the way of the main sail slugs and stops them dead in their track, literally!  Having the rivet enables it to move back and forth somewhat freely as it just clears the track above and blocks the downward cascade of sheet.



The boom is about 10 inches below the stopping device and is just at the point where the tack of the bolt rope begins its slanted direction to the boom and the grommet there.  

It may not last long true.  But for now it is a template device for which I will search for an enduring pin to enable this ease of use and access.

After all, if I were to lose this little jitney, it'd not cost me anything to replace it.  If, on the other hand, I were to lose a grip on that $65 dollar stainless track stopper, and observe it bouncing into the water below, I'd be hard-pressed not to jump in and follow it to the bottom!  

The Alberg 30 is more than a sailboat, it is an adventure into many things of the past and begins to take on a relationship with the skipper.  It doesn't have everything just perfectly set.  There are design "left-overs," aspects of the boat which might have worked great in the 60s but have been eclipsed by stupefying technology--like the salon "ice-box," versus the trendy Yeti products, and like this boom affair which is begging for an update.  An  update of some sort.  As frustrating as it may sometimes be, there's a sense of appreciation that the Alberg just gets a bit better as we engage each of these little aspects and attempt to provide that fix and that update. 

Another itty bitty point of rescue was the Perko door lock on the starboard locker.  I had seen this little bit of neglect for months before getting the screwdriver out and hauling it home for some detail work.


Getting it home on a rainy few days gave me plenty of time to mindlessly update this hardware.  It was smeared with some sort of finishing goo and pitted from times gone by.  It had character but I needed to pry into it a bit and polish that character.  Just another "little piece" to deal with.

Nothing like this for a rainy day.  After soaking in some thinner I took a small bit of steel wool over the parts.  As it sat on my work bench looking like a candidate for a tooth cleaning, it wasn't bad at all.  But a bit of detail work made it even better.



It isn't much but once after a bit of soaking and cleaning, and a bit of white grease for the spring inside the lock, this Perko door handle and lock should be good until about 2057, or another 40 years!
The beauty is in the details of this boat.  Who would ever look at a door handle on a brand new boat?  I wouldn't. I'd assume it to be fine.  With the Alberg, it is a matter of detail. On ships, the little details of polishing and fixing is a constant task for the sailors.  It is the same for us civilian skippers to do the same.  If not, time, air and humidity will take charge and fix it for us another way!

Well so much work, but one could just go out and buy a brand new boat right?  But that would simply be a temporary relief.  With some additional reflection, those of us who own these old classic plastics chose to go down this path, fascinated with a timeless design which brings continued sailing enjoyment time and time again and looks elegant when done.  

You cannot find that everywhere!

The longer I own this Alberg the more I am fascinated with the family of skippers who share in this journey while asking fellow skippers for fixes on various aspects of the rigging and hull.  With this kind of following over the years, this design has caught the eye of many a caretaker/skipper who, like me, always turn around to take a look at her before heading home for the evening after a day aboard.  So these little forgotten fixes are no problem really; just a temporary frustration a bit of ingenuity and good ole persistence does a world of good on these boats of character.

She's standing out in the crowd!




Monday, May 15, 2017

Aboard Overnight

After a particularly long board meeting at the yacht club, I retreated to the Alberg by flashlight, peering left and right for "Lucille," the brown water snake who's been flirting with me now for the past month or so.  

I'd first spotted her by nearly stepping on her while she was suntanning on a cool late winter day.  Then, I came up on her snoozing between dock platforms, nested just on the hinge, eyes closed, not a care in the world.  And then just the other day I found her scooting out from under the dock near my hull.  She spotted me and turned to watch as I calmly squatted down, careful not to drop anything and scare her off.  I wanted a photograph or two.  
Lucille patently lies in wait observing me slowly as I take a few photos of her .

Rather bored, she eyes me one last glance before tucking into the lake and swimming around the hull. 

She was quite patient to watch me.  I didn't scream or flail my tools at her, I calmly set my affairs on the dock and began taking photos of her looking back at me until she decided that this was a good first meeting and she went back to checking on my hull.  I think she likes the Alberg and knows I'm the skipper.  This may be a good thing and it might scare the bee-jesus out of me one day if I don't see her and end up stepping on her.  The lake has this breed of water snake, complete with dark chocolate square marks (a vibrant looking skin) and they have their God-given role in the ecosystem and so I intend to run defense for Lucille.  I nicknamed her Lucille as it simply came to me she needed something more appropriate then "that damn snake...."



The meeting was long but not as painful as some.  Yacht club meetings tend to be a loose assortment of Roberts Rules and Roberts Ruses, as we haphazardly move along, with grunts and votes, and sometimes passionate discussions about appliances, heaters, cleats, poorly cared for yachts and decisions about money, always that last topic.  The hour was late as I followed my flashlight down to the water and aboard "Charlie" Dock where Nautica awaited on the end berth.  No Lucille in sight this evening.  I held the flashlight in my left hand out of suspicion that I might instinctively protect myself with my right hand and possibly carelessly throw my flashlight into the water out of surprise.  Yes, I think about things like this when walking in the dark.  Nearly stepped on an eight foot Cobra in Somalia years back as I scuffed along in my flip-flops headed out of the blasted out airport terminal toward the wood-line of the parking lot.  Something suggested turn your light to the right, I did, and there it was stretched out headed across my path.  Immediate stop and reassess priorities.   Whew.



The Berg was delightfully cool this particular evening and sleeping was quite comfortable.  Before heading to the v-berth I made my call home and savored one of the Cigar Club choices from which I subscribe.  It was a nice thing to be able to sit aboard, have a cigar with a bit of Bushmills and reflect on the great bit of work around me.  The red lights of the galley and instrument panel area lent themselves to providing a soft glow to the salon.  



As I cast my eyes about the cabin, I was very happy with the progress I've made over the past months.  The balance between work and sailing has tipped in favor of sailing more and more.  But the frustrations and joys of working problems gives a certain ownership to the vessel that only a skipper can appreciate.  Others see the big picture whereas we see the details below and the struggles that went with achieving success on each item.  

Heading out to the larger lake expanse to find some wind.
A gentle morning wind was a nice greeting on this cool morning.

After a great night's sleep aboard I was out onto the lake early.  Motoring out for a mile or so the wind began to materialize and I spent a few hours tacking across the lake and enjoying this light but refreshing morning sail.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Goose-necks

I never really thought much about goose-necks.  In fact, I'd pretty much passed-off the thought for the time being as it was attached and functioning, well, sort of.  And like the Army, just being there is 90 percent of the job.  Don't fix it if it ain't broke, mindset. 

But goose-necks are a pivotal part of a real Goose and of a sailboat too.  And it might make a difference in sail shape and manageability to examine and perhaps adjust it for best function.


Just looking at the design of this fitment, it is rather apparent that if the slide is indeed put correctly, that someone was thinking to provide a cunningham haul down.  Or, if in correct perhaps it was a loop to hold a jackline (my installation-although the attached line was already fixed to the gooseneck when we received the boat.  Remember, "don't fix it if it ain't broke" is our attitude.  Let's see if it works or if perhaps we need to learn something about this Alberg we had not anticipated.

Fact of the matter is that this Alberg is so old that the goose-neck arrived in my world attached to a boom looking like something designed to pull a cork out of the ocean floor.  It's twisting reef hook reaches up toward the luff from a contraption that appears to have been designed to roll and reef.  Now that's an interesting thought for a 30 foot sailboat!  But digression...

Reefing alone is a perishable skill of a few and itself in fine company with those who practice reefing, and once the boom's goose-neck is in proper position, makes for an easy experience.  But proper position is easier said than done as the boom's attachment to the mast isn't quite legislated by design.  It is not a fixed goose-neck, not yet.



So I wonder what the Master Alberg was thinking in 1977 when this hull was pushed into the water for the first time?  Well I'm sure he thought any fool can grab a jack line and make do, or use a screw head and rest the goose-neck upon that knob once underway.  It is possible to sail this way, I've been doing it now since we got underway in November.  But it probably is going to go the way of all things mechanical, it's going to get an update!

The itty-bitty  last screw hole at the bottom of this track is all that keeps the boom from crashing to the deck...that, and the fact the boom is being held by a jackline (also pictured).  Boy isn't that a cool design!  The stainless steel tack for the reef is seen peering through the folded luff...


First order of business was to head out and examine the position of the gooseneck while in an optimal performance in light to medium winds, observe the height of the head of the sail and determine where the gooseneck should sit comfortably for best performance.  I was single-handing once again and had reefed the genoa and main before I proceeded to take the main to the top.  This view of the sail is with it at the top of the mast block performing as usual while genoa is still reefed for ease of use aboard.


Below, the goose-neck view from the cockpit in HD so you can see the number of screw holes in the mast track and the position of the boom as we sail.  It is very comfortable hauled above the 4th screw hole and could perhaps be located a half inch downward too to situate in one place if necessary.  With the vang positioned as it is, it is ready to provide the downward haul but I think having the boom fixed would provide the vang a bit more authority over the remaining 14 foot boom.  After pulling back into my slip, I began the process of inserting a jury-rig screw into the 4th hold.  Not surprised, I backed-out that 4th screw with moderate ease and validated that the others were not really "tight" as they might appear.


Here, held up by a jackline, the boom rides comfortably, parallel to the deck.
A small and inexpensive fix to a perplexing boom adjustment.  A washer, a nut and a bolt team up to hold the boom.
With this troubling discovery then, I tentatively installed a stainless machine bolt with anti-seize on it and included a washer and nut for added support of a heavy boom's goose-neck resting on it day after day.  At minimum, this temporary fix will permit me time to test the fix and see if I want to make it more functional or to affix directly to the mast itself with a production bracket of some sort that others have done in the Alberg Association.  Or, I might just leave it well enough alone!  So far, this added height of boom works just right, lifting the boom off the deck so that it clears one's head while standing in the cockpit.  And, the main is able to reach the mast head easily.

It puts in place a necessary position for the boom.  Now onto greater things but nothing more necessary!



Monday, May 1, 2017

Ascent

It was a matter of time.  I had to get the Lazy-Jack system reconfigured.  It has become a point of contention between Nautica and me.  It had to stop.

For months now I've grumbled about the inefficiency of the system I'd inherited.   The rig appeared to be a factory Harken package yet it did not appear to fit the boom.  Each time we'd flake the sail, the luff would tumble haphazardly and spill onto the deck, partly due to a missing 4 inches of track at the mast, and to the inability of the lines to help corral the sail at the luff end of the boom.  The Harken online materials recommends 3 lines wrapping the boom for a 30 footer. 

This Alberg's mast track ends near the beginning of the goose-necks' track, leaving about 4 inches where the luff's slides can enter or fall out of the mast track.  When attempting to flake the sail, that 4 inches becomes one reason the sail tumbles from the boom and heads for the deck.  However, the sail itself with the initial rig hasn't the lines sufficient to guide the rest of the sail onto the boom.  The leech end is perilous as the roach of the main descends and tumbles off there while the luff tumbles up front.  A mess indeed. 

Solution, as I mentioned in the previous post, a re-configuring was in order.  

Climbing the mast is really a metaphor for ascending the mast.  If we really climbed a mast we'd be like monkeys, going hand over hand up the aluminum column.  That's not going to happen.  After looking over the options, I decided to grab a fellow club member who owned at ATN Mast Climber, he acted as belay-master and safety, and I inched my way up the mast.  That is hot-linked for easy reference.


The only significant difficulty is mental.  I learned long ago in Air Assault school, that trust of equipment and belay is sufficient for a successful belay from a Blackhawk helicopter at 100 feet.  The ATN is simple.  With tension reactive grips for feet and upper-body, one can inch-worm up a taut line and sit quite comfortably in the seat performing whatever work is necessary.  Having an attentive support team below for that occasional tool forgotten upon ascent, is extremely helpful as well.

So began the reconfiguration effort.  Removal of the knotted lines on eye-straps and the re-putting of a couple of mini cheek blocks above, and running of main support control lines with blocks for the rig down below.  The only vertical support is needed to run that main line above.  All the rest of the rig can be accomplished from below. 

This photo illustrates the rig as it had been installed on Nautica with two blocks and two points on the boom below.  It was a recipe for disaster.  The main could not flake and stay, it fell and poured onto the deck.  Efforts to corral it involved multiple red bungies with those black plastic balls which become projectiles if one fails to capture it.  Having been hit a few times in the face, I despise those bungies but had to live with them, until now.


The change was quite simple once the upper situation was revised. I installed a couple of Harken mini cheek blocks above at the same height, 22 feet, 3 feet above the spreader give or take.  I ran my main control lines first.  This is where the ascent came into play.  It was easy with the ATN, just inch up and inch down.  

The bottom section wasn't difficult, just time consuming and doing a bit of mental math, getting the lines sorted out.  I did follow George's rigging map which I will include again here.


The basic setup looks fine, I did fine-tune by trying out the fitment as given and then watching the way the sail played the lines.  With the 3 foot distance from the boom, the main wanted to jump out, so I reduced that distance to 2 feet and then left the next attachment of wrap lines at the 7 foot mark, and the final at 11 feet.  This seems to work fine at the dock but I will further field test her underway and see if it meets conditions on the water where there is more roll and tumble.  The battens do play a major role in the sail being quite a package to handle.  However, in that the lines are spaced beginning 2 feet from the mast, there is more opportunity for them to be corralled than there is without them.


Shows the points of the lazy jack from the aft perspective.


A view of the mini cam cleats on the sides of the mast.  A control bar needs to be added to insure the line doesn't jump out during use.  Otherwise they are out of the way of the business of the winches and yet easy to grab and loosen when needful under sail.


Another view of the setup.  There's a qualitative difference between the 3 foot or 2 foot first loop line around the luff area!  The close examination will cause some to wonder about the line running atop the winch.  I hoisted the boom upward with its jackline because somehow I must afix the boom so that it's normal is to sit in one place rather than fall downward.

The sail needed a bit of cajoling to fit into the new cradle but once in, as you can see here above, it laid into the lazy jack much much better than before.  In fact, once the main halyard is removed, the mast head attachment will lay down on the flat stack.

So the final outcome is pretty remarkably different with the main tucked away flat, and secure at 2', 7' and 11' feet, respectively, the sail is very compact and out of the way.  The cover doesn't even fit the luff anymore.  I won't even work a redesign as the next step is to get a stack pack for the rig to make flaking the main even easier.


In these photos I didn't do any special flaking other than to attempt getting the sail to lie flat.  I'm not too overly obsessed with this affair.  It doesn't bother me if it is not flip/flopped perfectly.  I'm more concerned that it lies down, and stores away somewhat properly.  I'll work out the kinks later.

So I'll definitely have to take another front page photo of Nautica with her new "Doo" soon. It certainly changes the perspective quite a bit.