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markfitz

First weekender sail today

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Just got back!  And it was great.  Everyone stayed in the boat, the water stayed out of the boat, so I call it a success.    We got to the boat launch with only one almost-catastrophe...my father hit a pothole with the boat trailer and the whole rudder box bounced out of its gudgeons.  Luckily we didn't lose it on the highway thanks to the bungie cords holding everything together.  

We got it in the water and motored out with the electric trolling motor, and then hoisted the sails.  They went up pretty easy, and we didn't have any trouble catching the breeze. It was only about 5-7 mph, so it was perfect for learning.  After a bit we got the hang of tacking and we could pretty much turn around whenever we wanted.  The Weekender seemed to behave OK, there didn't seem to be much pressure on the tiller at all.  We did the drill where we sort of just let go of everything, and the boat came around like we expected and the sails started flapping.  We missed a few tacks, but most of the time it wasn't bad.   I do have a few questions (of course).

At one point the jib was filled in one direction and the mainsail in the other.  I have no idea why, or that this was even possible!  My second question is probably related to that, but I didn't really seem to know how or when to adjust the jib.   My instinct was to tighten it up on the tack, and then loosen it again, but I never really seemed to know how much or how little.  The mainsail was easier -- I could let it out to spill a little wind, or haul it in a bit and we'd pick up some speed and heel over some.    

We have some bugs to work out too.  The mainsheet kept getting tangled on one of the cleats we installed to tie the boat off to the dock, so we may have to move them forward a bit so that doesn't happen.  The gaff jaws are chewing up our mast.  Originally we had the parrel beads on it, but they chewed it up worse, since they were oblong and not the round ones.  Basically, I think nothing likes to go around a square mast.  We didn't think the tumbler that I've seen pictures of would fare much better.   Probably doesn't help that mast is also fairly soft wood.  We may try putting leather inside the jaws to see if that helps.  

The "stevenson-bought" sails worked great, and it seemed easy to keep the shape of the mainsail pretty consistent.  All in all, it was a good day, and a good maiden voyage for both us and our boat.  

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Pictures??

Yeah!!!!  I don't think we should discuss anything with him until we see some pictures  :lol:

The only time I know of when you can fill the main on one side and the jib on the other is dead down wind.  Then you want to do just that, and it is called "wing and wing".

Glad you had a good first sail.  It will get easier every trip.

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Sadly, no pictures.  We forgot the camera.  We remembered the mast pin this time.  We thought we forgot the life jackets, and were just about to drive back home for them when I found them tucked under the seat inside the cabin......we really need to make a check list..

And that makes sense about the jib, because we were (or at least we think we were) going dead down wind at that point.

One other thing we had a problem with is the throat halyard blocks.  We think they may be too small, and also causing some friction when we are trying to drop the sails.  What size is recommended for those?  I also remember seeing some information on a triangular plate of some kind to separate them.  Would it be better to separate them, or replace them with a double block?  

The overall handling of the boat was better than I expected.  Originally we thought about adding some weight in the front, but there wasn't much chop today and we only weigh about 300 pounds combined, so the bow wasn't up all that high.

The one thing about this boat is that it brings people out of the woodwork to check it out.  I'm not sure if it's a sailing thing, since I'm new to this, but everyone loves to tell boat stories!   We had a guy today telling us that the hardware store turnbuckles and cable clamps we had were going to fail, and when they did, our mast would snap.  He suggested we get real turnbuckles and have our cables trimmed and then swaged.  Any merit to that?  

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Buy a couple of sets of "Tell Tails" for your boat. Follow the instructions and place them just aft of the luff on both sails. Next sit down and commit to memory the instruction sheet that comes with the kit. You'll learn more from this cheat sheet then any comments from any sailor. With the instruction sheet embossed into your brain, go sailing and adjust according to what you've read.

I've never seen a "bull dog" style cable clamp fail, though I've seen plenty of wire fail. The turnbuckles are another story and it depends on how cheap you went. Fortunately, the rigging loads on the standing rigging (the wires) are fairly low, likely way lower then the breaking strength of the weakest bit of metal you have. Next time someone tells you the hardware store stuff will fail ask them if this would be true on a 120 sq. ft. gaff rig. The blank stare on their face will be worth it alone. I'm not a hardware store hardware guy, it just doesn't last, but it's probably strong enough if sized properly.

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Congratulations are in order!  You will find that you always draw a crowd at a launch ramp.

The old gaffers would use leather on the gaff jaws, and then use sheep tallow on the leather to lubricate it.  Its hard to find sheep's tallow in the grocery store, but if you happen to see a sheep roaming around ...

Actually, while they really did use tallow (grease) on the gaff jaws, it makes a heck of a mess, so you won't want to do that on a gentleman's boat.  I have seen guys use some kind of protection where the gaff jaws twist around the mast ... copper sheet (another mess) or plastic let into the mast at that point.  I would let it wear a bit more to see exactly where the wear is, and then use plastic or even hardwood at that point. 

Hardware store turnbuckles can work ... I used aluminum ones on my Weekender.  You really aren't putting too much tension on the rig on a gaffer.  If you tried to tension the shrouds like they do on a modern boat you would end up compressing the mast through the keel.  You do have to watch to make sure they don't twist and loosen while you are sailing.  "Real" turnbuckles have a hole in each threaded portion so you can use wire or "ring dings" (those things like look like little key rings) in them to prevent them from unscrewing.  You could spring for the smallest stainless sailboat turnbuckles if it worries you, but you are probably OK.

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congratulations on your launch.

I've only had my weekender out two times,  but your story sounds familiar.  My mast is also fairly square and the only problems I am having with the plastic hoops that the plan calls for is they stick on the hinge when I hoist the sail.  I also made a set of deadeyes and I like them a lot.  So far they are very quick to tension at the landing and they have held solid under way.  I wouldn't trade them for turnbuckles right now.  That might change, but so far, so good. 

My  brother in law, the schooner  skipper, told me I should round off the inner edges of the gaff jaws which the plan doesn't ask for.  Having done that I noticed a little chafeing but it is not making any marks on my hardwood mast, with the cheap hardware store varnish on it.  And the jaws are only a little buffed up. 

I just got back from the wooden boat show here in the twin ports and I can verify that these little buggers sure draw a crowd.  I was particularily gratified that the old timers were impressed with the overall practicality of the weekender as a fun little cruiser.  I will definitely go next year if for nothing else than all the good info I came home with.

Al

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Glad to hear you had a good outing.  Couple things to note regarding your gaff.  If you have rounded over the inside edges of the gaff jaw, say with a 1/2" Round over bit in your router it will move easier and cause less wear.  I've gone to craft stores and picked up pieces of leather that can line the inside edge of the gaff jaws.  I've wet it to allow it to be formed around the pieces and wrapped it tight to the gaff jaws while it drys.  Then glued it inplace with a Product called Pliobond which is an industrial strength contact cement.  Then tacked the edges to hold them to the flats on the outside of the gaff jaws with copper flathead tacks.  Then oiled the bejeebers out of the leather with a product called Lexol which is available at any feed and tack store or western wear store or most Ace Hardware stores.  This will soften and protect the leather and can be reapplied a couple times a year.    You can also wrap a thin sheet of copper around the area on the mast that the gaff rides against and bond it to the mast with the same Pliobond Industrial contact cement.  Place the seam of the sheet of copper on the opposite side of the mast from the area the gaff jaws rub against and tack it down with the same flat head copper tacks.  You can put a wrap of tape around the bottom and top edges of the copper sheet to keep it snug and flat against the mast itself.  Spray on several coats of Polyurethane and the copper will stay bright and protected. 

Do you have a Line running up between the mast hoops on the opposite side of the  main sail? If not, go back to the plans and see how they run this up to the gaff and down to each ring to hold them level when raising the main.  It also keep them level when under sail.  If not the jaws will  often hang up and cause issues in raising and lowering the main and on occasion can cause issues in the main sail taking a good shape under some points of sail or when tacking.

Sounds like you have the initial basics going OK for you.  Check where each sheet runs when under sail under all points of sail.  If anything is rubbing on them or they are running around any other parts of the rigging and getting hung up on them, then move those parts so the sheets are free to move and clear of any obstructions. Always seems like they get hung up at the point where you need for them to be moving freely and keeps you from doing what you need to do.  Keep your halyards tidy and coiled out of the way while under sail.  Keep the excess length on your sheets tidy and neatly coiled so that you don't have knots forming to prevent you from trying to have them run free.  Keep all other items and materials stowed so that they are not going to cause anything to happen that you could have prevented.  Never cleat off your main sheet.  That is one sure way to have things happen suddenly that you can't handle.

The basic learning curve is generally quite easily managed.  Each outing will help to set things in your mind and the things that don't work will be things to focus on and try to understand better.  It will all come with practice and your confidence will build.  Time to pick a point to sail to and then turn and sail back again several times.  You will learn a lot about how you can adjust jib sheet, main sheet and peak halyard tension to allow you to sail comfortably in any direction.  Yes, you will heel over unless the boat is heading directly down wind.  The boat will feel much more solid when it is heeled over and the tighter you make the jib sheet and main sheet and ajust the peak so that the sail doesn't have a diagonal crease runing diagonally on the main, the faster you will tend to go when heading into or across the wind.  You can loosen up the jib sheet and main sheet if you feel that you are heeling over too far and not controlling it well and you will straighten up and keep on going at a lesser speed but still in control.  You can always ease up on the main sheet and turn into the wind and you will have control again. 

So go have fun and try adjusting tension on the sheets and peak under different points of sail and you will feel the difference in how the boat responds.  It is usually very nimble.

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Thanks guys! Lots of good suggestions here -- I'm making a list!  Thanks for taking the time.

Frank, I do have a quick question for you -- we were having some trouble with the rigging method you used on your boat -- the rear deck-mounted block kept jamming up.  I was wondering if you could tell me more about what type of block arrangement you used here:

newtill06.jpg

The picture is a bit small to see clearly.

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Thanks guys! Lots of good suggestions here -- I'm making a list!  Thanks for taking the time.

Frank, I do have a quick question for you -- we were having some trouble with the rigging method you used on your boat -- the rear deck-mounted block kept jamming up.  I was wondering if you could tell me more about what type of block arrangement you used here:

newtill06.jpg

The picture is a bit small to see clearly.

Sure, the "four part mainsheet" is used on a lot of boats, and is especially nice when you have a tiller that would hamper using a single block in the middle of the lazarrette.   Here's how I made mine:

The main sheet is first attached to a padeye on the port side (later, I used a thimble inside this loop, as it chafed the line quite a bit):

msheet1.jpg

The mainsheet reeves up through the aft block on the boom.  This is a full swivel block, a Harken Big Bullet 168.  I wanted the full swivel on this block to allow for the wide arc the boom can make:

msheet3.jpg

The main sheet then reeves down to the block on the starboard side padeye.  This is a Harken Big Bullet 146, a single with a shackle to attach it to the padeye.  As the boom swings out to starboard, the block only has to rotate clockwise, so a full swivel is not required here:

msheet4.jpg

Here's the boom off to starboard, so you can see the main sheet going up to the Harkin Big Bullet 168 full swivel block, down through the starboard block, back up to the single block on the boom a few inches forward of the full swivel block, and then forward (where reeves through the block to lead it to the center of the cockpit).

msheet6.jpg

Here's the resource I used to create my set up, from Roger Taylor's Knowing the Ropes (now out of print):

3sheet.jpg

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Thanks Frank.  I think that points out our problem.  We might need a U-shaped shackle instead of just mounting the block directly to the eye.  PAR, can you point me to one?  We have a deck mounted block on the jib, but it doesn't "stand up" It is more of a swivel.  We got it at duckworks.

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RF41140.jpg

This is a 40 mm stand up block from Ronstan (cheaper then Harken too). The smaller blocks are available with a swivel head or standard (shown). Larger blocks use a spring base to make the block stand up, such as seen on the 75 mm block below.

RF1100.jpg

The advantage to these blocks is they don't flop over when the sheets go slack and cause a jam, foul or tangle.

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Thanks, I just thought if you knew a reputable online retailer I could use them.  I found a place called http://www.torresen.com.  I also ordered a harken double bullet block for the peak halyard.  Hopefully that will eliminate my binding problem.

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I had similar issues myself.

- For the gaff chewing up the mast, I cut out the inside portion of the gaff jaws, rounding those instead of the mast.  To check it, I held the gaff to the thickest part of my mast lifted at an angle as if the sail was up.  As I rotated it around, I was able to see how much material to remove - it was a surprisingly large amount - I almost made new jaws.

- I was told by Peter Stevenson, to let the jib out to tack and then pull it back in aftwards.  Seemed to work for me when I had my boat out for it's second and most recent launch.

- My halyards were a pain to get right.  I ended up moving one of the blocks for the peak halyard down to be with the throat halyard.  Since I run the halyards down the shrouds I also had to look carefully to make sure that the block were pointed in the right direction and to get things to finally go right I ended up decreasing the size of the line for the halyards so that they wouldn't bind in the blocks themselves.

- I suspect you do have "real" turbuckles.  Pay no mind to people who believe that everything has to be bought at a "boat" store.  Much of my hardware came from the farm supply store which sells things to people who don't have a lot of money but need reliable equipment.  To lock my turnbuckles, I added a nut and lock washer to one side.  After I set the turnbuckles (and when they're loose for trailering) I tighten the nut up snug and they stay put.  I also used 2 cable clamps at each connection not 1.

- I did my own "spring" blocks by going to an industrial supply shop and getting some compression springs that fit over the eye-bolts.  I have a large washer on the bottom to protect the deck and a pipe cap on the top that the block sits through.

Good luck on your next adventure.  I hope this helped.

post-485-129497703072_thumb.gif

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Thanks, that does help.  Every spring I found at the hardware store was either too small or too stiff to actually work.  The pipe cap looks pretty good!  I'm still waiting for my parts (Don't you hate places that say stuff is in stock, then call you and tell you that they've ordered it, and they should have it in a week or so?) I'm hoping the new double block will help and we won't have to decrease the diameter of the line.

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I just let the gaff chew away at the mast and I don't worry about it.

My Vacationer is 10 yrs old and it's not like the mast is in danger of coming down or something.

Character, people... character.

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I saw an interesting setup in a SCA recently.  This guy cut a length of radiator hose to hold one of his deck mounted blocks upright.  He was a little concerned with how it looked, so he wrapped it with one of those nautical type knots.  I tried it on the deck mounted block for my weekender's jib and it works great.  I may have cut it a bit too long, but I have yet to experience a problem with the sheet flopping around.  I made my own blocks, so this may not work for little bitty ones. but hose does come in a lot of different sizes. 

Al

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