Monthly Archives: August 2017

A nasty hack on the shin

In the summer of 2015, while departing for the Netherlands, I hit the concrete footing outside Fort Blockhouse in the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. There’s no excuse for it — I was cutting a corner inside the channel marker, confusing it with the next one out.

This Google Maps image shows the footing quite clearly, but not the channel marker. In reality, this concrete is hidden under water, but you can see how nasty it is.

It was a big knock for Tammy, but I didn’t get to see the damage until I hauled her out in early 2016.

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Oh dear. That’s the forward edge of the starbard keel, about half-way down.

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And that’s a bit further up on the inside.

I ground away the damaged fibreglass. The hole went right through the skin, revealing a black wet fibrous substance behind. I’m still not exactly sure what it is, but I suspect it is some kind of resin encapsulating the keel ballast.

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The material stayed wet, so I decided to investigate by digging a small hole into it.

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The hole wept a black fluid, which kept flowing for two days, gradually slowing down. Once it stopped flowing, I stuffed tissue paper into the hole to encourage the moisture to wick out of the material, and eventually it dried up.

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What was left was slightly fibrous and crystalline.

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I decided not to worry about it any further at the moment. The next time Tammy is ashore for the winter, I may drill holes into the bottoms of the keels to drain them and then re-seal them in the spring, possibly with some kind of shoes attached. The undersides of the keels are looking worn, as you can see in this picture taken while she was on a crane later that year.

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Here are both the holes, cleaned up and dry. Some of the fibreglass along the forward seam was looking a bit dodgy, so I decide to patch that as well while I was working. You can see where I’ve cut a groove between the holes.

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With that done, I started to lay up glass to repair the hull. As I’ve seen recommended in several videos, I laid down a large patch first, then added smaller patches until I’d built up a repair.

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I then ground away the excess to restore the keel shape.

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With hindsight I could’ve added another layer of glass.

Finally, I applied clear gelcoat, then sanded the result smooth. I somehow forgot to take a picture of the smooth result!

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You might wonder why I chose to use clear gelcoat. Well, these repairs are below the waterline, and will be covered by antifouling, and I didn’t see any cosmetic reason to hide them. I’d rather be able to see clearly where my repairs are and perhaps see into the top layers of layup for problems. I also have no motivation to hide my mistakes and repairs, as you can tell by this blog!

This year I dried out Tammy at Portchester Sailing Club, to inspect and clean her bottom, and that gave me a chance to look at my repairs.

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There’s no sign of any problems, and I’m happy that Tammy is seaworthy. I plan to make a more thorough investigation of both keels when she comes out this winter. In particular, I think I’ll make some small inspection holes from inside the boat and send in my dad’s endoscope to see what’s there. I’ve read articles from Corribee owners saying there are quite large voids above the ballast, and even one suggesting they might be a good place for water tanks.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, or ideas about what’s inside my keels, I would be very interested to hear.

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Filed under hull, Repairs and Modifications

To Purbeck with Emmelène

I’m planning to sail from the Solent to Purbeck and Poole next weekend in company with Chris Boxer aboard Tammy’s sister Emmelène. This should be a fun outing. I’ll be meeting family there, but more interesting for my readers, this will be a good chance to compare my flat Hasler-McLeod rig with Emmelène’s split rig under a variety of conditions.

Here’s the plan:

  • Thursday around 13:00: Tammy and Emmelène rendezvous in the eastern Solent and ride the current to the west. Most likely overnight at Yarmouth, Lymington, or Keyhaven.
  • Friday 13:00: Pass through west Solent tide race at slack water and ride the current to Studland Bay.
  • Monday 04:00: Catch the tide change to sail back to the west Solent channel before it becomes impassable at around 11:00.

As always, if anyone wants to meet up please get on touch. (My nephew and niece get priority as crew on Tammy Norie, but have not yet confirmed.)

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Filed under Plans

Sister Rings

When I first rigged up the Hebridean wind vane self-steering, I used some hard anodized aluminium rings instead of blocks to run the tiller control lines. These rings are mechanically simple and very slippery, and they’ve done a great job. A couple of years ago I started to think about where else I could apply them.

Tammy Norie has “sister blocks” in the main sheet to evenly distribute load across battens. These are simply two blocks attached back-to-back.

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There’s nothing wrong with this, and Tammy’s are in good condition, but I wondered if something simpler and lighter could be made from anodized rings. And here it is: the “sister rings”!

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This is such a simple idea that I can’t believe someone hasn’t done it before. It’s just two rings joined together with a double eye splice. In this case, two 16mm Barton “high load eyes” joined with Dyneema.

This is a simple, lightweight, cheap, strong, and easy-to-make alternative to sister blocks, with comparable friction, unlike the traditional wooden euphroe.

To form the splice using single-braided line (such as Dyneema), form two eyes like this. Note that the long end passes through the short end (the opposite to what you might expect) and this involves passing one of the eyes through the braid.

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Once you have the rings in place and have tightened the eyes, trim and tuck the ends inside the braid between the rings, fixing the eyes.

I use Selma fids for this kind of splicing.

I’m experimenting with using these rings to replace blocks in other parts of the rigging. It’s easy to carry rings and line and make up or repair things that you need on board, and that very much fits with my philosophy for Tammy Norie!

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Filed under Repairs and Modifications, sheet

Emmelène meets Tammy Norie

Chris Boxer has written about our recent meeting at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. You can find his post on Emmelène’s blog.

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Emmelène has a split junk rig, which means about a third of the sail area is ahead of the mast and formed of conic sections called “jiblets”. These direct airflow over the main part of the panels abaft the mast. The slot effect helps the air stick to the back of the mains and so increases the stall angle, and thus how high you can point. To make this work the luffs of the main sections need to be tight near the mast, like the luff of a Bermudan main.

It’s quite like sailing a stack of small pivoting Bermudan rigs!

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It’s often said that the Coromandel’s mast is too far back. Tammy certainly suffers from weather helm, especially on a reach. But Emmelène has none at all. It’s quite spooky.

If anything she could do with moving the centre if effort aft a touch. The sheets are perhaps a little too relaxed and sometimes it was hard to persuade the sail to swing out.

This is no fault of Chris’s. He bought the rig second-hand to replace the poor “hi-power” rig that came with Emmelène. In fact it was the exact rig the Practical Boat Owner featured in their comparison of junk and Bermudan rigs (using identical Splinter 22s I think) a while ago.

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I look forward to meeting Chris again and perhaps trying it all out in more varied conditions.

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A full set of photos is on Flickr. And a set of photos taken by Chris.

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Filed under Logs

Tammy and Emmelène

Tammy is alongside her sister Emmelène in Bembridge harbour. Expect a tour later!

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Filed under Logs

Rotten to the core

 

 

Some time ago I read an excellent article by David Pascoe called “Attaching Hardware to your Boat”. I highly recommend it, and all his other maintenance articles too.

To summarize: bolts and screws through your deck core will eventually make it rot away.

Now I have proof!

I’ve been sitting aboard Tammy Norie in the rain for several days recently. That gives me a good chance to look around for leaks. I noticed some drips in the heads compartment, and traced them to a nut on the ceiling. It was a bolt from the boom gallows attachment.

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I remembered David Pascoe’s article, and decided it was time to grit my teeth and investigate the deck core. So on the next dry day I dismantled the boom gallows and used my 20mm hole saw to cut out the inner fibreglass layer and core (but of course not the deck).

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What came out was not pretty. Instead of crisp balsa, I got brown mush.

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You can see here how the balsa wood has lost its integrity.

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And here are the damp sweepings from drilling out the other three holes.

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Looking in to the cut out I could see the dark brown discoloured wood. I can only hope that now that it’s exposed to the air it will get a chance to dry out. It won’t regain structure, but at least I will have stopped the rot.

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Out of the four bolt holes, only one looked good. You can see the contrast in the colour and texture. Note that only one of the bolts showed any evidence of leaking. That means two of them were secretly leaking into the core.

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I re-fitted the gallows using new bolts backed with washers through just the deck layer, all sealed with butyl tape.  These stayed dry on the next rainy day.  Even if they do leak a little, the water should drip off the bolt and not touch the wood.

David Pascoe recommends sealing the exposed wood. I will do this once it has had a chance to dry out.

So take heed! If you have bolts through your deck core, get them out before it’s too late. Don’t delay!

I’m now looking at all the other fixings with suspicion, and will be working my way around them all.

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Filed under Repairs and Modifications

Bungie Boarding

One of the greatest risks for a solo sailor is falling off the boat. When I’m sailing alone in all but the safest conditions, I’m wearing a lifejacket. I also clip on, especially when the autopilot or self-steering gear are engaged. What a nightmare it would be to fall in the water, away from shore, and see your boat sail away from you, suddenly freed of your weight!

Even if you’re clipped on it’s very difficult to get back aboard. When Tammy is at rest I’m able to haul myself up onto her side-decks, but not over the transom. And what hope is there that I could reach a side-deck if she’s sailing?

So I’ve taken an idea I’ve seen on mini-Transats: a permanently installed elastic step at the transom.

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The trick is to use some webbing tube threaded with elastic cord, strung across the back of the boat. The elastic should be taught to keep the line out of the way, but the webbing should be long enough that it forms a step that you can reach to get back aboard.

Here’s the step strung between the drogue attachments at on Tammy’s quarters. It should be fairly easy to reach from the water, even if I’ve had to haul myself along the safety line to catch up with the boat. The elastic keeps it out of the way of things like the self-steering gear.

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Here it is again with me standing on it.

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I’ve adjusted the length so that my waist is at the height of the pushpit rail, allowing me to bend forward and flop into the cockpit even if my arms are exhausted.

It’s one of those things I hope I’ll never need to use. It was easy to put together and might save me. I might even be able to test it (with some help).

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Filed under Equipment