Monday, June 28, 2021

A few quick thoughts...

A YouTube channel I have a love/hate relationship with has a Bluetooth enabled toilet and I just can't quite get my head around why one might actually need such a thing. 

As it happens, I do have some Bluetooth headphones which I purchased because I wanted to be able to listen to music while working on boat projects but never use them because the signal drops out all the time and that really gets up my nose where listening to music is concerned.

But still, one wonders what sort of advantage a Bluetooth toilet has and WTF they actually cost.

That said, however misguided having to be connected to one's toilet via Bluetooth might be, it is preferable to some of the sailing channels which are starting to look a lot like infomercials instead of videos about cruising as one I recently viewed mentions the name of a certain purveyor of sewing machines, fabrics, and assorted notions so many times that the only words that comes to mind is "Set it and forget it!".

But wait, there's more! 

Well actually there isn't but the whole Ronco style of over-commercialization and  pandering is so far removed from the whole VolksCruiserish "Just find a good boat, fix it up, and sail off into the sunset on a sustainable budget" vibe most of the cruisers I admire adopt just depresses me.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The upside of DIY...

The other day a reader dropped me a line where the subject of DIY came up and he pointed out that, unlike me, he could afford to hire folks to do work for him and if you had to DIY you might want to consider something other than yachting as a lifestyle decision...

Not the first time I've heard that opinion and, I expect, most folks of the VolkCruiserish ilk will hear it as well.

What the reader in question doesn't quite get is that the advantages of doing work on your boat and its systems yourself has a great number of advantages which improve the sailing and cruising experience and the fact that it also allows you to save money in the process is just an added perk which is no bad thing.

Sadly, too many of the marine trades are not just over-priced but also woefully short on the needed skills that they charge you for. I've seen too many projects and repairs done by various contractors that not only did not fix the needful repairs but wound up creating more damage and problems that would be left for someone else to fix.  

An advantages of doing your own work is that you actually know how things are put together on your boat and that gives you the skill set to fix it when or if it needs to be sorted out. Sure there's a learning curve but it's a fairly easy one as almost all boat related work is just minimum wage level stuff mixed with common sense.

No rocket science involved.

Being able to handle maintenance and repairs is both empowering and adds greatly to the overall safety of the boat and its crew. Which, from where I sit, are the two most important reasons to get your DIY groove on.

Lastly, doing work that fixes things is mostly enjoyable and satisfying. Of course, not everyone enjoys all boat work and I'll be the first to admit I really do not like working on internal combustion engines as it's a UGH job as far as I'm concerned, Still, in spite of the UGH nature of working on engines, I find it especially satisfying when I'm able to fix one.

I'll also add that saving money is a game I really enjoy and the perks of doing my own work adds up to a considerable chunk of change in the process which makes DIY that much more enjoyable. Then again, some folks don't mind paying $4.99 for a  twenty-five cent machine screw and take pride in throwing around how much they paid for stuff as a badge of honor. Not sure where you stand on such things but the whole Boat Buck mentality seems somewhat questionable at best.

Oh yeah, on the whole yacht thing... I don't own a yacht, don't want to own a yacht, and cringe whenever I hear a boat described as a yacht or a person sailing it a yachtsman. So I'm not exactly the sort of person who would ever consider yachting as a lifestyle.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

A blast from the past on junk rig...

A Freedom cat ketch adapted to junk rig

 I wrote this back in 2008 on Boat Bits but it seems to have held up for the most part...

I suppose the minute you say lug rig that everyone assumes you are talking about the "Junk" rig which is certainly a type of lug rig but somewhat outside the mainstream we might just get the whole junk rig thing out of the way and as good as any place to start.

Colvin...Hasler...Van Loan..Mcleod important names for Lug nuts as all were big proponents of the junk rig in the early days and for a host of very good reasons you would be safe to follow their lead...The Junk rig certainly makes a lot of sense for a lot of people who sail.

The big thing about the junk rig is of course it is a docile rig... Stress free if you will...Its an easy rig to sail (but a very easy rig to sail badly and it is important to know the difference between the two) and there is a rather steep learning curve if you actually want to get the performance possible with the rig. Make no mistake this is not a Bermudan rig and if you try to sail it like one you will find that it will behave just like all of its detractors say it will...BADLY.

Its also a cheap rig and DIY safe on all levels so building it from mast to sails is well within even the most ham fisted tyros reach! Sounds perfect for folks like me...and did I mention CHEAP?

Of course you hear a lot of bad stuff about junk rigs and almost all of it from people who have never sailed a junk rig and many who have never even seen a junk rig sailing...This is not an unimportant fact when you consider that 95% of the information you receive via word of mouth on things junk is in fact pretty bogus. Luckily we have access to a lot of excellent information from those who really know what they speak of...

Which brings us back to the names Colvin, Hasler, Mcleod, and Van Loan who all were nice enough to sit down and write excellent books on the subject so we would not have to figure it out all by ourselves.

Thomas Colvin has written a slew of books on sailing, cruising and building boats and anything he says you can pretty much take to the bank. Not a man who feels the need to follow the herd or bend to market pressure he is very much the real deal and unlike so many Naval Architects has actually built boats, lived aboard and cruised which in my book puts him way at the front of the herd and when he says something you can take it for granted that it's based on real experience. Sadly Tom Colvin is no longer with us and a lot of his books are now out of print but I believe are available used if you put in the effort to find them. A visit to Abe's books might be in order to chase down a copy of "Sailmaking: Making Chinese and other sails : Sailing Chinese Junks and Junk-rigged vessels" .

McLeod / Hasler wrote the most excellent "Practical Junk Rig" which is a thing of beauty almost a Coffee Table book on the subject and again written by a couple of guys who walk the talk and a tome that is needful to anyone considering or sailing the junk rig.

My favorite though is the very simple, Tract like and easily understood "The Chinese Sailing Rig - Design and Build Your Own Junk Rig" by Eric Van Loan which is short and very much to the point. Just what you need if you have a CAL 28 ( or whatever) and decide you want to design and build a junk rig for it that will WORK!

While the Van Loan book is my favorite (I do love simple!) and would be my choice if I were limited to one source, to be honest if you are going to do the Junk rig thing right you really need all three as they together pretty much contain all available information in book form on the rig and it is all needful information.

I should add at this point that there is the excellent Junk Rig Association which which is the best source of cutting edge development in what is trending in junk rig development.

While not really about the junk rig Annie Hills book "Voyaging on a Small Income" just might be the best book to read and get you started on the Junk express as it has a lot of Junk content and gives you a very good view of what sailing with a Junk Rig is all about...Annie Hill shows just what can be done with a simple Benford designed plywood boat called Badger and a junk rig on a budget. If you ever need a good example to throw in the face of someone who is going on about junk rigs being not a viable option just bring out the Badger card ...Works every time!