August 10 Cruising Tips
SAIL AWAY Although it’s easy to turn on the engine and pick up the anchor or cast off a mooring pennant, it can be a lot more fun for guests and crew if you sail away from an anchorage or mooring instead. This, of course, assumes suitable wind conditions and that you have enough maneuvering room—including a decent margin of error in case something goes wrong. If you really want to be sure all goes well, there’s nothing wrong with having the engine idling in neutral just in case.
To get underway, hoist the mainsail first. If you know the boat will sail to windward well on just the main, feel free to sail away on it alone for a while before raising the headsail. If you plan to turn downwind right away, be sure to have someone on the mainsheet to ease it quickly. Otherwise the helmsman will have trouble making the sharp turn to leeward.
If you want to be sure you sail off on a specific tack, port or starboard, it’s a good idea to also hoist the jib and back it to one side. For example, if you want to sail away on port tack, haul the clew of the jib to port so that it will backwind and swing the bow off to starboard, putting the wind on your port side. Once your bow has fallen off enough, trim in sails and away you go. – Charles Mason Sailing off a mooring or anchor does require a little more teamwork, but it gets the crew involved in working the boat right away. Equally important, it keeps alive one the greatest of all sailing traditions: setting sail and getting underway. – Charles Mason
PORT COVERS Here’s an easy project if you are moored in a marina and want some privacy from dock walkers, or if you simply want to block out the late-afternoon sun. You will need a sewing machine. Any light-duty household unit will work.
Begin by measuring all the ports you want to cover and then compute the total amount of material you’ll need for the job. Be sure to include enough material to create at least a 3/4 in hem on all the individual pieces. If the ports are round or oval shaped, a square or rectangular cover will work just fine. When you’ve calculated the total amount of fabric you will need, pick out a material such as interior Sunbrella. Interior fabrics offer more color options and are lighter and easier to sew.
Make the cover outlines on the fabric with a straight edge and pencil, adding about 1in to the length and width of each cover outline to allow for the hem. Cut the fabric with a pair of sharp scissors and then fold over the 3/4 in hem and sew all sides of the cover with a thread that matches the fabric. If possible, use a zigzag stitch to lock the edge of the hem. This also looks more attractive.
If either the frames surrounding the ports or the cabin side beyond the ports can accept a screw, put male screw snaps at the corner of each cover location. Then attach a female snap, or button socket, on the corresponding corners of the fabric cover. The female snap has two parts, a combination button-rivet and a barrel. Use an awl to make a small hole in the corner of the cover fabric then push the rivet through. Slip the barrel over the rivet, sandwiching the material between the two parts, and squash the rivet with a punch tool and base. Canvas snap kits that do this are available from most marine stores, including West Marine.
If screw snaps aren’t practical, glue Velcro tabs to the frame or cabin side with a touch of hot glue or Sikaflex, and then sew the corresponding Velcro tab on the corners of the cover. That’s all you have to do. If you want more light or visibility, either take down the covers or let them hang from the bottom corners. This keeps them from going astray. When you need to put them up again, just snap the tops back in place. – Andy Deering
FREEZE FREE If you don’t maintain your padlocks, one day you will find your outboard so securely locked to the rail it will take a hacksaw to get you back in business. Here’s how we keep this from happening on our boat.
Every six months we soak all our padlocks in white vinegar. This dissolves corrosion and salt buildup. If there is a lot of corrosion, we will soak them for an hour or more. The first time we tried this we had to soak several locks all day! Make sure the locks are fully immersed in the liquid and that they are open so the liquid will reach all the internal components. It doesn’t hurt to turn them over occasionally. Take a wire brush and remove any external corrosion from the lock bodies while they are still in the vinegar bath.
Afterward, let the opened locks dry completely in the sun and then lubricate them according to the manufacturer instructions. I lost my instructions years ago, so I spray Sherwin Williams’ Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant into every cranny. Before doing so I put the lock on a paper towel, because the excess lubricant can be quite rusty. When you are finished, wipe off all the excess.
You can find Tri-Flow at most stores in the Ace Hardware chain. Lock repair people also recommend WD-40. Work each lock several times, and resoak and relubricate as necessary until the device works smoothly. Lock maintenance is a regular item on our monthly checklist when we are living aboard. That way, when we leave our boat in the Caribbean for a period of time, we know that when we return our locks will work just as well as they did the day we left them. – Jan Irons
IMPELLER LAPSE It’s tempting to believe (hope is probably a better word) that the generally useful principle, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” does not apply to water pump impellers. Over a season, and especially during a long winter layup, an impeller will slowly harden, performance will drop off and impeller blades can suffer minor damage. It’s not at all unusual for an otherwise healthy looking impeller to have a blade that is split over half its length. This makes it very likely the blade could be ripped off if there is a blockage that allows the unit to run dry for a minute or two.
The seamanlike way to proceed is not to hope things will be all right, but rather to inspect your impeller at the beginning of the season and replace it, whether it needs it or not. If the old one still looks good, that’s great. Keep it as an emergency spare. While replacing the impeller you can also verify that all the screws on the endplate work correctly. If you need to change the impeller in a hurry later on in the season, say, when on a lee shore, you won’t lose your boat because you can’t get past an unexpected stripped thread. – Tom Cunliffe