September 19th
Mast step structure exposed

Well, we’ve got the mast step on the Telltales Sailing Collective’s first boat opened right up and now we’re deciding how to put it back together. Working on boats I often find this the hardest part of the repair- there are so many materials and approaches available that it can be overwhelming, especially in a case like this where there is no ‘standard approach.’

The fiberglass we cut away to expose the internal structure

Fortunately with a little critical thought we came up with the correct repair. In the first case, mild steel has no place on a sailboat, particularly in a role as critical as distributing compression loads from the mast, so the first step will be to remove the piece of steel tubing which the mast was resting on.…

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September 15th

Mast Step Repairs with the Telltales Sailing Collective

Posted by // September 15, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Yep folks, that’s forty-year-old mild steel holding up the mast!

I’ve written before about bizarre and highly questionable design elements in 1970’s Cape Dorys (Side note: I always hesitate when I pluralize Cape Dory, like I want to write ‘Cape Dories’ but I know that isn’t actually right). Now that the Telltales Sailing Collective  has been given a nearly identical Cape Dory 27 I’m getting a trip down memory lane. But I’m pleasantly surprised to find that this time around is a little different. That rebar and mild steel isn’t pretty and from a technical perspective it’s fairly artless but on this boat it has held up to the test of time surprisingly well.…

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August 9th

More about the boat collective

Posted by // August 9, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

A little while back I mentioned that we’ve started a sailing collective here in New Orleans, but I haven’t said much about it yet other than to intoduce the boat, a Cape Dory 27 nearly identical to my CD28. It’s not yet in the water but it is inching its way in that direction as our newly minted collective learns about and embarks on the handful of repairs we need to make before launch day. The biggest task at the moment is a bottom job, one of the most miserable things on any diy sailor’s to-do list, but many hands make light work and we’re half done already.

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July 30th

The Outlaw Sea in NYTimes

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

Simon Ager/Sea Shepherd Global via NYTimes

Has anyone been following this series in the New York Times about the ‘Outlaw Ocean‘? It’s some of the best reporting I’ve ever read about the oceans by one of the last few papers which has the budget for this kind of reporting. The series reports on smuggling, illegal fishing, abusive working conditions and forced labor, even slavery and murder and paints a damning picture of wide scale abuses in shipping and fishing industries. It’s also full of riveting stories, like the chase of the Thunder, where a vigilante conservation organization ended the career of one of the world’s most notorious poaching vessels.…

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June 28th

A Very Warm Welcome in Burtonport, Ireland

Posted by // June 28, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Nada at anchor outside of Burtonport Harbor

Let me tell you about Burtonport, a small fishing village on Ireland’s most hospitably inhospitable NW coast. The village is a small cluster of houses, big enough for a doctor’s office and a pub but not a grocers. This actually good-sized for the northwest of Ireland, where craggy cliffs jutting hundreds of feet up out of deep water and prevailing onshore winds make viable ports few and far between. That’s the inhospitable part: this couple hundred miles of storm-wracked coastline is so nautically infamous that you can pick up a map marking four-hundred-odd notable shipwrecks at the local tourist bureau.…

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June 19th

The Nav Station That wasn’t Meant To Be

Posted by // June 19, 2015 // COMMENT (9 Comments)

A typical helmsman’s nav setup. The only similarity with my boat is the cupholder.
On my first long trip as a boat owner, from New Orleans to Maine, we primarily navigated with a handheld GPS and a few old sets of paper chart kits that I had scrounged online. Funds were tight and plotting on paper is good practice, keeps you sharp (at least that’s what I told myself and the crew). This worked well enough and we didn’t have any major mishaps but there were a few nervous moments entering some of the ever-changing sandy harbors of the Gulf south.…
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April 30th

Another Cape Dory and the Birth of a Sailing Nonprofit

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

This is not quite my boat!
At the tax office in Bartow, FL on Monday morning I signed a title and became the legal owner of aCape Dory 27, a little-sister ship to my Cape Dory 28. Today, with a friend, I’ll start the long drive back to New Orleans and by the end of May we hope to have the 27 floating alongside my 28. Now you might ask why on earth I would want to own two nearly identical sailboats, and I wouldn’t blame you for asking. Simply put, I don’t. And although it’s my name on the title for this lovely little boat the last thing that I want is ownership of it; that was never the plan.…
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April 27th

Dauphin Island Regatta Hit By 80-MPH Winds, Two Dead, Four Missing

Posted by // April 27, 2015 // COMMENT (11 Comments)

Looks like Clark beat me to this one. Details are still coming in about a storm which hit the annual Dauphin Island Regatta on Saturday, scattering the race boats and causing widespread chaos in Mobile Bay. After the race two people are confirmed dead and at current count four are missing with an ongoing Coast Guard search (down from this morning’s total of five missing). Forty people were rescued from the water by the Coast Guard and up to ten boats were capsized, according to some reports. Winds were reported at 70 or 80 MPH in the storm, which appeared to be a large, discrete cell which swept over Mobile Bay in the afternoon.…

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January 22nd

…and this week in International Epoxy News

Posted by // January 22, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


This, apparently, is a current image of the gold funerary mask of King Tutankhamun:
Source:Al Araby Al Jadeed

 The story goes that a cleaner at the museum was spiffing up the mask when they managed to knock its beard off (or, in another version, the beard was intentionally removed because it was loose). Then, in a classic case of sidestepping, the head of the renovations team called her husband instead of the Ministry of Antiquities and asked him to fix it. Supposedly, he’s also a ‘renovator.’ Whatever that means. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s never read the West System Use Guides or my last post on Epoxy Hints.

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January 15th

A handful of epoxy hints

Posted by // January 15, 2015 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

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I’ve been doing a lot of epoxy work this last week and it has got me thinking how much easier this stuff is than when I first started. Sure, I’m more skilled now than I was but much of it has to do with simple habits which allow me to move quickly and surely when working with the stuff. With that in mind, here are a handful of tricks that have helped me this week. I’ll try to update this as I think of them.

Having a good set of mixing buckets will save you time and materials. Yoghurt containers work great in a pinch but they’re really not the right shape.…

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