Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ranger 26: Breaking down the problems and needful things 2...

One of the reasons I like the Ranger 26 is that it's a very sensible design and not a whole lot needs to be fixed or improved. The open transom outboard motor arrangement is simple and works, the layout in the cockpit is comfortable, and the rig is non-problematic.

That said, it could use a couple of tweaks.

The open transom outboard arrangement makes all kinds of sense but, like any open transom arrangement, it does increase the possibility of getting pooped. On the other hand, the open transom also works like like a great big cockpit drain so as long as getting pooped in confined to the cockpit we're more or less OK. So, take a look at the companionway on a Ranger 26...

With the hatch boards out you have a really big frelling hole in the boat. My general rule-of-thumb for companionways is that the bottom of the opening should be at least six-inches above the level of the cockpit seats. The best way to do this is to fiberglass the offending void but you could get by with just gluing or bolting the lower hatch board in place. My vote would be to just fiberglass the section.

Since we're now talking fiberglass we might also consider getting rid of a section of the foot well and raising it to three or four inched below the seat tops. This would cut down on the potential flooded volume of the cockpit while giving us more stowage space in the process which, to me at least, this is a win/win situation.

Before we leave the cockpit subject I'll point out that while most boats of this size may have a 9.9 or 15 HP motor a 5 or 6 HP is more than sufficient and the weight savings makes it something of a no-brainer.

Earlier I mentioned that a hard dodger would make a lot of sense and would go a long way to improve the cockpits comfort level while adding a good place to have headroom in the galley area.

Now we should wend our way forward to the bow and you'll quickly notice that the Ranger 26 lacks anything approaching a bow roller, proper fairleads, and the sort of cleats needed to handle real ground tackle. Need I say more?

Which leaves us with the rig and that includes the mast, stays, chain plates, associated hardware, and sails. This is an area where a lot of people wind up spending a lot more than the boat is worth (Especially if you don't do all of your own work). So it's an area of the project where you have to get serious. Given the Ranger 26's age and the likely chance that the standing rigging is just as old I'd go into this process that at the bare minimum you'll need to replace the stays, chainplates and associated hardware. Masts, in general, are non-problematic and last forever. You will need to look seriously at the sail inventory and while it is still pretty easy to buy good condition used sails for this size of boat so you'll have to factor all of the costs. Oh yeah, there's running rigging as well...

So, here's my take on the rig issues. If the mast is OK and your sails are good you'll only need to replace the chainplates and stays which does not have to be expensive (more on that in a future post) but if the boat does not have any sails or needs a lot of sail work it starts getting iffy. If the boat you're looking at had its rig replaced in the last ten years, has good sails, and all you need to replace is a bit of running rigging, you're home free.

Another option you might want to consider is to change rigs. I've long thought that, for cruising on a budget, that a Junk or Lug rig makes all kinds of sense. Even better would be a junk or lug that included a small jib and minimal textile rigging. The cost of building and rigging a junk or lug mast and sail is considerably cheaper than replacing the Ranger rig. There are quite a few other advantages as well but we'll get into that later.

Which now leaves us with the project list so far as:
  1. A new galley
  2. A composting head
  3. Adding more stowage
  4. Companion way reduction
  5. Footwell reduction
  6. Hard dodger
  7. Bow roller/cleats/fairleads
  8. Sorting out the rig
Next up we'll be looking at a specific project and costs in detail.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ranger 26: Breaking down the problems and needful things..

Some interior musings.

When looking at the Ranger 26 a few things cry out for attention.  Most notably the galley, or should we say the lack of a galley, situation. Everybody needs to eat and anyone living on a frugal cruising budget is going to be cooking most all of their meals aboard so it is a very important system on any VolksCruiser. We're going to have to shoehorn a reasonable galley workplace where you can actually cook as opposed to just heating stuff up. Throw in the fact that you'll need easily accessible stowage for galley utensils and a means of easily washing up after cooking/dining which entails water storage and and plumbing. This area might actually be the most difficult project on the list.

Next on the list is the head. I've lived with a portapotti and you can get by with one but as a DIY composting toilet takes about the same amount of room, is actually cheaper than a portapotti or MSD, and works better so the composting toilet gets on the project list. Having a proper bathroom on a 26 foot boat is really just too problematic so we'll work along the lines that showers will be in the cockpit and work on that issue when we're working on the cockpit.

A comfortable dedicated place to sleep is important. The Ranger 26 has a dinette which can be converted into a double bed, a V berth forward and a settee which opens to a wider single if you remove the back board. My guess is the V berth makes the best choice for most folk but it is something you may want to give some serious thought to.

A place to lounge. Everybody needs a comfortable place to sit and read, watch videos, or just relax. Comfort is important and it is vital to keep this in mind while you're making decisions. For most people the settee will fill this need. Personally, I'd vote for the settee because you'll also need a workable sea berth and it can do double duty.

Stowage, of course, the boat needs more stowage, fact is all boats need more stowage. You need a place for food, water, fuel, clothes, tools, books, toys and the list tends to be endless.There are a lot of clever (dare I say cunning?) ways to maximize stowage but the real trick is to realize that a 26-foot boat is a finite space and you're going to have to do some serious need/want exercise to get that endless list down to a manageable one that will fit into a 26-foot long envelope. Your ongoing mantra will have to become...

"Less stuff more stowage!"

Which leaves us with the project list for the interior so far as:
  1. A new galley
  2. A composting head
  3. Adding more stowage
Next up we'll look at what we need to think about on the deck, cockpit, and add a wild card to the mix.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A couple of quick thoughts before we look deeper into that Ranger 26...

I'm pretty sure most everyone reading this realizes we live in a consumerist society. Fewer of those reading think that consumerism is out of control and a big problem for folks on a finite planet's ecosystem.

Everyone still seems to want that new-better-than-the-last-one iPhone. The other day I found myself being served in a Kmart by a minimum wage checker who had that very same brand new iPhone worn like so much bling on her belt and I could not help but wonder how someone working at a minimum wage job could afford one.

The answer, of course, is she couldn't.

The fact is that the pressure to consume is ever present on myriad levels and intense whether it's a phone, car, or boat. Way back when, I remember the phrase "You are what you eat" but today the more apt phrase should be "You are what you buy/spend".

Looking at various boating/cruising blogs and video channels you'd be blind not to notice a certain formula where folks decide to downsize and simplify their lives by buying a boat to go cruising.

So far, so good.

What usually follows this downsized/simplified state of affairs is an intense bout of consumerist mayhem because, when all is said and done, we are what we buy/spend...

A film you really might want to check out.

Face it, to cruise on a boat affordably in a sustainable manner you're going to have to shed the out-of-control consumerist monkey on your back.

More on the subject when we look at how we might turn that Ranger 26 into a workable VolksCruiser,