For reasons too convoluted and bizarro to explain, we can’t spray paint in our boatyard. We can only brush, but you’d be surprised at the results a talented painter can achieve with a brush. Fernando, who I will refer to often in this post, is our painting contractor, and the results he gets with a brush are astounding. Many around here say his topside jobs are better than most spray jobs, because with spray there is often a bit of orange peel texture to the finish, but with Fernando’s jobs it’s pure glass:
Fernando is partial to Awlgrip, and he ... Read More
That moment when your evil plan is finally realized: to infiltrate a boatyard as its General Manager, lay low for 14 months, doing your job diligently, until finally you can spring your trap and yes, get a free haul-out. They never saw it coming.
There was some doubt it was even possible, as my boat is on the fringes of what our crane can lift. Our crane, which is nearly 90 years old, but still passes inspections, can lift 12 tons at our pick spot. Sailboat Data lists my boat as weighing 23,000 pounds, which gives 1000 pounds of leeway, ... Read More
Totem cruises the Sea of Cortez; in about three weeks, we hauls at the Cabrales shipyard in Puerto Peñasco, a small harbor surrounded by the Sonora desert. Typically, boats can go a few years between haulouts. So why now – didn’t we just do this in Grenada, six or seven months ago? Yes, we did, and had an unpleasant surprise. This is the backstory, and what we’ll do about it in Peñasco.
At the time we hauled out in Grenada Totem had gotten nearly three years out of the bottom paint applied in Thailand. That’s a good lifespan for ablative! ... Read More
I’ve compiled a list of all the things on a sailboat that do not benefit from regular use:
1. The sails
2. The beer
Sails wear out from use and sun damage. The beer runs out. Other than that, everything on your boat benefits from regular use, the corollary of which is that everything is damaged by lack of use. In the boatyard this is the tragedy we see every day.
1. Seacocks: Open and close them every few months or they’ll freeze up. Why stop there? Every valve on the whole boat, be it fresh water, sea ... Read More
Losing steerage is stressful at the best of times. Losing it when hand-steering gnarly seas that threaten to broach the inattentive sailor, on day one of a four-day sail between countries where the sea state is likely to be worse before it’s better? Hectic! Here’s what happened when steering failed on our recent passage from Colombia to Panama.
Motoring out of the protection in Santa Marta bay (with a small deviation from course to rubberneck the 185’ yacht, M5, pictured above), we quickly entered more boisterous conditions outside the protection of the bay. Steep waves were better managed ... Read More
I recently acquired a 30-year-old project boat whose systems are mostly original, except for the electronics, which had been updated in the early 1990s—the Jurassic era as far as modern electronics are concerned. In fact, I well recall installing that selfsame make of instrument on the boat I owned back then, and marveling at how wonderful it was to have a digital depth readout instead of a whirring dial and a couple of flashing lights to warn of impending collision with the sea bed. Read More
This presented me with the rare opportunity to specify a new instrument and nav system from ...
“I hear you’re putting Totem on the hard.” “Will you go out again?” In fact, we have no plans to park Totem for an extended stay on land (or in the water), and have never considered remaining in the US. But given the dearth of information in this space about what 2017 holds I can understand the speculation. We are on the cusp of departure and thrilled to be heading out for more adventures afloat.
Cascading events prolonged our departure, but the boat’s been humming, and legged out timing has shaped our direction. Routing clarity comes slowly after many shuffles ... Read More
“I may have broken the aft cabin.” This is the text I get from Jamie a few hours after I’ve departed Totem for an overnight road trip to Miami. The smoky-green smell of sawdust wafts to me from half a state away and the disarray of a deconstruction project easy to picture. The critical path project for our departure from the US for the Bahamas is to replace the soft sides for our hardtop dodger, so of course, the aft cabin is going to be torn apart.
It comes down to this: cruising boat projects are more likely to be ... Read More
By Greg Bull
Last summer Gougeon Brothers, Inc. partnered with Sail Magazine to produce a series of short videos showing how to repair a 1983 J22 sailboat that was brought into the Tech shop. The boat, named Hog Tide, needed the types of repairs we wanted to cover. The videos can be found at both westsystem.com and sailmagazine.com.
Hog Tide’s deck was spongy around the chain plates, so I decided to fix the core in the deck. Because the main bulkhead was being replaced, it made it easier to do the deck repair from the underside. I started by ... Read More
One of the aphorisms of cruising describes our lifestyle as performing routine maintenance (or repairs) in exotic locations. This rings true, for better and for worse. “If you can’t fix it, be able to live without it” is another truism for voyagers, and a good reason to go simple. Bundle these with the additional reality that most tasks in our floating life take more time than they do in a normal (fixed, land-based, connected) existence. That’s a good summary of life on Totem right now, although northern Florida is NOT exotic, and this particular outboard fix has proved to be ... Read More