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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Becoming of a Lean Cruising Machine

This blog is overdue for an update – cats have been busy getting past the inspection and finishing up loose ends on the Victoria. Captain has now a very nice log book, compliments of the First Mate - having to fill it out has been a real pleasure. Prior to inspection we have been working on emergency steering setup and external track for the trysail on the main mast. Both projects have been very educating. Climbing the mast to install the track has been craziest task I’ve done so far. Some sailors love it, but I will get used to it at best. To get up the mast I use Mast Mate system with their work tool belt, climbing harness, climbing rope and Petzl Ascension device from REI.

This setup allows me to climb both of my masts alone (although I send a text to First Mate every time I go up and come down) I use climbing rope because of its superior breaking strength and chafe, but mostly because Petzl Ascension device is not meant to be used with yacht braid. After replacing the halyard with climbing rope by tying in two bowline knots one after another to the top of the Mast Mate, I raise Mast Mate and secure climbing rope at the base and at the beam chain plates and back to Mast Mate for security. After attaching the Petzl Ascension to my climbing harness I go up the mast. I found this setup very safe and comfortable. Some of the advantages are: ability to go up alone and ability to shift my weight from the mast mate to climbing harness in order to rest, change tools or body position around mast.

Later I took a look at my wind vane setup. My berthing neighbor Clark and his Vessel Condessa have sailed around the Earth and into some very wicked and interesting situations. His boat has the same wind vane as mine so I looked at his setup as a perfect token of what mine should look like. After some very good advice from Clark I changed some of the weakness-prone hardware and prepared a setup for holding the wind vane (also emergency rudder) in place at 90-degree angle to the boat. This altogether was an interesting experience for me because I enjoy working with stainless steel and rigging in general. Condessa has a SS chain and quick-disconnect shackles holding its auxilary rudder in place - a very sturdy and easy setup. I wanted something similar but with an added ability to tighten or loosen the rudder quickly while underway to prevent it from swaying back and forth. My requirements for the system were ease of use, structural integrity and ability to take apart and put back together – all qualities of the original wind vane design.

Three integral parts of the setup became stainless eye bolts, wire, shackles, turn buckles, wire rope clips and thimbles. With these elements one has a fair chance to solve at least a minor standing rigging issue while underway.
I keep 100’ of ¼” ss wire rope and a number of equal diameter connecting elements in my rigging box for this reason alone.

I am very much fond of reusable rigging components. My current standing rigging is built using Sta-Lok fittings which eliminates a need for a professional rigging shop if there is none nearby or if there is one, the cost of new rigging comes down dramatically.

SF Bay has been teaching me lessons ever since I sailed for the first time. That first lesson was simply that sailing is what separates us from the animals. The most recent one was to tie in all permanent “screw-in” shackle pins with wire as to avoid unintentional disconnect of the pin. This is especially true with new blocks and shackles you’ve just put in – that shiny new pin will fly away just like that.

After going through our OSR inspection I felt quite confident in the boat. One of the better advices from my inspector was to “think vertically” to see what would happen if the boat were to capsize. I started to look more into the issue of what will actually fall upside-down. Heavy items and exterior openings were at the top of my list. Luckily designers at Les Chantiers Amel have put a lot of thought into “tightening the hatches” For example they have created various pins and rope features that secure all exterior lockers and compartments in case of capsize. Entry hatch cant “fall out” because of the permanent dodger above it. The engine is secured with a permanent bracket in the front that will prevent it from falling and damaging the shaft. As I looked at these features of the boat in this new inverted light I could not help but gain confidence in my vessel. The two things I found still in “falling capsize position” were engine room batteries and water in the keel placed water tank. I decided to secure battery trays cover with hinges and attach a starboard cover over the water tank. “Cats” still have to do annual MOB practice and CPR training (I think Pac Cup has it waived but we will do it anyway); that is pretty much it as far as OSR requirements go. Practice time baby.

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