Saturday, May 29, 2010

Main sail rigging

Decided to unwrap the main sail and start getting it rigged. Still don't know if we have a boom vang, so will continue to research that but in the mean time, need to get the main sail on so it feels like it is ready to go. The biggest sail bag I could find seemed like the right place to start. The top bit seemed right, with a ring that I could attach the halyard to. The bottom stern end of the sail also had a wring that I could attach to the out haul. The bottom of the main sail slipped nicely into the rail on the boom, which I pulled out until it was completely threaded onto the boom. I then attached the main sheet halyard and began to tug the sail up the mast putting the plastic bits into the slide rail as I went. Up she goes. Got about half way up and noticed that we have some pockets for battens. Went down below and found four battens. The smallest one fit perfectly in the top batten pocket. The next largest was next and so on. The last pocket was too small for our last long batten, so not sure whether we're missing one or it isn't used.

With Leigh helping, we then lowered the sail flaking as we went, just like in the basic sailing course and our Guadeloupe trip. We did a reasonably handsome job of folding the sail on the boom, about a foot on each side, pulled nicely towards the stern as we went in order to keep the sail from overlapping with the mast. Once we had about half the sail down we wrapped and tied, with a reef knot, the first half the the sail. Next we brought down the rest and tied up the middle and front end of the sail. A beautiful dark blue sail cover fits snuggly over the sail, wrapping around the mast and protecting our big main sail. She is ready to sail...just need to ask about the missing batten at the bottom, as well as rigging up some reefing line to the sail.

Feels good to have that sail ready to go. Still working on the engine and electrical systems. Hoping to get out soon. Also need to pull out the jib and genoa sails and see what kind of shape they are in.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oops, now the boom

So, a couple important things. First, we had the main halyard and the topping lift (the line that holds the stern (back) end of the boom) on the bow (front) side of the boat. That means it was looped over the spreaders and needed to be moved to the stern side. We must have made a mistake when raising the mast and left these two lines on the wrong side...note for next time, keep them on the stern side before raising the mast. This is THE way to learn, the hard way, one that makes it hard to forget.

Soooo, how to get those pesky lines on the  correct side of the rigging? Bosuns chair, apparently a device that allows one, with some help, to be raised up the mast to do work such as this. Don't have one yet. A little nervous of the idea. Would have to learn this whole rig-a-ma-roll (sounds like that little expression came from sailing?). Think. Try out every line, see what pulls what, could one of the lines haul up the messed up lines and then drop them on the correct side and return...not likely? Interesting, the topping lift has no line to raise it up. Only the main sail halyard has a line that can raise it. So, we try raising it with the topping lift line goes up, but doesn't feel like it'll have enough weight to come down...too much friction. So, I start tying various tools on to give it this required weight...wrench, spanner, another wrench. Getting heavy enough to come down once lifted up. Then I see that when it hits the spreaders it get stuck...won't go higher as the spreader is blocking the path.

Attach another thin line to the weight and use this to pull the whole thing towards the bow as we reach the spreader, then, as the boat rolls a little I pull and let the weight swing towards the stern and at the moment it is past the spreader heading further towards the stern I quickly lower the weight, bang, into the mast, but nicely below the spreader, now on the correct stern side of the boat. so many ways. Imagine, as I had visions of, a large set of steel tools up at the spreaders, stuck, dangling and clanging at everyone, look over here at this bozo. Fortunately, this time this ridiculous work-around has a pleasant ending.

With the topping lift and main sail halyard now on the stern side of the rigging, we are ready (or at least so I think) to attach the boom to the mast. We (my Dad and I), attach the topping lift clip and line to the loop and cleat, adjusting it to the height that ensures the pin goes through the connection at the mast. I slide the boom into the gooseneck, drop the large think long pin down into the hinge, pop a cotter (someone mentioned I spelled this differently in a past blog, and perhaps even in reference to a different piece of, learn, try, forget and learn again) pin in to hold the large pin in place. She holds nice and fast, providing a boom that appears to be in the correct place, and the right way up.

I'd gotten the few block and tackle gizmos and lines that looked like the right pieces for holding the boom in place. Was trying to get the boom vang as well, which I thought I had, but turned out to be the main sheet (think rope with pulleys for hauling the boom in and out through tacks, know). Review some similar C&C boats, for ideas, and then hooked up the main sheets that clicked right into place towards the stern end of the boat on the boom. This also clipped in nicely to the slider system in the cockpit. A nice pull on the main sheet and the boom tightens up nicely into place. It swings back and forth when pulled in and out (useful for performing the necessary tacks). We then lock it into place in the centre of the boat so that it holds the boom in place right down the middle for now (some people clip it in to the side opposite the dock so that there is lots of room in the cockpit when docked).

It wasn't elegant and there was some thinking that perhaps we should wait for others to tell us how, but this attempting, trying and learning through every little mistake is quite a thrill. For today, the story ends well. I am sure there will be many ups and downs through this process. In fact the downs make the ups feel that much more exhilarating once accomplished.

Next hurdles include boom vang (no idea on this one yet...may just be some of the line and some pulleys). Then the sails need to be mounted and adjusted. Also, the electric motor is still on order and we will need to work through hauling the Atomic 4 gasoline engine out, clean the area and replace with the electric and batteries.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Raising the mast

Since our Atomic 4 gasoline engine would not start we got a tow to the area where the crane can hoist the mast onto the boat. Preparation for this maneuver included first getting about seven guys to lift the heavy long mast down off the storage racks. Once down and sitting on four horses spread about twenty feet apart we began hosing down about four years of dust, dirt, bird crap, spider nests and who knows what else. After the initial hosing down we began scrubbing with sponges with an abrasive scrubber side. The slide rail needed an especially thorough cleaning to ensure nothing would cause it to get caught on the sail slides going up but especially when bringing it down. We ran our hands along all of the standing rigging which is made out of steel cable to make sure there were no burrs that might be a sign of damage and potential hazard for the sails to get caught on.

Once everything was thoroughly washed and cleaned we were told to use an acid wash to get the mast even cleaner. Also, all the rope (lines) had to be cleaned as they had accumulated a lot of dirt. At the bottom of all the standing rigging are turnbuckles. Each of these was thoroughly cleaned with water and then WD 40 was used to lubricate them to ensure they would turn easily without jamming. It was important to ensure that the steel rigging did not get bent improperly as this could permanently damage them. The sailboats chainplates and shackles were checked with cotter pins and split rings placed ready in these fittings to which the shrouds will be attached to secure the mast forward and aft (front and back), starboard and port (right and left). We were missing one on the starboard side. Keep spares available. Lubricate all moving parts so halyards are turning pulleys smoothly, check for abrasion and replace as necessary. Check all the clevis pins. They should be secured and ready to be taped so they don't damage the sails.

The boat was positioned close to the crane so that the mast, once raised would be directly under the mast seat and deck hole for the mast. The mast was positioned with the rail side up so that as the mast was lifted and moved over the boat it would be facing the stern (back) of the boat where the main sail will be mounted on that slide rail. A bowline was used to secure a very thick (1/2 inch) line (rope) to the middle of the mast, about eight inches below the spreaders. This was then tied down at the base (bottom) of the mast so that the loop in the middle would not slide up into the spreaders. The spreaders were attached with some screws and then taped with white electrical tape. The upper shrouds were then attached to the spreaders, plastic caps placed over them, and these then taped with white electrical tape on all three side to ensure it stays on and protects the sails. It is very important to ensure that the standing rigging from the top of the mast are all on the right sides and that they are not going to get wrapped up by the rope or crane. All standing rigging required on the port side was placed on the part side and all rigging required on the starboard side were placed on that side. The essential point is to ensure the upper rigging does not get trapped on the wrong side of the rope being used to raise the mast. Be sure the halyards are not entangled with the spreaders. Tape spreaders ends to ensure they won't damage the sails.


We should have tested all the lights with a portable 12 volt batter and labeled the wires. We didn't know this at the time.

The cranes hook was lowered into position and secured on the loop tied with a bowline at the centre of the mast just below the spreaders. The key is not to allow the substantial weight of the mast to be held by the the tied roped at the base of the mast must be secure and no stretch or loosening of the loop in the middle should allow for this.With at least three people, but ideally with four or five, the mast can then be raised.

The crane winch is first used to slowly start lifting the mast with the hook attached to the loop in the middle of the mast. The base of the mast must be held by someone as it will want to swing back towards the crane and lake. Keep the base of the mast down towards the ground and the mast will then start to stand upright as it is lifted higher. Keep an eye on all the shrouds and rigging to ensure it isn't getting caught on any of the horses. The cranes hook cables should also be secured so they don't twist s they will have a tendency to do. The manned positions are an operator of the crane winch, someone strong and heavy to keep the base of the mast down and guided, a crane rotation operator, and someone ready on the deck of the sailboat prepared to guide the mast into the mast base hole and the seat once it goes through the hole in the main cabin. With the mast hanging directly over this mast base hole, get the mast perfectly vertical and position the boat so that the hole is directly under the mast by shifting the boat in the mooring back or forward. Slowly, very slowly, lower the mast into the hole, with the hand on deck guiding it into place, keeping all the electrical wiring (for lighting and radio antenna) well clear of getting caught or pinched. Adjust the boat and crane as required to keep the mast coming straight down into the hole.

Once the mast is in the hole a foot or two the deck hand can go inside the cabin to prepare to lower the mast onto the base plate shoe. Here it is critical to get everything positioned perfectly so that as the mast is lowered it will sit right in the shoe. Move the boat six inches at a time back or forward until the mast appears to be ready to meet the shoe, the mast should be within an inch or two of the shoe to make these adjustments. Check the vertical positioning as well. Once things look like they will meet when lowered, lower away SLOWLY, muscling the mast into the shoe. Once sitting in the shoe, secure the standing rigging, starting with the forestay, then the backstay, then the upper shrouds on both sides of the boat, and then the lower shrouds on both sides of the boat. Secure with codder pines and split rings. Codder pins are pushed through towards the bow of the boat. Insert all clevis pins with heads forward or outboard, and tape over the bent cotter pins to protect the sails.

The hook was then lowered using a pole to ease the loop over the steaming light on the forward side of the mast.

We still need to place the wedges around the mast at the collar where the mast exits the cabin. We also still need to lead running rigging to the appropriate blocks and winches and connect light wires.

Bring the mast down simply reverses this process.

Switch to electric motor

We've made the decision to switch from the Atomic 4 gasoline engine that dates from when the boat was originally built in 1974 to an electric motor. We've ordered the biggest electric motor Electric Yachts has. Bill and Scott who run the company have been very helpful as we learn more about this conversion. We plan to buy the batteries for the electric motor locally. We are looking into the details now of how to pull the old gasoline engine and assorted fuel systems out of the boat. Likely we will get some help with this at Island Marina.

I've found some some useful background information on electrical systems and requirements at various web sites. Most recently I've been reading the summarized version of electrical code for boats at New Boat Builders - link to code document is here. Interestingly much of the code deals with protection required of the electrical system when you have a gasoline engine. Essentially this is not an issue with our decision to switch to electric motor.  Just found a pretty good shareware summary of electrical system requirements - here. Ahhh, just found a direct link to the Canadian Marine Electrical safety page here.

As a part of the conversion I've put a couple solar panels off my roof down at the boat that will eventually be mounted on the bimini as a means of solar charging the batteries. Looks like we should be able to mount four 40 watt panels, for a total of 160 watts of solar charging capability. Interestingly the electric motor will also charge the batteries when we are sailing as the propellor is turned by the friction in the water turning the motor into a generator.