Upgrades

What does it take to turn an old boat into an ocean-ready passagemaker? That was the question facing my father, Dennis, when he decided to fulfill a decades-old dream of crossing an ocean aboard his own boat.
Dragonfly is a sweet 1983 Bristol 35.5, based in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She still sports most of her original deck gear and the old Merriman genoa lead cars and tracks, while still functional, had seen better days. Owner Tim Sheehy sails shorthanded and wants to get the best performance out of his new suit of North sails, so he decided to upgrade to Lewmar sliding bolt track and

Lash Down Your Deck Gear

by Adam Cort, Posted April 12, 2011
Stainless steel tie-down fittings from Accon Marine ensure that loose gear on deck stays in place, keeping things safe and well organized when underway.The fittings are available in a large size (3.5in by 3.5in) and a small size (2in by 2in). These two sizes can be used for securing a wide range of items, including everything from scuba gear to fenders. Each tie-down is comprised of

Sailboat Centerboard Upgrade

by Mike Raleigh, Posted October 27, 2009
Using a popular airfoil analysis code (XFOIL, by M. Drela & H. Youngren, see http://web.mit.edu/drela/Public/xfoil/) we analyzed the performance of the stock centerboard of a San Juan 23. As this board was a thin flat plate, this performance was rather poor, consistent with the

Light Fantastic

by Nigel Calder, Posted April 25, 2011
Not long ago I was bemoaning the fact that so many boatbuilders are still using highly inefficient incandescent and halogen lights, even though fluorescent lights have long been available and LEDs are now viable for most marine lighting applications. Since then, Neil Harrison, a reader from the UK, has pointed out that the next revolution in lighting may already be on the horizon—Organic

Bilge Pump Renewal

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
Before I laid the boat up, I had to replace a bilge pump that had mysteriously stopped working. This was a secondary pump, serving to keep the water out of a poorly drained part of the hull forward of the mast step. It was a good opportunity for a quick photo tutorial on connecting 12-volt wires together. Yes, this sounds remedial, but I have seen enough botched jobs on boats to know that you
As part of the gradual replacement of outdated systems on our Norlin 34 project boat, it was time to look at communications. As any radio manufacturer will tell you, the problem with VHF radios is twofold: they are inherently reliable, thus tend to be a long way down the list of essential upgrades for owners of older boats. As long as you can use Channel 16 in an emergency or call your launch

Backstay Tensioner

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
Easy Upgrades: #1 of a seriesEvery fractionally rigged boat will have (or should have) a means of adjusting backstay tension. Its main purpose is to flatten and depower the mainsail in stronger winds, putting off the time at which a reef will be required. Because very few masthead-rigged boats are provided with backstay adjusters, cruising sailors regard them with the

Power from the Sun

by Ralph Naranjo, Posted August 24, 2011
In 1982, I mounted four ARCO Solar M-55 monocrystalline panels to a stainless steel frame above the dodger on my Ericson 41 sloop, Wind Shadow. On sunny days during the hours closest to noon, my amp meter indicated an 8 to 10 amp charge. Before and after the midday feast, the flow tapered to 2 to 6 amps.

Keeping the Sea Out

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 28, 2010
Out of sight, out of mind…That adage is so old it creaks, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It was especially true of the cockpit drain hoses and gate valves on our 34ft project boat. Back when we acquired the boat, the surveyor looked at the ancient hoses and corroded gate valves in horror and suggested that we replace them “before long.” Three years later, “before long” still hadn’t
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