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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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Some end of the year work and a video revisit

Wintertime in the southern climate, is a great time to sail, and also to fix small items that have surfaced and are an easy fix.  The cool weather, not cold, is ideal for getting down below and working in tight spaces where otherwise the temps and humidity would torture you.  The show must go on.  And this time of year is good for some odds and ends that perhaps were too challenging in the heat of summer but can be easily reached in cooler temps like now.

This was a photo taken when I was determining the viability of a hatch on the foredeck.  As you can see, with the windlass now gone, the only attaching cleats are at 11 and 1 o'clock along the rub rails.  You can see the traffic jam of lines on the starboard side where both mooring line and spring line meet at one cleat.  Traveling across to the portside cleat is not viable since you'd have to go over the anchor roller and anchor assembly.  A nice bare deck but rather hapless if you wish to have sufficient mooring cleats for attaching lines.

And one of those small items was as ordinary as a mooring cleat for the foredeck.  For whatever reason, my Alberg arrived with both forward mooring cleats aligned adjacent to the toe rail and a skene chock which made tight fit for both mooring and spring lines.  The main mooring line had no other route but to go across the deck and cleat.  The sheer number of important items all crowding into a 2 square foot area at the bow is challenging.  I added the anchor roller and anchor adjacent to the furler assembly, then removed the windlass (seen here earlier) and yet the routing of lines with these obstructions and limited angles and spacing required adding another point at which to tie-to.  It needed a substantial 8 inch mooring cleat.

So the problem.  It's a fine-tuning thing.  Here, the windlass is still aboard the fore deck but you see the dockline and the springline feeding into the skene chock and immediately must wrap to one cleat.

Shopping for an 8 inch aluminum cleat was quite interesting.  Seems that China is in the business of manufacturing lots of boat parts.  Their products have invaded Ebay's market.  Yet the quality of their cleats did not appear worth the savings.  And, after purchasing some inferior headlights for my Suburban (from China) which quickly crazed and yellowed after one year, I decided I would stick to USA manufactured parts.  Albeit more expensive, I was able to find an 8 inch cleat for a variety of prices here too, mostly high everywhere, I selected one at Schaeffer (bold link opens to cleat page). Prices were as high as 80 bucks for this item around the interent.  I finally settled for a 62 dollar 8 inch cleat for the foredeck with 4 1/4 inch countersunk holes for attachment.

I decided the large washers were enough of a deterrent to any force that might be applied to the foredeck.  This cleat is for mooring not lifting the boat. Perhaps in some circumstance I might loop a tow line on it but figure the forces involved will not be sufficient to rip the deck apart.  The Alberg is built like a tank anyway so I'm really not worried with this addition.

Skene Chock for those who wonder....
Having learned not to question my vessel excessively,  I did have to wonder why such a cleat was never attached in this area.  Perhaps when the windlass was affixed there was no easy way to avoid a cleat interfering with chain retrieval.  That sounded good enough for me.  With the windlass now serving as a doorstop in the house, this deck cleat ought to be positioned just right to sort lines correctly and alleviate the congestion at the skene chock on the rub rail (see stock photo above).  

The result of installing the large mooring cleat on the foredeck enables routing the mooring and spring lines to different locations for securing the vessel.

This photo was taken as the cleat adhesive is curing.  Once I tighten the nuts below decks, I will run lines.
While awaiting another human being to hold the screwdriver for me while I tighten from the anchor locker below, the centered cleat will enable running lines to one of two different locations. 

Sure, it's no big deal unless you have the problem. But that's the way improvements are, you have a particular need and you address it as you can, in sequence, and with patience.  

While wrestling in the chain locker below decks, I also took the time to undo wire nuts and use proper wire connectors.  When the weather breaks, I will crawl back into the locker and begin applying some bulkhead paint to brighten things up below a bit more.  The cold causes condensation on the inside surface thus making it difficult to sand and/or paint at this time of year.

In addition, after several orders to Boat US for graphics, I had stowed away some backup templates for Nautica since Boat US always sends a double set.  I took the few minutes to apply her name on the beam.  This will enable someone to know her name as they get overtaken on a reach.

These graphics are simple to use and quite forgiving.  The swim ladder, seen just above the boat name, has performed quite well this past year and is easily reachable from the water in the event you find yourself overboard while singlehanding.  It even passed the test of my big Italian pal!
As Winter plays out in a couple months here, I am planing on rolling-on some non-skid paint on various areas of the deck surface.  I've found that best applied in cool conditions as the heat in summer here causes it to become sticky and apply unequally.  So that's on the agenda.  One of the important features for any deck surface.  

So Winter's work list remains, not as labor intensive as summer, but all the more important to get things shipshape aboard while having plenty of time to sail as well!  I realize that many may not realize I've a number of Alberg videos of sailing on our lake and the cold of Winter can often drive a lonely sailor to the warmth of 3 minutes aboard quite happily.  Here it is...enjoy 😎

Complete.  Had a fellow sailor lend me his hands to hold the screwdriver while I wratcheted tight the bolts below in the anchor locker.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Williams-Sonoma comes aboard Nautica!

I had to do it.  

I had to replace the head's sink.  Well, it's winter already and this is the one task that still lay before me and a winter of sailing here in the south.

Since I have photographed my progress aboard Nautica, it is fun to look back over the months and all the repairs and renovations I've done noticing just how far I've come in the process.  When I first saw her in Nova Scotia, I knew the head and I were going to have a come to Jesus moment.  It would have to wait however.  Before I could address the head, I had chain-plates to refit, deck issues, rigging, and on and on it went.  Yet this past week I've forged ahead to recuperate this small space and do some changes that I have envisaged would make this closet a more special place to do what has to be done inside there!

We don't use our heads much on this lake--no pun intended!  No discharge is allowed here nor was it allowed on the Bras d'Or Lake in Nova Scotia's far northern tip.  So the use of a head is ceremonial at best.  But when little ones come or the urge strikes, it is available for such emergency operations.  For the rest of the time, it is an appointment, a bit of the interior, like a v-berth or the salon.  It's the head.  It should look very nice if it doesn't get much use at all.

uggggh this is nassteeey
 At the outset of my renovation project this is about the best things looked below decks in the head.  Assorted wires ran around aimlessly, the repair of the interior bulkhead done by someone else was evident, as was the mess that followed the repairs.  Even the toilet paper looks tired!  

After I replaced my chain-plate bolts with larger diameter 5/16ths shoulder bolts through new stainless steel plates, I had left this place to the ghosts of the past, so to speak.  Now, after a year and a half, I had decided to at least give this part of the cabin a face-lift.  I still have some stuff to work inside, like the drain hose for the sink and a good connection to the fresh water tank, and later to replace a thru hull connection when she's on the hard again.  So I began with some inexpensive porch carpet I found at Home Depot which is ordinarily used by folks doing outside porches or boat decks.  Easy to cut, durable, yet quiet looking, it was so simple to glue to the instrument panel I decided to use it in the head too.

Originally delivered to me switch panel, new Bilge switch, new master on/off and the carpet covers many irregularities.

Looking smartly ship-shape with the muted grey carpet.
I was pretty jazzed with the bulkhead look I decided to aggress the head area too.  The following photo reveals some change over the past year and a half in contrast to the photo above--

A depressingly dim and unsightly bulkhead in hopes of renovation.
I suppose I should have photographed everything at the beginning with much greater detail but too, it seemed a bit overwhelming.  To keep myself from becoming a casualty of renovation, I worked one space at a time.  Lots of envisioning, lots of little things.  So back to the head...

The 4 quart aluminum sink was just fine but tired.  And it didn't lend itself to polishing as the finish was still rough.  But it was functional.  However, I thought it could use an upgrade.  My mind turned to the purveyor of all things cusinier, Williams-Sonoma!

The hinge was worth keeping along with the drain to the right of it. 
I measured and shopped and found the replacement in the size of a 4quart bowl.  As for the bracket, I used Mothers and a high speed drill with a metal polishing pad I found at a True Value hardware store.  

Can you say Willams-Sonoma?
So things were looking up for the head!  The lower section of the bulkhead cabinet was still affixed, so using 3M Adhesive Spray (very very sticky!) I was able to fit the carpet easily while on the boat.  The upper section of the head closet I templated and brought home to the garage to measure, cut, and put carpet.

Not being a carpet guy or a cabinet maker, I proceeded with caution by measuring as many times as I could remember to do and cutting with fear.

The fabric was easy to cut with a knife but scissors work great too.  Being careful to spray both contact sides and let dry is critical for a good cementing of the fabric to the wood.  I also spray-painted the wood with an enamel to simply reduce its ability to soak up the glue from the 3M can.  I found this 1/2 inch by 2'x4' foot Birch at Lowes with one very nicely finish sanded side for under 15 bucks.

Once dry and fitted onto the face, I laid in the doors and flipped the piece over in order to properly get best alignment from the backside where you can see the gaps and drill the hinges in with ease.

The result was fine.  A bit of gap exists, but what the heck, it's the head!  You don't face the wall when you play in the head!  Because a liner Alberg has a top edge into which the bulkhead wall can fit, the bottom edge is very snug and not even nailed-in.  On the back-side of this panel I put 2 turning tabs to keep the bottom from sliding toward the head if indeed it could ever.  The result is a distinct change from the start:

The stainless-steel mixing bowl fit perfectly and cost a minimal $14 bucks with shipping about $7 more.
The view from the v-berth is assuring to the urgent sailor:

Looking quite warm and cozy
The sink/frame which pivots the Williams-Sonoma 4 quart mixing bowl to the bulkhead is a sort of pig-metal my machinist advised to be very careful with as it could break if mishandled.  Simple sanding and repainting with appliance white from Lowes makes this head stand out to any prospective visitor be it an urgent visit or a casual admirer.  The portable johnnie came with the boat and works with a built-in holding tank attached to the seat and uses a solution to inhibit odors.  I always dump it properly and refresh it with clean water before permitting it to rejoin the fleet.  And you will notice there is no toilet paper in this head! 

The stowed-away format looks as good now that the mixing bowl is shiny and the back bulkhead wall is tailored-up.  The portholes have been replaced and one is able to view the water from this private hideaway.

This is probably the most fun of many of the things I've done aboard Nautica.  There's a lot of pride in being able to renovate this old girl.  I do need to paint the liner in the head and in the v-berth, but that'l have to wait for some warm and dry weather.  For these times now are for sailing!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Around Christmas and Sailing

Winter Sailing is cool!
Looks like the the main is in the flow here as the Colors stand out against winter's azure sky.

The expression, "a boat is a place to throw money away..." is only for those who've lost their passion for the water.  And it happens to some.  But after several months of refit during which we had our local loft build us a new headsail for Nautica, she is now ready to run into winter and make tracks on the lake again.  After putting some money on some problems, some scraped knuckles, and bumping heads here and there on the Alberg, she's getting her teeth into the wind again.

A brisky 20 kt day met us a week or so back and was one of those days that made single-handing more of a chore.  I was not able to leave the tiller for a second.  The wind was gusting to 20 and throwing lots of water over the bow, and hands on the sheets at all times was critical.  After an hour or two, I returned happily to the club and put her away.  Then things settled down and a couple days later, the skies did what they do in the south, clearing to a cold blue and silver sunlight, and a steady 4 to 6 kts of wind lured me onto the lake, now settled down, ready for testing the new sail.

She's balanced and steering herself as I sight up the furler and snap the Alberg underway with a brilliant blue sky above.
It required some fixing of this line and that, some furling and unfurling, to settle the sail into its usual position and remember it.  I had the luxury to trot up to the bow pulpit and examine how it lay and the shape of the foot, designed with more ability for me to visually locate surface objects or boats!  

In the midst of it all I let the GoPro run and spent some time putting two and a half hours of sailing into 3 minutes along with some music.  Sailing videos can be so boring you know!  I think those of us who own these antique sailboats are fascinated with their revival and their longevity.  And these videos keep them current and competitive in the marketplace of used sailboats.  If you were going to shop for a sailboat, you might want to watch this kind of blog and then you really would know if the boat you are shopping for were something you truly wanted.  This Alberg is happily not for sale while others might be.  Keep your eyes peeled!  It's hard to find one well-kept. 

If you've been following my fixes aboard the vessel, I've been able to keep most all of the control of sails to the cockpit now.  The lines run back and topping lift, reefing line (1st reef), main and rope vang all are on the right side of the cabin roof.  You might be interested to know the sail maker used a 6.5oz dacron for the genoa and designed the shape and weight expressly for these lake conditions.  As part of my renovation, I decided to take a few hours, going back through my list of fixes from July of 2016 until today to tally up the particular fixes made and the approximate price.  Sort of an electronic ship's log for the engineer section.  When folks sell a vessel the question we always ask is "When did you do that?"  The answer is always quite sincere but not verifiable. This log will assist me in keeping perspective on the amount of things actually done, which month and year, and at what cost.  No, I did not put man-hours, I am too scared to imagine them!

Once again as often is the case, on this day of sailing, there wasn't another sailboat on the lake or, at least, that I could see from horizon to horizon, 50,000 acres!  Sailing was easy and the Alberg actually ran better with this headsail than its previous piece of canvass.  But then, you think about it, the last genoa was really wasted from use.  It was time to send it away to Sea Bags and get another tote!  Check the link, you'll be glad you did!

So this is the first of Winter.  There's a lot of sailing to do this winter and I will be capturing some highlights here for your visual consumption.  If you are hold up in a cabin with a hot wood stove overlooking a frozen lake perhaps this will slake your thirst for a sail in delightfully cool temperatures and keep you warm for a while.

We are expecting to be out on New Year's Day, perhaps to sail, or perhaps to anchor and watch the racing fleets skim around.  Weather is supposed to be rather frigid too!  Well frigid is relative isn't it?  It might be 30 to 40 degrees in the sun.  

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lazarettes Complete!

About the time I received the gloss resin from Washington state, the weather turned cold and wet.  I kept the garage closed for several days, banished the vehicles to outdoors in order to keep the temps inside warmer, thus enabling the resin to cure properly.  It was a good decision a couple years back when we changed out our garage doors for steel and fully insulated types which are like have a regular wall of defense against the rain and cold.

So the wait was worth it.  I knew it would take several gloss coats and nearly several weeks to achieve the quality I wished to put in place on these often-used seats.  Not only do they have to be water "proof" but durable, ready to be sat upon, stood on, and punished under the demands of an active cockpit.  Tough order.

This series of photos shows the transition from bare wood with boat name (from Boat US--they do a great job!) to finished product.  My ideal was to cover the pan area with attention to possible water entries which required dutiful work to plug pin holes and reduce the possibility of water standing in cracks.  Successive layers of the resin further stand to repel the invasion.
Removing the failure.

The pine board here now champfered and a pan also champfered and ready to receive the insert.

Initial epoxy coats, enclosing the wood.

The dark line is the West 405 mix which holds the wood in the pan of the lazarette and underneath.  Most of my attention was to build a secure bond of wood to the pan.  The graphics applied directly to the epoxied surface.  The gloss resin does not eat up the graphic.  One must be careful that if any acetone is used to cut the resin thinner, must be thoroughly mixed, as the acetone has a savage property of eating up anything in its pathway!
Here you see that first gloss layer in the early stages of hardening.  It looks awful but that is normal for this point as later in the hardening process, the resin would flatten out a bit more.  Sanding this coat is critical to achieving a flat surface.  Also, in that I used gloss resin, which contains wax, this resin surface easily receives sanding.  My skills in this work date back to my teens when I began building surfboards while living in Hawaii because I could not afford a new board from the surf-shop.
Due to all my power tools being on the Alberg and my truck in the shop, I decided to continue working on these lazarettes with the available tools I had.  Fortunately, the gloss resin sands down easily as it differs from laminating resin which will not sand without gumming up.  The wax in gloss enables the surface to sand quickly, and once the final coat is applied you are able to use a high grade of 1000 wet or dry as I did.  This can be buffed with a wool bonnet and some 3M abrasive grit, to bring your surface to a wet looking gloss.
One of many stages after filling and sanding, etc.

Sanded surface after a gloss coat.

It's a bit difficult to capture the smoothness of this surface in a photo, but these are the final photos after I have filled in the crevasses around the edges further with a surface-leveling filler to stop the eddying of any water on these seats.  I want water to jump off my seats!

Not the finish, as I had to further fill the gap between the surface edges.  Once filled and sanded, I retaped the edge and used appliance enamel to transition the edge to the white seat itself.
Next step was to install these guys on the Alberg.  Gone are the wet teak and rubber and enter the re-do.

Side-stepping from the traditional look, these pine seats bring a whole new look to the cockpit.  Better yet, they are completely sealed, including the bottoms inside where were some curious holes from a previous life which I also sealed with epoxy and finished off in appliance enamel white.  It's been quite a lengthy process this season but perhaps this will be an open and shut case for these lazarettes, occupying a most used space while incapable of serving without becoming an eyesore and delaminating in the process.

The graphics, courtesy of Boat US, were affixed on the final laminating gel coat and covered with 3 successive coats of gloss surfboard resin.  Also, UV inhibiting, the gloss is a tough exterior which appears ready to take the challenge of many derrieres plus the brutality of my feet which often end up on them while peering forward under power or sail.

The gloss coats also helped to fill in the small crevasse surrounding the wood inserts making it a smooth transition from seat to frame.  After completing the gloss coats, I wet-sanded the surfaces with 1000 and then used 3M auto polishing compound to bring out the gloss and smooth the surfaces.  There's really no comparison to the former surface.  I attempted to sustain the original look but gave in to the need for a durable and maintenance free surface.   These new lazarettes are probably lighter than the originals.  I am pretty optimistic about their capabilities. 

Now to forget about soggy seats and get sailing again!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

From Cartoons to Spreadsheets

Chit-chat leads to some interesting analysis!

I was having a chat with my next-door neighbor the other evening about the amount of work I've done on my Alberg in terms of personal work time contributed to the effort.  I shook my head wearily as I could not even begin to calculate the personal investment which has already tabulated over the past 18 months of my ownership of the vessel we named "Nautica" because it would certainly seem reasonable for such a gracefully shaped vessel.

At the outset of this "journey" I had scribbled a cartoon of my Alberg in order to visualize my work.  There were so many priorities at the beginning, it was bewildering to assign them in a pecking order.  So, I drew my priorities in the cartoon you see here.

The items began to multiply like an ant colony, some extremely small and arcane, others large and obvious.
Looking like the good ship "Lollipop," Nautica's renovation began as this cartoon, a visual pathway for me to rid my mind of urgencies and allow me the "pleasure" of aggressing whatever caught my eye.  Other bloggers and vloggers seem to do the same thing, some with an eye towards publication or notariety perhaps, but for me it is more like the process of design or cultivation of something.  The boat seems to take shape as I pass one item to the other always looking toward sailing as the ultimate objective.  Like my Cape Dory Typhoon, an owner's blog lends personality to a vessel.  If you are looking for a boat, simply go to any marina and search out the abandoned ones, taken for a simple price.  They're like abandoned autos, with time, all will decay and rot.  Others are cherished and survive.  

So, for my part, maintenance, I'm getting extremely close to a plateau of sorts, where major end-items are now secure and under constant scrutiny or inspection as they perform underway.  Nothing will remain static on the boat, as the boat itself is meant to wear things out, take its share of hits (like the punch in the stern gel coat I recently noticed--a leftover from Irma perhaps? am not sure) and this is only natural.  We take our vehicles to the dealership for repair, why not the same for our vessels.  And no, it is not money wasted, as the common scoff that a boat as a pit in which to pour money.  If that were true then our pets and children would also be in that category.  A sailboat is both an art form and an experience.  It is not money wasted, it is money invested in its care and feeding.

For the past week I've awaited a shipment of gloss resin which will complete the lazarette seats production this next week.  With that item completed the Berg will unfurl and set sail again in the cool Autumn temps with its new appointments all about.  

Once finished on the exterior with gloss resin, I hope these lazarettes will survive the punishing elements and rain to which they will be subjected in the years to come.  After making lots of surfboards in my younger days, I hope to enjoy these "trendy" country seats for many a sail.  Branding is always on my mind too!

In a last few items from the Cartoon guide, I wrestled the other day in the bilge to shift the bilge pump further back and further into the lowest point of the vessel where residual water usually collects.  I had installed it a bit too far forward initially.  Nicking my knuckles while wrestling through the small openings in the liner below decks, I secured the emergency manual bilge pump, the Whale Gusher intake, to the bottom of the bilge with at least one stainless screw so it would remain in place, "in the event of..."  And with these small items complete I felt a bit of temporary euphoria that from head to bilge and deck to mast, the Berg has seen some fine-tuning post Irma. 

I literally stopped writing this blog at this point to track through my entire blog and sort out what I did, when I did it, and approximately how much it cost me to do the items.  This is a sobering process.  I averaged about 200 per month in 2016 while I sobered up and did less than 100 a month in 2017.  If I hadn't had to purchase a sail, the second year would have been terrific, but it escalated my costs for the year at about 700 per month if it were prorated.  The true costs of sailing are high due to the many other costs which do not get tracked but need to be keenly watched. 
  So my neighbor had suggested I tabulate my work hours and I thought perhaps I might guess at that but it would be a wild swag of a number, yet I probably should draw up an Excel Spreadsheet, if I am so disposed to do so.  And so I did.  The spreadsheet at minimum gives me, and if it came to such, an interested purchaser, an idea of when such items were completed, at what general cost and time period so that any inquiry could be answered with finality.  There's nothing like an owner's idea of what their sailboat is like and what reality is truly to be.  This is why we should keep Ships Logs isn't it?  Well, this is a post-modern ships log in digital format.  The true costs of sailing do get past us.  Even the cost of gas going to and from the marina, anything purchased on that trip or sail, and so forth. 

Full pool is about 360 and right now we're at 354.6--see the extended shoreline fore of the boat.  Lake is normally splashing against the revetment seen directly beyond the bow.  She sits in 7 feet of water.
Yet I still maintain that it is money well spent for a boat well-loved by many.  Soon I will complete the lazarettes and set sail again.  Possibly this next week.

Fortunately for my schedule, our lake level has descended quite low so that ingress and egress might involve some risk for the Berg.  I've been quite happy that at least my lack of sailing is compensated with poor depth conditions, a good time to get things done aboard!