Cruising Tips - August 2006

This month: Steering toward a buoy, trip lines, a Cutter that cuts it, and how to change an impellerMaintenance A “Burned” ImpellerImpellers for the engine’s raw-water pump don’t last forever. Even if they aren’t destroyed by having been run dry following a blockage in the raw-water line, they still deteriorate over the years. If you’ve never had to change one,
Author:
Updated:
Original:

This month: Steering toward a buoy, trip lines, a Cutter that cuts it, and how to change an impeller

Maintenance

A “Burned” Impeller

Impellers for the engine’s raw-water pump don’t last forever. Even if they aren’t destroyed by having been run dry following a blockage in the raw-water line, they still deteriorate over the years. If you’ve never had to change one, try installing a new one when the boat is safe on its mooring, and then go out and buy a new spare. You might be surprised by what you discover:

  • Some raw-water pumps require a fresh gasket each time the impeller is changed. Do you have a gasket on hand?
  • Does your screwdriver fit the machine screws that attach the cover plate?
  • Might you lose a screw in the bilge? It’s so easy to do. If so, can you reach it, or should you carry a couple of spares?

All this is vital knowledge when you have to do the job heeled over in rough seas on a dark night. T.C.

Pilotage

Beware of the Buoys

“Just head for the buoy up ahead, and make sure you leave it to starboard.” An instruction like this is asking for trouble, especially if a novice is steering. All it takes is a bit of cross current and the boat will be gradually set off course, all the while pointing faithfully at the buoy; it may even be set onto the very hazard the buoy is marking. When you steer toward a buoy, always note the compass heading and be ready to compensate for a cross current if the compass heading changes. J.C.

Anchoring

Tripped by the Trip Line

If you ever have your anchor catch under a rock or other obstruction, you’ll be glad you rigged a trip line. But if you ever have someone else’s anchor buoy and trip line wound around your propeller, you’ll curse trip lines and all who use them. In crowded anchorages, trip lines often cause more problems than they solve. It is not unheard of for a boat to swing over its own or someone else’s anchor buoy, getting the line caught around the rudder or propeller and tripping the anchor unintentionally. If you absolutely must use a trip line, make it a long one; secure it to the anchor rode at intervals with a light, easy-to-snap string, and make it fast to one of the bow cleats. That way, the worst that can happen is that the trip line may get twisted around the anchor rode as the boat swings to a reversing current or wind shift. You may have a bit of fun sorting out the tangle when it’s time to leave, but that’s nothing compared to the joy of having your trip line wound around your own prop. P.N.

Sailhandling

A Cutter that Cuts It

For many cruisers, a cutter rig is the one that works best—so long as the staysail is cut for windward work, fairly flat with its draft well forward. A staysail also needs a good sheet lead. Sheet tracks and leads for many staysails seem to be placed more for convenience than effectiveness and often fail to take into account the staysail’s dual role.

On most cutters, the staysail is used with a larger headsail primarily when close reaching. When sheeted inside another headsail, the staysail must be trimmed more tightly than its companion, requiring a track fairly well inboard. However, when used by itself as a heavy-weather windward sail, a staysail may require a more open sheet lead, especially as few cruising boats are capable of pointing really high. At these times it is better for the track to be farther outboard.

The problem with staysails is that most are so small they are close to storm-jib size. If the inner forestay is attached to the mast at the upper spreaders, the sail may also have a short luff, and it is the luff of the sail that powers a boat to weather. For this reason, many cruisers have adopted what some call a Solent stay, which is attached to the mast and deck only a couple of feet behind the headstay. This allows for a staysail of sufficient size to power the boat upwind and in most cases does not require the running backstays used with most other cutter rigs. The downside is that you do have to change sails if you actually need a storm jib. T.J.

Words from the Wise

“When planning a cruising boat, don’t let your thinking become too colored by the giant waves and perpetual gales. For ninety-nine days out of a hundred you will be either in port or at anchor where a comfortable home is the most important factor, or at sea in light to moderate weather where a comfortable home is certainly no burden. For that one day in a hundred when the weather turns inclement and thoughts turn to chicken farms, you may curse one or two of the fittings chosen with strict regard to living comfort, but as long as your hatches are sound and you have done nothing to weaken the vessel structurally, she will do well and be quite safe.” -- Alan Lucas, Just Cruising, 1969

Contributors this month: John Coutts, Tom Cunliffe, Tom Jackson, Peter Nielsen

Click here for the Cruising Tips Archive

Related

BoatTalk-2048

VIDEO: Sailing Not just for Millionaires

Sailing and boating can come with a hefty price tag, but there are plenty of ways to get on the water without breaking the bank. In this episode of Boat Talk, SAIL's managing editor Lydia Mullan and Power & Motor Yacht's executive editor Charlie Levine share tips on getting out ...read more

Cornell-2048x

Elcano Challenge Resurrected

In late 2020, sailing legend Jimmy Cornell set off on his Elcano Challenge, a green-powered circumnavigation aboard the custom Outremer Aventura Zero. Unfortunately, shortly after setting out, the boat encountered major power-generation issues. "I took the decision to turn ...read more

F8V-BOOK-for-SAIL---1

Book Review: The Figure 8 Voyage

“What is the color of the ocean that rolls beneath Pacific trades? How does a wave curl and crash at 47 degrees south? Can an albatross remain awing in the worst of weathers?” Randall Reeves has always found images to be the most compelling part of the stories we tell about the ...read more

AC210117cb_23806

VIDEO: Capsize in the Prada Cup

American Magic's Patriot capsized during day three of the Prada Cup. If you haven't yet watched the catastrophe unfold with your own eyes, check out the above video or any number of others that are circulating on social media. It's truly a tip that has to be seen to be believed. ...read more

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more