Making Companionway Drop Boards

After a winter of record snow and record cold, yesterday it reached 12 degrees.  It was amazing.  Motorcycles on the streets, people wearing shorts, and the snowbanks, now all black and gnarly, poured into storm drains.  In a post from last year, I listed some of the items that were projects for over the  winter to get Hurry On ready for the sea.  I put a dent in some of them, most, however, were just too cold to tackle.  One of the projects  was making a replacement for the rotten companionway door.  The bottom of the door had degraded to such an extent that it sunk more than an inch and a half in the grooves leaving a large gap at the top allowing rain in.

Comes with a free oyster shell!

Hard time keeping the weather out of here.

Our last boat, Indefatigable, came with a door problem as well, but once a piece was was replaced, it was better than new.  This was starting from scratch.  The original was a single sheet of half inch marine plywood, with a teak block for a handle.  For the replacement, I was thinking 3/4″ oak and mahogany, on account of teak being impossible to find here, not to mention out of our budget.

I made a lot of mistakes building these doors, and even scrapped it and started all over, so hopefully if you take on a similar project, you can avoid these pitfalls.  If I had to do it all over again, I simply would have cut out a single piece of Lexan, and sanded the edges.  That being said I am quite happy with how this turned out, but it took along time.  My first mistake, was assuming that the companionway opening was square.  Obviously its is not a square, it’s a trapezoid, but it was not a ‘right trapezoid where two sides are exactly the same length, and the other two sides are parallel.   This assumption led to many problems down the line, and many wasted hours.

On the second try, I cut out a piece of cardboard to fit the opening exactly and used this as a template for the new doors.  I would have done this the first time around, bet the old door was missing the bottom, and I foolishly thought that as long as I had the angles, the lengths would take care of themselves.   Onward.

My plan was to make these doors the same as the doors on Indy, as this was the really the only style that I have known.  These were made up of two horizontal pieces (oak in this case) and two diagonal pieces (mahogany) that would make up the edges.  I should also mention I don’t know if I would have been able to do this with out my father’s wonderful array of tools, and word-working know-how.

The first step was to cut a tongue and groove joint for both pieces of oak for each door.  This was done with Da’s shaper.  The pieces were clamped and glued with Gorilla Glue, which so far has never let me down,

Kitchen gluing

Kitchen gluing

 

Solid

The ring grains of the wood inverted to prevent warping

The shape of the door was then cut out, taking into account 4″ of mahogany that would make the edge, and the 1/4″ tongue that would be needed to make the joint.  The mahogany was then fitted with a groove, the oak got the tongue.

Trapazoids!

Trapazoids!

Once the edges were glued on, the were shaped so that they would nicely fit into the companionway opening grooves where the 1/2 plywood once sat.  Where the two boards met, there was a rabbet cut into each piece, so that the top overlapped the bottom to keep out the rain.  The proper angle was then cut into the bottom of the bottom board.  To find the exact place to cut the top piece, I slid the boards into the opening and marked where it met the hatch,  and made the cut conservatively.  I then sanded the top until the hatch slid closed.

edges shaped and glued

edges shaped and glued

It was probably wrong, and I haven’t heard of anyone ever doing this, but I oiled the doors, then varnished them.  I did this on the Indy’s wood three years ago, they they still look new.  If you can tell me why thissis just adding work, or pointless, please do, but I have had fantastic results with this.  After two rounds of teak oil, I applied three coats of Cetol Marine by Sikkens which seems to work great.

Last coat of Cetol Marine

Last coat of Cetol Marine

 

Hard to keep things dust free in this basement

Hard to keep things dust free in this basement

Added a few little vents that I picked up on our last trip to Halifax.  I used a sealant on the top and sides of the vents to keep the water out.  I applied the sealant, and screwed them in almost all the way, after 24 hours, I screwed them in the rest of the was after the sealant had dried in order to create a gasket effect.

The matching grain at the boards' union is pure coincidence.

The matching grain at the boards’ union is pure coincidence.

 

Nice and Snug

I wasn’t planning to do the rest of the wood this year, but…..

 

It fits!

It fits!

Next on the agenda, tackling the ol’ sole!

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Marine Diesel Engines by Nigel Calder

I am pretty thankful for fellow sail bloggers in the Southern Hemisphere.   While I have only ventured out to Hurry On a few times a week to knock accumulating snow and ice from her cover,  I can follow along with others as they go on day trips off New Zealand, or spend a few weeks trekking to the Marquesas.  But winter is not a total loss, it’s a good time to get some self-education done.

When it comes to engines, I would say I know slightly less that your average Canadian man.   And considering I grew up in a small village on the East Coast, I know considerably less than the average Cape Bretoner.   That’s why the diesel engine tucked away in Hurry On’s underbelly makes me so nervous.  Outboards, like the one on Indy, were pretty simple devices.  Small, light, manageable, and if there was ever a problem, you just pop’em off, take it home in the car and work on it in the back yard.

I have to get all learned up on diesel engines.  For the last month or so I’ve been reading Marine Diesel Engines by Nigel Calder.

Marine Diesel Engines

Because I consider myself to be starting from scratch, I appreciate how the book starts with basic theory.  The difference between gas and diesel engines, and how engines work on a very basic level.  It doesn’t take long before you get into the nitty gritty of the more complex components.

I’m only halfway through the book, but already, Calder has pulled away the veil and demystified much of the engine and its various parts.  I remember over the years seeing an engine that would spew black smoke, and thinking “Uh oh.  The engine is broken.”  But now I know black smoke means unburnt fuel.  Why is there unburnt fuel?  Too much to burn?  Not enough air to burn it all?

I’ve just arrived to the chapter on winterization.  A bit late, but now I’ll know for next year.

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Winter Cover

Last year was one of the worst winters in Cape Breton’s recent collective memory.  It started promptly on November 1st and lasted well into April.  Record breaking snowfall, record breaking low temperatures.  I knock on wood as I say this, but at this time, there is no snow on the ground, and only a handful of days where the daytime high dipped below zero.  Plenty of time to putter around the C&C27 and make plans.  I removed the cracked leaky windows, but in order to put the new ones in, I have to wait for it to warm up, as the goo needs 15° to work properly.

Covering a boat up for the winter is an annual rite in Cape Breton, and a visit to any boatyard on the island will show you the wide variety of methods and levels of care that goes into keeping the vessels protected from the elements.  With  a Tanzer 22 the process was pretty simple, propping the mast up on wooden braces, and letting that be the peak of a tarp tent off which snow and rain easily poured.

This year with a much larger beam, and a need to do quite a bit of work inside over the winter,  I would have to try something new.   I found a neat set-up on Joy In The Mooring, that looked like it would do the job.  Basically, a rib cage made from electrical conduit covered in a tarp.  The conduit was fairly inexpensive, and my father had a 30’X40′ tarp he wasn’t using and generously offered it up.

Electrical conduit boat cover

Electrical conduit boat cover

Electrical conduit boat cover

Not bad work space

Not bad work space

UPDATE:

The cover has been up now for few weeks, and some problems are revealing themselves.  Primarily snow and rain pooling.  Every once in a while I will have to climb in and give things a little boost in falling off.  One of the causes of this is the stanchions making the slope of the tent bit not steep enough.  Another problem is the size of the tarp.  It’s too big.  I am using it folded completely in half that means I only have grommets on 3 of the 4 sides, which makes it difficult getting nice and snug.

 

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Hurry On

Her name is Hurry On.  A C&C 27 who didn’t make it into the water the last few years.  A fixer-upper with good bones, a large wardrobe of sails, and headroom enough for 3/4 of our family to stand up in the cabin.  Between now and the Spring of 15, there is a lot of work to do.  It has also given me the opportunity to learn about marine diesels, which I’m somewhat uneasy about, knowing pretty much squat about engines in general, diesel or otherwise.

Projects I hope to tackle in order of importance:

Re-seat chainplates – a bit of water getting in there, but wood seems good.

Engine tune up – having sat idle, it could likely use some attention.

New companionway door – Hey, I’ve done this before!

Replace Windows – Scratched, foggy and leaky

Replace floor – Its pretty spongy down there.

Re-seat traveler – pretty leaky down below

Change name? – Not sure about this yet

C&C 27 MKV named "Hurry On"

C&C 27 MKV named “Hurry On”

Inches to spare on either side.

Inches to spare on either side.

Her mast is much heavier than Indy's!

Her mast is much heavier than Indy’s!

Cockpit

Cockpit

old-world charm

old-world charm

needs a good scrub

needs a good scrub

safety equipment inspection

safety equipment inspection

Our ladder is just long enough!

Our ladder is just long enough!

Comes with a free oyster shell!

Comes with a free oyster shell!

MAst/Rudder balance test

Mast/Rudder balance test

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Indefatigable has a new owner

Its been four great summers.  She was always a patient and forgiving teacher, but in order for us to move to the next phase of the journey, we had to part ways.   Congratulations Gavin, you have a great boat.

Taking suggestions on names for our next vessel, to be introduced next week!

May-31Mom-11 096picnik

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The Leibster Award

This is my first blog.  I started it back in 2011 when we hatched this crazy plan.  Since then I’ve detailed our adventures, projects, warm evenings, and scary square waves.  I’m not sure why I started it.  I think it was because blogs are such a valuable tool in getting ready for such an undertaking.  There are several that I follow that feature people in the same part of the process as we are.  There are some that have left, and are out on the water as we speak feeling the sun hot on their faces as it reflects off the Aegean Sea, or slowly navigating their way through the fog of the Northwest Passage.  There are others who have been gone for years and are taking in the cultural highlights of south-east Asia.  I didn’t start writing this for general consumption.  I never share a new post on social media, mainly because I thought it would be a pretty specific reader who would find any of this stuff interesting.  So I have relied solely on people who land here from a google search, or a link to a “how-to”.  Now, even we have a small following too.

One of the blogs that I reciprocally follow is Viki Moore’s Astrolabe Sailing.   If you drilled a hole straight down, through the earths crust and its swirling molten core, you would come out not far from where she sails in New Zealand on a similar quest as us.  It was Viki who nominated Long Blue Road for  what is called the Liebster Award.

liebster-award1Basically, the award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers.  It follows similar principles as a chain letter, in the sense that it should be passed forward.  You are nominated by a blogger who enjoys your blog, they pose some questions, you then nominate a blogger you you enjoy.  Here are Viki’s questions:

1. What sort of boat do you have? What do you love about it and what would you change if you could?

A Tanzer 22.  A Canadian-made 22 footer with a great reputation for being well built and a trusty steed in a chop.  When shopping for our first boat, we looked specifically for a Tanzer 22.   What I like the most about Indefatigable is that she is a rock.  Solid.  She is 32 years old, but in excellent shape.   It is peace of mind that whatever happens, she is ready for it, (if we are is another question!)  Sadly this was our last season with Indy.  In order to one day cross oceans, we have to slowly move up to something bigger (more exciting developments on this later!).  Indy was the first sailboat either of us have been on, her job was to show us the ropes and teach us the basics of sailing, and in that, she was a trusty steed.

2. Are you and your partner both as passionate about sailing as each other?

We are!  This has been the topic of a few conversations with some of the more seasoned sailors.  I’ve been told on more than one occasion about how lucky I am to have a partner who enjoys being out on the water as much as I do.

3. What are your future sailing plans?

The reason we started this journey was because we wanted to cross the Atlantic in a sailboat.  The more we looked into it, we thought, why not make it a round the world trip!?  That’s where we stand at the moment.  With years to go before we leave, I couldn’t close the door on changes to that plan.  Just this summer we raced with an wily veteran who suggested that Europe-Canaries-Caribbean-US would be a much safer route, so who knows.  Our hope is to build enough enough experience, cash and seaworthy vessel by 2020.  The kids would be 10 and 8, from what we hear is prime cruising time.

4. Where is the most amazing place you have visited?

Our sailing travels have been limited to Cape Breton Island.  There is some great sailing here.  I’ve heard the Bras D’Or described as “islands within a sea, within an island, within an ocean”  which, believe it or not, is geographically accurate!

cb2

5. What do you love most about the sailing lifestyle?

For me its the speed and silence.  The low speed that is.  A beautiful sailing town called Baddeck is about an hour away by car.  By boat, it is 8 hours.  8 hours of beautiful scenery, packed lunches, trip planning, and conversations with teh one you love.  And also the silence.   Because we were sailing newbies, a lot of our friends had never been on a sailboat before either.  One thing I never get tired of is the look on their face when the motor is shut off, and they realize we’re now being propelled by wind only.  Or when racing as crew on larger boats with light wind.  Inches in sail trim make a difference.  You could be only feet away from a 27 tonne vessel, you are racing, and there is silence.

6. When were you most frightened?

Easy one.  While trying to enter the Bras D’Or channel with opposing current, winds and waves picked up, Erika was 7 months pregnant, and we were still pretty new.  The whole saga is detailed here.

7. Do you have any plans to go back to dry land at any stage?

We will likely have to return to land.  What we will do, who knows.  Perhaps we will be able to settle back into our old jobs?  Or maybe try something new.    I’ve been in radio or 10 years.  I like it and would like to keep doing it.  If that’s not possible, hmmm… I always wanted to be a sustenance farmer.

8. What is the biggest mistake you have made?

I would have to say not racing our own boat sooner.  This either means that we haven’t made any moves that were obvious mistakes, or that these moves haven’t YET presented themselves as dumb moves.  But we have learned more about sail trim, and what boats are capable of in 6 weeks of racing than a year of casual sailing.

9. How do you afford your lifestyle?

At the moment, owning a 22 foot sailboat in a rural area of Eastern Canada is not too much a strain on the pocket book.  Part of our prep time is saving and putting the machinery in place to generate a small income when we are at sea.

10. What is your favourite book and why?

Because the rest of the questions are in a sailing context, I’ll assume this one is as well.  Although any reading you can do about Alexander the Great, I find is time well spent!   I’ve read several books about cruising, but I have to say my favourite sailing book is Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor .  I used to read it in Frances’ room while waiting for her to fall asleep at night.  It sounds pretty dry, but I found the evolution of hulls over the last few 100 years and the sacrifices for speed for the sake of stability very interesting.

Now it’s time for me to make my nomination.  When I first decided to blog, I went looking for similar bloggers.  I was lucky enough to stumble onto the Venture Minimalists very first post, just hours after it was ‘pressed’.  Sarah and Andrew come from a landlocked state, but took relatively no time to get out on the water!  Theirs is a great story.

Some questions for you:

1. What were the ‘must haves’ on your boat before you left?

2. Which do you prefer?  The sailing or the traveling?

3. What are your future sailing plans?

4. Favourite place you have visited so far?

5. What do you love most about the sailing lifestyle?

6. When were you most frightened?

7. Do you have any plans to go back to dry land at any stage?

8. What is the biggest mistake you have made?

9. How do you afford your lifestyle?

10. What is your favourite book and why?

 

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We Were Racers

When we first bought Indefatigable, she was quite bare.   She didn’t look very welcoming inside, in fact, the cabin  looked like one of those house you go in where nothing ad been updated in some time.  The outside had a few modifications however.  Some quick-release clam-cleats on the rear winches, and two new-ish 130 and 150 genoa sails.   This, we soon discovered, was because the gentle man in his mid twenties from who we bought her,  sailed for racing almost exclusively.   Seeing as how we are in the winter of our ownership of S/V Indefatigable, we ought to see what she could do before we parted ways.  We entered the Northern Yacht Club’s Fall Racing Series in North Sydney.

As detailed in earlier posts, Erika and I had raced, as crew, on other boats (Erika mostly on the bow, myself all grinding), but were never at the helm in a full blast race.

There are two Yacht Clubs on Sydney Harbour, the Northern Yacht Club,  and The Dobson Yacht Club.  The Northern is about a half hour drive from where we live, but host a number racing series and cup races over the run of the season.  When you look out over their piers, there is a mast on almost every vessel.  As the commodore would later tell us, it’s a club for sailors.

This was going to be a test for the little 1972 Evinrude 6hp outboard.  So far, we would leave the pier, putt about 100 feet from the marina and put the sails up.  Now we were looking at a 5 Nm motor from Sydney to the Northside before every race, but proudly it always fired up first pull, and got us there no sweat.

Our crew was a ragtag bunch with varying levels of experience, but all enthusiastically volunteered.  My cousin Glen started out on the bow, moving the sail and watching for traffic.  Erika and my other cousin, Gavin, held things down grinding and tailing in the cockpit.  Erika’s co-worker AJ was an all-rounder, and proved himself to be a valuable bowman in the later races.

There were about 8 other boats in the 8 races, give or take a few here and there.  Our class, the non-spinnaker class, had 4 boats for most of the series, and one race swelled to 6 boats.

Hot pursuit

Hot pursuit

To say race #1 didn’t go well would be a bit of an understatement, and if I can offer any bit of advice to new racers, it’s exactly this:

When you think it’s time to tack, it’s not.   If it looks like you can make the mark, you can’t.  If you think your boat can point high enough to squeak through, it can’t.

Up until this point we had just been sailing around the harbour with no need for any sort of accuracy.  It certainly was an eye-opener as to how difficult it is to hit a good lay line when you miss it not once but twice for the same mark.

So the first race saw us come in dead last, over 10 minutes behind the last boat, even after the handicap calculations were made.

We slowly improved over the course of the series.

Our class was two discernible groups.  Avatar, and Down North who would battle for the top spot week after week, every time alternating between first and second place.  The other group, in which we were a proud member was with Outrageous, Sea Star, and Wind Rush, which was basically a competition (albeit not a competitive competition, because the other racers were cool like that) not to come in last.   Racing against these boats was very fun.  Even though we were at the back of the pack, spending almost the entire race what seemed like spitting distance away from Sea Star was very intense!

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The cover of Fall Race Series Magazine

The thrill-a-minute action of sail racing

The thrill-a-minute action of sail racing

photo1

We had some pretty light winds at times

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Wind Rush making her way back

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I think we’ve officially been bitten by the racing bug, and look forward to perhaps racing our new vessel again next year in North Sydney.

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