Category Archives: anchor-fitting

Boat dentistry

I wrote earlier about how I managed to break Tammy Norie’s nose by sweating on a line between it and the mast head. We’re not only repairing the damage but making the whole fitting much stronger.

Here’s a picture of the damage, with me pushing upwards on the anchor fitting.

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It took us a little while to understand what was wrong. The deck isn’t secured to the hull at the stem head except by a thin line of sealant. The deck joint has fixings behind the rubbing strake (which you can see at the bottom right) and seems pretty secure in general, but there’s nothing holding the deck down at the nose except general stiffness of the fibreglass.

At this point we could have squirted a load of epoxy into the gap, squashed down the deck, re-sealed the joint, and hoped for the best. But my principle for Tammy Norie is to fix any damage stronger than before. So I planned to replace the machine screws that hold down the anchor fitting with longer ones that go right through into the anchor locker, and through a reinforcing backing plate.

The original machine screws only go through the deck. Here’s a picture of the inside of the anchor locker looking forward. You might just be able to make out some bumps in the fibreglass at the top.

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After bolting down the anchor fitting, Newbridge made a reinforced fibreglass bubble for the anchor locker, glassing over the nuts! This makes the anchor fitting very hard to remove, as the nuts just rotate and you can’t get a spanner onto them without grinding through the anchor locker. This part of the locker is very small and hard to reach. It’s a terrible bit of unmaintainable design.

Dad and I discussed what to do. Even if we drilled out the stainless-steel machine screws (an awful job) the nuts would still be floating around. Since the damage had partially cracked the deck along a line behind the anchor fitting, I thought perhaps we should just cut right through it, remove the section of deck, then attempt to make the whole thing good after bolting it down. That would have been another big job and difficult to get right.

A week or so later I realised that when I’d ripped up the fitting I saw it rise to an angle of about 40 degrees. Given that the alternative was making a cut, I should just try prying it open to see if I could reach the nuts. There wasn’t much to lose. So I rigged up a rope from the fitting and pulled it tight.

Open wide, Tammy Norie!

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What lovely shiny teeth you have!

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The “tongue” you can see is the top of the anchor locker bubble.

We were able to get a spanner onto the nuts and undo the machine screws, removing the fitting. To get the last couple of screws out I used a wedge to keep her mouth open.

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With this done we were able to drill the holes through to the anchor locker. I started making a template for a backing plate from cardboard. Dad took over most of the work from here as I was busy making the new mast hinge.

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Here’s the finished template and the aluminium plate he cut.

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I had a lot of fun drilling the perforations. These are intended to capture resin and fibreglass to increase the strength of the bond between the plate and the hull. At this point I tried to bend the plate in the right place, but it was incredibly hard to get a good fold because of the awkward shape. Dad made a jig from some hardwood, annealed the plate, and did some hammering. The result: one rare specimen of the anchor backing plate moth!

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You have to imagine this turned upside-down and inside the anchor locker, pressed to the ceiling. The machine screws come down through the anchor fitting, the deck, and the ceiling, then through the plate and onto their nuts. We haven’t decided whether it’s worth keeping the hardwood block as well. It’s already a tight fit and it took quite a lot of work to get the plate into position.

Edit: Here’s a photo taken later of the moth in position.

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So far that’s as far as we’ve got. The fitting is bolted down and already more secure than before. We could, at this stage, re-seal the deck joint, seal the machine screws, and call the job done. But that’s not good enough. At the next opportunity we will add a layer of fibreglass over the plate, and especially over the perforated “wings” so that the anchor fitting is connected firmly to the hull as well as the deck. It should then be able to take a reasonable amount of upward load, allowing us to experiment with headsails without worry.

I’ll post pictures when the job is done.

For comparison, here’s a modification made by Declan McKinney for Galway Girl. He didn’t suffer damage like I did, but writes:

I must say I was nervous about the deck lifting just from the boat bouncing on its mooring, hence the upgrade.

Declan has gone for an external reinforcement with his anchor fitting on top. You can find more details, including a CAD drawing, at the Corribee & Coromandel Discussion Group on Yahoo.

Bow+fitting

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Filed under anchor-fitting, Repairs and Modifications

Launch weekend part 2: Breaking the boat

[Follows on from Launch weekend part 1: Keyhaven to Yarmouth.]

This is the day that I broke the boat.

We had a leisurely breakfast in Yarmouth and set out in glorious sunshine to sail to Newtown Creek.  We had no real purpose in going there other than to sail Tammy Norie.  Our destination for the day was the Junk Rig Association AGM at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club that afternoon.

This is the first day we could really sail and try out the rig.  The wind was a southerly breeze, making a pleasant reach for Newtown Creek.  We just sailed along and tried stuff out.

As we were sailing along I noticed the mast wobbling a little bit. I remembered the surveyor’s advice about the mast partners and thought I should have a look.  The survey mentioned that the mast needed wedges, and the boat had come with a bag of them, so I thought I could slip them in.

Tammy Norie’s mast is unstayed and sits on a substantial step at the bottom of the hull.  I won’t say “keel stepped” because she has twin keels and in any case the step would be well forward of any fin. The mast passes up through a stainless-steel disc about 25cm across and bolted to the coachroof ceiling, then through a cone moulded into the coach roof.

I undid the bolts holding this disc up in order to have a look at how the mast was resting on this cone.

Only it wasn’t.

As soon as I removed the disc the mast started pressing against the top of the cone.  The wedges I had were quite small and I imagined they were meant to go in the thin gap between the cone and the mast.  I pressed a couple in.  Almost immediately, the fibreglass cracked.  Fortunately, the wind was light and the main movement of the mast was from the chop and wakes in the Solent.  However, those caused the mast to wobble around and bash against the other side of the cone, creating more cracks.

Here’s the cone damage, photographed later with the mast boot off. Note the bolt head bottom right.

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At this point I realised that these wedges couldn’t possibly be for this purpose (I still don’t know what they’re for.) The mast should be braced against the deck at deck level.  I called to Dad to heave-to to reduce wind pressure on the mast.  Then I grabbed a towel that was nearby and stuffed it tightly into the cone, hoping to press it firmly with the disc and brace the mast. I tried to get the disc back onto the bolts.  There was no chance of that.  The mast was no longer quite vertical and wouldn’t line up.

I asked Mum to keep trying while I went outside and hauled on the various lines we had rigged to the masthead.  Nearly.  Then I threaded a spare halyard through the anchor roller and started sweating it.  Success!  The disc went on to the bolt.

Then there was a horrible splitting noise as the anchor fitting lifted, levering up a small section of deck.  I’d broken Tammy Norie’s nose!

Here’s a photo of the damage when back ashore, with me pressing upwards on the anchor fitting.  That part of the deck isn’t fixed to the hull, and was only held down by the general stiffness of the deck and some sealant.  The repair, when I do it, will be bulletproof!

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This was more inexperience on my part. Firstly, I’m used to larger boats and don’t expect to be able to break things with my bare hands. Secondly, I’m used to bermudan rigs where a line from the masthead to the bow (the forestay) can certainly take a great deal of load. But Tammy Norie’s bow fitting wasn’t designed for upward forces. It’s just an anchor roller on a plate bolted to the deck.

At least we were able to tighten the disc towards the coachroof ceiling, squashing the towel into a pretty firm but compliant bundle that held the mast tightly. No more wobble, no more creaking. No more cracks.

It’s a good job I knew where my towel was.

This is why we try out a boat in the Solent in good conditions. I’m very glad I didn’t try to sail Tammy Norie back from Inverness when I first bought her.

So, what I discovered was that the mast was resting on the disc, and that the forces on the mast were being transferred through those bolts to the deck.  Two 8mm stainless bolts, passing through simple holes in the deck without even a washer, their heads pressing straight onto the external gelcoat.  Unacceptable! You can read about the cone repair elsewhere in this blog.

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After that we had a very nice but brief stop in Newtown Creek and a fairly fast broad reach to Lymington, where we arrived only 10 minutes late for the AGM. The committee were very nice about it, saying that anyone who arrived by sea had a dispensation to be late.

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After lurking in the JRA for such a long time it was good to meet some members, and the next day we had a lovely junket and an amazing chance meeting. I’ll write about that later!

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Filed under anchor-fitting, Logs, mast