Thursday, April 29, 2010

Molly Hogan Splice

One of the long-term projects that I have been thinkng about is re-rigging my boat as a traditional cutter. In order to complete that I need new shrouds, forestay and jib stay (in addition to a mast and bow sprit of course). When I was aloft on Quinnipiac I saw that they used an eye splice slipped over the masthead, rather than shackles to secure the shrouds and stays to the mast. Its right out of Darcy Lever's "A Young Sea Officer's Sheet Anchor", which I like to use as a reference because it was written in 1819 and therefore unquestionably traditional. I determined that this was the way that I wanted to begin the re-rigging of my boat.

Yes, Darcy Lever would have prefered three-strand hemp for standing rigging, but come on! It is the 21st century and my boat has a fiberglass hull. So, wire rigging is my preference! I've been practicing wire splicing on various projects; the Lettie G. Howard's footropes being the latest example. What I learned from these projects was that I hate wire splicing and I'm not particularly good at it. However, it's a skill that I want to learn - if not master - because it looks better than wire clips and I'm too cheap to get a professional rigger to do the work.

I'm most familiar with the Liverpool Eye splice, but I wanted to try the Molly Hogan splice for this application. The Molly Hogan splice has from 70-90% of the strength of the wire left after the splice, so it's just as good as a Liverpool Eye splice and almost as good as wire clips. I'd originally learned the Molly Hogan splice from a former mate on the Pride of Baltimore II (and schooner Pioneer), Mike Fiorentino. The Pride crew use the splice on one of their yards and it supports an incredible amount of weight. Mike had drawn a diagram in a letter to me and but it wasn't until he took me aloft on Pride to see it, I understood how the splice worked.

I still have Mike's diagram, but to be honest I found Brian Toss' "Rigger's Apprentice" and the US Navy Boatswain's Mate Manual much more helpful in completing a Molly Hogan splice. For the wire I used 3/16 inch diameter, 7 by 19 galvinized wire. The "7 by 19" means that it has 6 strands of 19 wires each around core strand of 19 wires. I would have prefered 7 by 7, because those 19 little wires manage to cut the crap out of my hands, but Home Depot didn't have any 7 by 7.

The following is the process as I understand it;

1. The first step is to break the strands into two groups of three strands each, then un-lay the groups to twice the circumference of the eye plus three or four inches extra. For my purposes, this meant a circumference of a little less than 6 inches, so 16 inches total for the two groups. I used red tape to keep the strands from un-laying too far.

2. Once the two groups of strands are ready, you simply tie an overhand knot in such a way that one group of strands lay into the empty space of the other, completing the wire rope.

3. Then you continue to lay the groups into the empty space of the other until you reach the neck of the eye. At this point you need to cut out the core strand. The US Navy suggests cutting out the core strand before making the eye splice. However, I prefer Brian Toss' method of leaving the core strand in one of the groups, so that it makes the splice stronger.

4. Then you wind the six remaining strands sround the standing part of the wire rope. The splice at this point is done, save for parcelling and serving.

I was actually pleased with the way this splice turned out, but will use the Liverpool Eye splice for the deadeyes. Not because its stronger splice - the weakest link will be the Molly Hogan splice - but because its a cool splice and I want to get better at it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Aloft on Quinnipiac

I had the opportunity to work on the schooner Quinnipiac this past weekend. The Quinnipiac, or Quinni as she seems to be called by her crew, is a reproduction of a nineteenth century cargo vessel. She was built in the 1960's to the lines of the Biloxi schooners which operated throughout the southeast for the better part of a century. She was aquired by Schooner Inc., a non-profit educational organization, in 1990 and is based out of New Haven, CT on the Long Island Sound.

A friend had invited me to go up to New Haven for Quinnipac's up-rig. Even though Pioneer was making the transit from Tottenville that day, and I had to finish wire splicing Lettie G. Howard's footropes, I felt like I needed to go do some rigging on a different boat. I'd made part of Qunni's down-rig the previous season and thought I would learn quite a bit by being there for the up-rig. I got there around 1030 and the crew were still sorting out all the blocks and line. The full-time crew (5) were running things and I joined a bunch of volunteers (4) doing some shlepping.

Quinnipiac's a pretty boat, but in a working boat way, not the polished teak yacht way. She's a gaff-rigged schooner with tan-bark sails and a wooden hull. She's about 95 feet overall (65 feet on deck) with 14 feet beam and low free-board. She has a centerboard, rather than a keel and only draws 4 feet with the board up. Her engine is off-set to port, which apparently can make docking somewhat squirrily. She's quite roomy down below, when compared to other traditional vessels where the crew are confined in the cramped foc'sl. Quinny has an open galley, with wide benches narrowing in the bow. Moving aft below decks, on either side of the centerboard trunk are the crew racks, followed by storage. The whole below decks, incluing the sole, is wood painted haze grey, which I personally find amusing. Past the midships bulkhead below decks is the engine compartment, more crew racks for the captain/mates and the head. Again its a surprisingly open space.

Her standing rigging is quite traditional; shrouds and stays for the most part use no shackles, rather they have wire eyes that are wormed, parcelled and served and slipped over the masthead to rest on the crosstrees. The shrouds then terminate in deadeyes and lanyards, and are heavily tarred and quite stiff. The forestay slips over the foremast crosstrees as with the shrouds, but is tensioned with a turnbuckle at the bow. The jib stay and whisker stays on the bowsprit use shackles and turnbuckles. The bowsprit is interesting, keeping an octagonal shape for the initial length, then rounds as it goes forward of the bow. I believe she has what's called a bald-headed schooner rig, meaning she doesn't have a topmast and therefore can't set a topsail. To be honest, without a top mast, she looks a bit empty aloft.

I knew two people on the boat - Tommy and Michael; the former being the full-time waterfront director and the latter being the temporary 2nd mate. Apparently, one of these two ratted me out as a climber and I was asked to go aloft on the foremast to rig the throat block and the port quarter-lift, so that we could swing the fore-boom into place. I'm actually terrified of heights, being absolutely convinced of certain death every time I climb the shrouds. But I also like being aloft at the same time for a couple reasons; its exciting to be able to conquer my fear and I can't consider myself a competent sailor if I can't go aloft and do work.

Michael had gone aloft on the main mast to rig the same blocks for the main boom. We exchanged a lot of banter from our vantage points on top of the two masts. The harbor was so calm at New Haven, which in turn made the crosstrees seem solid underfoot. This was quite unlike being aloft on the schooner Pioneer. New York harbor has a ridiculous amount of barge traffic that creates wakes that swing the tops of Pioneer's masts through 20 degrees. Being aloft on the Quinnipiac was almost a pleasant experience by comparison, or at least less terrifying for me.

After lunch the full-time captain asked Michael and I to finish rigging the fore boom and fore gaff. This seems like a simple instruction and probably would be in many instances, but we'd never seen Quinni fully rigged and had no idea where to begin. On Pioneer they have a "Rigging Bible" that tells you how every block is attached and gives you pictures to confirm whether you're right or wrong. There's no such thing on the Quinnipiac. So Michael and I, who knew nothing about rigging Quinnipiac, went through the blocks and line and figured out on our own how to rig the peak, throat and quarter-lifts. I did most of the aloft work, only coming down to thaw out from the cold wind.

In two hours Michael and I, with one of the full-time deckhands named Sim, had managed to rig the fore gaff and swing it into place, then put the final quarter-lift on the main boom. Feeling very confident in our abilities at this point we were next trying to figure out where the blocks for the staysail, staysail club topping lift, anchor burton and jib went. (Come on!!! Two hours to figure out, rig and raise the fore boom and gaff, WE ROCK!)

However, the main mast was pretty much the same as when we got back from lunch, so they asked me to go aloft on the main and rig up the blocks for the peak halyard. I was surprised because on Pioneer lots of people want to go aloft, but hey it meant more fun for me, so I didn't mind. It went pretty quick, but I needed some seine twine for mousing the shackles and the chief mate brought it up to me. (The Qunnipiac uses seine twine rather than wire for mousings).

As the chief mate climbed up I noticed that he was really not comfortable aloft; stopping often and trying very, very hard not to look down. I know how he felt and admired that he was able to overcome his obvious fear and bring up the twine. He just as easily could have sent Michael or used the gantline to haul it up. I also found out that the two deckhands were completely new and really had very little traditional tallship experience. They had never been aloft before. I'm sure they'll get the chance though.

Either way, we finished up by 1730. It was a great time and I was happy with the experience because I ended up learning a lot about rigging. I was really impressed with the crew as well. The Captain, both Tommy and the new full-time captain, were really good. The rest of the crew was moderately experienced to inexperienced, but generally friendly and really good people. They'll figure out how to go aloft and work, because really what are their options? During the season no one else is going to show up and do the work for them. But most importantly, they all get along! I think they'll have a good season if for no other reason than because they all seem to like each other!!!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dead Reckoning

Dead reckoning is the process of plotting your position on a chart based on your course and speed from a known point. Of course it's never exact, because you have to estimate leeway and the effect of the tides. But for hundreds of years better sailors than me have used it to cross oceans and I wanted to get better at this skill. I realized how necessary it was on my only attempted long trip on my small boat. I had over estimated my speed and it wasn't until I got a hard fix from points on land using my hand-bearing compass that I realized how necessary getting a better estmate of the vessels speed was. Of course, as my wife informed me, I could just get a GPS. She didn't have any problem finding her way around Florida with her Garmin. The problem is that I'm kind of a nut and want to develop skills that don't rely on electronic devices.

In the age of the Tall Ships, a device called a "chip log" was used to measure the speed of a vessel under sail. This device consisted of a piece of wood, a long length of line and a 28 second glass. The first description of this device is from a book written by William Bourne in 1574 called, "A Regiment for the Sea". Fans of Patrick Obrien can see the device being used in the movie, "Master and Commander".

The whole concept of its use is based on the measurement of a nautical mile. Until 1954 the US considered 6080 feet to be a nautical mile, but the international standard 1.852km is now used. (Most of us use the chart to measure 1 minute of latitude, rather than the scale to figure out a nautical mile). In any event, using a chip log, a vessel travelling at 1 nautical mile per hour would take 28 seconds to travel 47' 3". A knot in the line would mark the first 47' 3". A vessel travelling at 2 nautical miles per hour would travel 94' 1/2" in 28 seconds. 2 knots would be placed at this second 47' 3" and so on down the log line. This is why we use the term knots, because literally sailors used a knot to measure distance and speed.

So how does this help me? I made a chip log that's how. In the JUL/AUG 2009 issue of Small Craft Advisor there are directions for making a chip log. I made mine out of 50' of tarred seine twine and a triangular piece of plywood I found in my workshop. Basically, rather than having several hundred feet of log line reeling off the stern of my 20' sloop, the article recommends using just 50' of line and a stop watch. It works the same way as previously described, except that we use 50' as the distance measured. Using this method a vessel travelling 1 nautical mile per hour will go 50' in 30 seconds. A vessel travelling 2 nautical miles per hour will go 50' in 15 seconds. I wrote down the distance/speed calculations on the wooden wedge, because I knew I'd forget them anyway.
Using the methods of sailors for the last three centuries, I'll check my speed using this device once every 30 minutes on a long trip, noting the compass course at the same time, then plot this on my chart. I'll report back how this goes during my next foray to Florida.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Davis Island 27 54'N 082 27'W

22 DEC 2009:

The weather was supposed to be overcast, so I decided to do a short sail in Hillsborough Bay rather than a longer sail in Tampa Bay out to Edgemont Channel. There was also the indication that the wind would be a steady 10 knots from the east, which meant that I could sail north up Hillsborough Bay on a long beam reach to Davis Island and back. Two goals would be accomplished; a) I would get a chance to look at the approach to the Davis Island boat ramp from seaward and b) I would get a chance to try a self-steering idea that I'd read about.

Anyone who has sailed a small boat single-handed will understand the need for some way to let the boat sail it's self. Whether its to fix something or just sit back and enjoy the sail without constant adjustment of the helm, the ability to just let go of the tiller without bad things happening is really nice. During the summer I had tried lashing the tiller with some success. In steady winds the boat holds course. But the slightest gust will have her turn up into the wind. Lashing the helm can only give you a short amounbt of time to deal with problems forward or to provide your arm some relief during a long sail.

I decided an auto-helm or a wind vane would be overkill on a small 20' sloop, so I looked into sheet to helm steering. Essencially, this means attaching the main sheet to the tiller and off-setting the pull with elastic of some sort. I learned about how to do this mainly from John Letcher's book, "Self-Steering for Sailing Craft". It's a great book and goes more in depth than I really needed, but he actually sailed across the Pacific using this meathod, so I thought he'd be a good guy to listen to.

The set-up is different based on the wind, but basically the elastic is tied off on the leeward side of the boat opposite the helm and then lashed to the tiller. A 1/4" line is then made off to the main sheet with a rolling hitch (or using a snatch block), then through a block opposite the helm on the windward side, then lashed to the tiller. The helm is balanced through trial and error until in a steady breeze, the boat will hold her course. If a gust comes up, the force of the wind on the sail will tighten the main sheet, pulling the helm opposite to and counteracting the force of the wind. If the wind lessons, the elastic will pull the helm back. The boat stays on course because of the two forces acting against each other.

John Letcher suggests surgical tubing makes the best elastic for the purposes of self-steering. He indicated that surgical tubing, though it degraded in the sun, did have the right amount of elasticity. I didn't have any surgical tubing. However, I did have a bungee cord and tarred seine twine. I figured if you have a bungee cord and seine twine you can do just about anything. I was wrong in this instance, but it usually is true.

On the way north toward Tampa, I didn't try to use the self-steering, I just enjoyed the sail. The sun was out, the wind was a steady ten knots and I sat back and enjoyed holding the tiller and getting used to the feel of the boat again. However, on the way back I decided to try the system.

I let out the mainsheet, so the main sail leuffed a little. Then I hooked the bungee cord to the leeward aft cleat and looped it around the tiller. Then, while trying to hold the boat more or less on course, I tied a rolling hitch with the 1/4" nylon line around the standing mainsheet, put it through a block attached to the windward aft cleat, pulled in the main sheet until it filled and then wrapped the tail line around the tiller. Unfortunately, it didn't work, though I saw why it should and probably will with different materials.

I tried for the better part of an hour to balance the pull of the elastic against the pull of the wind on the main sheet. The bungee cord was too strong though. Maybe in high winds 20 knots or better, the bungee would have worked, but I need something just as elastic, but not as strong.

Surgical tubing ....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hillsboro Bay 27°50'N 082°25'W


I checked out the boat on Saturday (19 DEC 09) and found that I had to replace the jack on the trailer. After failing to find what I needed at the local trailer supply place, the local farm supply place, the local Auto Shop and the local WalMart, I finally found what I was looking for at the local Home Depot. Though the WalMart turned out to be a good stop because I scored #36 tarred seine twine for $7.36 for a 1lb roll. Apparently they use it for sport fishing down here. Who knew?

I checked NOAA and got the following for Tampa Bay; "SUNDAY NORTHWEST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. BAY AND INLAND WATERS A MODERATE CHOP." NOAA also indicated the following tides at Edgemont Channel for the 20th; High: 12:28AM and 03:21PM, Low 07:17AM LST 06:12PM with a tidal rise and fall of around 1.5 feet. The tides hit the Alafia River, my intended ramp, about 2.5 hours after the entrance to Tampa Bay at Edgemont Channel.

The tide tables always used to confuse me until a captain on the schooner Pioneer asked me what the tide was at Hell Gate. As mate I'd never checked Hell Gate before, I mean who cared we only looked at what the tide was doing at the Battery since that was where we were going. However, the tide at the entrance to the bay - or the two entrances to New York Harbor in this case - determines the tides for the bay. It made sense to me only when I thought about it as an incoming wave or as water being drawn out to the sea, rather than as a rise or fall in the Bay itself. Since then I've always checked the tide at Edgemont Channel rather than at the ramp in Tampa Bay I might use. It makes me more aware of and observant to what the tide is doing.

As I indicated I put into the Alafia River boat ramp around 1200 on Sunday the 20th. There were few other boats at the dock and the air temperature was only 55 degrees when I put in, so I donned foulies. For some reason, I did not put a reef in the mainsail. Because Marjorie is so tender in a fresh breeze, I usually tuck a reef in the main if there were projected gusts to 20 knots, but I was somewhat overconfident. The wind appeared out of the north and I thought I'd try sailing off the dock, so I ran the docklines over the cleats and back to the boat, then raised the main and jib. Unfortunately, by the time I got the engine started, the wind had veered to the west and had pinned me to the dock. I slipped the bow line, backed down on the stern line until the wind caught the jib, then cast off, put the engine in neutral and sailed down the river and out the channel.

Once clear of the Alafia, I realized almost immidiately that I didn't have a good feel for the boat. I wasn't anticipating the wind and I didn't have a good feel for the tiller. I hadn't sailed at all in two months and I hadn't sailed Marjorie since the summer. I was rusty and decided to do a couple easy tacks across Hillsborough Bay just to try and get back the muscle memory. The winds were gusty and the scattered white caps did seem to indicate that the wind was around 15 knots. But the wind was out of the northeast, while the waves were larger than they should have been and were out of the north (toward Tampa and the head of the Bay). I was expecting around 2 - 3 foot waves - and I certainly had them here - but every ten waves or so was a 4 - 5 foot wave. There was no traffic in the bay, so it wasn't wakes. I still haven't figured it out.

About half way across the Bay, heading toward Ballast Point, I fell off from a close reach to a beam reach, toward MacDill AFB. The waves were largely on the starboard quarter, when I suddenly had a gust push the boat over to about 80 degrees. Water poured in over the coaming and I had two thoughts; I can't believe I didn't anticipate that and I should have covered over those old speakers in the cockpit. Yes, the previous owner had put speakers in the sides of the cockpit, which now allowed about twenty gallons of seawater to rush into the main bilge. Note to self: get rid of the speakers.

I immediately released the main sheet and pushed over the tiller and came up into the wind. Then when she righted, I continued with the tack, passed the jib and sheeted in the main. We were now closehauled and pounding into the waves heading toward Pendolla Point. It was exhilerating and exhausting. I was carrying way too much sail, but I was still having fun, despite my best attempts to sink the boat.

I still kept up the full main and stayed out for about three hours all told. But I recognized that I need more tiller time to get back my feel for the boat. It was really more of a struggle than it should have been.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Decorative Marlinspike Seamanship

“Wow, this is turning out much better than I expected.”

I made this statement while sitting in my favorite bar in New York City, drinking a pint of Guinness and trying to turn ten feet of three strand, half-inch hemp line into a ditty bag lanyard. A friend, sitting next to me and trying to work her way through a four strand star knot, commented on the fact that I always say that. And she’s right, I do. But it really isn’t excessive ego on my part …. no really, its not … it’s quite the opposite in fact. I actually am always amazed when something I do related to traditional skills or seamanship turns out well.

Then a short fuzzy-haired student teacher compared the finished lanyard to a child’s toy. Well thanks …. so hundreds of years of sailor’s craft is really nothing more than a summer camp boondoggle? But I was left to think about the nature of the craft: is there any practical reason for still practicing decorative marlinspike seamanship?

Up until I started sailing on the schooner Pioneer, I had no interest in crafts of any sort. I’m not particularly artsy. However, once I started sailing on a historic vessel and began hanging out with the crew of said vessel, I became more and more interested in knots, bends and hitches. How they’re tied, why they work or more importantly why they don’t.

Long conversations with the crew of the vessel led me to two books that kindled the interest in decorative marlinspike seamanship;
“The Arts of the Sailor: Knotting, Splicing and Ropework” by Hervey Garrett Smith Hervey Garrett Smith (Author) and the “Ashley Book of Knots” by Clifford Ashley. From these books I learned how to tie a variety of knots, how to splice, sew patches on sails, and most importantly how to take pride in doing something in a clean, precise way.

In re-reading Ashley's section on decorative work, I came to the conclusion that these skills are still relavent and I think I know why they're important to learn.

One of the first projects I worked on was a small ditty bag and lanyard. I "borrowed" the canvas and seine twine from the Bosun's locker on Pioneer and used my own sail twine and needles. In order to make the bag I had to learn how to sew a proper seam, how to make a very small grommet and how to sew a hitched eyelet. To make the lanyard I had to learn a star knot, wall knot, mathew walker knot and an eye splice. I actually use a doubled wall and crown knot, rather than a mathew walker, as a stopper on my own boat. But I have plans to use the mathew walker soon. I made this ditty bag before I went overseas with the Navy in 2007. It carried all of my sewing kit, which I often needed, and I carried it in my 3-day bag from Baghdad to Al Asad. It has proven to be better and more useful than anything I may have purchased.

My second big project was my knife. Unlike the first knife I made, this one I didn't shape the steel, rather I purchased a blank, then made the handle. The grip is oak, covered by leather grafting and turk's heads and the whole was then water-proofed with linseed oil and bees wax. Grafting on traditional vessels was a form of chafe gear, but I've found it to be one of the most secure grips ever. I've been aloft in rain on Pioneer and in heavy weather aboard my own boat and have never lost my grip on this knife. The grafting is made by securing strips of leather and them winding another piece of leather over and under the standing pieces. The turk's heads on either end, when drawn up tight, are some of the most secure knots ever devised. Robin Knox Johnson used them in his single-handed circumnavigation to secure a cracked main boom on his way round the Horn.

The last useful project that I worked on was a heaving line. I could have purchased one, but for less than $10, I made one using white polypro from Home Depot and a wooden ball from AC Moore. The Monkey's Fist is an interesting knot that much like the Turk's Head - or most knots for that matter - relies on tension and friction to hold itself together.

I could probably purchase a sewing kit, knife, heaving line, ...etc. and have spent less time and effort than making the ones that I did. But I'm a sailor and I like the tradition that goes with being a sailor. Its probably the same reason that I like to take a boat out on the water and use the wind to take her where I want to go, rather than get a power boat. Its not as fast or flashy, but I don't need it to be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plans ...

I’ve been contemplating a change in the rigging for my sailboat Marjorie, currently stored on a trailer, under a tarp, in my backyard in Florida. I really like Marjorie’s ease in setting up and her handling underway, but there are a few things that I’m uncomfortable with. She has a great deal of weather helm when the full mainsail and jib are up. Also, she’s really tender, heeling over a great deal in anything over ten knots of wind. Granted, she only goes over about fifteen to twenty degrees and then stiffens up, but it’s disconcerting at how easy that initial heel is.

In order to learn more about rigging, I’ve been reading the Complete Rigger’s Apprentice by Brian Toss. It’s a great book for the novice, with good descriptions of rigging details and so easy an explanation of the formulas involved that even with my poor understanding of math I can grasp the process, if not the theory. Though the book in no way would allow me to become a real rigger, it does allow me to understand the forces acting on the rigging, use the formulas to determine those forces and make informed decisions about rigging a small boat.

As designed, Marjorie is a fractional rig sloop; meaning that her forestay attaches to the mast about 3 ½ feet below the masthead and extends to the bow, rather than to a bowsprit. She has two shrouds set on either beam well aft of the mast step that attach at the same level as the forestay. The shrouds each have spreaders, but these don’t change the angle of the attachment at the mast. From the Rigger’s Apprentice I learned that since these spreaders aren’t normally under tension and don’t change the angle, they’re probably meant to counteract the deviation of the mast from compression load when the wind picks up.

When I began considering options I thought about Marjorie’s design. She was built by Southern Sails Inc. in 1981 as a cuddy cabin version of their Skipper 20. Both have the same hull, carry the same amount of sail area, but the Skipper 20 had a bowsprit, 100 pounds more ballast and 150 pounds more displacement. I suspect that the mainsail overpowers the tiller because the jib was moved 1 foot 3 inches aft on Marjorie. Also, because she’s lighter, but has the same sail area and mast height, the wind force acting on her is more pronounced against the righting motion of the keel.

So, how to correct this cheaply, because who knows if I’m right until I build something and try it out underway? Reducing the weather helm should be corrected by moving the jib forward to her original design length. Of course this means that I’ll need to build a bowsprit and get a new forestay, but more on that later. To reduce the amount of initial heel, I feel the best way is to bring the center of gravity of the mainsail down closer to the keel. If I can do this, then even though the sail area of the mainsail doesn’t change, the way it acts on the boat should. Lots and lots of reading later, the sail plan that would do this - and is most appealing to me visually - is a low aspect gaff rig.

Luckily I just happen to have plans for a gaff rig that has approximately the same sail area as Marjorie: the Weekender. The Weekender’s mainsail and jib are more or less the same sail area as my mainsail and jib and the length from the bowsprit to the mast step is about the same. Obviously, nothing else about the Weekender (a flat bottomed, plywood, homebuilt sharpie) is similar to Marjorie (a self-righting, fiberglass sloop).

The total re-fit would involve replacing the mast and boom with wooden spars, replacing the shrouds with new wire and deadeyes, adding a wooden bowsprit and chain bobstay, replacing the forestay and making a new mainsail. The directions to do all of this cheaply are contained in the Weekender plans, though they recommend using wire clips rather than wire splices for the shrouds and forestay.

Initially I had to determine the shroud and forestay size, because the Weekender uses four shrouds (two to a side) and I only wanted to use one per side. Using the Rigger’s Apprentice I was able to determine that the Transverse Rigging Load (strain on mast and spars at 30 degree heel) for my boat is approximately 6800 pounds with a safety factor added in. At least half that load will be taken by either shroud, so I could go as low as 3/16 inch wire rope which can handle 3700 pounds. But I want to use 1/4 inch wire rope because I’ll put a Molly Hogan splice and Liverpool Eye splice in each shroud, which will reduce the strength of the wire by approximately 30%. Additionally, I’ll increase the diameter of the deadeyes and change the diameter of the fiber lanyards from 1/4 inch nylon (breaking strength of 1700 pounds) to 3/8 inch nylon (breaking strength 3650 pounds).

Determining the length of the wire to use for the shrouds and forestay actually was the most complicated part of the planning process. I hate math, I always have, but luckily the Rigger’s Apprentice is very good at using easy equations and a scientific calculator. In order to get the length of the forestay, I needed to determine the angle from the mast to the forestay. This is accomplished by taking the base of the triangle formed by the mast and stay dividing it by the height of the mast at the forestay attachment, then taking the arctangent of the resulting number. The angle is 33 degrees. Given that angle, in order to get the length of the stay, I need to divide the base of the triangle by the sine of the above mentioned angle. In this example, I find that I need to make Marjorie’s forestay 15’ 1” without the turnbuckle.

The shroud length is similarly determined to be 13’ 3” without deadeyes and lanyards. Though I have to say that the calculations were more involved because the shrouds are set back from the mast step 2’ 5” and it took me awhile to figure out how to determine the appropriate base to use. Some may have noticed at this point that I keep mentioning that these are lengths without considering turnbuckles and lanyards. That works out ok because there’s supposed to be rake in the Weekender mast. Because Marjorie’s mast step is on the cabin top, adding a turnbuckle at the forestay will rake the mast aft, while still allowing 18 inches for the lanyards on the shrouds.

So all of this is complicated and if it’s ever going to get done, I have to do some of it here in NYC. I just happen to have a rigger’s vice (and a friendly rigger) nearby, so the shrouds and forestay are likely to be done over the fall. The deadeyes are complete, thanks to the help of the carpenter at work. The sail is probably going to take some time, but oddly enough except for the lofting, I can do most of the work in my apartment. I don’t have a TV and I’ll have lots of time when the sailing season stops.