Boats and Gear

Cool LED Retrofit

11 Apr

The LED "revolution" is sweeping the boating world. Installing LED lights means less power to get more light, smaller lights, smaller wire, tiny switches, and less weight. I'm not running out to replace all my lights with LEDs, but when I have to replace a light anyway, I replace it with an LED.

If you've got the kind of florescent light  pictured above (I've got three on my boat) it might be tempting to replace it with an LED strip, but the then you've got the stained footprint and screw holes from the old fixture to contend with. 

My customer ...

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NONSUCH 30: A Modern-Day Catboat With a Wishbone Rig

10 Apr

Nonsuch 30 under sail

The Nonsuch 30 was the first and most successful of the Nonsuch line of una-rigged cruising catboats built by Hinterhoeller Yachts of Ontario, Canada, from 1978 to 1994. Designed by Mark Ellis at the instigation of Gordon Fisher, a famous Canadian racing sailor who wanted a fast, easy-to-handle cruising boat for his retirement, this boat in particular and its four siblings (the Nonsuch 22, 26, 33, and 36) are among the most popular alternative-rigged production boats ever built. In all a total of 975 Nonsuchs were launched over the years; of these 522 were 30-footers. The Nonsuch remains a popular ...

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Must Reads: Merf Owen On Designing VO70s

5 Apr

Only one out of six of the VO70s on the current leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has managed (or been lucky ebough) to avoid a major breakdown. Nice, PUMA.

First, a quick video summary (and full details of Groupama's breakdown and options are here):

The chaos and catastrophe have been sufficient to induce VOR CEO Knut Frostad to issue a statement of concern. And, naturally, all the breakages have set off the usual armchair designer critics, who have taken to sailing forums across the globe.

To sort it all out, and explain things from the design side, ...

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How some barnacles saved my boat: Galvanic corrosion in the real world

30 Mar

Every now and then trying to fix the boat degenerates into rushing around in circles between the boat and  my workshop and I begin to feel like some sort of frenetic, freshly-decapitated chicken. It does not help when the whole yard loses power just as I’ve finally assembled the correct piles of detritus for the task at hand. That happened twice this week. On the bright side, I (re)found the bolt that could easily have sunk my boat:

I wrote about this in my last post but when noticed the offending fastener in a pile of bits it reminded me ...

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DIY Disasters -or- Crazy things people do below the waterline!

23 Mar

Being nearly finished with a bunch of big boat projects I’m at a bit of a lull with the blog at the moment.  I have plenty keeping me busy but little to write about until I’ve actually completed some of them. In the meantime I dug up some photos of failed hardware and the scariest DIY ‘repairs’ I found on my boat. I’m all for fudging things a little when I think I can get away with it, but this stuff is crazy!

Exhibit A: The Through-hulls
After buying my boat in Florida my original plan to sail her back ...

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‘Upgrading’ a mystery masthead LED tricolor/anchor light

19 Mar

My LED combination masthead tri-color and anchor light (whew!) recently arrived. It came from an ebay source that seems to have disappeared and strangely enough ebay won’t even show me the transaction history.  The light itself bears no identifying markings and came with no papers, not even a receipt. Unsurprisingly, it’s not perfect.

Electrically it seems convincingly constructed with a heavy, solid casing for the LED bulbs and proper fasteners but the construction of the housing has a couple seriously weak spots. The heavy bulbs are held on by just these two tiny screws going through the copper sockets ...

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DIY Chainplates – Cutting and Drilling

13 Mar
In my last post I talked about the process of choosing the material for making your own chainplates. Today we’ll cover the machining process and then I’ll follow up with my polishing techniques. The material that I ended up using was 2″ wide, 1/4″ thick stainless steel barstock which I had cut into 18″ lengths. It looked like this when I picked it up:
Actually I’ve already done some polishing on the top one, the bottom one is as I received it.
This is hot-rolled 316 stainless steel barstock. Cold finished barstock would have been a better choice ...
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DIY Chainplates – Choosing your materials

6 Mar

I’ll start right out with this: don’t make your own chainplates. At least, don’t insist on doing all the work yourself. Well, not unless you already know what you’re doing. Or maybe if you’re really set on it. I mean, you will be able to manage it. So I guess do make your own chainplates, but…

 The one thing I can tell you with authority when it comes to crafting your own chainplates is that if you do it the way I have it will cost you more money and far more time than it would if you get at ...

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This is not what a chainplate should look like!

2 Mar

Early on in this project I decided that I would try my best to do all of the work without professional assistance. There are a few reasons for this, including finances and bull-headedness but the primary benefit is that by forcing myself to learn every in and out of my boat I expect I’ll be prepared for whatever may go wrong in the future. Generally this has worked out well. Sometimes my progress is glacial but when I’m done I haven’t broken the bank and it’s hard to beat the satisfaction of repairing some part of the boat that I ...

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Gauge of Confusion

27 Feb


Gauges and sending units can get very confusing.

In the photo above, this very nice Beneteau came with this engine panel, which has idiot lights for high water temperature and oil pressure, but no gauges. In an ideal world you want both, the gauges to show you normal temperatures/pressures and trends if anything changes, and the idiot lights/buzzer to go off if something catastrophic happens. This also builds in redundancy, because you have two pressure senders, two temperature senders, and the corresponding guages/lights at the helm.

To get a new panel from Yanmar with gauges cost $1700, and I ...

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