Clark Beek

Awlgrip Topsides with a Brush

25 Jul

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:
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Fernando is partial to Awlgrip, and he ...

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Relief: 12-Ton Boat on a 12-Ton Crane

16 Jul

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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, ...

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Use It or Lose It: Keep things working well by using them.

3 May

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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.

Some examples:

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 ...

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It’s 406 EPIRB Day!

6 Apr

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After my post about EPIRB registration I got a very nice note from NOAA announcing that it’s #406DAY18 (that’s the Twitter moniker).

I had no idea, but it turns out false alarms are an epidemic:

“Last year we had over 5,000 false alerts from EPIRBs in the United States. The majority of those were from people conducting self tests of their beacons incorrectly. Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel begin responding immediately to every activation of a 406 MHz SARSAT beacon. That response will only stop when it has been proven that the activation was a false alert. The simplest and ...

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Good Government in Action: EPIRB Registration

29 Mar

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I recently received an email from NOAA, asking me to update my EPIRB registration, as it was expiring after two years. I clicked a link, where I was quickly taken to a website (www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov) to review all my personal data and emergency contacts. It hadn’t changed, so I clicked approval, and a week later received an updated sticker in the mail. For Luddites, the process could all be done on paper, on the back of the form that came in the mail.

There are many stories about EPIRBs being linked to inaccurate or outdated information, causing massive confusion and expense ...

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How to Throw Away a Boat

14 Mar

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Now that I’ve been overseeing a boatyard for ten months, I’ve run into the problematic issue of throwing boats away. Boats sink, catch fire, are abandoned, get too far behind on maintenance and repairs, and boats just get old. In these situations, the economically sensible thing to do is dispose of the boat.

Unlike the old days, intentionally scuttling a boat offshore now comes with heavy fines and maybe some jail time.

The cost of throwing away a boat varies widely. Some municipalities have programs for disposing of a boat for free (to the owner, not the taxpayer), but it ...

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The Epoxy Allergy and How to Avoid It

6 Mar

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The Epoxy Allergy, more specifically allergic dermatitis, is the curse of the marine industry: The few who develop it are marked for life, never to come near epoxy again. The rest of us can go on working with these wonderful products with impunity. The key concept is that the allergy is developed over time. One is not born with it, as with many other allergies.

In New Zealand, during a 100-day blister and bottom job, my friend Ian developed the allergy as we went. We worked away, day after day, filling ground-out blisters with epoxy and fiberglass mat, rolling out ...

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Trailer Out for Donald Crowhurst Biopic, The Mercy

29 Nov

I’m still in.

I’ve been long awaiting this film’s release, here and here, and now it looks like it is being rolled out:

“THE MERCY has a running time of c2 hours. It will be released in Portugal on November 23rd, in the Netherlands on December 14th, in Australia on February 8th, in the UK on February 9th, in Poland on March 2nd, in France on March 7th, in New Zealand on March 8th and in Germany on March 29th.”

United States? Hello? What are we, chopped liver? It says elsewhere it’s coming out in 2017, but there ain’t ...

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Lightning and Sailboats

22 Nov

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You can read many authoritative treatises about boats and lightning, and they’re all full of crap. There is only one thing we know for sure about lightning: It is unpredictable.

An acquaintance recently introduced me to a fellow sailor, saying, “You got run over by a container ship. He got struck by lightning.”

I reflexively asked, “Did it zap all your electronics?”

“No, it blew a 2 x 3 foot hole out the side of the boat and she sank in twenty seconds.”

He was sailing solo in the vicinity of Drakes Bay, Costa Rica, also very close to Isla ...

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Bad Things Come In Threes

9 Aug

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We were sailing back to the Spaulding Marine Center from a successful first charter on our 1885 gaff-rigged sloop Freda. We left the charter guests at the Ferry Building, set sail, and managed to lay Sausalito in one tack on the ebb. Volunteer crew Rob and I quaffed artisanal cheeses and fresh figs, leftover from the charter, as we enjoyed spectacular Bay sailing aboard the oldest sailing yacht on the West Coast. I was feeling so cocky about it that I suggested, “People always drop her sails and motor the last mile to Spaulding. There’s plenty of room by ...

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