Installing our Monitor Windvane.

When Jeff and I went to the Annapolis boat show last fall, one of the major items we wanted to purchase was a windvane.  As long as there is wind, windvanes can steer a sailboat 24/7 without using any electricity.  Consistent with our “keep it simple” philosophy, we knew that it was the way to go for us.  All we needed to do was make a choice amongst the different types that are manufactured.  

By the time we flew down to the show we had done our research and decided to purchase a Hydrovane.  We went to their booth, checked it out, and spent some time talking to the rep.  However, before we pulled the trigger we thought we should do our due diligence and also look at the Monitor windvanes.  After looking at it and speaking to Mike Scheck (the President of Scanmar), we walked away with Jeff saying, “Well, I think the Hydrovane is the way to go.”  I looked at him and said, “I prefer the Monitor.”  Uh-oh.

Jeff and I have been married since 1999 and we have always agreed on big purchases.  At $5,000 this certainly qualified as a big purchase, but for the first time in our marriage we didn’t agree.  This was going to be interesting.

Continue reading “Installing our Monitor Windvane.”

An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!

When Jeff was diagnosed with congestive heart failure we knew we would have to stray from our “keep it simple” principles when it came to our anchor setup.  Pre-CHF we planned to have a manual windlass (i.e. not powered by electricity) or perhaps go without one altogether.  After all, it wouldn’t be that difficult to raise a 22 pound Rocna anchor plus some chain by hand.  

With his diagnosis came lifting restrictions, so going without a windlass wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  I suppose if I had started seriously working on my pushups I could have raised the anchor by hand, but at 49 years old and aging every day, we decided that might not be the way to go.  The manual windlass also wasn’t ideal in case I was incapacitated and Jeff needed to use it by himself.  An electric windlass was clearly going to need to be installed.  But how to do it?  

Searching the internet, we couldn’t find any examples of Bristol 29.9’s with electric windlasses.  This may be because boats this size don’t typically need one, or it could have been that the relatively shallow anchor locker for the 29.9 wasn’t optimally designed for one.  No time like the present to give it a shot!

Continue reading “An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!”

That sucker is stuck.

After taking care of our propeller shaft stuffing box last fall, it was time to turn our attention to the rudder shaft stuffing box.  Jeff had noticed during last season that the hose surrounding the stuffing box was very old with many signs of serious cracks.  Given that a rupture of the hose would result in a significant amount of ocean water coming into the boat, we knew we needed to take care of it this offseason.

Unable to find anything online about servicing the rudder shaft stuffing box, we were essentially going to have to go in blind for this project.  Not surprisingly with a 40 year old boat, its been a challenge, and unfortunately we’re not finished yet.

Continue reading “That sucker is stuck.”

Visiting our standing rigging.

The house goes on the market one week from today (hooray!) and then we can turn our full attention back to the boat.  In the meantime, last Saturday we did get the chance to have some fun when we drove down to Sound Rigging Services (SRS) in Essex to check out the mast repair and our new standing rigging.

You may recall from the previous post on our dented mast that Chuck Poindexter from SRS had also found a crack in our existing standing rigging, so fixing the mast and getting new standing rigging became priority number one for this off-season.  We had decided to go with Hi-Mod swageless terminals so that we could easily replace it ourselves in the future, and Chuck had offered to have us down to his shop so we could practice assembling a Hi-Mod terminal.

Continue reading “Visiting our standing rigging.”

“You’re doing what??” Yes, we’re switching to hank-ons.

Installing new rigging meant that it was finally time to pull the trigger on something we had been thinking about for a while – removing the furler and switching to a hank-on jib.

Currently our headsail is on a furler which is what you see on the vast majority of sailboats nowadays. A furler allows you to simply pull on a line when you’re finished using the jib, rolling it around a foil. Basically the jib is always hoisted, but it rolls up when you’re not using it. When you need to reduce the sail because of high winds, you roll it up part way which reduces the sail but also reduces how closely you can point into the wind.  Since we have a sloop (which means there is only one headstay), having a furler meant that to change to a different headsail (a storm sail for example) would involve unfurling the sail entirely (while it flogs in the wind), dropping the sail, putting the new one on by inserting it into the slot (which means raising it higher as you go, while it’s unfurled and flogging in the wind), then furling it after it’s fully raised.  We had changed our headsail once when we had Little Bristol, and we had also installed and removed the sails each year at the beginning and end of each season (and once last season in anticipation of the hurricane that didn’t arrive).  It’s a royal pain.

Before furlers were invented, headsails were hanked on. Hanked on jibs have small pistons along the luff of the sail which are clipped around the forestay before raising the sail.  The sail can stay on the deck while it’s hanked on, so it’s not flogging like a furling sail.  Hanked on jibs can have a reef point put in so that you can roll up the bottom of the sail to a certain point rather than changing to a smaller sail. This doesn’t impact your pointing ability. Changing the sail involves dropping it, unhanking it and removing the jib sheets, hanking on a new one and installing the jib sheets, and raising the new sail.

We decided awhile ago that when we replaced the standing rigging we’d also remove the furler and switch to hank on headsails. This definitely goes against popular convention, but we have several reasons for doing this: we don’t like how poorly the boat points when the jib is partially furled; we don’t want to spend the money on adding a solent stay, so if we kept the furler but needed to switch to a storm jib, we’d have to completely unfurl the sail before dropping it – a task that’s not appealing in high winds; and we like how hank on jibs are bullet proof – no furler to break down or maintain. So, consistent with our desire to keep things simple, we’re going hank on.

Continue reading ““You’re doing what??” Yes, we’re switching to hank-ons.”

Well look at that. There’s a dent in our mast.

Last spring we were working on the mast when we noticed there was a dent in it.  It was clear that something compressed the upper tang, causing a dent.  The upper tang looked normal, so it must have been pulled out again.  We hadn’t noticed it when the mast was previously unstepped, but maybe we simply didn’t see it.  Regardless, it doesn’t matter when or how, it was there.

That’s a bummer.

We decided to ignore it for the season and deal with it later.  We weren’t planning on intentionally sailing in rough conditions nor out on the high seas, so we figured we’d take our chances.  But when we unstepped the mast last month, we knew it was time to address the situation.

Continue reading “Well look at that. There’s a dent in our mast.”

Two important projects complete (no, not the painting).

Another cold weekend.  Temperatures were in the mid-forties on Saturday with rain coming in during the afternoon.  Although Sunday called for a high in the upper 40’s and sunny, a strong cold wind put the wind chill in the upper 30’s and was most unwelcome.  Winter was warmer than spring has been, and once again we were not able to get any painting done.  With less than three weeks to go, it’s starting to get down to the wire.  However, the forecast for this weekend is starting to look promising, so maybe – just maybe – we can finally start putting the barrier coat on soon.  In the meantime there were plenty of other tasks to accomplish, with one job even more important than painting. Continue reading “Two important projects complete (no, not the painting).”

Some days are just like that.

We headed down to the boat on Saturday with a list of things to do and items to buy.  After stopping at Home Depot, Harbor Freight (when Home Depot didn’t have what we were looking for), Spicer’s (for Thumper’s primary fuel filter), West Marine, the boat (to take some measurements), and right back out again to Defender, we were finally back at Pegu Club and ready to get to work.  Aaaand – not so fast.  Continue reading “Some days are just like that.”

So I like sanding – yes, this makes me weird.

Now that we’ve finished scraping the bottom of the boat, it’s time to turn our attention to sanding.  Scraping doesn’t get rid of all of the paint, and before we put the barrier coat on the bottom needs to be paint free – down to the gelcoat.

We only had one sander, so initially Jeff gamely sanded on his own while I worked inside the boat.  The inside of the VHF cabinet needed to be cleaned, along with the area where the Origo is inserted, so I broke out our trusty Clorox Clean-up and got to work.  I was very pleased with the difference in the VHF cabinet (“before” is on the left”):


I also started working on wiring diagrams for our 12 volt electrical system. We still are complete novices when it comes to all things electric, but bit-by-bit we’re learning.

It was clear after a few trips to Shenny that we needed to get another sander if we wanted to be finished any time in the near future, so after the obligatory trip to Home Depot we were back at Shenny last weekend ready to get back at it.  This was going to be my first time sanding, so Jeff showed me the ropes and we got to it. Continue reading “So I like sanding – yes, this makes me weird.”

A small example of why every boat project takes longer than anticipated.

With sanding off of the table because of high winds this past weekend, it was a good time to take care of some miscellaneous items on the boat.

First up was removing the remaining chainplates.  We had pulled three a few weeks previously, but we wanted to get the last four before the boat was shrink-wrapped for the season.  It was a bit dismaying to see how easily the bolts turned – I almost didn’t need the socket wrench to get them started. Continue reading “A small example of why every boat project takes longer than anticipated.”