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Best sails for downwind cruising: reader questions

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-08-17 19:45

What do you want to know about downwind sails? It turns out, more than we expected! Last month’s post on the best sails for downwind cruising was an answer for a friend, but it prompted other questions in responses- here on the blog and on Totem’s Facebook page. Jamie has many years of experience as a sailmaker, and is happy to help clarify or do Q&A.

This isn’t about light air sails, but downwind sails. Of course, that gets a little complicated because genoas, jibs, and Code Zero sails are upwind or downwind sails. The punchline, to spare rereading the old post: for cruisers, Jamie likes the “Cruising Code Zero” (CCZ) as the most versatile of downwind sails. Of course, a CCZ isn’t the best for everyone. If we were back at home in the Pacific Northwest, for example, with very light winds and a tendency for wind to be on the nose or very far behind, a general purpose asymmetric may be a better choice. Purpose, skills, performance, budget, and other factors all play in because (repeat after me:) everything on a boat is a compromise.

Sometimes it would be nice to have fewer choices (Indonesia)

Windspeed: why is a CCZ better for a range of wind speeds?  Are they just typically built of stronger material?

Yes, a CCZ is built with heavier material than a general purpose (GP) asymmetric. This is because when sailing closer to the wind, the loads in the sail are higher. A typical GP asymmetric is made from (roughly) 1.5oz and 0.75oz nylon. A code zero is 2+oz nylon, or from very strong high modulus laminates. It’s also to CCZ being smaller than a big AP Asymmetric.

Wind angle versatility: how can a sail that can only hit 60 degree AWA replace a genoa?  Most boats use a genoa upwind for all but the lightest of conditions.  Wouldn’t a CCZ cost pointing in lighter air?

A CCZ does not replace a genoa/jib for upwind work or sailing in higher winds. At about 60 degrees AWA, in light to moderate winds speeds and CCZ performs better than a big genoa, and MUCH better than a jib. If you sail close hauled or in much wind very often, then a CCZ won’t see much use.

Once you’re sailing across or downwind, won’t the fuller shape of the asymmetric be much better?  How about the fact that the asymmetricals luff can project a bit upwind when broad reaching?

Everything is a compromise: a big asymmetric is perfectly suited to broad reaching. The perfect range of angles is limited though. So if you know the voodoo chant that will put 15 knots of wind at 120 degrees AWA for every passage then you should 1) absolutely get an asymmetric 2) patent and sell that voodoo chant.

When you say that the asymmetric luff projects upwind, I think you’re referring to the positive luff “round” (curvature), which a CCZ also has. An asymmetric has lighter cloth and more area than a CCZ, meaning it’ll float better in lighter air and project easier going very far downwind. The flip side is that the upper end wind range is notably lower than that for a CCZ. Compromises!

Someone noted that they can point to 60 degrees with their asymmetric. I don’t dispute this, but wonder if 1) instruments are calibrated correctly 2) how much good the sail is doing because the sail shape and sailcloth are just not designed for that and 3) if they should try out as sail trimmer for the America’s Cup.

I’m still not clear on the difference between a Code Zero or CCZ, and a large genoa. 

  1. Code 0 and CCZ have free flying luff and can be hoisted/dropped/stowed while furled. A genoa cannot.
  2. A CCZ and a genoa cover a broad range of wind angles and moderate velocity range, whereas the true code 0 is racing sail with narrower range of wind angles/velocities.
  3. They differ in cloth used (weight/stretchiness/cost). A genoa uses the heaviest of the 3 sails because of higher loads sailing closer to the wind.
  4. Sail geometry differences: CCZ and Code 0 have positive luff/leech/foot round, though the CCZ’s is more conservative.
  5. Shape. Genoas are designed for efficiency close to the wind, thus and all other angles are a compromise. A Code 0 maximizes performance in a small range of conditions. CCZ , is similar to Code 0 but shaped to be easier to trim over a broader range.

Can you put a CCZ on a furler?

Yes.

There are two furler types for free flying luff sails: continuous line furler and top down furler. A CCZ works with either type. A top down furler will also work with an asymmetric. I haven’t tried one yet, but they look very promising. Even though both furler types are easily stowed below with the sail, a CCZ can be made with UV protection with leech/foot strip of UV treated Dacron or Titanium Dioxide film or a protective, zip-on sock.

This sounds too hard for a singlehander: they need simple setups. Shouldn’t they just have a larger regular headsail?

In uncrowded water and the open ocean, it shouldn’t be any more difficult to handle a CCZ on a furler than a typical genoa on a furler. It may be prudent to douse downwind sails at night, but that’s a personal choice. Still, most cruising miles are day hops, not extended overnight passages, so it isn’t much of a consideration.

A “larger regular headsail” is versatile, covering close hauled to poled out DDW, but not so effective in most of that range. Broad reaching in 12 knots true, a typical 40+’ cruiser will make about 4 knots with a headsail and 5 to 6 with a CCZ or asymmetric. That’s 10 to 30 miles more in just 10 hours of daylight sailing. Over a longer passage, the time saved can really add up. We don’t mind long passages, but there is a safety benefit with better speed.

I’m ready for a CCZ!

If you’re in the market for a CCZ or any sails, Jamie would love to work with you. He’s collaborating with a New Zealand sailmaker to build great sails, shipped anywhere in the world. His expertise can benefit you, and your orders help us keep cruising. Not in the market, but just have questions about sails? Feel free to get in touch and Ask the Sailmaker. And, thank you!

Code Awesome readers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

No Child Left Dry

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-08-15 16:21

By Kimball Livingston Posted August 15, 2014

Dr. Sylvia Earle’s prescription for engaging the next generation to save the ocean that supports all life:

“No child left dry.”

In her own case, moving to the Gulf Coast of Florida as a child, and later discovering the early films of Jacque Cousteau, opened the floodgates to a passion that just won’t quit. As Earle puts it, the Cousteau footage, “inspired me to want to see fish swimming in something other than lemon sauce and butter.”

This comes up because the new Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, was screened recently in San Francisco at the Bay Institute’s Aquarium of the Bay and is now part of the library at Netflix.

The much-admired former head scientist of NOAA—she quit, she says, because she could see the evidence of disasters to come, but was politically muzzled when it came to sounding an alarm—took the stage after the screening for Q&A. If you know Sylvia Earle’s work and writing, you know the basic message. It’s not too late to course-correct. But it is absolutely necessary to course-correct.

Me, I’ve seen dead coral reefs with my own eyes. Still, it was shocking in this movie—co-directed by Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon—to see the footage of a 1,000-mile voyage out from Australia to the Coral Sea and to find it dead and all-but fish free.

Introduced as someone who has spent 6,500 hours under the sea, Earle smiled and said, “A little more than that.” As to the problem before us all, Earle noted that we have used fossil fuels to “power our way” to a moment when we are able to see the big picture for the first time. For example, in early September there will be a meeting of the heads of state of forty island nations, “countries that have big, blue backyards who have been selling out for cheap, licensing industrial fishing, in real terms burning through their real capital. The sharks are disappearing, and the real economy of each of these countries is tourism, because people come to see the sharks. A lot of leaders are waking up to this. It’s taken just a few decades to unravel what it took 4.5 billion years to create. Take the ocean away from earth, and you have Mars . . .

“The phytoplankton in the ocean generates oxygen, and a billion years ago, there wasn’t enough phytoplankton to generate enough oxygen to support the likes of us. Now there is, but phytoplankton populations are down 40 percent . . .

“In the last few years agencies have begun to grant licenses to exploit the high seas. That’s a global commons. It belongs to you. It belongs to us. We should explore before we exploit. There has to be a value placed on marine wildlife that is alive. Right now, fish are free until they’re dead . . .

“Taking into account our 200-mile economic zone, 55 percent of the United States is under water . . .

“There are now 500 dead zones in the ocean . . .

“No other state has done what California has done by way of creating marine sanctuaries, and already we see fish populations recovering in those protected reserves . . .

[and]

“We have to make peace with the earth.”

So went the evening. It was a pleasure to hear Her Deepness, as her fans call her, on a roll, and always a pleasure to share time with a cause of the Bay Institute. Their catchline: From the Sierra to the Sea. What they’ve done with that aquarium on Pier 39 is something special.

SERVICING WINCHES: A Necessary Chore

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-08-15 10:46

I spent some time last year installing new “disc springs” on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy‘s cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don’t rush through it.

In the photo up top you see the few things I assembled beforehand to take care of my winches: a plastic bowl for retaining parts as they are removed; an Allen key set (needed for this particular type of winch to remove the top and some bits inside); some lamp fuel (used here as a cleaning solvent); a tin cup for cleaning parts in; an old toothbrush to clean parts with; some WD-40 (used here in lieu of light oil); Lewmar winch grease (a known reliable grease product); a can of spray-on lithium grease (an experimental product); and a roll of paper towels for managing the mess.

When you’re a novice tearing a winch down for the first time it can seem a bit intimidating, but really there’s nothing very tricky about it. All winches come apart differently, but the variations are fairly limited. Once you’re familiar with one type you won’t find anything too confounding in the other types.

Step one is to remove the winch drum, which always involves undoing something at the top of the winch. On these Andersen winches (mine date back to 1998) there are four Allen screws. Sometimes you’ll see simple screws. Often (I know Lewmar winches are always like this) you’ll find big a circlip around the winch-handle socket that holds everything in place. To remove such a circlip, just pry it off carefully with the tip of a straight-edge screwdriver.

Having removed the fasteners (or fastener) on top of the winch, you can then pull off the drum. When dealing with an unknown winch, you should always do this very carefully, as on some winches there are spring-loaded pawls that directly engage the base of the drum inside. If you pull the drum off quickly, those pawls may jump loose and go flying God-knows-where, and it can be a major pain if you lose one or, worse, its spring. On this Andersen winch there are no pawls engaging the drum, so you can yank them right off.

One unique feature on these Andersens is that the central stem comes off. It too is fastened with Allen screws. On most winches the stem is an integral part of the winch body and any roller-bearing races slip right on to it. With these winches you need to take the stem off to both remove the main bearing race and to pull apart the gears underneath.

This is where things get a little tricky. In the base of the winch body you’ll find different sets of gears. In some winches, as on these Andersens, the gears are secured with removable vertical axles that you can pull out with the winch body fixed in place. On others you have to remove the winch body from the deck to access the gears, which is a decidedly inferior design.

Frankly, when shopping for winches this is my one major criteria–I want to be able to fully service the winch without dismounting it.

In this case you’ll see there are three sets of gears, one of which (in the very upper part of the photo) is secured with yet another Allen screw. To keep from getting confused, you should if possible treat each gear assembly separately. Take one apart, clean and lubricate it, then put it back together and reinstall it before moving on to the next one. If you pull them all apart and service them all together at the same time you’ll find it much harder to remember which gears go where.

Here you see one of the Andersen gear assemblies removed and how there are gears within gears to retain the pawls.

Here’s the same gear assembly in pieces getting cleaned up with lamp fuel. Even when dealing with these smaller pieces, you can easily lose a pawl spring, so it pays to move slowly and carefully. (It’s also a good idea to have some spare springs and pawls handy just in case.) I’m using lamp fuel here because it was the only light solvent I happened to have onboard at the time. Diesel oil, kerosene, gasoline, acetone, etc., will all work too. Lamp fuel is nice because it’s not very harsh. Using something more aggressive like acetone on plastic parts, like those seen here, might actually be bad idea.

Here I am putting the gear assembly back together after cleaning and lubricating it. I used WD-40 on the pawls. Any light lubricating oil is good, but you shouldn’t use grease, as it could eventually cause the pawls to get sticky. All the other parts should be greased, however. I ended up using the Lewmar winch grease, as the spray-on lithium stuff was too weird and messy. You should go light with the grease. You need less than you think to get the job done, and if you lay it on too thick things may get gummed up once the grease gets cold and/or dirty.

After disassembling and servicing each of the three gear assemblies in turn, I turned to the biggest internal moving part–the central spindle that rotates inside the stem. This is where there’s the most friction, so it’s important to clean the spindle and the interior of the stem carefully. This is also the one place where it doesn’t hurt to go a little heavy (but not too heavy!) on the grease. When greasing the bearings, however, (in this case you see one fixed set of ball bearings and a removable set of roller bearings) you should go very light on the grease, as these parts can get sticky easily.

After cleaning and servicing the spindle and stem as well as the bearings, I had the winch all back together in no time. As long you don’t do the gears all at once, as I mentioned, it’s not at all hard to remember what goes where.

SERVICING WINCHES: A Necessary Chore

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-08-15 10:46

I spent some time last year installing new “disc springs” on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy‘s cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don’t rush through it.

In the photo up top you see the few things I assembled beforehand to take care of my winches: a plastic bowl for retaining parts as they are removed; an Allen key set (needed for this particular type of winch to remove the top and some bits inside); some lamp fuel (used here as a cleaning solvent); a tin cup for cleaning parts in; an old toothbrush to clean parts with; some WD-40 (used here in lieu of light oil); Lewmar winch grease (a known reliable grease product); a can of spray-on lithium grease (an experimental product); and a roll of paper towels for managing the mess.

When you’re a novice tearing a winch down for the first time it can seem a bit intimidating, but really there’s nothing very tricky about it. All winches come apart differently, but the variations are fairly limited. Once you’re familiar with one type you won’t find anything too confounding in the other types.

Step one is to remove the winch drum, which always involves undoing something at the top of the winch. On these Andersen winches (mine date back to 1998) there are four Allen screws. Sometimes you’ll see simple screws. Often (I know Lewmar winches are always like this) you’ll find big a circlip around the winch-handle socket that holds everything in place. To remove such a circlip, just pry it off carefully with the tip of a straight-edge screwdriver.

Having removed the fasteners (or fastener) on top of the winch, you can then pull off the drum. When dealing with an unknown winch, you should always do this very carefully, as on some winches there are spring-loaded pawls that directly engage the base of the drum inside. If you pull the drum off quickly, those pawls may jump loose and go flying God-knows-where, and it can be a major pain if you lose one or, worse, its spring. On this Andersen winch there are no pawls engaging the drum, so you can yank them right off.

One unique feature on these Andersens is that the central stem comes off. It too is fastened with Allen screws. On most winches the stem is an integral part of the winch body and any roller-bearing races slip right on to it. With these winches you need to take the stem off to both remove the main bearing race and to pull apart the gears underneath.

This is where things get a little tricky. In the base of the winch body you’ll find different sets of gears. In some winches, as on these Andersens, the gears are secured with removable vertical axles that you can pull out with the winch body fixed in place. On others you have to remove the winch body from the deck to access the gears, which is a decidedly inferior design.

Frankly, when shopping for winches this is my one major criteria–I want to be able to fully service the winch without dismounting it.

In this case you’ll see there are three sets of gears, one of which (in the very upper part of the photo) is secured with yet another Allen screw. To keep from getting confused, you should if possible treat each gear assembly separately. Take one apart, clean and lubricate it, then put it back together and reinstall it before moving on to the next one. If you pull them all apart and service them all together at the same time you’ll find it much harder to remember which gears go where.

Here you see one of the Andersen gear assemblies removed and how there are gears within gears to retain the pawls.

Here’s the same gear assembly in pieces getting cleaned up with lamp fuel. Even when dealing with these smaller pieces, you can easily lose a pawl spring, so it pays to move slowly and carefully. (It’s also a good idea to have some spare springs and pawls handy just in case.) I’m using lamp fuel here because it was the only light solvent I happened to have onboard at the time. Diesel oil, kerosene, gasoline, acetone, etc., will all work too. Lamp fuel is nice because it’s not very harsh. Using something more aggressive like acetone on plastic parts, like those seen here, might actually be bad idea.

Here I am putting the gear assembly back together after cleaning and lubricating it. I used WD-40 on the pawls. Any light lubricating oil is good, but you shouldn’t use grease, as it could eventually cause the pawls to get sticky. All the other parts should be greased, however. I ended up using the Lewmar winch grease, as the spray-on lithium stuff was too weird and messy. You should go light with the grease. You need less than you think to get the job done, and if you lay it on too thick things may get gummed up once the grease gets cold and/or dirty.

After disassembling and servicing each of the three gear assemblies in turn, I turned to the biggest internal moving part–the central spindle that rotates inside the stem. This is where there’s the most friction, so it’s important to clean the spindle and the interior of the stem carefully. This is also the one place where it doesn’t hurt to go a little heavy (but not too heavy!) on the grease. When greasing the bearings, however, (in this case you see one fixed set of ball bearings and a removable set of roller bearings) you should go very light on the grease, as these parts can get sticky easily.

After cleaning and servicing the spindle and stem as well as the bearings, I had the winch all back together in no time. As long you don’t do the gears all at once, as I mentioned, it’s not at all hard to remember what goes where.

Podcast: ‘Black Swan’ Outfitting

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-08-14 23:00

Another ‘Essay Friday’ for you to think about! Andy’s ideas on how to outfit the ocean sailing yacht based on the principles found within Nassim Taleb’s classic book ‘The Black Swan.’ Andy talks about not the chances of a piece of gear failing onboard, but rather the consequences of that failure and how that should influence what you decide to fit, or not fit, on an oceangoing boat. What do you think?

MBHH Show 2014: Akalaria RC3, Dock Works utility cat & other surprises

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-08-14 12:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 14, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

I knew I’d gotten Maine Yacht Center’s Brian Harris to photograph me in the comfortable driver’s seat he designed for the second Aklaria RC3 finished out at MYC, but how did the shot come out of my camera like this? Did I fall into some revery imagining reaching the 20 knots this exotic Open 40 racer is easily capable of? The 12th annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show was rich in the elegant lobster yachts and daysailors my state has become famous for, but there were also plenty of interesting surprises. Even Mainiac boat nuts don’t realize how versatile we are…

Single and/or shorthanded ocean racing remains a niche sport in North America, but it still seems weird that its current epicenter seems to be at the Maine Yacht Center just north of Portland (and nearly in the shadow of the iconic B&M Baked Bean factory). MYC, like most every yard up here, offers all sorts of storage and repair services — with Charlie Doane’s Lunacy a regular client, for instance — but it doesn’t take too many MYC blog entries to see how many extreme racers they’ve also been involved with.

The Akalaria Class 40 series is different, though. While the chief designer is in France and the hulls are built in Tunisia, MYC and particularly general manager Harris are deeply involved in the deck/cabin layout and system installs like the extensive electronics package on Amhas (and they finish out one or two new Akalarias a year). You can see what I mean by comparing my photos with the Akalaria RC3 brochure.

The system on Amhas is heavy on B&G, particularly H3000, like what you’ll see listed for what’s now called the Standard Akalaria Class 40. But that is a Furuno GP33 mounted up there between the internal rope and cable runs and also an Echomax active radar transponder. And there is a Zeus MFD mounted on that swiveling nav center, though Brian isn’t very pleased with it. “Too heavy,” he said, which is also why the boat is fitted with an older Navico analog radome instead of a 3G or 4G solid state unit. With the RC3 coming in at 4500 kg (9,921 lb) minimum class displacement, they’re working hard to keep her that way. Hence the all cloth pocket storage, beanbag chair/bed, and a galley that seems to be a single gas burner (and probably one aluminum pot).

Harris is also discouraged about the current state of B&G, saying he had to ship much of the gear bought in the U.S. to New Zealand to be set up properly for racing. I can imagine that there’s a tough transition going on as Navico pushes Zeus toward a wider racing/cruising market, but then again, a professional skipper who often joins racing afterguards asked me just yesterday if the H5000 start screen works as well it looks. I’m certainly no expert, but I did see it realistically and successfully demonstrated off Hawk’s Cay. I wonder if specialists like Brian will eventually be happy with H5000 and maybe Zeus, too, and I’d like to visit MYC and learn more about the electronics they use on these very demanding boats.

If the fit and finish of the utilitarian (in its own way) Akalaria RC3 was well beyond “good enough”, ditto for the sharp aluminum workboat being shown off by Dock Works of Winterport, Maine. Unfortunately, there’s no detail about this 26-foot power catamaran on their website yet, but I can assure you that I’m not the only recreational boater who daydreamed about skipping around the coast at 30 knots — hull #1 Mica Lee has twin Volvo Penta 225hp diesel outdrives — with maybe a picnic table, tender and bikes on the work deck. In fact, that’s my buddy Peter Smith checking out the price list, and he came away so bug-eyed I think I’ll let Dock Works reconsider before I suggest how relatively easy it is to own this able vessel.

One of Dock Work’s main products is custom aluminum ramps, and you can see how neatly this expertise worked out in the power cat’s wheelhouse. Incidentally, that wireless remote next to the wheel runs the landing-craft-style bow ramp/door so this boat can be single-handed if desired. I gathered that the company will use Mica Lee to deliver and install ramps and floats, but I can picture island building contractors, mooring tenders, marine scientists, and many others lusting for the cat’s speed and versatility. Dock Works hopes to sell a few around Maine and then further afield, and I think they may succeed.

Bless my eclectic boating heart, I can also picture myself happily tooling around on this stylish weekender designed, built and displayed by the venerable Doug Hylan. There’s actually a practical and fairly efficient 60hp Evinrude E-Tec outboard mounted under that hatch and Doug used sheathed strip planking and a cored foredeck to keep more traditional wooden boat structure from eating away at the interior spaces.

I’ve only tried stand up paddling (SUP) once so far, but I understand why it’s become so popular and was pleased to see that a couple of Maine lads are building them handsomely in wood. They do business as Tidal Roots and they aren’t just applying veneers to a foam core, as you can see in the foreground example of the internal framing. When I worked at Woodenboat School in the 80′s I got to use a wooden windsurfer and can testify that there was something special about its feel and how it looked below my feet as I flew along.

Another very different sort of vessel is the little unmanned satellite-connected bluewater sailboat that Educational Passages offers to schools to help with ocean science awareness. I wrote about the program in 2009 but first met solo circumnavigator and the non-profit’s founder, Dick Baldwin, on Sunday at the show. It was fun to hear about how far some of the boats have meandered and how often they’ve been relaunched by friendly foreigners. Dick described the excitement after school announcements of a transatlantic completed or similar milestones, and it seemed obvious that his infectious enthusiasm is key to the program’s durability.

Of course, I’ve skipped a lot of handsome and beautifully crafted Maine-built boats in favor of the more unusual sights at the 2014 MBHH Show and also many interesting exhibits in the tents. But I will close with one neat gadget I’d never seen before. Tidepieces aren’t just tide clocks with a clever illustration added; the water level “in” the illustration raises and lowers with the real tide level as nicely shown in this video.

Finally, I missed photographing that young boater up in the wheelhouse of the CedarWorks play boat intently steering somewhere. But I did get to see him use the unusual exit with good form and then decorate the craft’s bow with a small flag he found somewhere. I don’t know him but sensed that he’s well along a good path. And what he doesn’t know yet — a happy truth that came up with friends at the show — is that youthful boating enthusiam can last for a very, very long time.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Oh, RATS! Getting rid of rodents aboard

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-08-14 03:13

It’s not easy to get rid of rats on board. Preventing rats from getting on in the first place is better, of course. We blame our current dock-bound status for the uninvited visitors, but two other boats have related to us how rats in New Zealand swam to their boats from shore and entered by climbing the anchor chain! These are determined creatures… and if they’re going to find you, it’s good to know how to deal with them first.

Our unwanted rodent remained aboard for four weeks to the day. I’m not going to think about the hours of sleep lost wondering 1) if it would crawl ON ME again, 2) how much damage it had done so far, or 3) when and where I would next hear it scratching around or gnawing wood. But for all the griping I could do, there was goodness.

thank you Bill for the traps, and many commenters for the reminder not to use bare hands

Foremost, the whole experience was a great reminder of the unwritten cruiser code to help your fellow boater. One marina neighbor after another offered suggestions, loaned extra traps (and cats!), recommended different baits / poisons, or just offered commiseration. Comments on our Facebook page and blog showed that so many people were generous with ideas, and we tried a lot of them. I mean, I would never have thought that “there’s an app for that,” but of course there is (thank you, Leonid!). We FOUND the rat with it one day (at least, it suddenly got very noisy behind some cabinetry) because we turned on the ultrasonic frequency app, the critter immediately reacted to the unpleasant noise…undetectable to our ears.

The experience also brought out some great reminiscing from Jamie about one of his first jobs. When he was in his late teens, Jamie was a deckhand on the 1907 steamship ‘Sabino’ at the Mystic Seaport Museum. There, Captain Monday regaled him of tales from the 1920s from when (as a teenager himself) he served on a square rigged ship in the South Pacific. His sole friend: a mouse, a gentle companion who only asked to have the occasional nibble shared. I have to admit, thinking about Captain Monday, and looking at our dwarf hamster in his main cabin home, made permanently removing the the sleek brown rat a little hard to contemplate. At least, until we were reminded by friends that a single rat had just done $10,000 worth of damage to wires and cables inside their boat.

Totem’s exceptionally cute, relatively domesticated, and totally welcome rodent

What did we learn about getting rats off the boat? That all knowledge is local. We tried many, many things, but what ultimately worked was the type of trap with the type of bait that people in this area had found successful. For a rundown on options and advice, The Boat Galley’s article on the subject is spot on. I’d add two things to it: the app, and sticky mats. The latter are horrible and inhumane, but… well, with apologies to the rat community, we can’t afford to be hit with a $10,000 re-wiring job. We truly tried everything (well, except the mats, which we never found) until one day the conventional live trap delivered the goods.  Well, singular “goods” anyway, in form of a disturbingly cute bright eyed creature.

Perhaps that mental travel brochure for sailing in paradise with beautiful beaches and clear water should include a small disclaimer that says- Warning: paradise may at times involve coexisting with unwanted guests.

Wily trappers know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

Hauling Out

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-08-12 22:51

No one likes hauling out. Mostly because it means you are not sailing, and that is a terrible fate when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.  Hauling out means fixing things, buying replacement parts, discovering nasty surprises, and living in a boat yard. None of those are my favorites.  But what needs to be done needs to be done, and Papillon definitely needs a propeller shaft rejig and some centerboard work.

We got out of the marina on Monday morning, and made the short trip across the bay to the yard. As Erik heroically defied our massive prop-walk and started backing us into the slip, one of the guys from the yard ran over and started waving his arms. I pointed at us and the slip. More emphatic negative arm waving.

I turned to the cockpit.  “He’s waving us away. Now he is making telephone gestures.”
Erik swore, and pulled forward again.  As he circled, we tried the VHF. No luck. I found the phone number for the yard.
“Bonjour.”
“Bonjour,” said Erik.  “We have an appointment for an 8:30 haul-out… Yes, I know that is half an hour away.  But we are scheduled as the first haul of the day – can’t we just pull in and wait?  Great, thanks.”

We shared some choice words for the idiot who waved us off for no good reason, and tried again. Success. Backing a boat into a tiny slip is harder than it sounds. A boat isn’t like a car – you don’t just point and go. Wind, the shape of your keel and prop-walk all fight you. But Erik got us in like a champion.

And up we came.  Unsurprisingly, Papillon had a decent beard of marine growth on the hull.

We’ve tried a number of antifouling paints over the past four years. It isn’t easy to find decent antifouling for an aluminum hull. Most biocide paint contains copper, which is a big no-no for us. TBT works, but (quite rightly) you can’t buy it in most countries because it has hideous side effects for the environment. In New Zealand, we switched to Vivid.  As you can see, the marine growth scraped off with the lightest touch, leaving the paint behind. It looks like we finally have a winner!

So Papillon has a new home out of the water. And now the work begins.

VARIOUS MISHAPS: Two Abandonments and Two Boats Sunk at Harbor Entrances

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-08-12 07:51

It’s been a busy fortnight in the realm of sailing mishaps. Number one involves the abandoning of a 42-foot sailing vessel Walkabout (see photo up top), whose crew of three were caught in Hurricane Julio and issued a distress call Sunday about 400 miles northeast of Oahu. They reported their liferaft had been stripped off the boat, a hatch cover had been ripped off the deck, and they were taking on water faster than they could pump. Not at all a sanguine situation.

Two planes did fly-bys: a hurricane hunter that diverted from inside the storm and then a Coast Guard C-130 that dropped a raft and pumps that Walkabout‘s crew failed to recover due to the severe conditions. One of the planes (I’m thinking the storm hunter) did manage to catch this viddy:

The crew were safely taken off the boat Monday morning by a container ship, M/V Manukai, inbound to Honolulu, that diverted to the scene. Walkabout was herself inbound to Hawaii from California when she was disabled. Reportedly the flooding aboard was brought under control after conditions eased, but the boat meanwhile had also been dismasted. As you can see in that video, she looks pretty torn up. I can’t make out what sort of boat she is; definitely a double-ender, maybe a one-off.

For mindless speculation and baseless conclusions regarding the culpability of the crew, I recommend you check out this forum discussion here.

Our next mishap, also illustrated, involves a gorgeous Concordia yawl, Winnie of Bourne, that collided with a Swan 46 and sank at the entrance to Nantucket Harbor last Friday morning. No injuries were reported, and the yawl was salvaged on Sunday.

Winnie wounded right after the collision. You can see the hole in her starboard bow. I assume the bow you see to the left is the Swan she collided with

Down for the count on Friday

Resurrected on Sunday with some help from a barge and crane

Winnie sure was a stunner, as you can see in these Ben Mendlowitz boat-porn shots from before her embarrassment.

But I’m sure a strong dose of insurance payments will have her back in the pink in no time.

Our other abandonment involves a 37-foot boat, Blue Horizon, that was abandoned last Wednesday 125 miles northeast of the Cook Islands after being dismasted. Her Swedish crew, Siv and Stig Bodin, ages 69 and 70, evidently set off their EPIRB and placed a sat-phone call to Swedish authorities as they feared the boat would be holed by its rig.

They were taken off by a tanker, M/V Stena Paris, that diverted 150 miles to reach them.

Siv and Stig Bodin with the crew of Stena Paris after their rescue. The Bodins were en route to Tahiti when they abandoned their boat

Last but not least we have the yacht Oboat, a 30-year-old Beneteau, with a Swiss skipper and three other crew aboard, including two children, that crashed on a reef and sank two weeks ago while trying to enter Bonbonon, a hurricane-hole harbor on Negros in the Philippines. Oboat lost her engine and got her main ripped up while crossing the Sulu Sea and tried to enter Bonbonon under sail at night in strong conditions. Unfortunately, it’s a tricky entrance, and she was caught by large seas and was thrown on to the reef nearby.

Cruisers from the 35 or so yachts anchored inside the harbor came to their assistance. One dinghy reportedly was lost and the crew of another was injured when theirs overturned. The crew of Oboat, fortunately, managed to scramble safely up a cliff, but poor Oboat herself was completely destroyed by a squall that ground her to bits on the reef that same night.

All told, not a great score for the boats–four down and only one recovered. So far. Since Walkabout was upwind of Hawaii when she was abandoned, I’m thinking she may turn up again (if she can stay afloat with that open hatch). The good news, of course, is that all the peeps in all four boats survived. Many kudos to all the rescuers!

VARIOUS MISHAPS: Two Abandonments and Two Boats Sunk at Harbor Entrances

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-08-12 07:51

It’s been a busy fortnight in the realm of sailing mishaps. Number one involves the abandoning of a 42-foot sailing vessel Walkabout (see photo up top), whose crew of three were caught in Hurricane Julio and issued a distress call Sunday about 400 miles northeast of Oahu. They reported their liferaft had been stripped off the boat, a hatch cover had been ripped off the deck, and they were taking on water faster than they could pump. Not at all a sanguine situation.

Two planes did fly-bys: a hurricane hunter that diverted from inside the storm and then a Coast Guard C-130 that dropped a raft and pumps that Walkabout‘s crew failed to recover due to the severe conditions. One of the planes (I’m thinking the storm hunter) did manage to catch this viddy:

The crew were safely taken off the boat Monday morning by a container ship, M/V Manukai, inbound to Honolulu, that diverted to the scene. Walkabout was herself inbound to Hawaii from California when she was disabled. Reportedly the flooding aboard was brought under control after conditions eased, but the boat meanwhile had also been dismasted. As you can see in that video, she looks pretty torn up. I can’t make out what sort of boat she is; definitely a double-ender, maybe a one-off.

For mindless speculation and baseless conclusions regarding the culpability of the crew, I recommend you check out this forum discussion here.

Our next mishap, also illustrated, involves a gorgeous Concordia yawl, Winnie of Bourne, that collided with a Swan 46 and sank at the entrance to Nantucket Harbor last Friday morning. No injuries were reported, and the yawl was salvaged on Sunday.

Winnie wounded right after the collision. You can see the hole in her starboard bow. I assume the bow you see to the left is the Swan she collided with

Down for the count on Friday

Resurrected on Sunday with some help from a barge and crane

Winnie sure was a stunner, as you can see in these Ben Mendlowitz boat-porn shots from before her embarrassment.

But I’m sure a strong dose of insurance payments will have her back in the pink in no time.

Our other abandonment involves a 37-foot boat, Blue Horizon, that was abandoned last Wednesday 125 miles northeast of the Cook Islands after being dismasted. Her Swedish crew, Siv and Stig Bodin, ages 69 and 70, evidently set off their EPIRB and placed a sat-phone call to Swedish authorities as they feared the boat would be holed by its rig.

They were taken off by a tanker, M/V Stena Paris, that diverted 150 miles to reach them.

Siv and Stig Bodin with the crew of Stena Paris after their rescue. The Bodins were en route to Tahiti when they abandoned their boat

Last but not least we have the yacht Oboat, a 30-year-old Beneteau, with a Swiss skipper and three other crew aboard, including two children, that crashed on a reef and sank two weeks ago while trying to enter Bonbonon, a hurricane-hole harbor on Negros in the Philippines. Oboat lost her engine and got her main ripped up while crossing the Sulu Sea and tried to enter Bonbonon under sail at night in strong conditions. Unfortunately, it’s a tricky entrance, and she was caught by large seas and was thrown on to the reef nearby.

Cruisers from the 35 or so yachts anchored inside the harbor came to their assistance. One dinghy reportedly was lost and the crew of another was injured when theirs overturned. The crew of Oboat, fortunately, managed to scramble safely up a cliff, but poor Oboat herself was completely destroyed by a squall that ground her to bits on the reef that same night.

All told, not a great score for the boats–four down and only one recovered. So far. Since Walkabout was upwind of Hawaii when she was abandoned, I’m thinking she may turn up again (if she can stay afloat with that open hatch). The good news, of course, is that all the peeps in all four boats survived. Many kudos to all the rescuers!

59 North Podcast: Cary St. Onge

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-08-11 23:00

Cary St. Onge took an ex-America’s Cup training boat – an 80-foot maxi racer called ‘Falcon’, used for the ‘Young America’ team leading up to the 2000 AC – and converted it into his ideal notion of a fast cruising boat! Andy chatted with him on Skype from his home in Boulder, Colorado. He’s outfitting the boat to sail in the Caribbean 1500 this coming fall, and is offering 10 crew berths onboard for what should be the sail of a lifetime! Check out Falcon in detail on force10sailing.com.

Siren Marine cellular boat monitoring long test, reliable & powerful

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-08-11 14:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Boat theft is very rare in Maine, but on a recent Saturday night someone apparently “borrowed” a big twin outboard off a local dock for a “joy ride” during which something was hit hard enough to hole the topsides, and then they put the boat back on the dock and vanished! To my knowledge the mystery remains unsolved, but it sure jogged my memory about the Set feature on the Siren Marine cellular monitoring system I’ve been testing for over two years. The partial phone screen above shows what happened when Gizmo moved more than about 15 meters several days after I texted the “SET” command to the Siren. First I was notified that she’d TRANSGRESsed the geofence set up by the SET command and then the Siren started texting me every five minutes with GAT (Geofence Automatic Time-based) reports that included course, speed and a lat/long link to Google Maps. I could have guided the Maine Marine Patrol to the transgressor pretty quickly, if the “villain” hadn’t been myself…

Click on the screen above for more detail on the same geofence test, including an inset of a Google Map link (showing Gizmo near a granite breakwater testing the now functioning EchoPilot FLS). Here the messages are in email form because one of the four phone numbers the Siren can text is set to be my Google Voice account, which can pass along texts as emails. By my count the Siren delivered almost every 5 minutes a GAT report until I disarmed it with the NOSET command, and that’s been a key finding in my long test. The Siren system is wonderfully reliable, even in the very odd texting situation found here in Camden. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and other cell phones work pretty well here in all regards, but devices that use GSM SMS messaging often do not. I couldn’t get the Maretron SMS100 to work here, though I tried both AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards, and I couldn’t get a C-Pod AT&T-based system to work here either. In fact, the Siren had trouble at first, too, but as I described in my first Siren review, founder Dan Harper dug into the problem and solved it with a service plan that’s worked fine just about every day Gizmo has been in Camden or anywhere else during the last two years.

Gizmo Siren3: Siren Backup batt % : 100 ; Ext batt volt: 13.47 Siren Current temp 41F, Highest recorded temp 46F, Lowest recorded temp 39F. 12:41 PM

I just got the text above and hence know that Gizmo’s solar panels are working well today and the refrigerator temperature (where I installed the Sprint’s included probe) is just where I’d expect when no one has been on board using it. I left this running all winter even when the boat was hauled, because it turned out that the panels could keep the batteries up even under white shrink wrap, except for about one dreary dark week around Christmas when I felt obliged to run the shore power cord, thanks to Siren monitoring. Recently, I changed the reporting to twice a day, about midnight and noon, so I can also see the battery bank level at rest with no solar input. The number of messages is not a concern because these days Siren’s plan is unlimited to all four possible phone numbers (for $180 a year if paid that way).

So I remain impressed with the Siren system, and it continues to eliminate some anxiety from owning a beloved boat (an anxiety you may be in denial about until the boat starts texting you “all is well” messages). On the other hand, I’ve been lazy about trying other Siren features and so last week I fooled around with bilge level and entry alarms and even a relay. It was no surprise that everything worked well (when I had the right sensor), and it was good to see that Siren’s install documentation has gotten truly refined. I still hold out hope for a monitoring system that integrates my boat’s existing NMEA 2000 sensors — and plan to try the Maretron SMS100 again once I get out of Camden — but must admit that the Garmin GDL 40 that I once imagined as evolving into a great multi-purpose N2K cellular link isn’t even offered anymore..

I am disappointed that Siren hasn’t yet released the Android app that would make texting commands to the device as easy as it is for someone with an iPhone, but I note that they have gathered an attractive stable of sensors and relays that are proven to work with their system. They’re also willing to help customers design a particular boat’s system and can even create custom commands, as illustrated below. The diagram and spreadsheet forwarded by Dan Harper show a system where either a motion or a snap sensor can fire off a horn as well as text the owner, among other features like keeping an eye on shore power. There’s something to be said for a marine electronics company that does one thing well (even if it goes against my “glass bridge” vision of the future).

Siren Marine only covers U.S. waters, but are they the best cellular monitoring choice given that limitation? I believe that GOST offers remarkable security systems for big boats and also have deep experience outfoxing the professional thieves who lurk around south Florida and the Caribbean. But who besides Siren is offering security and system monitoring to smaller coastal boats like mine? Please share your thoughts. Also, if you are interested in a Siren system, there’s now a 15% hardware discount — “Pixie or Sprite and any accessories” — if you enter the code “PANBO SUMMER” and also purchase a service plan. Thanks, Dan!

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Podcast: Log of Arcturus: Into the Baltic

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-08-08 04:46

This week’s essay Friday is an excerpt from the Log of Arcturus, which I keep onboard the boat. Written by hand, as it’s happening, the log is a diary of sorts about our travels. This was written in August of 2012, almost exactly two years ago, during the 3-day passage from Malmo on Sweden’s southwest coast to Visby, on the island of Gotland. It’s good timing, as starting after work today, we’ll be on vacation for the next three weeks, heading this time out of the Baltic and essentially retracing our steps from this here trip. It’s fun to read what I’ve written and see what goes on in my head on those late, solo night watches. Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed reliving it!

DOUSING THE MAINSAIL: Do It After You Park The Boat

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-08-07 22:11

I do a fair amount of singlehanded coastal cruising during the summer, usually just going out for a quick overnight whenever an opportunity presents itself. When departing my mooring at Portland Yacht Services (or any mooring for that matter), it has long been my practice to raise the mainsail before dropping the mooring pennant. That way I can get sailing ASAP, usually immediately. When anchoring or picking up a mooring, however, my habit for many years has been to douse and stow the mainsail first, then secure the boat.

But when you’re sailing singlehanded this is often stressful, particularly on the Maine coast during the summer, when there are lobster pots everywhere waiting to catch a turning propeller. Sometimes I’ve felt like a Keystone Cop, running back and forth between the cockpit and the main boom to make adjustments to the autopilot to dodge pots while stowing the sail. Even when there aren’t pots around, there are usually other things to keep an eye on–rocks, shoals, other boats, etc.–unless you play it super-safe and stow your main a mile or more before you really need to.

This year it finally dawned on me to try it the other way around: pick up the mooring, or drop the anchor, then drop the sail.

I’ve found it makes an enormous difference. With both the main up and the engine running I can make a perfectly controlled approach to a mooring or anchoring spot. There’s no juggling act, where I need to both mind the approach while simultaneously stowing the sail, and in most cases I actually only need to put the engine in gear briefly at the very end of the process. In many cases I needn’t put the engine in gear at all, and it is running only as a precaution.

If I’m picking up a mooring, I usually douse the sail immediately afterwards, to keep the boat from sailing around on it. But once the sail is down (see photo up top) I can just leave it there and tidy it up and tie in the stops at my leisure. If I’m dropping an anchor, what I usually do is back the main by hand by pushing the boom up to windward to get the boat backing down on its anchor rode. Then I drop the sail and focus on perfecting my set before putting the stops on.

I’m sure some of you are now slapping your foreheads, remarking on what a dope I am for not figuring this out earlier, because you, in your infinite wisdom, have been doing it this way all along. But I don’t guess there are too many of those. I’ve been watching sailboats come into anchorages and mooring fields for decades now, and most people have their mainsails stowed long before they park.

Many more of you, I’m sure, are thinking what I really need to do is install lazyjacks, so I can just release the main halyard during a parking approach and worry about tying in the stops whenever, or maybe even never. But personally I’ve always found lazyjacks to be a major nuisance when you’re doing anything with a mainsail other than dropping it.

Others, of course, may be patting themselves on the back for having in-mast furling mainsails, but I am even more prejudiced against those than I am against lazyjacks. Crippling your sail’s performance just so you can put it away easily seems like a non-starter to me, unless you’re dealing with a very large mainsail on a very large boat.

One big advantage of mooring or anchoring a boat with the mainsail up is that it makes you look competent. Like maybe you’re Don Street or Larry Pardey and don’t even need an engine to park your boat. If this is what you actually aspire to, this is a very good way to practice before you do in fact throw your engine overboard.

There are certain provisos. First, you should in fact be reasonably competent at picking up a mooring or setting an anchor before trying this, particularly if you are sailing singlehanded. If parking is always a fire drill for you, having the mainsail up during the drill won’t make it any less exciting. I’m now accustomed to having the main up during a normal head-to-wind approach, but in an unusual situation where, say, due to strong current I had to come in downwind or across the wind I would probably take it down first.

Second, you do have to pick your moments. When making an approach, if I can’t see clearly where I’ll be ending up–i.e., if I obviously will have to hunt around for a mooring or a spot to anchor–I still drop the main beforehand. I also still do this if the mooring field or anchorage in question is crowded and the wind is blowing hard.

With competent crew aboard you can cut your provisos much more closely, perhaps even delete them, but if you’e singlehanded I think it’s still smart to be cautious.

DOUSING THE MAINSAIL: Do It After You Park The Boat

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-08-07 22:11

I do a fair amount of singlehanded coastal cruising during the summer, usually just going out for a quick overnight whenever an opportunity presents itself. When departing my mooring at Portland Yacht Services (or any mooring for that matter), it has long been my practice to raise the mainsail before dropping the mooring pennant. That way I can get sailing ASAP, usually immediately. When anchoring or picking up a mooring, however, my habit for many years has been to douse and stow the mainsail first, then secure the boat.

But when you’re sailing singlehanded this is often stressful, particularly on the Maine coast during the summer, when there are lobster pots everywhere waiting to catch a turning propeller. Sometimes I’ve felt like a Keystone Cop, running back and forth between the cockpit and the main boom to make adjustments to the autopilot to dodge pots while stowing the sail. Even when there aren’t pots around, there are usually other things to keep an eye on–rocks, shoals, other boats, etc.–unless you play it super-safe and stow your main a mile or more before you really need to.

This year it finally dawned on me to try it the other way around: pick up the mooring, or drop the anchor, then drop the sail.

I’ve found it makes an enormous difference. With both the main up and the engine running I can make a perfectly controlled approach to a mooring or anchoring spot. There’s no juggling act, where I need to both mind the approach while simultaneously stowing the sail, and in most cases I actually only need to put the engine in gear briefly at the very end of the process. In many cases I needn’t put the engine in gear at all, and it is running only as a precaution.

If I’m picking up a mooring, I usually douse the sail immediately afterwards, to keep the boat from sailing around on it. But once the sail is down (see photo up top) I can just leave it there and tidy it up and tie in the stops at my leisure. If I’m dropping an anchor, what I usually do is back the main by hand by pushing the boom up to windward to get the boat backing down on its anchor rode. Then I drop the sail and focus on perfecting my set before putting the stops on.

I’m sure some of you are now slapping your foreheads, remarking on what a dope I am for not figuring this out earlier, because you, in your infinite wisdom, have been doing it this way all along. But I don’t guess there are too many of those. I’ve been watching sailboats come into anchorages and mooring fields for decades now, and most people have their mainsails stowed long before they park.

Many more of you, I’m sure, are thinking what I really need to do is install lazyjacks, so I can just release the main halyard during a parking approach and worry about tying in the stops whenever, or maybe even never. But personally I’ve always found lazyjacks to be a major nuisance when you’re doing anything with a mainsail other than dropping it.

Others, of course, may be patting themselves on the back for having in-mast furling mainsails, but I am even more prejudiced against those than I am against lazyjacks. Crippling your sail’s performance just so you can put it away easily seems like a non-starter to me, unless you’re dealing with a very large mainsail on a very large boat.

One big advantage of mooring or anchoring a boat with the mainsail up is that it makes you look competent. Like maybe you’re Don Street or Larry Pardey and don’t even need an engine to park your boat. If this is what you actually aspire to, this is a very good way to practice before you do in fact throw your engine overboard.

There are certain provisos. First, you should in fact be reasonably competent at picking up a mooring or setting an anchor before trying this, particularly if you are sailing singlehanded. If parking is always a fire drill for you, having the mainsail up during the drill won’t make it any less exciting. I’m now accustomed to having the main up during a normal head-to-wind approach, but in an unusual situation where, say, due to strong current I had to come in downwind or across the wind I would probably take it down first.

Second, you do have to pick your moments. When making an approach, if I can’t see clearly where I’ll be ending up–i.e., if I obviously will have to hunt around for a mooring or a spot to anchor–I still drop the main beforehand. I also still do this if the mooring field or anchorage in question is crowded and the wind is blowing hard.

With competent crew aboard you can cut your provisos much more closely, perhaps even delete them, but if you’e singlehanded I think it’s still smart to be cautious.

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