Sailfeed
June 30th

Car *Almost* Falls Off Ferry

Posted by // June 30, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Things are usually pretty tranquil at our 100-year-old family business, the Balboa Island Ferry. Despite our best efforts, every once in a while this happens:
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Sigh. Full story here.

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June 5th

Boat Wiring: Battery Switches and Distribution

Posted by // June 5, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Above is what the main cabin ends up looking like when you’re in the middle of a project like this.

In my last installment I covered battery cabling and big circuit protection. Now we’re to the next stops down the line: the battery switches and core distribution.

First, the battery switches. I blogged once before that I like basic battery switches. These big, basic switches from Cole-Hersee have been around for at least sixty years, maybe longer:
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My boat already had two that were original equipment and still fine, but the threads were stripped on part of one of the posts and they’d seen a lot of dousings and abuse, so I replaced them, and added a third for the starting battery.…

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May 28th

Boat Wiring: Reterminating Cables and Adding Big Fuses

Posted by // May 28, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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This is the project that started with a new steering wheel, but I’ve drifted to far from the new steering wheel that I’ve almost forgotten that that’s how I started. There is a running theme to this project run amok and it goes like this: After disassembling things to get done what I needed to get done, the disassembled components were in such sad shape that I couldn’t, in good conscience, put them back. This started with peeling wood veneer, which necessitated rebuilding the entire steering console, and now I’m into the wiring. It’s a bit of a cobblers children without shoes scenario: Here I am a marine electrician, but much of my boat’s wiring was a mess.…

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April 27th

Tragedy At Alabama’s Dauphin Island Race

Posted by // April 27, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Apparently a nasty front blew through toward the end of the 57th Dauphin Island Race, while boats were still finishing. Reports say an initial blast of 60 knots was followed by an hour of 30-50 knots. Several boats capsized, leaving several sailors in the water, and several dead and unaccounted for. The Coast Guard has been searching for missing mariners all weekend, and the search continues.

This video, taken in the harbor, gives an idea of what conditions were like:

A firsthand account is here

Full story here and here.

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April 16th

Life Is Too Short to Use Cheap Paint

Posted by // April 16, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

A wise man once told me this, and I took it to heart.

While traditional enamels are still around, most modern boat paint is linear polyurethane (LP). Among LPs there are one-part products and two-part products. Two-part products cost a little more, but last longer. When you consider that 80-90% of any painting job is prepping, sanding, fairing, and masking, and this is all fairly onerous work, why use paint that won’t last as long?
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Probably the best known two-part products are Awlgrip and Interlux’s Perfection. If you paint the topsides of your boat with one of these products it will look good for about ten years, give or take, depending on environmental conditions and crashing into things.…

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March 30th

New Steering Wheel Adventure: Part 2

Posted by // March 30, 2015 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

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In Part 1 we discussed how I got myself into this mess in the first place. Now we’re into the heart of the mess. Upon reflection, this is the most serious marine carpentry project I’ve ever got myself into. I’ve taken on some big marine carpentry projects, but they were large areas to be fiberglassed or painted, so there was more room for error. In this project, rebuilding the teak steering console, everything will be varnished and in plain sight, so there is really no room for error: Every joint must be perfect.

The old console was still structurally sound, except for some rot around the base that I saturated with epoxy and glassed over years ago.…

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March 17th

New Island Formation In Tonga

Posted by // March 17, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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The formation of this new island, Hunga Tonga, is getting worldwide publicity. In the diptych above you can see two unconnected islands in the image to the left, now nearly joined by the new eruption in the image on the right. If you haven’t seen the photos taken by GP Orbassano, an Italian expat who lives in Nuku’alofa, you can see them here.

All along I thought this eruption/new island must be the same as one that made the rounds years ago. In 2006 a cruiser, Fredrik Fransson of s/v Maiken, motored through a sea of floating pumice, then came upon the eruption, and the nascent island.…

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March 16th

New Steering Wheel Adventure, Part 1

Posted by // March 16, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Let’s cut to the chase here: If you’re going to buy a new steering wheel, make sure it fits your boat, cuz making your boat fit the steering wheel is a big deal.

The venerable steering wheel on my nearly 50-year-old boat is tired. It’s made of of aluminum and coated in Bakelite, or some such substance. The aluminum is bubbling and corroding through the coating in several places, and black electrical tape covers the horrors and protects my hands from injury.
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I’d had my eye out in second-hand chandleries, and online, because new steering wheels are expensive. The cheapest you can posssibly get a brand new basic 24-inch (my size) stainless wheel is about $700, but if you want a little bling, like teak around the outside, you quickly get up over $1200.…

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February 10th

Colin Firth to Play Donald Crowhurst in Biopic

Posted by // February 10, 2015 // COMMENT (4 Comments)

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Talk about a long wait. The book, The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall, was completely out of print for some years, but a cult favorite and the subject of many late night cockpit ruminations.

It tells the tale of Donald Crowhurst who, along with the likes of Bernard Moitessier, Robin Knox-Johnson, and Chay Blyth, entered the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968, the first singlehanded, non-stop round-the-world race. Indebted and under intense pressure to succeed, yet woefully unprepared and inexperienced, Crowhurst never made it farther than the South Atlantic. He faked his positions to appear he was in the lead, then went mad and committed suicide.…

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