Monday, January 30, 2012

An idea whose time has come

How to get that first line ashore when you are approaching a dock? Here's a simple idea, available from DockWand, that we all, every one of us, need to have on one of our spring lines:

Giving credit where credit is due, this was seen first at The World Encompassed, and later published at Windborne In Puget Sound.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Low-Buck Tools: Outboard Motor Work Stand

Brian over at Dock 6 whips together a quickie outboard motor stand:
        When it's too cold to float a boat, it's the right time to get your boat ready to float.  The only upside to a long cold winter is that the more work you do when the snow flies, the less work you have to do when the sun shines.  One of my projects this winter is to revive an old outboard, so I need a work stand.   I thought about buying a rolling O/B carrier, but rejected the option for a couple of reasons -
  1. Lack of stability.  it's a whole lot less frustrating to reef on a seized bolt when you don't have to worry about your work rolling out from under you.
  2. Lack of work surface.  An O/B cart has no place to lay tools, parts, rags, your beer, etc.
  3. Lack of spare funds.  The more money I spend on stuff that is not going on a boat, the less money I have to spend on stuff that goes on a boat.  And Christmas is coming.

      So, as usual, I gotta build what I need.  I'm cool with that because it means I have to repurpose a bunch of scrap lumber, so I sort of get to clean up part of my cluttered workshop.


      Because thousands dozens three chronic Chronicles readers have asked me to post step- by- step instructions of the "low-buck" projects, I will do that very thing with this episode, for those who want to play along at home.

     Step 1:   Plan your work, so you can work your plan.  Draw up the dimensions of what you need to accomplish, maybe sketch out a vague idea of what it should look like. Note the high quality drawing utensils


     Step 2:  Get wood. If you're a woodworker/boatbuilder/home handyman type, chances are you have a whole mess of offcuts, or as, they are known at Stately Jones Manor, mistakes.  Gather up a bunch of likely suspects.  Because I was going to be building a stand to hold a 50 lb motor, I wanted something fairly beefy, so I dug up an old pressure treated 4 x4 left over from a fence project, a couple of gnarly 2x4s last used during a painting project, a 2 x6 of unknown origin, a length of 1 x 2, and some leftover melamine shelf board

     Step 3:  Measure twice, cut once.  Swear, remeasure, cut again.  Using your drawing as a guide, cut your wood to measure.


Step 4: Drink a beer.  Now that the power tools stage of the program is over, you realize that this is dusty work, and a cold beer would come in handy.  This also give you a chance to contemplate how you are going to put this all together.

Step 5: Nail 'er, screw 'er, give it to 'er!  Fasten your uprights to the horizontal lowers, fasten feet blocks to the lowers, install some spreaders, and gussets, add on a work top.

Step 6:  Try it out.  Seems to work.

   Total build time:  2 hours.
   Total cost:  $0

     It ain't pretty, it ain't elegant, but it does what it is supposed to do. I suppose a coat of paint would not go amiss, but while it might make it look more polished, it isn't going to make it work any better.  I didn't trim the angle on the melamine gussets because I figured I might add a shelf there later, if it appears it may come in handy.  

     Or a beer holder.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Adding stowage

Can you ever have too much stowage on a boat?  I don't think so.  Brian over at Dock 6 puts some unused space to work as additional stowage:
This winter, I focused on adding function to the interior of Whiskeyjack.  There was a lot of wasted space under the v-berth:

So we decided to add a hanging cubby to the underside of the v-berth filler panel, which you can see just above the dog in the picture.

Hopefully the dog will still fit.

Update, April 28/11:
It fits, and looks like the dawg will, too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pledge drive

(the last Pledge drive post was back in June.  I'll keep these at about a 6-month frequency)

I hope you have been enjoying the ongoing series of projects posted here.

This is your site.    For this to work out for all of us, everybody needs to contribute - think of this as a pot luck dock party.

Come on now.  All of you have a small project of one kind or another that others would be interested in seeing. Contribute to the feast:
  • Write it up and send it to SmallBoatProjects at gmail dot com
- or -
  • If you have already written it up on a blog somewhere and are willing to share, tell me where in the wide world of the Internet to find it , and I'll come and get it.
- or -
  • Give me permission to "mine" your blog for projects. Anybody who is writing a blog about boating has numerous small projects buried in there. I'll ferret them out, if you let me. No, I won't put your content on here without your permission.
- or -
  • Send me what you have, and I'll do the write-up, with full credit going to you as your project, of course.

Every posting will feature a link to your article (if there is one) and a link to your blog (if you have one).  In addition, all contributors will permanently have a link in the "Contributors" box on the right side of the blog. This ought to drive some of the traffic that this site is seeing back to your site.  I will not take any recent posts (unless you tell me otherwise) - that way this site will not be in competition with yours. Instead, it will hopefully serve to "reactivate" some of your older posts.

But the most important benefit you'll get is the warm feeling of having helped someone thru a problem - one that you have solved. And we will all be the richer for it.

Pitch in!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Favorite Sail Ties

Drew over at Sail Delmarva  makes some proper sail ties:
In the West Marine catalog--or any supplier for that matter--they sell prefabricated sail ties for ridiculous prices. My boat came with 2 sets of 2 types. I tried some webbing with Fastex buckles--something I had. They all stink. We used some for other things and cut some up to use the materials for other things. All rubbish.

Having completed my Practical Sailor article on washing rope, I was faced with piles of clean ropes in various states of disrepair. Some was ancient crap, destroyed in the testing. A few bits tie Jessica's kayak to the car or the railing of the boat. Some remains in a basket, waiting some future purpose. Most puzzling was the new dock lines that were herniated and ruined in the washing process. I had 100 feet of new, soft 1/2-inch nylon dockline that simply had a tangled core. I pulled the core out--it slipped out in seconds--and played with both parts,  the core and the cover, while watching a DVD; something to keep the hands busy. Separately, they are so loose and and easy to splice, it became a game to see what could be done. Toys for sailors.

The core was pitched. Other than recyclable fiber, I couldn't dream a purpose. To loose and snag prone.

The cover is another matter. It's a sort of webbing, or a very hollow single braid rope, super-easy to splice. Just screwing around, sitting on the boat one evening while watching "Cast Away" for the 10th time, I found myself making sail ties from this, a sort of strop. It  felt old school and relaxing... and they are the best ties I have found.
  • The material is soft and easy on the sails. 
  • A brommel splice is fast and  few stitches lock it. 
  • The eye is just large enough to pass a double over hand knot, which is nice and square and never slips out. 
  • The flattened profile of the hollow braid grips the stopper knot better than round rope, without need for an overly tight eye. 
  • The pointed tail makes threading them simple; I can take put them on or take them off in the dark with gloves on, in moments.
  • There is no hard buckle or bozo ball to step on.
  • There is no knot to seize-up after wet dry cycling.
  • They are not adjustable (you can move the knot, of course), but if made to fit there is no need.

Try it. It seems wasteful, just using the cover, but short bits of used rope should do. Normally old rope cannot be spliced, but I think you'll find the cover alone is different.

I swear, I'm not that cheap. These real work best for me! Well, maybe I am.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to: Remove bungs

Erick has been stripping s/v Windsong, his Downeast 38, down essentially a bare hull.  In the process, he has learned a thing or two about how to remove bungs, having done literally thousands of them.

Before you do your next wood working project, you owe it to yourself to check out the detailed treatise he wrote up covering the process he developed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Help, please

Sometimes, a commonly available solution to a problem is, well, incomplete. 

On Eolian, lo these many years ago, I installed what must be the standard teak wine glass rack on the underside of the cabinet over the galley sink:

But there is a problem.  In a seaway, the glasses jostle around and then eventually abandon the rack, jumping to their freedom.  Short of fitting them with tiny life jackets, what is to be done?  I have considered many ideas as solutions to this problem, but have not found one to my liking.  Normally I like to consider myself a pretty creative guy, but on this one I am drawing a blank.

So.  There are some very creative folks out there who read this blog - this post is directed to you.  I need your help, please.

How can I retain the wine glasses in the rack?  The solution needs to:
  • Retain the glasses in a seaway (duh).  
  • Make it easy to insert and remove glasses into/from the rack when we are not in a seaway (realistically, this is the large majority of the time).  If the solution involves a removable piece, stowage is a concern
  • Not look like a kludge (no bungie cords please)
  • Be elegant in its simplicity.
There are no prizes, except that I will implement the solution I like best, if any,  and publish it here - because I suspect that I am not the only one with this problem.  And we will hoist a toast to you at anchor in Port Madison, the next time we are there.

Please send your ideas to the address on the contact page, listed in the tab above.

OK, over to you, creative folks!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Nature abhors a vacuum

Nature abhors a vacuum, and an empty flat surface is the topological equivalent of a vacuum. Flat surfaces inevitably get covered up with, well stuff.  And on a boat, things are made worse by the dearth of flat surfaces to begin with.  Brian over at Dock 6 addresses the problem head-on with a clever folding counter extension:
In true low-buck fashion, this is a freebie project. One of the advantages of being a really lousy woodworker is that I always have lots of scrap wood lying around from earlier mistakes. Some of it is really nice wood, which I decided to put to use in a galley extension.

Our galley counter space is limited, and our room to add more counter space is limited as well, so I cobbled together a folding extension which will mount to the aft end of the galley, beside the sink in the picture below:

Here is the extension folded for storage:

(Please ignore the epoxy bubbles and runs- I still need to sand and add the final finish.)

Hidden behind the flap when it is stowed is a narrow shelf, just big enough for nav tools, pencils, a pad of paper and issues of Good Old Boat and Small Craft Advisor.

Most of the materials were scrap on-hand, but I did have to shell out $7.46 for hinges.

Also seen in the above picture is the knife rack, cut from 2 x2 cedar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On being courteous

Steve and Lulu on s/v Siempre Sabado have found an interesting solution to the courtesy flag problem. What courtesy flag problem? Well, read on...
It's a requirement in Mexico, and probably every other country, for visiting vessels to fly the flag of the host country. This is called a "courtesy flag" and is a sign of respect. You fly your own country's flag as well but the courtesy flag should be higher and at least as large as your own ensign.

Now, it's not much of a sign of respect if the courtesy flag is all tattered and faded and that's something that doesn't take long in this climate. Constant exposure to the UV rays of the sun combined with flapping against shrouds in the wind, and flags get beat up pretty fast. We've already worn out two. And they're fairly expensive. A decent one can run you $15-$20 US or more, depending on size.

We think we've come up with a viable solution. You sort of need a sewing machine to make it work, though.

We were having lunch at The Shack one afternoon when we noticed a piece of fabric flying from the rafters. It was about 5' wide and maybe 6' long and sported 6 Mexican flag prints in that area. All you'd need to do to make flags would be to cut the fabric into flag-size pieces, hem it, add a couple grommets and you'd be good to go.

We managed eventually to find the right fabric store and bought enough fabric for 10 flags. Total cost: $5.00 USD.

Our old flag:

And that was after Lulu had repaired it once.

A couple hours of cutting, ironing, pinning, sewing, and grommeting and this is one of our 10 new flags:

They won't last a real long time, being fairly lightweight, but, at fifty cents each, we can live with that.
This may not be a viable solution in other places, but it sure looks like a great answer in Mexico!
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