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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Friday, June 30, 2017

Harken Winch Service

So, it was time.  Weather had turned bad and I turned my focus to my two Harken 2 speed Winches.  It was their turn in the refurbishing process.  What would I find removing them?  The didn't seem hampered by anything and moved freely, but just in the event of..., I had to open them up and take a look.  Preventive maintenance!

Off to the workbench at home where I had the luxury of a great working environment and not rushed by weather!
 I had to laugh, as I poked a screwdriver down the throat of the winch to remove the external cover, it was loose.  That's my fault.  I can only blame myself for not checking it before now.  Really.  I waited almost a year before making sure my winches were secure.  Holding the cover carefully, I pulled each of these off and set them securely in a milk crate I'd brought along for retrieval of these items.  The rain had paused and the glassy lake mirrored a wet grey overcast day, the last day of Spring actually.  It was very warm and wet and predictions are to continue this way for several days.  Not even the birds cackled. I began my work on removing the gear assemblies of each winch stand after getting the winches home.

The work area, the laptop with the YouTube video to coach my process, wow what a great thing hmm? The Kerosene to wash the parts, my milk jug for the washing machine, the inner bearings awaiting their rinse while the shaft and gears are in the cycle. 
This is my easy method, the milk jug and kerosene.  A bit of setting aside, and some wire brushing to clear off the tougher residue.

I'd opened winches before but not to the point that I can say I'm an expert at what I'd find inside.  The first thing I noticed was the stickiness of the grease, almost a tacky feel.  Everything worked, but it just worked through the dirty tacky grease.  The second thing I noticed was the accumulation of dirt, dust, and small debris.  

The gears had accumulated years of dirt in between their teeth, and in several places green corrosion had started to creep into the brass.  Reminded me of some kids' trumpets in my Junior High school band days.  Keeping brass up is not a chore.  It does look better when polished and this machine needed some care.  The last thing I noticed was that these were not original to this 1977 model.  Of course not, the winches were probably from 1990.  They are number 32s and still bring a high price with them on ebay, despite the fact that I think the prices are way too high, too inflated.  

ts, all with my laptop showing the Harken YouTube video on how-tMine appeared in great condition but I could see the base had been previously drilled for another base unit and random bits of paper and stuff were pushed into those earlier holes and larger drilled holes were held by 5 stainless steel bolts of various sizes and fortunately accessible through the coamings' winch handle pockets.  All those years, the first holes were open to whatever could seep in and through them, oh well.

Taking careful note of positions and conditions of everything, I took photos and loaded my work basket for home.  Soaking wet from the humidity I ferried the winches to my work table in the garage and set up several stations, to wash the gears, to detail them with my wire brush, to grease and oil the appropriate parts to do this.  That was helpful.  

Using kerosene shed most of the hard work of the gears.  The reassembly was rather straight forward, I used the video and the second winch to validate my assembly.  All worked pretty well, and the cleaning was well worth my time.  Re-installation aboard was important as in previous iterations someone had had to redrill for this model of winch but failed to take the time to plug the other 5 holes which, of course, had enabled water to creep into the inside of the vessel, ughh.  I wiped the bases clean with alcohol and filled each of those "old" holes before re-installing the winches.

The results are inside.  These winches weren't really that badly in need of servicing, in my opinion.  However, with everything aboard, until that thing and I come into direct confrontation, it remains something whose condition I cannot verify until I disassemble it and reassemble it using the best directions and materials possible.  

And so, coming back aboard just as they left, in this old milk crate, these "32s" are ready for operations aboard once again.  I suppose in a fresh water environment they will be good for quite a while...

Seems I do spend a lot of time admiring these mechanical mates aboard.  As I look back through my collection of photos from the Cape Dory through now, I am always watching the Harkens whether under load or when at rest.  It's very important to take care of these guys!

Under load on a starboard reach in stiff winds, no problem.

My original BaggyWrinkles' Australian winches were  simple but effective too.

Taking a break from responsibilities, the port winch shines in a late day sun.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A bit of shade

Some years ago, ever since I saw this sun shade on a large vessel anchored in Virgin Gorda, I thought it was the kind of shade I wanted to replicate on a boat someday.  It seemed perfectly adapted to covering the open deck.  Yes, it was a very large vessel, but adaptable, I thought so.

So my quest began.  I could never really expect to need such a thing on my previous little yacht, the Cape Doy Typhoon.  The Dory was a very small space and had little to attach to on deck.  The Alberg however has lots of space compared to the Dory, and I envisioned being able to stretch a fabric from mast to stern if I could only solve the problem of tension and points of attachment.

So, one day I found the sun sail fabrics and purchased a couple for outside the house.  They deflected the UV rays perfectly and permitted light to enter the patio area even during the hottest days of summer sun.  

Our back patio with taut shades in the hot sun.  A great respite!
  • Long life, 160 GSM, knitted polyethylene allows rain to pass through so water will not collect or pool
  • Advanced engineered fabric blocks up to 80% of harmful UVA and UVB rays yet is remarkably breathable allowing air to circulate
  • Innovative heat set construction resists tearing and fraying.

A plastic sort of material, it is very strong and now having had them 2 or 3 years, I made the decision to begin my project with a 6 x 15 foot fabric of the material.
Here is my first scribble for this thing.

Using a diagram with which many Albergers are familiar I brainstormed further as to where I'd connect, etc...

Working with one of the pals in the club who can use a sewing machine, we brainstormed and came up with a design that would attach to the main shrouds at the mast and sweep aft to be drawn taut by attaching to the aft-stay while a piece of fortified pvc plastic irrigation pipe would provide shape to the end of this rectangle.

The pvc pipe was attached at each end to the aft rails and thereby maintains the shape of the sail shade.  Straps sewn into the hem of the sail would attach to the aft-stay (the strongest point) and at each end of the pvc.  The sail shade extends above the boom as the lazy jack is loosened while the sail is in use.  I hauled the boom further off the beam tying-it-to on the lifeline so that the shade is completely free of the end of the boom and its topping lift.  The shade is completely held in place by two shrouds and the aft-stay.  And here's the completed project:
The 6 x 14 span provides overhead direct UV from eating the cockpit and cabin areas.  It is not a complete cover but is adequate making the underneath area rather pleasant in direct summer sun.
The gentle slope is guaranteed by the characteristic of the taut fabric against the tension of the aft-stay which keeps the pvc pipe riding upward as the ends of the pvc are pulled down and aft to the stern rail. 

I purchased the 6 x 15 span of special fabric from Shelter Logic, the same folks I queried about such a cover for sailboats, etc., but they ignored my email I guess.  All boats are different and demand some originality from us you know...

This design is my first, and best so far, idea of how to provide a midday respite from heat.  I include here another photo of the inspiration of this idea from the products that are available from Shelter Logic:

A few close-ups might help some of my fellow Albergers who may wonder how the stitching was done or so forth.  Perhaps some will improve on this design too:

1.  The view from aft; a provisional D ring is holding the middle strap of the shade and pvc flex bar.  The pvc is a 3/4 inch with a piece of dowel inside, thus the screws holding it in the mid section for strength.  I may have to reput those and countersink the screws so there is no possibility of damage anywhere.  I have to rethink the D ring too as I could simply use the 1/8ths line.

2. A view from underneath shows the stretch of the material and the side to side tension which helps that plus helps to pull the material taut against the shrouds.  

3. The end view and closeup shows how the 1/8ths nylon cord attaches to the end straps and runs through holes in the pvc bar to provide attachment to the stern rail.
The little twist in the line was not planned but it might be helpful in providing tension now that I see it this way.

The strap holds the material taut toward the forward shrouds and the holes keep the left and right of the material taut by running the line here and to the stern rail. 
4.  Forward the line is connected only to left and right shrouds.  It might also be connected to the lower stays with some success but then the material would have to be shortened.  This provides room for persons who wish to take shelter from the sun on the cabin top.  The lines are looped as a clove hitch and then pulled downward to police things up and tie-to on the lowers below.  The simple clove hitch knot above is under tension and does not tend to move downward as the tendency of the increasing width of the stays causes it to remain as is.  Convenient!

The lazy jack is quite lazy here as I lowered it in order cope with the shade's position over the mainsail cover.  If I were on the water, I would loosen the lazy jack a bit and at the same time raise the clove hitch higher on the shrouds.  The good thing about these tension points is they are out of the way of anyone walking as they follow the stays.  

If you were to need protection from a setting sun, you'd have to get some additional fabric and attach it to the side of the shade's hem.  That'd be pretty simple.  The cost of the 6 x 15 piece of material is only $23.99 from Shelter Logic, so next will probably be just that kind of thing. Another note about the fabric:  it is a very strong material and yet, when laying it on the floor to set the hems we were able to simply run a hand over it to fold it.  Very easy to work with.  Impossible to walk on as it is slippery!  

This is one cool Alberg now:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


We all love the look of varnished teak on a classic boat but few of us have the tenacity to keep at it in order to sustain that look. You've got to be in another state of mind to want to jump into this problem.  

Photo below is what my coamings and cap rail looked like last Summer when this Alberg arrived chez-moi.  Simply lack of proper care for the wood.  Once it was stripped, sanded and revarnished it shined beautifully again.  But sometimes the task seems overwhelming and I winced a bit as I saw, while sailing the past few times, that some sections of my teak had need of attention.  So, with a few dry days ahead of me I began the process again while in the slip.

Condition of the teak coamings aboard Nautica upon arrival.

Soldiers of the Teak Army ready for the assault

The brightwork made the cockpit of my BaggyWrinkles gleam with renewed life. 
For the past 4 years now, I've been using Epifanes' products, first on my Cape Dory Typhoon, and then on my Alberg 30.  When I took possession of the Alberg, I had an enormous task ahead of me with the teak refurbishment.  I chronicled this last Fall when I did the unthinkable, I removed the teak coamings and hatch appointments and sanded them down completely to initiate my teak regime.  I did the same thing for my teak cap rails.  Painstaking is not the word, it is more like loathsome.  Once done however, it provides that classic appearance we all love to admire from a distance.  
Last Fall's initial teak refurbishment went well.  After lots of winter sailing it is time for some additional support to continue the protection of friction points and the intensity of summer sun in the south.

It is part of the distinctive look of boats from the Alberg collection and at that time in the boat's history.  Teak is a beautiful balance to the white deck and a dark hull.  But as nice as it looks, it comes at a price.  That price is doing the updating!  

So this past week our weather switched to a drier pattern, so I headed out to the club with my sandpaper to make corrections.  In this phase my goal is to remove the greying areas on any teak surface and to rough sand all the teak.  I will start with a recommended thinned coat of gloss so the varnish will penetrate the bare wood areas and will provide a start surface for subsequent layers of varnish.  

This is what I was seeing while sailing.  After re-examination, I think the cause may have been the matte finish itself.  It is not as hard as gloss although it has a gorgeous finish, it is not as durable.  The gloss is first applied thinned to nearly 50% in order to seep into the teak and coats thereafter are increasingly thicker.  
The problem was in the matte finish I believe--it is not as durable as the gloss.  So I decided to go with gloss this time and see if it maintains better over the next year. 

Overall, my coamings have held up fine.  The friction points are the only places where the varnish was rubbed off.  Sanding everything by hand was the next step.

Epifanes has the unique quality of being able to be recoated without sanding up to 72 hours after application!  Therefore, once the first thinned coat is applied, one can return 12 hours later and apply another and then another.  3 to 5 coats of thinned gloss before the matte finish application because the gloss is tougher than the matte.  The base has to be hard and seeped into the wood.  The matte does not show imperfections in the wood or the final coats.  If you've ever seen drips and drabs on teak, you know what I mean!

The project will take the best part of the next couple of weeks.  I'm using an animal hair brush I got from Sherman Williams, Epifanes Thinner, and a pint of Epifanes gloss which I got from West Marine.  I'll leave these items aboard so I'm prepped and ready to go at reapplication time. 

Sanding by hand with 250 or 300 grit helps to provide adherence.  Once on you can add additional coats without sanding.  If you're in the market for a gleaming product you will want to sand and use a tack cloth all over.  My requirements were not of that nature.

Thinning helps to get this gloss on the coamings quickly.  It also dries quickly in this warm climate.
My scope of work was to do this while the boat was in the slip.  I relied upon the life-lines for security and held the brush carefully.  Inevitably I had a couple of spills, once on the lazarette seat and another right into the cockpit.  Demoralizing sure, but it is going to happen.  Having a quick recovery is critical.

 Barefoot, I always begin at the taff-rail and work clockwise for some reason.  Habit I suppose...

 It happens.  And it occurs when you least expect it.  Quick clean-up on that mess. 

Once complete the entire situation looked better.  My intent was to get this varnish refreshment done so that it did not interfere with any sailing days.  The results below are good yet I will have to wait and see how normal wear impacts on the tops of the coamings and the cap rail. 

So too, I removed the tiller during this project.  There was a bit of wag in the device and I  wanted to shim or somehow reduce this effect.  So while the rain had drenched things for a couple of days I proposed a fix for my tiller-wiggle by taking what I think is a simpler solution first.  If this works then I save time and money from having to re-engineer something the designer of the rig meant to function just fine.  

  Previously, I had stripped and re-varnished the tiller itself, so this was a final project for it.  The fix I proposed is putting two large and thicker washers between the starboard side of the tiller and the tiller arm and then getting a couple of new longer bolts that I capped off on the port-side with locking nylon washers.  As long as this "stick" is tight in the arm, the only other bit of wiggle is in the base connection.  If that appears too worn and doesn't allow for a direct push - pull reaction from hand to rudder, then I may have to look at a re-engineering of things.

After reconnecting the tiller, the initial affect is direct and steady.  I will have to get her in the wind and work it for a few hours to see if it is a good fix or a temp fix.