Wednesday, September 28, 2022

More on the hurricane plan...

As someone who's managed to survive three category 5 storms at anchor with minimal damage, I'll be the first person to say that the only safe/sane way to deal with a major storm is to be somewhere else when it's happening. Which has a lot to do with always having at least a sketchy plan to make tracks and, if the odds catch up and I wind up losing the boat, to buy a cheap boat elsewhere..

So what sort of boat and where would I look?

During "H" season I keep my eye on a variety of areas. The PNW, Hawaii, Maryland, and France are the places where I know the boat markets and am reasonably certain that I can sort out a boat with minimal bother. They are also places I happen to like and face it, after losing your boat and most of one's earthly possessions, why would I want to go to some red state armpit?

OK, maybe Louisiana because the food and a lot of good people can really make a big difference.

Anyway, about those boats...

I know for a fact that I can live quite comfortably on a 27-foot boat and there are always a lot of them for sale and it's no longer a popular size (too small for most and too big to trailer easily). It's the sweet spot in the affordable cruising boat size range.

These days, everyone considers a 27-foot boat too small but back in the 70/80/90's there were a lot more people doing serious cruising in them than there were in fifty-footers which people keep telling me is the bare minimum for voyaging.

The other day when I was looking at possible boats in France, I counted 39 Sangrias and 19 Fantasias for sale. They were mostly in the less than $5K price bracket which I could board after a flight to Paris and a train ride to get me there.

In Hawaii, there were a couple of Catalina 27s, and a CAL 27 under $5k that would do the trick. Admittedly, while Hawaii is even more expensive than the USVI, it's still a very good place to start out from. I might add that it's been years since I've had a proper spam musubi.

The PNW has a lot of boats for sale in the under $5K zone. As someone who no longer drives, the physical hassle of getting around to sort stuff out except by bike, becomes somewhat problematic.

I'm pretty sure that you could fly just about anywhere and find an affordably priced, 27-foot boat in good condition. They seem to be everywhere and most folk don't want them as they're too expensive to keep in a marina berth. Since marinas continue to gouge and be restrictive, there will be more and more on the market at low prices.

Cruising a 27-foot boat, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense as you can anchor just about anywhere you'd care to go. In the rare exception when you might have to spend a night in a marina, you can afford to since it's a helluva lot cheaper than the fifty footer that the cruising press keeps saying you need.

Lastly, for me at least, the 27 footer would be a temporary solution as I'd either build or buy something a kiss bigger once I'd got back on my feet after losing my boat and most all of my stuff. More than likely the boat I'd build would be a 30ish foot scow or a sharpie. But that's another story entirely...

Saturday, September 24, 2022

regarding hurricane plans...

Whenever a hurricane looks like it might ruin my day/week/month/year I do a quick CraigList search of possible boats to buy because, you know, shit happens. 

Call it my plan B but in the event of losing the boat in a serious storm my plan is to get out of Dodge on the first available flight in a hurry. I'll be honest as the very last thing I want to do is be boatless /homeless in the aftermath of a storm.

For the last storm my short list of possible boats consisted of cheap boats that looked OK and floated right side up that were cheap enough to pay cash (under $5K) for and small enough to make any needful repairs quick and affordable. The bottom line is that the boats had to be able to cruise and flippable to sell at a profit when I'd had a chance to sort out the next So It Goes or Loose Moose.

In other words, all the boats on my list were VolksCruisers in the 24-30 foot range.

Lucky for me that there are lots of cheap boats in that size range which are not in bad condition and are inexpensive because the market is saturated and the cost of keeping a boat one is not using is a financial black hole the owners just want to escape.

More on a few of the boats I had on my list next time...

Sunday, September 11, 2022

a needful read...

Maybe the best article I've come across on why it makes environment sense to live on a boat over on S/V Violet Hour.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

computer hiatus...

My  computer keyboard is no longer working so I'll be taking a (hopefully short) hiatus until I can source a new one.

So it goes...

Friday, August 26, 2022

a little heresy...

I've always liked the gaff rig because it's a stout spar that does not require a lot of tension to stand. There's a lot to be said for that.

While I don't think that Tom Colvin's junk rigs were fully evolved they did make a whole lot of sense.Take his Gazelle for instance.

Minimal stays with the ability to carry a jib makes all kinds of sense to me. The masts are lighter and less expensive than free-standing masts. Mast placement tends to be more normal in the sense that they are less radical where the interior is concerned which is no bad thing when dealing with a classic plastic boat. The fact that a jib is a great aid to balancing the sail plan and helps with windward ability is an added bonus. The Colvin rig makes a lot of sense.

Then again, it would make even more sense if it was brought into the current century.

Yep, I'm well aware that most junk rig aficionados tend to be foresail and standing rig phobic but a well designed junk or lug cutter would make all kinds of sense where a bombproof, powerful, and inexpensive rig is what you want.

With the current available tech it would be easy to build a light spar in plywood (see Reuel Parker's) and since textile rigging has become an available affordable alternative it's within the reach of anyone. Take a little extra effort and serve the rigging and you'll have a rig that will last into the next century.

Might be a bit of heretical thinking you should think about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

a couple of thoughts on spar building...

When considering changing to a rig like the balanced lug or junk, the first issue is that it requires moving the location of the mast. Finding the location is easy, but it can play hell with the interior. Free-standing masts, while not being as tall as the Bermuda rig, are larger in terms of diameter and a 10-inch diameter spar will create bloody havoc with the accommodation.

Which may be an excellent reason to keep your Bermuda rig if it’s still standing with decent rigging and sails. 

In the future, I’ll be doing an outline on how to locate the mast, build the mast, and otherwise get you through the new rig process for a more-or-less traditional junk or balanced lug rig. 

Here are a couple of things to mull over.

Is the new mast location going to work with the current interior arrangement? If not, peruse accommodations that would work with minimal fuss.

Do you have a place to build a mast?

The current mast on “So It Goes” should have taken me a week to build. The reality was it took a lot longer, and it was a nightmare to build. I was building in a parking lot with zero protection from the elements. I had to stop whenever it rained or seemed like it would rain, which was just about every day. The landlord of the property made the task worse. He really didn’t want me building there, which fostered a very negative workspace. My spar bench was “bumped” regularly in the parking lot, causing me to re-level the bench/molds before getting to the actual work.

I really should have found a better place to build, as it would have saved me both money, aggravation, and with a better built mast to boot.

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Monday, August 22, 2022

Some required reading...

The popularity of the Bermuda rig has caused a general lack of knowledge on most other rigs and how to rig them. Luckily for us a few books are all you need to sort out that problem.

Phil Bolger's "103 Sailing Rigs" talks a lot about various rigs and their variations in a common sense manner and well worth reading. It certainly opened my eyes where rigs are concerned.

For me Derek Van Loan's "The Chinese Sailing Rig" is the best book (Booklet?) going for converting a Bermudan rigged sailboat into a Junk rig. It's simple, clear, and it's brevity make for an easy to follow "cookbook" that makes conversion dead simple. Detractors of the book will argue that it is dated and does not include current thinking in sail design and construction but that is easily found on the JRA website but the basic conversion info is exactly what you need for a successful conversion.


Hasler and McLeod's "Practical Junk Rig" is an excellent tome on the junk rig and there is a lot of needful information. That said, it's a hard read (for me at least) and you really have to dig for that needful content. That said, it is a book you want but for starters the Van Loan book is the way to go to get started. 

It's also expensive (the Kindle version is $47.49 which is akin to piracy) so you'll want to keep an eye out for a used copy.

John Leather's "Spritsails & Lugsails" really needs to be on any Lug Nut's bookshelf. Sadly, most folk these days look at Sprits and Lugs as some sort of dinghy sail only and miss the fact entirely that they are powerful rigs that would make a lot of sense for boats in the VolksCruiser size range.

"The Gaff Rig Handbook" by John Leather is the bible for devotees of the Gaff rig and well worth a space on your book shelf. The gaff rig has a lot going for it and, mostly, suffers from the fact that most Gaff rig folks are unwilling to bring an excellent rig into the current century.

More on the practical side "Hand, Reef, and Steer" by Tom Cunliffe is the one book I'd choose if I was limited to a single gaff rig boat. Cunliffe is always an enjoyable read and has walked the talk more than most.

"The Rigger's Apprentice" by the late Brion Toss is a book that changed my life in the way I look at boat systems. It contains everything you need to know about sailboat rigging and makes all the rigging jobs you might encounter doable.

All of these books went a long way to color my thinking of what sailing rigs should be. Sure, I have a few issues with a few bits of the various author's opinions but in whole they're mostly spot on and needful if you're thinking of adapting a Bermudan rig to junk, lug, or gaff.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

a project you may want to follow...

A Cape Dory 27 gets the AtomVoyager treatment.

Like all of his refits I'll be taking notes...

Sunday, August 14, 2022

some lug nut thoughts...

First of all If you have a boat with a working Bermuda rig keep in mind that it seldom makes sense to do a new rig (Lug, Junk,Crab Claw, or whatever). Remember the "Don't fix it if it's not broken" rule.

Now, if on the other hand, the CAL 29 you're thinking of getting has no sails, the rigging is shot, and your mast has seen better days a change to a simpler rig just might make a lot of sense.

With me so far?

OK, here's what you need to know about lug rigs...

For starters there are three main types of lug sails which are the Dipping lug, Standing lug, and the Balanced lug. While all three are excellent rigs I'm of the considered opinion that the Balanced lug makes the most sense for a cruising boat.

So, what do I like about this Bolger Balanced lug rig?

  1. It's simple. All you need is a mast, sail, a halyard, a sheet, and a few blocks. The mast is free standing and requires no rigging or associated hardware.
  2. Being a square sail the center of effort is lower than in a Bermuda rig which results in less heeling forces.
  3. It's a powerful sail for not a lot of money.
  4. The balanced lug rig is self-vanging which makes for docile handling.

What's not to like? 

Well for starters, if you want an affordable free standing mast and the associated boom/yard you'll have to build it yourself. That said, the cost of said mast and spars is a lot less than an aluminum stick and associated wire/hardware needed for the Bermuda rig. Better yet the learning curve for mast building is not so difficult and a rather enjoyable pursuit. Still it is a rather daunting project for a lot of folks.

The Balanced lug rig, while being fairly evolved, could certainly use a bit of improvement to bring it into the current century. Most of which is already in use readily available with a bit of thought and research.

Over the years my thinking about sailing across oceans with a cat rigged boat have evolved somewhat as has my thought process in terms of building free standing spars but we'll get into that in some depth next time.

Saturday, August 13, 2022