Tuesday 29 May 2012

Gear and Tool Reviews: Fun with Sharp Pointy Objects

    "and I found what I always wanted..."
                                   -David Cook

    Boats have lots of soft stuff that can be hard to fix, and often when the bimini canvas tears or the seams split or the stitching disintegrates it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.  But it can be tough to find room on a small boat for a sewing machine and even tougher to find room to use it.  Our old friends at Lee Valley Tools  have the answer for quick and dirty on-the-water mending:  The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl

  Made in the USA, the Speedy Stitcher is a self-contained heavy sewing kit.  The polished wooden handle contains a curved #8 needle, a straight # 8 needle and a bobbin loaded with waxed synthetic thread.

   It is dead simple to use.  Unscrew the chuck, select the desired needle, install it and pull some thread around ...oh, hell, here's the instructions .

Our low-buck sunshade's stitching was stitched no longer, so it was a good candidate to demonstrate the Speedy Stitcher at work.

    Step 1-To start, push the loaded awl through the work.  pull through enough thread to span the offending mending, with an extra 3" or so.  KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!

Step 2. Pull the awl back through,keeping the free end of line on the other side of the work,  then punch it through again, remembering to KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!

...pulling it back slightly so there is a loop. Push  the free end from step 1 through the loop.
 ...like this...

Then pull the awl back through, and snug the loop down tight, creating a lock stitch.

Move the awl over slightly, and repeat the three steps.  Keep repeating until you run out of room.Keep remembering to KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!  Practice makes perfect, and even novice Speedy Stitchers like me can produce work that, while not real pretty, is at least sturdy.  And it IS Speedy- even including set-up time the mending job seen below took less than 10 minutes.  It would take at least three times that long to take it to the canvas shop up the river, although the result would be five times (or more) as pretty.

For those who learn visually, and want to try a more sophisticated stitch,  Sailrite has a great demonstration video:

  The Speedy Stitcher also comes in handy whipping the ends of lines.
  It's less than $15- you may not need it often, but when you need it you may really need it.  It's well built, durable, and does exactly what it is supposed to do.   The included instructions are clear and easy to follow.   I have had mine four four years and it has paid for itself numerous times over.

We're (slightly) Famous(ish)!

     "Is it any wonder, you are too cool to fool..."
                                            -David Bowie

    Good Old Boat  is the bimonthly bible of classic plastic sailboats, a must-read for many of us on the Dock and many who follow the D6C.

     They have just added us to their "Sailor's Blogs and Sites" list.


  I'm feelin' like Sally Field at the Oscars over here.

"Talk the Dock!"

The Incident

   No attempts at humour, sly hidden messages or skewed relevance through song lyrics this time, folks.

   It was so late it was early.

   In the wee hours of Saturday morning bad news darkened the Dock.

   I've been pondering whether to document the event, whether I have any place even mentioning what had occurred, or acknowledging that anything had happened.

   I'm still not sure.

   What I do know is that rumours and innuendo and supposition always fill the vacuum created by a scarcity of facts.

   We on the Dock and our guests deserve better than that.

   I'll stick to the facts and not offer any editorial opinion.

   Early Saturday morning a cascade of small bad decisions led to tragedy- A guest on our Dock was assaulted on our dock  by a guest of boatowners from another dock.

   The police and an ambulance were summoned.

   Crime scene tape was strung.  Pictures, prints and statements were taken.

   Rubberneckers from other docks cruised past throughout the day, with one loathsome individual touring past repeatedly offering his (inaccurate) opinion of what he thought went down to the multiple boatloads of guests he guided past (his words) "the crime scene."
   The laughter was a classy touch.

   On Sunday we learned an arrest had been made.

   This incident  prompted a discussion of Dock etiquette, and a review of

   Dock Do's and Don'ts.

   DO have fun.

   DO treat others with respect.

   DO take responsibility for your guests.

   DO be good guests, not mooches.

   DO look out for each other.

   DON'T bring trouble home.  If  you don't feel safe getting back to the Dock, call one of your fellow Docksters- we'll help.  It's what we do.  Better yet...

   DON'T talk to strangers.  It was good advice when you were a kid, it's good advice now.

   DON'T boat crawl.  It sounds like fun to wander from boat to boat mooching drinks and hanging out, but there are few places where a free drink doesn't have an implied string attached.

   DON'T leave your guests.  You brought them to the the Dock, if you leave the Dock it's your responsibility to ensure they make it back to the Dock safely.

   DON'T Drive.  Check your keys with another Dockster.

  DON'T damage the reputation of the Dock.  We work hard to maintain the unique idyll we have created by demanding little from the Marina and receiving little scrutiny in return.  If that changes, it won't be for the better.

  Our thoughts are with the victim, and wish her a quick and full recovery.  And we hope it never happens again.

The Cleat Beat

     "Round and round and round..."
                              The Go-Gos

     Perhaps one of the subtlest forms of expressing nautical individuality is the mooring cleat .  No two boats on the Dock tie up the same way.

   "Talk the Dock!"

Hilary Gets It Up!

  "Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man?"
                                                                -Isaac Hayes

  Last week, Hilary and I discussed what he needed to do to get his boat in the water.  He mentioned that he needed to get the mast up, and didn't know whether he would hire a truck to take his trailer-burdened boat to the mast crane up the river, or whether he was going to motor over with the mast on the deck...

  ... When I opened my big mouth and said, "Why don't we just do it ourselves?  It's a 15-20 minute job, tops."

Hilary's boat is scheduled to go in the water on Thursday, so on Wednesday morning I meet Hilary and two other suckers helpers and we set to work.


   As in so many of the posts here on the D6C (acronym courtesy of follower PorFin), this is NOT a "how-to" article.  This may better be described as a cautionary tale, a comedy of errors saved only by an overwhelmingly large barrel of luck which did not run dry before the accompanying cup of experience was filled.
  In other words, don't do this.  if you do, don't blame me. 


  The mast and rig is resting atop the boat, still wrapped for transit, and because the mast is taller than the deck of the boat is long,  overhanging both  the bow and stern .  First we had to get all of the lines and stays laid out in apporximately the right position, get the forestay connected to the bow and the shrouds pinned to the chainplates. 

  Then came the first delicate part. 

We have to move the mast forward.  

Way forward.

More than half the boat forward, far enough forward to be able to step the foot of the mast on the mast step.  

Four of us working on this project, and not one of us is a physicist, but we all understand gravity.  A quick confab is held, and a ladder is deployed, secured by some whimsical hopeful clever rigging

     Note the large, expensive, unsuspecting cruiser beside Hilary's boat in this scene.   I am concerned that if the wheels come off and we get in the weeds with handfuls of wayward mast, we Hilary might have a costly problem. I ask Hilary if we can move the trailer forward to clear ground.

     Nope.  The trailer is supported by jacks and it's also being used as a workbench so there is all sorts of crap that would have to be stowed.  Besides, he says, "There's no wind."


  With mast largely on target, and temporarily supported,  it's time to work out how we're gonna get this big stick vertical. The decision is made to hang a block from the backstay tang on the transom, then secure a line to the backstay turnbuckle, lead the line back through the block and forward to the cabin top winch.  One of us would winch, while one or two of us would walk the mast up, and the man on the ground would move and extend the ladder providing support as needed. We looped a line over the spreaders and back to the toerail to act as temp stays.  The plan was winch, tension the temp stays, move the ladder, winch, tighten, stays, winch, while walking the mast up hand over hand from the bow. We'd take our time, communicate, co-ordinate our maneuvers, and all would proceed with well-oiled precision.

   Then the wind fitfully starts to fart in gusts..

   With the mast resting on the mast step, it was time.  The decision was made to count it down to get us all syncronized.
 "On three!"




The guy on the winch starts cranking like he is grinding through a tack on an America's Cup boat.


The rest of us scramble to keep up as the mast starts it's climb to upright early.  Men, we really need to standardize the "Go on Three! or Three! and then Go!?!" protocol.

And the wind is becoming a little more insistent, like it knows what we're attempting.

40 seconds later the mast is up and a mad scramble is on to get the line off the backstay and the backstay secured and the inner shrouds pinned and the turnbuckles turned so that nothing buckles.  And I am the guy holding up the swaying mast.

In hindsight, the work would have been less stressful if all the hardware hadn't been sitting in one box as far away from the stuff requiring fastening as possible whilst still remaining aboard.

But we got it done, nobody got hurt...

  and Hilary and his yet-to-be-named boat is now on the water in his new slip, just down from Whiskeyjack.

   Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

First Wet Week-End of 2012! Part Three.

                      "But their beauty and their style went kinda smooth after a while..."

   Saturday night the usual suspects were in attendance, and it was obvious that the game has been amped up a little:

  A portable Beer Pong table.

  And the Tiki Lounge Auxiliary Power Unit.

  Generator usage is often controversial in marinas and moorings, with the "peace and quiet and serenity" side often muttering dark imprecations against the "air conditioning and TV and ice maker" crowd.  On the Dock, it ain't all bliss, but by and large we respect each other.  The generator is down the Dock and downwind from the early-to-bed-early-to-rise crowd,  keeping everyone happy.

  James' friends Ray and Brenda dropped by, allowing James to demonstrate his mad mooring skillz.

  "Look!"  he says, "I made a sailboat!"

      Okay, I can kinda see it.

       Monday, weather-wise, was a repeat of Friday, Saturday and Sunday:  lots of sun, lots of heat, little wind.   

      SWMBO and I and Finnegan J. Smalldawg  cast off, to bake and bob and use up some old diesel if nothing else.  The beach was busy,  and some serious earthmoving was taking place to the West:

        We rolled out our genoa,  and loafed along at a leisurely 2-3 knots, experimenting with jib car position  and sail trim.

        It was definitely a spinnaker day, and we saw some beauties, but only managed to capture one image:

      Returning to the dock mid-afternoon, I settled in for some serious lounging and boat watching while re-reading a Harlan Coben novel and sipping a rum and coke.

      Yes, I can multi-task with the best of them.

     I was turning a page when the sky darkened and a shadow passed over Whiskeyjack.  I look up just in time to see this boat come past:

    Holy windage, Batman!  She may not bee the longest boat in the marina, but this Carver has some definite height- those may be the longest fender lines I have ever seen.


     Monday night SWMBO was working, so I decided to take a solo cruise and try to find some wind.  I also had to touch base with Andy and Yvonne from Tempus Fugit regarding some canvas work and to see the new mainsail they DIYed, so I decided to cruise down the dock to see yvonne's parents Jim and Marianne to see if they could pass on a message to their kid...
    It's the Dock Six telegraph, and it works.
    Really well.
    How well?
    Look at what boat happened to be mooching a slip on the Dock!

  I got the chance to converse about  my canvas concerns and get up close and personal with the new sail.  More on that in a later post.

   Meanwhile, Jordan was waking up Saphira,  and just like me, having no joy with no wind.

  We still put more than 15 miles on Whiskeyjack's log this weekend just puttering around, and nothing broke, nothing disappeared and everyone had fun.  If this continues through the rest of the season, we won't be unhappy.

      Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

First Wet Week-End of 2012! Part Two.

    "I want something else...."
            -Third Eye Blind

    As the sun set on a great day on the Bay, Hilary spotted  flotsam that looked... intriguing.

    Bottom-feeder that I am, I seize every salvage opportunity.  Hey, the worst that could happen is the lake gets a little cleaner.  The best that could happen?

    I watch Storage Wars .  One man's trash, et cetera.

    Unfortunately, my results are more like Barry's than Dave's.

   Anyjunk,  Hilary and I decided that we'd circle back and snag the interesting floater.  If nothing else, we rationalized, it made a good MOB (Man OverBoard) drill.

    So we circled.

   And then we circled again.

   And again.

  Finally, we snagged the debris, claiming as our reward a...

...truly messed up wakeboard.

  Which, when we returned to the Dock,  we contributed to the decor of James'  Tiki Lounge.

    More on the Lounge later.

    Sunday dawned hot, humid and still, and the Annual Load-out and Installfest continued.  After reconsidering the limited viewing range of our chartplotter over the last few seasons, I finally bit the bullet and relocated the unit from the  bulkhead to the cabintop, and added a gimbal for good measure.  Now the helmsperson can keep up to date on course and speed and stuff from anywhere in the cockpit.

  Now, the big news.

Our dinette layout was great for playing chess, but not conducive for watching a movie, or entertaining more than, er, us.

  Remember the Crap/Stuff Extravaganza ?
  Measure up some (s)crap, cut, glue, screw, staple, curse, swear, bleed, recut, rescrew,  and...

  ... A little bit of work creates a lot more accommodation flexibility.  The vestigial horseshoe settee and small table makes more seating possible, while a quick fold makes the big table appear for more eating/workspace.

   And we'll wrap up our most excellent weekend with Part Three later.

Come on back and check it out.  Meanwhile, "Talk the Dock!"

First Wet Week-End of 2012! Part One.

         "In the kind of world where we belong..."
                                  -The Beach Boys

     Whiskeyjack was hull-wet by 9:00 am Wednesday morning, our earliest splash in several years.  The weather was less than kind, the skies opening up and drenching SWMBO and I, and Jim and Marianne who wandered down the dock to greet our arrival.  Thursday and Friday  were spent  bending on sails, cleaning up the cabin, and generally removing crap, loading on stuff, and installing stuff built from crap.

  I slip down the companionway steps at least a couple of times a season.  Even sober.  The problem is that the steps aren't very deep.

  I cut some teak salvaged from DonorBoat and installed nosings on the treads.  They are actually straight- just a weird optical illusion in the image below.

  I turned some scrap luan 1/4" ply and pine corner mould into new galley cupboard doors, replacing the old plain ones below:

   ...with doors that are a little brighter and lighter.  The majority of the wood was free, although I did have to spend $6 at Lee Valley Tools on the handles.

Our hanging locker is the most under-utilized space on the boat.  No shelves, just a rod makes it's functionality limited....

... I wanted to improve the utility of this lost space, so I built a hanging shelf and added an organizer.  Remember the pin rail I built last month?  This is where it was put to use.  Now there is a place for stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.


           It was HOT work.  The weather has been unusually and enjoyably warm, but with both doors closed allowing my overfed self access to the locker, it made for a stifling environment.  Time to go sailing.

     Just in time, Hilary decided to take a break from his own boat work, and he showed up with beer.  With his help i got the rigging sorted and Whiskeyjack   was ready to sail.

    So, we did.

   Not much wind, but another spectacular sunset.

    Hilary at the helm.

      Stay tuned.

   Thanks for checking us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.